Historically, the first paradigm at the origin of Business Intelligence (BI) was to turn data into information to make the right decision. This paradigm is still completely valid and any situation when BI is no longer available very rapidly becomes critical to run your business. There have been quite a number of innovations around this, in terms of Functionality, User Interface, supported terminals, etc.
As BI has always been an innovative market, none of the major trends has been skipped (web clients, mobility, cloud, in memory, etc.). As a result, this initial statement could be enhanced to “get the information you need at any time, anywhere, from any source, on any device.” This remains the core value of BI where you can considerably increase your revenue by making the best decision.
One more major trend has now come up : today, if you go to the Internet (portal or marketplace), the Host thinks for you – suggesting what you could do, and what may be interesting for you to see based on your profile. This has also reached BI – as per the examples detailed below – where adoption is fostered by new capabilities for content creators and content consumers.
Being part of the organization in charge of the adoption of Business Intelligence within SAP (SAP Runs SAP) the intention of this blog is to share observations about how these major trends have been integrated by our internal community of end users via real examples.
Tell me what I should do
With more and more functionality, the SAP Analytics Front End tools can cover quite a large panel of workflows: at any time you can interact with the data (refresh, filter, drill) and with the layout (annotate, change chart, export, share, schedule, etc.).
Large choice may lead to “which choice?”, especially for new starters with low experience. To overcome this, previously you would follow a training, read User guides, and ask people around you.
The good news is that analytics have made a step forward in this direction. SAP Lumira Desktop is a great example! Since version 1.12, the User Experience has been enhanced to highlight the next most probable action you may take in your current workflow.
In the example below, the next logical step is clearly highlighted.
Of course, it may not be the right one all the time as no one can exactly know your intentions, but this best, logical approach is already a great move to guide the analyst through in a very smooth way, minimizing the time to search how to do things.
Below is another example where the suggested next step is clearly highlighted to the end user.
Tell me what I should look at
If you are not in the close perimeter of a team in charge of reporting, it may be difficult to know which assets are available and which ones are the most relevant for you.
The paradigm of a single place for Business Intelligence with a global BI BusinessObjects Platform and a single portal BI Launchpad years ago allowed a significant step forward to the “One single version of the truth” – avoiding the distribution of full client reports further modified on each laptop.
Every BI user can go to BI Launchpad, navigate through the folders, and look at the reports he or she has been granted. However, without any further explanation and education, it is almost impossible to know:
- What should I look at to run my business? Are the right reports there; is there any report I am missing?
- What does it tell me? How can I get more information?
…leading to multiple risks, like missing transparency, not using the right report and therefore not the right data, creating myself a “kind of” reporting (generally via extractions into Excel), etc . From an overall deployment standpoint, you are simply missing the adoption and the return on investment in implementing a BI platform and delivering solutions.
There are multiple ways to address this, requiring almost no development up to additional server implementations.
The simplest way is most probably to communicate about reporting via another channel where you are sure to reach the entire target audience. E-mails, portal pages… there are multiple solutions to bring the potential users to using the reports without making them aware they are connecting to BI Launchpad, via OpenDoc links.
Below is a typical example of an announcement of new assets by e-mail :
- You get the relevant details about what business purpose, which scope, how about the authorizations
- You know that these assets may be relevant for you – and you are sure you can take them as a baseline in your internal discussions
- You have a point of contact in case of any issue
More sophisticated – also requesting a higher investment – the list of relevant / available assets may be handled into a “Gallery”. Beside the initial objective of gathering into one single page the whole catalog of solutions, this gives you additional opportunities:
- Include various qualifiers: business definition, type of application, scope…
- Indicate the way to access each asset: required authorizations, person to contact…
- Offer the possibility to interact and collaborate: rate, comment, share…
Various options are possible for the technical implementation:
- Front-End technology: think about UI5, offering great design possibility and a universal compatibility on laptop and mobile device. It can then be incorporated into a Web Application server like the one you have deployed for your BusinessObjects platform.
- Back-end storage: from single Excel up to corporate storage (SAP HANA is a great example)
- Security: think about an integration with your User / Authorization repository, offering an easy path from seeing the entry in the catalog and requesting the access
- Maintenance of the content: should be handed over to the business owners, make sure there is a simple interface allowing each of them to update the content at his or her convenience.
- Additional information can be provided from Auditing (most viewed assets for instance) and SAP Information Steward (list of Assets per folder, with link to the connection, universe, etc).
Below are some examples of Galleries:
Following major trends, Business Intelligenceis no longer a static view of KPIs that are supposed to give you a clear indication on the direction to take, created by experienced BI content creators.
For these creators, analytics will be more and more to guide them toward the most logical next step, enlarging the panel of “who content creators can be”.
This whole content can be made clearly visible and accessible to the target audience via various channels (e-mails, portal pages) bringing all end users to the most relevant reports for their own business and collaborating around these assets. No asset missed, duplicated, or outdated, this is the one single version of the truth!