From the Inside Flap
The new Internet economy has radically altered the business landscape, transforming how businesses interact with customers, conduct core business processes, and support knowledge management across the organization. In the past, crucial reports about the health of a company were generated by analysts who gathered information, put it in usable form, distributed it across the organization and then, in the next quarter, started all over again. The introduction of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems dramatically improved how businesses integrated, consolidated, accessed, and managed information from all parts of an organization. Business functions such as human resources, accounting, manufacturing, sales, and customer management were integrated into one cross-functional database system that could respond to business needs with a degree of sophistication never before achieved. ERP's built-in business processes such as standard order handling, make-to-order production, procurement of stock material, customer processing, budgeting, and field service gave management a standardized framework for process level reporting with the aim of optimization or focusing the business.
Because of this sophistication, however, ERP systems have proven to be incredibly complex. While real-time information delivery is commonplace in the open Internet marketplace, it remains a challenge for most organizations. Despite the billions of dollars invested in ERP, most of the corporate world lives in the week-to-week, end-of-the-month reporting style of the post-punch card industrial era. Many Chief Information Officers still struggle to get the information locked up inside ERP systems out to constituents across the organization, even though this data can often have a tremendous impact on a company's bottom line.
While working at SAP AG in Germany in the late 90's, the authors of this book undertook extensive research of R/3's penetration in the client site. One of the truly amazing statistics that came out of that research is that roughly 7% of business users have access to the corporate information locked away in enterprise software applications from vendors like SAP AG, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, and Baan. Most of the 7% will be involved in some kind of data input or transaction processing. The challenge, therefore, is to harvest the fruits of ERP and distribute them to the people who can make a difference. The fact is, these people are more likely to be accustomed to data processing with MS Excel or the Internet than with R/3.
Today, the ubiquity, speed, and flexibility of the Internet drive bold new initiatives in ebusiness, transforming how business users think about proprietary, expensive, and arcane enterprise technologies. More than ever before, businesses need new structures for information deliverydifferent ways of accessing, analyzing, and distributing data that can better exploit business opportunities as they arise. Automating transactions is no longer enough. To conduct e-commerce on the Web, companies need to be able to create real-time collaborative environments for business users, customers, supply chain constituents, and partners. A sales manager, for instance, might need to view incoming sales orders via a wireless device. A customer might want to check on the progress of her order over the Internet. Suppliers might need to be notified by pager or fax that their last shipment has been received. Partners often require a remote demonstration of a particular product or service. In the next generation enterprise, all of these tasks need to happen effortlessly and in real time.
The introduction of initiatives such as SAP's mySAP suggests that enterprise software vendors understand that the Internet, which connects over 100 million individuals and businesses globally, has radically transformed how businesses work. The server-based architecture of the Internet and its unique ability to deliver on demand such desktop application components as data charting or travel and expense tracking, now drives the development and deployment of enterprise software. If in the last decade ERP systems integrated business processes within the enterprise, in the next generation the Internet and other pervasive computing applications will continue to drive ebusiness intelligence, that is, business-to-business integration and cross-enterprise collaboration.
Market sources indicate that the enterprise application market will continue to grow at a rate of 32 percent over the next five years to $66.6 billion by 2003, fueled primarily by the desire for analytic applications that optimize business processes. To remain competitive, companies will continue to push key decision-making processes down to employees and out to partners. These economic drivers place new demands on enterprise reporting as companies seek complete reporting solutions in easy-to-use formats.
In today's enterprise reporting environment, business managers want to bring real-time information to a wide constituency. As more and more businesses adopt open and collaborative systems for information exchange, however, business managers have discovered that getting the right information to the right people and getting it to them quickly remain very real challenges. Improving customer relations, reaching new markets, and reducing the costs of bringing products and services to market are all potential benefits of ebusiness, but these benefits can only be realized if corporate information can be used to define clear business goals and to determine appropriate measures for determining success.
Because enterprise applications have traditionally focused on automating processes and not on delivering information to key decision makers, the overall value of enterprise applications has yet to be unlocked. Today, new initiatives in personalization, collaboration, and remote delivery have revolutionized the process of data acquisition. Germane to this is SAP's New Dimension Suite, which is a set of specialized R/3 applications targeting more sophisticated transaction processing (APO), front office interaction (CRM), and analytic applications (BW). In many ways, the possibilities for enterprise reporting seem almost limitless. A corporate executive can deliver a boardroom quality report from the back seat of a taxicab using a Nokia Communicator, Psion, or PalmPilot, or access the latest metrics about the health of the organization using a 2-way pager. More and more, good enterprise reporting requires information that is timely, relevant, and accurate. But if enterprise reporting is to fulfill its mission of supporting the analytic requirements of key decision makers throughout the organization, it also requires sophisticated business intelligence. With initiatives like mySAP, enterprise reporting can now preserve the best business practices embedded in an information architecture like R/3, while exploiting the connectivity of the Internet and other pervasive computing applications.
In SAP R/3 Reporting and eBusiness Intelligence, we explain how to unlock the data in R/3 and access the information in your system in a way that makes good business sense. Unlike previous reporting books that simply guide readers through the reporting tools of a particular enterprise software system, SAP R/3 Reporting and eBusiness Intelligence will help you create reports with a proven method of analysis, respond to the business needs of an organization, and understand the what, where, and how of enterprise system information.
To help both new and experienced users better manipulate R/3 data for reporting across the enterprise, this book explains how information is stored and delivered in the R/3 system and demonstrates some useful methods for retrieving data from the R/3 system. Before we turn to the information within the R/3 system, we should first outline some basic information about SAP and the R/3 system. If this is familiar territory for you, feel free to skip to the first chapter.
What Is R/3?
Initially, SAP made the move from mainframes to open systems in the late 1980's with R/2, a monolithic, mainframe legacy solution. As early as 1988, however, SAP chose to move toward client/server technology and began developing R/3. In 1992, SAP unveiled R/3 just as client/server and its potential were beginning to be fully realized in the business world. R/3's success is largely due to its ability to provide a highly integrated environment that can fully exploit the potential of client/server computing, and its razor-sharp focus on selling the standard solution to the high echelons of corporate computing.
R/3's advantages lie in its flexibility, scalability, and expandability. It can be used in client/server architectures with 30 seats or in installations with 3,000 end users. This scalability ensures that R/3 can provide support for current business operations and still adapt to change and progress. Designed as a total system, but also suitable for modular use, R/3 is expandable in stages, making it adaptable to the specific requirements of individual businesses. R/3 can run on the hardware platfo
From the Back Cover
The only book you need to build and deliver state-of-the-art SAP R/3 reports and business intelligence!
With SAP R/3, virtually all the enterprise information you'd ever need is available...somewhere! Discover how to liberate that information, with the one book that gives you an end-to-end strategy for Internet-based reporting: SAP R/3 Reporting and eBusiness Intelligence.
Far more than a guide to SAP's built-in reporting tools, this book explains how to organize, create, and deploy enterprise reports in real. Whether you're working with SAP R/3 4.5 or the new mySAP.com architecture, this book shows you how to:
- Transform your reporting infrastructure into a complete Internet eBusiness framework
- Report through corporate intranets, Web-based eBusiness applications, and Microsoft(r) Excel front-office solutions
- Master business objects, data sources, and the wealth of business processes in SAP R/3
- Construct a complete SAP R/3 sales information reporting system-start to finish
- Create end-to-end business-to-business procurement reports
The accompanying CD-ROM includes a full version of ActiveSheets, datalead.com's powerful decision support product for SAP R/3 reportinga $500 value!
Note to purchasers of this book: due to a technical problem, the serial number needed to unlock the software included on this CD was not printed in the book as planned. This serial number is
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