Sep 12, 2013

The new application that detects a cheating HANA partner

As someone once said 'Cheating is a choice, not a mistake'

AUTHOR'S NOTE: What follows represents an actionable roadmap of possible paths in our global HANA decisions. If you consider this story farfetched then do some independent Gartner and Google research and come to your own conclusions. You will hear a lot of key finding repeated in my papers, and the reason for that is though I have been publishing and stating them for over 3 years I find no one listening. Two reasons for that either it challenges everything they, the big x influencers, have believed in for the last decade and built their processes and practice on it, or they are better off not resonating with the Gartner and other statements as that will mean a change of their methodology into something they are not familiar with.

I work as a HANA solution architect for one of the big implementing partners and have lived a perfect life in selling in the SAP BI space for the last 14 years. I have been working with this fortune 100 corporation and have been their preferred advisor for over ten years. They trust me and my advice and I am living close to a perfect life, but then this new HANA app ruined everything.

My name is John Dimming, and for almost the last two decades I have happily lived two lives. Most days I am the perfect advisor, a near perfect BI solution architect, SAP BI leader that is dependent, reliable and highly capable. When my customers need any advice I am there for them. 
No one except my select customers knew me and that for me represented my perfect life. I lived in the shadows of perfection and my advice has been taken without much challenge.

I come from an engineering background and got into BI and BI sales as I passed out from the university. My education, my training and my mentors taught me one thing – that BI technology has reached the pinnacle of capabilities and can today, this was in 2002, answer any question that a business user needs. In fact I firmly believed that if a business group needed 60 reports to meet their requirements my business content could give them 300 and far exceed their expectations. I followed the path that over 90% of BI solution architects have followed for the last decade or so.  However, in the back of my mind there was a gnawing feeling that I was not doing a perfect business solution. What we provided were perfect technical solutions.

Then I read the global Gartner report of 2003 that rocked my mind and split my mind into two distinct paradigms. The report, though simple, had a profound impact on the future of BI. It clearly stated that according to the feedback of over 1500 CIO’s “Fewer than 50% of BI reports would meet business expectations”.
This report took almost 2 years to sink-in when I happened to read it again because one of my CFO’s asked me how that related to them. It was followed by another report that stated that ‘98% of BI projects are declared successful in week one of Go Live, yet less than 50% of them remain successful by week 10”

 Looking back I realized though we did 2 to 4 multi-million BI projects a year yet very few of them were truly reference able. In each of them we had popped champagne bottles after go live and never looked back as we celebrated in Mexico or Las Vegas for another project well done. We never looked back – and that is something I started doing around 2010.
I started to see a common pattern of ‘The BI project was an IT success, but a BI failure’ where the client management and key stakeholders could rarely go back to their stockholders and state that their multi-million BI project was a failure. This pattern was consistent whether the project was Oracle, Teradata or any other BI application.

By 2011 I realized that I was part of a big deception of selling very high quantity of reports and custom objects, something that cost clients large budgets, but more often than not very little information. It was common to deliver 360 FI reports but rarely did we measure what business users could actually use.
Business users, who were they, in all our projects we actually forbade them to come into the project war-room. If one of them inadvertently entered the room I personally raised the red flag to the CEO or CFO recommending they keep business users out of the project room as they were an unnecessary distraction. Our statement was - our company was a global consulting leader and we had deployed hundreds of BI projects and we knew more about what the company needed than most business users. We never lost.

Very soon I realized that though I was talented my talent was limited to deception. Having worked with CxO level stakeholders for so long I am trained and can construct perfectly logical success stories and convince my customers. But now a gnawing sense of insecurity crept in as I realized I was continuing to sell application support, architecture, modeling with a solid track record of over 70% failure. But there was nothing else I knew so I continued with my deception and my bonuses.
For all these years I had a free pass that got me a lot of satisfaction that required me to completely cut loose from my forebodings and concerns and after each meeting and sale I would come back a renewed man more convinced that maybe Gartner was all wrong about this.

Then in 2011 an 8 million dollar BI project that I was involved in failed most user tests eight weeks before go live. The BI lead, having read the 2003 Gartner report, asked if they could meet at least 40% user satisfaction they would consider the project a success. I requested my company to assign me to another project which they immediately complied. The project in question was postponed by six months but that is now someone elses concern.
In 2012 I was part of the same BI project where my counterpart had convinced them that their failure was not because of bad design, which I knew to be not true at all, but the platform. We recommended moving to HANA and once again I put my professional garb of deception and convinced my customer that because we had been providing them application and business support. When one of the business stakeholders asked why they should spend on HANA if their current BI could not meet over 80% of business reporting expectations, we shut the person down with protocol efficiency.

Then the VP of sales opened the iPhone application ‘BInformed’ and even till today it kills me that I had never heard of this scientific application designed to expose erroneous decisions on big-data decisions and trap cheating, or inexperienced, advisors, lying SI’s and what BI Valuenomics terms as technical criminals in a global heist. At that meeting I thought it was a humorous game and nothing more.  
Here is how it went down as the game was played by the very VP of sales I had buffed using my CIO protocol card. The game started with the detection of advice along random questions that it dared my team to beat. Being the lead honcho, and the BI Solution advisor, I took it upon myself to represent my company with a firm belief to prove to Mr. VP that he was a fool trying to play a business game with an IT demagogue.

Here’s how it went down.
The game started by asking if we used the standard ‘Z’ and ‘Y’ for custom BW developments and I proudly answered Yes.

It then asked what was the recommended BI architecture Data marts, EDW or FEDW- I knew there was nothing called FEDW and selected EDW.
The next question asked if we recommended taking all of the BW as is to BW on HANA and As I had crossed this bridge just a few weeks ago I again answered a solid and loud ‘Yes’.

This continued and in my and each time it was like hitting a jackpot for every question being asked was something I had been familiar with for over a decade.
By Question 9 or 10 I was feeling on top of the world. The question asked whether we could reduce the price of HANA SW and/or HW and I knew the answer both from SAP and HW partners and stated a clear ‘NO’ and asked for the next question.

This pesky game was trying to read my mind on questions that I had answers to. If I had made up the questions myself I could not have done a better job… I waited to hit the next question out of the park…
Then surprisingly, Mr. VP then stated that though there were 22 more question there was no need waste any more time as the result of these answers would provide an indicative success factor.

I smiled waiting for the result as did the foolish business VP who I would crush for wasting the valuable time of over 27 key stakeholders with this stupid game.
The game pulled out the score and visually and with data stated, in front of my 27 followers and key stakeholders that if the program followed the current path the probability of strategic success was less than 18% and that of tactical success under 24%

I could hear the air punched out of my Client managers guts. I could not believe it.
The CEO asked my manager to explain why the result of our questions was so alarming and whether we should continue with the remaining  questions. To which she unfortunately agreed and asked me to continue answering.
The end result was worse than before. We then challenged the game and were proven wrong once again.
You can guess what happened next. Our companies went for a simple divorce and so did the next three as they were measured on the same silly game. We hear that one company scored over 80% and have been trying to get their answers but each time we reach out to our old loyalists they shrink away in fear.

We not only divorced from that company but the application may result in divorcing me from my company. I have been challenging this vehemently and blogging about this useless game over my social network only to cause more and more people to use this business focused evil game. Who cares about business they are all fools and I will get my Technocrats back on the path that I have been pimping for the last decade. .

Authors note:
1.      This is a fictional story, but is has a string of truth in it.
2.      It is a reminder that if you are a cheater and your BI projects are a string of non-reference able failures maybe you need to retool your solutions, and recommendations, before you make the next HANA pitch
      3.      HANA is certainly not a technical implementation, but a business solution.
4.      My goal here is to place the question in the head of every big x consulting company: What will you’re your life be like when the truth finally becomes inescapable?
5.      And, for business stakeholders: it’s time you took ownership and accountability in every stage and every deliverable from your BI investments, all it takes is two hour of your time.

Gartner’s check:
1.      There is a very high probability that over 50% of reports in your production environment do not meet, or will never meet, business expectations
2.      In 2012 Gartner ran the same report and the result of over 2,400 CIO’s indicated that ‘Less than 30% of BI projects will meet business expectations in 2012-14” (author can send the report deconstructed for free- send email)

What’s in your pocket..

Sep 5, 2013

7 emerging trends in Big Data – SAP BW-on-HANA focused

Today it does not matter where on the planet one lives if we’re involved with SAP then HANA is a very bright light that is no longer on the horizon but getting closer every day. Many large customer are now inside this light and are reaping the benefits of moving to HANA, some are struggling to get to terms. Here are the 7 trends that are ensuring that HANA initiatives are not only successful but also the ROI is substantially lower. Today no matter where you live on the globe you are living in your own silicon valley

1. HANA is not a technology installation but a business solution
Customers and service providers: Despite repeating this singularity since 2010 we still see companies taking to HANA as just a technology installation. A technology installation is defined as lets take our current BW as is and migrate to HANA.  This is a very engineering and technocratic view of deploying HANA and is delivering results but lacking in maximizing its true potential. To these customers we ask a few fundamental questions.
Question 1: What is the business-benefit of accelerating your 700 second query to 1 second if businesses will never use the query?
Question 2: What is your interpretation when Gartner in 2003 stated that ‘fewer than 50% of BI projects will meet business expectations’ or when in 2012 they revalidated that ‘less than 30% of BI project will meet business expectations? Our interpretation is that there are over 50%, or 70% in 2012, of queries in your production BW that business does not need or is not using. Why take all these to HANA
HANA is very sexy but there are bonus points for all concerned to ensure that we clean up the landscape and environment before we migrate to HANA. We have witnessed anywhere from 20% to 60% reduction in database size by clean-up efforts. This translates to 20 to 60% reduction in initial costs and annual SLA’s that can be millions of dollars in each bucket.

2. Apps, Apps and more Apps
Service Providers: The shortest way to HANA success is in building applications for HANA. SAP has already committed a $1 billion fund for HANA start-ups, and this is the actionable roadmap for thinkers and doers to launch their billion dollar company and idea. Without a doubt, this solution cannot be a technocratic solution but need to be a business solution that impacts the business bottom line. The higher the demonstrable impact the higher the probability of success.

3. Big data is now a way of business-success-life

As we dive deeper into traditional RDBMS databases meeting our commitment to provide a query response in a 10 second timeframe is becoming more and more difficult. One simple solution is to decrease the time frame. So when we started BW we saw a year worth of data, then we shrank this to six months, then a quarter, then a month. With each spurt of growth our decision vision is becoming smaller. In driving we call this a tunnel-vision and in driving this can cause accidents. Another method of meeting the 10 second query response is caching, pre-summarizing, and other ‘tunnel-vision’ solutions.
Now suddenly, as big data is becoming more and more a reality from things like social network analysis, customer emotion analysis, running global scenarios, looking at five year trends and other such analytics as a minimum requirement. In addition customer are no longer willing to wait for once a month cost and profitability analysis because it takes 24 hours to run, and this includes global MRP runs, financial closings detailed P&L reports by plant and sales office, etc. All these business expectations and having to deal with very large and very complex runs are converging tin what is becoming best business practice.
So big data is here to stay and grow, business expectations are not going to go backwards and we all need to create dynamic and real-time business solutions to meet, and often, exceed business expectations

4. The Socially connected economy

Days when customers waited for days or weeks before responding to their stock allocations are now gone – people trade in real time and business needs to react similarly. Days when customer lived outside the firewall and marketing firms provided customer sentiments once a year are now gone- now companies measure customer emotions in real-time as they release new products or trade promotions. Days when customers talked with one or two individuals with little global impact are gone- now customer constantly communicate over social networks and can literally make of break a product launch in a matter of hours- companies now track thee customer in real-time and we are now living in a PR golden years as we can see emotions in real time. Days when service was only dispatched when a machine broke-down are now gone- now machine parts talk to other machine parts and call for service parts before they breakdown- companies are now working with machine talk in order to save billions of dollars in machine downtime and service outages. Our cars routinely tell us it is time for servicing or something is not optimal, like the tire pressure is low.  All of this is just the beginning of the socially connected economy where not only human but all kinds of devices talk to each other and automated consolidators for global optimization.
5. The globally linked economy
More and more people are now citizens of social groups some larger that many nations. These groups talk about families in Facebook or focused discussions on HANA like in ‘In-Memory SAP HANA’ group and learn and share their experiences with other members in the socially connected groups. Each of these members is influencing others in small and great ways and these links are becoming the source of global sharing of ideas and concerns.

6. SAP HANA is truly not as costly as you perceive it to be
All companies that have taken the route to ‘technocratic-HANA-Installation’ have mostly overpaid for their assets, and often compromised their ROI to a very large degree. Proactive companies are coming out with scientific principles on how to increase quality, lower costs and decrease time for deployment. Today there are few hurdles, as many customers have built all the proof points and what customers get today is extremely efficient ways to decrease their HANA costs, accelerators to rethink their global HANA methodology, many ways to reduce their HANA costs and more ways to get higher and higher user satisfaction. Very few of these are based on simple HANA installations. What one gets reminded day after day on the road is the 2010 Gartner statement ‘Without business in business intelligence, BI is dead’. So business stakeholders roll-up your sleeves and become part of the HANA deployment, architecture, modeling and deliverables decision flow.

 7. What got you here will not take you there
If we believe Gartner’s statements in -section 1, question 2- are true then our current architecture, standards and processes are currently pretty flawed. In fact they represent a 50% to 70% flaw. Proactive companies are spending a little time planning and laying a strong foundation of ‘Global HANA methodology’ and working with new HANA based paradigms, architecture, modelling, standards and processes and realizing user success scores over and above 85%- after 20 weeks of go-live. I state this based on another research that came back with ‘98% of BI projects are declared successful in week 1 after go live, yet only 50% remain successful by week 10’.
So your thought of the day is to measure the success of your BI project only 15 weeks after go-live, i.e. when business is actually using and familiar with that they have received.