Have you ever come across these requirements ?
- leverage advanced visualizations on BW data
- side by side view of the latest actual sales stored in BW and budget numbers from a local spreadsheet
- compare sales and / or production data against industry benchmarks, market research data found online or provided by a 3rd party consulting firm
- run corporate metrics with my own groupings of materials or geographies
- all of the above in a single dashboard
- all of the above in a single dashboard, for the next budget discussion with our CFO happening next week
If yes, then you will like what is coming for SAP Lumira on SAP BW. In the era of data-driven decision making, these requirements have indeed become very common for any data source and in particular for SAP BW as the system of record for sales and / or production data. While SAP Lumira can connect to a BW system today via a Universe or HANA view we are taking the connectivity to the next level by connecting directly to BW BEx queries. We are currently planning to deliver this in early 2015 with what we call the “Acquisition Mode to BW“. I will describe with this blog post our intentions and why we believe this connectivity will not only address those requirements but be superior to what our competitors offer today on BW.
Back to the scenarios and requirements listed above. Today, we know a Line of Business can implement Microsoft Excel-based solutions which are not sustainable long term. It is either the solution on its own (the data is loaded, transformed, enriched and visualized in a workbook) or used as an intermediary data acquisition and transformation layer that feeds another 3rd party visualization tool. In the latter scenario, we heard many times that our competitors offer either no direct connectivity to SAP BW or a very weak one. In the end, the visually appealing dashboard runs off an Excel worksheet (csv extract sent by IT or a BEx workbook refreshed by a user) and is disconnected from the corporate BW system. While this may respond to the “let’s get something done quickly and in full autonomy” need, it potentially poses three critical problems:
- trust : “how did you obtain those numbers ?”
- security : how do you preserve data level security ?
- latency : any data refresh or update of any sort to the dashboard requires lots of manual efforts, as a result the data is refreshed on a monthly or weekly basis at best
In our commitment to provide a Trusted Data Discovery experience, we aim at addressing those three challenges while keeping a high level of flexibility on data enrichment and visualization for the Lumira user.
Here are the key requirements that are driving our current implementation:
1. connect directly to existing BEx queries on a BW 7.x system
We know many organizations have invested in and fine tuned BEx queries over the years; this is where the semantics and corporate metrics are defined. While we do not see Lumira positioned for the same use cases than BEx Analyzer or the Analysis products, we want Lumira to leverage this investment and do so on existing BW 7.x systems. BW on HANA opens the door to new possibilities but is not a pre-requisite for Lumira; you can and will be able to connect to a BW 7.0, 7.1, 7.3 or 7.4 system.
2. best in class support for BEx variables
Good support for BEx queries starts with BEx variables. They are critical not only to filter data but also guarantee users see correct data (key date variable, exit functions, etc.) and data they are allowed to see (authorization variables). BEx variable support is a key differentiator from our competitors.
3. data manipulation capabilities on characteristics and key figures
As fine tuned it may be, the BEx query is rarely responding to 100% of the user’s needs for those scenarios. In many cases, one needs to trim, split, concatenate a few fields in preparation for a visualization or a merge with another data set. The Acquisition Mode will let you benefit from all of the great features of the Prepare Room and do that extra step of data preparation directly in Lumira.
4. leverage visualization library and its extension framework
Why restrict your dashboard to cross tables and pie charts ? Other members of the Lumira community, starting with the participants of the Data Geek challenge are regularly posting great examples of what Lumira can offer on the visualization front. The Acquisition Mode to BW will leverage this fully. And yes, we are also adding capabilities to the cross table as it remains an very efficient way to convey information.
5. ability to share with other users
Like for other data sources, a story board author will have the option to share it with other users. We intend to offer BI 4.1 as a sharing platform and the ability for users to open and refresh story boards from BI LaunchPad. The story board refresh will then occur with the user’s BW credentials and see their BW authorizations enforced.
We hope you can relate to some of this and, if so, will love to hear your feedback when it becomes available. More details on specific features and time lines will be posted on this blog as we get closer to the delivery. Stay tuned !
While SAP Lumira can connect to a BW system today via a Universe or HANA views we are taking connectivity to the next level by connecting directly to BW BEx queries. We are currently planning to deliver this in early 2015 with what we call the “Acquisition Mode to BW”.