Some SAP BI and Analytics Trends

SAP-BI-TrendsAs we come towards the tail end of 2017, we thought it would be fun to trawl through our Google Analytics data to identify the most popular articles on this blog aimed at SAP customers.

We picked out our top 3 most searched for articles. And, for each of these articles, we looked at the most common keywords people used in their search to reach this page. What we discovered, provides a glimpse into some of the BI and analytics related topics that continue to resonate with the SAP community.

1) SAP BW and SAP HANA – a simpler view

SAP HANA continues to be a popular topic. It also remains a source of confusion where it comes to its relationship with SAP Business Warehouse (BW). So, in this article we looked to help by shining some light on both BW and HANA, providing a simple definition of each, and explaining how they fit together.

Some of the more general requests that people who viewed this page searched for include: What is SAP BI? and What is SAP BW?

Common searches from people who were looking for some clarity include: Difference between SAP HANA and SAP BI and Difference between SAP BI and BW

Whereas searches from those who are perhaps considering a move to SAP HANA include: Why is SAP HANA better than Oracle? And BW on HANA benefits

What’s notable here is the additional confusion around the term SAP BI. SAP BW and SAP BI are the same thing. SAP BW used to be called SAP BI until SAP acquired Business Objects in 2007. SAP then changed the name to SAP BW.

Today, the Business Objects platform is now known as SAP BusinessObjects BI. So, a lot of the BI/BW confusion may actually revolve around the difference between BW and BusinessObjects.

To help clarify this, you can think of SAP BW as a data warehouse application that comes with pre-built content and extract-transform-load (ETL) routines and star-schemas (InfoCubes) – all of which can be configured and extended to fit your organization’s needs.

On the other hand, SAP BusinessObjects BI is a BI platform that contains a suite of tools that enable you to create reports and dashboards and provide analysis capabilities such as Data Discovery. SAP BusinessObjects can use SAP BW as a data source or it can connect to other non-SAP data sources, too.

So, simplistically, BW is more about the back end data storage whereas BusinessObjects is more about front-end presentation and delivery.

2) Storyboards v dashboards – why SAP Lumira falls short for end-user BI

We wrote this article to highlight that  Lumira isn’t a great replacement for SAP Dashboards. SAP Dashboards was built on top of the dying Flash technology, so understandably, SAP wasn’t investing any further R&D effort to enhance it. At the time, we were hearing stories of customers being pushed down the Lumira route as an alternative to SAP Dashboards, because they weren’t getting on with Design Studio. We discussed in the article why we didn’t feel this was a good thing.

People who viewed this page after searching, fell into two categories:

  • Those who were looking for information about SAP Dashboards. Common queries were: What is SAP Dashboards? and SAP Dashboard examples
  • Those who wanted to understand the difference between Design Studio, Lumira and SAP Dashboards – probably to help them decide which was the right tool for them. Common queries here were: Design Studio vs Dashboards and Difference between Design Studio and Lumira

In the article, we explained that Design Studio was meant to be the replacement for SAP Dashboards …. but, it required a different skill set. Design Studio is a developer’s tool that requires JavaScript knowledge to get the best from it.

SAP Dashboards was built on Excel. This was a technology that huge numbers of people were already familiar with. This made it easy for all sorts of people to get started with SAP Dashboards. It paved the way for business analysts and power users to create sophisticated interactive dashboards, for themselves, without coding.

This difference between Excel and JavaScript was the reason why Design Studio wasn’t a natural fit for many of these designers. And, that’s where Lumira came in. Lumira doesn’t require coding knowledge, so appeared to offer a more natural way forward for SAP Dashboards designers.

Unfortunately, Lumira was never meant to be a replacement for SAP Dashboards. Lumira is a Data Discovery tool aimed at analysts. It allows analysts to create storyboards – a basic form of dashboard – to share the results of their analysis. The problem is these storyboards are a pale shadow of the types of interactive dashboard that a SAP Dashboards designer was used to creating.

Even as SAP move towards file compatibility between Lumira and Design Studio, the difference in skill requirements and capabilities for the 2 tools still exists. So, while you’ll be able to create a basic dashboard in Lumira to enhance with Design Studio … you’ll still need the developer skills to get the most from Design Studio.

3) Facts from the history of Xcelsius

This post is a blast from the past – written nearly 5 year’s ago, yet still a popular destination for our search visitors. It’s testimony to the enduring popularity of the Xcelsius name.

Xcelsius was the name of the Excel and Flash based dashboard design tool created by Infommersion back in 2002. Xcelsius quickly established itself in the market, before Infommersion was acquired by Business Objects in 2005. Business Objects was itself acquired by SAP in 2007. And, post this acquisition Xcelsius was renamed as SAP Dashboards within the BusinessObjects world … it was also marketed as SAP Crystal Design to non-BusinessObjects customers.

If you want to know more, the article goes into much more detail about the history of Xcelsius.

It’s interesting to note that despite SAP dropping the Xcelsius name many years ago, we still see large number of searches for Xcelsius-related information, today. Some of the popular searches that lead people to our blog post include: What is Xcelsius? and Business Objects Xcelsius

That is most likely because nothing in the SAP portfolio really replaces Xcelsius, today. We heard before that Lumira is an analyst’s tool and Design Studio is a developer’s tool. So, there is a gap in SAP’s portfolio for non-programmers who want to create and share sophisticated interactive dashboards and dashboard applications.

This capability is something many organizations value. It means they can publish new information across their organization quickly, without being dependent on scarce development resources. It means the consumers of this information can interact with their data to answer daily and one-off questions for themselves. For many people in our organizations this is their ideal form of self-service BI.

This is why we developed DecisionPoint™. It fills the gap between Lumira and Design Studio where Xcelsius once sat. it plays happily with SAP BW and SAP BusinessObjects data. It enables non-programmers to create tailor-made dashboard apps that provide the insights most business users need. It scales cost-effectively to support large audiences. It even works offline for your mobile workers.

Why not take a look for yourself? Watch this 4 minute video for a fast-paced introduction to DecisionPoint™