SAP rolls out real-time business analytics apps

Packaged apps based on homegrown SAP technologies, and those from 2007 purchase of Business Objects

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In a sign of SAP's stepped-up attention to the business analytics market, the company released a set of real-time analytics products on Tuesday that are customized for use in various industry sectors and for specific business functions.

The products are based on technologies that SAP acquired in its 2007 purchase of Business Objects and include new tools designed to let enterprises set up mobile access to business intelligence (BI) applications.

The initial products in SAP's new BusinessObjects analytics application family have been customized for organizations in the health care, consumer products, financial services, retail, telecommunications and public-sector markets.

SAP's new applications are designed to deliver real-time analytics capabilities to help people working in areas such as finance, sales, marketing, planning, risk assessment and customer satisfaction at companies within those vertical segments.

The products were developed in collaboration with major SAP customers and are designed to work with structured or unstructured data from any SAP or non-SAP systems.

Driving the company's efforts in the real-time analytics market is the growing demand from enterprises for better decision-support tools, SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott told Computerworld on Tuesday.

Increasingly, companies are looking for tools that can help them access, analyze and use real-time data to improve efficiency in their sales, customer service, marketing and other business functions, he said. A growing number of companies are looking to push such functionality out to front-line employees to give them the insight and context they need to make better decisions, he said.

The new products build on SAP's strategy to deliver packaged business analytics applications for specific industry segments, said Mark Smith, an analyst at Ventana Research. Competitively, they are an important step for SAP because they put the company in a stronger position vis-á-vis big rivals like IBM and Oracle, which have also launched efforts to deliver packaged line-of-business applications for specific vertical industries, he said.

One significant differentiator though could be SAPs growing focus on helping mobile users access business analytics tools, Smith said. "SAP has been pushing hard to provide mobile access," he said. "It's something that is becoming very important for businesses."

Because SAP's newly released applications are stand-alone products that can operate with both SAP and non-SAP software, customers can see that the company is committed to offering systems that work in heterogenous environments, said James Kobielus, an analyst at Forrester Research.

"They are also very much built for rapid deployment and rapid customization," Kobielus said. "These products incorporate a lot of content built in an agile collaborative way by SAP and its customers."

The products incorporate many of SAP's homegrown technologies, as well as those acquired in the Business Objects deal, he said.

"A lot of this is pre-established, robust SAP enterprise-grade technology but packaged and built for fairly narrow niches," he said.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at  @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

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