Data visualization is one of the hottest trends in business intelligence, with experts saying it can help take business intelligence out of the realm of data specialists and into the hands of business analysts.
SAP is keen to capitalize on the trend, introducing a new desktop visualization tool called Visual Intelligence at this week’s SAPPHIRE Conference.
Like other solutions introduced at the event, Visual Intelligence leverages HANA, the company’s in-memory database. As Jason Rose, SAP’s VP of BI Marketing, explained, Visual Intelligence users can pull live data from HANA, work with it, mash it up with external data sources and then push it back to HANA, where it can be shared with anyone else who has access to the database.
The Visual Intelligence tool also offers capabilities beyond visualization, including a feature called Semantic Enrichment that Rose said “helps drive that real hard-core analyst workflow.” His example: If a user is working with a city called “Springfield,” the tool will let the user match it against a global data set of cities , then bring in the corresponding state, region and country information and a map view without the user performing any additional work.
Unlike like some competitors with visualization tools, SAP does not attempt an end run around IT organizations, Rose said.
“Some other vendors kind of skulk around behind IT, and they get a little nervous when IT gets involved,” he said. “We’re confident that with the user experience we provide, users are going to really like the solution. You can download it, install it and be up and running in five minutes. You can begin manipulating data not only that you’ve exported from your corporate system and into some other tool but actually live against corporate data sources the first one being HANA.”
The tool will soon support other data sources as well, including databases such as IBM DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server and file types such as CSV and Excel .
Visual Intelligence is available now at no cost to users of SAP’s BI Suite and its BusinessObjects Explorer, Rose said.