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SAP buzzTRACKR: Inauguration day

by Davin Wilfrid

March 18, 2011

by Davin Wilfrid, senior analyst, insiderRESEARCH

Welcome to the inaugural SAP buzzTRACKR. There are a lot of smart people doing top-quality roundups of SAP and enterprise software news (Michael Koch’s This Week in SAP is a favorite of mine), so I thought I’d add something a little different. This week marks the first, and hopefully not the last, installment of SAP buzzTRACKR, in which I rank a short list of recent events and news items in the SAP world and beyond.

(Full disclosure: SAP buzzTRACKR is unscientific, shallow, and potentially ridiculous. Its official title is insiderRESEARCH Insider Learning Network buzzTRACKR 4.0, version for Internet.)

Now let’s put some news into the buzzTRACKR and see what it spits out:

#1: HANA

SAP continues to generate buzz for its breakthrough in-memory computing technology. When SAP co-founder (and recursive interview) Hasso Plattner first introduced the world to in-memory computing at SAPPHIRE in 2009, some thought he was indulging in a bit of computer science theater – talking up theoretical enhancements that woul d never materialize into products.

Two years later SAP has begun rolling out a series of industry specific in-memory computing applications, with plenty more on the horizon for 2011. SAP has already begun promoting HANA as the preferred database roadmap for those not already using SAP NetWeaver BW.

The audacity of Plattner’s early claims, coupled with SAP’s apparent ability to deliver products based on innovation, has set the stage for HANA as the breakthrough technology for 2011 and beyond.

#2: GRC 10

At the GRC 2011 conference in Las Vegas last week, SAP announced the next generation of its governance, risk, and compliance applications. Version 10 of the SAP BusinessObjects GRC suite promise to streamline both the technical (one single implementation rather than three) and organizational (ease of use) challenges that hampered prior versions.

What’s really interesting, though, is that SAP chose to announce GRC 10 at an SAPinsider event rather than at SAPPHIRE or TechEd. With more than 800 attendees at his keynote address, SAP’s Jim Dunham was clearly upbeat about the reception he received. I was in Las Vegas for the event, and can confirm that the buzz among customers was strong all week.


Pretzel rods. They’re salty and delicious, and you can still type with both hands while eating one.

#3: Gamification

I’ve written dozens of case studies and thought leader interviews for SAP publications. In almost every successful case study, there is a project manager, team leader, or executive that figured out how to successfully motivate his or her organization to accomplish the task at hand.

The latest trend in talent motivation is called gamification, which is essentially the process of motivating employees using game-like mechanics in non-game situations. If you’ve ever earned achievement points or badges for blogging, answering questions, or other work activities, you’ve participated in a gamified environment.

The concept seems simple, but as usual there is an awful lot of science behind the simplicity. Innovation and productivity are the keys to surging out of the global recession, and gamification — done properly — is an intriguing catalyst for both.

#4: BI 4.0

A few weeks ago this would have earned the top spot. The latest release of the SAP BusinessObjects BI suite generated so much interest that the live stream component of its launch event buckled under the strain of so many logins.

SAP snuck HANA and EIM announcements into the BI 4.0 launch party, but the focal point for most customers will be the upgrades to the SAP BusinessObjects applications themselves. And there’s a lot to celebrate in those applications, especially the inclusion of SAP BI Consumer Services (BICS) as an emerging standard for linking SAP BusinessObjects BI applications to SAP NetWeaver BW data. Technical integration is the largest obstacle for companies looking to move forward with SAP BusinessObjects, so this was a necessary move by SAP. Whether customers will see a 300% percent performance improvement thanks to BICS is less certain, but it should make life a lot easier for the install base.

#5: BI OnDemand Upgrade

This one is more of a public service announcement than anything. If you are one of the customers using SAP’s BI OnDemand service, the system will be upgraded on March 25. BI expert Ethan Jewett spotted something in an SDN post on the subject — datasets of more than 20,000 rows will need to be “reactivated” after the upgrade. This means companies must be able to access the original dataset after March 25 for reactivation. For some companies that will require downloading a copy of the dataset first, otherwise they risk losing data.

SAP says it will try to email alerts to all customers with datasets of more than 20,000 rows, but it’s still frightening to think that a company could have that much data wiped because of a miscommunication.

Note: I’ll be on site at our combined SCM and logistics event in Orlando next week. Follow my tweets at @dwilfrid and come say hi at the WIS PUBLISHING booth. Maybe we can tackle Watson together.

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