About Andrew Fox

I have a wealth of Business Intelligence experience from working in the sector for over 15 years and work within the solution visioning business unit of itelligence UK specialising in SAP BusinessObjects technologies including SAP BusinessObjects BI suite, SAP Lumira and SAP Mobile BI. I am also a UK&I SAP User Group volunteer and chair of the Special Interest Group for Data Visualisation and Dashboard Design. Additionally, I am also a member of a number of SAP influence councils where SAP seeks guidance for product enhancements from the SAP Partner community. Most importantly, I am Dad to 3 wonderful kids, Husband to an accommodating wife and committed Christian. Interests inc. Racing my 30 yr old classic car (MG BGT), Field Sports, Shooting, Dog Walking and Scouting where I am a Cub Scout Sectional Assistant .

Exploring Eurovision with SAP Lumira2

Father forgive me as it has been about 2 years since my last confession.

Confession via facebok

Well not exactly but it has been some time since my last blog.  Since joining SAP it has been full on and now I’m back in the Analytics world and can lift my head up and get back to the Blog.

Those of you in Europe will know this weekend is the annual spectacle that is Eurovision.


This year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be 62nd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and it is taking place in Kiev, Ukraine.

What is Eurovision?

The Eurovision Song Contest started in 1956 is the longest-running annual international TV singing competition.  It is held primarily among the member countries of the European Union and was based upon the existing Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy since 1951.

Each participating country submits an original song that is performed live on television & radio and then countries casts votes for the other countries’ songs to determine the most popular song in the competition.

The contest is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world and is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world (audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally)

Why am I interested?

I am always looking out for fun data sets to explore and when I saw in the TV listings that is was Eurovision this weekend I went on the hunt for a data set.  Needless to say, there are data sets out there but they are on an annual basis.  So, after bribing my teenage son to copy and paste from a web page 61 times I have a dataset.

What did I find when looking at the data?

Well surprisingly I found out that the UK are really not that bad.

My recent memory was that we aren’t that great this can be seen in the decline in placing since the late 1990’s.Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 19.43.31

How did I find this out?

I used a beta release of SAP Lumira 2 to visualise the data.and asked the usual questions, Which country has won the most times?  Which country has been placed 2nd the most times?

As I went through I spotted the UK was on the positive side of the rankings every time!


The UK really aren’t that bad at Eurovision.

How did I come to this conclusion?

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 19.14.43Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 19.14.57Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 19.15.06Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 19.15.16Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 19.15.30

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 20.16.32


A SAP DataGenius goes on tour to Washington DC

SAP Product Marketing in Vancouver recently asked me to support this year’s iteration on the DataGeek initiative that has been rebranded as DataGenius.

I have been a global finalist of the predecessor DataGeek a couple of times and this year I have been asked support the entrants with comments and feedback on their entries as a SAP DATAGENIUS MENTOR.   DataGenius Website

What a great opportunity to support the SCN community I thought, but it didn’t stop there…. It actually led me to a two day community data event in Washington DC.

How did the adventure begin? 

SAP were asked by The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to look at ways of to improve how they report and visualize data.

PEPFAR is a U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. PEPFAR is implemented as a collaboration of multiple U.S. Government agencies and is coordinated by the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

A few SAP Mentors and myself were provided with both public facing and internal datasets to work on but we had under a week to share our thoughts as to how improvements can be made.

As always there was a data challenge to take the internal spreadsheets with data in pivot tables (30+ columns and >300 rows) and restructure those in flat data files. Thanks to Dave Pugh from UK EIM Pre Sales for his support in using Data Services to achieve this.

The data was randomized before it was sent to us so I can share an excerpt of the original file. The most politically correct statement I can use would be is that PEPFAR have adopted the Red, Amber & Green (RAG) status with gusto.
PEPFAR Spreadsheet

So taking the RAG status model as an inspiration I built out a SAP Lumira storyboard showing other ways the data could be visualized. The mission statement I had in mind for the storyboard was to enable an Executive to focus in on those geographies and KPIs of concern.

Lumira 1 Lumira 3 Lumira 6 Lumira 7

 The middle:

 PEPFAR we so happy with the visualizations that Geoff Peters from SAP Vancover and I had produced for them they wanted them to be shown as an example at a Community Data event in Washington DC over the weekend of 18-19 Sept.

 Not only did they want SAP to share the work but also Geoff and I to present in person with just 4 days notice to get organized. No pressure …..

This Community Data event was for members of the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data. This event brought together Senior Fellows, US Government Policy Makers & Senior Advisors, Economic Advisors, UN Senior Program Officers, Open data enthusiasts and a couple of SAP Data Geeks !  As many of you who know me appreciate I’m always happy to present at conferences but the enormity of this had no time to sink it.  

 The event was enlightening to me personally in how gathering, sharing and interpreting data is seen as core for sustainable development. Plus the enthusiasm from all attendees whatever their role in the global partnership was inspirational.  

What’s next

 On September 25-27, 2015, 193 global leaders, from government officials to NGO’s/charities (possibly including President Barack Obama and someone senior from SAP), will be meeting at or around the United Nations Summit in New York City to officially ratify 17 Sustainable Development Global Goals.

These 17 Sustainable Development Global Goals aim to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years:

  • End poverty,
  • Fight inequality & injustice,
  • Fix climate change

Global Goals screenshot

It’s really rewarding that a challenge from PEPFAR to help improve their data visualization can be a step along the way of SAP’s involvement in the United Nations Sustainable Development Global Goals

Buying SAP HANA is like buying an Electric Vehicle



I’m just finishing week 3 at SAP having just joined the Platform Solution Group for Database and Technology. So far I have been immersing myself in all things HANA related and found myself using the analogy, Buying SAP HANA is buying an Electric Vehicle, to draw together many different strands of information in one place.

Timo Elliots cartoon below is the best way I can describe my life for the last three weeks…..



In the last few years there have been numerous comparisons of SAP HANA with the Tesla electric car but these in the main focus on innovation and simplicity.

Compare the hybrid approach with the approach taken by Tesla Motors in the development first of their Roadster and subsequently their Model S. When Tesla set out to build an electric car, they didn’t take a conventional car and start bolting additional stuff onto it. They started from scratch. As a result, they produced a fully electric, zero-emissions vehicle that can blow the doors off conventional high-performance Vehicles (much less hybrids). A Tesla doesn’t even have a transmission; it doesn’t need one.    Tesla didn’t add. They subtracted”. https://blogs.saphana.com/2014/06/02/getting-to-know-sap-hana-part-2-the-power-of-subtraction/ Posted by Irfan Khan on June 2, 2014

My analogy is somewhat different, Buying HANA is like buying an Electric Vehicle

Not everyone has uses electric vehicles today but their popularity is increasing.  This is evident not just through statistics but seeing them is now common place in inner cities and more and more evident on the motorways around the UK that I frequent daily

According to Wikipedia (so it must be true :-)) As of December 2014, over 712,000 highway legal plug-in electric passenger Vehicles and light-utility utility vans have been sold worldwide since 2003, which represent about 0.06% of the world’s stock of motor vehicles.  During 2014 six countries achieved plug-in electric car sales with a market share higher than 1% of total new car sales and The United States is the leading market with a stock of over 290,000 plug-in electric Vehicles sold since 2008, representing 41% of global sales.

These statistics are encouraging in terms of global adoption, and they got me thinking ….  Are there parallels between the Adoption of Electric Vehicles and Technology Adoption, more specifically SAP HANA?

Every new technology goes through an adoption life cycle in which certain audience segments adopt a product before others are willing to do so.The diffusion of innovations according to  Everett Rogers shown below outlines the stages of adoption.  The lifecycle can be summarized as follows: With successive groups of consumers adopting the new technology (shown in blue), its market share (yellow) will eventually reach the saturation level.


Based on the current adoption statistics from Wikipedia above EV’s are breaking out of the Innovators stage into Early Adopters. Can the same be said for SAP HANA ?  It certainly feels so to me.

In the diffusion of innovations according to Everett Rogers Diffusion occurs through a five–step decision-making process:

  • Knowledge
  • Persuasion
  • Decision
  • Implementation
  • Confirmation

In the persuasion stage early adopters seek out information about the new technology and move onto the decision stage, weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of the new technology to reach a decision on whether to adopt …  or not.  It feels to me that this five step process is as relevant in the decision of whether to buy an Electric Vehicle as it is to investing in SAP HANA.  Do you agree?

When thinking about the Adoption of EV’s it also occurred to me there are many similarities with the questions and activities you may go through when considering buying an Electric Vehicle to those when taking the plunge in SAP HANA.

  • Why am I doing this?  (Save £$ or Save the planet)
  • I am adopting too early?
  • How long until I see a break even on my investment v’s what I use today?
  • There are only a few manufactures with a small selection of models
  • I know it’s the future but Why Now?
  • I have the skills to repair my existing car but I will have no idea with this new one
  • Is the infrastructure in place to support my charging needs
  • Electric Vehicles are expensive today in comparison to their Petrol counterparts. Should I hold on until they get cheaper?
  • Are electric vehicles cheaper to maintain?
  • Should I try a Hybrid or go all in on fully electric?
  • I’ll definitely need to test out its performance for myself.

In Part Two of this blog I will walk through the questions above and try and answer them from the SAP HANA perspective.

In closing

There is a widely held view that Electric Vehicles are the future for transportation so it’s a WHEN should we take the plunge in adopting this innovation rather than an IF we should adopt.  The clear messaging from the top echelons of SAP is that HANA is a core foundation to the future of SAP technologies. In the not too distant future everyone using SAP will use HANA, whether they know it directly or not (with it being the enabler in the background).

run hana

SAP TechEd && d-code 2014 Las Vegas – Day 2, Tuesday

Back in September I posted a corporate blog explaining that Itelligence had been asked to present at this year’s SAP TechEd event in Las Vegas.

I delivered the session titled SAP Lumira – Tips, Tricks, and Community Experiences from the Real World on Tues 21/10.  The room was packed with approximately 150 attendees and I have been told that it was the best attended session in the whole community stream of sessions.

EA119 2

In the presentation I shared a number of real life use cases from itelligence and from the wider SAP community plus feedback, challenges and opportunities for the SAP Lumira technology.   If you have never heard of SAP Lumira before it is a fast-moving data visualization tool that connects to SAP and non-SAP data and allows data manipulation, visualization, and sharing.

As a presenter feedback, good or bad, it is always great to receive so I was really encouraged when two separate people approached me directly.

The first was at a SCN community evening event where for fun attendees were given data sets by Medicines Sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders) and they used SAP Lumira to try and answer some real world questions proposed by MSF (For more information on MSF and SAP community commitment to then have a look here).During the session a gentlemen strode right over whilst I was “geeking out” and thanked me for the session earlier in the day and said “It was the best session he’d attended all day”. If that wasn’t a great way to finish off a day at SAP TechEd  it got better as the combined itelligence, EVTechnologies and SAP Hana Cloud team came 2nd overall in the light hearted competition.

The second one, was on the early morning (06:00) Sap Community Network 5K Fun Run, where someone ran up to me and said “Hey, I was in your session yesterday, it was great” before I could reply he sped off and left me for dust!

5K fun photo

If the session on SAP Lumira is of interest to you I will be replaying it at the UK&I SAP Usergroup Conference  in November.

SAP TechEd && d-code 2014 Las Vegas – Day 1, Monday


Day one of SAP Teched 2014 finally arrived.  Feelings of anticipation and expectation to name but a few……2014-10-20 06.58.43-1

Registration was seamless, at 07:00 there were lots of people around but the lines were short.

2014-10-20 07.32.28

The whole days agenda culminated with the keynote address by Steve Lucas.  I have heard Steve speak many times on webinars and live video streamed events but his enthusiasm and passion really comes over in person when speaking to the 7000+ attendees.

The keynote was good to listen to and certainly entertaining. But, it’s only upon reflection that the change in style came apparent, 90% (loosely) of the content were real life stories and cutting edge demos facilitated by Steve. A refreshing change and appreciated by the delegates.  Each sound-bite was different but with the common theme of the HANA Cloud Platform, the only divergence from this messaging  was a core SAP Lumira demo from Jayne Landry Global VP & GM, Business Intelligence.

Birst BI had a notable mention quietly promoting that they are the first third-party cloud analytics provider to run on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

I could not wrap up without mentioning Vijay Vijayasankar from Mongo Db. I follow Vijay and have chatted with him on social media a few times. It was great to see him present in person and a great example of SAP for working technology partners to drive collaboration and innovation.

Tomorrow (Tues) is a jam packed day of great content plus I am presenting in the Community Stream on SAP Lumira – Tips, Tricks, and Community Experiences from the Real World.  Finally, late into the night, there is a SAP Lumira Viz-a-thon  in conjunction with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) where participants will learn to use SAP data discovery technology (SAP Lumira) using MSF data to visualize and gather compelling insights to help Doctors Without Borders improve their organization and lives around the world.  Sounds fun, I’ll be there.