BI applications are prepared individually by business experts in your company and can therefore contain different elements for data analysis and reporting.
Business experts create BI applications using various tools; these tools are available in the Business Explorer (BEx). BI applications for portal users differ in various ways with respect to the navigation options and the way they are used.
It is generally possible to differentiate between formatted reports and analytical applications. Formatted reports, which are optimized for presentation and printing, are referred to as reports; applications that focus on data analysis are referred to as BEx Web applications.
Data is displayed in a table; the table for reports is static and its appearance cannot be changed by navigation. However, the analysis grid in BEx Web applications can be adapted by navigation and according to the requirements of various analysis functions.
To enable you to navigate within BEx Web applications, a navigation pane is available in addition to the various context menu functions. The navigation pane displays the current navigational state of the data provider. All characteristics and key figures of the data provider are listed.
Classification keys, such as company code, product, customer, region, or fiscal year are referred to as characteristics. They are classification options for the dataset.
Values and quantities, such as revenue, number of employees, and sales quantity, are referred to as key figures.
Characteristics are generally displayed in the rows, and key figures are generally displayed in the columns. The table is displayed with the characteristics in the row header, that is, in the far left column. The key figures are in the column header, that is, in the top row of the table. You can freely define the data provider; you can swap the display for the characteristics and key figures.
You can change the navigational state by using drag and drop to drag characteristics or key figures to an axis (row or column) in the table or remove them from the axes. Using drag and drop, you can swap the axes in the navigation area; the table changes accordingly. You can also drag characteristics to the filter pane using drag and drop.
The filter pane displays the values used to filter the data. To filter the data, you can drag it from the navigation pane to the filter pane using drag and drop. You can also call various functions for filtering the data in the context menu. Furthermore, the application can contain elements such as dropdown boxes, radio buttons, and checkboxes, which you can use to filter data.
As an alternative to displaying data in tables, you can display data in maps and as graphics. Depending on how the application is designed, the navigation steps in the table can affect the graphic or map in the application.
For example, you filter data in a sales report to Bavaria using Germany. The sales data for Bavaria is displayed in both the table and the graphic.
Certain data cells in the table can be displayed in color or can be assigned icons. In this way, results that deviate from expectations (exceptions) can be highlighted. Poor sales figures, for example, can be highlighted by data cells with a red background, or figures that exceed expectations can be recognized by the green highlighting. This provides you with a clear overview and enables you to take appropriate measures.
Furthermore, the BI application can contain an area that provides background information about the application itself, such as when the data was last refreshed, the author, and the last processor of the application.
SAP NetWeaver provides the business experts in your company with examples of applications; these example applications are referred to as patterns. BEx Web applications available as iViews in the portal can be based on patterns shipped by SAP NetWeaver.
The following patterns are available:
Information Consumer Pattern
Easy-to-use BEx Web application for users without specific BI knowledge.
For more information, see Information Consumer Pattern.
BEx Web application for complex data analysis.
In the portal, the analysis pattern is called the BEx Web Analyzer.
For more information, see Analysis Pattern.
BEx Web applications and reports display the current data available in the BI system. BI applications can also be precalculated and are made available as documents with historical data in KM folders or in Collaboration Rooms. The documents can also be included in iViews.
Navigation in precalculated BI applications is restricted. You can generally only switch between the navigation views and the data specified by the author of the precalculated document.
Precalculation and distribution are handled by the BEx Broadcaster and the broadcasting wizard. For more information, see Broadcasting BI Applications with the Broadcasting Wizard.
KM folders and Collaboration Rooms can contain links to BEx Web applications and reports. When you choose a link, the BI application is displayed with the current data; you can navigate within this application.
The links are also generated and distributed by the BEx Broadcaster or broadcasting wizard.
You can apply KM functions and collaboration functions to links and precalculated documents, which are stored in Knowledge Management. For more information, see Functions for Objects in Folders and Collaborating with Other Users.
Documents and metadata created in the BI system (metadata documentation in particular) can be displayed with other documents in KM folders. Individual documents can be displayed as iViews.
BI applications provide various options for working with BI documents. For more information, see Using BI Documents in BI Applications.