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Buyer's Guide
BI (Business Intelligence) Tools
September 2022
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James John Wilson - PeerSpot reviewer
Head of Project Management at Freelancer
Real User
Top 5
Robust, powerful, and easy to use
Pros and Cons
  • "In general, Domo is very powerful and very easy to use, relatively speaking."
  • "There were very few cases on some of the tables, the data tables, where I wish there was an additional feature or two."

What is our primary use case?

I was building executive dashboards for project management offices. I would have a portfolio of projects. Mainly, it was for opening new units and new markets. I would have project plans and action item logs, and I would use those in Smartsheet, and then I would ingest those up into Domo and I would be able to run statistics and metrics to track the progress of any given project. I would be able to calculate things like percent complete according to the calendar, percent complete of the budget, percent complete of the scope, number of tasks, percentage of tasks against total tasks, et cetera.

I could, for each project, if I wanted to drill down, go in, and see the detail of the tasks. I could also go see the action items, the risks, the issues, and the action items associated with the project. Therefore, I could see how many of those there were, what were critical, high, medium, or low, and which ones were late in terms of the due dates and things like that. I could run both a general project status meeting for a given project and also, at a high level, show a swift health check of a set of projects. That was very helpful for the executives.

What is most valuable?

Domo is very strong.

In general, Domo is very powerful and very easy to use, relatively speaking. And so I didn't have a lot of complaints. I'm unsure if I was fully tasking it and stressing the Domo system.

What needs improvement?

There were very few cases on some of the tables, the data tables, where I wish there was an additional feature or two. However, they were particular. What I wanted to see was the ability to collapse when you group a set of rows, let's say when you group them by status or health, so you have your red projects grouped up top. I wanted to compress or collapse that group of red and then open the yellow projects and then the green projects. There were a bit more features in the tables than I wanted to see.

They have a widget that you can use either in Microsoft PowerPoint to pull over data into your PowerPoints and refresh graphs or charts or metrics or tables. I would love to see that available in Google Slides. I used it successfully in PowerPoint; however, at one company, they were only using Google products, and so that widget didn't help with reporting in slides. Therefore, we had to do a bit more manual work for our quarterly business reviews or monthly business reviews to produce our executive presentations.

Sometimes the fonts were difficult to read if you're trying to put a lot of data in a table and show a lot of rows. Sometimes the fonts got too light, and you had to really play with it to try and figure out how to make it readable.

One thing I had to do, and I don't know if it's necessarily a bad thing, was when I was running a meeting, I would have to go turn off the data jobs. If I was running a meeting and a lot of times people were scrambling in the background to do their updates even as the meeting was occurring, it would cause the page to render very slowly. It would sometimes pause or freeze. I found that if I went and turned off the status, the data update jobs that we're pulling data from Smartsheet, then the meetings would work more smoothly, and there were no interruptions or delays.

For how long have I used the solution?

I started using the solution since 2019. I just finished a job and used it up until this month.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. I never had it crash or go out of service.

I’ve never witnessed performance problems like graphs taking a while to render, things like that, only when there were data updates going on in the background.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I never saw any scalability problems. There’s probably not a scalability issue. It’s just if you've got multiple processes hitting the same data source. Sometimes it has to wait for the data to update. Perhaps maybe there's a way in bigger organizations where there's a lot more going on where that could become a problem, and you might have to schedule how that gets done.

I had everything set to real-time, meaning if a database update was made over in Smartsheet, it would immediately notify Domo and start to pull the data over. However, if I had set it to do it every hour or two times a day or something, then that wouldn't have interrupted the project meetings.

It scales pretty well. My data set was not big. I didn't have millions of records or billions of records, so I never really stressed the system. I had 100,000 records or less across all my entities.

At one company, it was being used across all the major teams. There's a data engineering team and a finance team that was using it for the general ledger reporting. Operations were using it, and those operations encompassed a large number of things. That included procurement, construction, hospitality, training teams, and HR teams. So it was fairly broad. However, we were a small division in the company, so it was less than 100 users.

At another organization, I was the only real power user. However, there were 35 people when I left that was given access and were using the reports or had access to the reports. It was not that many in the grand scale of an enterprise or big business.

How are customer service and support?

I don't remember opening a ticket. I did at one company when we had a professional services team helping us set up the instance, and we had a success manager, who were all very skilled. For most of my time there, I was able to work with the implementation team that was able to answer any of my questions, or if there was any logic I was trying to work out, like to take daily snapshots is something that you need to be shown how to do, they could help. That said, once you have the model, you can copy it and replicate it across to other data sets.

I’ve never had a bug and do not remember saying "This system's not working."

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had Tableau. However, the problem with Tableau is it was part of the corporate team, and you had to wait a long time to get at least the way they set it up, where you had to make a request to get your data into the data warehouse. Then, it had to get loaded and cleaned and architected and then approved and pushed out to the production instance. You could start to run your reports after that. They might have to structure it so we just gave up on Tableau since it was such a heavy enterprise system, the way that the one company was using it.

That's the reason why the chief technical officer for our division brought in Domo, as it was a rapid solution that users could get in there, and analysts could start working right away and running reports and analyzing data. That's the only comparison I have. We were a Microsoft shop, and I don't know why we didn't consider Power BI. However, Smartsheet was the tool that was being used, so it didn't really come up as an option. My guess is if I go to my next Microsoft shop, I'll use Power BI instead of Domo since it's probably already in-house and cheaper, and it's pretty flexible and fast.

A company that I used to work for switched over to Power BI.

How was the initial setup?

I was able to have my PMO executive dashboards up and running in a couple of weeks. It's straightforward. If what you want to do, it's swift and easy. Like my data is projects, the tasks, the projects, and the action items. If I have budget data, I pull in budget data as well. Then, I just need to make sure I know how those three link up on the keys. And if that's done correctly, then you can immediately start building the dashboards and linking in all the data. To get it to work out what the executives want to see is just iterative, but you can have something that an executive can see very rapidly, just in a couple of weeks, if not sooner. If that was the only thing I had to do, I could get something up and running very quickly.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I had an enterprise license.

It started out at about $600 a seat. However, then as we started to grow, it scaled that down to about $330 or 3$50 a seat, if I'm not mistaken. Obviously, it's scaled pricing. When I was using it previously, they had the full enterprise license, and they'd negotiated an even lower price.

I don't know if I know the cost when you compare it to all other types of software that are being used across the business. Perhaps it's cheaper than Tableau. However, I don't know all that. However, it was a tricky part of the approval process for me to get that approved due to the price tag. It wasn't tricky at the other organization I worked for, as the CTO knew what he wanted it. He's a very senior member of staff and has a big budget. He was able to get that approved.

What other advice do I have?

I am just an end-user.

I’m not sure which version we’re using. It's a software as a service solution, so it's the latest one. I wasn't using all of the capabilities of the tool.

I’d advise other users that it goes much faster if you really have a sense of what your data. I have an immaculate, apparent picture of my data in my head. It's straightforward. Its projects, tasks, its action items, and budget information are great. As long as you know how you're going to link that up and what you want to be able to analyze. For example, I want to be able to see over time that my issues are coming down. They're shrinking by the day. I want to see a daily snapshot of the total number of issues on my projects. If you have that type of clarity, you can set up your system and data routines reasonably quickly.

After that, it's really just, how do you want to display it? That's just iterative and working with some fairly straightforward widgets. To get your data nice and clean, ensure you understand how it will all hang together. That’s what's nice about Domo. You don't have to formally create a data model behind the scenes, as long as your data from one table to the next has the same column with the same name, then when those. When you put different widgets on the page, you can configure the page to each all of the widgets on that page to respond to that same key.

They'll all filter on the same key even though one data type may be tasks and the other one might be action items. If you have the project ID in both of those data sets, then they'll both filter. Therefore, you don't have to go through a lot of complex data modeling or formalized data modeling. Just knowing your data is probably the key - or at least it was for me. My data set wasn't as complicated as perhaps others.

I’d rate the solution eight out of ten. It was pretty expensive.

The cost didn't justify keeping it around when you look and compare it to other existing tools in the business. That's why I might give it an eight. However, from a feature and functionality perspective, it's just a really straightforward, elegant tool. I like it.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Deepak Damodarr - PeerSpot reviewer
Data Office Lead at a comms service provider with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
User friendly, easy to set up and great for analyzing data
Pros and Cons
  • "The most interesting feature of Microsoft Power BI is that it's very user-friendly."
  • "here are still better UI designs they can go through. I'm assuming they are focusing more on capabilities rather than look-and-feel designs."

What is our primary use case?

There are several different use cases. The most basic use case would be just to be able to share data from a database or a data repository. That's the most basic use case.

Microsoft Power BI is a visualization tool, is a BI tool. There are more than 1,000 use cases that you could use. There are countless use cases for which a BI tool or visualization tool could be used for.

The simplest use case is where a colleague in an organization who does not have any coding skills or does not have any technology background wants to be able to look at some data from a database or a repository of data. He or she could use Power PI just to be able to connect to that system and just take a look at or peek into that database. It is as simple as that.

How has it helped my organization?

Over the last six years, Microsoft Power BI has evolved, matured, has brought in a lot of new features. Six years back, when I first started using Microsoft Power BI, it was just one of the tools among the crowd of tools that I had access to and may not have been that interesting, at that point in time. It was fairly rudimentary and fairly basic in terms of its feature capabilities. However, in the last six years, Microsoft has put a lot of focus and effort into developing it further, and has, on a regular incremental basis, started deploying and enabling capabilities and features, which now makes Microsoft Power BI one of the leading BI tools in the industry.

We realized the benefits very quickly. In 30 minutes, a company can begin to realize the benefits.

In the most basic use case, which is for a user to be able to just access a data which he or she normally would not have been able to himself or herself, since they don't have SQL query knowledge, or they don't know how to access, log into a SQL Server or a database. They can do that using Power BI within half an hour or less.

What is most valuable?

Like any typical BI visualization tool, Microsoft has several features. The most interesting feature of Microsoft Power BI is that it's very user-friendly.

It is a cloud-based BI tool even though it does come with a desktop client. The ability for a very beginner, basic user to get started with Power BI is very easy. Even if you don't have Microsoft licenses and just want to use a tool for analyzing data, without having to share it with others, you can do that with Microsoft Power BI.

What needs improvement?

I'm comparing this with other existing and newcomer BI tools. The look and feel of the tool has, only like a month back, undergone a major change. If not, for the last five years at least, last four years at least, the look and feel have been very, very similar all the time. 

It did not change much in the last four years. Barring a lot of functionalities and capabilities being added, it did not change much. The look and feel were pretty much the same. However, about a month back, the latest release of Power BI, they made some further, drastic changes to the way the buttons and the panels are set up. That said, they can do more. There are still better UI designs they can go through. I'm assuming they are focusing more on capabilities rather than look-and-feel designs.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for six years now. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is quite stable and we have not had any, not come across significant bugs, so far. We've only come across some features which are missing or could have been improved, like certain types of charts that were missing in the past, which are being added. Some of the advanced charts are available as a paid service from third-party partners and not available out-of-the-box. There are very unique features or some very specific capabilities that were missing or are still missing. We could always manage it by bringing in a partner to create an add-on or something like that.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is very scalable and we do plan to increase usage. 

How are customer service and support?

We haven't opted for technical support yet as we have a few other tools which are also being used by the organization, in the new organization that I'm in, right now. Power BI was being offered to colleagues to use on a self-service basis. There were communities and subject matter experts within the organization who had offered their services to the wider organization to come and ask questions. It was basically community-based support, I would say, within the organization. 

Also, Microsoft offers free community-based support for Power BI and proactive support is simply paid. It's paid service from Microsoft and other partners, so we have not opted for that yet, something we will look into once it comes to that point. Yet, it's a fairly mature product. We don't think there would be issues with the platform. The issues would be more to do with how to use the platform, or how to use the platform in conjunction with other systems, other software, et cetera, which is more specific to our organization rather than something the vendor has to support us with.

You do get your questions answered eventually, however, you have to wait maybe one or two days to get the questions answered.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used more than ten to 15 different types of software in the past 20 years.

I have used Tableau and I have used Qlik Sense. These two are, I would say, the top two leading platforms. We switched completely to Power BI, however, we started using Power BI more, alongside Tableau and Qlik Sense. The organization where I used to work previously had the commercial ability to acquire multiple software, depending on use cases, or depending on business requirements, or needs. In the previous organization, the organization was using one particular platform, then they decided to bring in a second platform, then they decided to bring in the third platform. As part of that mix-and-match scenario, we ended up using Qlik Sense and Tableau. And then we also started, in parallel, using Power BI, which then started to get better feedback and reviews, in general, so we ended up using it more and more.

How was the initial setup?

It comes bundled with Office 365Office 365 is a SaaS-based office suite. Anything that you build on your desktop or Power BI, you can publish into the Office 365 cloud environment. It's relatively easy to get everything up and running. 

It's as simple as taking your credit card and buying an Office 365 license and configuring the AD group and you can be up and running. Of course, depending on how secure and structured you want to make your entire setup, it can take a few months, sometimes, with the full rollout to happen. 

A very basic pilot rollout can be done in a matter of a few weeks.

For the actual deployment and configuration, we just needed five people, and five resources working between six to 12 months. Some were required only for six months. Some are still continuing as part of further enhancements as some of the resources are being retained from a training and onboarding purpose so that they can do a training of the wider organization, and colleagues in the organization, show them how to use Office 365, and get trained on that. The actual development itself took less than two or three months.

In terms of maintenance, there are regular patch updates that get pushed from Microsoft. The backend IT support team needs to ensure all the patches are tested before they're deployed in production, for all the users to use.

What about the implementation team?

Microsoft usually sells through a partner, most of these licenses, and Microsoft also usually recommends a partner. In our case, we did an RFP to bring in the subject matter experts, partners who are certified on Microsoft platforms.

We had a system integrator who came in and helped us deploy and roll out Microsoft 365. As part of that, as I mentioned, we got Microsoft Power BI. 

We are now thinking if we should switch on all the other capabilities of Microsoft Power BI or not.

What was our ROI?

We have noted an ROI, however, it varies from use case to use case.

There are some use cases in which if you deliver it, the cost savings or the revenue generated from that, or the benefits from that one single use case will cover the entire cost of all 65 licenses, for the entire year.

Then there are use cases, in which you'll have to wait for a few years or months before a company will actually see some benefit being derived.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

They have made the desktop client free of cost, which is also what Qlik Sense is. The Qlik Sense Desktop is free of cost. Tableau, the web version of Tableau online, there's a trial period you can use it for. Microsoft also has made Power BI available as a free add-on, or a free complimentary add-on alongside Office 365 for corporate users. This means even if the organization does not want to use Power BI, if they're using Qlik Sense, Tableau, Looker, ThoughtSpot, Domo, or the other tools, Power BI will still be available to them when they're using Microsoft Office.

While it comes bundled with Office, you don't have to buy any additional licenses, just for building and publishing. That said, the moment you want to start sharing your reports, your dashboards, and your analysis with others, that is the point where you need to then start paying for additional capabilities or plans.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I've always been part of different transformation programs where we were required to evaluate a BI tool, to meet the business requirements. Usually, Power BI ends up coming in the short list of products from a BI perspective, from a BI reporting perspective, apart from sometimes Tableau, and Qlik Sense. Sometimes, we also come across ThoughtSpot, Sisense, and Domo. These are some of the other tools which we have also, sometimes, shortlisted.

The differences have become very, very minimal between solutions. There are very few, minor differences between different tools. About four or five years back, there used to be drastic capability gaps between the different tools. Four or five years back, Tableau was the most mature, followed by Qlik Sense, followed by MicroStrategy, followed by a few other tools like SAP Analytics, or a few others. Today, Power BI is alongside Tableau, and Qlik Sense is in the top three. That's based on my experience of having worked on all these three platforms. Tableau, among the three, has the best UI, user interface. Qlik has the best performance, in terms of building complex data models. Power BI, however, is the easiest and most fun to use when it comes to getting somebody to use the tool from scratch. 

There are a few other benefits and strengths. Qlik Sense and Power BI, both come with built-in ETL which is data integration capabilities. They have very mature data integration capabilities, as compared to Tableau, whereas Tableau has very basic integration capabilities. You need to buy another ETL product for it to be able to do a similar level of data transformation as Qlik Sense, or Power BI.

What other advice do I have?

We are a customer and may also be a Microsoft partner, as we are a telecom. 

I'd rate the solution nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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DenisGauder - PeerSpot reviewer
Digital Asset Manager at a energy/utilities company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Excellent for scientific applications with a good ability to customize
Pros and Cons
  • "Spotfire is excellent for scientific applications, especially because of its integration with RNG."
  • "The handling and consumption of realtime data could be improved."

What is our primary use case?

As a service company, we were using Spotfire for things like timesheet analysis for our own purposes. What was more important was that we were advising our corporate customers, chemical, oil and gas companies like Shell, Total, and Exxon about where they should use this tool and how to develop an application using it. I'm really on the service side and Spotfire was a tool that I could offer to my customers for delivering projects.

In terms of use case, process data analysis would be number one. Then I'd say industrial performance dashboard, and lastly, problem root cause analysis.

How has it helped my organization?

I championed the use of this solution in my company (an engineering service company) and ultimately we delivered a lot of projects. Often, we were working on development, more specifically user interface development, graphical user interface, and other things that were extremely costly and time consuming. When the BI tools arrived, it seemed to be a very fast way to not only analyze data, but also provide interactive dashboards to people, which before would've required the development of a custom tool. This would've been magnitudes higher in terms of price, so I really saw an opportunity there with the BI tools.

At this stage, it was clear that Spotfire was the top runner. I don't have much experience with Tableau, but clearly for scientific applications, Spotfire was awesome. Especially because of its integration with things like RNG. As an engineer, I was very excited.

What needs improvement?

To be completely frank, the main problem of Spotfire is that it's being destroyed by Power BI. That's the only problem. Otherwise, the product is superior from a technical perspective, but they are victim of an extremely aggressive strategy from Microsoft and therefore, become far too expensive because Power BI is free in organizations. That's Spotfire's biggest weakness.

Another thing is the realtime boarding capabilities and the integration with other realtime streaming products should be much easier. The handling of realtime data could be improved.

I would also improve the consumption of realtime data. I'd also probably improve integration with the RNG, and generally speaking, the data science techniques. I think this is where Spotfire can still play a role and be competitive compared to Power BI. Other than that, I love the product, but I don't know how they can survive the offensive of Microsoft commercially.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for around six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've had projects running for a while and have no particular complaints about stability. Originally, Spotfire is an offline analysis tool, so stability isn't a huge issue. It's much more of an issue when you do realtime statistical treatment with realtime data . That's where I mentioned they have to improve. 

Tipco is a huge company and they have this policy of acquiring software all the time, which is an interesting yet aggressive policy for development. The problem when you keep acquiring companies is that at some point, you have to integrate the products. That's where things tend to take a lot of time. Afterwards, the integration can sometimes be wishy washy and I think this is what happens in the realtime space. 

Spotfire has identified that there was something in the market that was asking for the consumption of realtime data and the provision of realtime dashboards and analysis. What they've done is half integrate another product that they bought and I found this strategy weak. I think this is where the stability will really become a critical factor, but overall, I would say so far so good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think scalability is pretty good. I've seen customers running thousands of reports. For reaching good scalability, it also depends on your network architecture and whether you host it on cloud or not. I would say there's nothing in the software that really worries me, but you can always mess it up.

How are customer service and support?

Overall it's quite good. As a partner, there's a big difference because my request for assistance is usually prioritized over regular customers. I probably had access to the hotline, but it's very clear that when you're a partner and you meet the commercial team, they know that you're pre-sale, and so you get a lot better answers from them than you do from the hotline. Overall, I have nothing to complain about, but I'm not blown away either.

How was the initial setup?

It depends how you deploy it and the use case. If you just want to install it on your computer and get going for self-service usage, that's a matter of five minutes, so that's extremely easy. If you want to deploy it at the corporate level with the web server, that can be more complex. For a corporate analysis solution or corporate dashboarding solution, it's more complex, but also not unexpected.

When you've installed or deployed the software in your company, you're still nowhere; that's probably the IT department's problem generally speaking: Is the product installed? Is someone doing something with it? Is there the necessary skillset around it? Are your engineering and technical personnel able to operate it on their own? That seems to be the least of their worries, but this is why you pay for the software. 

I would say that in terms of a deployment strategy, everyone will do the ITPs. If you have an IT person in your company that knows half of what they're doing, there's no problem. You manage. 

Nevertheless, putting a correct strategy around the use of business intelligence tools in the organization, it's relevant to ask: What will we use it for? What kind of training will we provide? What kind of algorithm will we develop on top of that? I told you that as an integration with the RNG, for example,which is extremely powerful, I think these are big questions that people often forget.

They think that just by a data science or dashboarding tool, results will come out of it miraculously, but no results come out of the software. Results come out of people using the software, so I would say the challenge in terms of a deployment strategy and the time it takes is a complete function of the ambition level that you have. We can deploy it in one night, but then it has no impact on the company and if you really want to make an impact on the company, then I believe that you are looking at deployment activities, which are much longer. Particularly after the deployment, you should probably do something to maintain the life cycle of the product. So I would say an ideal deployment is deployment that never ends.

To summarize, I would say from a technical point of view, deployment should be the least of your problems. It can be easy. Nevertheless, using a quick strategy around the use of business intelligence, that's something different. I believe that all decision makers should really focus their attention on this and not on something as silly as whether the solution is easy to install.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution an eight or nine out of ten.

It's one of the best products I've worked with in my career. Especially in the engineering, oil and gas, or chemistry fields. A long time ago, you found a lot of niche software players, which were terrible software. Being able to introduce something modern like Spotfire was really fresh air for us. It's an excellent product. The ability to customize as well is really good. 

Particularly for us, because as a service company, we tend do things that are a bit more advanced than what the production people do and therefore, I was very pleased with it. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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DENNISSUNNY - PeerSpot reviewer
Business Intelligence Architect at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 10
Web intelligence will work with any amount of data even if you have 10 million rows
Pros and Cons
  • "There are two tools inside BusinessObjects' schematic layout called the Universal Design Tool and Information Design Tool. These are the most powerful tools that set BusinessObjects' reporting from other solutions. If my organization has 300 or 400 tables, I can combine all of them into one universe, and everyone can use that. It is just a schematic layout that does not hold any data but the table relationships."
  • "Factoring in total implementation and maintenance costs, SAP BusinessObjects is too expensive. If you deal with a huge amount of data, you can go with BusinessObjects. However, if you are a medium-sized company with a modest amount of data, you can opt for another solution."

What is our primary use case?

BusinessObjects has a lot of tools, including Web Intelligence, Crystal Reports, Analysis for Office, SAP Lumira, and Analytical Cloud. SAP also has a new tool for HANA-based applications it introduced around 2018. Analysis for Office is an SAP add-on inside Microsoft Office. It works inside of Office tools like Excel, so you have the option to get data from Excel, and there's a direct connection with SAP. You can point that to your HANA database or a BEx query also. 

You can also connect SAP to PowerPoint, so you can create presentations from the HANA database or a BEx query.  We had more than 180 to 200 reports on Analysis for Office in my last implementation. Most of our company users were good at Excel, so it was easy to use an external data connection to Excel.

For example, say we have different sheets in Excel. We populate the data from the BEx query or the HANA database in the first sheet. In the second, we'll do some options like the lookup function for Match Index and the reports. The data will be constantly refreshed in the backend. Finally, we have to create the report and publish it to the SAP BI Launchpad to be shared with everyone. 

The other thing is the WEBI, or Web Intelligence report. That's the most powerful reporting feature inside BusinessObjects. We normally use WEBI for ad hoc reporting, not for dashboarding, because the dashboard visualization is not that great. WEBI will work even if you have more than 10 million rows. 

WEBI will work with any amount of data. I have more than 100 gigabytes of data in WEBI. It's best for ad hoc reporting instead of dashboards. SAP has its own dashboard tool inside BusinessObjects dedicated to dashboards and visualizations. You cannot do any ad-hoc reporting inside that.

In terms of the dashboard, they introduced another tool called Design Studio. Design Studio is another took inside SAP BusinessObjects. Design Studio is better for dashboarding and summary reporting. For example, you can take a data table and create a graphical representation. That's SAP Design Studio, and WEBI is a tool we use globally. 

All of our SAP Businessthey will always prefer to work in WEBI, Web Intelligence. WEBI has two versions. One is inside the launch pad that is a browser-based tool. Second, you can have a tool of WEBI inside your desktop itself, that is called Web Intelligence Rich Client. Web Intelligence Rich Client is the same tool as the second version, there are two versions of WEBI, one is inside the browser, and the second is, you can install it on the desktop. Lumira is comparable to Tableau, or Power BI. Lumira was introduced in 2013 or 2014. I forgot the year, but it was introduced after Tableau. Lumira has a great story function. There is a story option in Tableau, but that started in Lumira.

SAP had another tool called Explorer. Explorer is a simple tool to preview the data that can be used for both ad hoc reporting and visualization, but they discontinued Explorer in December 2020. Adobe Flash Player was discontinued, and Explorer was completely dependent on Flash. The last tool, SAP Analytics Cloud, is currently strong in the market, and it was introduced in 2020, I think. They prefer SAC. SAC can be used for both ad hoc and dashboard reporting. 

What is most valuable?

There are two tools inside BusinessObjects' schematic layout called the Universal Design Tool and Information Design Tool. These are the most powerful tools that set BusinessObjects' reporting from other solutions.

If my organization has 300 or 400 tables, I can combine all of them into one universe, and everyone can use that. It is just a schematic layout that does not hold any data but the table relationships.

UDT is perfect, and you can do anything in it. There are never any issues when joining the tables because there are a lot of options. In terms of tables, two things always come to mind: looping and traps. These are the main difficulties we face when joining tables, but loops and traps are easily resolved inside BusinessOjbects UDT and IDT. We have API functions and contact operators that resolve these issues.

IDT and UDT form the backbone of BusinessObjects. There is one more thing called publication. I haven't seen this feature in any other tools. Publication is useful for bulk reporting. For example, say I want to send reports to 200 Indian salespeople, and I want to apply a filter so the reports only go to specific cities. This can be done in BusinessObjects in five minutes. This cannot be done in any other tool like Tableau or Power BI. 

What needs improvement?

BusinessObjects reporting tools have not been perfected yet. However, there are two ETL tools inside the BusinessObjects. They are ETL tools in the schematic between the database and the reporting. 

But if we're talking negative aspects of BusinessObjects, it's like comparing a bus and a bike. If you want to reach somewhere nearby within five minutes, you can use a bike instead of the bus because there will be a lot of traffic and lots of people inside the bus. If you have large amounts of data, then go for BusinessObjects. If you have a light amount of data, it's better to use Tableau or Power BI tools.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've worked with SAP BusinessObjects for 10 to 15 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

BusinessObjects' stability is awesome with a huge amount of data, but you're often running three or four tools at a time. For example, say I want to do reporting in BusinessObjects. First, I have to think about the type of schematic layer I must use: UDT or IDT.  Second, I have to think about what type of reporting tool I'll need: ad hoc, detailed summary, or dashboard reporting. 

If it is an ad hoc report, I will go for Crystal Report. If it is just dashboard reporting, I've to go for SAC or Lumira. These confusions will be there for every user. If someone wants to really work on BusinessObjects, they should understand at least three or four of its tools. With Tableau, you only need to know about Tableau. You don't have to think about other tools because everything is inside Tableau or Power BI.

BusinessObjects will give you a lot of options. There will be a proper category, like schematic layout developer, report developer, report viewers, etc. And there are different categories of users inside BusinessObjects. Tableau and Power BI don't have such categories.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Factoring in total implementation and maintenance costs, SAP BusinessObjects is too expensive. If you deal with a huge amount of data, you can go with BusinessObjects. However, if you are a medium-sized company with a modest amount of data, you can opt for another solution. 

What other advice do I have?

I rate SAP BusinessObjects eight out of 10.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Implementer
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Chang Geng - PeerSpot reviewer
Junior Consultant at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 10
Helped to integrate planning processes across our customer's organizations
Pros and Cons
  • "By using Board we can do a lot of free analysis. We can change the layout of a table and even the end-user can change the layout of a table. And in Board 11.2 you can save the layout. That's very useful for the customer, it's a very good function."
  • "What could be better is the manual... nowadays, most people use a web client, but on the Board manual website, a lot of the information is only about the Windows client. If they could update that, it would be helpful."

What is our primary use case?

Our end user is a chemical industry company, and they did a lot of reports in Excel. We use Board to create reports automatically, instead of with Excel.

How has it helped my organization?

Before we used Board for our customer, they would share the same Excel sheets each in different departments. It was highly inefficient. They needed to wait until other people finished their parts. And it was not easy to catch the newest information in the Excel sheets. After we provided Board to the customer, they were able to put all their planning information in Board and get the newest information from it.

In addition, it has helped to integrate planning processes across our customer's organizations. For example, people from accounting, HR, and production are able to check other departments' information. While it hasn't improved the accuracy of the planning information, as the ERP system is quite accurate, the fact that we can let people from different departments check the information quickly helps them see accurate data.

It also provides us with faster access to information than we had before.

What is most valuable?

By using Board we can do a lot of free analysis. We can change the layout of a table and even the end-user can change the layout of a table. And in Board 11.2 you can save the layout. That's very useful for the customer, it's a very good function. We use this functionality to achieve free analysis.

Another feature is the Procedure environment. It's not a new function, but it's a big function within Board. By using Procedures we can modify the data in a lot of ways. We don't just collect data from the ERP system and show the data to the customer. We can also modify the data. We can do a lot of data entry and also do a lot of deep analysis, by evaluating the data. One of my colleagues has even used the dataflow, the Procedure environment, to build a booking system for making reservations.

What needs improvement?

What could be better is the manual. When I first used Board, I checked the Board manual all the time. It's a website, boardmanual.com, and there is a lot of information on this website about how to use Board and the meaning of each construct. Nowadays, most people use a web client, but on the Board manual website, a lot of the information is only about the Windows client. If they could update that, it would be helpful.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Board for half a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In the beginning, Board 11.2 was not stable, but after the patch was released, it became stable. Now it's really stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is great. Our customer is a global company, so in the near future we may need to expand the solution to the branches.

How are customer service and technical support?

I get support from Board's headquarters every week. I get the answers from them. We go through the troubleshooting together and sometimes they are able to answer quickly, in that meeting. But if they cannot give me the answer directly, they will ask colleagues, and I will get the answer in two weeks. It's acceptable.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

There are a lot of reasons that our customer switched to Board. Their previous solution, in terms of functionality, was really limited. It just scanned the data from the ERP system and showed the data in a table. In Board, we can create a lot of reports and do free analysis by changing the layout of the table. We can also send a graph or table to other people or download them. Board has more functions that the customer uses, compared to what they had before.

How was the initial setup?

It's really easy to set up. It's just check, check, check, connect the folder, and finish. If you have already downloaded the software from the website, it only takes about five or 10 minutes to set up Board.

Of course, we also set up the access authority of each person. Different people have different access which determines whether they are limited in checking information in the solution.

While we're not involved in the maintenance side of things, it would probably take two or three people to maintain the solution.

In our company there are 10 people who use Board. In the future, we expect our customer will have 1,000 people in Board. Users would be the leaders of each department, such as the production team, the accounting department, and the sales department.

What was our ROI?

One of the reasons we chose Board is because the performance to cost ratio is high. And we did not only use Board to replace Excel, we also replaced a Japanese BI tool called Dr. Sum.

And if you use SAP and other BI tools, you may need to do a lot of add-on development. That takes a lot of money. But with Board, we don't do a lot of add-ons to collect the data. We just use Board Connectors to get the data from the ERP system. That also saves money.

Finally, a company can improve its productivity and save time with Board.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

With Board you can do a lot of data entry, and by using the Procedure environment you can make complex reports. But with Tableau you can only show the data that was collected. It doesn't have as much functionality.

What other advice do I have?

With Board I have learned how to deal with the master data and how to think about workflow, dataflow. and the structure of the cube.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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