Steve Lucas, President SAP Platform Solutions, sits down for an interview with SAPinsider's Ken Murphy at SAPinsider's BI-HANA 2014 event in Orlando, Florida. Lucas touches on SAP Lumira's storytelling functionality, the launch of SAP NetWeaver BW 7.4 powered by SAP HANA, and how SAP HANA enables organizations to pursue opportunities for disruption as a single consolidated, integrated enterprise platform.
Ken: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider. I’m reporting live from SAPinsider’s BI and HANA 2014 event. I’m pleased to be joined by Steve Lucas, the President of SAP Platform Solutions. Steve has just delivered the keynote address, Steve, welcome and congratulations on a great keynote!
Steve: Thank you, it’s awesome to be here and it’s an amazing conference on top of that, the energy level is great and I always enjoy these SAPinsider events.
Ken: Well, you set a good tone with the keynote, you spent a lot of time on SAP Lumira, so I’d like to start there. If you could talk about the new storytelling capabilities, you spent some time on infographics—is this something that’s available today for customers, and also just curious as to how that relates to the ease of use of Lumira?
Steve: Yeah, well it definitely was more of a—call it “coming soon”—I mean no one’s seen that before, what we showed today, so it was a great backdrop, this event, to use that for, to use this for announcing some new capabilities coming in Lumira. Lumira, at the end of the day, is our business-user-focused business intelligence tool. It’s literally something that anybody watching this right now can go download, you can use it for free, if you’re an individual user, and the capabilities that we demonstrated, really what those are all about is we acknowledge being, you know, the experts in business intelligence, that it’s not about just the numbers, you can use any BI tool to access data and get numbers, but clearly where people, or what people want today and where they are today is they want to be able to visualize those numbers, the information around the data, in new and interesting ways.
But we have found it goes beyond just visualizing data, you have to tell a story, whenever you’re delivering good news, or bad news, or mediocre news, it doesn’t matter. There’s always a story behind the data, there always is. And we find that a lot of people using analytics tools, they go through a process of some Excel work, then some BI work, then some PowerPoint work, and there’s that process, and we want to shrink all of that down into one cohesive toolset, one solution, and that’s what Lumira is, especially with the infographics and BI storytelling capability.
Ken: Ok. So as far as shrinking everything down as it relates to an overall platform, you’re talking about enabling, giving organizations the opportunity to be disruptive or to respond to disruption, really based on the HANA platform. So lot of people here—this is our first HANA event, might not be too familiar with HANA. Can you just talk about, sum up, maybe, the value of real-time analytics, and not just the value, but the danger, perhaps, of really not taking advantage of these opportunities?
Steve: Sure. Well, I think a lot of people interpret SAP HANA as a database, and that’s where things start to kind of spiral the wrong direction, so to speak, because that’s not what SAP HANA is about, it happens to have database capabilities, but HANA is about disrupting the way that businesses and IT organizations go after opportunities. And today without HANA, and for many years, IT organizations will cobble together five or six different products from four or five different companies to try and solve things like storing data, the database, analyzing data, the analytics solution, predicting or acting on that information, and then understanding what it means, sensing it. And it takes a lot of different products to do that, but HANA literally solves all of that and much, much more—one technology.
And so if you think about the processes you don’t have to go through, by having one consolidated, integrated enterprise platform, that in and of itself makes your company more nimble, and gives you the opportunity to respond to that disruption that inevitably will come in the industry. But it’s more than that, what really, what HANA is all about, is it’s giving companies the ability to move faster, to be smarter, with the capabilities that are built into it, and to do it all in a very simple manner. HANA is all about simplicity, and that’s one of the major focus areas, so what HANA ends up doing is HANA benefits our business intelligence tools, whether they integrate to it or not, it benefits our mobile tools, it benefits all kinds of things. The amazing thing for me is we’re finding many, many companies that use nothing but HANA from SAP now. They don’t use our ERP systems, they don’t use our analytics, but they’ve come to us and they use HANA because they think it can transform how they work.
Ken: So, something interesting I thought you just said was the BusinessObjects tools, or BI tools can use HANA whether it integrates with them or not, and I heard you say at the keynote that it’s a recommendation of SAP for obviously, HANA, but the solutions aren’t dependent on it. Is that recommendation, you know, as we go down the road in the next year or so, is that going to change a little bit, or…?
Steve: Well, we have a real simple strategy, it’s called “better together.” And that strategy is you can use HANA separately, you can use BusinessObjects, separately, you can use our mobile platform separately. So if I’m a company that just wants to build mobile apps, that can run on every device imaginable out there, our mobile platform is the solution for you. If you want to use our BusinessObjects capability, Lumira, for example, to do analytics on any kind of data, it doesn’t matter, and it certainly doesn’t have to be from SAP, then obviously BusinessObjects is the business intelligence platform for you and Lumira is a very powerful analytic tool, especially the visualization.
And HANA, again, if you want to transform your enterprise platform in how you respond and build new applications and how they perform, again, you can use that separately, but this “better together” strategy, they—it’s amazing because when you start to put these products together they unlock some really neat capabilities that you just wouldn’t get if you were using them independently. So for us, our vision is simple, it’s to be able to provide any company—small, medium, big, doesn’t matter—an entire end-to-end platform, whether they want to run it on premise or in the cloud, we don’t care, that will allow them to respond to these disruptions that seemingly just now are starting to come through industry, you know, it used to feel like year by year and now it’s like month by month, day by day almost, it’s amazing.
Ken: Ok, and then lastly, you mentioned in the keynote that tomorrow, I believe, is the launch party of NetWeaver BW 7.4 on HANA, and the theme at the keynote was the innovation factory, NetWeaver BW 7.4 on HANA, what’s its place, is that the foundation of the factory, can you talk about that in terms of the disruption?
Steve: Well for SAP customers, I mean BW is a mainstay for a lot of them, and when we talk about, you know, this innovation factory it’s the idea of being able to build any app or any cloud-based service or anything very, very quickly to respond to competitive threats or disrupt the industry on your own, your own industry. And BW 7.4 is all about making that factory more streamlined, anybody that owns, you know, a factory, would never say no for an incredibly low-cost or free—depending on if you already own BW, but an incredible low-cost way to make your factory more efficient, you know, less maintenance within the factory, and BW 7.4 has a huge range of features that customers have been clamoring for, specifically around HANA. And so again, that combination of BW and HANA is, it’s unbeatable and we’re very excited about BW 7.4.
Ken: Great. Well Steve, thanks for joining us, and I just have to say before we leave, we didn’t color-coordinate here, our outfits…
Steve: No, we did not, but pretty amazing.
Ken: Looking sharp.
Steve: Thank you, same to you.
Ken: Again, this is Ken Murphy, with SAPinsider, I’ve been chatting with Steve Lucas, President of SAP Platform Solutions.