The self-service BI battlefield


The self-service BI battlefield


Visiting SAP’s annual main event SAPPHIRE in the beginning of June in Orlando, one of my main goals was to make sense of SAP’s strategic vision around its business intelligence (BI) roadmap. SAP has a wide portfolio of BI platforms resulting from acquisitions and own development including the NetWeaver Business Warehouse, Business Objects BI stack, Predictive Analysis, KXEN, Lumira, and Design Studio, to mention the key ones. A pattern seemed to emerge, where generic enterprise BI is splitting into three distinct areas of:



In particular, self-service BI appears to be the imminent next battlefield. According to Gartner, the total global market for BI platforms was estimated at $14 billion in 2013. However, there still exists a vast untapped potential in the huge amount of business users who do not yet today use much BI, because of its complexity or cost. In fact, SAP estimates that the generic business users will become the overall largest consumer group of BI in 5-10 years’ time.

Specifically, self-service BI bridges some of the gaps that traditional enterprise BI platforms fall short of, including:

Of course, the rise of this market has been going on for quite some time. Innovative players such as Qlik and Tableau have been busy building this market with solutions that offer a lot of eye candy and comfortable end-user experience.

Hence, SAP cannot afford to sit in the sidelines – and, of course, they don’t. Instead, SAP is betting heavily on SAP Lumira to become the platform of choice for self-service BI by putting a staggering 600 developers behind the product.This enables a fast development cycle with new releases out every 6-8 weeks!



However, SAP is still very quiet on its partner strategy around Lumira. As Lumira is fairly straight-forward to implement and requires little customization work the way traditional enterprise BI does, the big question is where lies the beef for SAP partners in promoting SAP Lumira? Topped with a potential to cannibalize some of the BO/BW work (the bread-n-butter for many partners), this does not really spell a hot product for partners to push forward no matter how appealing its features.

I tried to find an answer to this question at SAPPHIRE from both SAP people as well as the partner community. However, mostly what I got as was blank stares. Some suggested that implementation of the Lumira Server on top of HANA would bring some beef, but soon admitted that this joy is quite short-lived.

I think that SAP cannot afford to miss out on leveraging the huge partner network and its sales power when taking on Qlik and Tableau head-on. The battlefield is already congested enough, and extending it also to partners would not make much sense. Therefore, I would love to hear SAP share its plans on how it plans to win the battle of self-service BI together with its partner community. For SAP and its partners, finding innovative ways of joining forces would be a win-win coalition in the arising battle for the business users’ hearts!

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Jani Puroranta