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OK, I admit. The title is maybe too alarming and made on purpose to call your attention. However, you should be worried. If you think SAP BI Consultant role has dramatically changed after BusinessObjects acquisition, you did not start to realize what might come.

If you are an experienced SAP BI Consultant and started your BI carrier around 1999 or 2001 (as did I, by the way), you are from a time when proposing tools to address our customers issues went more or less, like this:

Scenario 1

Customer: “I need a tool to create an ETL (Extraction, Transformation and Load) process”

SAP BI Consultant: “You should use SAP NetWeaver BW (update rule, infopackage, infopackage group, etc.)”


Scenario 2

Customer: “I need a tool to create an operational analysis of my DSO (Days of Sales outstanding)”

SAP BI Consultant: “You should use SAP NetWeaver BW (Query Designer)”


Scenario 3

Customer: “I need a tool to create a beautiful Dashboard to my CFO”

SAP BI Consultant: “You should use SAP NetWeaver BW (Web Application Designer – WAD)”

Then, in the middle of 2000’s SAP invested heavily on Analytics with the improvements on SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0, and the acquisitions of BusinessObjects and Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) to name the two more relevant.

At that point-in-time, the role of a SAP BI Consultant evolved clearly: the “one man show” which was de “BW Consultant” initially had to specialize in – at least – four different roles:

  • A SAP NetWeaver BW focusing basically on Data Warehousing
  • A SAP BusinessObjects focusing basically on presentation layer
  • A SAP Data Services focusing basically on ETL layer
  • A SAP Planning & Consolidation focusing basically on planning processes

I know that some people may have a different vision on the number of roles and on my simplistic view on the “history of SAP BI”, but I believe you got my meaning.

Fact is, however, that we still see a few SAP BI consultants that did not adapt to that. They are still “BW Consultants” or “BO Consultants”, they have no holistic view and they are stuck in a 10+ years old view of the world, focused on tools and not in solution.

While that is still the case, a new move will change the game once more. This time, there will be no evolution, but revolution! With the release of SAP Smart Finance and the S-Innovations, SAP made it clear its bold move to realize Hasso Plattner vision to bring transactional and analytical worlds together.

At first glance, it may look that this is only marketing stuff but not when you look it close. Reviewing the analytical content provided with Suite on HANA (SoH) and SAP Smart Financials it powered by SAP HANA Live, for example, it is really easy to see that several historical requirements can now be seen in a beautiful interface (HTML5 based), subject oriented (and not transactional oriented) and with the unprecedented power to allow insight-to-action type of analysis. All this in real time and at (almost) line item level!

In short, the “common” operational analytics – which historically has been delegated to SAP BW analysis – is now delivered as part of the SoH. And more, it is nicer, more flexible, more user friendly and faster than ever before.

Once more, I can “see” in the faces of many people reading this text the old (and outdated) question: “Are you saying BW is dead?”. The answer is still no – and I’ll not go into much detail about this again. The short answer is simple: every time, a customer needs a Data Warehouse or an Enterprise Data Warehouse, SAP NetWeaber BW (powered by SAP HANA) is still the best choice!

Having that said, it is necessary to understand that the role of the SAP BI Consultant must change to address the new reality. I short, those major challenges are:

  • Analytics is coming to the Suite. That is a fact, operational analytics, operational KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and real time analytics will happen in the Suite;
  • SAP BI Solutions is not about tools. It never was and never will be, tools will be ever changing, updating and been replaced.
  • Not all customers need a complex and sometimes complicated Data Warehouse solution, but those that need it, really need it and we must not allow adaptations that lose value on the way.

With this picture and challenges in mind, here are the 3 tips to survive as a SAP BI Consultant:

  1. Avoid the 5 most common mistakes of Business Intelligence projects
  2. Understand SAP roadmap, ambitions and strategy. It is not worth to fight against it, SAP has clear roadmap, ambitions and strategy, studying it, learning it, bringing it to our daily work is the only way to propose and design long last simple solutions.
  3. Update your technical skillset. Yes, there are a lot of new tools, concepts and possibilities to study; there is no way out of it. You get to get SoH, Smart Business, Simple Finance, etc. on your brain and you must be able to handle it. Next time your customer ask for a “BI report” the best solution may be based on a view, which will be based on SAP HANA Live, deployed straight into the SAP ERP, using SAP Fiori to allow easy information consumption via mobile device (and not a SAP BW development with a presentation layer in SAP BusinessObjects).

Conclusion

The Business Intelligence subject area is changing. What has started with simple data visualization now has to deal with Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Real Time, Mobile, Self Service BI, Cloud Computing and more. It is time to prepare oneself for the challenges to come and support our customers on taking the best of every single opportunity!

All the best,

Eduardo

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15 Comments

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  1. Udo Felske

    Also applause from SAP China – very true and eyes-opening and I could have written the same article as I have 100% the same opinion (just was too busy/lazy), Thanks Eduardo

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