The SAP conference for Business Analytics (German title: “SAP-Kongress für Business Intelligence und Unternehmenssteuerung”) in Mannheim on March 23+24 was a great possibility for me as manager of an BI deployment team within SAP Global IT to get some outside-in views from SAP customers (their users and their IT departments) without major travel effort. With more than 900 participants (customers, partners and SAP employees) it was one of the largest SAP conference with pure BI and EPM focus in Germany ever.
Stefan Knopf (EMEA VP Sales, EPM, GRC – SAP) was on stage for the introduction. He spend some minutes to analyze the economic situation and the key technology drivers these days:
- 4 Exabyte information available
- More regulations (legal, environment, …)
- Less resources / budget
- Social media
To everyone in the auditorium he gave also a clear message about the scope of the conference: ‘We as SAP employees are enthusiastic about our products, and we want to inspire you today.’
The next keynote was full of live demos (Good! We wan’t to see how it work’s.). Christophe Ernst and Eric Bauer (both SAP) started with an overview: There is not one BI for every need, but with BI4 one BI Suite for all needs. One semantic layer and unified usability.
They used a very nice analogy: You know the concept from Ritter Sport chocolate. Different colors and different taste, but same way top open the bar for all of them. Scalability: You have the corporate version (big bar), the department version (regular bar) and when you are on your flight the cloud version (mini bar).
They showed a demo for very complex analytics in SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formely Xcelsius). The business question came from automotive: Is it better to create revenue an sell the air condition for new cars extra, or do I increase total number of sold cars giving it for free. Very complex algorithms, lot’s of historic data, but easy to use interface for business analyst with powerful simulation features.
Other demos did show Strategic Workforce Planning, Exploration Views, BI on Blackberry and the In-Memory Smart Meter Analytics solution for Utilities.
At the end they raised a very important question: What will change with In-Memory and Mobile? Nobody really knows. But it is maybe like moving from cassette recorder to mp3 player. No volume restriction, direct access, unlimited mobility, … so at the end everything changes.
One more workshop I want to mention here: ,We design to taste’ is the mission of TAKASAGO international. Web Intelligence is THE success story for the high need of ad-hoc reporting in this company. 90% of WebI creation is done inside the LoB, while IT does focus on data provisioning.
Holger Reinbold (BI IT lead at TAKASAGO) explained also very specific requirements, e.g. to classify all chemicals as per toxicity and explosiveness, or to optimize the production plan as per religious rules (kosher, halal, …).
Super interesting session. Never thought about such use cases before.
No SAP BI conference without extended HANA in-memory demos these days. This was the focus for day 2 and did start with showcasing CO-PA reporting directly on ERP using BusinessObjects Explorer as front end. The demo was fun fun fun! Exploring 120 million line items and no click had more than 1 sec response time. No future talk, that’s HANA 1.0 and it is available today.
Next on stage for SAP Global IT CIO Oliver Bussmann with the ‘SAP runs SAP’ story. He gave precise arguments why it is a must for SAP as a company to use In-Memory technology and solution. Not just because of TCO reduction and sustainability reasons, but also because of the incredible new possibilities to orchestrate your business processes. SAP IT was and is co-innovation partner for HANA and did showcase a large enterprise CRM scenario with Hana 1.0. The next step – and actually the program ‘newBI’ started already – is to redefine BI within SAP and to build a new BW 7.30 on top of HANA 1.5. Martin Heisig (VP Enterprise Architecture at SAP) did show the HANA CRM scenario on iPad and what we want to do with BI Exploration Views next. There was a huge interest from the audience to discuss more details with both of them afterwards.
Don’t miss the HANA VIDEO with Oliver Bussmann and Martin Heisig!
Overall: Great conference with a lot of valuable and inspiring customer stories. Exactly what I was looking for.