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Components of SAP BusinessObjects: Universes

Business Intelligence, Business Objects, Posts Jul 11, 2011 No Comments

A BusinessObjects Universe is a middleware device that contains a business representation of a data warehouse, data marts, or other reporting database. Fundamentally, the universe enables the end-user of BusinessObjects to interact with data without having to understand the complexities of database logic or be familiar with where the physical data is stored. Moreover, the universe is built around common business terminology that describes the business environment and provides the end-user the ability to intuitively query and retrieve exactly the data that they need.

Also known as a “semantic layer”, the universe is an intermediary layer between a database or data source and dependent reports, queries, or dashboards.  The universe is a requirement as a data source for WebIntelligence and Xcelsius dashboards, while being optional as a data source for Crystal Reports.

Role of Business Objects Universe

A universe is developed using the BusinessObjects Designer tool and a universe file (.unv) contains:
•  Database connection information
•  Objects grouped into classes seen by the users
•  Objects that map to database structures
•  A schema of tables and joins based on the database
Components of a Universe Include:
•  Classes – Logical groupings of fields and objects
•  Tables – Mappings to database tables and views
•  Objects – Structures that map to database fields
•  Joins – SQL specifications on how tables relate (contains both inner and outer join information)
•  Contexts – Groups of related tables with their related joins

Universe within BusinessObjects Designer

Key Advantages of Utilizing a BusinessObjects Universe:
•  Only the universe developer needs to understand the structure of the underlying database.
•  Cryptic database jargon is hidden from end-users
•  The designer tool allows the creation of the universe in an easy-to-use graphical interface.
•  The data is read-only so there is no danger of the data being edited or changed by the end user.
•  Reports can be created using a simple interface using drag and drop techniques.
•  All data fields utilize consistent business terminology.
•  Standards can be applied across data fields.

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Components of SAP BusinessObjects: Explorer

Business Intelligence, Business Objects, Posts Jul 07, 2011 No Comments

BusinessObjects Explorer is a relatively new component of the SAP BusinessObjects product suite that provides a more advanced and intuitive data exploration interface for business intelligence end-users, both casual and power users.  Explorer encompasses the simplicity and speed of web-search technologies with the trust and analytical power of conventional business intelligence technologies to provide deep understanding and immediate answers to both simple and sophisticated business questions.  BusinessObjects Explorer provides end-users with the capability of quickly exploring and visualizing large data sets.  Features includes searching and sorting, interactive drilldowns, and various types of dynamic graphical visualizations while navigating through corporate data.

SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

Features and Functions of BusinessObjects Explorer

Robust Search Capability
• Search Experience Similar to Google or Yahoo – Users enter keywords to find instant business information with return results ranked by relevance.
• Search Concurrent Data Sources – Reach data across an entire SAP BusinessObjects landscape and any data source that it accesses.
• Self-Service Access – Pervasive searches with queries directly to data without the need for a predefined report or query.
Trust and Power of a Conventional Business Intelligence System
• Guided Data Exploration – The most relevant keyword search results are presented first, allowing end-users to access additional contextually relevant details as they explore.
• Intuitive Visualization – The system automatically generates charts and grapchs that best represents the information being queries – no cryptic data model or data knowledge is required by any end-user.
• Team Collaboration – Share information easily via e-mail, embedded URL, and other popular communication formats.
Ease of Deployment to End-Users
• Leverages Existing BusinessObjects Infrastructure – Reuses existing universes, security, and administration services already deployed within the BusinessObjects platform.
• Limited End-User Training Required – Intuitive end-user interface and functionality allows first-time users to get started with next-to-no formal training.
• Rapid Implementation Schedule – Add search, exploration, and visualization functionality to an existing BusinessObjects deployment in as little as a few days.


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Components of SAP BusinessObjects: Web Intelligence (WebI)

Business Intelligence, Business Objects, Posts Jul 05, 2011 No Comments

Web Intelligence (WebI) is an ad-hoc query and reporting environment within the SAP BusinessObjects suite of products. Fundamentally, it is an environment that provides self-service access to data.  Web Intelligence contains reporting, querying, and information analysis in one integrated product, helping end-users turn business insights into effective decisions.  With just a few clicks of the mouse, WebI users can quickly access and format information as well as easily analyze information to understand underlying trends and root causes.

Web Intelligence contains a highly-interactive data interface that allows the report user a great deal of flexibility to view data from different perspectives.  Although many report users may only need to build their reports from scratch, it is often necessary for the users to adjust reports to answer current business questions. With Web Intelligence, users can easily edit queries and reports to reflect their latest information needs.

WebInteligence (WebI) - Sample Report

WebInteligence (WebI) - Sample Report

The following options can be taken advantage by user of Web Intelligence …
• View, edit, remove report, section, or block filters
• Format and re-size cells, tables, and charts
• Set breaks and sorts
• Insert calculations
• Add rows and columns to tables
• Create and duplicate tables and charts
• Turn a grid into a chart or a chart into a grid
• Create formulas and variables
• Edit cell formulas in place
• Recombine report objects within tables and charts

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Components of SAP BusinessObjects: Crystal Reports

Business Intelligence, Business Objects, Posts Jul 04, 2011 No Comments

Crystal Reports is an operational reporting environment and component of the SAP BusinessObjects suite of products.  Fundamentally, it is a tool that enables report authors to easily design interactive reports and connect them to virtually any data source. It is the ideal solution for canned or published reports as it allows for the creation of high-fidelity, pixel-perfect reports. Additionally, end-users benefit from on-report sorting and filtering – giving them the power to execute decisions instantly.

More details and graphics of Crystal Reports can be found on the Portfolio Page.

Crystal Reports - Sample Report in Designer Tool

Crystal Reports - Sample Report in Designer Tool

With Crystal Reports, report authors and end-users can leverage an intuitive interface, access data spread across multiple systems, design reports with guided interactivity, and embed reports within both client-server and web applications.  Crystal Reports can be used for report design, application development, and web report delivery.

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Components of Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) – Oracle Delivers

Business Intelligence, Oracle BI, Posts Jun 22, 2011 No Comments

Oracle Delivers is a component of the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition suite that provides activity monitoring and alerting that can reach users via multiple channels such as:

•  Email
•  Dashboards
•  Mobile devices

Oracle Delivers includes a web-based self-service alert creation and subscription portal, and a workflow engine that allows for initiation and passing of contextual information to other alerts. Furthermore, it can dynamically determine recipients and personalized content to reach the right users at the right time with the right information.

Oracle BI Delivers

In a nutshell, Oracle Delivers notifies business users with relevant reports and data when events occur. Notifications can be sent and received utilizing most common communication channels.


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Components of Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) – Oracle Publisher

Business Intelligence, Oracle BI, Posts Jun 16, 2011 No Comments

Oracle Publisher (formerly XML Publisher) is a component of the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition suite is an enterprise-level operational reporting tool that separates the data from the presentation. This means that developers from the information technology department can define the data sources, and business users can specify the report layout. The same data source can be used by multiple report templates.  By separating the task of finding the data from the task of deciding how to present them, the business user can define a report template with exactly the format he or she wishes.

Oracle BI Publisher


Rather then having an independent report design environment, Oracle Publisher leverages both MS Word and Adobe Acrobat as a user interface for the creation of richly-formatted operational reports.

Oracle BI Publisher

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Components of Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) – Oracle Answers

Business Intelligence, Oracle BI, Posts Jun 14, 2011 No Comments
Oracle Answers is a component of the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition suite that provides ad-hoc query and analysis capabilities to end-users.  Users can processes data from multiple data sources in a pure web environment. In addition, users are isolated from underlying data structures as they view and work with a logical view of the information.  This logical view of the information is presented to the user in business terms.  The interface of Oracle Answers is highly-intuitive and enables end-users to create:
• Queries
• Data tables
• Interactive charts and graphs
• Pivot tables
• Reports
• Prompts

Oracle Answers provides a point-and-click interface that allows end-user to develop robust ad-hoc queries and reports. Users simply drag-n-drop fields to create layouts with reports, queries, and charts on the right-hand side of the application.  Data fields are subsequently on listed on the left-hand side.

Oracle BI Answers

In addition, Oracle Answers is tightly integrated Oracle Interactive Dashboards. Reports, prompts, tables, charts, & graphs created in Oracle Answers can be easily saved, shared, modified, formatted, or integrated within dashboards of the Oracle Interactive Dashboards application.

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Components of Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) – Oracle Interactive Dashboards

Business Intelligence, Oracle BI, Posts Jun 13, 2011 No Comments
Oracle Interactive Dashboards is a presentation component of the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) suite and provides versatile, web-based dashboards that displays information in a highly-intuitive format to help end-users’ decision making.  The user interface is completely graphical while access to the information is interactive and based on the individual’s role and identity. Further, the user has full capability for modifying and interacting with data utilizing the following controls …
• Live reports
• Charts
• Tables
• Prompts
• Pivot tables

Additionally, the Oracle Interactive Dashboards provides the user with full capability of drilling, navigating, modifying, and interacting with data sets. This concept is commonly referred to as “guided analysis“.  Oracle Interactive Dashboards can retrieve and aggregate content from a wide variety of sources, including the traditional databases, data warehouses and data marts, shared file servers, and document repositories.

OracleBI - Dashboards

Oracle Interactive Dashboards provide personalized views of corporate and external information. A dashboard consists of one or more pages, which appear as tabs across the top of the dashboard. Pages can display anything that you can access or open with your Web browser, such as saved queries and requests, alerts from Oracle Delivers, images, charts, tables, text, and links to Web sites and documents.

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Differences in Oracle BI (Platform vs. Analytical Applications)

Business Intelligence, Oracle BI, Posts Jun 09, 2011 No Comments

A key way to understand the differences between the Oracle BI Platform and Oracle BI Analytical Applications is to identify that the platform contains the environment and tools for custom building business intelligence solutions, while the analytical applications contain complete, pre-built solutions that can be rapidly configured. Oracle BI Analytical Applications utilize all of the tools within the Oracle BI Platform as well as several additional tools, and all of the components of the Oracle BI Platform are bundled within Oracle BI Analytical Applications. Moreover, within the Analytical Applications, Oracle has leveraged its experience in providing industry-specific business solutions to deliver comprehensive and fully-inclusive business intelligence solutions for numerous common business functions.

Oracle BI Platform / Analytical Applications Components

Another important concept in the differentiation of the Oracle BI Platform and Oracle BI Analytical Applications is the amount of content delivered in the metadata or middleware layer. In a nutshell, the metadata layer within Oracle BI creates a semantic model over an organization’s entire data set, consists of the information that characterizes data, and describes how the organizational data should be presented by the user interface of the business intelligence environment.

The Oracle BI Platform is delivered without any pre-existing metadata as it only contains the tools for developing metadata.

Oracle BI Platform Metadata

However, Oracle BI Analytical Applications come delivered with a rich set of metadata elements at all three layers (physical, logical, and presentation) and come delivered with the mappings between the levels already being developed and configured as well as physical connections already being defined.

Oracle BI Analytical Applications Metadata

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Oracle Business Intelligence (BI) Analytical Applications

Business Intelligence, Oracle BI, Posts Jun 07, 2011 1 Comment
Rather than just being a platform or development environment, Oracle Business Intelligence (BI) Analytical Applications are fully inclusive business intelligence solutions that incorporate all of the key metrics, workflows, and business processes for a particular business function.  Bundled within theses solutions are numerous pre-built components including:
•  Dashboards
•  Metrics
•  Reports
•  Drill-down paths
•  Dimensional models
•  Naming standards
•  Database objects
•  ETL routines
•  Metadata
•  Security

In addition, Oracle BI Analytical Applications contain universal adapters that allow for rapid integration and direct connections with leading commercial-off-the shelf (COTS) packages including SAP, Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, and Siebel applications systems.

Oracle BI Analytical Applications come bundled with best practices and industry standards built-in. Additionally, they include all of the functionality required to conduct business intelligence for many common business functions including financials, human resources, sales, service, contact centers, marketing, supply chains, order management and fulfillment business areas.

Oracle BI Analytical Application Modules

Fundamentally, Oracle BI Analytical Applications are built upon the Oracle BI Platform and provide complete end-to-end, prebuilt business intelligence solutions that deliver intuitive, role-based intelligence to all members of an organization including senior executives, mid-level managers, and front-line employees.  So rather than developing custom business intelligence solutions for each business area and function, the use of Oracle BI Analytical Applications allows an organization the ability to rapidly configure a ready-built solution utilizing the complete Oracle BI Platform.

Oracle BI Platform / Analytical Applications

Oracle BI Analytical Applications come bundled with two main additional pre-built back-end repositories:
•  Business Analytics Warehouse
•  ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) Repository

The Business Analytics Warehouse (BAW) is a completely pre-built data warehouse that physically contains all of necessary dimension and fact table needed for the business intelligence applications. The BAW is fully-compliant with the dimensional modeling methodology developed by Ralph Kimball and supports many advanced techniques including slowly changing dimensions, conformed dimensions, aggregate tables, hierarchy tables, and surrogate keys.

The ETL repository includes all of the routines for extracting of data to a staging area, transforming the data into a common format, the loading of date into data warehouse tables, changed data capture, and seeding data for common dimensions. In addition, the powerful ETL repository consist of two main components, Informatica which is the ETL engine that contains the data integration routines, and the DAC (Data Warehouse Application Console) which is the “ETL orchestration tool” that controls application configuration, execution & recovery, and monitorring.

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