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Author's profile photo Eric Vallo

DSLayer: SAP Visual Intelligence Recap

In the most recent episode of the Diversified Semantic Layer and the start of Season 3, we were joined by our friend Andrew FoxGreg, Jamie, Josh, and I had some great discussion with Andrew and in the ensuing tweetstream.  Let’s recap the show and take it from there.

1:25 – Because we needed something fresh, we’ve decided this is the first episode of Season 3.

1:42 – Community news may be a bit on the light side.  Honestly, we’re just glad to be back.

3:57 – Is SAP Visual Intelligence hype?  Jamie argues that this is the only thing new in quite some time. Does this speak to the relevance of Predictive Analytics and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio?  What does that say? 

5:58 – Does Visi get the end user/customer closer to what Xcelsius could have been for the business? 

6:55 – It is the new Desktop Intelligence….Josh said it.  We now have a lot of tools that collectively do what Deski did, but maybe better (even though it’s graphing capability kind of stunk).

8:50 – Jamie makes the argument that this may be the tool that appeals to the rookie analyst.   Andrew makes me LOL (off mic) at the “Excel Hero”, and thus begins the life of the hashtag #ExcelHero for @DSLayer.  But seriously, we are making ninja’s out of the spread-mart jockeys.

11:45 – Keeping everything in perspective, this is a 1.0 product.  But why isn’t it a 1.0 product that leverages other parts of the analytics portfolio that bring consistency to the user experience in the right places.  And, on top of that, where is the common semantic layer love? 

15:20 – The pace in which releases of Visi is coming off the shelf is creating good vibes in the group.  Rapid releases are exposing customers to feature on a much faster pace than waiting on large scale functionality releases.

16:45 – Mobile first fail?  Is it really relevant for Visi?  Since I’m writing the write-up, the answer will be yes.  Analysts that should be using Visi should be sharing this data with others.  Let’s get the visualizations out to mobile devices.

18:08 – Andrew called us “old school”.  Heh.  He forgot “curmudgeons”.

19:05 – Big question: are customers using it?  It’d be phenomenal to hear about them in the comments here or at on the post.

20:57 – The Data Geek challenge is fun and jives with our first point that this really is a lot of hype.  The participants seem largely like the IT-type.  The business users are those we’d love to see being geeky.

23:42 – Jamie actually had a different reaction to his first go with Visi and found that without an “ideal” data set, he had a “heck” of a time slam dunking his visualization (booooooooo).  At least Greg lead us to the beer.

27:10 – Where is the psychic predictive capabilities of Visi? 

28:24 – 32-bit Visi is for the people that are really going to be disappointed they can’t shove millions of rows of data through their desktop.  Have many enterprises made the hop to 64-bit desktops?  This could be an interesting poll.

31:45 – Visi is getting a lot of conversation on desktop data, but are accelerated sources (HANA) getting any love?  It is believed that it is more likely adoption will come from the Deski-defectors before customers buy it to consume HANA.  Orrrrrr write back to HANA? 

At the end of the show, I’m not sure we uncovered any new nuggets or gems.  We all really dig Visi and where it is headed.  We realize that SAP is not trying to cater just to the old-school BusinessObjects world with Visi.  However, there is a profound opportunity to give a whole lot of customers an answer to the end of Deski (if they don’t find it to be Webi in all cases), as well as Tableau and QlikView.  To do so means continuing to build a foundation that couples Visi well with BI4 and still can operate in a stand-alone mode to support the customer that could care less about SAP BusinessObjects (GASP).

Jonathan Haun also added some feature “likes” and confirms for us….write back to HANA is there via the comments section of the post.  Thanks Jonathan.

Timo Elliott recently tweeted that  he feels as though we might have missed the mark a bit on our discussion.  It’d be great to regroup and chat about it again with Timo’s thoughts taken into account.

More to come on SAP Visual Intelligence in the future, you can be sure.

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      Author's profile photo Timo ELLIOTT
      Timo ELLIOTT

      Eric, many thanks for writing this up! Gives me an opportunity to give some feedback – I hope this doesn’t make things even more confusing… 

      3:57 Is it “hype”? At one point in the conversation there was a comment along the lines of “this is an extra tool that will be appropriate for a handful of users” – I think it’s much more strategic than that.

      I believe that (a) it’s a great data discovery product, but also (b) an example of practices we’ll see in the future, and (c) a key foundation for the future (along with mobile consumers and coding/integrating developers).

      My quick thesis: I believe there’s been a massive, fundamental change in the best way to do business intelligence architectures (when it comes to client tools, the move from batch to real-time interfaces is probably the most relevant aspect). This means different ways of working, which in turn means a transition – as painlessly as possible – from the old world to the new world. As I see it,  Visual Intelligence has a big role to play in this transition.

      6:55 It’s Deski! Yes, new Deski in many ways. As a keen users of Deski for a long, long time, the major problem was that you had to do most of the data manipulation outside of the tool. Visual Intelligence makes that part much easier. Once you had built something in Deski, you could then easily share it – and that’s the direction for Visual Intelligence, too

      11:45 It’s a V1.0 product. Think of it as the Apple model: start with something “simple” (everybody complained about lack of features of original iPod, iPhone, etc.) – and then iteratively add over time (and in Visi’s case, much faster than traditional dev cycles, per 15:20)

      16:45 Mobile fail? Yes, needs to be able to publish to mobile devices. Change of tech to HTML5 means this has to be coordinated across front ends, so takes a little longer.

      23:42 Real data sets? Personally had same experience – much better than existing data manipulation options, but still needs work – keep feedback coming, will be improved…

      Thanks again!

      Author's profile photo Eric Vallo
      Eric Vallo
      Blog Post Author


      Always a pleasure.  I'm happy to see your thoughts on this.  I do think that I can perceive that change as well, but to our points in the show, we are looking for those awesome customer stories that show Visi wins to mix with our points of view on the technology. I'm sure they will come.

      I say free Visi for everyone.  That'll help.