Live from SAPinsider Studio: Pat Saporito on Developing a BI Strategy

December 16, 2014

Pat Saporito, Senior Director of SAP's Global BI Center of Excellence, visits SAPinsider Studio during Reporting & Analytics 2014 to discuss developing a BI strategy. Topics of the discussion include:

  • Innovative opportunities with SAP BusinessObects BI 4.1
  • Enabling self-service BI in BI 4.1
  • How SAP is helping to drive simplicity in its BI portfolio
  • Tips and tricks for formalizing a BI strategy

View the video, and read the full transcript of the conversation here:

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, and I am at the SAPinsider Reporting & Analytics 2014 event, and I’m pleased to be joined by Pat Saporito , the Senior Director of SAP’s Global Center of Excellence for BI. Pat, welcome.

Pat Saporito, SAP: Thank you.

Ken: So you presented a jumpstart session here at the event on developing a well-defined BI strategy and roadmap. I’d like to start with an interesting stat that you presented, and that is a Nucleus Research report that indicates that for every $1 spent on analytics returns $10 in earnings. Yet despite that more than half of organizations don’t have a well-defined BI strategy. Why do you think that is? What’s the holdup?

Pat: There are several reasons. One of them is that there’s a lack of proven return on investment. And it comes down to lack of executive sponsorship and awareness. So getting those executive sponsors behind the funding; it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg scenario where if you don’t show the value you don’t get the funding, and that’s why having a formalized BI strategy is so important.

Ken: So there’s no proven ROI even with these reports coming out from Nucleus that show that there is a return?

Pat: Well, there are examples of course, but  every organization is going to want to see those case studies applied within their existing environment.

Ken: So how does SAP help customers simplify and decide on a BI strategy, specifically BI 4.1? How does that help?

Pat: The latest tools in BI 4.1 help customers actually simplify the administration and also apply the innovations in 4.1 that support those business cases. So for example the ability for some of the mobile applications that you don’t have to do redevelopment; so if you develop it in WebI it’s developed in one platform and it can be published multiple ways, including mobile. So that saves costs obviously in the development cycle. But more importantly it’s about enabling self-service. As we all know there’s a big trend for users to want to produce their own analytics yet we want them to use tools that are part of the standard business intelligence suite and to leverage the assets that they already have, especially the data universes and data security. So we want them to be able to be agile to produce their own analytics yet to do that in a secure and a programmatic way.

Ken: And is that where SAP Lumira comes in?

Pat: Absolutely, Lumira is one of the products within the BI 4.1 suite, Web Intelligence, Explorer, there are different tools obviously in self-service that we would use for different users depending on their capabilities and their needs.

Ken: So do all of these new technologies that are coming together; in-memory, mobility, does it make it easier now for organizations to develop that strategy than it had been?

Pat: Yes, it absolutely does and you touched on a couple of points. So one of them is in-memory; so the whole purpose is to actually develop those analytics but not just to develop them but to apply them in real-time. Often, organizations produce dashboards but unfortunately the dashboards produce metrics that are after the fact. So we want to make sure that we get leading indicators and information out to the business before the final metric is determined so that they can actually affect the outcomes.

The other thing you mentioned is cloud. And so when organizations are trying to innovate and really BI 4.1 is all about innovation, it’s about for example you can set up – instead of having to worry about how do we upgrade our existing environment, or create additional instances – we can set up things in the cloud to take advantage of those innovations so that we’re not held back from doing a major upgrade overall. So you can do parallel. You can use the cloud to replace, or you can use the cloud to augment your existing environment.

Ken: So with all of these new tools and innovations, why do some organizations’ BI strategies still fail? I know you talked about this in your presentation, it seems that this wouldn’t be the case?

Pat: The reasons for failure largely are frankly due to lack of business alignment. So for the IT working with the business, and the business actually understanding why they need to participate in things like data stewardship, in basically being business analysts. I would say it’s all about communication. And so if I were to leave companies with three thinks to think about, it’s No. 1 yes develop a BI strategy, a programmatic strategy, and to do that you really need a BI competency center, or center of excellence. So just like our center of excellence within SAP, our customers have to develop that to. And lastly what I encourage customers to do is to use some of the tools and the facilities that we provide for them, and one of the really excellent ones is doing a BI self-assessment to measure what your capabilities are in-house. This provides – so customers can actually use this tool on the website to conduct a business discovery, it will help the alignment between the business and IT start that communication, start to build that BI competency center, and continue that communication and working together.

Ken: Any take home resources that might help?

Pat: No. 1 I would suggest for one, and No. 2 we also have the website which has a number of excellent resources in there including an online e-book about BI strategy.

Ken: And Pat I understand you’ve also recently authored a book recently that sheds some light on these topics?

Pat: Absolutely, the title of the books is “Applied Insurance Analytics,” published by the Financial Times Press, and while it was written specifically for the insurance industry, many of the best practices that we just talked about can actually be applied to any industry and there are a number of frameworks in there. It’s available on, Barnes & Noble and other publishers.

Ken: Pat, thank you for joining us today.

Pat: My pleasure, thank you for having me.

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