As always, I started the year picking my customers’ brains on what they would like to see happen in 2012 in their companies. I also checked in with a few colleagues to make sure what I am hearing is not isolated. These are all long existing SAP shops. I will restrict this post to discussions around BI to keep it brief.
It is kind of funny that every one of them said BI is top priority, and that they won’t do it anymore unless it worked well on iPads ( I hope they meant tablets in general, but literally they all said iPad) . One executive mentioned he does not care for iPad and that he needs his information on iPhone. Ease of development and deployment are pretty high on the agenda. I pointed everyone to Steve Lucas’ blogs right after I read it. I have not checked back for reactions yet.
Since I know the future of Xcelsius is a hot topic for my friends on twitter, I probed a little on that topic. Surprisingly – no one seemed to care a lot about Xcelsius itself working on iPad. They know the flash issue, and they all think SAP will do something to get them mobile BI. No one seemed to think SAP will just kill Xcelsius in a hurry either – they all firmly believed that if it were to go away, it will be a while later, and that they can migrate over. One CIO said – “I couldn’t care less about any given tool – all I need is good clean up to the minute information to show up for my users on their mobile devices. How a vendor makes it work is their problem, not mine”.
For a change, I did not have to tell any one about HANA – instead, customers have now started picking my brains on HANA. Today, after the SAP news on 160 million euros coming from HANA came out – I had 3 calls back to back from customers who wanted to do HANA. These are all people who shied away last year – and now they think it should have matured enough to give it a try. 2012 should see some significant traction on HANA – especially with BW . So far no one has told me they want to do a production BW on HANA, but they are willing to do POCs. That is not abnormal – most of my customers are significantly risk averse.
I was not surprised to hear the interest in BPC on HANA. I first hand know of customers who did not do BPC due to performance reasons. And now these folks are all happy to do POCs on BPC running on HANA the earliest they can.
But none of it is exactly new – more or less these just confirmed trends that I (and probably everyone else) knew and predicted. What was new – practically the first time customers actually brought it up seriously with me – is collaboration on BI. Many of them went through budget cycles recently – and complained bitterly that despite having had BI and planning solutions for ever, they still needed a lot of excel spreadsheets and manual intervention to make it work. And if I understood correctly – what they disliked most was the inefficient collaboration within the organization when it came to adhoc activities in planning. As one exasperated friend told me last week at the airport “if it is this hard to collaborate with people you see and talk to daily, is it any wonder that our vendors and customers find it painful to deal with us?”.
One BI manager and one controller brought up “actionable” BI. The point was fair “SAP and SIs have all told me for years about actionable BI. But till date I have hardly seen any actions that directly originate from BI” . Closed loop BI needs to get out of white papers and blogs and into customer sites – it is about time.
So I guess 2012 is starting on an optimistic note on SAP Business Analytics front – but we just need to make sure all the stuff works on iPad 🙂