SAP Analytics Cloud anno 2018: the good, the bad & the ugly

Posted by on Dec 28, 2018

Just a few more days and the year is almost over again, which makes this a perfect time to have a look at what happened in the past 12 months in the world of SAP Analytics Cloud. With all the updates the tool got in 2018 (22 waves!), you’d almost forget that it is just 10 months ago that SAC was pushed forward as the future of BI for SAP. But the question is of course: can it already deliver on this promise? And is it really enterprise ready? So let’s have a look at the state of SAP Analytics Cloud anno 2018. I grouped my observations in a good, bad and ugly manner.

The Good

Let’s start with some important signs in addition to the famous strategy blog of February 2018. SAP Analytics Cloud will be turned into the single BI solution for all tooling within SAP. So not only as the front-end solution on top of a SAP BW or HANA system, but it will replace the built-in BI solutions that come with the several cloud solutions SAP has acquired/developed over the years. Think of SuccessFactors, Concur, Fieldglass, Cloud for Customer. This will bring in millions of potential new users. For project Blueberry, which is a future SAP BW4/HANA cloud based offering, SAC will be the BI front-end. For the on-premise tools the future looks pretty sad. They probably will be supported for another decade, but all new innovations will be done in SAC.

I also see that SAC is slowly transitioning from a BI/planning tool into a broad platform that goes further than what the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform ever delivered. Initially it only hosted the models and stories for reporting and planning, then the boardrooms and predictive scenarios were added as separate objects, and next year we will see applications, Roambi templates and Analysis Office workbooks appearing.

The Analysis Office workbooks are an interesting topic in itself and I regard this as a must have for 2019 to completely get SAC to a full “enterprise ready platform” level. Currently, Analysis Office workbooks can only consume acquired data models in SAC. To make this really work we need support for live BW/HANA models, and the option to store these workbooks on the SAC platform from within the Analysis Office software. This is all on the roadmap for 2019.

In 2018 a lot of generic SAC features were released, for example story bookmarks, offline/live data blending and proper platform usage statistics. Also many more specific features were delivered, for example on BW live connectivity where SAC is now very close to supporting the full spectrum of BEx features. This year brought the universal display hierarchy, support for two BEx structures and support for BEx conditions.

To finish the Good section, SAP is doing a lot to support organizations to manage this new normal of cloud. It will offer so-called test tenants that run a preview of the upcoming wave. This allows customers to check out new features so they are prepared for the actual release.

The Bad

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Posted in: SAP Analytics Cloud

Siri meets Business Intelligence

Posted by on Jan 10, 2012

As you may know, Apple’s latest iPhone, the 4S, has a virtual assistent in it called Siri. You can ask Siri questions or tell it do something for you, just by using your voice. For example “What will the weather be tomorrow?” or “What is my next meeting about?”. This is very cool stuff!

So, as we have seen this big move towards mobile business intelligence over the last two years with tools like RoamBI, MicroStrategy (and now even SAP has awoken), how cool would it be to go one step further and let Business Intelligence meet Siri?! Think of commands like “Who is my top sales guy in Germany for 2011?”, “Call this person now!”, or something like “Siri, give me the total sales for customer BMW”.

Dutch SAP BI colleague Ronald Konijnenburg checked the possibilities to make this work and came across an interesting tool called Siri Proxy:

Siri Proxy is a proxy server for Apple’s Siri “assistant”. The idea is to allow for the creation of custom handlers for different actions. This can allow developers to easily add functionality to Siri.

After installing Siri Proxy on a Ubuntu (Linux) machine and checking some existing plugins from the Siri Proxy community he took up the challenge to write his own plugin. This plugin should be able to execute SQL statements and query any database (in-memory or not). With some technical help on the Ruby programming (Ruby is the language Siri Proxy is written in) a working plugin was created in a very short time period.

As a proof of concept a MySQL database was installed on the Ubuntu environment, with a simple table containing the key figures Sales and the objects Sales rep, Customer and Date, loaded with some random data. Now, by asking Siri a question like “Give me total sales for customer Google”, the spoken words are translated into a SQL statement that looks something like SELECT * FROM Sales.Sales WHERE Customer = ‘Google’. After executing this SQL statement on the table the sales amount will be returned. Siri now can nicely tell you the answer.

Check the video below to see a demonstration of Sire meeting Business Intelligence. The second video (click the more… button below) gives a bit more background info.

http://youtu.be/Gf96R4Plmow&w=500

Again, great job Ronald! So what’s next? Siri talking to SAP HANA?

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Posted in: Fun, New technology