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>> Written by Jayne Landry, Global VP & GM of Business Intelligence within the SAP Platform Solutions Group, at SAP

If yours is like many other growing companies, you’re probably thinking about how you can continue to gain competitive advantage. Making business intelligence (BI) more pervasive so that everyone in the organization can make informed decisions is a great way to stay ahead of the competition, particularly given that fewer than 10% of people in most organizations have access to BI today. You may have heard of the benefits of SAP BI – but if you’ve seen SAP as too big, too complex, or too difficult to work with, read on.

Myth #1: SAP doesn’t have BI solutions for smaller companies or departments.

Because SAP serves many large businesses, some may conclude that it doesn’t understand the needs of the small and midsize market. But SAP has been delivering BI solutions for midmarket customers for more than 20 years, and has a complete portfolio of solutions that start small and scale to fit your needs. SAP has a BI solution to fit your company’s needs and budget, from solutions for individual users such as SAP® Crystal Reports, which delivers both customized and batch reports, to complete solutions for enterprise customers like SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite. Along the spectrum you’ll also find the latest addition to the BI family, SAP® Lumira, which provides self-service BI for rapid insights as well as solutions for small teams including SAP BusinessObjects™ Edge BI.

SAP also allows you to choose between on-premise and Cloud deployment, giving you the ultimate in flexibility and control over upfront investment. With SAP BI solutions, you’ll get the functionality you want, the support you need, and specific applications designed for companies of your size.

Myth #2: SAP BI works only with SAP systems.

You may have heard that SAP BI works only with SAP® ERP or SAP® BW – but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, about half of our BI customers have no SAP in their environment. We’ve always said we’ve never met a database or application we didn’t like; SAP BI currently works with more than  160 different data sources. SAP BI sources data from small under-desk databases to MySQL or SQL Server to OLAP data sources including Oracle OLAP, Oracle Essbase, and Teradata OLAP – and on up to big data stores such as Hadoop, Hive, and Amazon Elastic Map Reduce.

In addition, through our OEM partner program, SAP BI is embedded into applications from more than 1,000 different software vendors, including solutions from Sage Software, Computer Associates, Ericsson, and Infor Global Solutions.

Myth #3: SAP is too complicated and difficult to embed.

Solutions like SAP Lumira are created with the individual in mind. The download is under 200 MB and it’s designed for DIY installation. Once you’ve chosen the SAP solutions that fit your needs, we also work with a variety of partners, and with Cloud vendors including Amazon Web Services, to help you get your entire BI environment up and running quickly. To simplify the installation experience even further, we’ve taken a “building–block approach.” You don’t have to install everything – you can customize your installation to implement just the pieces you need.

We’ve had tons of experience making BI accessible and applicable by line of business and by industry. And we’ve made this content available for free, from IT to HR and finance, and across a variety of industries, so you have a simple, prebuilt starting point to work from.

Today, IT is moving away from multiyear, enterprisewide BI projects in favor of smaller projects that address a specific use case or business problem and show fast time to value. Customers want BI in manageable chunks, and they want to demonstrate a project’s value to the business from the start. This requires bringing IT, analysts, and business users together; performing rapid prototyping; and offering quick rollouts to new types of mobile and remote users. In these scenarios, SAP BI can be used in conjunction with collaboration tools such as SAP JAM to speed development – designers and analysts can show a prototype, get feedback, then quickly iterate to create a solution that works for everyone.

On the embedded side of things, we work with more than 1000 independent software vendors (ISVs) to embed SAP BI products into their solutions. SAP APIs and software development kits allow ISVs and customers alike to extend or embed our software quickly and easily within their business processes and applications.

Myth #4: SAP partners only with large companies.

Just as SAP works with customers of all sizes, SAP partners with companies from global system integrators to regional VARs to independent software vendors. Sixty percent of our OEM partners are small to midsized companies. We also provide both software and support to startups and nonprofit organizations. Our smallest partners are often the ones championing amazing innovations, or extending our BI platform in ways we would never have thought of. They’ve helped us develop new visualizations, healthcare solutions, sustainability applications, even a seafood tracking application that tracks fish from hook to plate. We value their creativity and their ability to solve real business problems and meet specific industry needs. Our BI tools provide the platform and our partners provide the domain expertise. Partners also boost SAP’s geographic coverage – especially valuable in emerging markets where we rely on partners to build market presence and provide excellent regional service. Finally, SAP partners with volume distributors to make our products available online and in stores.

Myth #5: SAP is difficult to work with and makes it hard to get started.

It’s incredibly easy to get started with SAP BI. Many of our solutions offer a free trial – just download  see how a solution works for you. We provide valuable information, resources, and best practices on and SAP also has a strong and active BI community, as well as local user groups where you can ask questions and get answers from other developers, BI experts, and users.

For partners, the SAP PartnerEdge program lets you choose the relationships you want – for example, software development, reselling, or consulting. For smaller partners, we make onboarding easy with online click-through agreements, available 24/7. Just review the programs, then fill out a form or give us a call. Once you join, you get access to online training, education, marketing, sales, best practices, and a host of other resources.

The Reality

The truth is that SAP BI is an excellent option for organizations of any size, with solutions to fit everyone from the smallest mom-and-pop shop to the biggest multinational. Our BI solutions are simple to use and easy to embed. They can integrate with almost any data source, generating insight from detailed reports and dashboards to agile analysis and visualizations.

And we’re partner friendly, supporting a variety of business models including application development, resell, or consulting – or in some cases, all three.

Take a closer look at SAP Business Intelligence when you’re looking for the next source of competitive advantage for your business. To learn more, visit us online.