Sap Analytics Shadow For Business Intelligence – Software Changes. Even when an app meets ALL requirements, we make changes until funding runs out or the software becomes obsolete. With the announcement that SAP will discontinue SAP Analytics Hub, I wonder how much “cycle” is left in the software life cycle? And my thoughts go to TechEd 2017, a time when SAP took a chance on a bit of
In the case of a hardware driver, for example, the codebase is left unaudited until it stops doing what it was designed to do. A new version of Windows comes out and we find bugs in the code, forcing changes, but otherwise the code sits dormant.
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But we don’t always do that with applications, do we? There is usually a unifying vision, something that binds together the vendor: executive sponsors, product owners, product managers, developers, and the customer: enthusiasts and casual users.
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Unfortunately, a large software company can only improve the software when all stakeholders believe in the same vision; if the vision is not aligned, the product becomes inferior or does not fulfill its purpose.
Although SAP plans to support Analytics Hub until the very last license expires, with the very last customer, the sunset means two things:
Yes, I think stakeholders are in conflict with SAP Analytics Hub, but I also think it’s a complete piece of software, it’s popular, and I think it serves its purpose. And maybe it’s time for a second look.
Fast forward to 2017. I had never been to TechEd before – so…I was all “Las Vegas, baby”. I was invited to join Ramu Gowda on stage for the unveiling of Lumira 2.0. To be honest, I loved Lumira and was happy to discuss it in front of hundreds of customers. But the beta test was a little rocky (to say the least), and I found my mind wandering to a new belle called SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC).
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In this TechEd 2017 clip, a 50-foot cartoon version of me opened the show and discussed our Lumira success story
I would cut my teeth on my “one hour dashboards”, rapid prototyping of hybrid dashboards with clients, aggregating data from a bunch of places to deliver real value in an hour. Lumira got me started and let me mix data from across the business in my browser, which was incredible, but SAC put me in the driver’s seat of HANA itself, making self-service a million times faster (literally).
That’s when Analytics Hub went right into my roadmap. I fluttered around the booth like a butterfly, sipping conversations with the SAC product team.
Analytics Hub was born out of an internal project at SAP. People were tired of searching for analytics, trolling SharePoint folders and BOBJ servers, copy/pasting web links to be saved in Outlook folders for years, until the links no longer work. They wanted something to open everything up for the company. It was a “free the data” campaign about mass, in a way that traditional IT has always been a bit uncomfortable with.
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That was the vision for Analytics Hub from the beginning – make it easy to open any analytics, or more specifically, any web page accessible from a URL. Any user can create an asset – throw in a photo, a description, add some metadata to the light database. And any user could access absolutely everything.
So I asked them the question they didn’t want to hear…how do I lock it?
You see, SAP Analytics Cloud has a team concept that works well. Sure, some content can be used by anyone. But when you create custom analytics and share them with your team, content goes viral—more of a controlled, corporate kind of “unleash the data” anarchy. In a silo, Analytics Hub is a good idea. But as part of the Analytics Cloud?
I worked at a company with thirty thousand people, and there were just some things we didn’t want to share with everyone. Cash handling? Competitive intelligence? Heck, with my government clearance and gig with a defense contractor – limiting information to a “need to know” basis was part of my job description.
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Analytics Hub was about freedom from boundaries, everything available to everyone. And when it was added to Analytics Cloud, it wasn’t really “inside” SAC. Users were assigned in the same location, but it was clear that the products are not fully integrated into the code base.
We talked. I got frustrated. The product team was convinced that adding role control to SAP Analytics Hub was counterintuitive to the product vision. And architecturally, I don’t know if that was even possible.
So, that was it. As a customer, my vision didn’t align with the product, so it wasn’t on my roadmap. I’m still a geek though, so I built a pretty flashy Analytics Hub, added some animated GIFs of my dashboards (since video wasn’t supported), packed my bags and moved on.
…but something new happened. The business value of having all your analytics in one place was something new. And in parallel, it was clear that you didn’t need to move data anymore, in fact, with HANA as an “engine” that mixes all your business data, we built a real-time digital boardroom like no one has ever seen. So as I rushed through makeup for an interview on “hybrid analyses” with Mike Flannagan, I was still putting the pieces together in my head…
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I heard the term “hybrid analytics” moments before this TechEd Live clip – but I had already taken the hybrid journey…
Fast forward to today, and the Analytics Directory is here. And anyone who has used it will tell you that it is not the same.
On the flip side, we get SO MUCH back. We get the ability to track usage (with the new SAC Usage Tracking package in the content network). We get a timestamp and username of who made changes. And we get role control with SAC Teams.
In the end, Catalog is really the product I wanted, with some compromises. Gone is Hub’s smart document workflow; we have to use a more manual process like with BOBJ, where only certain people can post, receive requests via email (or maybe the internal messages in SAC?).
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In return, Catalog gives us role control and a deeper integration, with a single sign-on to the SAP Analytics Cloud. Coming soon will be the ability to send variables to SAC Stories, opening up entirely new workflows for creating exciting personalized content.
And the roadmap is wide open. What do you want to see next? At Influence.SAP, customers can add suggestions and influence the direction of Catalog. Do we need a more robust workflow? Do we need more robust metadata?
I’m a witness to the power of combining agile cloud development teams with SAP Customer Influence – I’ve personally submitted over 200 enhancement requests for SAP Analytics Cloud, and dozens of them were released in the next version of the project. Such a thing would have been a dream in the days of on-site installations. Now users have just woken up to the possibilities of the cloud. In a way, these products belong to society in a way that was not possible before.
I recently spent a few days reviewing the changes SAP has made since 2017, and I find myself asking the same question: is the hub serving its purpose? In my hub beta I added a bunch of enhancement requests. And it looks like my requests made it into the final product… except for role control, which is getting its own product entirely, if you think about it.
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I think the answer is yes, in terms of data democratization, adding some “shadow IT” anarchy, the hub is perfect. It’s done. It’s a simple product with a simple purpose, and it accomplishes that. And SAP is committed to supporting it. But that’s not the future…
The Analytics Directory is just getting started. It meets most of the needs we have now, for most of the customers, and it’s ready to grow and change and become what we need next.
If the hub works for you over the next few years, it’s ready, waiting, and kicking. Sure, it won’t be anything else. But we don’t need it.
Lock in your licenses ASAP. Join the Influence program. Migrate on your own terms, when it makes sense. At the end of the day, it’s the same process for user administration anyway, so implementation becomes easy.
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And for everyone else? Maybe the hub didn’t meet your security requirements. Let’s talk about the Analytics Directory soon.
At the end of the day, we may be witnessing the sunset of the SAP Analytics Hub … but there is still a lot of room to explore on the horizon. You may not be aware of the term widget, custom or otherwise, but I’m sure you’ve used them before, even if you weren’t aware of it. Maybe you booked a seat for your flight or maybe you browsed through your favorite social media site, in which case you probably viewed or interacted with a widget.
Basically, a widget is a standalone functional element that can be embedded into websites or applications to provide
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