SAP Business Explorer (BEx)
SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) is a completely packaged business intelligence solution designed to complement SAP ERP applications. The package contains connectors to SAP ERP modules, a data warehouse for storing source data, subject-oriented data marts, predefined content and front-end tools called SAP Business Explorer (SAP BEx). BEx offers capabilities for formatted reporting, multidimensional ad hoc analysis, creating BI applications/dashboards and planning.
SAP was founded in 1972 by five former IBM employees but really came into prominence in the 1990s with the ERP boom. The vendor employs over 87,000 people worldwide and has a turnover of over €22bn. It is one of the largest business software vendors in the world.
Today, SAP follows a dual analytics strategy aimed at delivering continued innovations for on-premises solutions while building new cloud solutions. This product review focuses on the BEx front-end portfolio which has been placed in maintenance mode by SAP.
BW is a package consisting of connectors, relational data storage, subject-oriented multidimensional structured data marts and predefined content as well as tools for reporting, analysis and planning. There are different versions of BW available. Traditional BW runs on a standard relational database, but customers can purchase redesigned versions for SAP HANA.
BEx Query Designer is a query tool typically used by technically savvy users (from IT or business departments) to query data in BW. These queries can then be used to create reports, applications or analyses using other BEx products. InfoQuery can also be used for write-back (so-called input-ready InfoQuery) into BW. However, this functionality is only certified for SAP, and not for third-party front ends.
User & Use Cases
Due to the fact that BW is typically used as a data warehouse, it is mostly seen in larger scenarios within large enterprises, as indicated by the high mean number of users.
One of the main usage scenarios for BW is to provide financial reporting. 94 percent of users use BEx for enterprise/standard reporting, 89 percent query BW and 72 percent perform basic data analysis. Besides BI features, BW also provides planning capabilities, which are used by 55 percent of respondents.
BEx frequently comes up in competes against its successor products and has quite a high competitive win rate, indicating that customers have not been fully convinced to migrate from BEx to other technologies.
Current vs. planned use
N = 65
5 products most often evaluated in competition with SAP BEx
N = 61
Percentage of employees using SAP BEx
N = 63
Number of users using SAP BEx
N = 63
Tasks carried out with SAP BEx by business users
N = 61
Company size (number of employees)
N = 65