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I’ve been passionate about analytics for over twenty years – but my head is still spinning with the phenomenal amount of change going on in the industry.

Join us at the analytics campus of SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG 2013 in Orlando, May 14-16 to explore those changes in depth, hear about companies that are implementing analytics in new way, and talk face-to-face with the experts.

Here are some of the key trends in the analytics industry that we’ll be covering in sessions and demonstrations throughout the conference:

Analytics And Business Intelligence Still #1 Priority

According to Gartner’s latest CIO survey, the top business priority is back to enterprise growth, and analytics and business intelligence remains the number one technology priority for 2013. And the next three technologies on the priority list (mobile, cloud, and collaboration) are all key areas for analytic innovation.

Increasing Analytic Maturity

Thanks to greater industry maturity and new technology opportunities, most organizations are making steps from Descriptive Analytics (“what happened?”) and Diagnostic Analytics (“why did it happen?”) towards Predictive Analytics (“what will happen”) – with Prescriptive Analytics (“how can we make it happen”) as the next frontier.

In-Memory is Ripping Up The Old Rules

In-memory computing is providing an opportunity to rethink information systems from scratch. According to Gartner, in-memory isn’t only about SAP HANA, isn’t new, isn’t unproven, isn’t only about big companies, and isn’t only about analytics: “In-memory computing will have a long-term disruptive impact by radically changing users’ expectations, application design principles, and vendor’s strategy”

Breaking Down Barriers

In-memory breaks down long-standing analytics barriers. For example, SAP HANA makes it easy to combine structured and unstructured data in a single system, and includes a sophisticated, embedded text analysis engine. Predictive or advanced analytics no longer requires a separate system – powerful analytic algorithms are available directly in-memory, without any unnecessary data movement, and thousands of times faster than disk-based predictive system.

Operations and Analytics Are No Longer Separate

For forty years, operational systems and analytic systems have been separate because of technology limitations. That’s now changing with in-memory platforms. With SAP Business Suite on HANA, transactional data is written directly to memory, where it is instantly available without any of the analytic compromises that have plagued earlier “real-time” analytics.

Big Data is a Big Deal

In addition to traditional “transaction data”, it’s now feasible to analyze “interaction data” (events before, after, and around a transaction, such as the products that were put into a web shopping basket but then discarded) and “observation data” (such as data streamed from sensors). Algorithms such as MapReduce and projects such as Hadoop have introduced new opportunities for storing and analyzing data that was previously ignored because of technology limitations. These new technologies have more than proved their worth in standalone systems, but need to better integrated with existing corporate environments.

Analytics Moves To The Core

Analytics is no longer an afterthought to your transaction systems — it’s the heart of your future information infrastructure. The data you are storing now you will still have in 15 or 20 years time, while your applications may be long gone. The next generation of information infrastructures will combine big data, transactional data, analytic data and “content” into a single, coherent set of services that Gartner calls an “information capabilities framework”:

“The information capabilities framework is the people-, process- and technology-agnostic set of capabilities needed to describe, organize, integrate, share and govern an organization’s information assets in an application-independent manner in support of its enterprise information management (EIM) goals.”


SAP is working on this vision with the “real time data platform”, combining SAP HANA with Hadoop, Sybase ASE, Sybase IQ, Sybase ESP – and end-to-end information governance.

Optimizing the User Experience

Today’s information consumers demand the same ease-of-use and immediate access they get in the consumer world. Business people want to be able to grab and mix information on the fly, without having to wait for it to be loaded into a corporate data warehouse. Data discovery tools such as SAP Visual Intelligence cover this essential demand – without sacrificing the corporate needs for enterprise governance. And of course, people expect a smooth, mobile-ready experience with integrated social collaboration, and the option of using a cloud-based infrastructure.

Information as an Asset

Along with all the technology changes, there have been big changes to analytics culture. Information is no longer a byproduct of manufacturing processes – it is fast-becoming a key part of the products themselves. Today’s retailers and service providers want to offer “customer experiences” that are tailored to individuals, optimized for the moment, and coherent over time – and that requires powerful new data platforms. As information becomes part of revenue generation, interest in information and control over budgets are swiftly moving to the business units, rather than traditional IT. This is creating new opportunities, but also new IT pressures and organizational issues.

Join Us For The Next Round of the Analytics Revolution

If you’d like to find out more about any of these trends, don’t hesitate to contact me, and I’ll help point you to the best experts available, inside or outside the SAP organization. Follow the SAPPHIRE NOW area on the SAP Community Network, and take part in the conversation: follow @businessobjects or @timoelliott on Twitter, and add your own comments using the #sapphirenow hashtag!

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