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SAP BusinessObjects Query & Analysis

The concept behind Query & Analysis is really about empowering the Business User and Analyst to interact with data on the fly in a Self-service BI environment. There a few tools available from SAP BusinessObjects that fulfil this criteria. First of all, here’s a little background, so as to avoid any confusion around what the products are.

Historically, the original Query & Analysis and Reporting tool was simply called ‘BusinessObjects’. Back then if you were to ask someone what reporting tool they were working with they would just say ‘BusinessObjects’. That was the only tool, until sometime later the first version of Web Intelligence was released. After BusinessObjects acquired Crystal Decisions the ‘BusinessObjects’ reporting tool was renamed Desktop Intelligence, sometimes also known as Deski. Running alongside Desktop Intelligence the thin client tool Web Intelligence was being developed.

Over the years Web Intelligence has grown to become SAP BusinessObjects’ flagship tool that allowing non-technical users to create new queries, slice and dice, and then drill down through their data all via a web browser. The advancement in Web Intelligence means that Desktop Intelligence is now coming to its end of life.

A second tool available is Voyager. Voyager is an Online Analytical Processing Tool (OLAP). In the BI 4.0 release Voyager is superseded by SAP BusinessObjects Analysis edition for OLAP and SAP BusinessObjects Analysis edition for Microsoft Office. It should be used when analysis is required against large data sets.

We also find it useful to think of a third tool under the Query & Analysis category. That is the search tool named Explorer. The original name for Explorer was Polestar.

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SAP BusinessObjects Information Discovery & Delivery

Information Delivery & Discovery or IDD as it is frequently referred to can be thought of as the middle section of the SAP BusinessObjects BI stack. The two sections that sandwich it are Data Services and Enterprise Performance Management.

IDD comprises primarily of the Business Intelligence Platform , the Enterprise Reporting , and Query & Analysis components and Dashboarding

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Benefits of Bespoke Business Intelligence Training

This article relates to the use of bespoke BI training for the SAP BusinessObjects toolset.

Training has become commoditised. This approach can bring benefits to both the supplier and the customer. Once training materials have been standardised they can be maintained at a guaranteed quality. The customer’s expectation can be set and a single version of the training truth, so to speak, is established. After set up costs the supplier only needs to maintain the materials. The materials can then be replicated and sold for profit. They are now a product in their own right, a valuable commodity to the supplier.

However, key benefits of bespoke training are that it can be based on the organisation’s own data and be geared to help the organisation address its specific challenges. If the customer is an investment bank why provide training using data based on fashion clothing or white goods such as washing machines? You may laugh but this practice has happened in the past.

The benefit of using the organisation’s data is that the training has more meaning and value to those attending the course. Attendees get to watch and use the SAP BusinessObjects toolset in a way that is directly relevant to them. They are working with data from their own business process area. The SAP BusinessObjects universe that they interact with contains objects relevant to their daily work. This makes the application of the toolset directly relevant. Delegates complete the training with insight and ideas on how to directly apply SAP Business Objects tools to address their immediate business pains.
To achieve the bespoke training it is best to ring fence a dedicated BI environment. If budget exists install SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise on its own machine. Then take a cut of BI data, a snapshot in time. The data should be frozen and should not be overly complex. Overly large and complex data sets can be confusing to beginners becoming familiar with new BI tools.

If there is no budget for a separate environment it’s possible to do some clever things with Enterprise security to effectively section off a training environment on a machine being used for other purposes. The best environment for this is usually QA. If the QA environment is used, care should be taken when scheduling activities so that training and testing do not impact on each other.

Regardless of which environment is used the training will still need use of a dedicated snapshot of frozen data. Attempting to undergo training on live or changing data can easily wrong foot both the trainer and delegates. The training materials, for example a delegate workbook, should contain diagrams and screenprints based on the frozen data set so that both the written training materials and training practice match.
Bespoke training does not need to be prohibitive due to cost. BI System Builders maintain a core of BI knowhow that they then customise to a specific customer. It is not necessary to re-invent the wheel, just to adapt.

During 2009/10 Russell Beech adapted his core know how to design, author and deliver bespoke Business Intelligence training through BI System Builders to members of the UK Volkswagen Group. The training was based on SAP BusinessObjects InfoView and Web Intelligence using Volkswagen BI data.
Bespoke training can go way beyond commoditised training as it is geared to meet the specific requirements of the end users. At Volkswagen the advanced training course included a crash course in dimensional modelling and SQL. It also included workshops on how to practically apply advanced query building techniques to Volkswagen’s real life challenges using relevant data and data warehouse tables.