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SAP Announces Predictive Analytics Software

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I just noticed that yesterday SAP announced the general availability of SAP Predictive Analysis software based on R and HANA.   I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out why SAS or SPSS wasn’t all over HANA given the incredible potential for real “real-time” analytics.  Now I know why.

http://www.sap.com/news-reader/index.epx?articleID=19981

I don’t know how robust the offering from SAP is at this point, but it can only get better as more and more analytical application developers adapt their offerings to R.

It remains to be seen how effective the SAP sales forces will be at “selling” analytics, especially since R is open-source.  I expect it will be more of a draw the other way, where R developers are interested in HANA as the underlying datastore for their applications.

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The BI Cliff

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Cliff Danger SignI was traveling the last two weeks spending time with customers.   Many of them are thinking about where they are going to make their IT investments for next year.

A common theme is the need for self-service BI – pushing reporting and light analytics out of IT and into the hands of the business users.   I know what you are thinking – we’ve been doing this for years (though some might argue, not so successfully).   The difference now is that many IT shops have no choice.  They are facing a BI Cliff that will hurt their credibility and create friction with their business users.

Business users are clamoring for “big data” analysis and “real-time” analytics.  We used to queue up their report requests and set delivery expectations for weeks (if not months).   Now they have the expectation they should have all data immediately for visualization and modeling.  And all this has to be done without increasing the IT resources requred to cater to their needs such as:

  • Request/Workflow management
  • Report Writers
  • Data Stewards
  • Programmers
  • Dashboard Developers
  • Business Analysts
  • Data Administrators
  • ETL Programmers

BI Cliff

In my consulting business, we work hard with the business users to help them to clearly identify, qualify, and prioritize their BI and analytic needs.  We put the onus on them to justify the business need and the investment required from their organization to do the reporting and analysis they think they need.   We help them to understand that they are responsible for data governance – that they own the data and must master what the data represents and how it can/cannot be used.    Only then do we begin the IT planning for new tools and capabilities to improve IT productivity or enable self-service BI.

At the end of the day, IT and Business are attached at the hip.  If IT gets pushed over the BI cliff, they will take the Business users with them.   And no one wants that.

A LIST For SAP HANA

November 8, 2012 1 comment

Katana SwordSAP HANA seems to be getting some traction.  I happen to believe in the future of in-memory databases.  It only makes sense that we should try and balance the mismatch between processor speeds and the availability of data for processing.

I think SAP has some work ahead of them marketing HANA.  Here is a LIST of things I think the need to start doing immediately to boost their chances of making it a generally accepted database in SAP and non-SAP accounts.

Language – SAP needs to own the term in-memory database.   In-memory is being widely used by Oracle and others to refer to lots of things that happen with data, without fitting the requirements for being a truly in-memory database as defined here .  The problem is that in-memory database may quickly become so over and mis-used it will become a useless marketing term like “big data”.  SAP needs to aggressively promote a strict definition for the label in-memory database and call out any vendor who misuses it.

Image– It’s hard for any database product to say it can do everything – we just don’t believe it anymore.   HANA needs to occupy one space in the mind of IT, and I believe that space is speed.   The advantages of data processing speed will apply regardless of where HANA is eventually applied, whether it is transaction processing or decision support, operational data store or data warehouse.   Everyone wants more data processing faster.   It is probably the most defensible position for HANA.

On a side note, I keep hearing HANA being pronounced as Hanna.   A woman’s name probably doesn’t invoke the image they are going for.   I would emphasize a pronunciation that rhymes with Katana – the deadly Japanese sword.

Sentiment – The Internet makes it possible to influence hundreds and thousands of potential HANA users negatively with a few key strokes.   SAP is going to have to actively monitor and immediately respond to mis-information and requests for information about HANA in every blog and competitor release.  Interestingly enough, the name HANA isn’t that hard to monitor because it is somewhat unique.

Technology – CIO’s and other IT leaders play an unfair game of chess every time they put together their IT strategy.   It’s them against IBM, Oracle, Accenture, and every other technology vendor who is playing their own strategy to take IT’s money and time.  And they don’t have to follow the rules – bypassing the CIO and going directly to business executives to change the rules.

SAP HANA is going to have to prove they are on the side of the CIO and working to advance his or her game.   They have to be proactive in presenting why HANA should be a new piece on the board, and how HANA will provide long-term strategic advantage for both IT and the business.   Speed will get HANA in the door, a viable strategic plan will keep it in the game.

I’m sure there are other points I could bring up, but then I couldn’t use my cute acronym LIST.   Besides, SAP will be busy with just these four for years to come.