Microsoft Power BI v SAP Crystal Reports

MS Power BI is a “business analytics service” that provides business intelligence capabilities via a simple interface for end-users to create their own reports and dashboards. It integrates smoothly with Microsoft’s other business offerings and the reports can be embedded in Teams, SharePoint and websites.

SAP Crystal Reports is a desktop tool for creating “pixel-perfect data reporting” from almost any relational data source. The reports produced can be accessed offline or on-, from within applications, via portals or on mobile devices.

They are both established business intelligence tools and are both appropriate for many types of organisations to fulfil their reporting needs with. They have their strengths and weaknesses, but both can deliver insights, reveal actionable trends, and provide operational information for running your business day-to-day.

What is Microsoft Power BI?

MS Power BI is a suite of tools in one container, to allow companies to create reports and dashboards that analyse and share information. End-users can connect to data; prepare data-models (private and shared models); add to and merge data-sets; and present that data in fresh and appealing ways. It promotes data-gathering, sharing, and the implementation of effective strategies across teams of users.

MS Power BI can connect to a multitude of databases and information sources, and can integrate as well with 3rd party apps such as Github, Zendesk, Marketo and Salesforce. To deliver the insights that the data reveals, the dashboards can be shared with other users directly, or integrated with websites and other productivity software.

Overview of MS Power BI Benefits

On-Premise and/or In-the-Cloud

MS Power BI can run in a unified environment whether that is one local to your organisation or in a Cloud solution. Pre-packaged applications and compatible plug-ins will ease the import of data from apps such as Salesforce and Google Analytics.

Interactive Visualisations

MS Power BI can run in a unified environment whether that is one local to your organisation or in a Cloud solution. Pre-packaged applications and compatible plug-ins will ease the import of data from apps such as Salesforce and Google Analytics.

Fast Solution

Using drag and drop movements, MS Power BI makes integrating and displaying information easy and fast – revealing patterns and trends simply and intuitively. You can use natural language queries and benefit from AI-driven processes.

Modern Feel

MS Power BI is a product that is undergoing rapid development and has a modern and fresh design. Colour palettes are up-to-date and new functionality is being added continuously by developers.

The focus is on viewing the presented information ‘live’ on-screen, in a scrollable, clickable, drillable environment.

What is SAP Crystal Reports?

SAP Crystal Reports 2020 is the latest in a long line of SAP Crystal Reports versions that produce operational reports as well as interactive and drillable visualisations. It is an on-premise tool for report designers to connect to a relational database, extract data, and manipulate and present that data cleanly and concisely.

End users create custom reports in the tool to present operational, actionable data; to provide trends and KPIs to management; to send out pixel-perfect formatted letters to customers or clients; to enable warehouses to run-off picklists; or to enable users in a portal to explore and drill-through information interactively.

SAP Crystal Reports Benefits

Structured Documents

SAP Crystal Reports is a traditional reporting tool, geared towards paginated reports. Report building can be as precise as required, and allows control over page-breaks, page-header and footer design, grouping data, dynamically hiding and revealing results, complex formula building and more.

Support For Multiple Export Formats

Crystal supports exporting of data to PDF, XLXS/XLSX and CSV as well as running reports directly to a printer, perhaps for mailing or for delivery/pick-up notices.

With SAP Crystal Server 2020 your reports can be scheduled to automatically email or arrive at a file location, so end-users always have data when they need it, in the format they need it.

Developer Friendly

Crystal has a long-established SDK and API library used by developers over many years to add reporting power to 3rd party apps. Crystal run-time licences enable these apps to harness the reporting power of a trusted product to distribute dependable reports and data.

On-Premise Strategy

While it is possible to install any software on a Cloud based server from Azure or AWS, SAP Crystal Reports is not a ‘Cloud’ product. It has no AI-driven features or predictive algorithms, but in some users’ eyes this can be a benefit. Your data remains behind your firewall, and your licences are a one-off purchase.

Trusted Product

SAP Crystal Reports has been in existence for decades and is a tool trusted by thousands of companies and organisations world-wide to provide their reports and key information. It is stable, dependable, and has a user-base steeped in experience and knowledge.

It will provide key information to anyone who needs it and supports critical business-processes at major organisations. It is embedded in multiple key apps for businesses and will continue to be supported by SAP for that reason.

It can produce accounts statements, delivery notes, picklists, charts, KPIs, board-reports, executive summaries, operational reports and interactive dashboards from almost any relational datasource you care to point it at.

Final Word

MS Power BI and SAP Crystal Reports are quite different reporting tools, one old and one new. MS Power BI excels at ad-hoc reporting and more fluid exploration and manipulation of data; SAP Crystal Reports excels at static reports which need to be reproduced perfectly each time they are run.

Both are world-class enterprise level tools. Both have a place in modern organisations and will help you leverage your data to improve processes, efficiency, and profitability.

We believe that both tools can and should be used within your organisation to bring your information to life.

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