SAP Delivers Digital Boardroom Simulation Experience

August 4th, 2016 1 comment

To really understand the WOW factor of the Digital Boardroom you have to see it and experience it… and short of driving to an SAP office or attending an SAP Conference, it’s not easily available.  But that’s all changed.

Now SAP provides a Digital Boardroom Simulation Experience  and feels and sounds like the next version of the Fallout series. The “best experienced with headphones” is a recommendation I fully endorse.

It’s not exactly the same and touching the screen and performing root cause analysis in real-time, but it’s close(r)…

If you’ve not seen it – check it out here!

Do You Have What It Takes?

The narrator asks:  Do you have what it takes to present to the top of the top?  Your Mission – Use the power of SAP Digital Boardroom to answer each board members question.

Do I Have What It Takes?  Sure.  No problem.

The simulator gives you some quick instructions from an intern, then you are asked to pick your board members.  Next you are asked a question from each board member which you will answer by navigating through the Digital Boardroom, but be quick.  The faster you answer the higher your score.

Let’s Play

The narrator guides you through the process, so unlike the Fallout series it’s pretty clear what you need to do.  The cursor indicates when you are on the correct selection.  If you dilly dally too much, expect to be berated by the board members.  They’ve got no time for slackers!

One nice feature is that you can play the simulator several times and you are asked different questions from the board members.  This meant that the experience stayed fresh and I was able to investigate different scenarios, which was nice.

Overall I wish the simulator looked more like the reach digital boardroom instead of screenshots, but it does gives you a fun way of having a Digital Boardroom experience.

My Three Takeaways

Takeaway #1 – When you use the Digital Boardroom (for real), it feels like the data is coming alive as you literally manipulate and interact with the data at your fingertips.  The Digital Boardroom three screen, touch screen concept is a revolutionary concept that works. It is very ambitious and very cool.

Takeaway #2 – Many companies have 3 or 4 people working for 3-4 days to pull together their executive briefings for board meetings.  This is old thinking. Being a digital business demands that you move to real-time insight from the shop floor to the board room.

Takeaway #3 – There are no shortcuts.  The Digital Boardroom is not a magic bullet.  Anyone who has deployed analytic solutions knows that a lot goes into architecting a data governance and management strategy that provides a real-time, single version of the truth experience.  It’s not easy, but no pain, no gain.  Companies who make these types of strategic investments will be rewarded with the ability to make better decisions faster, responding more quickly than their competitors to changing market conditions.

SAP Digital Boardroom is a next-generation digital solution that contextualizes the boardroom experience across people, places, and devices into a real-time enterprise experience. The goal is to provide transparency, data-driven insights, and simplified boardroom processes. It can enable companies to visualize insights in context, and align on one source of truth, while analyzing root causes, and even potentially simulating the impact of decisions.

Additional Resources

I don’t know about you, but I really like how SAP is making engagement with the Digital Boardroom fun.  If you have access to a VR headset, there is also an SAP Digital Boardroom VR Experience.  Although it’s little more than an informational video it is fun.

Finally, it was interesting to see that in SAP’s recent Run Live commercials, the Digital Boardroom feature prominently at the center of the “decision making” conversation.  It’s no surprise.  Everybody knows analytics rule!!

Run Live with SAP – Motorcycle – “Dial it back.”, “Yeah, dial it back”

Run Live with SAP – Karate – “What do we have on aerial karate?”  I love that!

«Good BI»

Centerpoint Optimized Segmentation with HANA

March 1st, 2016 No comments

Whenever I attend utility industry events I continue to run into Centerpoint Energy and hear about all the different ways they are using SAP HANA to transformation their business.  The latest story is around optimizing their customer segmentation process.  This innovation was first discussed on the HANA Podcast – Episode 5.


CenterPoint Energy is an energy delivery company headquartered in Houston, TX. They deliver electricity over 2.3 million smart meter customers around Houston. In addition they also deliver natural gas across six states and have assets over $22 billion.

Customer Segmentation

Centerpoint decided to make HANA a strategic investment across their organization and implement customer vision platform to provide a unified view of a customer across all lines of business and engage in consultative approach.

As a result they have slowly been rolling out more and more innovation centered around the real-time business benefits that HANA delivers.  One of the first innovations was moving their CRM system to HANA.  This allowed them to create and their customer segments in 10 minutes instead of 4 weeks.  In the past without HANA Raj Erode says the underlying database supporting segmentations slows down dramatically once an organization has more than 1 million customers.  In the case of Centerpoint they have 5M customers across natural gas and electric.  This was a problem.  In addition, you can imagine how much your customer data in the 4 weeks it used to take them to create a segment!!

HANA Business Benefits

As a result they saw tremendous business benefit.  They are now able to:

  • Create marketing targets with up-to-date information within CRM rather than historical data.
  • Save marketing dollars by being more nimble and adjusting target groups on the fly.
  • Generate faster, more accurate reporting on sales opportunities and activities, marketing campaigns, marketing effectiveness, and results.

This process was so beneficial that it was clear they would want to bring in more data elements and automate their existing data loads.  As a result of automated data loads they were able to:

  • Realize a 200% increase in productivity by replacing manual data loads with scheduled data loads into HANA.
  • Combine SAP and non-SAP customer data so that more data elements could be used for better, more accurate customer targeting.

There were 5 different non-SAP systems they pulled data from including:  Outage Management System, Home Service Plus.

For More Information…

Please check out this Business Transformation Study as well as their Customer Vision Presentation from the SAP for Utilities Conference.

SAP HANA continues to be a game-changer a organizations use it to break down the barriers of what was once thought as impossible.

«Good BI»

Categories: HANA Tags: ,

Lumira 1.29 – Data Blending Comes of Age

November 23rd, 2015 1 comment

Lumira recently introduced a new concept called BlendingBlending allows Analytics to allow data from multiple datasets or fact tables to be displayed across a common dimension.  This was a critical next step in Lumira’s evolution because often the job of an Analyst requires them to pull together multiple result sets into a single visualization.  It’s great to be able to visualize actual vs. budget together in a single graph; however often you want to be able to create a new calculation across the datasets, e.g. variance,  variance percent, etc.  This was not possible before.

Blending Enhancements

On Friday I downloaded the latest release of Lumira — Lumira 1.29.  There is a lot here to see and although it’s always great to see more features coming into the product, the enhancements to blending really make this release standout and make this version of Lumira a must-have upgrade.

Lumira has always done a good job at allowing users to manipulate data, but limitations of no micro-cube and the inability to create custom calculations across multiple data sets was extremely limiting.  Until now the only options were to:

  • Perform data preparation in the microcube of WebIntelligence and access to microcube directly using the APOS Data Gateway
  • Hope you could leverage the Join_By_SQL option within the Universe so that only a single result set would be returned.

As you might imagine, this was quite limiting and I ran into this first hand during a recent customer evaluation.  Here was my scenario.

Supporting YoY Comparisons

I was asked to calculate the growth factor within a dataset that included data over time.  The growth factor was defined as

G = (Volumecy/ Volume(cy-t))1/t – 1

Where t is the time in years. For the purpose of this analysis, t is taken to equal 3, 5 or 10 years.  cy is the current year.  The example below will use the standard year breakdown.

Example:  The table below is used in the example calculations

 2014 Volume 2013 Volume 2012 Volume 2011 Volume 2010 Volume
125,452 124,118 120,506 119,987 126,623

In 2014, the 3 year growth would be:

G = (125,452 / 119,987)1/3 – 1 = 1.5 %

In 2013, the 3 year growth would be:

G = (124,118 / 126,623)1/3 – 1 = -0.66 %

At first what seems so simple, wasn’t.

This is a straight-forward request.  With Lumira it wasn’t so simple.  When processing a Lumira document, the formula engine processes one record at a time, so prior to blending, the only option was to create custom calculations to filter the volume for each year.  I would then have to use these custom calculations in yet another calculation for the growth.  Here is a sample.

2014 Volume Custom Calculation:   if {Year} = 2014 then {TransCount} else 0

2011 Volume Custom Calculation:   if {Year} = 2011 then {TransCount} else 0

2014 3yr Growth:  Power(({Transcount_2014} / {Transcount_2011}), 1 / 3) – 1

So for 5 years of 3-yr grow calculations I would have to create 15 formulas!  Yikes!

It was possible, but there were two big problems:

  1. Each year you would have to add more formulas because the calculations weren’t dynamic by year.
  2. You lost the ability to visualize the data in context.  In this case you would not be able to easily show these calculations in a YoY line chart.

Could blending be the answer?  Possibly.  Here’s what I discovered.

Previous Blending Helped But…

Suddenly I had an idea.  What if I loaded the dataset in twice?  Once for the current year and again but leverage “Year+3”.  This would allow me to join on year and because the value for the year 2011 now say 2014.  I could then display the current years value next to the value from 3 years ago.  It worked!

Here is what I did.

I loaded the same dataset twice and renamed them to Current Year and CY-3.

Two imported datasets

In the dataset named, CY-3, I created a calculated dimension called Year+3 in which I added “+3” to the value of the Year column… so now 2014 became 2017, 2013 became 2016, etc.

Year+3 Calculated Field

In the previous example when I created Year+3 and added 3 to the Year, the field went from being defined as an integer to a real number.  Lumira doesn’t allow you to join across data types and since my original Year column is still defined as an integer, I needed to create a current date which is also a real number.  I accomplished this by creating a new calculation dimension called Year+0, by creating a new formula Year+0.

Year+0 Calculated Field

Next I lined the two datasets.  I was able to link Year+3 from the CY-3 dataset to the Year+0 from the CurrentYear dataset.

Dataset Linking

I also renamed the TransCount field in the CY-3 dataset to Transcount (CY-3) to avoid any confusion with the value TransCount in the CurrentYear dataset.

Next I created a column chart visualization showing the data from CurrentYear and the CY-3 datasets together in the same chart in the following manner:

First, Add Year+0 and TransCount to the Column chart.  This shows you the current values.  Next, change the dataset you are working with to CY-3 and add TransCount (CY-3) to the output.  Now I can see the CurrentYear Transcount compared to the Transcount from 3 years earlier.  As expected, there are null values for the earliest 3 years because I loaded the same data set twice and my initial calculation is using Year+3.

Viewing YoY Volume (TransCount)

In other words, if I hover over the value for 2004 I will see it matches the Transcount(CY-3) value for 2007.

Next I want to Exclude the 2004 through 2006 numbers.

Excluding Years with null values

So now I am left with the correct bar chart.

Viewing YoY Volume (with nulls excluded)

The next step is to now do some math between the two datasets.  For example I wanted to calculate the variance.  What is the difference between CurrentYear and CY-3?  Nope.  I needed to calculate the growth rate using the formula introduced above.  The problem was in Lumira 1.28, there was no way to do this. Now you can!

Custom Calculations Across Datasets

As soon as I got my hands on Lumira 1.29 I was able to find the new Custom Calculation feature two places.  You can either:

  • Use the menu at the top of the charting area
  • Right Click on the measure and select Add Calculation >> Custom Calculation
From the Menu From the Measure

So let’s create this new custom calculation.  Below you can see where I’ve highlighted a new and critical change.  You can now select the “Dataset” of the fields you want to use in the calculation.  This allows me to choose measure elements across both data sources:

Ability to select either dataset

So now I can create the following new growth calculation:

Power({DS1.TransCount}/{DS2.Transcount (CY-3)},1/3) – 1

Once I add this new YoY calculation to the chart and remove the previous measure values I can see the following results:

Dynamic 3yr Growth YoY

Now I have a dynamic growth calculation and I didn’t have to create dozens of formulas!  It works beautifully.

Now the only existing limitation is that I cannot show the 3yr growth and the 5 yr growth in the same chart because each of them is linked to a different combination of results.  (Year linked to 3Year) and (Year linked to 5Year).  There is currently no way to linked more than two data sets together.

Exercise for You

If you would like to try this exercise out for yourself, I have attached the associated data file here.  All you will need to do is load the dataset twice and then create the calculations as described above.

Now I’d like you to calculate the growth of Volume using the Growth Formula stated above, but this time instead of doing it for 2 yrs, do it for 5 yrs.  Once you’re done, you should get a chart like this:

Dynamic 5yr Growth YoY


Lumira 1.29 is a huge leap forward.  The ability to do data blending and create new dynamic calculations across multiple datasets is very important capability indeed.  This goes a long way to remove many of the limitations you may have encountered around data preparation and analysis thus far.

So the next question is… when will they be releasing Lumira 2.0? 🙂


«Good BI»

Lumira | Predictive Analysis Troubleshooting: Hangs on the splash screen when starting…

October 1st, 2014 1 comment

I recently discovered an issue when leveraging both Lumira and Predictive Analysis 1.18 and it took me a while to debug the issue and so I wanted to share those results with you.

The version of Lumira/Predictive Analysis I had installed on my desktop had a permanent key with a timeout and I didn’t realize it but that the key had expired.

Keycode prior to expiration

As a result, when I started Lumira, I saw the splash screen with the updates that said, starting engine then preparing user interface.  Eventually it would simply hang on the splash screen with the small message that said:  Loading module “Publish to SAP HANA”, it is at this point that Lumira hangs and no new messages appear.

SAP Lumira hangs with “Publish to SAP HANA”

In order to resolve this issue you will need a new keycode or you will be reverted back to the SAP Lumira Personal Edition

SAP Lumira Resolution

In order to resolve this issue for SAP Lumira, you need to do the following:

  • Delete the folder:  C:\Users\Public\sapvi
  • Launch Lumira
  • Enter a new keycode.

NOTE:  If you do not have a valid keycode, then I suggest you:

SAP Predictive Analysis Resolution

The instructions are the same as for SAP Lumira above except that the directory you will delete is C:\Users\Public\sappa

I trust this will resolve your issues.

I don’t know about you but I’m really enjoying Lumira.  For that latest features and information about Lumira check out these youtube videos.

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Categories: Lumira Tags:

Upgrading to SAP BusinessObjects 4.1

September 3rd, 2014 No comments


Don’t Miss Out!

There is an excellent Technical Webinar Series happening right now: Upgrading to the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.1

These sessions started back in July and have been an excellent resource for understanding what’s required to upgrade, best practices, SSO, monitoring, strategy and roadmap, etc.  For details on the schedule go here.

On Thursday we will see part 5 in this 13 part series.  To register, click here.  Harjeet Judge, who presented the session on BI 4.1 Deployment Best Practices will also be leading this session and will be covering:

  • Planning, preparation and prerequisite tips to install and configure SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1
  • Important post-installation configuration that is required on the BI 4.1 server
  • The necessary steps for building up a patching strategy to take advantage of the latest fixes and enhancements

Previous Recorded Sessions

To catch you up on what you may have missed check out sessions 1 – 3.

  1. BI Upgrade:  Value Proposition and Tools
  2. BI 4.1 Upgrade and Upgrade Best Practices
  3. BI 4.1 Sizing and Visualization

I would also strongly recommend that you consider going through the BusinessObjects 4.1 training available on for free!   Here is the URL to access it:   All the content and videos are also available offline which is really handy when you’re learning on the go.

If you are interested in other upcoming enablement events, you can always see the current list of sessions by going to the enablement website.

It’s time to leverage all the many free resources regarding the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Suite and get your organization upgraded now.

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Categories: Administrators, BI Platform Tags: