Thankful for real Twitter followers

How I fared during this month’s Twitter purge.

Or “How I fared after the July 2018 Twitter purge”.

Twitter made news last week by purging locked accounts.

Two of the biggest losers were Twitter’s most famous user, President Trump, who saw roughly 400,000 of his 53.4 million followers vanish, and Barack Obama, who bid farewell to more than 2 million.

USA Today article, July 12, 2018

President Trump lost less than 1% of his followers. Former president Barack Obama lost nearly 2%.

Curious to see how my own Twitter account fared after the purge, I turned to my Twitter analytics page. I was surprised to learn that I actually gained a modest number of followers over the past 28 days.

Twitter followers after July 2018 purge

As you can see, I gained 7 followers during the past 4 weeks.

Twitter followers after July 2018 purge

Aside from a very active US president, Twitter doesn’t seem the busy news source that it used to be, especially for analytics news. I’ve noticed that more and more people are interacting with me and my blog from LinkedIn, not Twitter.

You can keep up with my analytics antics on your favorite social network, assuming that it’s either Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

You can also keep in touch on the SAP Community.

Finally, you can support this site by making purchases through one of its Amazon links, like this one.


What kinds of social media are you still using? Did you survive the most recent Twitter purge? Wherever you are, thank you for following me along my analytics journey!

Using the new commentary feature in SAP BI 4.2

Commentary is a useful new feature in SAP BI 4.2 but needs configuration beyond the default setup to work optimally.

One of the new features in SAP BI 4.2 is commentary. Although it currently only works with Web Intelligence, it is a feature of the BI platform so we can expect to see other tools such as Crystal Reports adopt it over time. Unlike the depreciated discussions feature, which permitted threaded discussions on a document, the commentary feature allows threaded discussions to occur on a report element such as a Web Intelligence cell.

The commentary feature consists of a Commentary Service (part of the Adaptive Processing Server) and a table named COMMENTARY_MASTER that is created in the Audit schema by default.

Regarding the new APS service, it is not necessary to isolate it in its own process, but it can be added to a “Core” APS as shown in SAP KB 1694041.

Regarding the new COMMENTARY_MASTER table, SAP recommends relocating it to its own database, as the commentary feature can create performance issues for auditing if left configured to the Audit database.

By default, BI Commentary creates and maintains its tables in the Audit database… However, SAP recommends that you configure a new database to store the comments from BI Commentary application. Databases supported for BI Commentary are the same as those supported for Auditing.

SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP5 Administration Guide
Section 18.1.3.11 Managing BI Commentary Application Settings

And SAP KB 2346055 describes some of the bad things that can happen if the commentary service uses the audit database on a production system.

You’ll have to configure JDBC drivers for your database vendor on each node hosting the commentary service. Then configure the new data source in CMC -> Applications -> BI Commentary Application, shown below.

Configuring the commentary database

And since you may choose to report on the COMMENTARY_MASTER table, you’ll probably want to configure the data source on all the reporting nodes, too.

In my experience, the COMMENTARY_MASTER table wasn’t created in its new location until a user actually entered the first comment, so I would recommend that the BI administrator use one of the sample Web Intelligence documents or a personal document to create the first comment and confirm that the table is created and populated correctly.

To learn how to use the commentary feature, check out SAP KB 2269131, which includes a video. Using the side panel, comments can be added to sections, table cells, free-standing report cells, or an entire table block. As of SAP BI 4.2 SP5, comments cannot be added to charts but perhaps support will be added in a future support pack.

In the example below, I have added a comment in a Party Pants Trends report on the Printed Lycra Trousers table cell for New York. Other report viewers can see that a comment has been added because of the yellow triangle in the cell’s upper right corner. Comments can be created in either reading mode or design mode, but you must have the Reporting – Enable Formatting security right. This requirement may lead to changes to existing custom access levels.

Web Intelligence report with commentary

I’m personally a fan of enabling new bells and whistles such as commentary. But if your organization is not ready for the commentary service, you can disable it simply by disabling or removing any commentary services in the landscape. Take a look at SAP KB 2313335 for details.

Perhaps we’ll see the SAP BI 4.3 installer prompt administrators to set up the commentary database (and the monitoring database, which defaults to Apache Derby) correctly from the beginning. But for now, setting up commentary is a post-installation configuration step for the SAP BI administrator.

References

  • SAP KB 1694041 – How do you configure the Adaptive Processing Server (APS) for improved performance and scalability?
  • SAP KB 1707921How to display the discussions in BI4
  • SAP KB 2269131How to use the BI Commentary feature and add comments in Webi Reports in BI 4.2?
  • SAP KB 2313335How to disable Commentary from Web Intelligence document in BI4.2
  • SAP KB 2346055Performance degradation while opening a Web Intelligence document with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.2
  • SAP KB 2525675How to configure the BI Commentary Tool in SAP Business Intelligence 4.2 SP02 and onwards – Guided Answers

Things Can Only Get Better

The roadmap of the SAP BusinessObjects platform makes me scared. But I won’t stop and falter. Here’s what Howard Jones taught me about SAP analytics strategy. And growing older.

Earlier this year, my wife and I got to see Howard Jones in concert from the second row. The last time I saw him in concert was way back in 1989, so I was grateful for the opportunity.

I discovered Howard Jones in my teen years. His groundbreaking use of synthesizers as a “one-man band” was a big inspiration for me. After all, there are so many guitar heroes but so few piano heroes. He was definitely mine. Known for the positive messages in his lyrics, Howard expressed my thoughts when SAP announced revisions to its analytics roadmap just a few days after the concert (see related article, Everything Must Change).

And do you feel scared? I do!
But I won’t stop and falter.

Change can definitely be scary. And sadly, you can’t stop it. Just like you can’t stop having birthdays.

I’m grateful to artists like Howard Jones because at age 63, he’s not only riding his past success like No One Is To Blame. He continues to tour and create new music like the autographed Engage CD that I picked up at the concert. His success doesn’t magically wipe away the rampant ageism that is in modern IT. But it does give me hope as I grow older.

Howard Jones Engage CD with autographed cover

Treating today as though it was the last, the final show
Get to sixty and feel no regret
It may take a little time a lonely path, an uphill climb
Success or failure will not alter it

Don’t be fooled by what you see. And don’t be fooled by what you hear- especially from Microstrategy. They posted this FUD gem during SAPPHIRE last month.

Things have actually gotten better during the past few months. SAP has moderated its tone when messaging its analytics customers, committing to delivering SAP BusinessObjects 4.3 in 2019 (see related SAP blog by Mike Flannagan, SAP Customers Champion the Intelligent Enterprise with SAP Analytics Innovations). And SAP is making smaller batches of improvements in the forthcoming SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP6, expected later this month. In his aptly-named song Those Who Move Clouds, Howard Jones sings:

I wish that I could offer you a chance to change direction.
But you know that pathways must be followed to near destruction.

Sadly, “You can look at the SAP analytics roadmap, but you can’t change it” doesn’t rhyme. But I’ll continue to work on that. In the meantime, this old dog is committing himself to learn new tricks with SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Cloud Platform, SAP HANA, and even non-SAP technologies. Because things can only get better.

In the meantime, don’t crack up. Bend your brain. See both sides. Throw off your mental chains. And don’t always look at the rain.

Related Reading

Mercury 13

Mercury 13 is a Netflix documentary about 13 female aviators that were screened to be astronauts during the 1960’s space race. Fans of last year’s Hidden Figures will enjoy learning about thirteen extraordinary women who went through the same physical rigors as the male Mercury astronauts but were denied entry into NASA’s official Mercury program due to their lack of combat training, something that no woman at that time could achieve.

Although the late John Glenn was portrayed as a hero of women’s rights in Hidden Figures, he is definitely a villain as far as these thirteen women are concerned. His testimony before the US Congress, combined with that of his fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter, were used to deny these women the right to become astronauts. “The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order,” Glenn stated, even though the USSR would later send Valentina Tereshkova into space on June 16, 1963.

Although Sally Ride became the first American female in space twenty years later in 1983, the first female pilot didn’t fly until 1995 when NASA assigned Eileen Collins to pilot space shuttle Discovery (see related Wikipedia article, STS-63). Eileen Collins helps bring the documentary to a close, acknowledging the contributions of the Mercury 13. She invited the surviving Mercury 13 women to her shuttle flights.

As the father of two daughters and a space geek, I highly recommend this engaging true story for your Netflix queue.

Garbage Collection for SAP Lumira

The default settings for the latest edition of Lumira appear to be the preferred settings.

I recently installed the Lumira 2.1 SP1 add-on as part of upgrading a customer to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence SP5. Then I performed a landscape analysis using the SAP BI Platform Support Tool, as I’m always curious what kinds of observations it makes.

The Platform Support Tool currently has an alert regarding the default garbage collection method for SAP Lumira.

Checks the command line on all APS servers with a “LumiraServerServiceContainer” service for the argument “-XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC”. Alert is triggered if the argument is missing.

Sometimes the Platform Support Tool makes a recommendation I’m not familiar with, so I try to confirm the recommendation against the SAP knowledge base. In this case, I found SAP KB 2578661, which recommends switching from "-XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC" (the garbage collector recommended by the Platform Support Tool) to "-XX:+UseG1GC -XX:MaxGCPauseMillis=200 -XX:+UseStringDeduplication", which are default settings for the Lumira 2.1 SP1 Adaptive Processing Server.

I assume that the Lumira rule will be revisited in a future release of the Platform Support Tool (UPDATE: version 2.1 SP2 will give specific guidance depending on the Lumira version detected). But in the meantime, I kept the default settings intact. This customer is brand-new to Lumira and it will be a few weeks or months before there are Lumira Designer dashboards to test. But we’ll be ready, as CA ADM Introscope is installed as part of the BI landscape. We’ll be able to monitor in real-time how well the Lumira Adaptive Processing Server performs garbage collection with production dashboards and make changes if we see a benefit.

Have you made any interesting modifications to Lumira settings, documented or otherwise?

Resources

SAP Lumira, Discovery Edition: The Comprehensive Guide

SAP Lumira, Discovery Edition: The Comprehensive Guide from SAP Press will help get you creating engaging data stories quickly, whether you are a first-time Lumira user or upgrading from a previous version.

SAP Lumira, Discovery Edition: The Comprehensive Guide by Xavier Hacking and Martijn van Foeken (ISBN 978-1-4932-1613-0) is an exceptionally upgraded book for a substantially upgraded product. SAP Lumira, Discovery Edition received a major UI redesign and tighter integration with SAP Lumira, Designer Edition (formerly known as SAP Design Studio). Whether you’re new to SAP Lumira, Discovery Edition or have experience with its predecessor SAP Lumira 1.x, this book is a helpful companion. The authors have provided multiple sample data sets in Microsoft Excel that can be downloaded from SAP Press, making it easy to follow along with its examples.

Because SAP Lumira, Discovery Edition was created for business users, not technical users, authors Xavier Hacking and Martijn van Foeken have written in a clear and easily understood style. It works equally well as both an inductive tutorial or a reference guide.

The book also addresses integration with SAP Lumira, Designer Edition, which will have its own SAP Press book in a few more weeks. Whether you’re upgrading from prior versions of SAP Lumira 1.x or taking a first look at SAP Lumira, Discovery Edition, there’s lots of material to like (nearly 500 pages) and lots of hours to save creating data stories by following a useful companion to the product.

SAP Press provided me with a digital copy to review and I must say how impressive the color illustrations look on my iPad as compared to the black-and-white illustrations of the hardcover edition. The digital copy can only be obtained by ordering directly from SAP Press, either with or without the hardcover edition. It comes in three editions (Adobe PDF, epub, and mobi) so you’ll be able to read regardless of whether your favorite reading device is a PC, an iPad with iBooks, or a Kindle device. Having the PDF copy on your workstation is indispensable, as you can make Adobe Reader do all the work looking up a desired keyword.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Killing Explorer

How to remove all evidence of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.

Last week was a sad week. I helped a customer retire SAP BusinessObjects Explorer as part of their BI 4.2 upgrade. SAP will continue to “support” Explorer until Adobe retires Flash in December 2020 (see related Adobe announcement, Flash and the Future of Interactive Content). But for this particular customer, the application never saw widespread use and was therefore easy to retire. Uninstalling the application is easy enough, but it leaves behind some evidence.

First, there’s a placeholder on the BI Launch Pad’s application menu.

Explorer on Application Menu

Also, there’s a placeholder icon under My Applications.Explorer icon on home screen

Fortunately, SAP has provided a solution in SAP KB 1756172, an SDK script that will remove offending entries from your CMS database. With the obligatory warning to “make sure to have backed up your CMS repository database before proceeding,” the KB article provides clear instructions on how to install and run the script, which generated the following output.


Delete ClientAction Launch Explorer
Number of objects found: 2

Deleted object 3431952 at:Fri Apr 13 11:39:34 PDT 2018
Object Name: BusinessObjects_ClientAction_Launch_ExplorerApplication_dfo.xml
Object Type: DeploymentFile

Deleted object 3431953 at:Fri Apr 13 11:39:34 PDT 2018
Object Name: Launch_ExplorerApplication
Object Type: ClientAction

With the offending InfoObjects removed from the CMS, the applications menu no longer shows a placeholder for Explorer.

Explorer on Application Menu, removed
Nor is there a placeholder icon under My Applications.

Explorer icon on home screen, removed

Nor is there a satisfactory replacement for Explorer, four years after it was announced that Lumira would provide a solution (see related SAP Blog, Run Simple: Convergence of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Product Portfolio). Now we look forward to some kind of Explorer solution with SAP Analytics Cloud, possibly at the upcoming SAPPHIRE 2018 event. However, at present, the lack of an SAP alternative remains a significant issue for SAP customers with large investments in Explorer.

But we’ve discussed that already (see related article, The Road Unexplored: A Future for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer).

References

  • SAP KB 1756172BI 4: ???dummy.action.Launch_ExplorerApplication.display.name??? displayed after Explorer Uninstall
  • SAP KB 2288760After uninstalling SAP BusinessObjects Explorer from the BO server, Explorer Application, Servers and Service Categories are still displayed in the CMC.

If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

SAP, if you love your BI platform users, it’s time to set them free.

BusinessObjects Rainbow Logo

In 1985, Sting stunned the world with Dream of the Blue Turtles, his first solo album after breaking up with The Police. The “hybrid” recording wasn’t jazzy enough for jazz purists nor rocky enough for fans of The Police. But his ambitious effort to combine rock-and-roll with jazz musicians Omar Hakim, Darryl Jones, Kenny Kirkland, Branford Marsalis, Dolette McDonald, and Janice Pendarvis yielded several hit singles and insured that Sting would be a relevant artist for the next several decades.

“If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” was the first single released from Dream of the Blue Turtles.

It’s clear from current product roadmaps that SAP’s hybrid approach to analytics is to place all future analytics innovation into SAP Analytics Cloud while keeping the on-premise BI platform, its universe semantic layer, and its Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence document formats at arms length with reduced levels of future investment. SAP’s analytics strategy makes sense if you run most or all of your business with SAP applications, whether it’s the on-premise business suite or cloud applications like Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass, and SuccessFactors. The strategy makes less sense the more non-SAP applications power your organization. And as anticipated, the strategy makes the least sense to customers whose only SAP product is the on-premise SAP BusinessObjects BI platform.

But instead of winners and losers, what if SAP’s analytics strategy was changed so everyone became a winner? Let’s explore some ideas.

Universes Everywhere

In the age of Qlik and Tableau, a third-party market has sprung up to provide universe-based data to non-SAP tools. In a curious arrangement, these vendors have LLC’ed themselves to be annoying to SAP product managers without being financially lucrative enough to attract the interest of SAP’s legal department.

No offense to their creators who are fulfilling a market need. But these products should not need to exist. SAP itself should provide the best universe support to both its own analytics tools and beyond – let’s call it “Universes Everywhere”.

Back in 2014, a BusinessObjects Universe connector mysteriously showed up in Microsoft Power BI (see Microsoft’s related article, Power BI Connectivity to SAP BusinessObjects BI Now Generally Available). As mysteriously as it arrived, it then disappeared.

Update May 2016: SAP BO connectivity is no longer available.

With SAP Analytics Cloud restricting the universe to be on-premise, what does SAP have to lose by licensing universe support to Microsoft, Tableau, Qlik, or whoever wants it? Customers would be delighted, probably save for the extra cost of some kind of new BI platform license that legalizes such third-party tool support. Microstrategy adopted a similar approach this year, insuring that its customers are delighted enough to keep licensing Microstrategy’s core technology platform while using their data visualization tool of choice. (see related ZDNet article, Enterprise, self-service BI hook up: MicroStrategy releases connectors for Power BI, Tableau, Qlik).

Web Intelligence Explorer

As part of a renewed commitment to the universe semantic layer and innovation specifically targeted to the on-premise BI platform, SAP should commit developers to an updated version of the BI platform (4.3? 5.0?) with a new version of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer – one that does not rely on Adobe Flash- as its centerpiece. Keep in mind that Explorer without a Flash UI already exists – as SAP BusinessObjects Mobile for iOS. The Explorer web client should be written as tightly coupled to Fiori-fied Web Intelligence as architecturally possible and its Flash-based back-end should be ported to the Fiori-fied BI Admin Console that made its debut with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP5 (see related article, The Road Unexplored: A Future for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer). SAP customers shouldn’t have to look to other vendors to find the next generation of search-based data discovery (see related article, The Road Unexplored: Alternatives to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer).

If SAP Won’t Invest It Should Divest

It’s perfectly understandable that SAP Analytics Cloud is tightly coupled to SAP’s business applications. What’s less clear is why perfectly good software used by thousands of customers has to die on the vine rather than succeed on its own terms. Even webOS– originally developed by Palm to compete with Apple’s iOS- was given a second life powering LG televisions and appliances. It’s even been open sourced (see related Verge article, webOS ready to move beyond TVs, says LG). If universe technology is no longer a strategic fit to SAP, it should be liberated as open source or put up for sale on the open market. SAP acquired BusinessObjects for approximately €5 billion in 2008 (see SAP’s press release, SAP to Acquire Business Objects in Friendly Takeover). I’m confident SAP could get a good return on its decade-old investment and create favorable terms to OEM the software from its new owner until its current hybrid BI strategy is fully realized in the cloud.

SAP, if you love your classic BusinessObjects customers, set them free!

Should SAP continue to invest in the universe semantic layer? Should it put the technology up for sale? Or open source it? I would love to hear your thoughts on how ALL of SAP’s current analytics customers can have a happy ending.

What we learned from 31 releases of SAP Lumira

Baskin-Robbins, the ice cream retailer, has gotten a lot of mileage from its “Thirty-Onederful Flavors” slogan. What is less clear is how SAP fared after thirty-one releases of its Lumira data discovery software.

Ben at Baskin Robbins 31 Wonderful Flavors

Baskin-Robbins, the ice cream retailer, has gotten a lot of mileage from its “Thirty-Onederful Flavors” slogan over the years, referring to the 31 flavors of ice cream you can find in their shops.  What is less clear is how SAP fared after thirty-one releases of its Lumira 1.x data visualization software. After 31 releases of version 1, customers spent 2016 waiting for SAP to marry Lumira and Design Studio together as Lumira Discovery and Lumira Designer, respectively. Then we spent 2017 waiting for SAP to resolve the infamous compiler issue and ship Lumira 2.1 with additional stability, only to relegate Lumira Discovery to the dustbin of history in favor of SAP Analytics Cloud as the company’s standard bearer for data discovery (see related article, Everything Must Change).

SAP Analytics Cloud is receiving updates roughly every two weeks, which is even more frequent than the point releases of SAP Lumira 1.x we received around every six weeks. I believe that there are three lessons from SAP Lumira’s development that could improve customer appreciation and adoption of SAP Analytics Cloud.

Better to ship when ready, not when the trade show is scheduled.

SAP Lumira debuted in May 2012 as SAP Visual Intelligence at SAP’s annual SAPPHIRE user conference in Orlando, Florida (see Cindi Howson’s blog, SAP Releases Visual Intelligence, Innovates in BI). Many customers heard “it only works with SAP HANA” even though additional connectivity to other relational databases and universes appeared fairly quickly in future updates. Unfortunately, many customers held onto “it only works with HANA” long after it was no longer true and it took significant effort by SAP and its partners to educate its customers about the current state of the product.

Apple abandoned its trade show schedule several years ago with great success. Instead of its previous practice of introducing new products every January at a (now defunct) trade show called Macworld Expo, today Apple releases products throughout the calendar year when they are ready. I recognize this would be a huge marketing shift for SAP and it’s current “SAPPHIRE or TechEd” release schedule, as we will most likely see new SAP Analytics Cloud features demoed on this year’s SAPPHIRE stage.

I wonder if Lumira would have had a warmer introduction if it had been released a few months after SAPPHIRE but with a larger feature set?

Measure twice and cut once?

There’s always a trade-off when introducing a new feature into software. Do you wait until the feature is fully developed? Or do you deliver it gradually over multiple releases? In theory, agile development sounds great because we can get new features now and that they’ll be extended over time to be even more useful.

In practice, we’ve often been given a feature that is so limited that it has to be completely ripped and replaced with something else. Key examples here are SAP’s first attempts at adding universe and BEx connectivity to Lumira. In both cases, first attempts at connectivity were full of limitations. In the case of the universe connector (see related article, Squeezing the Entire Universe Into SAP Lumira), the universe panel didn’t have the user experience of universe panels in SAP’s well-established analytics products, missing many key features. These premature releases become opportunities for customers to conclude that a product still isn’t ready for prime time – a gut reaction that even clever marketing can find difficult to change later.

Integration vs. Add-Ons

Once Lumira went from being a stand-alone desktop tool to one that could be used with the BI platform via an add-on, Lumira’s frequent release schedule became even more frustrating to BI managers and IT directors. To SAP’s credit, each new release of the Lumira add-on for the BI platform introduced a “must have” feature. Unfortunately, most IT departments did not have the luxury of upgrading Lumira every time SAP delivered a new release.

To compound the problem, because Lumira continues to be an add-on and not an integrated component of the SAP BI platform, it adds hours of planning and installation time to what should be simple product patching. Now that Lumira is released on a similar quarterly schedule as the BI platform, it would make sense to finally integrate the two, save for the SAP’s recent roadmap changes. SAP has indicated that for 2018, SAP Analytics Cloud is the preferred solution for data discovery over SAP Lumira Discovery. And as of tomorrow (perhaps as early as this year’s SAPPHIRE?), SAP Analytics Cloud will eventually be the preferred solution over SAP Lumira Designer for dashboards and analytic applications.

Microsoft has a solution for Microsoft Office 365 that could work well if adopted by SAP Analytics Cloud. SAP provides connectivity to on-premise data sources via the SAP Analytics Cloud Agent. In many cases, a new version of SAP Analytics Cloud requires a new version of the agent to work properly. With SAP Analytics Cloud receiving updates every two weeks, this means BI administrators will spend a lot of time either updating the agent or explaining why SAP Analytics Cloud is “broken”. And in some cases, too many updates of a cloud-based product, especially its user experience, could cause frustrated users to wonder “Who Moved My Cheese“.

Microsoft provides three update “speeds” in its AutoUpdate feature for Microsoft Office 365. First, there is the traditional setting, which provides the least amount of change and the greatest amount of stability. Next, there are two variations of its Office Insider program, Slow and Fast.

Microsoft Office Auto Update for Mac

Although most SAP customers probably wouldn’t be a fan of an SAP Analytics Cloud Insider Fast setting, some early adopters and of course partners probably wouldn’t mind seeing new features before everyone else.

Microsoft Office Auto Update Disclaimer for Fast option

Since I do “mind a bit of risk using unsupported builds,” I keep my Microsoft Office Update set at Office Insider Slow. By providing a similar feature, SAP could allow its SAP Analytics Cloud customers to choose their desired rate of change. Some customers may want a cloud product that only receives significant changes on a quarterly or perhaps even semi-annual basis. Other customers will appreciate both the features and the BI platform risks of the current two-week cycle. And still other customers and partners may want to see features before they’re ready for prime time.

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I believe thirty-one public releases of SAP Lumira was too many for the SAP analytics community to pay attention to. And in some cases, agile development delivered a feature that was so problematic, it had to be completely redesigned in a future release. Lessons learned from SAP Lumira could help improve the perception and adoption of SAP Analytics Cloud. What do you think?

Everything Must Change

Like it or not, everything MUST change, including SAP’s analytics roadmap.

You’ve probably never heard of Benard Ighner. But in 1974 he penned a song entitled “Everything Must Change” which he performed on the Quincy Jones album Body Heat. Since then, the song has been widely covered by artists in the pop, jazz and R&B genres.

Everyone must change
Nothing stays the same.
The young become the old,
Mysteries do unfold.
‘Cause that’s the way of time
Nothing and no one goes unchanged.

Everything Must Change by Benard Ighner

Last month, SAP analytics executive Mike Flannagan published a February 7, 2018 blog that was a prelude to a February 15, 2018 #askSAP webinar. His blog was entitled A Deeper Look into SAP’s BI and Analytics Strategy and made two key points, one intentional and one not.

First, the intentional message was that SAP is focusing on one data discovery solution, SAP Analytics Cloud. This means that SAP Lumira Discovery- freshly released in 2017 after an extensive and lengthy redesign- will only see small maintenance releases during 2018 and 2019 while SAP Analytics Cloud will continue to be updated every two weeks. Many SAP analytics customers will be unaffected by this announcement, as they have settled on a best-in-breed analytics strategy with Tableau, Qlik, or Microsoft PowerBI as their tool of choice. There will be some disgruntled customers who bought into SAP Lumira, which does not have an automatic migration path to SAP Analytics Cloud.

Second, the unintentional message in Mike Flannagan’s blog was that SAP Analytics Cloud is becoming the primary analytics offering by SAP. Oh sure, the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform is still supported, but the goal is to loosely integrate it with SAP Analytics Cloud via the SAP Analytics Hub, another SAP Cloud Platform-based offering. A red flag for SAP BusinessObjects on-premise customers is this- “SAP has recently extended support for SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.2 by two years”. This “great news” means that End of Mainstream Maintenance for BI 4.2 now occurs on 12/31/2022 and End of Priority One Support Phase now occurs on 12/31/2024.

SAP is to be commended for its current strategy of continuous innovation via support packs, which will continue into 2018 with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Support Pack 6 being released in the July 2018 time frame and Support Pack 7 being released in the December 2018 time frame. However, contrary to any “rumors” that you may have heard, there are no current plans for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.3. This is unfortunate, because there are significant innovations that need to come to the BI platform but won’t on a support pack budget. And according to SAP’s roadmap, the BI platform will become an innovation-free zone, as any cool and modern technology will only be added to SAP Analytics Cloud.

SAP’s new analytics strategy has significant impacts for its customers who love the on-premise (but also cloud-ready) BI platform. Its strategy even has significant impacts for analytics professionals such as myself who find themselves at a skills crossroads. The SAP BI platform isn’t quite dead (heck, Desktop Intelligence has been dead for years and many of you are still out there using it!), but it’s no longer a solid foundation for a career with analytics- SAP or otherwise. I’ll be exploring both of these angles in future blog posts.

Nothing and no one goes unchanged. But for now, enjoy a two-minute, heart-pounding arrangement of “Everything Must Change,” performed by the world-champion Blue Devils drum corps in their 2017 show, “Metamorph”.

Is your organization’s analytics strategy changing in response to SAP’s recent announcements? Share your thoughts in the comments below.