What is SAP BW?

What is SAP BWSAP ERP includes multiple modules. These modules integrate with each other to provide the best solution for businesses. SAP BW (Business Warehouse) is one of the important modules of SAP. Some of the other modules are SAP HCM (Human Capital Management), SAP FI (Financial Accounting), SAP CO (Controlling), SAP QM (Quality Management), SAP PP (Production Planning), SAP PS (Project System), and SAP MM (Material Management). To understand what is SAP BW, you should first understand the Data Warehousing functionality. You should then understand various options for SAP Data Warehousing. Then, you should be able to compare SAP BW with other best of breed tools. Finally, you should also learn about SAP BW’s Data Mining functionality and various advantages offered by SAP BW.

Hence, the tutorial is divided into the following five sections:

  • What is a Data Warehouse and what is SAP BW?
  • Various options for SAP Data Warehousing
  • Comparison of SAP BW with alternatives
  • SAP BW’s Data Mining functionality
  • Benefits of SAP BW

What is SAP BW and Data Warehouse?

Data Warehouse is a collection of data designed to facilitate management decision making. A wide range of data presenting a clear idea of business conditions at a single point in time is contained in a Data Warehouse. It is a source of a company’s electronically stored data. To enable reporting and analysis, the data warehouses are designed. Data Warehousing is a widely used term for integrating data from multiple databases across an enterprise.

The means to retrieve and analyze data, to extract, transform and load data, and to manage the data dictionary are also considered essential components of a data warehousing system.

Developing a Data Warehouse primarily involves developing systems to extract data from transactional systems. It also involves installing a warehouse database system that offers executives a flexible access to the data.

Some of the advantages of using a Data Warehouse are given below:

  • Rapid turnaround time for reporting and analysis
  • Carrying out new kinds of analyses
  • Data integration from numerous sources
  • Data standardization, a “single version of the truth”
  • Cost reduction to access historical data
  • Supporting ad hoc reporting and inquiry

Also, a Data Warehouse implementation will involve converting data from multiple source systems into a single format. We will have more assurance in the correctness of our data. And correct data is the foundation for strong business decisions. A Data Warehouse primarily stores tons of historical data, so users can drill through the data across various time periods and do projections for the future accordingly. This kind of data generally is not simple to store in a transactional database or generate reports from a transactional system.

Companies that have created data warehouses and performed corresponding BI systems implementation have generated lots of revenue and have saved more money than companies that haven’t done so. Companies will have many advantages by using data warehouses. For instance, big giants like Apple, eBay, and Walmart have some of the biggest data warehouses. Avis Europe, after implementing data warehouse, has seen the customer-centric view of information.

SAP BW (Business Warehouse) is a data warehouse solution from SAP that is tightly integrated with SAP ERP software.

Various Options for SAP Data Warehousing

SAP BW allows business executives to analyze the data and plan the business processes accordingly. Basically, it offers an integrated view of the data. However, SAP BW is not the only option available for Data Warehousing in SAP. There are primarily two approaches for Data Warehousing in SAP:

  • Using a Data Warehousing Modeling and Management application: SAP BW is SAP’s Data Warehousing Modeling and Management application.
  • Using individual tools: You can create and manage a Data Warehouse using individual tools such as HANA, Sybase IQ databases, SAP Data Services to transform and load the data, and SAP Business Objects (BOBJ) for reporting. Then, you could probably use other tools such as SAP Data Quality Management tool, SAP Information Steward, etc.

These options may sound daunting, but you should understand the fact that Data Warehousing is itself an intricate discipline. In short, SAP offers tools ranging from the platform agnostic (such as SAP Data Services) to the platform integrated tool (SAP BW).

Comparison of SAP BW with Alternatives

Now that we understand what is SAP BW, let’s discuss alternatives available on the market. We have many other best of breed vendors such as QlikView, Tableau who are leading SAP in some capabilities. However, they don’t offer some of the capabilities that SAP BW provides. Specifically, BI suites such as Pentaho, MicroStrategy are competing fairly with SAP’s Business Object suite.

The primary reason why SAP BW has the biggest competitive advantage is its integration with other SAP applications (like EPM – Enterprise Performance Management). However, SAP has some shortcomings in the areas of usability and user experience when compared to its other competitors.

SAP BW’s Data Mining Functionality

SAP BW offers Data Mining functionality. Data Mining is a process that is used to identify patterns in a particular dataset. SAP BW’s Data Mining functionality allows business executives to plan the processes effectively, as the data that’s existing in the Data Warehouse helps them in better planning.

Benefits of SAP BW

SAP BW offers various benefits which makes it one of the best tools. Some of those are listed below:

  • SAP BW offers ‘Business Content’. It provides ready-made objects such as InfoCubes, reports, MultiProviders, etc.
  • The flexibility that SAP BW offers is tremendous. It’s very easy to customize the standard content.
  • It offers great query performance with very less administration effort.
  • It offers the ability to analyze multidimensional data sources.
  • It easily integrates with other platforms.
  • It acts as a good link to the planning and execution applications. This way you can gain insights from the data and improve business processes.


Every BI tool has its own advantages and disadvantages. You should not be biased towards any vendor. A clear vendor evaluation needs to be done based on your client’s goals and objectives.

Some clients also prefer to build their own BI tool without making use of the existing tools offered by various vendors. There could be multiple reasons for choosing this option (such as saving license costs).

The BI tool selection thereby varies from client to client based on their individual requirements. Hence, this exercise needs to be done very carefully. We hope that this tutorial answered what is SAP BW question. If something requires additional explanation, please let us know in the comments section below.

Did you like this tutorial? Have any questions or comments? We would love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. It’d be a big help for us, and hopefully it’s something we can address for you in improvement of our free SAP BW tutorials.

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