Hello folks! This is one in a series of blogs through which I hope I can help explain the tongue twister, SAP xApp Analytics. There are other blogs on SDN that explain the concept and I would encourage you to read them too. Collectively, I hope these will help dispel the confusion and put you on a firmer ground.
Let us start by focusing on xApp. What is a xApp? When I first joined SAP and was told that I would be the Solution Manager for SAP xApp Analytics for High Tech, my world shook! I was envisioning spending huge part of my training time just memorizing the product name and heaven forbid, if I were made responsible for additional industries! I am happy to report that a couple of hours on the job and things were crystal clear. And believe me, if I can get it, anyone can.
Simply put a xApp is a composite application that is composed by drawing information from multiple sources. These applications are based on SAPs Enterprise Service Oriented Architecture or Enterprise SOA. An analogy would be Lego®. All of us have played with or understand the concept behind Lego®. Different Lego® pieces can be combined together in different ways to build different structures. The Enterprise SOA services are like Lego® pieces that can be combined in myriad ways to create complex applications that model business processes. As with Lego®, the applications that can be built are limited only by an individuals creativity.
So, hopefully by now we understand the term xApp; now let us focus on Analytics. I believe that the true value of operational applications emerges when you infuse Analytics as a part of the business process the operational applications automate. Let us look at an example. A marketing planner is responsible for executing various marketing campaigns and also monitor the performance of these campaigns. How does a marketing planner judge the performance of a campaign? By having access to information such as actual responses vs. planned responses, revenue generated vs. planned revenue etc.
Traditionally to get this information, the marketing planner would need authorization to access a BI system, be able to perform ad-hoc analysis i.e. be trained in using a query tool. What if you do not have access to the right tools? Good luck! Did I mention the agony of switching between applications and the loss of context? As strange and inefficient as this may seem, this scenario is quite prevalent today in many organizations.
Wouldnt it be great if all this information could be provided to the marketing planner in a way so that he does not have to jump between different tools, different UIs, different .etc. This may sound even stranger, but we have such an application as a part of the 100+ applications that are currently available in xApp Analytics Ramp Up program. The Marketing Project Performance application provides the marketing planner, in a single UI framework, information about various campaigns, key metrics that allows them to determine the performance of a campaign and most importantly the ability to stop the campaign if it is performing poorly.
In the absence of such an application, what would a marketing planner do? First he would log into the CRM application to view existing campaigns, log into SAP NetWeaver BI and run a BEx query or create one to see which campaigns are underperforming, create another query to understand the reason for the poor performance, come back to the CRM application and then stop the campaign. Phew!
This is just one example of a xApp that stitches together information from an operational system and an analytical data store. As I mentioned earlier, the potential to build similar applications is going to be limited only by ones creativity.
In summary, let me highlight the value of such an application:
– It provides users with insights within the context of a business process i.e. it greatly enhances their productivity.
– It provides insights to users without requiring them to learn complex tools i.e. it significantly reduces training costs
– It provides end users with the ability to act on this insight i.e. it promotes a culture within an organization where decisions are based on facts and not on an individuals gut feeling.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing this blog. This is just one in a series of blogs. In upcoming blogs I plan to cover the following topics in detail.
SAP xApp Analytics – A Technical Overview
Discuss the technical requirements to build such an application? What components are needed to build a xApp Analytics? How are these deployed? How are these packaged? Etc. I will also discuss the applications that are available as a part of the Ramp Up Program, exaplin the Ramp Up program and how you can be a part of this program.
SAP xApp Analytics Demystifying SAP NetWeaver BI, BI Content, and xApp Analytics
Discuss how these technologies are complementary and meet differing requirements of end users.I will also discuss how xApp are not just dashboards or reports.
SAP xApp Analytics In action
Discus a case study which describes a real world xApp Analytics implementation at a customer. The blog will describe what steps the customer took to be productive in 3 weeks! No kidding!