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The Role of SAP Lumira (previously SAP Visual Intelligence)

Just a few years ago SAP has introduced a new Business Analytics presentation layer tool that has immediately caught attention and became a leader in the industry: SAP Visual Intelligence. Today - renamed as SAP Lumira - it offers a lot of capabilities allowing to visualize and analyze data from many different sources including SAP HANA, SAP BW, MS Excel, Universes, SQL Server, Hadoop, etc.

SAP Lumira is a self-service tool used directly by LOB (Line of Business). As soon as IT has prepared a robust data model and has exposed it to a Presentation Layer tool, the business users are autonomous: i.e. they can create powerful visualizations with numbers and charts, apply filtering and ranking, set hierarchies, apply exceptions, use geographical functionality (map visualizations), build storyboards, etc.

This insight has the objective to provide a holistic overview of how to use SAP Lumira.

Data preparation

As a first step, a user has to connect to the data source (or data sources) by entering credentials of the SAP HANA/ SAP BW platform (or another platform) and selecting appropriate query or view. It is essentially just a few clicks before he/she can start analyzing the data directly from the source. In most scenarios datasets are imported to the Lumira Desktop application on a user’s PC. However, in the case the user opts for a "Connect to SAP HANA”, the data is not imported to the user’s PC, but queried against a HANA server directly.

Figure 1 - Add a new dataset in SAP Lumira

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In the Data Preparation mode users can create new calculated dimensions or measures. In case of the need to analyze multiple data sources in one Lumira visualization, users can merge or append datasets (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Merge or Append two datasets

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Creating various data visualizations in SAP Lumira is almost as easy as making a PowerPoint presentation. User needs to drag and drop measures and dimensions, select appropriate visualization type, apply filters, ranking, and formatting. SAP Lumira offers a wide range of charts, maps and plots that can be accessed from the drop downs. Custom charts can also be built and installed as an extension which would be available in the Chart Builder.

Figure 3- Sample Sales by Month and Product Category

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Figure 4 - Sample Ranking Top 10 Customers, Sales, Profit

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Figure 5- Sales by Region on the map

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Compose Storyboards

Composing story boards is a simple drag and drop exercise. Storyboards may combine visualizations from multiple data sources, can have filters and ranking applied to selected visualizations or the whole story.

Figure 6 - Sales by Customer Storyboard Combining Multiple Visualizations

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Figure 7 - Sales & Profit Storyboard by Region and Province

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Deployment Options

SAP Lumira is most commonly available today as a Desktop version. It's also available as a cloud version (i.e., SAP Lumira Cloud) or server version (SAP Lumira Server). The Lumira Server version brings capabilities of publishing and sharing stories between multiple user groups as well as (the option of) integrating smoothly with SAP HANA.

Figure 8 - Multiple Deployment Options (Source: SAP)

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Custom Extensions

With custom extensions developers can build custom visualizations and connectors to tell unique data stories. There is were your storyboard can gain an edge case: e.g., a small addition which make a certain chart type just great for your story. Similarly, your insights might require a wealth of different sources and thus require you to build a special connector for you to report on it. In both cases, you may want to leverage SAP Web IDE to build your own custom charts and connectors.

At the same time a whole range of custom extensions is available for download in the Analytics Extensions Directory.

Strenghts of SAP Lumira
  • Easy to use – no need for special IT skills, a person familiar with MS Office products can immediately start working with Lumira and prepare visualizations and storyboards
  • Powerful presentation and data analysis tool connected in real time to multiple datasets. Upon data refresh and selections users can write their observations and findings in the same storyboard
  • Integration with SAP HANA, BW, BW on HANA, and non-SAP sources
  • Prompts and hierarchies integration for BW BEx queries and HANA views
  • Cubes to go – capability to refresh datasets to a PC/tablet and work with them in an offline mode (e.g. on the plane)
  • Geo maps integration via creating geographic hierarchies by names or Latitude/Longitude
  • Ability to publish/share stories via a BI Platform
  • Access to a range of open source custom Visualization and Data Access extensions
  • Ability to download SAP Lumira stories on Mobile BI application for offline viewing
  • Performance of SAP Lumira is better than BO Webi on large datasets whether on the desktop or in the BI Platform (See benchmark test results conducted by a SAP Partner)
Improvements needed within SAP Lumira 1.31
  • No capability yet to integrate input ready queries (planning and budgeting) – currently available in BO Design Studio
  • No easy possibility for formatted multi page reports for printing
  • Missing report to report interface (launching another report/dashboard based on user selections)
  • On click actions (using selections from a chart and applying them elsewhere) – currently available in BO Design Studio
  • No reports bursting/distribution capability – probably there is no need for this feature long term
  • Currency conversions are not directly supported– currently available in BO Design Studio
  • Lumira Desktop requires a client tool installation
  • Lumira Server at the moment has a number of limitations vs. Lumira Desktop
  • Integration with Hadoop is not mature yet
  • There are still a number of issues and bugs to be fixed (See a list of issues in Lumira 1.31 compiled by SAP)
What's expected with SAP Lumira 2.0

SAP has announced a convergence of Design Studio 1.x and Lumira 1.x into a new product SAP Lumira 2.0 by the end of 2016/beginning of 2017. This will be one product with two clients. It will ensure inter-operability, and will be used for data discovery and application design.

According to the SAP’s Roadmap SAP BO Lumira and BO Analysis for MS Office become key tools for data discovery, visualizations and analysis. Reports bursting and distribution together with printer friendly formatting are the only features that remain strong in BO Webi and Crystal Reports.


Figure 9 - Multiple Deployment Options (Source: SAP)

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Today SAP Lumira is a powerful data visualization, dashboarding and analysis tool that can be used on top of SAP HANA, SAP BW and a multitude of other data sources. Business users can visualize their KPIs and prepare impressive business analytics storyboards based on large datasets. The key to success here is to have a performing data model together with a range of queries and views available "under the hood”. Additionally, developers can leverage a range of open source custom extensions in Lumira that will help you tell unique data stories relevant for your business.

By the end of 2016 with Lumira 2.0 we shall expect a complete set of capabilities that is currently missing in Lumira 1.x but is available in BO Design Studio, e.g. data entry capabilities for BPC Embedded, together with bug fixes and additional functionality.

At the same time, the server version of Lumira on the BI Platform 4.2 will leverage story publishing, sharing, commentary services, user notifications, recycle bin, etc.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016