Marge Breya, EVP and General Manager, Intelligence Platform Group at SAP

It looks like you are trying to change the BI/search paradigm with BusinessObjects Explorer. How did that come about?

Before we introduced Explorer in May, we had married BusinessObjectsand SAP NetWeaver, and initially aimed it at the SAP Business Warehouse. Then, we took the in-memory SAP BW Accelerator and Explorer, which came from the old BusinessObjects Polestar product, and put that in the mix. You can point Explorer at any data source on the planet, and the accelerated version uses our ETL tools or data services to load up the in-memory indexing and calculation engines, and you can look at billions of records very quickly. The second wave we released in October is an open accelerator, meaning you can load a Teradata or Oracle data warehouse or a spreadsheet or whatever you want.

Are we looking at the prospect of open search with more data feeds that include unstructured content and application programming interfaces?

Absolutely, and there are all kinds of examples, like Twitter opening up their feed to Google and Bing search. We're building technologies called Live Enterprise to account for any kind of automation source coming in, whether it's voice, video, data - whatever information you want to use for real-time decisioning. We absolutely see a mashup world where we need to be putting together structured and unstructured context, mapping things back and forth so there is context around it.

What's the distinction between search and explore?

It's becoming a self-service world, and the more we can give our tools clues to the context of what we are interested in, the more we can avoid a situation where search is what he or she is spending time on. To an extent, when the user hits the search box we've probably failed him or her.

Can you expand on that last thought?

When you're working in a business process, the applications you're accessing, the emails you are writing, whatever you share with the system all give context. If you're just typing into a search box, you've got clues in back and forward buttons; but if we know the application content and how actions are associated with other actions, you can build a context of application and analytic content. When you are in context, you can look at all the reports that have a bearing on what you are doing, the company experts on the topic, the partners or relationships every step of the way. It is a role we can increasingly play, and it's a bit like Google Earth for data. You want to go see where your house is, but the next question might be about a pool in the neighbor's yard, so you move over there. You don't always know where you are going to go.

How much time do information workers have to wander around?

Well, people are already wandering around through everything in the enterprise. Why not make it safe and easy so you don't have to be trained? We almost want to think like the video gaming industry. We want to earn minutes, not fooling around, but doing purposeful work. I'd love to never write another user manual.