business intelligence

Finding the Right SAP BI Tool for Reporting and ‘Dashboards & Applications’

Selecting the right BI tool for your reporting and analyzing purposes is even more important these days with so many options. This blog will focus on the available SAP BI Tools for Reporting and ‘Dashboards & Applications’ purposes: Crystal Reports, Web Intelligence, Dashboards and Design Studio. All these SAP BI Tools have a different approach to help you better understand and analyze your data. Following is a quick overview of their different approaches:

Crystal Reports

  • A BI application used to design and generate pixel precise, formatted reports from virtually any data source
  • An open design interface and a powerful formula editor let you create simple reports/forms and also complex, specialized reports
  • The flexibility of Crystal Reports does not end with creating reports – you can publish/export reports in a variety of formats, including Microsoft Word and Excel, PDF, E-mail and even over the Web
  • Reports can be viewed and refreshed on the BI Mobile app
  • Application and web developers can integrate the report processing power of Crystal Reports in their applications
  • Different versions available: SAP Crystal Reports 2013, SAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise with a new user interface, SAP Crystal Reports for Visual Studio, SAP Crystal Reports for Eclipse and SAP Crystal Reports for HANA

Web Intelligence

  • A very flexible Ad-Hoc Reporting tool that needs no installation if you run it in the BI Launch Pad of the SAP Business Intelligence Platform
  • Reports can also be viewed and refreshed on the BI Mobile app
  • Gives end-user the possibility for Self-Service BI to create their own formatted reports, change existing reports, use existing objects (dimensions and measures) to slice and dice and drill down in even more details


  • Dashboard applications are designed to look into the data on a highly aggregated level to give the user an overview/status of what’s going on
  • A very intuitive application for creating dashboards with effective visualizations of your company data based on a wide range of data sources
  • Can create applications with what-if scenarios
  • Dashboard applications can be exported to different formats including flash or HTML file, Microsoft Power Point, Word, Outlook and PDF and you will still have the interactivity with the data (if the data is included in the application)
  • Not designed for looking into details or for formatted reporting purposes
  • Applications can be viewed and refreshed on the BI Mobile app
  • If you are interested in creating a dashboard application, you should also consider Design Studio

Design Studio

  • Replacement for the Web Application Designer
  • Enables application designer to create analysis applications and dashboards based on SAP BW, SAP HANA and universe data sources for browsers and mobile devices
  • Application designer can also create planning applications that support both manual and automated data entry and changes to data
  • Requires JavaScript and CSS knowledge
  • Based on the SAP BI Roadmap and the SAP portfolio simplification there will be only Design Studio in the future for dashboard applications
  • If your data source will be SAP BW or SAP HANA, you should strongly consider Design Studio over Dashboards

Ultimately, the right SAP BI Tool choice for your organization depends on what you are going to do. You need to know the data source, how you would like to view your data and the experience level of your users. So, you should ask yourself these questions in the beginning:

  • What am I going to do – reporting or dashboarding?
  • What will my data source be, or do I eventually have different data sources?
  • What level of detail do I want and need to see?

When you are looking for broadcasting, scheduling and publishing functionalities, you need to look at the reporting tools, which are Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence (in conjunction with the SAP Business Intelligence platform).

While this blog does not provide a comprehensive review of the capabilities and power of all SAP BI tools, we hope this is a useful overview of the solid SAP BI tools for Reporting and ‘Dashboards & Applications’. Your decision really depends on your preference, and this blog cannot give you a unique answer. Please contact us any time so we can help you select the right SAP BI Tool to fulfill your unique reporting, ‘discovery and analyzing’ or dashboard requirements.

NTT DATA Business Solutions
NTT DATA Business Solutions

Our experts are keen to stay up to date with new developments and always share their insights, knowledge and opinions from all around the world. They cover a wide range of IT and business-related topics, including SAP and industry expertise as well as management issues. Most of them have gained many years of experience in the area of SAP - always close to the customer. That’s why they know the requirements of the market, of our customers and their customers’ customers/ partners. Get inspired and contact us if you would like to talk to them directly.

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