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The future of a PI Consultant: What does the SAP Crystal Ball reveal?

Day 2 of SAPTechEd, Madrid has got me thinking. How true they say that if you are a techie in the IT industry, you have embarked on a journey of learning. Change is the only thing that is constant and this year we have got to see the changing face of Process Integration and the evolution of Process Orchestration.


I decide to take the SAP Crystal ball out and check what the future beholds for the SAP Process Integration consultant and I was in for no surprise.



With Process Orchestration, we see a drastic change in the traditional way of how we used to work with PI. Yesterdays Hands-on on Integration Flows and today’s session from Volker Stiehl on the SAP Netweaver BRM plugging into SAP PI talks volumes of ‘how and what’ of the direction SAP is taking in the Integration space.


The movement from SWING based client and migrating towards NWDS based development is a striking feature. This will help the developer to work in a single window unlike earlier where we had to switch java clients for modelling and configuration.

What is an Integration Flow?

SAP says, “An integration flow represents an integration scenario using a graphical model containing endpoints and flowsteps. It holds information of all the elements involved in the process integration”

With the onset of Integration Flows aka iFlows, now we have a much better visibility and readability of the Integration scenario. This is very essential as earlier, it took a great amount of expertise and knowledge to understand a scenario within PI. With iFlows, we have a pictorial view and I am sure you will agree that it is a much better representation to understand. Using an iFlow, we can build and configure and entire scenario using NWDS.


A sample view of an iFlow;


Details about Integration Flows, refer this PI/XI: Eclipse based integration flows – how to configure them with PI 7.31 from Mike.


The BPMN, BRM and PI combo

With Process Orchestration SAP is brewing a lethal cocktail of SAP Netweaver BPM (BPMN standards), SAP Netweaver BRM and SAP PI.

NW BPM will go on to replace the ccBPM that we have currently and with SAP plugging in capabilities of NW BRM, now we get an option to integrate business scenarios seamlessly.


What is this NW BRM all about?

Let me quote some business rules in real time scenarios;

a. In the Banking Industry, based on business rules credit decisions are made.

b. Tax calculation in the public sector is another common example

c. In case of health care, it could be claims calculation and in Logistics and shipping, calculation of pricing and duties.

With BRM, we separate the business logic from the underlying implementation code. Thus we transfer the headache to the business user and hence allign ourselves to a best practice where business data is under the control of the business user.


On how NW BRM and SAP PI fits together, Session PMC166 is the place to be. I have to thank Volker Stiehl for today’s session. It was once of the best session I have been to yet.




So what does all this mean?

When initially PI was launched by SAP (then called XI), the ideal skill set to have was a combo of ABAP and JAVA to excel as a PI developer. But with the onset of Process Orchestration, I believe we are seeing a new set of skillset emerge. In my personal view (note that word-> personal), I see the slow death of ABAP for a PI consultant and the shift towards predominant JAVA skills along with knowledge of SAP BPM i.e BPMN and NW BRM.

Its a new wave and we need to be onboard at the earliest. Consultants should start taking interest in BPM and BRM while Organizations focus on trainings so that their employees can quickly bridge the gap. The learning curve could be steep but it is essential that it is scaled.

I will leave you finally with the words of Henry Ford. Happy learning!

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”


PS: From day 2, another interesting session was around the Near Zero Downtime Maintenance of SAP PI. With nZDM, SAP is claiming that the business downtime of your server can be reduced to close to 30 minutes. Impressive! With this, it seems you can now do your ABAP and JAVA stack patching in parallel and SAP will soon be extending this to even version upgrades inclusive of SP and EHP level maintenance.



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  • Nice overview Shabz...So we'll be called Process Orchestration Consultants in future?

    Irrespective of what title PI Consultants may hold in the future, I think the customer expectation from a PI consultant is going to be significantly higher, i.e. you'll need to be a BPX, BRM & Integration expert all rolled up into one. Being a die-hard techie myself, I'm still looking forward to this challenge 🙂

    • Process Orchestration Consultants.... hmmm i must say that is a fair name for us 🙂

      and yes, i agree that the expectation from a PI consultant is going to be much higher. It is a challenge and it sud keep us interested 😉


    • Hi,

      I think we have seen this path for some time now, that PI has left the technology corner to lift up to more business related integrations... even if the core remains the same, the usage and adoption is more spread on higher levels.
      In this way of looking at PI there are more different types of knowledge needed than in a plain technology integration project.

      In an ideal world, its important to also educate SAP application people to know different types of modeling and the usage of orchestration tools and the usage and possibility of PI.
      In the future of PI I would say that it's cool (but perhaps not possible) for us to learn everything about Process Orchestration but being specialized is also essential for the long run so we need to have hard core techies as well as process experts and architects 🙂

      But the path forward is nice and the strong focus on integration from SAP side will bring many exiting projects into the PI area.

      • eventually it is a union of the 'techie' and the 'process' guy into a single skill set. But to be frank i dont think this is the ideal case. Going forward a PI consultant should focus on the bits that is relevant to him from BPM and BRM. Also it is best to understand how many of your implementation will leverage the benefits of Process Orchestration as we need to find specific use cases and then formulate a best practice.

        I am looking forward to SAP releasing more and more articles on this regard.

        • The future ideal person in PI is probably on the same level needed in ERP:
          Age 25
          Senior (+10 year) application knowledge in: MM, SD,  SRM, CRM, FI/CO, HCM, BI, ABAP, BPx
          But besides the ideal resource I think that as you say a PI resource needs to look at the specific parts for the project.
          But for an integration project the need for a team with different knowledges is also a big part in the future... There needs to be a techie and a process resource involved in different levels throughout the project.
          To build a efficient project the sourcing of individual consultants/resources needs to be reviewed and perhaps replaced by content sourcing instead...

          But of course I would like to know everything about PI... 🙂

  • Hello,
    Your personal interpretation makes me think:
    When I as an Abaper develop an interface, I interact with PI team.More than often I see a screen with flowcharts which explains how data flows and connectivity between systems.(I might be wrong). The PI team gives me a proxy or likewise wherein ABAPers code the logic and thats the way. Now with Java replacing ABAP do I see that we would code entirely in Java?
    If this is true then Embracing Inclusion goes technical!!!
    • Java replacing ABAP is only with in PI. The ABAP on ECC is going to be there. So all the interface proxy coding still happens on ECC and still on ABAP. No worries for the hardcore ECC ABAP developers.. YET.


  • How about existing ccBPM scenarios ,will it be supported by the NW BRM or need to redesing those scenarios if migrated to 7.3 ?

    Also with single stack PI ,how to implement ccBPM scenarios?


    • ccBPM can still be done in PI 7.3 or PI 7.31 if you are running on dual stack .. but since SAP's focus is to move to a single stack, from PI 7.31 single stack only installation, you can use NW BPM using BPMN standards to model your business process.
    • The old ccBPM basically needs to be rewritten if you want to use them on a java-only deployment option.
      If you want to move over to a java-only PI with BPM, you should at least wait to 7.31 where you can install PI and BPM at the same time on a single SID instance not needing all the extensive setup needed right now.

      But you will always have the option to move parts of the integrations to a new java-only installation and leaving the ccBPMs any ABAP mappings on the existing dual stack system for now.

  • I look forward to the day when NZDM is available in the standard installation to the end users and not just as a service provided by SAP Consulting 🙂