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A Deeper Look Into SAP’s BI and Analytics Strategy

Feature Article | February 7, 2018 by Mike Flannagan

Most CEOs see the next three years as more critical for their business than the last 50 years, and they know digitization is essential for their future, yet only five percent of companies self-report that they’ve turned their digital efforts into a competitive advantage.

Today’s disruptors and digital innovators are organizations that provide people with the insights they need to make better decisions, and enable them to act. To achieve this, organizations need better ways to harness their diverse data sources and enable people to create context from siloed information.

With cloud comes flexibility – the ability to have more capacity on demand, APIs for developers, and the ability to easily reuse data across many enterprise applications. So it’s no surprise that digital transformation is driving businesses toward the cloud.

“In 2018, at least half of IT spend will be cloud-based, reaching 60-70% of all software, services and technology spend by 2020,” according to an IDC Futurescape, Worldwide Cloud Predictions report. The potential benefits are huge, and SAP wants to help customers digitize to take advantage of it.

Our business intelligence (BI) customers have long asked if SAP will have one BI solution. We’ve been driving a BI product convergence strategy over the past several years to focus on the BI use cases organizations need to address and reduce the complexity of multiple BI solutions. But the opportunity is much larger than to just simplify the BI portfolio and deliver a single BI solution in the cloud: we are delivering an entire analytics platform in the cloud. To help customers deliver on the digital transformation opportunity, the SAP Analytics team is committed to the following product strategy outlined here. Our goal is to make it easier for our customers to use our products and to deliver our innovations quickly with minimal friction.

A Simplified Strategy

A key benefit of digital projects for most companies is the ability to do things more quickly. At SAP, we continue to simplify our analytics portfolio, making it easier to choose the right tool for the task, and use our platforms to make decisions quickly. With the increased investments our customers are making in cloud, it should come as no surprise that SAP increasing investment in our cloud offering.

To simplify one area of our portfolio, going forward, SAP Analytics Cloud will be SAP’s primary solution for data discovery. New data discovery investments will be heavily focused on SAP Analytics Cloud, which gives our customers the ability to discover, analyze, plan, predict, and collaborate in one seamless experience that integrates with both on-premise and cloud-based data sources and applications. SAP Analytics Cloud delivers on our innovation roadmap seamlessly, with product enhancements released every two weeks.

SAP Analytics Cloud brings data discovery directly to your trusted data sources on premise and cloud such as SAP BW/4HANA, SAP BusinessObjects Universes, SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and SAP Cloud Platform itself; without moving, caching or persisting any part or portion of the data into the cloud. SAP is the only provider in the market that can do this. Learn more about how it works here.

SAP Lumira data discovery customers should feel confident that their investment in SAP Lumira is safe. Throughout 2018 we will continue to make a strong investment in SAP Lumira Discovery, delivering significant improvements in quality, performance and functional innovation to SAP Lumira. SAP is committed to supporting SAP Lumira as part of our BI suite through at least the end of 2024.

Now that we have clarified a few things about data discovery, let’s take a look at some key aspects of our product strategy.

BI Convergence Guiding Principles

Enabling our customers to run at their best is our primary objective, so we focus first on our customers, not on technology. As a result, our portfolio simplification is focused on convergence of use cases, rather than features and functions. We also realize that investment protection for our existing customers is essential, which is why we don’t force product migrations, and BI 4.x content will continue to work and be maintained (with the exception of Explorer and Dashboards due to the end of life of Adobe Flash in 2020). Here is an updated view of SAP’s BI convergence strategy:

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All Analytics, One Cloud-Based Platform

SAP Analytics Cloud brings together data access, wrangling, discovery, visualization, analysis, prediction, forecasting, planning, & what-if, all augmented by AI and Machine Learning. These capabilities provide smarter more intuitive insight and allow organizations to always stay ahead for individuals, teams, and across the enterprise.

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Hybrid

The BI component of our analytics product strategy is focused on combining SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise into a hybrid solution that leverages the strengths of both platforms, while enabling rapid innovation in the cloud.  Many organizations are operating in a mixed landscape with on premise and cloud or multi-cloud technologies and data. The SAP Analytics product strategy supports customers in their journey with on premise to cloud interoperability and a way for the organization to manage all types of analytics across their business. SAP Analytics Hub, built on SAP Analytics Cloud, provides a searchable catalog for all analytics content allowing customers to bring together all analytic assets whether on premise or cloud, including SAP or third-party content.

Our hybrid strategy goes beyond simply using technology to assist customers in their transition to the cloud. SAP is also offering a commercial program called the Cloud Extension Policy to transition maintenance on unused software licenses into cloud subscription licenses.

In addition to this policy and to make it easier for customers to embark on a hybrid strategy, SAP will offer hybrid subscription pricing and licensing for on premise and cloud. For example, this will allow users to use SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise in a single subscription license. A pilot for this hybrid subscription is underway now with general availability planned for H2 2018. We encourage SAP customers to speak with their SAP representative about hybrid subscription pricing and the cloud extension policy.

Finally, SAP is committed to customer success and has established a customer program dedicated to migration and transition questions, which includes SAP Lumira. Expert product and services resources are available to provide guidance to assist customers with the best path forward. To engage with a member of the customer success team, contact your SAP representative or contact SAPaskAnalytics@sap.com.

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Consumer Grade and Common Experience

With all analytics on one platform, access and adoption can further be accelerated with a common user experience that not only goes across all capabilities and devices, but connects previously siloed disciplines like planning and data analysis, with one common and simple experience.  As we’ve heard from customers this dramatically increases usage and adoption of analytics across the organization.

There’s no question that SAP’s customers also want a similar experience across devices. Advancements in the SAP Analytics Cloud mobile strategy allow customers to take advantage of a common UX across their device landscape with responsive UI. The use case for mobile analytics with Roambi has a direct path to SAP Analytics Cloud for mobile first interactive data experiences. Frequent updates to SAP Analytics Cloud includes updates to the mobile app, but we’re not stopping there. We also plan to add mobile first and offline capabilities in multiple phases starting in the second half of 2018 to SAP Analytics Cloud. More details on the overall product direction for mobile analytics will be provided in the first half of 2018.

Embedded

A key reason that cloud adoption is on the rise is the simplicity of using common API’s to integrate various applications and data sets. Recognizing the importance of seamless integration with other applications, and of enabling knowledge workers to make data-driven decisions within their existing workflow, SAP Analytics Cloud is developing a robust set of API’s to allow for integration with business applications. Central to SAP’s strategy of cloud business applications, embedded analytics within applications brings the opportunity for context-rich analytics when and where users need it, to gain insight and act. SAP Analytics Cloud has been rapidly innovating in this area to offer enhanced integration with business applications in combination with business logic, data semantics, and pre-built content. This product direction will assist customers to bring these context rich analytics into applications, to analyze, uncover, run scenarios, and ultimately take immediate action within business workflows.

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Intelligent

SAP is committed to deeper and more meaningful, context driven insights by providing users powerful Machine Learning and AI capabilities which uncover hidden insights in their data. As recently announced, SAP is investing heavily in the machine learning and AI space. This strategy is central to our vision of empowering users to gain smarter, more automated insights, and give powerful insights to everyday business users that would previously have required a team of data scientists. SAP Analytics Cloud customers will take advantage of these new Machine Learning, cognitive, and AI capabilities as part of the central SAP Cloud Platform strategy. In addition to this, recent product innovations have brought new smart assisted capabilities to SAP Analytics Cloud including Smart Data Wrangling, Smart Discovery, Smart Insights, Smart Grouping, what-if analysis, and automated dashboard creation. At SAP TechEd 2017, the team shared technology previews in the area of Natural Language Query and is planning more exciting innovations coming soon for Machine Learning in the first half of 2018.

Go Forward

We are excited about these areas of analytics innovations, and continuing to co-innovate with our customers. You should expect more product innovation news supporting this direction throughout the year, and you can always access the latest roadmap details for SAP products at www.sap.com/roadmaps

A few words, in summary, that I hope you take away from reading:

  • SAP Analytics Cloud will be SAP’s primary solution for data discovery moving forward. New data discovery investments will be focused on SAP Analytics Cloud, where you can discover, analyze, plan, predict, and collaborate in one seamless experience that integrates with both on-premise and cloud-based data sources and applications.
  • These product roadmap updates reflect SAP’s commitment to ongoing simplification of the analytics portfolio, as frequently requested by our customers, and to provide one solution for all analytics to accelerate the delivery of innovation in SAP Analytics Cloud.
  • Customers of SAP Lumira that are live or planning to go live can continue to do so knowing that SAP is committed to their success with future releases focusing on quality, performance, and customer driven improvements.
  • SAP Lumira Designer remains the primary solution for application design with continued innovation and investment. In parallel, SAP is adding the application design use case to the SAP Analytics Cloud roadmap in the first half of 2018.
  • SAP has recently extended support for SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.2 by two years with Priority 1 support now ending December 31, 2024.
  • SAP Analytics Cloud brings data discovery directly to trusted data sources on premise and cloud such as SAP BW/4HANA, SAP BusinessObjects Universes, SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and SAP Cloud Platform itself; without moving, caching or persisting any part or portion of the data into the cloud.
  • SAP supports hybrid scenarios for analytics content with SAP Analytics Hub, which provides a searchable catalog for all analytics content allowing customers to bring together all analytic assets whether on premise or cloud, including SAP or third-party content
  • SAP’s commitment to hybrid scenarios goes beyond technology with a Cloud Extension Policy to transition maintenance of unused software licenses into cloud subscription licenses, and a pilot for hybrid subscriptions which is underway with general availability for customers planned for the second half of 2018

Questions About SAP Lumira?

I know that some of you will have lingering questions about SAP Lumira. Please read this FAQ document for specific details explaining the recent roadmap updates for SAP Lumira.  Join the next askSAP Community Call on February 15 and bring your questions about the SAP Lumira roadmap or other areas of SAP Analytics. The askSAP Community Call series is a great way to stay connected with the latest SAP Analytics product innovations and roadmap.

Mike Flannagan is senior vice president of SAP Analytics and SAP Leonardo

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