The SAP tools you need for truly agile Business Intelligence

1 November 2016

David Gillaspy

David Gillaspy

Former Consultant

Following on from looking at the differences in methodologies between Agile and Enterprise implementations within Business Intelligence (BI) in my previous post, I’m going to be examining how the tools that SAP offers help realise the Agile BI concept.

“The times they are a–changin’”

Bob Dylan couldn’t have put it more aptly. The landscape of BI tools on offer have moved apace allowing genuinely agile BI to be delivered. As Boris Evelson, Forrester Research explains:

Agile BI = Agile BI development methodology + agile BI architecture + BI self-service”.


So for us to get Agile BI with its rapid return on investment and have the ability to give business users self-service capabilities, we need the agile architecture and the BI self-service tools. If we look at SAP S/4HANA we have a toolset that is able to deal with the all the data needed in a single database through its in-memory capabilities: no creation of different databases and no need for aggregation. Out of the box toolsets, to acquire data, also speed up development time. The offering can be delivered in the cloud, taking away many setup, management and support functions, thus giving a rapid deployable, scalable architecture. There is no explicit design phase or deployment required for this section. Truly agile BI architecture.

Discovery BI tools such as Lumira and Web Intelligence give the self-service aspect for the end user, with drag and drop functionality and a user friendly interface allowing end users to rapidly become masters of their own data and explore and answer questions on the fly. Combined with the lack of need for aggregation in HANA, IT doesn’t have to get involved to create data marts to do this. Cloud analytics offer a software–as-a-service solution to the end user allowing all the analytic offerings in a single platform, SAP BusinessObjects Cloud offering is a great example of this. Jack Clark of Bluefin gives a great outline of SAP Business Objects Cloud in this blog post.

BI self-service, check.

The end user tools on offer do not have the traditional steep learning curve, the interactions and GUIs involved for the front end tools all embrace the usage formats used by common packages such as MS office. Use of context menus, ribbons and so forth. This allows the end user to focus on getting to grips with data and discovering this data's meaning to the business, rather than spending huge amounts of time learning a new tool.

The rapid development time gives IS benefits in testing small chunks of an implementation rather than a large testing cycle, this then allows for managed monthly releases.

Looking at the offerings here we do have all the components to give us Agile BI. Implementing the right strategy and using the right tools has the potential to give a rapid deployment and the agility the business users want, combined with the single version of the truth, robustness of deployment, scalability and maintainability that the IT department wants. Everyone is a winner!


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About the author

David Gillaspy

Former Consultant

I am a BusinessObjects and Business Intelligence consultant hailing from the sunny pastures of Manchester. I’ve been immersed in the world of SAP and Bluefin ever since graduating university. I don’t mind admitting I have quite a passion for BusinessObjects and the Business Warehouse. With webi certification, I’m particularly fond of visualising up reports and slicing data to give insights into business trends and activities.

I have been known to be partial to football, have a liking for cricket (especially when it involves sunshine, beer and maybe beating the Aussies!) and also enjoy walking on the moors around Manchester, though not after the beer and sports!

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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