We have seen the evolution of Analytics: from operational analytics, using OLTP ABAP programs in ERP, to analytics using SAP BW and a more robust architecture and governance, storing data in an EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse), and running OLAP reports.
We have also seen the evolution of SAP Business Content: from loading data straight into InfoCubes to later using DSOs to create semantic layers, forming a more robust EDW using LSA (Layered Scalable Architecture).
The front-end too has been through dramatic evolution: from OLAP tools, such as BEx Analyzer, to a more flexible and end-user-friendly set of tools, based on BusinessObjects.
Throughout this time, I saw an incredible demand for faster processing, at the same time as data volumes grew bigger. With that, we see the challenges and limitations: even if the system has all the data needed, the reporting tools cannot present it at the level of granularity or speed that the user needs or wants to see it. The technology imposes limitations on what the user can do: changes are not easily made, most reports have to be published at an aggregated level, and users have to be “smart” on how they run reports. Over time, we developed certain “guidelines” to make solutions workable within the limitations imposed by the technology.
As we are here to tell the story, we can keep watching the evolution as it happens.
As with every story of evolution, sometimes major “revolutions” happen – and this is the case of HANA – it came to disrupt everything – change paradigms – make old truths irrelevant. It is no longer a problem to report directly on the OLTP system – thanks to HANA’s column tables, in-memory storage and parallel processing abilities.
HANA changes how we deal with data. We are now removing these limitations and saying to our users – “it’s a blank canvas” and you can really do amazing things you couldn’t do before. The “guidelines” are not going to be imposed on you anymore.
And the circle is going back to its origins – we can now run real-time Analytics in the OLTP with Business Suite on HANA (BoH) and the “Business Content akin” HANA Live. We are closing the circle and showing that the evolution of technology is allowing us to merge OLTP and OLAP.
Not only we can sift through huge data volumes to analyse the “as is” but we can also forecast the future using Mathematical and Statistical models we once saw in our academic environments – data can “talk to you” and give you intelligent insights on your future. This is also possible through HANA and Predictive Analysis which makes use of Data Mining categories like Clustering, Classification, Association and Time Series to give customers the capacity of anticipating behaviours and taking proactive actions. We are literally “predicting” the future through intelligent insights.
Things that I once studied at university – like Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Algorithm and Data Mining are becoming reality – they are embedded in new technologies such as HANA and Predictive Analysis, to change our future for the better.
HANA is here to stay and change the Analytics game, at the same time it is allowing us to get back to our origins.