SAP Business Intelligence, a component of SAP NetWeaver

REVIEWER: Chad Wright, applications manager for Avid Technology, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1987, Avid Technology, Inc. helped pioneer digital video, audio and 3-D production systems for businesses in a range of entertainment industries. As the markets for high-end video-audio products have grown, Avid's competition has increased. At the same time, the downward migration of technology has created substantial opportunities for consumer-oriented products. Avid's business intelligence (BI) initiative is, therefore, directed toward growing the customer base, while competing aggressively and creatively for new markets.

PLATFORMS: SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence - HP ProLiant; Windows 2000; Informix 9.3.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We needed a BI infrastructure that would help us achieve our strategic goals, while being highly responsive and flexible, and easy to integrate to our back-end systems (such as ERP and CRM). More importantly, it had to be built with the end user in mind, promoting self-service BI. In-depth interviews with more than 25 users from a cross-section of Avid departments revealed multiple key requirements (from both a business and usability perspective) that we subsequently addressed with the BI implementation based on SAP NetWeaver (including SAP Business Information Warehouse and SAP BW 3.1). Our architectural strategy focused on obtaining wide-ranging information and delivering flexibility and speed of analysis.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: To promote self-service BI, we built a self-service BI interface. Users can look into our system of shared folders for standard OLAP reports (tabular and graphical), or they can use a query designer tool to build their own queries. A good example of our shared folder system is our customer dashboard. The dashboard contains everything we know about each customer, including purchase history and any other related "account" information. Our customer dashboard identifies our customers not only by unique SAP identifiers, but also by name or geography so that an entire set of customer numbers can be tracked through the system easily. We can now analyze the effectiveness of our Web store or our education marketing efforts to quickly generate new, highly targeted marketing campaigns. The benefits have been significant. BI is helping us support an aggressive new product development strategy by applying sophisticated marketing techniques to our multichannel sales and marketing structure. We can track prospects and customers with speed and precision and take advantage of multichannel synergies, cross-sell and up-sell products to existing customers and anticipate the needs of prospects as they relate to specific industries and enterprises. In addition, we also achieved tangible and measurable benefits due to greater marketing reach and increased speed in contract renewals.

STRENGTHS: In addition to being highly scalable and extremely stable, SAP Business Intelligence comes with a plethora of productivity tools, including a change management framework, a task management/scheduling tool and an open front-end tool (the Business Explorer Analyzer), which we are able to use to interface with SAP CRM for target group analysis.

WEAKNESSES: Because SAP Business Intelligence is so flexible and scalable, it is easy to become overwhelmed with available functionality. The star schema (or multidimensional data model) that is used to create the InfoCubes, while tuned for optimal performance, can be challenging to work with at times due to object interdependence.

SELECTION CRITERIA: While we considered other technologies, SAP Business Intelligence was the logical choice due to its flexibility and integration capabilities with our existing environment.

DELIVERABLES: With more than 2,000 queries in production today, we support a wide range of customer reports/analytics, product reports and audience list pulls for marketing, finance and customer support.

VENDOR SUPPORT: SAP provides a comprehensive set of customer support options, including Web-based technical support, knowledge base, customer forum and professional services.

DOCUMENTATION: There is a wealth of SAP Business Intelligence documentation available today.

SAP Business Intelligence, a component of SAP NetWeaver
SAP America Inc.
3410 Hillview Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94304

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