SAP Takes Step Toward More Open System

Jan 29, 2002 (07:01 PM EST)

Read the Original Article at

SAP Wednesday unveiled an upgrade to its business-intelligence system that shows the company is slowly opening up the software, used for collecting and analyzing customer, financial, and supply-chain data, to other vendors' business applications. The software maker said the next version of mySAP Business Intelligence, available in a few weeks, will include reporting software from Crystal Decisions that lets companies draw data from other business systems.

In addition, the company revealed at its Conference on Business Intelligence and Enterprise Portals, being held this week in Leipzig, Germany, that mySAP BI will include the company's enterprise portal software and the option of integrating with Ascential Software's (formerly Informix) tools and linking to non-SAP data warehouses.

Crystal's reporting software will be embedded in the data-warehouse component of mySAP, providing 1,800 predefined reports for analyzing customer data, such as sales opportunities and deal sizes, as well as human-resource, supply-chain, financial, and product life-cycle data. Under the seller agreement, customers of SAP's Business Information Warehouse can generate up to 500 different reports. Those who want more report templates or want to customize reports will have to buy a separate license.

While Crystal's software is capable of drawing data from non-SAP systems, only 20 of the 500 reports covered in the seller agreement can access other software, says Michael Schiff, an analyst at Current Analysis. "SAP is trying to move out of its closed environment and be perceived as open," he says. "But the real test will be to see if anyone not using SAP R/3 uses the business-intelligence tools." SAP R/3 is the company's flagship enterprise resource planning system. SAP has come a long way toward easing customer complaints that its ERP system, once referred to as an "SAP jailhouse," was too closed, Schiff says. In addition, the business-intelligence tools have been improving with each release.

The portal software integrated into the business-intelligence system is from SAP Portals Inc., a separate unit of SAP AG that the parent company said this week would be merged with SAP Markets Inc.