SAP TechEd Madrid 2012 – A few personal take-aways

Having spent the last week in Madrid with colleagues from itelligence UK at SAP TechEd 2012 I wanted to reflect on a few things that caught my eye.

1.  Predictive Analysis

I was very impressed to see the integrated version of Visual Intelligence and Predictive Analysis with a simple workflow around Acquire  Predict and Share.  The combined app looks great and by sharing a codebase with SAP Visual Intelligence this should allow not only the development team at SAP to deliver even more even quicker but certainly helps simplify the proliferation of end user tools.  In this case the persona of a Data Artisan can widen out towards a Data Scientist in the one tool, and then share the resulting content using the growing functionality in the Visual Intelligence wrapper.  Practically this could be achieved as simply as the end user of Visual Intelligence clicking a button in the product to expand into a predicative persona and by entering a license key the product will morph into the fully featured Predictive Analysis tool.  But still with access to the growing functionality of Visual Intelligence.  Let’s hope I’m close when Predictive Analysis goes GA soon.

2. Design Studio

As many of you will know SAP Design Studio (Code name ZEN) went generally available during SAP Sapphire 2012 and was a focus in many of the Analytic presentations. The key things I took away from about are very succinctly outlined in the video below by Timo Elliott with Ian Mayor.
Simply, if you want to deliver pre authored Dashboards and SAP BW is the ONLY data source then SAP Design Studio should be your first choice.  But contrary to the video my personal opinion is that for pre authored Dashboards over multiple sources including BW and non SAP data sources don’t leap straight to the product called SAP Dashboards.  There are many options including, Web Intelligence and Exploration Views, start with the Use case and Persona and work back from there to select the right tool.
Also, there was a great customer presentation by Mark Cooper from British American Tobaccos (BAT) showing how “Analysis OLAP saved my life”.  When technical issues in a large scale BI4 over SAP BW project kept coming, Analysis OLAP just kept running seamlessly.  At the end of the presentation there was a clear statement that Design Studio is core to their strategy and it is the planned reporting service for “Formatted Reports”, “Analysis” and “Dashboards” from 2013/2014 onwards. A very bold and public statement of direction.

3.  SP05 and the new Mobile BI app due very shortly

SP05 for BI4 was also released days before SAP Sapphire 2012 and there is a great summary blog by Jonathan Haun, so no need for me to repeat the content when Jonathan explained it so well.
The next version of the Mobile BI App is due very shortly and will house not only Webi and Crystal reports as it does today but also Dashboards (Xcelsius) and Design Studio content.
Something to be aware of is that there are a few steps to take when deploying Dashboards to the Mobile app:
  • SP05 for the BI4 Platform and the Dashboard client are prerequisites
  • The dashboard needs to be migrated to using the HTML5 versions of it’s components.  There will be a helpful wizard but be aware not all components are available in HTML5 so there may be some rework or redesign necessary.

4. Web Intelligence delivering Mobile Interactive Dashboards

I was sitting in on a hands on session creating analytic content for mobile use (Webi reports on the iPad) when I had one of my infrequent moments of inspiration.  I got carried away and tweeted something like “Web Intelligence on the iPad is another nail in the coffin of Xcelsius”.  I will save the full details for another blog but I spent half an hour between sessions with a cup of tea mapping out a few of my thoughts below:

5. Visual Intelligence

Well, Visual Intelligence just keeps getting better.  During SAP TechEd version 1.0.7 of the product was released.  To me there a few key advancements …


Removal of 15m cell limitation at acquisition time for offline sources
2. 32 Bit support
Not my personal favourite but I’m assured by a number of people I have spoken to that this is very important going forward.
3. Edit an acquired data source
Sounds simple but you can now add or remove columns from an acquired data source by selecting Data > Edit source.
4. New data type conversion option for Manipulation Tools    Available for number and text data.
So much easier than writing custom formulas for the end user.

6.  Meeting up with old friends and making new

To be honest the most fun I had this year was catching up with old friends from when I worked at BusinessObjects as it was then and especially meeting face to face so many people I engage with on Twitter.
Thanks to all the following for taking the time to chat.
  • Mani Srinivasan  @mani_srini
  • Lars Schubert  @graphomate
  • Roger Mathias  @rogermathis
  • Mark Cooper @McBobJ
  • DJ Adams  @qmacro
  • Tim Guest  @TimTheGuest
  • Nick Wall  @nickwallSAP
  • Varik Torsteinsen @varikt
  • Martin Walker
  • Paul Barker

2 thoughts on “SAP TechEd Madrid 2012 – A few personal take-aways

  1. Andrew, good post – the proof? I wish Ian and I had included your point about dashboards in our video… As I discussed with Donald MacCormick in a separate video, the notion on “Dashboard” is a moving target as technology changes, the “old-style” use case is diminishing as people want more flexibility – and so other more exploration-oriented tools are appropriate, too….

    • Thanks for taking the time to not only read, but also leave a comment.

      I agree that peoples interpretation and definition of what is a dashboard is moving away from the academic view to the world of BI Apps that Donald is so passionate about. I still advocate a dashboard can be defined as “A display of Grids and Graphs that have been attractively displayed so they can be read and acton identified in seconds” but I’m having to rethink and see where interactivity and exploration can weave into the definition.

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