Business Intelligence Consumer Service (BICS) is the BW data access layer that allows front end applications to access data in a unified manner. Unlike the MDX, BICS forms a direct connection with the source by creating a transient universe. A proper understanding of BICS facilitates a good scope for improvement of dashboard and report performance.
BICS ensures that any change in the BEx query is reflected dynamically on the frontend as it (re)creates the transient universe whenever a change is made in the query. This avoids having to create Universes every time the underlying source structure changes. In addition, BICS comes with a cache memory which is accessed when the dashboard opens. Therefore it does not have to access the source unless the dashboard is refreshed.
There are two options to connect the dashboard with the query through BICS.
- SAP Netweaver BW connection
- Query Browser
BICS in SAP Netweaver BW connection is a part of BW JAVA which does not require a BO server to host the dashboards. It provides the user an option to get the raw data or the formatted values from the BEx query. It retains BEx formats and functionalities like Restricted Key Figures, Calculated Key Figures, variables and conditions. It also allows us to choose the characteristics that we need from the query, and also provides contextual information about the query, infoprovider, last update and last refresh dates.
The Query browser on the other hand helps host the dashboards in BO server, and it can connect to both Netweaver BW and Universes. It also supports publishing to SAP Mobile BI but with some restrictions. The BICS connectivity with Query browser also supports hierarchies, including hierarchy variables. It also allows query binding, where the result set can be mapped directly to UI controls, bypassing Excel.
The Query browser panel shows the lists of available filters and prompts. Though its supports most BEx functionalities like Restricted Key Figures, Calculated Key Figures, and Variables it does not support conditions or conditional variables.
It is vital to know the options offered by both SAP Netweaver BW connection and the Query browser and its restrictions so that the right tool can be chosen based on the requirement.