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SAP Analytics
Thought Leadership

OLAP Is Not History

Posted by Jamison Chochrek on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 @ 11:08 AM

OLAP-Column5EPM stands for Enterprise Performance Management.  In a nutshell, it is at least a 4th generation moniker describing an underlying use of OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) technology.  Why should you care?  Well, it really is the current “end game” of computing for most organizations.  If you are an executive or in a leadership role in say, Finance or FP&A, you should really care!  One cannot manage that which they do not measure. Those who can achieve EPM and leverage OLAP technology will outperform their peer groups across the board.  How in the world can you track your EPS or monthly profit if you do not capture and report the information to do so?  How can you take action to get back on plan, or stay ahead of plan, if you have no tools to do so?  This is what EPM is for, and what OLAP has been solving for nearly 40 years.  The path to effective leadership and success is not simply about delivering results; it is about consistently delivering results.  In order to do this one must be able to both monitor their business, and be able to take actions to control the business. 

If your organization is not leveraging an OLAP technology, the odds of your success are against you.  Those organizations that fail to achieve this state of EPM will likely fail.  As a leader, how do you avoid the road to failure and choose the road to success?  Peter Drucker said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”  And if you are not using the world’s top performing OLAP technology (SAP’s BPC) then the other guys who are using the technology have a competitive advantage over you.  Your OLAP technology may be out of date and thus lack core functionality that your competitors are enjoying.

I cannot resist using the definition from Wikipedia to both define OLAP and provide the history:

"The first product that performed OLAP queries was Express, which was released in 1970 (and acquired by Oracle in 1995 from Information Resources). However, the term did not appear until 1993 when it was coined by Edgar F. Codd, who has been described as "the father of the relational database". Codd's paper resulted from a short consulting assignment which Codd undertook for former Arbor Software (later Hyperion Solutions, and in 2007 acquired by Oracle), as a sort of marketing coup. The company had released its own OLAP product, Essbase, a year earlier. As a result Codd's "twelve laws of online analytical processing" were explicit in their reference to Essbase. There was some ensuing controversy and when Computerworld learned that Codd was paid by Arbor, it retracted the article. OLAP market experienced strong growth in late 90s with dozens of commercial products going into market. In 1998, Microsoft released its first OLAP Server - Microsoft Analysis Services, which drove wide adoption of OLAP technology and moved it into mainstream."

Fast forward to today and the Microsoft platform is going strong with a fresh product roadmap recently released by SAP.  Additionally, SAP’s NetWeaver platform, as well as HANA, are gaining tremendous traction.  All platforms are performing well for BPC, and each has thousands upon thousands of clients.  As it sits, about 1/3 our clients are on Microsoft, 1/3 are on NW and 1/3 are on or moving to HANA.  It really makes a statement about a technology when it lasts 40+ years and runs on a variety of platforms.  When you dig deeper into the history of SAP’s BPC, you realize it is the latest and greatest product offering out there.  When you dig a little deeper, you can see the pedigree from Oracle is old, stale and repaints exteriors to the same old solution.  The choice becomes clear.

Revolving DoorSAP’s BPC was born from Hyperion professionals who took the best ideas they could deliver and turned them into Outlooksoft.  It truly is a “next generation” offering from Hyperion.  Consequently, the old problems, like dealing with Essbase and the multi-product federation strategy, could be left behind.  The result is a clean history of Outlooksoft being acquired by SAP, and then the platform growing substantially; both on its native platform of Microsoft leveraging SQL Server and Analysis Services, as well as growing like gangbusters on the NW platform.  Contrast that to Oracle’s crusty OLAP strategy that ultimately embraces both a very old and previous generation of technology.  When you look at the product acquisitions by Oracle, it begins to look like a revolving door in Redwood Shores when it comes to OLAP.  I mean, what’s next, Larry?  You going to replace Hyperion with Microstrategy now? That’s about all that is left out there, and no one really wants that old technology either.

The SAP product history and pedigree of BPC is clean. In fact, it’s pristine.  There was one simple acquisition, and tremendous growth ever since.  BPC has evolved from the Essbase mess and has reached a very mature state. It has experienced amazing adoption. With the new announcements and roadmap for new features like HTML 5.0, the advancements of Predictive Analytics and more, BPC will only get better. 

Read more about EPM!

How EPM Caught the Pizza Bandit!
Considerations in Upgrading to SAP BPC v10
Evaluating EPM? Where to Start Without Hiring a Consultant!
Business Intelligence: A Core Business Competency
How Project Management Can Help You

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Topics: Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), BPC (Business Planning & Consolidation)


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