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It is January 1st, 2010 [at least still here in Silicon Valley in California] – the perfect date to publish on the topic. What follows are neither predictions (because I do not have defined probability of occurance next to each point) nor trends (because I do not have statistic data to support my statements). Below are very subjective and based on observations opinions of mine. Opinions of one person by definition cannot be comprehensive and thorough, therefore they are nothing else, but speculations. Yet I am publishing them in a hope of getting your valuable feedback and hearing your thoughts.

Let me start with repeat of a general statement that everyone knows: BI is still on CIO issue list and still a hot project to be. So, let’s wait and see. In the meantime, here are my thoughts.

  1. Besides the magic of the “round” year and many new software releases expected, I see 2010 to be more an evolution than a revolution. (On the other hand: that’s the nature of revolution to come unexpected.) The current barrier for BI in my opinion is not in the lack of tools, IT resources, methodologies or data availability, but in the very Is it BI or HI that Intelligence has divorced? (of business users, let me be forgiven calling this by name) to turn all of those into pervasive BI.
  2. Not only business users will be challenged. We witness big change in SAP. Seen as slow and rigid, the company now tries to show its new innovative face. Sounds nice, but will be interesting to see how we – technical community – will cope with that pace of innovaition, which means shorter lifecycles of ideas, software and … our expertise. How to pick what to invest our time into? How to make sure that expertise in particular area that we are building today will not be obsolete already tomorrow? Will we come to the moment when “years of experience” will be ballast? Like how much of your experience with BW 2.0 is applicable to BW 7.0 (especially with BW Accelerator)?
  3. I mentioned that 2010 will not be revolutionary, but it will be the year of many new releases. In just a little bit more than 1 month long expected release 7.2 of BW is going into Ramp-up. This release will enable as well many exciting features of BW Accelerator 7.2.  2010 will be a year of the first release of new OLAP tool code-named Pioneer.  Then closer to the end of the year we should expect Main Release (known as 7.3) of NetWeaver platform that supposes to fix some of the missing configuration options of BW 7.2 like SEM on BW or Dual-stack installations. Those people lucky enough to get into early implementation projects will probably face some frustration, multiple customer messages to SAP, lots of OSS notes and frequent SPs; but those who survive will clearly be in demand in 2011, when all these new stuff will go into mainstream.
  4. We (coming from BW world) used to be one-guy-fits-all specialists. Unlike most of other classic specialists broken by BI/DW/ETL/Architecture areas and tools, we used to be involved into every aspect of BW implementation and support, be this data extraction, InfoProviders modeling, Query authoring, planning applications, APD, ABAP programming (including OO ;-), automation, security, performance tuning etc. Same way we want to jump now on BusinessObjects and get How many skills does BW consultant need? in full spectrum of BO products. I think 2010 will be the beginning of the end of this I-be-it-all culture and we will start moving into areas of specializations or generalizations.
  5. As we will progress into specializations, our own real professional network (not number of connections in LinkedIn, but number of people you know, you can ask, and you can be sure to get answer – ideally proper answer) will start playing important role of supplemental knowledge. You will need support from other people as they will need support from you. Role of virtual and local BI Communities will further rise.  [Using this chance I would like to invite those of you located in Silicon Valley to SAP BI Community Day. Please check Community Events page or get in touch with me]
  6. You might have heard about coming explosion of Data stored in data warehouses. Well, again, I am of the opinion that it is just continuation of known trend. This trend was nicely described by Richard Winter in his article for BeyeNETWORK already 2 years ago. It is just we are getting into the area of tangible exponential grow. One BW specialist who I talked to during 2009 TechEd told me that their BW is expected to grow from 4TB to 50TB within a year. Specifically for demands like this SAP together with HP NeoView and Teradata is developing solutions to run BW 7.2 on MPP databases.
  7. But as data volumes and hardware possibilities grow, there is another IM discipline that is gaining importance: Data Federation approach as an alternative to a single [aka “Enterprise”] Data Warehouse. SAP is already providing the tool called Data Federator coming from SBO IM portfolio. And although some DW veterans are trying to criticize federation concept, it is an area that we need to watch closely and be ready for some radical shifts (including our skills and career) in even the nearest feature.
  8. As I am looking at SAP activities around positioning and development of their BI portfolio and offer, I would like to rise a question about the future of BW product in SAP’s long-term portfolio strategy. No doubt BW will not go away immediately, but if ECC datasources will natively work with SBO DI, BEx will get replaced with SBO BI and BW OLAP Engine will become universal BI Engine as part the future Accelerator version, then what role will be left for BW? What will be its value proposition? I have no answer for this, but it is something I, as SAP BI specialist, am going to watch.

Last, but not least. During last year of 2009 I saw great people moving from SAP BW space into completely different areas, outside IT: one into green energy, another one into digital marketing, yet another into health and wellness. Is it a new trend or just a coincidence? I hope 2010 will help to clarify each of us if we are utilizing our skills, brain, heart and time in the best way for ourselves, our families, communities, society and our planet Earth.

Happy New Year!

P.S. from 2010 Jan 21: I am very glad to share that this blog was selected for BO Community home page (http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/boc) and as well was published in shorter version by Australian “Inside SAP” magazine (http://insidesap.com.au/january/, p.36).

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11 Comments

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  1. Former Member
    Hi Vitality,

    Nicely crafted blog.
    As you have pointed out there are a lot of uncertainities in SAP BI area in 2010. Because SAP is going to have big releases in 2010. I am really looking forward to put my hands on BI 7.2.
    I think there will be a significant growth in BPC and IP area. More number of companies would consider the option of organized planning in this volatile market to make themselves competitive.

    Let us hope for a fantastic year ahead.

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    1. Former Member
      Yet again interesting comments from Vitality..
      My thoughts (fwiw)..
      BW has always had to serve two masters:
      – Operational and Middle Management Reporting in SOA and distributed SAP environments
      – BI (Information Exploitatin, true ad hoc analysis, dashboards …)
      Mixed with this – the provision to try and give a single (and reconcilable!) version of the truth makes modelling and delivery a nightmare.
      I believe we are at a crossroads…
      The hybrid provider concept allows us to get to the operational reporting for real time.
      However we now have the power of teradata and neoview.
      This opens up a second modelling possibility.. the ability to generate “query” cubes when required. (ie those with OLAP functions such as RKF/CKF modelled in the cube)
      The power of these databases is tremendous and I have seen sites where 10TB/20TB of EDW data are summarised each night into tuned query cubes by using these databases.
      This gives us a dilema..
      We can design a 3NF EDW layer on the MPP databases and then use the power to build highly tuned cubes or we can use the hybrid provider concepts with BWA
      Naturally we may wish to model the best of both worlds.. but that takes us away from the SVOT concepts..
      Sure – interesting times ahead…
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  2. Former Member
    Hi Vitaly,

    Very interesting thoughts, about federation, data explosion, BWA, specialists and generalists. Please allow me some comments on these points:

    Federation is an interesting concept but I have my doubts that you can get rid of ETL. Not only because you want to enrich data with business logic but also because of performance and scalability. Virtual representations will force you again to costly SQL analysis in original database and thus old school SQL optimizer consultants will become a valuable resource again.

    BWA needs a data basis from where the data is loaded into the indexes.

    I assume that Teradata and Neoview support for BW has not been made as a temporary concept for using MMP DBs in BW but as the next stage for VLDBs on SAP BW.

    I’m with Githen when talking about BPC and IP. This will an important part of BI more and more. Nevertheless I still struggle with the contradiction of departamental planning and enterprise planning. In my opinion the planning process need to be on an enterprise level and not on departamental level as otherwise plan adjustments necessary through quickly changing environment parameters will take too long to get through the whole planning due to missing links between the different departamental solutions.

    Another big junk of work in BW is the development of analytical applications on top of BW, and there BW offers in my eyes the best infrastructure available for developing such applications.

    Cheers, Philipp

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    1. Dan Everett
      I don’t think it is an either/or for ETL and data federation. Data federation fills a need for enterprise wide access that in my opinion complements a data warehouse.

      My feeling is that few companies currently have all the data they need in their data warehouse. And with the growth in data volumes, number of sources and complexity they will probably never have it all in the DW. Data federation gives companies the ability to provide easier access to the data not in the DW.
      Regards,
      Dan

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  3. Gregory Misiorek
    Vitaly,

    all are very good points, but i’m afraid the last (but not least) question on your list, will remain unanswered and only time will tell which strategy pays off: immersion or ignoring or most probably an amalgamation of both. SAP has invested too much capital in BO to simply let it sit idle. BW has been internally developed for years (i first came into contact with it over 10 years ago) and it has always been criticized for being slow and counter intuitive and always behind the main product of r/3 and that’s the perception a lot of clients still hold today. BO promises to do away with this criticism, but it’s still only a promise. i don’t expect a clear answer from SAP on this as i’m sure there are battles over it inside the company and some views held that cannot be published in order not to jeopardize existing client relationships. so, just like you and probably many others we will keep an eye on this development, always ready to revisit our skepticism over which functionality is better and sought after by the next client. let the better solution win.

    rgds,

    gm

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  4. Former Member
    Hi,

    lot of things in so short period… are we even ready to migrate to all this new things coming alongwith other competition in the market.

    Instead of just getting on to the bandwagon of all new products implementation… dont we need to stop by for a time and check if the existing is even enough or not…. ???

    Regards.

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    1. Witalij Rudnicki Post author
      Thanks, Vijay. Indeed, in my perception (and I plan to blog on this separately) BW played a role of “reporting system” combining both operational ERP-like reporting (another good example was BW bolt-on in CRM) and OLAP. With acquisition of BObj suite we have more clear differentiation of tools by their purpose. Another good example of move into ECC reproting is newest development in Data Federator (to link to another discussion related to this blog): http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/boc/innovation-center?rid=/webcontent/uuid/b062b12a-d505-2c10-7e86-e829df7a65bc.

      Cheers,
      -Vitaliy

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  5. Former Member
    Good Blog Vitaliy !!!

    It is true and hoping data warehouse fundamentals will remain same. Mastering on upcoming tools shuold not be very hard. With this node….wishing you a happy and prosperous new year.

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  6. Former Member
    Hi Vitaliy, You summed it all up really well!

    I LOL after reading point #4(one-guy-fits-all specialists). I initially tried to do exactly the same and wanted to be a overnight expert of all the BO products too. But, as you wrote in this article it became quickly evident that it is a herculean task. Started to prioritize and pick the tools which are more aligned to my goals.

    -Vinod Swarnapuri

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