Greetings from ASUG2010/SAPPHIRENOW in Orlando, Florida! I am writing this post from a quiet spot just off of the main exhibit hall. Having presented Deploying BI to the Masses with BusinessObjects Explorer at the fall 2009 GBN conference, I was thrilled when the FedEx truck recently brought me a review copy of Ingo Hilgefort‘s new guide, Inside SAP BusinessObjects Explorer (SAP Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1592293407). Explorer is a fantastic innovation from SAP that is best described as “Google for your business intelligence environment”. Depending on your BusinessObjects Enterprise license, Explorer may be something your organization is already licensed to use.
For readers attending the ASUG conference, be sure to check out the Explorer breakout sessions by Ty Miller (0309) and Susan Guess (0404).
This 300-page guide details the innovative Explorer in seven chapters, beginning with “SAP BusinessObjects Explorer – One Piece of Your Business Intelligence Puzzle”. The chapter details the lineage of Explorer, beginning with Intelligent Question that was introduced with BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2, reimagined as Polestar, then rebranded as Explorer. As the title indicates, Explorer is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s simply not possible to have one BI tool that rules them all, but Explorer brings BI capabilities to non-traditional BI users (primarily casual and executive users), leverages the power of existing technologies such as the BusinessObjects semantic layer (universes) and the BW Accelerator, and integrates with existing tools like Web Intelligence.
Chapter Two provides detailed information about installation and deployment. A potential point of confusion is the fact that Explorer comes in multiple editions. The first edition, originally known as Polestar, works with existing BusinessObjects universes. The second edition, known as SAP BusinessObjects Explorer – Accelerated Version, works with SAP BW Accelerator, a blade appliance that works in conjunction with SAP BW. The third edition is known as SAP BusinessObjects Open Accelerator. The Open Accelerator allows non-BW customers to accelerate their existing data sources using the blade appliance and BusinessObjects Data Services.
Chapters Three and Four provide additional implementation details that will help you deploy Explorer in your organization quickly. The remaining chapters conclude the book with details about Explorer On-Demand (in the cloud), Explorer on the iPhone, and lastly, the outlook for Explorer. Even though currently shipping technology is simply amazing, we are only at the beginning of the journey. Details are still murky, but SAP’s recently announced Sybase acquisition was made because of Sybase’s in-memory and mobile technologies, not their waning relational database products. So it will be interesting to see how the Sybase acquisition, if completed, specifically affects the Explorer road map.
My only disappointment with the book is Chapter Five – Usage Scenarios. The chapter does a phenomenal job describing how Explorer can solve problems in seven different industries (Health Care, Retail, Insurance, Finance, Procurement, Customer Service, and Sales), but there isn’t any sample data provided so readers can mimic the activities presented in the book. That said, this book allows organizations to quickly and confidently deploy Explorer.
My recommendation is to first purchase this excellent book, create a POC (proof of concept) with Information Spaces created from your existing universes, then determine if in-memory database technology is right for your enterprise. ASUG attendees can visit the SAP Press booth and get a special conference discount, perhaps even stalking Ingo at the conference to get an autographed copy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”