This blog was initially supposed to be about Roambi vs SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (SAP BO Cloud from here on out), little did I know that this comparison would be mute given the fact that the two are not competing technologies but instead part of a larger solution. I get the impression that I’m not the only one who has made this mistake and is having trouble keeping up with the continuous changes taking place on SAP’s analytic solutions offering. The aim of this blog is therefore to highlight some of the recent developments surrounding SAP’s BO Cloud and Roambi, in an attempt to answer some of the questions I’m assuming many of you who are not closely monitoring the developments may have.
SAP BO Cloud is the latest and greatest in product offerings in SAP’s strive to remain the market leader and trendsetter when it comes to next generation business applications and analytics. In line with that ambition, SAP purchased an up and coming mobile analytical platform called Roambi (pronounced Rome-bee) early 2016. Fast forward one year and it’s still not fully clear where SAP is positioning this relatively newly acquired software. Especially when considering the increased attention surrounding BusinessObjects Cloud, it’s as though Roambi may have been placed on the backburner, however this is not the case, a point which will be illustrated later in this blog.
Before we dive into what the two tools are and how they compare let’s start by taking a look at SAP’s overall approach to analytics in general.
The above image clearly outlines a number of key factors SAP has chosen to pursue going forward. For one, mixed scenarios will be the trend for the coming years, wherein cloud as well as on premise solutions will coexist and need to be interoperable to leverage the speed, robust analytical capabilities, and security SAP’s customers have grown accustomed to over the years. Secondly, we can see a merging of three key areas that today’s businesses are often still doing independently of one another, namely; Analytical reporting (Business Intelligence), planning, and if at all applicable predictive. SAP’s approach to these areas seems to be heading towards a more interconnected, self-improving, cyclical process in which business data forms the basis for planning, which can be complemented by letting predictive models increase forecast accuracy, and additionally used to gain automated insights, which may not have been apparent. Lastly, we can see that the focus is also on mobile first. Mobile first means that if a solution does not work well on mobile, it is simply not used. This is especially the case for the Cloud version of BusinessObjects, which is where we see the first signs of overlap between BO Cloud and Roambi. This gives us the first clue as to why SAP may have decided to acquire Roambi. To get a better understanding of the analytical solutions offered by SAP let’s take a more in-depth look at BO Cloud and Roambi.
So what is BO Cloud? BO Cloud is as SAP puts it, “an all-in-one cloud platform for business intelligence, planning, and predictive analytics.” SAP BO Cloud encompasses several analytical frameworks, upon which the digital boardroom is built. The digital boardroom represents the management reporting style of the future, in which an all-encompassing view of the organization can be given, from very board to very narrow thanks to intricate drilldown technology being directly available in the so called stories. The business user of the near future will be able to create compelling stories consisting of, for example, a historical, planned, and predicted outlook on the organizations operations, and all this thanks to the Cloud Platform.
And what about Roambi? Roambi is a data visualization and publishing platform with a mobile first philosophy. Roambi offers users data analytics with a user centric experience. Through either mobile apps or a web-application, users can easily access their data on the go. At the time of writing, there are nine templates for online as well as offline usage. As was the case for BO Cloud both cloud as well as on premise data sources can serve as input for the tool. Roambi prides itself on its mobile friendly visualizations, featuring multi touch capabilities as well as a very responsive interface on any device.
So what’s the difference? For the keen reader, it may have dawned upon you that there are some key similarities between SAP BO Cloud and Roambi. The lines of what tool is designed for what purpose is slowly but surely fading as the BO Cloud platform further develops. Back in June of 2016 an SAP representative stated the following “We are investigating how SAP BusinessObjects Cloud will take advantage of SAP BusinessObjects Roambi, but we have nothing to communicate at this time.” This statement indicated that SAP was in the process of trying to figure out how exactly it would incorporate the tool. However in a more recent publication the official statement made by SAP was more concrete “A key component of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud is the SAP® BusinessObjects™ Roambi® Web application, delivering amazing visualizations instantly on any mobile device so business users can intuitively understand and explore data and share information across the enterprise”.
It seems SAP has not quite yet figured out how it plans to position the Roambi tool. With its comparable functionality and own pricing scheme it seems a co-existence is the initial approach, however if we take a look at the future roadmap, it becomes clear that SAP BO Cloud and Roambi are converging towards one another much like Lumira and Design studio is (towards Lumira 2.0).
This is a trend we have seen SAP being repeated several times in the past, in which once a competitor gets a sizeable market share they simply acquire it and incorporate the best parts of that acquisition into its own technological offerings. This strategy has worked in the past for SAP, however makes the architectural landscape more challenging. As companies invest significant capital into one tool that could potentially be phased out only a few years later. This is why we are seeing a trend towards “as a service” solutions being offered at various levels, for varying enterprise sizes. A trend, which we firmly stand behind, given the flexibility and speed that these technologies facilitate.
We at McCoy and Partners are closely monitoring the latest developments on not only Sap BO Cloud & Roambi, but also on tools such as Lumira 2.0, Predictive analytics, embedded analytics, and hybrid scenario’s to be able to truly assist customers in making the right decisions. Are you also interested in the possibilities of what Roambi, SAP BO Cloud, or any of the other latest solutions could mean for your organization, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, we’ll be more than happy to help navigate you through this maze of comprehensive applications.