Live from SAPinsider Studio: Paul Davis of Vantage Point on BPC and BI integration

December 23, 2015

Paul Davis, Vice President of Client Solutions, Vantage Point Solutions, joins SAPinsider Studio during the 2015 BPC Bootcamp in Las Vegas to discuss integration of SAP Business Planning and Consolidation with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence.

This is an edited transcript of the discussion:

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider and I’m here at the SAPinsider BPC Bootcamp. Today, I’m pleased to be joined by Paul Davis, who is the Vice President of Client Solutions for Vantage Point Solutions. Paul, thanks for being here with us.

Paul Davis, Vantage Point Solutions: Thank you, Ken.

Ken: We’re here to discuss the integration between BPC and BusinessObjects Business Intelligence; you have a session on that. Can you address why bringing analytic s and reporting into the finance function so important today, and maybe address how we got to where we are today?

Paul: Historically they’ve been two different animals. Reporting is a requirement that everyone has to produce from the finance function, a set of reports on a monthly basis both internal and external reports. But it’s often been operated as kind of a whole separate paradigm of performance management. BPC, a market-leading EPM or enterprise performance management tool, is really functional-driven built around a specific process such as budgeting or forecasting, or financial consolidation, which is great because it’s utilized to capture numbers, create outputs, but it really needs to be brought together with Business Intelligence reporting to get the full spectrum picture of what reports are. Kind of the deeper numbers behind the functional process that a BPC would put out. So really they’re complementary but too often they haven’t come together at a single output of data.

Ken: So it seems that SAP, what we heard this morning at the keynote, is sort of coalescing its entire analytics platform around this concept you just talked about. Do you see your clients on-board with this direction? Is there confusion over it?

Paul: I think there’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace. Certainly a propensity towards late adopters, especially in the finance function, the finance function tends to be risk-avoidant and a little bit slower to adopt. But I think what they’re seeing in the marketplace today is really this groundswell of information. It only makes sense that these tools come together, and the fact that SAP has really laid out the most comprehensive, the most clearly laid out roadmap for bringing these toolsets together; not only the toolsets together but the data together so it’s shared, it’s consistent, it’s common, it’s actionable. And that’s where we’re seeing customers really start to pick up an interest. Ironically we’re finding almost a dichotomy who are really interested in it, either the large players the global Fortune 100, but then also some of the small SME type businesses that are maybe younger organizations who are interested in being at the forefront and out there on the cutting edge. And they’re some of the early adopters. So you almost find the ends of the business that are ones that are grabbing onto this first whereas maybe some of the older organizations who’ve grown up and their processes and systems are kind of set in place that are having a tougher time catching the vision for it. And I think that’s why events like this are so vital because not only is the vision and roadmap important, the business case and the return on investment becomes astronomically valuable and it’s just a matter of getting folks to understand that.

Ken: So to come to that understanding and take that next step do you really have to as an organization level-set and define what business analytics means? Is there a set definition that everyone can come to the same understanding or does it vary?

Paul: I think there’s an evolution that’s been taking place over the last decade or two around the definition of analytics. In fact, in many cases organizations even SAP is putting business intelligence and EPM under the same analytics umbrella because it makes too much sense, they’re too related of a functionality, the same data, the same processes. And so there’s been an evolution of very purpose-built or focused data warehouses that were used for analytics now coming together as a whole enterprise strategy around BI, how it integrates tightly with performance management tools, how it integrates with ERP systems, to have one consistent enterprise view of the data homogenized, in real-time, and actionable to respond to market changes a lot quicker.

Ken:  You’re talking about a BPC integrated with a BusinessObjects Business Intelligence scenario, but can the biggest issues be solved with just pursuing an EPM solution or just BI? Can you still have efficient gains with one or the other?

Paul: Absolutely, they both serve their purposes. BI is certainly critical to answering the everyday questions that organizations have and doing large volume data analysis, graphical interfaces. EPM on the contrary with BPC focused on financial planning, consolidation, so yes you can solve the business issues with those tools separately. The interesting thing is, bringing them together into a unified platform you actually gain value in your investment in either one. Suddenly when they’re working together the two are better or more valuable than the one. And so I think what organizations are understanding is their data is an asset, and by siloing them in separate business purposes they’re actually giving away some of their asset instead of incorporating it and utilizing it to the maximum potential.

Ken: All that said, like we heard in the keynote this morning about the benefits of SAP Cloud for Analytics. Why not just move in that direction? Why keep existing patchwork of point solutions – why not just go to Cloud for Analytics? Is that a matter of timing?

Paul: A lot of it is timing right now. It’s a new product that’s still growing up. Initially I had my concerns about how capable the product was going to be until I really took a look under the covers and started to understand SAP’s roadmap. Eventually there will be fantastic benefit going toward Cloud for Analytics, which – I described this in a session today – it’s like taking the BI tools and the EPM tools and some of the ERP and data science tools and predictive and putting it in a bag and shaking it up and coming up with one enterprise platform. So from a roadmap perspective Cloud for Analytics is going to solve a lot of that as it matures and grows, but I definitely think there’s space for the on-premise point solutions for business intelligence or EPM just natively. There’s a fantastic history and a lot of maturity with those tools and products that have spent years being developed, and I think it’s too early to put them out to pasture.

Ken: Paul, thanks for joining us today.

Paul: Thank you, Ken.

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