For many people in today’s enterprise software world, data warehousing has become a norm for how we store data to be used for reporting and analytics. The history of data warehousing dates back to the early 80’s and 90’s when we discovered that OLTP (transactional) systems could not cope with the demands of complex reporting. Transactional (or operational) systems are optimized for preservation of data integrity and speed of recording of business transactions, but very poorly handle complex analytical solutions. In other words, there is a technical limitation in terms of how transactional systems operate. What I’ve found recently is that many people forget why data warehouses were created in the first place. So to say they need not exist is fairly controversial. This is in the same breadth that 20-30 years ago we were making the argument for why they did in fact need to exist.
Enterprise software generally is described as a collection of computer programs with common business applications or development tools for building applications unique to the organization. Right now, tools such as SAP BusinessObjects Platform are simply tools for building applications. The platform itself provides no real business value without developing any specific applications for it. I know this sounds obvious for many people, but it does explain why it is very hard to sell analytics in and of itself. It also explains why line of businesses are beginning to adopt point analytic solutions such as QlikView. SAP is combating it with business centric solutions such as RDS’s and business specific analytics solutions (such as EPM).
I’ve noticed a new growing trend, particularly in mobile apps around building analytics right into the operational (and especially strategic) application or solution. It’s no longer disconnected and considered another separate solution. Imagine a day where all of your transactions are done in one system and facts (or measures) can cross reference each other in millions of different possibilities (crossjoins, unions, and joins galore!). At SAP TechEd this past week, I watched a presentation on the SAP Supplier Briefing iPad Application that was very interesting in terms of the amount of analytical functionality it had.
It seems inane today that analytics and reporting isn’t a core part of any application or solution. Adding a new line to a financial ledger? Why not be able to see the immediate financial impact? For many organizations today, this actually isn’t all that important, nor is there a real business case. But just imagine a world where this isn’t an issue. What does it mean in terms of how fast will business move in that world? No more hour long meetings where decisions are based on ill-conceived data and information. Every question we have
So what does the future look like for Enterprise Analytics? Well, I don’t see a future. Analytics should be part of the core of the business solution and should satisfy every decision made by that area of the business. Therefore there is no need for an enterprise solution for doing analytics.
…or maybe I live in too much of an idealistic world.
P.S. – No HANA systems were harmed in writing this blog.