Can SAP Innovate Like 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 down 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?

The Future of the SAP BI Platform, Again

Are SAP BI customers ready to trade in the Porsche 911 for a Tesla?

Red Porsche 911

Yesterday I installed the latest updates from Microsoft on my Windows 8.1 laptop. Originally promised as Windows 8.1 Update 2 with a revised start menu, Microsoft stripped the release down to just a few new features, holding back the best stuff for next year’s release of what everyone expects to be Windows 9¬†Windows 10 (see related Computer World article, Pointless Windows 8.1 Update 2 shows Microsoft has given up on Windows 8). New features are always welcome, no matter how small. But Microsoft seems to be struggling to achieve the annual OS updates that Apple has been delivering for the past several years, including this year’s forthcoming iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite (see related article from The Verge, The 22 most important things Apple announced at WWDC 2014).

SAP has also had difficulty finding a¬†definitive cadence with its updates to the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform. After the much-delayed BI 4.0 and nice but feature-lite BI 4.1, 2014 was supposed to be the year of the rumored BI 4.2. But instead, it’s been the year of integration of SAP Lumira and SAP Lumira Server (and therefore SAP HANA) into the existing BI 4.1 release. The integration kit between the two BI platforms¬†was¬†shown earlier this year at SAP SAPPHIRE in Orlando, with the SAP BI4 platform described as a classic Porsche 911 and the Lumira Server platform described as a cutting-edge Tesla.¬†But the integration kit is¬†still in ramp-up awaiting general availability.

Tesla Motors Black

There’s no BI 4.2 on the 2014 release calendar (see related SAP BusinessObjects Maintenance Schedule Calendar). In fact, even the year-end¬†release of BI 4.1 SP5 has recently¬†disappeared from the calendar, no doubt a casualty of SAP transitioning BI 4 platform development to Bangalore as all-things-Lumira takes center stage in SAP offices around the globe.¬†So it looks like SAP BusinessObjects users will end 2014 with two versions of Crystal Reports, two semantic layer designers (the Universe Design Tool and the Information Design Tool), three versions of Web Intelligence (Java, HTML, and Rich Client), two dashboarding tools (Xcelsius/Dashboards and Design Studio), Explorer effectively marooned on an Adobe Flash desert island, and now two BI platforms- the classic SAP BI4 platform and the new HANA-based Lumira Server platform. And no point release to the BI4 platform to continue progress on shrinking functionality gaps.

Yesterday, SAP announced a new BI Strategy and Direction webcast for September 9, 2014. SAP executive Jayne Landry along with Ty Miller, Blair Wheadon, and even my friend, co-worker, and SAP Mentor¬†Greg Myers will discuss the future of SAP’s BI initiatives. You can post questions to Twitter using the¬†#askSAP hashtag (see Jayne Landry’s blog, Unleash Your Collective Insight, and register for the webcast).¬†September 9 is also the rumored date for Apple to announce it’s latest iPhone and iPad models, although it’s latest iOS 8 and OS X Mavericks will continue to support a large number of Apple customers with older devices.

At least we’ll see how much gas is left in the Porsche 911 tank.

Further Reading

Is your organization going to trade in its Porsche 911 for a HANA-powered Tesla? What are your thoughts on the future of the SAP BI platform?