Latest #askSAP Community Call Unveils How SAP Is Executing on its BI Strategy and Roadmap, with Plenty of Tips for Deriving Insight from Big Data

Did you miss the recent #askSAP Analytics Innovation call on Big Data Insight with dashboards and visualizations? You can now replay the session at any time to take advantage of very useful advice, and still have your questions answered at #askSAP.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • SAP is radically simplifying their BI landscape, making it available to more users, and connecting it to more data sources – both SAP and non-SAP.
  • How SAP’s strategic goals are coming to life was previewed with the upcoming release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2.
  • New releases of SAP Lumira and SAP Design Studio were previewed.

SAP’s BI Strategy: Simplifying clients, embracing more users, and supporting more data sources

According to SAP expert Ty Miller, a concrete example of how SAP is simplifying BI is by narrowing down more than 14 clients to just five. This is achieved by converging the functionality of multiple tools and introducing more interoperability. (However, Ty was quick to note that SAP will not “end-of-life” any of the existing clients that SAP is not moving forward. Check out the presentation for a complete list of which clients are being converged.)

More users are now being embraced – for both enterprise BI and trusted data discovery. In the past, IT administrators and analysts were the main users, and business users were more of afterthought. That’s changing. Now, more LoB users can create their own data discovery and analysis capabilities, and their own content.

Last, but not least, more data sources are now being supported than at any other time, including agnostic data outside of SAP systems, as well as data inside SAP systems – whether structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. Apart from SAP data sources like SAP HANA and SAP ECC, this includes data from relational database systems, OLAP providers, data warehouses, analytics warehouses like BW and Oracle, and exotic sources like OData and data lakes. (See the presentation for a more complete list of data sources.)

SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 and SAP Lumira: How is SAP executing on its BI strategy? And how does SAP Lumira fit into the picture?

With the upcoming release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2, SAP has simplified the BI platform and enhanced the experience for both business and IT users. For example, it’s now much easier to upgrade and patch the environment even as users are working in it.

The new release supports new data sources and platforms to take advantage of additional capabilities. Along with supporting new operating systems, browsers, and databases, it supports completely new platforms for cloud-based environments like MS Azure, and new data sources like Apache Spark and Amazon AMR.

From an IT perspective, making SAP Lumira a part of the BI platform environment adds more capabilities, such as a wealth of auditing and governance capabilities and more geospatial capabilities. As the heart of trusted data discovery capabilities, SAP Lumira enables users to do more data blending from more sources as well as modify and manipulate visualizations more directly.

Ultimately, SAP Lumira nicely melds the needs of the business to be agile and use an intuitive and innovative data discovery capability for data self-service, without the need for IT to manage and govern.

More data, more problems?

During the call, SAP expert Angela Harvey provided an overview of how SAP Lumira is helping to address the challenges of Big Data: Speed and size, and variety. Most organizations are only using 12% of their data and data volume in the enterprise is expected to grow exponentially – as much as 50x year-over-year between now and 2020.

Organizations are recognizing the value of previously discarded data and new data types, more data is accessible from a variety of sources (weblogs, sensors, social media, etc.), and new data can be stored more cheaply in terms of hardware, software, and ETL.

While there’s a huge opportunity to leverage all of this growing and new data, SAP recognizes the need to be able to bring all of it into an “analytical experience” – otherwise it’s simply not useful.

The proof is in the pudding (or data lake)

But challenges remain, specifically –

  • how to visualize big data without having to deal with overwhelming visual complexity,
  • how to connect to more data sources (such as archive data, data of unknown value, and data lakes for exploratory analytics),
  • how to meet the performance expectations of end users.

(Hint: Don’t transfer big data to your laptop.)

Angela showed how data-wrangling capabilities in SAP Lumira can bring the power of Big Data to trusted data discovery. She outlined practical use cases and provided demos of several proof-of-concepts where SAP Lumira can truly shine in bringing end-user self-service to Hadoop environments.

“Open Enterprise”Hadoop

Justin Sears of Hortonworks followed-up by sharing how companies are deriving new insights with a combination of the Hortonworks Data Platform and SAP Lumira, which delivers a Big Data platform to customers. The company, an SAP partner, specializes in “open-enterprise” Hadoop, a new solution category.

Justin outlined how his company is focussed on data-driven transformation by “unlocking transformational business value from a full fidelity of data and analytics” – what the company refers to as the “Internet of Anything” – sensors and machines, geolocation, clickstream, web and social, emails and files, and more. He showcased several use cases for the Hortonworks’ Data Platform, such as predictive maintenance.

SAP Design Studio – What’s next in version 1.6?

SAP Design Studio, a rapid app development tool for analytic applications, has slowly been taking on all the roles filled by legacy tools for dashboarding and app building.

The latest version allows “designers”, not just data analysts and hard-core developers, to design beautiful, responsive and personalized BI apps. Able to be consumed by any browser and on any device, including mobile, these apps can be used to analyze data, gain insight with visualizations, and compose a story to share with others.

New features in this release include drag-and-drop visualizations and controls for tables, charts, filters, graphics, icons, and more. Also included are new and improved components for app building, such as geo map enhancements and extended data limit for UNX connectivity.

See the replay for all the details

This summary only scratches the surface of what was covered during this live, interactive call. Throughout the call, attendees posted questions via twitter or simply by typing into the Q&A box, which provided some practical answers to common challenges. (Check out a summary of these questions and answers here.)

Get more detail on SAP’s BI strategy, a preview of new capabilities offered by the upcoming release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2, and an overview of how SAP Lumira can wrangle Big Data for analytics – and see all the demos in action – by replaying the session now.

This blog originally published on the Analytics Blog and is republished with permission.

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