SAP Analytics at SAP: Interview with SAP BI Director David Poisson
What’s your background and role?
It’s my tenth anniversary at SAP. I joined the IT organization of BusinessObjects in August 2003, originally as a developer, and then I became the BI team lead as part of a program called “BusinessObjects at BusinessObjects”. This included driving the rollout of the BusinessObjects Enterprise XI platform to the company’s business users.
Now I’m the IT director for Business Intelligence, and part of the “SAP Runs SAP” initiative. My role is primarily to foster the adoption of analytics to the end-user community of business users at SAP, but also to share this experience to the external community. In terms of time, it’s about 50% working with our internal lines of business, and the other 50% is working with the SAP development team, or talking to SAP customers.
In what ways is your role the same as or different from that of SAP customer IT organizations?
The expectations from end-user community are the same as with any of SAP’s customers. What’s different is that we are VERY early adopters. We act as an internal laboratory, we’re always thinking about the future opportunities, and we have a direct connection to the relevant people in development.
And you don’t pay for your software!
Yes, absolutely… 🙂 But like every IT organization, we have limited resources – our investment is the time we spend to support the adoption.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Meeting the high expectation of the end users, while leveraging the latest technology. We have to be fast, using the latest advances in in-memory, cloud deployments, mobility… we’re constantly moving out of our comfort area, but we still have to deliver what the business needs.
What happens if the current technology doesn’t do what you want?
We work on short-term workarounds, but make sure it enters into the pipe of future functionality.
How do you work with development?
It starts with us going to development with requirements and feedback from our business users. We talk about the roadmap, functionality, and so on. Then, as early as possible – before beta – we start working with development builds, on our data, to try to create some scenarios. We do both a technical evaluation and a functional business validation. We always have a live scenario when the product is released to customers, and we go to productive use during the ramp up period.
We talk about “drinking our own champagne” – but has that champagne ever tasted sour, not quite ready to be drunk?
At some points, yes — but we have been always been able to work around it, and the result has been some nice successes…
What work do you do with SAP customers?
We’re always available for discussions, to anybody interested in real-life deployments. The conversations tend to focus on hot topics, such as explaining how our go-live process works, the methodology, best practices, challenges… When I present, I’m always happy to see customer reactions, indicating that they have had the same types of experiences.
What are the most common questions you get from customers?
The main ones are about the technical implementation of the platform, or how to get some scenarios that are key for the initial adoption of users… those are the things that people struggle with the most.
What are your top recommendations for any IT organization that wants to success with BI adoption, not just implementation?
It’s about having the right relationships on the business side – the sponsors. Things like mobile analytics are a great way to reach the right people. You also have to focus on business enablement, having a strong analytics power user community to share the messages, and create the main assets.
What are your activities at SAP TechEd in Amsterdam?
I have two main activities: sessions where I share our experience with SAP Design Studio dashboarding, and working on the “SAP runs SAP” booth, talking about analytics with attendees – and I invite people to come and visit us!
If you had a magic wand, and you were in charge of development?
My paradigm would be that any end-user with no technical knowledge should be able to answer his or her questions in a very seamless way, without knowing anything about the technology, and be able to share this on any device to take immediate action… 🙂