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Stack advantages spur SAP BOBJ adoption, despite complaints

Customers care more about being able to integrate SAP BusinessObjects, Business Suite software than they do about BOBJ flaws, one survey suggests.

Despite ongoing complaints over the quality of SAP BusinessObjects' customer support and recent problems with SAP BusinessObjects 4.0, adoption of SAP's flagship BI continues to grow, according to a new survey by the U.K. and Ireland SAP Users Group.

According to a new survey by the U.K. and Ireland SAP Users Group, roughly 30% of core SAP ERP software users are now using SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ) as their main business analytics platform, compared with 21% in 2012 and 7% in 2011.

The survey found that 75% of respondents said they see the value in using SAP BusinessObjects alongside their core SAP Business Suite software.

"It's the integrated element that gives SAP [an advantage over other vendors]," said Craig Dale, the group's chief executive.

Rita Sallam, an analyst with Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said she's seeing similar adoption numbers within the SAP installed base.

"We're seeing the exact same trend," Sallam said, but added that the question as to why the adoption rates are growing despite negative press around SAP BusinessObjects is valid. For example, BusinessObjects 4.0, the last major release of SAP's business intelligence (BI) flagship software, was plagued with complaints that the software was unstable.

"Why is it that companies within the SAP installed base continue to buy BusinessObjects despite lack of satisfaction with the product in terms of quality, sales, even functionality?"

The answer is that companies are able to integrate their analytics platform with their enterprise software into one stack -- which Sallam calls "stack centricity."

"It's part of the value proposition for why SAP acquired BusinessObjects and why Oracle acquired Hyperion," Sallam said.

That doesn't mean companies aren't using third-party BI tools to supplement the use of BusinessObjects as a system of record, she added.

Not all was good news for SAP, however. Results indicated customers' perception of SAP support is still not as good as it could be. Roughly 53% said SAP BusinessObjects support is not sufficiently integrated with support for the rest of the SAP Business Suite, undermining the advantages of integration.

"What we're seeing is it's not as seamless as it could be," Dale said of the support. The survey did not identify specific examples, however.

Other complaints about the quality of support mirrored past figures from earlier surveys.

The survey found that 30% of respondents have problems using the SAP Service Marketplace support portal, and a quarter of respondents said they weren't satisfied with the amount of time taken to resolve problems, according to the user group.

Those numbers demonstrate a need for better cooperation between SAP and its BOBJ customers, as well as a need for the U.K. and Ireland User Group to better educate users on the resources that are available to them.

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