The True Definition of Analytics Platform
Throughout several meetings with customers this year, I have realized that many believe that Business Intelligence is the basis for analytics platforms. BI applications have a compelling front end with an engaging user interface that many interact with on daily a basis. However, BI is one of 3 main components required to define a true analytics platform. Data Management and “In-Memory” solutions are two other vital components needed for a business user to fully meet their rapidly changing business needs and analytics requirements. The SAP analytics platform provides the most comprehensive end to end solution. The SAP analytics platform consists of:
- SAP BI
- Enterprise Information Management
In this blog, I will cover the BI component, and will discuss the HANA and EIM in the subsequent blogs.
In the book “Analytics at Work” by Thomas Davenport, Thomas defines analytics as information and insight across time dimension (Past, Present and Future).
The “Past” represents the business history for the previous year, quarter or month… and maybe with additional analysis they can even find insight on why an event happened. The past represents traditional BI. These pixel perfect reports are scheduled and published for large set of users whose main objective is to receive information and perform simple analysis. Think of it as utilities bill or bank account statement. SAP BI Applications such as Web Intelligence, Dashboards, Design Studio and Crystal Reports are considered traditional BI.
The “Present” category represents what is happening right now, and predicting the best scenario could happen. Recently, the need for real time and self-service analytics has increased. Business users need the ability to search and explore their own data and create their own reports, without having to rely on IT to build a dataset and aggregate, index and create reports (a process that in most cases, take anywhere from 4-6 weeks). SAP Lumira suite provides the self-service and real time flexibility to business users. Lumira Desktop provides the business user the ability to connect to multiple data sources, prepare, merge, cleanse and enhance data without really changing the original data source. Users then can easily build different visualizations using the straightforward drag and drop capability and a full chart template library. Finally, users can create a storyboard to combine the insights that they discovered and share the results with their colleagues. SAP Lumira also provides a cloud offering for users to upload their data sets and visualizations to share with others.
As for the “Future”, business users are not looking at the rear view mirror any more. They are trying to figure out how to make a mountain of historical data points work for them and predict the future. They need to answer questions such as what will happen next week or next month or next quarter. What if I increased my production and lowered my operation costs? SAP Predictive Analysis combines the power of robust visualization from the Lumira Suite and integrated statistical algorithms such as PAL and R to provide a full predictive modeling environment without the need to write long pages of code.
Mobility is a main factor within the platform as well, SAP mobile BI provides the ability for users to access their reports from any mobile device without the need to recreate the reports for mobile devices. The platform is smart enough to convert existing reports into mobile reports respecting the functionality and the display size of the device. Today, you can download SAP Mobile BI apps for iOS and Android to take advantage of the full BI Platform anytime anywhere.
SAP, being the leader in BI, with the largest market share, provides a fully integrated BI platform to meet business requirements across any enterprise. SAP BI provides access to past, present and future BI applications. However, as mentioned above, BI is one of three components for a true analytics Platform, in my next blog will discuss how HANA and EIM are also vital components for a True Analytics Platform.