I recently took some time to acquaint myself with SAP Lumira and the Lumira Cloud. For those not aware, Lumira (formerly SAP Visual Intelligence) is SAP's latest
reporting tool, and combined with Lumira Cloud it represents SAP's answer to similar products in the "Data Visualization" market. With Business Objects, SAP is certainly no stranger to "infographics" and has always been at the forefront of user-enabled reporting. Lumira extends these capabilities to the lone analyst working from their own spreadsheet or data connection, with a next generation toolset. Lumira also integrates into an existing SAP landscape with connections to SAP HANA or a Universe, and Lumira Server has recently become available, but for this blog I'll be treating it as a standalone tool. It should be noted that everything I'm using here (SAP Lumira Desktop 1.15 and 1GB SAP Lumira Cloud storage) is available for free from SAP.
SAP Lumira and the SAP Lumira Cloud, what they are and how they relate to each other, is a bit confusing at first. There are new terms to memorize, as well as two reporting tools with somewhat overlapping functionality. I'll try to explain... SAP Lumira Desktop
A desktop client application used for creating/editing Datasets, Visualizations and Stories. Datasets can be created from a variety of sources including text files, database connections, HANA or Universes. Datasets and their Visualizations can be stored locally or on the Lumira Cloud, as Documents. Stories are formatted collections of Visualizations. You can publish Stories and Datasets to the Lumira Cloud. Note that in the context of Lumira Cloud, "publishing to" is different than "storing on"... I'll explain below.
An application incorporated into Lumira Cloud that allows the user to explore Datasets and optionally save the resulting Stories to the cloud. In some ways it resembles the Visualize functionality of Lumira Desktop, with fewer features though not a strict subset. And though the saved results are called "Stories" they're unrelated to the Stories you can create in Lumira Desktop.
SAP Lumira Cloud
A file storage location hosted by SAP, accessible via a web page portal and other means. One can upload documents of various types (LUMS, XLS, CSV, RPT, etc.) to store and share with other Lumira Cloud users in a controlled fashion. The Lumira Cloud can host Datasets, created by uploading an XLS or CSV file or published from Lumira Desktop. The only file types that can be opened in the Lumira Cloud (as opposed to simply stored) are Datasets and Stories; Datasets open in Visual Explorer or an intermediate step that automatically proposes "Visual Discoveries" to be explored, and Stories open in either Visual Explorer or a presentation mode depending on how they were created.
An iOS app (named "SAP BI") for viewing Business Objects content on a mobile device. When connected to the Lumira Cloud, Datasets and Stories are visible and can be opened in Visual Explorer, or in presentation mode in the case of Stories created in Lumira Desktop. All other document types are not visible from within the app.
Lumira In Action
I loaded up some Datasets from Excel spreadsheets, as a typical analyst might do, and put Lumira through its paces... Some historical US budget information being "explored" in Visual Explorer - Lumira Desktop displaying global population data in the form of a geomap.
I did some analysis of my own timesheet information and compiled four Visualizations into a Story. Then I published it to the Lumira Cloud and made it available to the public, so anyone can access and interact with it.
There is no way to organize content on the the Lumira Cloud portal. You can't create folders or even choose your own sort. Maybe we'll see this shortcoming addressed as the overall strategy gels. The ability to "Animate" a story (in Visual Explorer) based on a selected dimension is really cool. I'm a sucker for SAP's "morphing" effects. The Lumira Cloud is Powered by HANA, which leads me to believe I could really load it up and still expect near instantaneous performance. Unfortunately my data sets were small, but I look forward to pushing the tool more in the near future. Lumira Desktop feels different than "native" Windows applications and I believe that's due to its HTML5 architecture (please feel free to educate me if I'm getting this wrong). I'm not a big fan and I know that probably marks me as over the hill. By comparison, Tableau is much snappier and intuitive, with context menus in logical right-click zones rather than stacked awkwardly in a corner. Reminds me of good ol' DeskI. NOW GET OF MY LAWN! That same HTML5 infrastructure that I just complained about permits the authoring of custom and third party controls. I hope we'll see improvements in geographic functionality. Visual Explorer recognizes only lat/long parameters, and the location database for Lumira Desktop includes cities with a population of 100k or more.
The products performed as they should and I was able to put together some decent looking infographics without much effort. Stability was reasonably good, particularly for new software that's still undergoing significant development. Feature-wise Lumira currently lags behind more mature tools such as Tableau. It doesn't take long to identify settings and properties that you'd like to tweak but can't. For example, markers look bad on line charts when there are too many data points, and apparently there's no option to remove them in Lumira Desktop (there is in Visual Explorer). Given the attention SAP is paying I fully expect issues like this to be addressed over time. In addition to shoring up the features, the strategic challenge for SAP will be integrating Lumira into the rest of the BI suite, and (dare I dream) consolidating the toolset a little. SAP has hinted that Lumira will be integrated into the BI4 landscape, and there is a relationship to Explorer which I think needs to be resolved.