Meet the panelist:
Chandran Saravana, Senior Director, Advanced Analytics SAP
Chandran Saravana, Senior Director, Advanced Analytics SAP, brings over 20 years of experience in the technology sector. He has held various roles in consulting, research & development, product management and marketing with a focus on analytics and big data. He's written numerous papers and is a frequent speaker on topics related to analytics, big data and cloud. Prior to SAP, Chandran consulted “C" level executives on the consulting engagements and advised on Cloud, Big Data, IoT and Analytics Strategy and Technology direction. Chandran holds MBA from Martha and Love School of Business, Masters in Physics and Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications from Bharathidasan University. @chandransar
Ashish C. Morzaria, Director of Advanced Analytics
Ashish Morzaria is responsible for SAP’s Predictive Analytics portfolio strategy. He has been with SAP for over 11 years and has been involved in many of the company’s BI portfolio products including SAP Lumira, Explorer, Cloud BI, Mobile, and the BI Platform. His current role is focused on accelerating SAP’s roadmap and adoption of predictive analytics.
Live Blog Q&A on Advancing Your Analytics for the Digital Age with SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise
SAPinsiderMatt: Welcome to today’s Q&A on SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise, Premium Edition! I’m pleased to be joined today by Steve McHugh, Chandran Saravana, and Ashish Morzaria of the SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics team.
There are several questions that have already been posted, so I’ll let you get started on those now. Please enter your questions into the module below.
Comment From Guest: Can you discuss the use and functionality of on-premise predictive analytics?
Ashish (SAP): Predictive has a number of uses — from understanding the patterns in your past data (what we typically use BI for), to understanding what are the “key influencing factors” in your data (a good way of understanding why your data changes), all the way to creating recommendation lists and “predictions” on entities in your data of interest. It is a good, but very broad question: Consider predictive as a way to “understand the past data so you can make better decisions about the future.”
Comment From Guest: How does SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise deliver contextual analytics across all enterprise and big data systems?
Chandran (SAP): SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise provides end-to-end analytics by leveraging big data. It enables business analysts to find, access, cleanse, combine, model, and transform data in an agile yet trusted way as part of end-to-end analytics workflows with integrated self-service data preparation capabilities. SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise enables line of business users to identify patterns they may have missed and uncover what will happen or what is needed in the future – without relying on a data scientist – thanks to smart data discovery and embedded machine learning predictive capabilities.
Comment From Guest: Can you describe the predictive analytics part within BO?
Ashish (SAP): There are two ways to look at this: First, SAP Predictive Analytics has recently been rebranded as “SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics” and is part of the “analytics family,” but from that perspective, it is still a distinct product under that brand. The second aspect is licensing. We have introduced a new license “SAP BusinessObjects BI Premium” which includes the BI suite, IQ (Database), Data Integrator (DI), SAP HANA Vora, and, of course, SAP Predictive Analytics. In this license, you gain a limited run-time license of the predictive suite, plus one predictive modeler desktop license. Your users can connect to up to 256 GB of data — the “limited” part is that the results must be consumed by any tool in the BI suite (but not an external application). We also offer a “full use” license which is separate and removes this restriction, but the full use license is not part of BO Premium.
Comment From Guest: Do I need data science skills/expertise to use the predictive analytics that is part of BOE Premium?
Ashish (SAP): No, you do not need to have specific data science skills — although having some experience with data science is definitely helpful. What is more important is understanding your own data and the business problem you are trying to solve. These are two things that are not in any book or application. SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics has an “automated mode” which encodes much of the statistical and predictive analysis that a data scientist would typically perform so that you can focus on the higher level business problem to solve. That said, if you do have data science experience, you can use either the automated analytics mode and use its advanced options, or we also have an expert analytics mode that is a canvas-based approach which allows you to chain multiple algorithms together, run experiments, and even combine algorithms from R, SAP HANA PAL, and SAP HANA APL together.
Comment From Guest: Is SAP HANA required to get the full capabilities/potential of SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics?
Chandran (SAP): SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics is agnostic when it comes to databases. It works with both SAP HANA and non-SAP HANA ecosystems. Moreover, SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics supports all types of data sources. With SAP HANA there are certain advantages: powerful in-memory processing, Predictive Analysis Library, Automated Predictive Library, and more.
Comment From Guest: What are the restrictions for SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics with BOE Premium? When would I look at a full use license instead of Premium?
Ashish (SAP): The SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics license that is part of BOE Premium is called a "limited use" license. That means you must use a single database server as a source for SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics and the results of the analysis (i.e., predictive scores) can only be consumed by any of the SAP BI tools in the suite. This means you can analyze data in SQL server and create a WebI report on top. What you cannot do is analyze that same data and use the results in another application like SAP Fraud Management. Note that the license for BOE Premium includes the ability to analyze up to 256 GB. Beyond that, you would need to consider a “full use license” which can go higher and is not limited to BI tools only.
Comment From Ram: Is there a sample exercise that I can reference to get familiarized with the capabilities of SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics?
Ashish (SAP): Absolutely — SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics does come with a number of samples preinstalled (in the same directory of the installation), but there are many tutorials, videos, and articles at our SCN site at www.sap.com/scn-predictive. Check on the left hand side for tutorials, as well as “useful links.” You may also like this specific article: http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-70069
Comment From Guest: What is the difference between the “new” BO Premium and Professional, and the “old” Premium and Professional from the BOE 3.x days?
Steve McHugh (SAP): There are several key differences. First off, the premium edition that we are offering today differs specifically in that it includes SAP Predictive Analytics and the SAP HANA Vora engine. Secondly, when comparing with the older versions (BOE 3.X and earlier), there have been significant technology and functionality offerings delivered with the BI 4.x platform and supporting clients. One of the biggest technical points is that BI 4.X (currently 4.2) is built on a 64-bit technology platform. This has enabled us to enhance the clients (WebI, Crystal Reports, Design Studio, Lumira) with advanced features and capabilities. This will serve as the platform for future development and enablement for SAP BusinessObjects clients. Additionally, the clients offered with BI 4.2 Professional now include WebI, Crystal, Design Studio, Lumira (desktop and BI Platform), as well as Mobile, Dashborads, and Xcelsius.
Comment From Jason: What are benefits of SAP HANA Vora and SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics?
Chandran (SAP): SAP HANA Vora is an in-memory query engine which leverages and extends the Apache Spark execution framework to provide enriched interactive analytics on Hadoop. It allows you to make precision decisions, democratize data access, and simplify big data ownership. SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics integrates with SAP HANA Vora. In near-term roadmap, we are planning to have native predictive modeling with SAP HANA Vora. That means you do not need to move data for predictive modeling and scoring.
Comment From Todd: We have Professional — Why do I need Premium? What does the upgrade path looks like?
Chandran (SAP): Professional and Premium editions are soft bundles. There are no hard dependencies on the upgrade. It is simply a license upgrade and installation of new software — SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics and SAP HANA Vora.
Comment From Ram: What does downloading the trial version of SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics mean? Is that an add-on to the existing BOE setup, or can it work independent of the BOE platform?
Ashish (SAP): The 30-day trial at www.sap.com/trypredictive gives you the predictive modeler (desktop) that enables you to do analysis and create predictive models. There are a few other pieces of the suite as well. There is also the Predictive Factory which handles the whole life cycle and automates the continual testing and training (and redeploying) of the models as well. So the desktop allows you see the “power of predictive,” but if you decide to license it, would likely include the back end (as this is how you can integrate the results into your business).
The great part about it is that while SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics can integrate its results into databases and BI datasets, there is no hard dependency between it and SAP BusinessObjects BI, so it works completely independently, but with the BOE Platform. That way, you can introduce predictive into your landscape without making a single change to your BI system.
SAPinsiderMatt: Thanks again for some great questions today. We have time for a few more posts before we wrap up the Q&A at 12:00 PM.
Comment From Ram: Just to be clear: You mentioned it is a desktop version of the product for a limited trial period. You also said it is independent of BI products. Later you again mention it but within the BOE platform. Could you please clarify?
Ashish (SAP): Sure! SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics is a separate product/installation and the server component (Predictive Factory) is installed on a separate machine. The predictive results can be consumed within any BI application because we can embed the predictive scores directly into datasets and databases. The desktop tool is only required for people creating the models themselves, so not everyone needs to have the desktop modeler installed.
SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics is also part of SAP BusinessObjects BI Premium, which is a license that also includes BI, DI, IQ, and SAP HANA Vora, but “Premium” is a license — not a separate set of software. Consider it all part of the software bundle. So SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analyticsis separately installed, but can be licensed together or separately from the BI Suite.
Comment From Ram: Why doesn't SAP make the desktop version available for the long term (of course, as a licensed product)?
Ashish (SAP): SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics is actually licensed perpetually, which means you pay once and then you are free to use it (technically forever). You can (and should) pay the annual maintenance fee to get technical support, access to upgrades, and so on. But we do not have a subscription version of the desktop as it is an on-premise product.
Comment From Alex: How can we gain insight into large volumes of operational and contextual data taken from enterprise applications, data warehouses, data lakes, and IoT sensors?
Chandran (SAP): From a predictive standpoint, you have to build an analytical dataset that is relevant to the use case or problem that you want to solve. The data might be operational, contextual, from data lakes, or from sensors. Once you prepared the data relevant to the use case, you can use either automated analytics or expert analytics within SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics to build a predictive model to gain insights as well predict the future events.
Comment From Kris: Can you share best practices for building sophisticated predictive models?
Ashish (SAP): That's a tough one to answer in a Q&A. There are two sides: the business and technical. On the business side, start with an actual and defined business problem that if you solve, has a calculable ROI. The majority of predictive projects fail because they jump right to the technical side and start creating models. Creating a poor model on the right business problem will give you better results than a good model on a random question because at the end of the day, only the answer matters (not the model). I would suggest you check out our SAP Community Network (www.sap.com/scn-predictive) for more details, as well as use cases and tutorials (see the left sidebar).
Comment From Sydney: What is the current version of Premium edition?
Steve McHugh (SAP): The Premium edition features the “latest and greatest” versions of the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform and clients. As of today, here is a quick overview of the versions offered for the BI Platform and key clients:
- BI Platform: 4.2 sp03
- WebI: 4.2 sp03
- Lumira: 1.31
- Design Studio: 1.6 sp03
- Predictive Analytics: 3.0
Comment From Kris: Do you a have a whitepaper on SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics with SAP HANA?
Ashish (SAP): We do! We have a whitepaper specifically for learning how all of the SAP HANA predictive technologies work and how they work with SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics. Go to www.sap.com/predictive and click on “The Power of Predictive Analytics with SAP HANA” near the bottom of the page.
Comment From Josh: Can you share any additional information on machine learning?
Chandran (SAP): Refer to this whitepaper
Comment From Nicole: I missed TechEd Vegas, where I can more info on predictive sessions?
Ashish (SAP): We recorded a few of the sessions at TechED Las Vegas last week, and the best part is you can see them for free! Check out the SCN community at www.sap.com/scn-predictive. We have listed three recorded TechED sessions for you!
SAPinsiderMatt: Thank you to everyone who participated in today’s Q&A! And thank you to Chandran, Ashish, and Steve for your time and for your insightful answers..