SAP Lumira Review Summary
SAP Lumira is a relatively new component in SAP’s somewhat fragmented BI suite of products. SAP Business Objects is the IT centric production BI platform, which has some limited self-service capability, but is certainly not competitive with the swathe of new products now available. In an attempt to address this shortfall SAP has introduced Lumira. It comes in several versions. The Standard Edition is for individual use, The Edge Edition for SMEs and teams, Server Edition for the enterprise , and a Cloud Edition for – well, a cloud deployment. There is nothing particularly interesting here, and Lumira is most likely to be adopted by businesses already heavily invested in SAP technology.
In a broader context the SAP BI ecosystem does address all that most large organisations might want to do with their data. It is in effect a one-stop-shop with ETL, master data management, data warehouse, reporting (Crystal Solutions), production BI (BusinessObjects) and data quality functions. SAP’s acquisition of KXEN also adds advanced analytics, although KXEN was never a broad data mining and statistics toolkit, but is more focused on specific functions (typically customer analysis). However the suite of products is not particularly well integrated, and this is often an annoyance to customers.
Lumira does what many other products do – charts, dashboards, some level of collaboration, and of course it is particularly adept at using SAP data sources and platforms (HANA particularly). In common with some other big BI suite players, customers complain of high prices and, in SAPs case, poor product stability. Of course those organisations that are locked into SAP will just have to grin and bear it, but businesses looking for a platform that supports data exploration, discovery and visualisation are presented with many somewhat more suitable options.
SAP generously provides a free edition of Lumira, called the Personal Edition. If all a user wants to do is access Excel and CSV files then this edition will prove useful. In reality however most users will not find it particularly useful, since most data will be stored in databases of various kinds (compare this with fully functioning free desktop versions from Qlik and Microstrategy). The Standard Edition is essentially the Personal Edition with access to a much greater set of data sources, and we should’t expect anything less of a product we actually have to pay for. Both Personal and Standard Editions support the creation and editing of storyboards, and the combining and transformation of data.
The Edge Version for teams adds secure sharing and mobile support. It also enables integration with SAP BusinessObjects and comes with an embedded in-memory database engine, and also comes with an inbuilt portal and administration capability. The Server version is much more an adjunct to SAP BusinessObjects BI platform, but otherwise comes with the embedded in-memory database. SAP Lumira Server edition brings Lumira content into the SAP BusinessObjects environment. The Lumira viewer is integrated into the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform as a web application, enabling users to have the same experience viewing and exploring stories in the BI Launchpad as they do in SAP Lumira. The SAP BusinessObjects BI platform enforces security on Lumira documents, and allows access and categorisation in the same manner as other BI platform content.
For businesses who believe that the SAP way is the only way, then there is no competition for Lumira. However those without such a bias will find a large number of data visualisation platforms that offer greater functionality at a lower cost. Tableau is an obvious alternative, and particularly if it is an adjunct to SAP Business Objects, since Tableau has no production reporting capability. Qlik Sense is another alternative, with excellent data discovery capability and good extensibility. The list of alternatives is pretty well endless and platforms such as Sisense, Birst (cloud), Logi Analytics, TIBCO Spotfire, and many others are all viable data discovery and visualisation alternatives.