What I Learned about BI at SAP World Tour UK 2010

July 17, 2010
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The SAP World Tour touched down at the ICC in Birmingham in the UK on July 8th, part of a program covering 80+ cities across the globe. Business intelligence was featured heavily throughout the day: during the keynotes, on the show floor, in several innovation sessions, and a dedicated afternoon BI track. This post gives an overview of the day, discusses the content of sessions in the BI track, and includes links to all the presentation materials used.

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Tim Noble, the UK Managing Director, kicked the day off with a review of the current trends affecting technology and the economy as a whole, and reiterating SAP’s high-level strategic themes of On-Premise, On-Demand, On-Device, and Orchestration. If you’re interested in hearing more about this, check out the keynote videos from the SAPPHIRE NOW web site.

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Sanjay Poonen, SAP’s head of business user and line of business solutions, came up to present on the theme of customer-centric innovation, illustrated with customers who had used information to change the way they did business.

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The Guest Speaker for the event was Jonathan Neale, the Managing Director of the McLaren racing team (sponsored by SAP, among others), who gave a wonderful presentation explaining how his organization worked to increase their performance. He drew many parallels between the challenges of Formula 1 racing and the rest of the business world.

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For example, the team relies heavily on analytics to increase the driver performance, including real-time telemetry and benchmarking of the two drivers on the team, to ensure the best possible numbers at each point of the course:

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Video and GPS is used to work out the best line to take through each bend:

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And, just like in the business world, experience and intuition is important, and must be added into the analysis – in this case, the drivers’ hand-written notes about how they felt about the car’s handling at different points around the course:

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After lunch, the afternoon breakout sessions started, including a dedicated BI track, devoted to the BusinessObjects BI and EIM set of products.

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I kicked off the afternoon with a “mini-keynote” presentation on the Business Intelligence Future: Simple, Seamless, Social, and Strategic (very similar to previous presentations of the same title, if you’re already downloaded them). The slides are available for download in PowerPoint format or as an Adobe PDF document.

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Next up was a well-received end-to-end data-to-dashboard “demo fest” by Ian Henry and Barry Dodds (which I unfortunately missed because of journalist meetings – I hope to be able to follow up with their content at a later date).

Then Richard Neale talked about The Powers of Pervasion: the benefits of pervasive BI, and how to achieve it.

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Interesting statistics included: the benefits of widespread BI adoption, including improving the time required to gather information and to make decisions:

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Organisations with pervasive BI saw an average 24% increase in operating profit:

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The importance of self-service delivery of information as part of pervasive BI deployments:

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The best ways to improve and encourage BI usage:

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Recommended resources included several analyst white papers and the books “Competing on Analytics” and “Analytics at Work” by Thomas Davenport et al.

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Richard also outlined SAP’s four-step process for developing a solid BI strategy, with a series of interactive “playbooks” that help you guide through the process:

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Next came Dean Farrow, talking about the BI innovations in the XI 3.1 service packs 1 and 2, which contain more new features than you may have realized.

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Highlights in SP2 include:

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Highlights in SP3 include:

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Carl Streatfield followed up with an in-depth explanation of the BusinessObjects onDemand offerings

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  • No messy software install
  • No more service packs or bug fixes
  • No training staff on how to administer it
  • No need to buy, maintain a server and deal with IT
  • Always 24×7 availability
  • Multi-tenanted
  • OpEx rather than CapEx

And he outlined a list of questions that helps determine whether a BI OnDemand offer is the right fit for your project:

  • Are you on a tight time line?
  • Do you use Salesforce.com or any other SAAS offering?
  • Do you have tight IT resources (personal and hardware wise)?
  • Are you having challenges getting access to CAPEX?
  • Do you want share data with customers/partners?
  • Are you allowed to put data outside of your firewall?
  • Are there any legislative reasons why you can’t?
  • Do you absolutely need to connect to On-Premise data? (ie: BW)
  • Do you worry about peak usage on your BI system?

To round out the day, Andy Hirst covered the range of BusinessObjects Industry Business Analytics applications.

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Andy covered the range of analytic applications currently available:

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As well as their technical architecture, and details about each solution.

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Overall, it was a great day, and we look forward to doing the same next year!

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And here’s a full set of pictures from the event:

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