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Just-BI at SAP TechEd 2016: Highlights for everybody!

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Early November almost the entire Just-BI crew went on a memorable field-trip to sunny Barcelona. Memorable for a couple of reasons:

  1. Our yearly injection of knowledge on SAP’s latest and greatest innovations at SAP TechEd celebrated its 20th anniversary! Of which 13 of them Just-BI has always been well represented.
  2. It was the very first time we had it combined with the yearly Gartner symposium. Highlights of that event can be found in Hassan Laktit’s blog.
  3. And last but not least, The Donald made it into American history books… How Snoop Dogg eloquently described it:

Source Instagram

OK, let’s not get into political deliberations on the President-elect of the US of A (although I’m tempted to…) and get back to why we’re here.


So the Just-Hoodies parted ways with the Just-Suits, and went in deep for three days of lectures, hands-on workshops, roadmap sessions and meet with kindred spirits from SAP customers, consultancy firms and SAP Product development teams themselves.

We recently had an internal recap session trying to digest all the information we took home with us, and I’ll summarize the key takeaways of SAP TechEd 2016.


The biggest theme ahead for SAP is – you guessed it – BIG data and the “things” that will generate most of that data. All of this data potentially has some hidden business value so we need to safeguard that into another buzzword being the data lake. Different non-SAP (open-source) software is out on the market to fill the data lake. But without proper data management on topics like data ownership, data provenance (what is the origin of it), data quality and semantics, the lake could easily become a swamp!

To actually make sense and get new insights from this newly generated data, SAP introduced SAP HANA Vora in 2015 which is an Apache Spark plug-in that enables analytical capabilities on for example Hadoop data.

Fishing for business value


For advanced analytics, SAP offers Predictive Analytics (PA) in which the latest version 3.0 takes Automated Analytics (former KXEN technology) one step further with the so-called Predictive Factory using a Fiori-based UI for automated model management. What this boils down to is models are checked for deviations and automatically retrained. This all sounds really promising but still if the human factor is not taken into account ugly things can happen!


HANA as Digital Core

At the heart of all SAP’s innovations is still SAP HANA which has been on the market now for 5 years. A period in which HANA has been enhanced at a dazzling speed. These innovations will continue in the “newly” introduced SAP HANA 2: keeping the twice-yearly platform updates. Customers, who are gasping for breath, trying to keep up with these updates and testing effort, can now choose to stay on HANA 1.0 SPS 10-12 which will stay in maintenance until May 2019.

One of the major changes is the new application server approach dubbed XS Advanced, initial version introduced in SPS 11 and now maturing in SPS 12. Primary advantages of this new approach are:

  • Branching: multiple versions of “same” application on same platform
  • Containerization: increased stability and dependency management
  • Scalability: Scale out application layer independently of DB

However, it has quite an impact on legacy applications because it is fundamentally different in how repository objects are handled and with that handling of authorizations and privileges.


With the recent launch of BW4/HANA, the HANA-only version of SAP’s EDW application, you can notice SAP is pushing HANA even more aggressively to its customer base. All EDW innovations are centered around the HANA platform to really position BW4/HANA as the future-proof data management platform for analytics.


Added complexity lies in the fact that legacy BW applications will most likely not fit the new format and perhaps greenfield re-implementation might be the best thing to do. ( SAP: “Classic objects in BW-on-HANA can be semi-automatically migrated into SAP BW/4HANA compliant objects.”…….)

Embedded operational analytics

Most of the traditional BW applications are centered on operational reporting with little Act in the PDCA-cycle. With the growing adoption of S4/HANA and its capabilities for allowing analytics directly on real-time operational data, this opens the door for true actionable BI. Being able to integrate embedded analytics directly into the business processes will definitely have its impact.


What about Frontend?

Finally, in the Frontend arena the dust seems to have settled down in the plethora of different SAP frontend tools with partially overlapping functionality:


Lumira Studio will be the one tool where Design Studio (dubbed Lumira Designer) and Lumira Desktop (rebranded Lumira Discovery) are merged into.

Next to that SAP’s cloud offering BO Cloud is evolving at a breakneck speed with new functionalities added every two weeks. Primary focus will be on adding Data Connectors to SAP cloud and on-premise back-ends and unstructured data sources.

Work hard, play harder

With all this overload in tech talk, we really needed to rinse it down with a couple of drinks and digest it. Luckily for the 2nd time with TechEd in Barcelona, the infamous TechEd party was at the beachfront in 4 hip-and-happening clubs. With a predominantly male attendance, it’s quite hard to get a dance floor burning, but one of Just-BI’s unique features in IT Consultancy land is our 40 % Just-ladies contingent. And boy, do they know how to get a club full of geeks hit the dance floor in some fierce dance-offs and mean limbo-dancing!

When to use what and why, and how to get there?

IoT, Big Data, Vora, PA, HANA, XSA, BW4/HANA, DT, ILM, DLM, NLS, SDA, SDI…. I can imagine this flood of technology acronyms can make you feel a bit confused and lost. If you feel like you need a shoulder to cry on, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help you find your way again.

This article belongs to
  • Big Data
  • HANA
  • IoT
  • S4HANA Analytics
  • SAP Teched
  • Vora
  • Glenn Cheung