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.


New BI Launch Pad Customization in SAP BI 4.2 SP5

A new and much welcome enhancement for the BI Launch Pad logon screen.

Although SAP is spending most of its analytics budget developing SAP Analytics Cloud, innovation is still happening on the BI Platform. In SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP5 (released in December 2017), SAP has introduced a new property for controlling the behavior of the Authentication drop-down box on the logon screen.

The behavior of the logon screen can be customized by copying the default BILaunchpad.properties file from C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\default to the adjacent directory C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom (see my original article about BI customization, Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 and BI 4.2).

A new property- logon.authentication.visibleList– now joins authentication.default and authentication.visible that controls which authentication types appear in the authentication drop-down list. By default authentication.visible is set to false, but most organizations have to set it to true so the Administrator can choose Enterprise authentication and everyone else can choose something like Windows AD, LDAP or SAP authentication.

logon.authentication.visibleList property for BI Launch Pad customization

Here is how the default list logon.authentication.visibleList=secLDAP,secWinAD,secSAPR3,secOraApps,secPSE1,secpsenterprise,secSiebel7,secEnterprise appears.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

The new logon.authentication.visibleList parameter not only controls which authentication types are displayed, but also the order(!) that they are displayed in. As an example, I’ll move secEnterprise from the beginning to the end of the list.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

And here’s what it looks like when I shorten the list to only the desired authentication types.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

IMPORTANT: Remember that you must copy the contents of C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom to C:\SAP BusinessObjects\SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0\warfiles\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom before applying any patches, as the latter is the location the patch installer will redeploy web applications from. I also recommend keeping copies of any customized files on a project intranet or some other location that isn’t a SAP BusinessObjects server.

This small enhancement to the BI platform is a big deal that enables BI teams to simplify the interface, reducing both human error and help desk calls. I’m eagerly looking forward to additional BI platform enhancements that we’ll see later this year in BI 4.2 SP6 (July 2018 timeframe) and BI 4.2 SP7 (December 2018 timeframe).

State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade – February 2018

SAP BusinessObjects 4.1, SAP Lumira 1.x and SAP Design Studio 1.x maintenance all come to an end in 2018. Here’s how to plan for the future.

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these “State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade” articles. In fact, I didn’t write one at all during 2017. But there are some key events happening in 2018 that are going to affect BI strategy for many SAP customers.

Read the State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade – February 2018 on the SAP Community site.

I wrote the article one week before Michael Flannagan posted his Deeper Look into SAP’s BI and Analytics Strategy, but the points are still valid for SAP customers using the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite.

SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, Fourth Edition

The best book on SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence is now even better.

Today is an important day for SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence users. I’m proud to announce that the fourth edition of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide is now available in both hardcover and electronic formats from SAP Press.

The book has been significantly updated to include features from SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2 Support Pack 4, the latest release. You can learn more and order from my book page.

SAP Lumira 2.0 compatibility with SAP BI platform

Which versions of the BI platform are compatible with SAP Lumira 2.0?

I imagine that most organizations will combine SAP Lumira 2.0 SP2/GA with an upgrade to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 Patch 1. However, according to the PAM, the SAP Lumira add-on to the BI platform is compatible with recent support packs of BI 4.1. Note that due to an issue with promotion management (see SAP Note 2437742), those support packs will also need to be patched.

The following versions of the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform are compatible with SAP Lumira 2.0/GA and promotion management:

  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP8 Patch 10 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP9 Patch 5 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP10
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP2 Patch 12 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP3 Patch 8 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 Patch 1 or higher (see also SAP Note 2467541)

Multilingual organizations that rely on Translation Manager will want to consult SAP Note 2515265, which requires even higher patch levels. NOTE: not all have been released as of this writing):

  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP8 Patch 11 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP9 Patch 6 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP10 Patch 1 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP2 Patch 13 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP3 Patch 10 or higher
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 Patch 3 or higher (see also SAP Note 2467541)

You’ll also want to read Matthew Shaw’s SAP Community blog, A ‘simple’ guide to Updating (Upgrading) your SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform – the rules.

What are your organization’s plans for SAP Lumira 2.0? Leave a comment below.

Where Can I Find the Sizing Companion for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2?

After a three-year hiatus, the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Sizing Guide receives some much-needed updates.

For those of you living with the previous edition of the sizing guide, last updated on February 20, 2014, you’ll be pleased to know that an update is now available.

The new version of the sizing guide is dated “June 2017” and has been updated with information about the latest release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 support pack 4. The old Xcelsius-based BI4 Resource Usage Estimator, also known as the BI4 Sizing Estimator, has been retired in favor of the standard SAP Quick Sizer. The document also includes updated sizing guidance for Web Intelligence.

For more information on sizing SAP analytics products, visit Sizing SAP Solutions at http://www.service.sap.com/sizing on the SAP Service Marketplace (S-ID required). Go to Sizing -> Sizing Guidelines -> Analytics, as shown below.

SAP Sizing Site

But you won’t find the updated SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Sizing Guide there. At least not yet. But you can find it at a new wiki, on the Sizing and Deploying SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.x Platform and Add-Ons page.

SAP Sizing Wiki for SAP BusinessObjects

This sizing document is extremely important to SAP BI professionals and we’re grateful to see it continue to receive updates. Much thanks to Sathish Rajagopal and everyone at SAP who had a hand in creating the latest iteration of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Sizing Guide!

SAP Insider Reporting & Analytics 2017 INTERACTIVE

Join me in Las Vegas for SAP Insider’s Reporting & Analytics 2017 conference!

Join me at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 29 – December 1, 2017 for Reporting & Analytics 2017 INTERACTIVE, just one of the four events SAP Insider has organized. The event is co-located with Managing your SAP Projects 2017, Cybersecurity for SAP Customers 2017, and SAP Cloud Platform Seminar. Your registration will allow you access sessions across all 4 events at no additional cost.

Secrets of a Business Intelligence Barista

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 / 4:20 PM – 5:20 PM / Sunset 2

Attend this session to learn how you can build a team that is both business-savvy and tech-savvy while looking to the neighborhood coffee shop for inspiration. You’ll be better prepared to build better BI solutions “from the grounds up” by putting the right BI tools on the menu, providing both instant (self-service) and barista (IT-supported) offerings, rewarding your best customers, and giving passionate customer support. By attending, you learn:

  • How to create a “third place” between a business user’s cubicle and the IT department
  • Methods to map business requirements to their appropriate “quadrant”
  • Why the “self-service BI” quadrant isn’t necessarily the “magic” quadrant
  • How to teach these principles in your organization

Take home a sample quadrant diagram to map existing users and applications.

Best Practices for Managing Universe Design Projects

Thursday, November 30, 2017 / 10:15 AM – 11:15 AM / Sunset 2

A well-designed universe is the foundation for a successful business intelligence project and satisfied users, but many universe design projects are doomed before a developer opens the Information Design Tool. A successful universe relies on effective project management as much as technical skill. This session is designed for non-technical BI managers and analysts as well as seasoned universe designers and will share best practices for each stage of the universe lifecycle. You will:

  • Gain a detailed understanding of project objectives for each stage of the universe design lifecycle — Prepare, analyze, plan, implement, test, deploy, and maintain
  • Learn key questions that project managers should be asking at each of the 7 lifecycle stages
  • Apply lessons from agile methodology such as breaking a large universe project into multiple smaller sprints and paired programming