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We have seen the evolution of Analytics: from operational analytics, using OLTP ABAP programs in ERP, to analytics using SAP BW and a more robust architecture and governance, storing data in an EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse), and running OLAP reports.

We have also seen the evolution of SAP Business Content: from loading data straight into InfoCubes to later using DSOs to create semantic layers, forming a more robust EDW using LSA (Layered Scalable Architecture).

The front-end too has been through dramatic evolution: from OLAP tools, such as BEx Analyzer, to a more flexible and end-user-friendly set of tools, based on BusinessObjects.

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Throughout this time, I saw an incredible demand for faster processing, at the same time as data volumes grew bigger. With that, we see the challenges and limitations: even if the system has all the data needed, the reporting tools cannot present it at the level of granularity or speed that the user needs or wants to see it. The technology imposes limitations on what the user can do: changes are not easily made, most reports have to be published at an aggregated level, and users have to be “smart” on how they run reports. Over time, we developed certain “guidelines” to make solutions workable within the limitations imposed by the technology.

As we are here to tell the story, we can keep watching the evolution as it happens.

As with every story of evolution, sometimes major “revolutions” happen – and this is the case of HANA – it came to disrupt everything – change paradigms – make old truths irrelevant. It is no longer a problem to report directly on the OLTP system – thanks to HANA’s column tables, in-memory storage and parallel processing abilities.

HANA changes how we deal with data. We are now removing these limitations and saying to our users – “it’s a blank canvas” and you can really do amazing things you couldn’t do before. The “guidelines” are not going to be imposed on you anymore.

And the circle is going back to its origins – we can now run real-time Analytics in the OLTP with Business Suite on HANA (BoH) and the “Business Content akin” HANA Live. We are closing the circle and showing that the evolution of technology is allowing us to merge OLTP and OLAP.

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Not only we can sift through huge data volumes to analyse the “as is” but we can also forecast the future using Mathematical and Statistical models we once saw in our academic environments – data can “talk to you” and give you intelligent insights on your future. This is also possible through HANA and Predictive Analysis which makes use of Data Mining categories like Clustering, Classification, Association and Time Series to give customers the capacity of anticipating behaviours and taking proactive actions. We are literally “predicting” the future through intelligent insights.

Things that I once studied at university – like Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Algorithm and Data Mining are becoming reality – they are embedded in new technologies such as HANA and Predictive Analysis, to change our future for the better.

HANA is here to stay and change the Analytics game, at the same time it is allowing us to get back to our origins.

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8 Comments

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  1. Arti Yadav

    its very true that now we have artificial intelligence application called “SAP Predictive Analysis” embedded with HANA. Real insights what we used to learn during studies.

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  2. Carsten Nitschke

    Whilst I strongly agree that the real and deep reason for people to shift to HANA is exactly this convergence of OLTP and OLAP I tend to be rather cautious on the predictive area. The predictive takes into consideration from the past for the future. Whilst it most of the times cannot consider factors of the now and future which will have an impact on the decisions which will be made and the projections given.

    Maybe this is not the right place at this time but I would very much like to see value scenarios of what has been described above. Real Life example to see how this convergence makes sense for the end user who will after all pay for it. We are still focusing too much on tech only IMHO.

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  3. Gregory Misiorek

    Hi Alexandra,

    i would like to give more justice to the existing intalled ECC-based reports and at least acknowledge the complexity behind the ‘OLTP reports (ABAP)’ as there is a variety behind that single description:

    1. simple ABAP lists

    2. ABAP list with interactive (clickable) output values

    3. queries

    4. ALV reports

    5. pivot-like reports based on report painter/writer

    6. reports integrated with Excel (simple and pivot)

    if i understand the mission of hana they will no longer be required as all the values are going to be calculated on the fly in RAM. as to predictive ability of any report, i would be careful with anyone holding a crystal ball and telling me what the future holds unless i were to be entertained.

    thx,

    greg

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  4. Peter Baumann

    Hi,

    very interesting to show the SAP reporting/BI history. Maybe usage of LIS structures (Logicstic Infomation System) or CO-PA and similar approaches can be seen as a step between ABAP reporting and BEx/BW cubes.

    About HANA – I think at the end it is just a piece of technology. Things like real-time reporting or predictive analytics were available before, maybe limited in some cases but many things are possible if you really have a business case – with or without HANA.

    I think in BI we should focus on customer value which is possible by aspects like integration of different sources, harmonization, data quality, using the right tools, information design, exception reporting or concepts like Corporate Performance Management or KPI’s and so on. HANA may be an additional aspect but today I think value for most of us is very limited compared to how HANA is hyped by SAP.

    I will be open if you have arguments which will teach me better.

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  5. Glen Leslie

    I would strongly suggest a review of Steve Lucas blog:  Does HANA replace BW (Hint, “No”).

    And then some additional investigation of the following to compare to the information above:

    Thomas Zurek, who leads part of SAP’s HANA Development organization, wrote this outstanding blog on HANA as EDW.  John Appleby also deals with the special cases where ERP and Enterprise Reporting merge in his followup blog to Steve Lucas’ blog last year.  Sven Jensen followed up with additional perspective from several customer implementations involving EDW concepts

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