SAP Debuts New Release Of BI Software For Small, Midsize Customers

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The new BusinessObjects Edge 4.0 and Crystal Server 2011 products, which are specifically packaged for SME (small and mid-size enterprise) customers, will be available early in the third quarter.

In February SAP unveiled the next generation of its BusinessObjects toolset after three years of development, the first major refresh of the product line since SAP acquired Business Objects in January 2008 for $6.8 billion. That 4.0 release offered the ability to handle huge volumes of data, analyze data in real time, and work with mobile devices and social networks.

The BusinessObjects Edge 4.0 Business Intelligence release makes it possible for small businesses to analyze structured and unstructured data, said John Wilkinson, vice president of analytics, global ecosystem and channels. The software’s new “Event Insight” capability makes it possible to monitor business processes in real time and analyze text -- such as that generated by social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

The Edge version of the BI software also has the same new systems management features offered in the enterprise release.

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SAP has bundled its BusinessObjects Explorer search software with Crystal Server 2011 (formerly Crystal Reports Server), making it possible to drill down more deeply into, say, sales and marketing data to quickly evaluate the effectiveness and return-on-investment of a marketing campaign.

SAP’s Edge business intelligence products have been among the company’s most successful, Wilkinson said in an interview, with sales increasing 18 percent in 2010. There are some 4,000 customers using the product, about 50 percent of whom are SAP ERP application users and 50 percent don’t own any other SAP software.

Because the BusinessObjects Edge BI products are focused on SME customers, 85 percent of sales are through the channel, according to Wilkinson. “And it’s our goal to drive that to 100 percent by the end of 2013, maybe sooner,” he said.

SAP is also developing what Wilkinson called a “build and sell” program through which channel partners can sell pre-built content, such as reports and analytical applications, to each other. A solution provider who has developed a report for health care institutions in the U.S. could use the program to sell the report to solution providers elsewhere around the world,

SAP partners “get best-practice thinking, they get rapid time to market, and the cost of developing content is greatly reduced,” Wilkinson said.

SAP is now piloting the project with a dozen partners and expects to go live with a solutions catalog on the vendor’s Ecohub Web site in July. The company hopes to have 35 packages by the end of this year and reach up to 200 next year. “It is very specifically a partner-to-partner arrangement,” Wilkinson said.