SAP explains embedded analytics

SAP is rolling out more than 200 composite applications that the software maker said will drive embedded analytics into its core applications and place analytical tools in the hands of end users. In part one of a two-part interview, Roman Bukary, vice president of SAP's analytic applications, explains the difference between SAP's analytical products and analytics found in most databases, and the strategy behind SAP's embedded analytics push.

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What is the difference between SAP's embedded analytics and the analytics found in IBM's DB2 database and other database management systems?
[IBM] provides you with the infrastructure, the data warehouse and the optimized database. SAP doesn't do databases. Instead we rely on the presence of a DB2, an Oracle or a SQL Server underneath, in order to access the data that is stored in the environment.

The analytic technology is still seen as after-the-fact reports. In a world of analytics we said we've got SAP NetWeaver, and we've got the data warehouse and the experience. We've got a new design environment called Visual Composer.

We partnered with Macromedia for their Flex Compiler. Flex Compiler allows you to compose a user experience akin to a video game -- unlike anything in the traditional SAP environment.

We're making sure that the design environment is not code based, but is in fact widget based. We're making this stuff all highly interactive, simple to use, deploy and customize. We will prebuild these applications using our best business practices in order to make sure that you as a business person can immediately use it if you want to, but IT can easily customize it. Most importantly, we will connect transactions and analytics into a single composite analytic application where you see things, understand things, and you can immediately take action. To use these composite applications, do I need to build a data warehouse and run mySAP ERP?
You will need a data warehouse. That second part is completely up to you. You can run mySAP ERP, mySAP CRM or mySAP Business Suite, or you can be running none of those things. You could just be running the NetWeaver platform, deploy SAP analytics on top of that and utilize transactional capabilities on some other back-end application. How does SAP consider the difference between business intelligence and analytics?
At SAP we think about business intelligence as the tools or building blocks.

Business intelligence is the tools and the infrastructure, and analytics are the applications built on top of that. Analytics are designed to help you define, manage and track progress between execution and strategy.

Business intelligence is the data warehouses, a tool called ETL [extract, transform load], tools around OLAP [online analytical processing], tools around queries and tools around how to construct a data warehouse and a data mart. All those things are building blocks. Analytics is the application of those building blocks in order to serve a business function.

Related information:

SAP, Accenture energize xApps

SAP report card: NetWeaver, xApps slowly sink in

Crash course: NetWeaver

Some critics say these embedded analytics will turn all end users into business analysts, but not all employees want to be business analysts, and this could pose some challenges for enterprises in the future. What do you think?
The critics who say that do not fully understand what analytics or composite analytics really are and what is happening. This does not say that every employee is given all data and an existing crop of tools, because that's insanity and a perfect way to shut down a company.

The current tools by their very nature have done a disservice to the exact set of people they're supposed to serve. What we're doing is merging analytics and transactions. They merge in a function that is very basic, [in a way] to give the end user some options, and they merge in a way to support the strategy defined at the executive level.

As a corporate employee, you want to get the right information at the right time, so you can make the right decision. You don't want to have to dig into the data and learn arcane languages and yet another interface. This is why SAP introduced SAP analytics.

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