The availability of GPS navigation tools, web-based maps and location-aware mobile devices has spawned a genuine geospatial revolution. These new and widely accessible technologies enable organizations of all stripes to generate, use, collect and ultimately understand location information like never before. Next to time, location is arguably the most important dimension for analyzing data and uncovering valuable trends and patterns. Testament to the growing importance of location analytics, Gartner recently added geospatial and location intelligence as a new capability by which it now evaluates vendors in its Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms.
In the past, organizations in pursuit of location intelligence were hampered in their efforts by a divide between Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and BI systems. While maps, topologies and geographical data are maintained and managed in GIS, business data is typically stored elsewhere and analyzed using BI tools. Today, thanks to SAP technology partners, solutions exist that bridge the gap between GIS and BI. Let’s examine the latest developments in this space coming out of the SAP partner ecosystem.
Esri announced the release of Esri Maps for SAP BusinessObjects earlier this year. This brand new location analytics solution enables the integration of dynamic maps into SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards for powerful visualization of combined business and location data. The solution goes far beyond basic geo mapping capabilities by providing advanced analytics and spatial exploration on top of information-rich maps.
Figure 1: Map Designer of Esri Maps for SAP Dashboards
It supports multiple layers of data on a single map for a comprehensive picture of information in a geographic context. Key features include color-coded (thematic) mapping, dynamic clustering of data, heat maps, proximity and custom area (drive time, trade area) analysis. Geographic information enrichment is available using demographics, consumer and lifestyle data, environment and weather, social media data and more.
Figure 2: Sample SAP Dashboard with an Esri map component
The bi-directional integration of maps with other dashboard components enables users to quickly select areas and location points of interest, filter and update results in related charts and tables on the fly.
For customers that require Esri integration with other SAP BusinessObjects client tools besides SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, SAP technology partner Galigeo offers a comprehensive and growing solution portfolio. Following its acquisition of the APOS Location Intelligence business unit last year, Galigeo today support bi-directional integration of Esri maps with SAP Business Objects Dashboards, Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports. Galigeo has also launched an initiative to further build out its solution portfolio with planned support for HANA Spatial and SAP Design Studio in Q2 2014.
As far as SAP’s in-house development efforts are concerned, SAP Lumira is planning to introduce native integration with Esri ArcGIS Online services in 2014. In a first release of this integration, SAP Lumira users will be able to leverage Esri base maps and overlay multiple layers of business data in the form of geo markers, choropleths and pie/bubble charts. Support of Esri custom feature and data layers, as well as advanced analysis functions is planned for future releases of SAP Lumira.
Finally, SAP technology partner Centigon is continuing to build out its CMaps solution for SAP BI products. Designed to work with a choice of base map providers, including Google Maps and TomTom, the CMaps plug-in will soon support SAP Business Objects Web Intelligence in addition to SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and SAP Mobile BI. The CMaps software is a true “plug and play” component, requiring no server-side install, and enables customers to combine multiple layers of markers, polygons, lines/routes, and density maps onto a single map.