Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

SAP Discusses Latest BI Roadmap

August 15th, 2013 3 comments


Yesterday, many SAP BusinessObjects customers, mentors, partners and even a few competitors listened in as Steve Lucas as he unveiled SAP’s bold, new analytics strategy.  The twittersphere as active as tweets were tracked using #allaccessanalytics, we had a lot of fun.  Zimkhita Buwa quipped:

Steve emphasized that SAP isn’t delivering a ‘mission accomplished’ banner.  It’s just a ‘mission’ banner.  “Where we are and where we are going.”  There is a bunch still to come…  One of the first bold things he did announce was that the personal edition of SAP Lumira is free and you can download it now.  In addition you can also register for free access to the SAP Lumira Cloud.  You can register for free here.

New Mindset

It was clear to hear Steve’s passion for analytics.  His passion goes way, way back… and is always welcome.  In fact, I think this is an old picture of Steve’s car back in 2003.

He talked about BusinessObjects founder Bernard Liautaud and the rich legacy from which this SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite comes.  Steve took a note from Visha Sikka to say that SAP is and will innovate and that the Innovator’s Dilemma is crap.  Customers will continue to see great new innovations from SAP.

The new mindset from SAP delivers three pillars:

  • Enterprise Business Intelligence – For the Entire Organization
  • Agile Visualization – For the Business
  • Advanced Analytics – Data Science for Everyone

Enterprise Business Intelligence

With 60,000 customers, SAP continues to have to largest market share within the Business Intelligence space.  SAP BusinessObjects didn’t invent Business Intelligence but our experience in the space is very rich… and if not SAP BusinessObjects then who?  SAP is going to continue to build out capabilities for the Enterprise organization.  This is squarely focused on our SAP BusinessObjects product line.

At the same time the market has shifted and everyday business users want to be able to connect to their data quickly and easily and get new insights and share those insights with colleagues… and perhaps not have IT involved at all.  That brings us to agile visualization.

Agile Visualization

In SAP’s mind, Agile means it’s incredibly easy to adopt and deploy.  It should be light-weight.  Visualization means that its high quality and there is storytelling behind it.  The visualization tells a story.  It gives new insights.

So is this just Lumira?

No.  Steve was clear about this.  This is not just Lumira.  Lumira and Lumira cloud are a part of the agile visualization strategy, but the agile visualization strategy.  He promised that more would be shared at TechEd, etc.  I think this is great news!  We are beginning to see integration today between Lumira Cloud and on-premise systems and it sounds like this will continue.

Advanced Analytics

Steve said that this is more than just predictive.  As with Lumira, Predictive is a part, but there’s more.  SAP’s view is that this is not just for data scientists but data science for everyone.  It sounds we might begin seeing more ‘smart’ functionality build into the analytics.  We’ve already seen predictive leveraging the interface of Lumira for easy data access.  I can definitely envision a lot of possibilities here.

Key SAP Executives

Michael Reh (@reh_michael) – is leading development.  Passionate about analytics.

Christian Rodatus (@crodatus)  – Go to market executive for analytics.  18 years at Teradata.  Brings big data perspective.

Shekhar Iyer (@shekharlyer111) is leading the BI organization.  Brings a predictive perspective.

Jack Miller (@jackmillerIII) is Chief Customer Officer – in charge of generating successful, happy customers.

Jayne Landry (@jaynelandry) is Crystal Kiwi, working closely with Shekhar.

Other Highlights

SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.1 is out of ramp-up.  All the KPIs were hit, so I would expect a GA release soon with the release of SP1.

There was a great video of a WebIntelligence-like product that was running on top of HANA.  It was written completely in HTML5.  I’ve never seen this before.

Screenshot of HTML5 WebI-like Tool

There was another nice video of Lumira doing geospatial analysis using the new Lumira Visualization Extensions which were released with SP11.  Timo Elliott recently did a nice blog post talking about this topic.

Lumira with Geospatial Capabilities

Lumira with Geospatial Plug-in

On September 9th, SAP is planning to launch a new BI online support site.  It looks as if they are following in the footsteps of the HANA launch site.  They briefly showed a mock-up of what it might look like.

Magic Bus

Steve revealed the new bus.  Yes, it’s a literal Big Data Bus.  SAP will be rolling out a mobile briefing center that will be used to showcase SAP’s latest and greatest. I think it’s one of SAP’s ways of saying there’s  50 ways to leave your… niche BI tools.   So hop on the bus Gus!

I couldn’t resist.

My Thoughts…

If you are an SAP customer and haven’t yet purchased SAP BusinessObjects, there is no better time than now.  The integration between SAP and the BusinessObjects BI Suite is second to none.  Here are a list of just a few of the unique advantages you can leverage when reporting against SAP ERP and SAP BW with SAP BusinessObjects:

  • Support for SAP CTS+
  • Integration with Solution Manager
  • Support for RRI (Report to Report Interface)
  • Support for BICS (3x faster than legacy BAPI interface)
  • Best Heterogeneous data source support
  • Best Slice/dice performance within MS Excel
  • Embedded Analytics within SAP Business Suite EP6
  • Crystal Reports options for Advanced List Viewer (ALV)
  • Semantic layer support for Infosets, ABAP functions and ABAP Queries
  • 100% In-memory support for all your SAP data

If your organization is committed to SAP Business Suite, then leveraging SAP BusinessObjects to provide reporting off those solutions is a no brainer.

Secondly, have a look at Predictive Analysis.  Although this product is relatively new, SAP has come a long way very quickly.  SAP has combined the core self-service Lumira (Visual Intelligence) product together with the power of R to deliver world class predictive analytics to the data analyst.  The interface is extremely easy to use and if you haven’t seen it, check out the post I did where I provided a product walk-through.  It may not necessarily replace SAS today, but it can deliver tremendous value by shortening the length of time it takes data analysts to build, model and run predictive algorithms.  Users are no longer wholly dependent on the small number of statisticians to provide predictive  and statistical analysis.  Predictive Analysis is a game changer.

Thirdly, get familiar with SAP’s simplified licensing.  Back in the day, when BusinessObjects was just one product, licensing was easy. Over the years as the BusinessObjects BI portfolio has grown, not everyone was ready to leverage the new technologies such as WebIntelligence, Dashboards, Explorer, etc.  As a result, BusinessObjects allowed customers to buy products à la carte to keep the pricing competitive.   A lot has changed.  Today, Business Intelligence is ubiquitous.  Everyone needs it and organizations should want to leverage the same solution for multiple types of users who have different analytic needs.  Back when the only product was had was Crystal Reports, I used to show how Crystal Reports provided enterprise reporting, adhoc reporting and dashboards. SAP’s approach was to simplify this licensing through bundles.  At the beginning of 2013, SAP offered BI Suite licensing which provided two important changes:  concurrent user licensing and a powerful software bundle of nearly every product in the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Product Suite.


This #allaccesswebinar didn’t answer all our questions but one thing was clear:  SAP is fully committed to an easy-to-adopt analytics product suite for all users that serves the enterprise through both on-premise and cloud.  They are committed to delivering solutions that: compete head-to-head against the newcomers, deliver customer value and are agile and easy to adopt and use.

If you want more information on the latest published roadmaps from SAP, go here.

Now… hop on the bus Gus!

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New 90-day free trial to SAP Visual Intelligence

September 11th, 2012 3 comments

It’s New!

It’s Cool!

It’s Wow!

It’s like two aspirin for that DeskI hangover!

… and it’s available FREE for 90 days!

11/12 UPDATE:  This was a limited time offer.  The free trial is now 30 days.

SAP Visual Intelligence is now available for download.  It provides the ability to connect to data sources such as MS Excel, Relational databases (SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase IQ, Teradata), Universe (unx) and HANA.

To enjoy your 90 day free trial go here:

… and don’t forget to leave feedback for our product team so we can continue to make this new innovation product better!




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New Ideas Spark Hydro One Into Action

May 16th, 2012 No comments

The second day of Sapphire has seen many fabulous testimonials from customers.  Companies are changing the way they do business by leveraging the latest SAP technologies including: HANA, BusinessObjects and Mobility.

Hydro One was one of those customers and I wanted to highlight what they’ve done.

Mike Winters and Laura Formusa represented Hydro One in the session, Transforming the Hydro One Customer Experience with SAP Solutions.  It was clear.  SAP is making a serious difference.

The more information you can put in the hands of
the people on the ground, the faster they can restore
power.  Mike Winters

Delivering The Goods

Utilities have a large number of competing priorities and limited dollars by which to execute on those priorities.  Aging infrastructure, economic downturn, regulations, aging workforce are just a few of the challenges faced at Hydro One.  In fact, Laura reminded us that some of their infrastructure is more than 100 yrs old and much of their infrastructure was added after WWII.

In 2007 Hydro One purchased SAP ERP and Supply Chain to run their core business.  They then added HR, Finance, Payroll and BI and achieved a number of important business benefits around business process management and standardizations.  SAP was not an IT Solution but rather a stimulus for changing the culture of the company.

One example Laura highlighted was strategic sourcing, which is now enabling Hydro One to streamline it’s procurement process and deliver something for less.  In fact, they have see over $100M is savings since their SAP implementation.

The more we can control costs, the better off we are.
Laura Formusa

Smart Meters

Technology has not only changed the back office at Hydro One.  Thanks to SAP, Hydro One was able to successfully deploy 1.3M smart meters with virtually no issues and uses SAP for Asset Management.

It wasn’t that long ago that Hydro One was managing outages by sticking a pin in the map every time a customer called.  Now with data from smart meters, they are able to pin point outages and map this data to systems that can do instant triangularization.  This means that crews are deployed faster to the right, prioritized locations so they can restore power more quickly and ultimately increase customer satisfaction… but that’s not all.

More precise Outage data also helps Hydro One increase safety as Laura pointed out.  During bad winter storms in Ontario, it’s not uncommon for roads to be closed and for conditions to be hazardous.  By pulling together more granular outage information, field service workers will know precisely where to go.  This saves them unnecessary trips down potentially unsafe roads looking for downed lines.

Outage Data Goes Mobile

Mike demonstrated a iPhone app that Hydro One is currently working on which customers will be able to download.  This application will tell the customer of all the existing outages, how many customers are affected and how soon the service will be restored.  This means that customers can proactively check from their cell phones and avoid calls into the operations center.  (Avoiding the opportunity to listen to 30 minutes of Vivaldi).

Outage Information on the iPhone

Field Service Enablement

Mike also demonstrated a concept iPad app which would transform how their field service teams receive work order assignments, perform preventative maintenance and log their time.

Technicians will be able to:

  • See the equipment via the iPad camera overlayed with status icons
  • View assigned work orders and associated work instructions
  • Identify historical issues with the equipment (temperature, oil pressure)
  • Access Schematics of the equipment
  • Enter Time Tracking Information
  • Complete and close Work Orders

View Transformer with Augmented Reality

Technical sees historical trends of Oil Pressure

It was amazing.  You had to see it to believe it.

Hydro One is mashing together GIS information, BusinessObjects Augmented Reality, Grid Analytics, Asset Management, Work Management.

Everything is there.  Just a finger swipe away.

Cost Justification

Cost is probably the only reason why these concepts haven’t yet been put into reality.  Hydro One is working to determine the true value of everything they are doing.  Cost pressures remain.  Mike Winters said that so far all their projects have shown a positive return on investment.

Fact Not Fiction

Much of what Hydro One demonstrated looked like something you see in the movies – but it’s not fiction.  Given the right business challenge, customers are looking to SAP to over come difficult obstacles.

Hydro One is an early adopter, but it’s exciting to see this type of eye popping innovation in the Utilities segment.

SapphireNow has been a great event to see some of the solutions that customers have come up with — much of it leveraging out of the box analytics technology that comes with BusinessObjects.

Enjoy the rest of the show.

UPDATE: Session Replay

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Peabody Energy Fuels BI Innovation

May 14th, 2012 No comments

As usual SapphireNow delivered some amazing presentations today.  None better than the session called, See the Future Now with the Latest Mobile Analytics Solutions.  The good news, bad news was if you thought it was going to be all about Mobility, you were wrong.  It was much more.

This standout session was a 20 minute information-fest on how to get the most out of analytics through the strategic deployment of business intelligence.

Deliver BI Programs

Keith Bowles is helping change the way Peabody Energy leverages analytics.  They are an $8 billion dollar utility with 8,000 employees and they have developed a BI program that is leveraging ever ounce of value out of the SAP Analytics Suite.  Peabody runs core SAP technologies and is very focused on leveraging standard tools and content — and it is paying huge dividends.

Stop BI projects and start delivering BI programs.  Keith Bowles

Peabody Energy is a BusinessObjects v4.0 FP3 ramp-up customer and Keith pulled back the kimono and let us see BusinessObjects running against their live environment.  They are leverage both legacy SAP BI technologies such as web application designer and well as deploying BusinessObjects centric technologies such as Xcelsius.

Your company doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, so it’s up to you to educate them about your BI capabilities.  In Peabody’s case they leverage a BI portal and provides monthly updates on topics like:  training, tips and tricks and technology innovations.

I particularly loved the idea of their program, Rent a BI Expert.  It’s a consultative training opportunity where the business can ask questions and focus on a specific “real world” reporting problem.  This helps them build momentum in the business as well as getting the business to take ownership of their analytic needs.

Information Without Context is Useless

Peabody delivers all their reports through the employee portal.  Instead of using the BI Launchpad, they simply use their SAP Portal technology to provide links to all their BI content.

When delivering reports Keith reiterated the critical importance of providing business data within context.  If you are producing 13 metric tons that doesn’t tell you anything, but if you say you are producing 13 metrics tons on a budget of 15, then that’s an entirely different story, which is why they always focus on context.

Peabody Uses Context to Deliver Insight

Red, Yellow and Green are three of the most important colors at Peabody.  There is so much information and the business is changing so rapidly, you have to manage by exception.

CIO Spend Dashboard Tracks Costs

In this CIO dashboard, Keith explained how the CIO tracks critical KPIs.  After clicking on a measure and seeing the high level details update, he can then link to other reports to see the financial spend details.  It’s like a web, focus on the central themes in the dashboard and allow the users to spin out from there.  Peabody’s spend dashboards provide one level of drill-down together with additional analytics showing time-series trends including monthly spend, YTD spend, historical spend (context), budget and headcount.

BI Widgets

Keith reminded me that sometimes older products can be easily overlooked.  BI Widgets is a great example.  I rarely talk about this solution anymore and yet this was the perfect solution for a use case for their executives.  Their Executive VP doesn’t want to have to log in or go to a portal, he simply wants to have the latest BI information on his computer desktop.

Enter BI Widgets.

Peabody created a Widgets bar, which allows them to easily swap back and forth between different dashboards and report visualizations.  It’s an elegant solution and perfect for their users.

Here’s the resulting desktop:

BI Widgets Deliver Real-time Insight on the Desktop

BI Mobile

With 177 iPads, Peabody has begun to deliver mobile analytics using standard SAP tools.  The hardest thing about rolling out mobile applications was getting their IT organization beyond the idea of VPN.  After some key discussions between both SAP and Peabody IT teams, they got the green light.  Getting Mobile BI up and running at Peabody took 8 days – 7 days for security and 1 day to deliver the application.  (Peabody is looking to deploy Afaria later this year.)

Peabody delivers key content to 177 iPads

Keith reiterated the speed of delivery of new analytic content.  Although most of your reports may have cool charts and graphics, continue to think out of the box. Within a few taps of the screen, Keith showed show the CIO is able to get the latest summary detail around IT projects and since Peabody is in the ramp-up program and running BusinessObjects v40 FP3 in production, they are able to use the latest collaboration features to allow for annotation direction onto the report.

Latest BusinessObjects Mobile delivers on screen annotations

SAP Experience

Peabody is also using the latest SAP Experience mobile application as well.  They are leveraging the new Exploration Views capabilities which have been added to BusinessObjects Explorer.  This means Peabody BI team can provide more self-service interactive dashboarding to business leaders.

New Exploration Views deliver self service dashboards

If you’ve not taken the time to download SAP Experience to your iPad, I recommend you do it today.

What Better BI?

Don’t have dashboards today?  I smiled when Keith suggested that you find out what your organization is bonused on and then put that information into a dashboard.  “Guaranteed you will have users using dashboards now.”

He’s right.  And he’s talking about alignment.  Alignment is critical.

Review board goals, strategic plans and LOB goals when identifying KPIs to track and report.  Understand the long and short term goals of your organization.  If you do that it should be much easier to get that essential foundation of any successful BI project, executive sponsorship.

Companies need to embrace BI more holistically.  Stop doing BI projects and run BI programs.  This will allow your organization to increase standardization and reuse.  It will also allow you to reallocate your time to take on other challenges such as governance, information management, mobility and develop your strategic BI vision.

UPDATE:  Link to the recorded session:

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Best of 2011: Lucas Articulates Value of Analytics for Utilities

December 16th, 2011 2 comments

Back in September, Steve Lucas, Global Senior Executive for Business Analytics, stole the show with a hugely entertaining and well articulated discussion of innovation for Utilities.


From beginning to end, Steve Lucas entertains as he communicates why better information is the key to creating real change.

If you are interested in:

  • Seeing Why BI is a Strategic Enabler for Utilities
  • Moving from a System of Record to a System of Engagement
  • Following a path to flawless information execution

This is a great 30 minute keynote for helping communicate what SAP is doing in the Utilities industry.

SAP helps utilities run better.

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