SAP Takes on the Challenge of Business Analytics

Michael Vizard

As a subset of business intelligence, the same adoption issues apply doubly to analytics. Analytic applications tend to be hard to access and few people really know how to use them.

SAP is trying to help customers overcome this problem by rolling out a family of BusinessObjects analytics applications aimed at various vertical industries. According to Keith Costello, SAP executive vice president for business analytics, the basic idea is to put SAP's expertise in these vertical industries to work, giving customers a head start on building analytic applications.



Of course, a real problem is a shortage of analysts on the business side. But as Costello notes, this is really a chicken-and-egg kind of problem. If you don't make analytic applications more accessible, no one will ever really master them. Part of the accessibility problem, says Costello, can be addressed by simple search interfaces and the ability to run analytics applications in memory to allow queries to be handled quickly. And analytics increasingly will be delivered as a cloud service.

By providing analytics inside a vertical application, Costello says business users will see the value because there is more context for the data being analyzed. And as that value becomes more apparent, more users will trust the data and appreciate the IT department's analytics capability, he said.

At the end of the day, analytics should be used to reduce much of the uncertainty that permeates business decisions. Costello rightly points out that far too many business decisions are based on "gut instincts" rather than actual information. And as we all know, sometime it's hard to distinguish between real gut instinct and a simple case of indigestion.

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