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Vital Outlook of 2011: Speculations for SAP BI Professionals

I am late in the game: all those “10 trends to watch in new year” are usually following pattern of Christmas-in-the-shopping-mall: starting as early as October, so by now everyone might be just dead bored reading all these trend lists, especially that 95% of “predictions” are common: cloud, mobile, pervasive, social, big data etc.

I still hope though that you will find some time to read and – even more importantly – to comment on some of the speculative thoughts I would like to share looking into 2011:

  1. Source: Wikipedia. Public domainAlthough we might not see geological shift of continents during our short lifespan, we witness constant shift of “shores” and earth flattening because of borderless nature of human talent and virtualization of interactions. Regions that were considered off-shore in the recent past are becoming centers of gravity thanks to shifting concentration of the talent. I hope to see wake up of Africa shortly and am looking forward SAP Mentor Initiative from that region.
  2. Just today we exchanged e-mails with fellow SCNer Bala Prabahar on the importance of great people talent over the great technology in the resolution of business challenges. It is great people who invent and develop great technologies, great people who turn these technologies into organization capabilities, and then great people who use these capabilities to achieve the business goals. I think this year, as so many new SAP BI products, releases and solutions go into GA [General Availability], is going to be a big test for our talents to quickly SAP HANA: What it means for business and for your career those.
  3. Besides Is it BI or HI that Intelligence has divorced? I really see the raise of importance of Business Analyst profession. Dashboards and mobile devices might make data analysis look simpler, but the amount and complexity of data that has to be crunched before is growing. Dashboards might help to make decisions faster, but it is still important to make right decisions based on the correct logic behind flashy charts. SBO Explorer might simplify the way to search and explore the data, but it is still up to people to define proper semantic layer, that makes search and exploration meaningful. I am waiting for SCN to change “BPX” area into “BPAX” – Business Process and Analytic eXperts – to reflect the importance of this trend.
  4. The distinction between different kinds of data is becoming blurry. There is no more clear separation between data serving transactional, operation, planning or analytic purposes. Once we are executing transaction, we need small historical insight inplace. Once we are running some analytical report, we might want to make immediate action in the transaction system based on the insight we just discovered. BI has long time ago stopped being just “business” intelligence; there is Institutional Intelligence for government and non-government organizations and education institutions; there is Household Intelligence even if all you are doing are researching job market at Glassdoor.com or analyzing the household spending on your credit card website. After AI and BI, we are naturally and alphabetically coming to the time of CI – Converged Intelligence.
  5. If you were following SAP messages around the roadmap of Important Questions (with Answers) about SAP’s in-memory High-performance Analytic Appliance – HANA (HANA), you might have noticed already that CI is exactly the end goal of it: all information in one single place used for different purposes – transaction, insight, plan – depending on the needs. Besides all current technology constraints and paradigm changing resistance the ultimate picture seems correct. It does not obviously mean one single hyper-ultra-mind-blowing database, but rather several subject-oriented data stores serving all information purposes and able to exchange data in right-time manner between themselves. Keep an eye on the evolution of SBO Data Federator alongside of SAP HANA.
  6. SAP HANA 1.0 is a good reflection of the trend described by Dan Vesset, Business Analytics Program VP at IDC in similar context, even if for another BI/DW vendor: “This … clearly shows an evolution in the outward messaging, and that not everyone wants to or can start with an [Enterprise Data Warehouse].” It does not mean that the concept of Is your BW the Data Warehouse, anyway? is going away, but that EDW is not a single answer to all needs anymore. The fashion for Operational BI had come, as indicated by #8 among top ten hottest keywords by information-management.com. Use case for SAP HANA 1.0 is Operational Data Marts and if someone will try to use it for anything different – might become disappointed (although I never underestimate human creativity! 🙂
  7. Certainly SAP needs to unify the message around “operational” BI. Right now the term is used by different organizations in SAP in different meaning depending on fashion and needs:
    – for BW folks “operational” means “based on DSOs”,
    – for BO folks it means “built with Crystal Reports” (as captured by me during one of ASUG webinars),
    – for HANA folks it means “replicated from OLTP system”,
    Source: Today in Art. Public domain– and for Sybase CEP guys it means “based on data in motion” as oppose to the data in rest in all 3 cases above.
  8. If I would stop my list at this point, one of the first questions could be “But what about importance of Social Media (SoMe) in the current trends?” Well, in my opinion not every company is Wet Seal and not everyone’s customers are teenage girls. We need some solid thoughts on the role of social tools in enterprise business, but to have those thoughts we might need to wait when buzz for SoMe goes away, and those will be just tools.

Year ago I finished my year preview blog “Outlook of 2010: Speculations for SAP BI Professionals” with a statement that I see great talent leaving our world of SAP BI and moving into something completely different. I had seen this as a trend, but what happen is that two out of those three guys returned to SAP BI world during 2010! So much I can say about the quality of my predictions, and as year showed it was not the only miss in my judgments. But this still does not stop me from sharing with you my speculations for the year we just have started. At the end, those are just speculations, and as such do not even require “forward looking” disclaimers 😉

Happy (and interesting) New Year!

-Vitaliy, aka @Sygyzmundovych 

4 Comments
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  • so true.

    What is odd is I don’t see your blogs listed in the blog list, only by finding it on the SCN blog twitter feed.  Very strange, indeed!!

    Great job, Vitaliy.  Many exciting things with BI this year – never a dull moment for sure.

    Tammy

    • Tammy,

      It seems “Blogs” is in some kind of inconsistent state. Several comments posted between y’day “sometime” and today are missing. And as you mentioned, the blogs that were published during that time are also missing in the list.

      Vitaliy,

      This is a great blog. Contains tons of information so I need more time to review and comment on specifics; Overall  I feel really optimistic, excited with BI after reading your blog. 2011 already looks-based on personal experience-very promising. And your blog shows a lot of optimism and carries positive message.
      More comments in a day or two.

      Regards,
      Bala

      • Vitaliy,

        It seems if we start following alphabetical order, at some point, we would reach HI(Human Intelligence). Does that mean we would end up relying on human intelligence more at some point in future?  The reliance on HI is what appears to delay the quarterly results of corporations. My recent blog “cOn·FuSeD” discusses this thought.

        Thanks,
        Bala