The first hint at this culling of the herd was the release of Crystal Reports for Enterprise (CRE) with it's BI4 platform update. This new tool looked exactly like Webi and Crystal had a baby and got the best DNA from each parent. The second, and more obvious signal is the eventual convergence of Xcelsius into the Zen product. With these releases SAP has signaled that they recognize just throwing half the product sheet out isn't good enough and that they need to step back and see what customers actually need NOW, not what they needed years ago.
So what do customers want/need? I think SAP has nailed this spot on by focusing on functions and users rather than tools.
- The core of BI consists of canned reports, currently serviced predominantly by Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence (Webi). CRE is clearly a first stab at converging those two toolsets into something that can be developed by developers in (hopefully) a block or line format with pixel-perfect visualizations from any data source and deliverable in any number of places.
- Self-service BI used to be the domain of Web Intelligence but quite frankly, it just isn't easy enough to use for most users. Unless you are a power user and live and breath the stuff, you don't want to generate a query and format a report. You want to see something more like Explorer, where you search for "Paris leather sales" and it spits you out a number. Power users want to go deeper, but they also want a more consumer-like experience, and Visual Intelligence (or Visi, part of the Explorer family) is going to make those people very happy. For those power-power users, SAP is also adding Predictive Analysis, something it can tightly integrate with its portfolio and not have to pass money down the line because they're just licensing another vendor's technology.
- Finally, there are BI applications, which go beyond just delivering data into something featuring more interactivity and extensibility than we've been able to provide before. If Zen can meet its somewhat lofty goals while still allowing non-developers to develop (as Xcelsius does), then I can buy into bringing all of those use cases under one umbrella.
Are there still open questions? Sure. Where does Exploration Views fit in (for my money, it is squarely between Core BI and Self-Service BI)? How do they invest in the future without letting their current tools die on the vine (as many have accused Xcelsius of doing)? How do they make sure they don't bet on the wrong horse (something something iPads and Flash)? When are they going to get the mobile piece right (they are getting closer but aren't quite there all the way across the platform)? When will Deski actually be blighted from the face of the earth (not soon enough)?
I know some are confused by the direction SAP is taking its BI portfolio, but I think this is just because most people simply haven't bought into SAP's new commitment to renewal. We aren't used to an enterprise vendor willing to invest so heavily into a completely new direction. Will this new direction give them some new license sales in the short term? Sure, but I don't think enough to offset the cost to develop it (most people with Explorer licenses don't even have to pay for Visi). SAP knows where they need to be in order to lead the market in 10 years, and they're willing to buy into that vision early.
Good summary. But what about Analysis Office? For the 16,000 SAP BW users this seems the most obvious migration path from BEX. I agree there needs to be a consolidation. Unless my calculations are incorrect I counted 9 BOBJ reporting tools. No wonder customers are confused especially when there is common functionality between tools.
The problem is that there are lots of presentations about reporting tool functionality but little about future consolidation (except Zen/xcelsius)
I purposefully left out the Analysis Suite (Zen included) because SAP has had absolutely zero messaging about it to non-BW shops. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't exist. In my humble opinion, SAP would be better served by just making BW work properly in the Universe paradigm and then we could all stop worrying about the differences between BW and everything else.
I'm sure some people will say I'm oversimplifying, but I don't care. I can ask for whatever it is that makes sense to me. :)
Received a comment through the backchannel that I wanted to address.ReplyDelete
"Right now I see too many tools. Webi, CR 2011, CRE, Analysis, Explorer, SAP Visi, Xcelsius, SAPZEN. If I share your optimistic view then, years from now, SAP users would end up with: Some Webi-CR crossbreed, SAPZEN, SAP BusObjects Explorer, SAP Visi, Analysis... still 5 separate tools, which is about four too many IMHO.
In the 21st century I cannot believe that not one tool is able to offer: Ad-hoc reporting, pixel oriented layout, and quick visualization. Maybe.. maybe another tool for dashboarding, but this tool also must be easy to use (meaning: not coding driven)."
Thanks, Andreas (https://twitter.com/#!/Xeradox).
I see your point, but I think you will, at the very least, never get below one tool for end users and one tool for not end users. Quite frankly, I'd hate to see one interface try to handle all of that -- can you imagine the flow chart of best practices you'd have to navigate for each different report! Something Xcelsius like for creating standard operational reports would be a nightmare compared to generating a query and just dropping somethings on.
A range of interfaces seems to be inevitable, given the wide breadth of different activities that fall under the notion of "accessing information" and the different types of device -- full clients (the comeback!), web, and mobile devices. But I do hold out hope that we'll be able to have more convergence in the future.ReplyDelete
One of the biggest changes is from "batch" to "flow" interfaces. To over-simplify: Webi is mostly "batch" -- you create a query, run it, and then manipulate the information within a "static interface". Explorer is mostly "flow" -- every click is in effect generating a "query" on the back end, and the "interface" changes to reflect where you are.
Looking forward, fast back-end architectures, touch interfaces, and better cross-platform standards (e.g. HTML5, when and if it's a really a standard) should let the industry come up with something that integrates accessing predefined content and exploring new content a bit more seamlessly...
Thanks for the comment, Timo.Delete
I think the concept of asking a question and formatting the results is something that less and less true "end" users will be willing to do in the future, and I think that's where things like Explorer will really start taking over for those one of questions.
Andreas J.A. (Xeradox):ReplyDelete
Right now I see too many tools. Webi, CR 2011, CRE, Analysis, Explorer, SAP Visi, Xcelsius, SAPZEN. If I share your optimistic view then, years from now, SAP users would end up with: Some Webi-CR crossbreed, SAPZEN, SAP BusObjects Explorer, SAP Visi, Analysis... still 5 separate tools, which is about four too many IMHO.
In the 21st century I cannot believe that not one tool is able to offer: Ad-hoc reporting, pixel oriented layout, and quick visualization. Maybe.. maybe another tool for dashboarding, but this tool also must be easy to use (meaning: not coding driven).
Iam very much interest to take training on online coaching on pega..for this i recommended you to this is a good online training on diffrent modules.ReplyDelete
the best pega Online Training training