In case you missed it, SAP participated in a webinar today hosted by Mico Yuk that discussed the strategy, direction, roadmap, and hype surrounding dashboarding within SAP BI. This was preceded by an official Statement of Direction (preserved here by the Xcelsius Gurus) and Adam Binnie blog, delivered simultaneously with a live blog from Pieter, and followed relatively quickly by the Diversified Semantic Layer, Dallas Marks, and ASUGNews. SAP has been rightly applauded for their transparency and frankness on the topic, as they really did answer a lot of questions honestly. Unfortunately, they had very few answers that pleased me as a classic BusinessObjects customer (I did find it interesting/telling that less than 50% of the audience fell into that category).
The news coming out of the webinar wasn't particularly earth-shattering. We found out at BI2012 that Xcelsius will add some HTML5 components and that they probably won't be slated for general availability (GA) for at least a year. We knew last year that there was a project underway to create a more robust analytic application creation tool (Zen) which won't be ready for a year. The one bit of new news released yesterday was that those two tools will eventually merge, but that isn't necessarily earth-shattering (and, as Dallas points out in his blog on the topic, that is what good enterprise software companies do). There is an argument that SAP has offered us too little/too late -- since it has been obvious for a LONG while now that the iPad has won, or at least will be winning for the foreseeable future -- but it makes sense that they would be slightly behind some smaller BI competitors. SAP can't reasonably spend all of its time on the bleeding edge of tech; sometimes they have to see what sorts of things catch on in the market and then build or buy appropriate solutions.
The problem I have is that SAP is now putting the lion's share of their analytics innovation into the SAP Business Warehouse (BW) basket. The Analysis Suite (in all of its versions) is currently heavily geared towards BW customers. Zen, which won't be GA for a year, will only support BW and HANA data sources out of the box. This means that if you don't use BW or HANA it'll be freakin' forever (all dates approximate) before you can use the tool. The message is now loud and clear: if you aren't using BW and/or HANA, you are at the back of the queue for innovation in SAP Analytics. BusinessObjects is still very much a world-class enterprise reporting solution and I don't think this webinar should or will lead anyone to scrap what they've already bought. I do think this trend should weigh heavily on BI prospects without an SAP back-end.
How patient is everyone willing to be?