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First Look: SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics 3.1

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SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics 3.1 is the current release of the SAP predictive analytic suite. Like most in the analytics space, SAP sees its clients struggling to make use of massive amounts of data that are newly available while facing ever increasing business expectations, faster business decision cycles and an analytical skill gap. SAP therefore is focused on predictive analytic capabilities that:

  • Produce accurate results in days not weeks
  • Deliver operationalization for machine learning at scale
  • Embed predictive analytics in business processes and applications

The predictive analytics suite consists then of four elements:

  • Data Manager for integrating and creating and reusing (potentially very wide) datasets
  • Automated Modeler, a wizard-driven modeling tool for predictive analytics
  • Predictive Composer, a more custom pipeline/workflow development tool for maximum control
  • Predictive Factory to operationalize all of this

These can access data from SAP HANA, SAP VORA, Hadoop/Spark, 3rd party databases and SAP HANA Cloud. And they can be embedded into SAP applications and other custom applications.

Four offerings package this up:

  • SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics Suite for on-premise and for on cloud
  • SCP Predictive Services on cloud for embedding machine learning
  • SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics for OEM/SAP application embedding

SAP is focused on speed, building models fast, but also on automating techniques. The assumption is that organizations need to manage hundreds or thousands of models and very wide data sets. Plus, for many SAP customers, SAP integration is obviously important. Finally, the suite is designed to support the whole analytic lifecycle.

The tools are moving to a new UI environment, replacing desktop tools with a browser-based environment. Predictive Factory was the first of these and more and more of the capabilities of the suite are being integrated, allowing Predictive Factory to be a single point of entry into the suite. As part of this integration and simplification, everything is being built to be effective with both SAP Hana and Hadoop. There is also an increasing focus on massive automation e.g. segmented modeling.

One of the most interesting features of the SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics Suite is that there are two integrated perspectives – Automated Modeler and Predictive Composer. This allows data scientists and analytics professionals to build very custom models while also allowing less technical teams, or those with more projects to complete, to use the automation. All the models are stored and managed in Predictive Factory and Predictive Composer can be used to configure nodes for use in Automated Modeler. Predictive Factory also lets you create multiple projects across multiple servers etc. Existing models can be imported from previous tool versions or from PMML, new tasks (such as checking for data deviation or retraining models) can be created and scheduled to run asynchronously. Tasks can be monitored and managed, allowing large numbers of models to be created, supervised and updated.

The same automated algorithms can be accessed from the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. Users can identify a dataset, identify something they are interested in and run automated modeling algorithms to see, for instance, what influences the data element of interest. This requires some understanding of the power and limitations of predictive analytics but no skill with the analytic technique itself. Data is presented along with some explanation and supporting text. The results can easily be integrated into stories being developed in the BI environment or applied to datasets. Over time, this capability will include all the capabilities of the on-premise solution.

Predictive Analytics Integrator allows these capabilities to be brought into SAP applications such as SAP Fraud Manager. Because SAP applications all site on SAP HANA, the Predictive Analytics Integrator is designed to make it easy to bring advanced analytics into the applications. Each application can develop a UI and use terminology that works for the application users while accessing all the underlying automation from the suite.

Predictive Analytics 3.2 in July will be the first release where the suite’s components are being integrated into the browser environment and the Predictive Composer name will be used. This release will not have 100% equivalence with the desktop install but will support the building and deployment of models using both the data scientist and automated tools.

You can get more information on the SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics Suite here.

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