[caption id="attachment_2643" align="aligncenter" width="618"] SAP BusinessObjects 4[/caption] SAP has unveiled feature pack 3 for the 4.0 release of its SAP BusinessObjects B.I. solutions, as well as version 1.0.1 of its SAP Visual Intelligence software. New capabilities in feature pack 3 include support for Apache Hadoop, an open-source framework for reliably running distributed applications on large hardware clusters, as well as deeper support for SAP’s HANA in-memory database technology. That support extends SAP Business Objects BI solutions’ analytical abilities to the petabyte scale, which could help larger organizations with their data-crunching needs. Other capabilities include direct access via mobile devices to critical reports and metrics; mobile B.I. for Apple’s iPhone is now supported, apparently, as are Google Android devices. Further application integration allows users to run operational reporting off SAP’s ERP application and multi-source universes. Those users can also access the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse application across a variety of clients. The latest version of SAP Visual Intelligence software allows the use of Excel sheets, CSV files, and other data sources in addition to data from SAP HANA to visualize data and mine it for insights. SAP touts the software as a “self-service” B.I. platform usable by workers with relatively little experience in data analytics. “New innovations in areas such as ‘big data,’ cloud, collaboration, mobile, predictive, social and visualization have helped create a renaissance for the entire B.I. industry,” Howard Dresner, chief research officer of Dresner Advisory Services, wrote in a July 17 statement tethered to SAP’s announcement. While SAP occupies a strong position in the B.I. market—research firm Gartner named it the top B.I., analytics and performance-management (PM) software vendor in 2011, ahead of Oracle and Microsoft—it faces competition sparked by businesses’ growing enthusiasm for B.I. and data analytics. That enthusiasm has driven a number of IT vendors to explore new markets and produce innovative B.I. tools; Oracle recently launched Oracle Cloud, which features dozens of enterprise-grade applications, while firms ranging from IBM to Microsoft have offered new apps and platforms for analytics. In turn, that pressures SAP to maintain its lead in the space.   Image: SAP