UPDATE 08/27/2018:SAP Note 2465894 was updated on August 25, 2018 indicating that Lumira 2.2 is planned for August 31, 2018.
UPDATE 08/29/2018: SAP Lumira 2.2 is now available for download from the SAP Support Portal. Refer to SAP Note 2587459 for SAP Lumira 2.2 release notes and several other helpful links about the new release.
Baskin-Robbins, the ice cream retailer, has gotten a lot of mileage from its “Thirty-Onederful Flavors” slogan. What is less clear is how SAP fared after thirty-one releases of its Lumira data discovery software.
Baskin-Robbins, the ice cream retailer, has gotten a lot of mileage from its “Thirty-Onederful Flavors” slogan over the years, referring to the 31 flavors of ice cream you can find in their shops. What is less clear is how SAP fared after thirty-one releases of its Lumira 1.x data visualization software. After 31 releases of version 1, customers spent 2016 waiting for SAP to marry Lumira and Design Studio together as Lumira Discovery and Lumira Designer, respectively. Then we spent 2017 waiting for SAP to resolve the infamous compiler issue and ship Lumira 2.1 with additional stability, only to relegate Lumira Discovery to the dustbin of history in favor of SAP Analytics Cloud as the company’s standard bearer for data discovery (see related article, Everything Must Change).
SAP Analytics Cloud is receiving updates roughly every two weeks, which is even more frequent than the point releases of SAP Lumira 1.x we received around every six weeks. I believe that there are three lessons from SAP Lumira’s development that could improve customer appreciation and adoption of SAP Analytics Cloud.
Better to ship when ready, not when the trade show is scheduled.
SAP Lumira debuted in May 2012 as SAP Visual Intelligence at SAP’s annual SAPPHIRE user conference in Orlando, Florida (see Cindi Howson’s blog, SAP Releases Visual Intelligence, Innovates in BI). Many customers heard “it only works with SAP HANA” even though additional connectivity to other relational databases and universes appeared fairly quickly in future updates. Unfortunately, many customers held onto “it only works with HANA” long after it was no longer true and it took significant effort by SAP and its partners to educate its customers about the current state of the product.
Apple abandoned its trade show schedule several years ago with great success. Instead of its previous practice of introducing new products every January at a (now defunct) trade show called Macworld Expo, today Apple releases products throughout the calendar year when they are ready. I recognize this would be a huge marketing shift for SAP and it’s current “SAPPHIRE or TechEd” release schedule, as we will most likely see new SAP Analytics Cloud features demoed on this year’s SAPPHIRE stage.
I wonder if Lumira would have had a warmer introduction if it had been released a few months after SAPPHIRE but with a larger feature set?
Measure twice and cut once?
There’s always a trade-off when introducing a new feature into software. Do you wait until the feature is fully developed? Or do you deliver it gradually over multiple releases? In theory, agile development sounds great because we can get new features now and that they’ll be extended over time to be even more useful.
In practice, we’ve often been given a feature that is so limited that it has to be completely ripped and replaced with something else. Key examples here are SAP’s first attempts at adding universe and BEx connectivity to Lumira. In both cases, first attempts at connectivity were full of limitations. In the case of the universe connector (see related article, Squeezing the Entire Universe Into SAP Lumira), the universe panel didn’t have the user experience of universe panels in SAP’s well-established analytics products, missing many key features. These premature releases become opportunities for customers to conclude that a product still isn’t ready for prime time – a gut reaction that even clever marketing can find difficult to change later.
Integration vs. Add-Ons
Once Lumira went from being a stand-alone desktop tool to one that could be used with the BI platform via an add-on, Lumira’s frequent release schedule became even more frustrating to BI managers and IT directors. To SAP’s credit, each new release of the Lumira add-on for the BI platform introduced a “must have” feature. Unfortunately, most IT departments did not have the luxury of upgrading Lumira every time SAP delivered a new release.
To compound the problem, because Lumira continues to be an add-on and not an integrated component of the SAP BI platform, it adds hours of planning and installation time to what should be simple product patching. Now that Lumira is released on a similar quarterly schedule as the BI platform, it would make sense to finally integrate the two, save for the SAP’s recent roadmap changes. SAP has indicated that for 2018, SAP Analytics Cloud is the preferred solution for data discovery over SAP Lumira Discovery. And as of tomorrow (perhaps as early as this year’s SAPPHIRE?), SAP Analytics Cloud will eventually be the preferred solution over SAP Lumira Designer for dashboards and analytic applications.
Microsoft has a solution for Microsoft Office 365 that could work well if adopted by SAP Analytics Cloud. SAP provides connectivity to on-premise data sources via the SAP Analytics Cloud Agent. In many cases, a new version of SAP Analytics Cloud requires a new version of the agent to work properly. With SAP Analytics Cloud receiving updates every two weeks, this means BI administrators will spend a lot of time either updating the agent or explaining why SAP Analytics Cloud is “broken”. And in some cases, too many updates of a cloud-based product, especially its user experience, could cause frustrated users to wonder “Who Moved My Cheese“.
Microsoft provides three update “speeds” in its AutoUpdate feature for Microsoft Office 365. First, there is the traditional setting, which provides the least amount of change and the greatest amount of stability. Next, there are two variations of its Office Insider program, Slow and Fast.
Although most SAP customers probably wouldn’t be a fan of an SAP Analytics Cloud Insider Fast setting, some early adopters and of course partners probably wouldn’t mind seeing new features before everyone else.
Since I do “mind a bit of risk using unsupported builds,” I keep my Microsoft Office Update set at Office Insider Slow. By providing a similar feature, SAP could allow its SAP Analytics Cloud customers to choose their desired rate of change. Some customers may want a cloud product that only receives significant changes on a quarterly or perhaps even semi-annual basis. Other customers will appreciate both the features and the BI platform risks of the current two-week cycle. And still other customers and partners may want to see features before they’re ready for prime time.
Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I believe thirty-one public releases of SAP Lumira was too many for the SAP analytics community to pay attention to. And in some cases, agile development delivered a feature that was so problematic, it had to be completely redesigned in a future release. Lessons learned from SAP Lumira could help improve the perception and adoption of SAP Analytics Cloud. What do you think?
Remember American Motors? Until Chrysler acquired the company in 1988, it was primarily known for two things. The Jeep brand. And the AMC Pacer, an oft-ridiculed vehicle most notably featured in the Wayne’s World movies. But American Motors was always in the shadow of the “Big Three”.
Was Lumira removed from the article because of missing features? No. It was merely overlooked because of the unwritten rule of threes. Unless a contest is held by Gartner or Consumer Reports, it’s generally limited to three participants. For example, the Olympic Games only puts three competitors on the awards podium- unless there’s a tie. And Steve Jobs product keynotes were famous for three main points (and hopefully just one more thing). Tech Target is simply writing about the three BI tools that currently have the most mindshare, just as fifteen years ago much ink was spilled over the BusinessObjects/Cognos/Microstrategy horse race.
Probably the biggest surprise here is that a mere two years ago tech journalists would describe data visualization as a two-horse race- Tableau and Qlik. Tibco Spotfire would occasionally get a shout-out when a third horse was needed for color. Microsoft- once thought to have its best days behind it- has really done an enormous job to be mentioned in the same breath as the other two horses.
Only time will tell if the innovations of SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 elevate it to “top three” status. In the meantime, party on Wayne and Garth!
The stakes are high. Lumira 2.0 cannot just be a “better Lumira”.
Yesterday, SAP unveiled SAP Lumira 2.0 at the SAP Insider BI2017 conference in Orlando, Florida.
SAP BusinessObjects Lumira and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio are coming together under a single name, retaining 2 user experiences but on a common technology platform. Learn about the next step in SAP’s convergence strategy.
from SAP Insider breakout session description
This year’s conference has an interesting vibe. The stories from the keynote stage are about SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 and SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. Customers on the showroom floor are telling different stories – stories of more time and energy spent using SAP BusinessObjects tools to prepare data sets for competing products.
What we know is that Lumira and Design Studio are coming together (see Blair Wheadon’s SAP Community blog), with the Lumira Desktop getting a rebranding as Lumira Discovery. Design Studio will be rebranded as Lumira Designer. Design Studio is getting a new splash screen with a smattering of new features, most importantly integration. However, the current Lumira desktop is getting quite a major UX overhaul. Gone are the prepare, visualize and compose rooms in favor of a single workspace. Also rumored to be gone are many of the pain points and limitations experienced by early Lumira adopters.
But out of all the product features that were demonstrated yesterday, there’s only ONE feature that matters.
Can Lumira 2.0 beat Tableau?
Can it clip Qlik?
And can it punch PowerBI?
Lumira 2.0 cannot just be a “better Lumira”. It must be a credible alternative to what’s currently available- and leading- in the marketplace. It’s no longer sufficient for SAP to prepare its sales force or its partners to do battle in the marketplace. The battle is being played out at customer sites around the globe. SAP must also prepare its customers to fight- and win- data discovery projects from the vendors who are landing and expanding right in front of their eyes.
For many SAP customers, it’s no longer about keeping tools like Tableau out of the enterprise. It’s already there. The game is now about keeping Tableau and its peers running in tandem with solutions from SAP. Is it time for SAP to adjust strategy and help their customers reach that goal instead?
When it comes to updating mobile BI apps, Tableau isn’t leading the race.
Although I rarely use their products, I signed up for the free mobile apps from several major BI vendors. Seeing their updates pop up on my Apple iPhone is one way that I can keep up with what’s going on in the industry.
Unlike on-premise software that requires a project plan and an off-hours maintenance window to push into production, mobile software is nearly as easy to update as cloud-based software because the vendor assumes a majority of the upgrade risks. But it seemed to me that SAP was updating their mobile BI app at a much slower rate than their competitors.
To back up my hunch with facts, I built a quick model in Microsoft Excel using product versions and release dates from the Apple iTunes store and loaded the data into SAP BusinessObjects Lumira.
As you can see in the chart below, Microsoft clearly updates their Power BI mobile app at a frequency greater than SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI or even (gasp!) Tableau Mobile (click images to enlarge).
Microsoft Power BI, a recent entry into the BI marketplace, was introduced on July 24, 2015 and has been on a rapid release schedule ever since. The Apple iTunes store had release history going back to September 5, 2015 and contains 44 releases through February 2017. Oh sure, many of the releases contain only “bug fixes” or “performance enhancements,” but so do many of the releases from Microsoft’s competitors.
Since January 1 of last year, Microsoft has updated their Power BI iOS app a whopping 35 times. Contributing to most SAP users’ Tableau envy, Tableau updated their iOS app 11 times, almost twice as many updates as SAP’s.
Microsoft releases a new version of Power BI for iOS on an average of every 12 days. SAP actually beats Tableau on this metric, releasing a new iOS version every 39.41 days to Tableau’s 42.58 days.
These are quantitative measurements and one could certainly argue that Microsoft’s numbers are padded with frequent “bug fix” updates that don’t introduce any new functionality. In terms of qualitative measurements, which are a bit more subjective, only Microsoft Power BI has a native interface for the Apple Watch. Not even Tableau can boast that. And only Microsoft Power BI boasts “conversational BI” with the ability to ask questions about data in plain English.
Ironically, none of the three Lumira charts I prepared for this article could be viewed on my Apple iPad, even though I’m using the latest versions of SAP’s BI platform and mobile app.
The SAP Mobile BI team is likely hard at work preparing updates to support the forthcoming Lumira 2.0 release. Or perhaps they’ve been reassigned to help roll out a new version of the separate SAP BusinessObjects Cloud mobile app. Or both. But I hope SAP will be able to increase the release frequency and deliver bigger analytic innovations in its core Mobile BI app.
Join me for deep dives into SAP Lumira and SAP IQ.
Join me this February 27 – March 2, 2017 in Orlando, Florida at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort for SAP Insider BI 2017, the definitive conference for professionals who use and support SAP BusinessObjects BI, SAP BW, and SAP analytics solutions.
This year I will be presenting two sessions – the full conference agenda is available on the conference web site.
SAP BusinessObjects Lumira integration with the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform: What BI administrators need to know.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm, room Asia 3
Learn how to add SAP BusinessObjects Lumira support to your existing SAP BusinessObjects BI landscape, and deploy to your user community with confidence. By attending, you will:
Learn how to install, size, and configure the SAP BusinessObjects Lumira in-memory database engine on your existing SAP BusinessObjects BI landscape
See step-by-step how to configure security and govern SAP BusinessObjects Lumira desktops from the BI platform
Explore which SAP BusinessObjects Lumira capabilities are supported in mobile BI and which ones are not
Best practices for monitoring the SAP BusinessObjects Lumira engine for peak performance
How SAP IQ can accelerate your existing data warehouse with minimal effort
SAP has amended the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 license to include 1 license of SAP PowerDesigner, 8 cores of SAP Data Integrator, and 8 cores of SAP IQ. Discover how this “data warehouse in a box” solution can accelerate your existing data warehouse with minimal effort, and how to lead a pilot project to determine the feasibility of migrating to the SAP IQ platform. Learn how to:
Use SAP PowerDesigner to automatically recreate existing data warehouse schema DDL from the current platform to SAP IQ
Use SAP Data Integrator to move a snapshot of the existing data warehouse to SAP IQ
Modify an existing universe to use SAP IQ with minimal disruption to downstream SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence content
Benchmark the old and new solution to determine ROI
Attendees will be able to take home a project plan to manage their own SAP IQ pilot.
Register by January 27 and SAVE $550! BI 2017 is co-located with Basis & SAP Administration 2017 and HANA 2017. Your registration will allow you access sessions across all 3 events at no additional cost.
Presentation downloads for all sessions are available to conference attendees from the SAP Insider web site.
SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise 4.2 provides a wealth of new enhancements whether you are a user, developer or administrator. This session will focus on innovations as seen through the eyes of a business user who uses Web Intelligence or Lumira on a regular basis. We’ll also unpack the benefits of adopting the Information Design Tool for universe design and SAP IQ for accelerating your existing data warehouse architecture.
SAP Lumira: What BI Administrators Need to Know
Learn how to add SAP Lumira support to your existing SAP BI or Edge landscape. See several of Lumira’s unique features for trusted data discovery and deploy to your user community with confidence.
• Learn how to install, size, and configure the SAP Lumira in-memory database engine on your existing SAP BI landscape
• See step-by-step how to configure security and govern SAP Lumira desktops from the BI platform
• Learn which Lumira capabilities are supported in Mobile BI and which ones aren’t
• Adopt best practices for monitoring the SAP Lumira engine for peak performance
• Understand how SAP Lumira and Design Studio will converge with their 2.0 releases
Until Lumira has its own movie, at least we have books to appreciate.
Dmitry Anoshin has the distinction of being the author of one of just two books about SAP Lumira. SAP Lumira Essentials (ISBN 978-1785281815) is offered by Packt Publishing and provides comprehensive coverage of the key features of SAP’s data discovery product.
The book was written using SAP Lumira version 1.21. Version 1.31 is the most current release, and will remain so for several months until SAP Lumira 2.0 makes its debut sometime in early 2017. SAP Lumira has been a difficult product to keep up with, having agile product updates roughly every six weeks, and Dmitry is to be commended for hitting a moving target.
While there have been changes to both the SAP Lumira product and its roadmap since version 1.21 was introduced, there’s some great things to love here. The book comes with a substantial amount of sample content, including some spreadsheets, a mySQL database and a universe. There’s an entire chapter on preparing data that shows how to perform data cleanup, enriching, and merging. There’s also a chapter on working with visualization extensions. This material translates well to the most current version of SAP Lumira.
Some of the topics covered have changed since this book’s publication. SAP has abandoned SAP Lumira Cloud in favor of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, a completely different offering. SAP Lumira is now fully integrated with the SAP BusinessObjects platform. And the universe and BW connectivity is substantially improved.
That said, some people prefer having a book that they can make notes in instead of just online documentation. And this book is one that can answer a lot of questions about SAP Lumira.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Four years is an eternity in enterprise software development. Is it time to bring Explorer’s mojo back with a revised product roadmap?
Pity poor SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. Born as a poster child for innovation in business intelligence, it became a foster child- passed from product owner to product owner without a devoted and loving parent. Customers had their own reasons for not adopting Explorer, the most significant reason being- at least historically- licensing costs. I’ve been a passionate advocate of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, giving many presentations to BI administrators over the years beginning with “Deploying BI to the Masses using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer” at the 2009 Global BusinessObjects Network (GBN) conference in Dallas, Texas. In my experience, most SAP BI customers have stuck largely with Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports, with a smattering of Xcelsius dashboards. But customers who have adopted Explorer really love the tool and have made significant investments in it.
The current state of affairs is unfortunate, because if you’ve seen a SAP HANA demo (and who hasn’t?), you’ve most likely seen a demonstration of Explorer and how briskly it interacts with large volumes of data in the SAP HANA platform. SAP’s most unloved BI tool demonstrates how lovely SAP HANA can be.
It’s been four years since SAP released a significant update to Explorer. SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 Feature Pack 3 was released on June 15, 2012 and brought many new features to the BI4 platform that missed the original GA date, including Explorer Exploration Views. At the time, Exploration Views was one of the key benefits SAP touted as part of Feature Pack 3. But four years without innovation is an eternity in enterprise software years.
The SAP Digital Board Room is the spiritual successor to Explorer, not because of its feature set (although it does offer some of Explorer’s faceted navigation capabilities), but because of who its target user is (see my recent SAP Community Network article, Thoughts on the SAP Digital Boardroom). But the SAP Digital Board Room was not designed to provide a home for legacy on-premise Explorer information spaces.
As SAP focuses on bringing the second generation of Lumira and Design Studio to life, it seems likely that another year or possibly two will pass before Explorer’s search and exploration capabilities are fully incorporated into Lumira. But what will the delay mean for current Explorer customers, whose pain in dealing with Adobe Flash is second only to Web Intelligence customers dealing with Oracle Java? How should we reconcile SAP’s commitment to not expire BI content with the marketplace’s rejection of legacy technology like Adobe Flash? And if not from Explorer, where will the next business intelligence breakthrough for casual business users come from?
I’m presenting at SAP Insider’s BI 2016 event being held February 16-19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ll be presenting three breakouts this year and co-presenting a pre-conference seminar with Eric Vallo.
Analytics end-to-end! An in-depth examination of the full analytics process and how to make it work at your organization BI Pre-conference session | Palmer 2 | Monday, February 15, 2016 | 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Co-presented with Eric Vallo, this pre-conference session provided a comprehensive look at the end-to-end analytics process, critical steps necessary for successfully deploying the right analytic tools and process, and specific ‘gotchas’ to look out for that can lead to unwanted results.
Meet the Mentors: BI platform administration Lafleur 2 | Wednesday, February 17, 2016 | 2:30 PM – 2:50 PM
SAP mentors Dallas Marks and Eric Vallo will facilitate this interactive discussion and sharing of ideas for efficient, effective administration of your SAP BI platform. Share useful tips you have uncovered, and get new ideas from your conference cohorts. Take home plenty of practical tips and new resources for when you return to the office.
Secrets of customizing the BI Launch Pad in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 BI Track 7 | Palmer 2 | Thursday, February 18, 2016 | 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Get practical tips and techniques to customize your BI Launch Pad portal, as well as new personalization capabilities introduced in SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.1. With detailed step-by-step instructions, learn how to deliver a tailored information portal that meets user needs without custom coding.
SAP Lumira Integration for the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform: What BI Administrators Need to Know BI Track 7 | Petrus 2 | Thursday, February 18, 2016 | 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm SAP Lumira is now a full citizen of the SAP BI platform and no longer requires SAP HANA. Learn how to plan, size, and configure your existing landscape for the addition of the SAP Lumira for BI4 add-on and its in-memory database engine (formerly known as the Velocity engine), and how it compliments your existing SAP BI tools.
Making mobile magic with SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence BI Track 5 | Mouton 2 | Friday, February 19, 2016 | 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Get best practices to mobilize SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports — both how to tailor your existing reports for tablet and smartphone devices, as well as hot to create new mobile-friendly views.