I have been confused about SAP’s BI roadmap and strategy for many years now and so are the vast majority of SAP BusinessObjects customers that I have talked with about this topic.
About four or five years ago, SAP determined that there were too many products in it’s BI portfolio and shared a roadmap of how they would consolidate and converge these down to just a handful of strategic BI tools going forward. At this first announcement they were not sure how they would get there, but spoke about creating equivalent functionality and providing migration tools for the products that didn’t make the cut. However, they made it clear that for the foreseeable future all products would continue to be supported and none deprecated.
A year later they showed the same roadmap, but also announced that they would not be providing migration tools, since some of the products were architecturally different and migration tools did not make sense. Again, SAP made it clear that for the foreseeable future all products would continue to be supported and none deprecated.
The years since we have seen the same roadmap and the same assurances. What we have not seen is very much in the way of actual convergence, so recently SAP has been explaining what they really mean by convergence by defining their 4 principals of convergence:
- We are converging use cases not features and functions
- All existing content is safe and will work
- All BI 4 Clients will be maintained and supported
- No forced migrations
I think this makes things a lot clearer and explains why tools like SAP BO Dashboards/Xcelsius, Live Office and Explorer continue to enjoy great popularity and will continue to be used for many years to come.
Yes, new functionality development has been focused on the newer SAP analytics tools namely Lumira, Design Studio and Predictive Analytics but those tools had and still have a lot of catching up to do and, to be honest, have missed their window of opportunity. Outside of the SAP ERP base they have almost no market share.
On the other hand, SAP still has a massive base of BusinessObjects suite customers that they quite rightly want to keep happy and growing. The best way to do that is to continue to support and enhance the products they use. This is certainly very visible with Web Intelligence, but also we continue to see it with Crystal Reports, Live Office (Support of 64-bit in BI 4.2) and Xcelsius/SAP BO Dashboards (Support of Office 2013).
More significantly, SAP has changed it’s BI strategy in the last year with the announcement of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. This is a brand new offering built from scratch and looks like SAP’s new future direction for analytics. SAP also purchased Roambi, which is one of the leading mobile BI solutions in the marketplace.
As far as the roadmap convergence progress is concerned, it has been slow and I do not see that changing. SAP did announce a coming together of Lumira and Visual Design Studio (now known as Lumira Studio) but that was not on the original roadmap.
I am happy with SAP’s new convergence definition, but maybe they should think about calling it conservancy.