The Future of Business Intelligence Reporting

At the SpeakBO Experience Event last month, SAP presented some excellent sessions and demonstrations on both the current and future features of BusinessObjects and one thing was very evident. Namely, they are investing heavily in enhancing the functionality of Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports. 

This makes a lot of sense. 

If you look at the current landscape of BI tools, they are all focused on data discovery and visualization (and most are cloud based). This is great for the future digital enterprise in the cloud, but most organizations are not there yet and have a ways to go. 

None of the BI vendors appear to be investing in hardcore BI reporting with the exception of Microsoft who ported their SSRS tool to PowerBI and called it PowerBI Paginated Reporting. Even this is not getting a ton of adoption as people find out that’s it’s completely different to PowerBI and they have to learn a whole new product. 

The world not only still runs on reports but needs them more than ever. This is not just Business Intelligence reports but good-old operational reports which have been developed using BI tools for years. 

Admittedly, most of these reports end up in one of two formats, namely Excel or PDF but a good BI reporting tool is needed to do the data extraction, manipulations and often formatting first. 

Yes, I know software vendors have been talking about the “digital enterprise” for a while now but that’s mainly been to help them sell their software. The world of business and institutions moves much more slowly when it comes to transitioning to new technology and new ways of doing things.  Many organizations today still use Fax machines, run COBOL applications, and still print on multi-part stationary (and decollate it too!). 

While most organizations have dramatically reduced the amount of paper reports they produce, there are still many reports that remain mission critical and will do for many years to come. 

We recently assisted in a project where a large organization purchased a new cloud-base billing application. However, they needed to have customized invoicing for their tens of thousands of clients which had been hard-coded into their previous homegrown Billing application. The new Cloud Based application did not accommodate this. Due to the complexity of the invoices (formatting, multi-lingual, delivery conditions etc.), we recommended Crystal Reports using InfoBurst as the bursting/publishing engine. The delivery requirements themselves included some invoices being delivered electronically (some Excel, some PDF) and some being printed and mailed. 

No.  Reporting is not going away any time soon. 

Two of the most powerful and popular tools for doing Reporting are Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports – both bundled in BusinessObjects and there’s an added bonus. BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.3 SP03 is a pretty amazing data discovery and data visualization tool as well. 

So, you get the whole package with BusinessObjects – maybe that’s why it’s so popular! 

About pgrill

Paul Grill started his career in Information Technology in the U.K. in 1978, as an Executive Data Processing Trainee for Honeywell. More than thirty years later, he still has a voracious appetite for learning as Information Technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. He was first introduced to the world of Business Intelligence in 1991, in France, when he saw a demonstration of an early version of BusinessObjects on Windows 2.1. He returned to the U.S. to rave about this phenomenal product, but it was many years before BusinessObjects made it into the mainstream. Paul founded InfoSol in 1997, and made Business Intelligence one of the key solutions offered by the company. Today, InfoSol is a leading SAP BusinessObjects solutions partner, known for its expert consulting, education and innovative add-on solutions. Paul is well known within the SAP BusinessObjects community for his extensive knowledge of Business Intelligence, and he has lectured and written many articles on the subject. Paul enjoys writing, running and coaching kids soccer, and is passionate about Ancient Egyptology.

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