Can SAP Innovate Like Tesla?

Tesla Motors Black

SAP innovation evangelist Timo Elliott tweeted a reply to my article “Can SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 Move Out of Fourth Place?

The Tesla analogy has been used before, back when SAP briefly described Lumira Server as a Tesla and its BI platform as a Porsche 911 (see related article, The Future of the SAP BI Platform, Again). But Timo is making an excellent point.

Tesla did not achieved success by trying to copy a competitor and build a better Cadillac. Although entire books have been written about Tesla and its charismatic founder Elon Musk, I believe we can distill Tesla’s success down to two reasons. First, there’s unwavering commitment to a goal that seems crazy at first glance. And second, there’s a charismatic, unorthodox leader that rallies bright talent toward achieving that goal.

Whether it’s luxury cars with “insanity mode” or reusable rocket boosters that land on barges, Elon Musk has a knack for obtaining the unobtainable.

I still believe that Lumira has a firm place in SAP’s analytics arsenal. But can SAP’s BI platform support a crazy, radical idea that (most likely) will come via acquisition? And can SAP’s culture handle the charismatic- and possibly volatile- leader that will come with that radical idea?

SAP needs a Falcon rocket that can land on the barge of its BI platform.

A company that I’ve started watching with keen interest is ThoughtSpot. ThoughtSpot appears to be what SAP BusinessObjects Explorer would be if SAP had continued to innovate with it rather than abandon it to a yet-unrealized bullet point on the Lumira product roadmap (see related article, The Road Unexplored: Alternatives to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer). But there are certainly other startups out there tinkering with crazy ideas on the fringes of the analytics marketplace.

Yes, Timo, I believe SAP can be the Tesla of analytics. But not on Lumira’s merits alone.

What crazy idea do you think SAP needs to bring to its analytics platform?

Dallas Marks

Dallas Marks

I am an analytics and cloud architect, author, and trainer. An AWS certified blogger, SAP Mentor Alumni and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting.

4 thoughts on “Can SAP Innovate Like Tesla?

  1. Hey Dallas,

    Are you having much luck with Lumira 2.0? Currently on the early adopter version (and installed the fixpack today) but still seems to be full of bugs (i.e. I can`t open any Lumira 1.x LUMS files, I just get the datasets, no vis or stories) and some basic things around filtering missing (although I think that`s product holes, not bugs!) etc etc. As a Tableau and PBI user, it`s a bit upsetting how there seems to be so much basic functionality required from a visualisation tool missing.

    1. Andy,

      Thanks for writing. Your experience with the beta is common. I’ve put Lumira 2.0 on the back burner until it gets closer to GA. Instead, I’ve spent the past few months getting the next edition of the SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence book from SAP Press updated for BI 4.2 SP4.

      Good luck,

    2. Hey, Andy. Sorry to hear you are missing some things in Lumira 2–keep in mind, there is still much planned for the actual GA release in August (including opening LUMS files). Feel free to reach out–I’d love to hear your specific feedback!

  2. Power BI already does natural language search. SAP acquiring thoughtspot would again have SAP very late to the game. From what I can see LumirA 2.0 doesn’t even hold a candle to the Power BI beta version of 2+ years ago. It is so frustrating to have to deal with these BI tools that are literally 3-5 years behind their competitors. LumirA 2.0 will be a can of dog food compared to the filet Mignon that is Tableau, Qlik and Power BI

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