Oracle business intelligence app targets SAP financials

Oracle is looking to extend its Oracle Financials reach by integrating it with SAP Financial Accounting, and one analyst said the company should continue to extend it to other SAP ERP applications.

Oracle business intelligence (BI) customers looking to connect with their SAP ERP applications are used to customizing the integration themselves. That changed a little this week.

Figuring out a way to extract the data from the SAP transaction systems, putting it into a data model for Oracle BI applications and then delivering it to users in the way they want it can be a time-consuming -- and therefore costly -- endeavor. Typically, the piece of that puzzle most time-consuming is getting that data out of systems, said Rita Sallam, a research director at Gartner Inc.

This week Oracle came out with Oracle Financial Analytics for SAP, a packaged application meant to pull data from SAP Financial Accounting into Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE). Paul Rodwick, Oracle’s vice president of product management, said that almost nine out of 10 of SAP’s customers in the Fortune 500 use Oracle BI technology.

“So, there is a substantial group of organizations that might want to use Oracle BI with SAP and have been doing it on their own.”

Sallam said there are many shops out there running OBIEE on top of SAP, and so having packaged BI apps to pull in that SAP data could be helpful.

This is kind of like a back-to-the-future of what was previously Siebel Analytics.

Gartner Research Director Rita Sallam

“This is the first attempt, I think, since the Siebel acquisition that they’re focusing on non-Oracle sources,” she said. “So, this is kind of like a back-to-the-future of what was previously Siebel Analytics.”

Sallam explained that Siebel had its own packaged applications for SAP before Oracle acquired the company. However, Siebel Analytics was focused on customer relationship management applications.

But it’s been five years since Oracle acquired Siebel, so why the holdup? Sallam said Oracle was focused on integrating its BI applications with its own ERP applications such as E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. Now Oracle has brought that analytics technology to a third-party application in SAP.

The new application includes a prepackaged adapter that is certified with Oracle Data Integrator Enterprise Edition to pull data from SAP Financial Accounting into Oracle BI applications. It also includes hundreds of packaged key performance indicators, dashboards and reports designed for the financial industry and its users.

With all those potential benefits, however, Sallam said customers must be wary of packaged applications.

“The advice I always give is to make sure the packaged content meets your functional requirements,” she said. “Because the more the packaged content has to be customized, the more rapidly it diminishes the value of the packaged application.”

As for the future, Sallam said she expects Oracle to expand this integration to other SAP ERP applications, such as those around manufacturing, supply chain and procurement.

“It’s time for Oracle to extend these packaged pieces for other systems. I would say the best move would be to extend their portfolio to other SAP applications, since SAP is a market leader in ERP.

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at mfontecchio@techtarget.com.

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