Can SAP be Tesla?

SAP needs a Falcon rocket that can land on the barge of its BI platform.

SAP innovation evangelist Timo Elliott tweeted a reply to my article “Can SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 Move Out of Fourth Place?

The Tesla analogy has been used before, back when SAP briefly described Lumira Server as a Tesla and its BI platform as a Porsche 911 (see related article, The Future of the SAP BI Platform, Again). But Timo is making an excellent point.

Tesla did¬†not achieved success by trying to copy a competitor and build a better Cadillac. Although entire books have been written about Tesla and its charismatic founder Elon Musk, I believe we can distill Tesla’s success to two reasons. First, there’s unwavering commitment to a goal¬†that seems crazy at first glance. And second, there’s a charismatic, unorthodox leader that rallies bright talent toward achieving that¬†goal.

Whether it’s luxury cars with “insanity mode” or reusable rocket boosters that land on barges, Elon Musk has a knack for obtaining¬†the unobtainable.

I still believe that Lumira has a firm place in SAP’s analytics arsenal. But can SAP’s BI platform support a crazy, radical idea that (most likely) will come via acquisition? And can SAP’s culture handle the charismatic- and possibly volatile- leader that will come with that radical idea?

SAP needs a Falcon rocket that can land on the barge of its BI platform.

A company that I’ve started watching with keen interest is ThoughtSpot. ThoughtSpot appears to be what SAP BusinessObjects Explorer would be if SAP had continued to innovate with it rather than abandon it to a¬†yet-unrealized bullet point on the Lumira product roadmap (see related article, The Road Unexplored: Alternatives to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer). But there are certainly other startups out there tinkering with crazy ideas on the fringes of the analytics marketplace.

Yes, Timo, I believe SAP can be the Tesla of analytics. But not on Lumira’s merits alone.

What crazy idea do you think SAP needs to bring to its analytics platform?

ASUG Volunteer Spotlight

Look mom, I’m in the ASUG Annual Report!

Sometimes the best things that happen to your career are serendipitous accidents, or at least they seem that way at the time. We find ourselves in an opportunity to push ourselves outside of our normal comfort zone. Due to a career change, a long-serving volunteer¬†normally in charge of the annual ASUG Developer Tools Day was no longer able to be part of ASUG. Nature abhors a vacuum, so last year I was able to step into the role of event organizer with the help of my peers in the Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio leadership teams. In December 2016, we hosted what we learned would be the¬†10th annual ASUG Developer Tools Day. We’re all looking forward to continuing the tradition in 2017.

Ina Felsheim introduces SAP Lumira 2.0 at ASUG Developer Tools Day 2016

Dallas Marks is a member of the Kentucky Chapter. Dallas has found his niche in the chapter by managing the social media accounts for the Kentucky Chapter, with a special emphasis on Twitter. Building on this, Dallas writes blogs in his spare time to help promote the meetings. In addition to his duties in the chapter, Dallas manages Developer Tools Day. His positive disposition allows him to be innovative, charismatic, and a pleasure to work with.

From the 2016 ASUG Annual Report

Tom Jung shares HANA programming knowledge at ASUG Developer Tools Day 2016

I’ve been a part of the ASUG Kentucky Chapter since 2011 and have served in several volunteer roles since 2014. Being a member of a local ASUG chapter has provided me with a core group of trusted professionals. Some share¬†my immediate interest area of analytics. But I benefit just as much from knowing¬†people in other parts of the SAP ecosystem, broadening my understanding of what it takes to power an organization with SAP software. I’m proud to serve with the current chapter leadership of¬†Eric Stephan-Neill, Vince Barber, Ashley Lowe, Theresa Westlund;¬†previous chapter leadership Suresh Adhikari,¬†Damean Chen, and Darren Hites; and our ASUG community coordinator Paige Riegen.

Storm Archer introduces SAP BW/4HANA at ASUG Developer Tools Day 2016

I won’t be able to join you this year at the 2017 ASUG Annual Meeting, but I’m extremely grateful for the recognition from the ASUG volunteer community as well as the continued opportunity to stretch my limits.

Volunteer Spotlight in 2016 ASUG Annual Report

Much thanks,
Dallas Marks

Can SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 Move Out of Fourth Place?

Can SAP break the rule of threes?

As humans, we love to group things into threes.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze…

Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude…

GM, Ford, Chrysler… and American Motors.

Wait- what?!?!?

Remember American Motors? Until Chrysler acquired the company in 1988, it was primarily known for two things. The Jeep brand. And the AMC Pacer, an oft-ridiculed vehicle most notably¬†featured in the Wayne’s World movies. But American Motors was always in the shadow of the “Big Three”.

On the eve of the general availability of SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0, I am¬†reminded of American Motors by¬†Tech Target’s recent publication of¬†“Self-service BI software comparison: Tableau vs. Power BI, Qlik Sense“.

Was Lumira removed from the article¬†because of missing features? No. It was merely overlooked¬†because of the unwritten rule of threes. Unless a¬†contest is held by Gartner or Consumer Reports, it’s generally limited to three participants. For example, the Olympic Games only puts three competitors on the awards podium- unless there’s a tie. And Steve Jobs product keynotes were famous for three main points (and hopefully just¬†one more thing). Tech Target is simply writing about the three BI tools that currently have the most mindshare, just as fifteen years ago much ink was spilled over the¬†BusinessObjects/Cognos/Microstrategy horse race.

Probably the biggest surprise here is that a mere two years ago tech journalists would describe data visualization as a two-horse race- Tableau and Qlik. Tibco Spotfire would occasionally get a shout-out when a third horse was needed for color. Microsoft- once thought to have its best days behind it- has really done an enormous job to be mentioned in the same breath as the other two horses.

Only time will tell if the innovations of SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 elevate it to “top three” status. In the meantime, party on Wayne and Garth!

Peace, Love, and Happiness!

What do you think SAP must do to get out of fourth place?

SAP to Unveil Immersive Golfing Experience at its Annual Conference

Another groundbreaking innovation brought to life by the SAP Cloud Platform.

Just in time for its annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference, SAP is putting the finishing touches on what promises to be a unique add-on to its groundbreaking SAP Digital Boardroom.

SAP Digital Golf Course is built on the same SAP Cloud Platform (formerly known as the SAP HANA Cloud Platform) as SAP BusinessObjects Cloud and SAP Digital Boardroom. “We were in the middle of a design thinking session for SAP Digital Boardroom, brainstorming new ways to get our customers engaged with the product,” recalled¬†SAP Digital Golf Course product manager¬†Ty Webb. “Somebody suggested- in jest- that customers would spend more time with SAP Digital Boardroom¬†if they could use its three giant touchscreens to improve their golf swing. Putting an immersive golf course experience on those touchscreens was a given. But then we realized that some of the technology being developed¬†for SAP Leonardo-¬†SAP’s Internet of Things initiative- could be leveraged in the design of¬†an electronic golf club. Then things just kind of took off from there,” he continued.

“We originally thought of SAP Digital Golf Course as more of a technology showcase than a product,” added April Erste, an SAP spokesperson for SAP’s¬†analytics portfolio. “But as word spread inside of SAP, we realized that we could have a winning product on our hands.”

To improve the realism of the solution, the SAP development team in Vancouver, BC spent time at the nearby Wildstone Golf Course and brought its designer, golf legend Gary Player, onto the project as a consultant. The initial version of SAP Digital Golf Course will include recreations of three Gary Player-designed courses:  the Wildstone course in Canada along with the Bushman Sands course in South Africa and Hidden Tiger course in China.

SAP Digital Golf Course Bill McDermott and Gary Player

The project also benefited from the expertise of professional golfer Ernie Els, who has been sponsored by SAP for many years. Ernie’s feedback¬†helped guide the design team in creating a¬†comfortable grip for the specialized electronic golf club designed for the product.

Ernie Els, professional golfer

Product manager Ty Webb continued, “There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball. That’s what our customers are¬†going to be able to do with SAP Digital Golf Course.”

Pricing and availability for SAP Digital Golf Course were unavailable at press time but should be finalized by the time SAP customers arrive in Florida for the annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference. And expect to see SAP Digital Golf Course demonstrated during the keynote speeches and on the exhibition floor.

Follow Bill McDermott on Twitter

Follow Ernie Els on Twitter

Follow Gary Player on Twitter

The Only SAP Lumira 2.0 Feature That Matters

The stakes are high. Lumira 2.0 cannot just be a “better Lumira”.

Yesterday, SAP unveiled SAP Lumira 2.0 at the SAP Insider BI2017 conference in Orlando, Florida.

SAP BusinessObjects Lumira and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio are coming together under a single name, retaining 2 user experiences but on a common technology platform. Learn about the next step in SAP’s convergence strategy.

from SAP Insider breakout session description

This year’s conference has an interesting vibe. The stories from the keynote stage are¬†about SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 and SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. Customers on¬†the showroom floor are telling different stories – stories¬†of more time and energy spent using SAP BusinessObjects tools to prepare data sets for competing products.

What we know is that Lumira and Design Studio are coming together (see Blair Wheadon’s SAP Community blog), with the Lumira Desktop getting a rebranding as Lumira Discovery. Design Studio will be rebranded as Lumira Designer. Design Studio is getting a new splash screen with a smattering of new features, most importantly integration. However, the current Lumira desktop is getting quite a major UX overhaul. Gone are the prepare, visualize and compose rooms in favor of a single workspace. Also rumored to be gone are¬†many of the pain points and limitations experienced by early¬†Lumira adopters.

But out of all the product features that were demonstrated yesterday, there’s only ONE feature that matters.

Can Lumira 2.0 beat Tableau?

Can it beat Qlik?

Lumira 2.0 cannot just be a “better Lumira”. It must be a credible alternative to what’s currently available- and leading- in the marketplace. It’s no longer sufficient for SAP to prepare its sales force or its partners to do battle in the marketplace. The battle is being played out at customer sites around the globe. SAP must also prepare its customers to fight- and win- data discovery projects from the vendors who are landing and expanding right in front of their eyes.

For many SAP customers, it’s no longer about keeping Tableau out of the enterprise. It’s now about keeping Tableau running. Is it time for SAP to adjust strategy and help their customers reach that goal instead?

What are your impressions of SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0?

 

The Mobile BI Rat Race

When it comes to updating mobile BI apps, Tableau isn’t leading the race.

Although I rarely¬†use their products, I signed up for the free mobile apps from several¬†major BI vendors. Seeing their updates pop up on my Apple iPhone is one way that I can keep up with what’s going on in the industry.

Unlike on-premise software that requires a project plan and an off-hours maintenance window to push into production, mobile software is nearly as easy to update as cloud-based software because the vendor assumes a majority of the upgrade risks. But it seemed to me that SAP was updating their mobile BI app at a much slower rate than their competitors.

To back up my hunch with facts, I built a quick model in Microsoft Excel using product versions and release dates from the Apple iTunes store and loaded the data into SAP BusinessObjects Lumira.

As you can see in the chart below, Microsoft clearly updates their Power BI mobile app at a frequency greater than SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI or even (gasp!) Tableau Mobile (click images to enlarge).

Mobile BI Release Comparison by Release Date

Microsoft Power BI, a recent entry into the BI marketplace, was introduced on July 24, 2015 and has been on a rapid release schedule ever since. The Apple iTunes store had release history going back to September 5, 2015 and contains 44 releases through February 2017. Oh sure, many of the releases contain only “bug fixes” or “performance enhancements,” but so do many of the releases from Microsoft’s competitors.

Since January 1 of last year, Microsoft has updated their Power BI iOS app a whopping 35 times. Contributing to most SAP users’ Tableau envy, Tableau updated their iOS app 11 times, almost¬†twice as many updates as SAP’s.

Mobile BI Release Comparison Number of Releases

Microsoft releases a new version of Power BI for iOS on an average of every 12 days. SAP actually beats Tableau on this metric, releasing a new iOS version every 39.41 days to Tableau’s 42.58 days.

Mobile BI Release Comparison Average Days between Releases

These are quantitative measurements and one could certainly argue that Microsoft’s numbers are padded with frequent “bug fix” updates that don’t introduce any new functionality. In terms of qualitative measurements, which are a bit more subjective, only Microsoft Power BI has a native interface for the Apple Watch. Not even Tableau can boast that. And only Microsoft Power BI boasts “conversational BI” with the ability to ask questions about data in plain English.

Ironically, none of the three Lumira charts I prepared for this article could be viewed on my Apple iPad, even though I’m using the latest versions of SAP’s BI platform and mobile app.

Unsupported Lumira charts in Mobile BI 6.5

The SAP Mobile BI team is likely hard at work preparing updates to support¬†the forthcoming Lumira 2.0 release. Or perhaps they’ve been reassigned to help roll out a new version of the separate SAP BusinessObjects Cloud mobile app. Or both. But I hope¬†SAP will be able to increase the release frequency and deliver bigger analytic innovations in its core Mobile BI app.

Related articles

Unsociable Media

It’s time to stop ranting and get back to work.

Yesterday, Facebook declared that it was “Facebook Friends Day”. Facebook has been part of our lives¬†for thirteen years and its moody¬†adolescence is showing.

Facebook Friends Day

Facebook used to be the home of grumpy cat and cute kid videos. But last year it became a vast wasteland of political punditry as its seems everybody had something to say about the US presidential election. My Facebook feed became an incessant deluge of rants and shared articles from my collection of Democratic, Republican and even Libertarian friends.

I was hoping that the madness would stop after the election. Or at least after inauguration day. Wishful thinking, no?

unsociable – un¬∑so¬∑cia¬∑ble – \ňĆ…ôn-ňąsŇć-sh…ô-b…ôl\

adjective

having or showing a disinclination for social activity
or
not conducive to sociability

definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster dictionary

Dealing with annoying people on Facebook is simple. You can “unfollow” them while still being their “friend”. Convenient. But unfortunately the problem has spread to other social media venues like LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t have “friends” on those social media channels. I have professional business contacts. And people who I assumed¬†were respected thought leaders in their field, not political pundits.

I’m perfectly capable of finding my own news, be it real or “fake news”, liberal or conservative news, or even clickbait masquerading as news. I don’t need to understand your political views nor do you need me to endorse them.

But I need your expertise.

Desperately.

And I miss it.

Have we reached the point of no return? We may¬†never be able to “Make Facebook Fun Again”. But I hope that we can get back to business on LinkedIn and Twitter.

And soon.