Thursday, December 20, 2007

Create Unparalleled Analytical Applications with SAP NetWeaver BI, Visual Composer, and Macromedia Flex

Discover how Visual Composer allows you to create analytical applications without programming knowledge.

Key Concept
Also known as actionable dashboards and often confused with scorecards, floorplans, or cockpits, analytical applications allow business users to perform strategic, business-related functions. Key features of this type of program include easy navigation, graphical displays, drill-down menus, targeted content and display, proactive alerting and color coding to manage exceptions, speedometers and other graphical gadgets, collaborative capabilities like annotation, access to disparate sources, and links to reports, spreadsheets, and documents. An analytical application often includes additional data processing from more than one source, such as Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) in SAP NetWeaver BI for CRM.

Despite its many capabilities, SAP Web Application Designer (Web AD) limits the types of Web reports you can create. For instance, you must possess limited JavaScript and HTML skills to make interactive Web pages with user-friendly features. More importantly, you cannot efficiently access all data stored outside of BW, such as an Oracle BI data source or Microsoft Analysis Server.

In many situations, you can create more versatile analytical applications that compile data from various sources (such as BW) with little or no programming. SAP NetWeaver includes Visual Composer, a program that integrates with Macromedia Flex. Visual Composer Preliminary Version for Analytics is currently in pilot, introduced in October of 2005. SAP will release it in early 2006 as part of a Support Package for SAP NetWeaver 2004s. Visual Composer allows business developers to create analytical applications like the ones shown in Figure 1 that combine SAP technology with interactive Macromedia Flash Web applications, all in a low-footprint client that you run in a Web browser.

We’ll provide some background on Visual Composer and explain what Macromedia Flex adds to it. Then, we’ll present a step-by-step example that shows you how to build an analytical application.

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