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These days, no one bats an eye to see a six year old playing on her own mobile phone. The average consumer owns at least two connected devices (probably more like five or six), from mobile phones to tablets to fitness trackers. And this number will likely continue to grow. Intel is optimistic that the number of connected devices in the world will reach as high as 200 billion by 2020.

On a global scale, it's easy to see how data is accumulating at an astonishing rate, thanks in part to all of these devices. If the decision makers of a business could somehow tap into even a tiny fraction of this data and mash that up with their own enterprise data, how much more successful would they be? If the entire workforce could get insights on the fly, how much more effectively could they serve their customers, manage business operations, or even design new products and services?

Disrupting the analytics market

With the arrival of Gerrit Simon Kazmaier at SAP Labs Vancouver back in early 2015, the little seed that had begun its life only a year before as SAP Cloud for Planning was about to take root in Canada. Gerrit and his newly formed Analytics Cloud team in Vancouver embarked on a whole new mission: to completely change the way we designed business analytics software. They were mavericks who saw a real opportunity in the market for something extraordinary. Instead of trying to build the next best set of features in an on-premise product like most of the market was doing, they went for a completely different approach, built from the ground up for the cloud. They would design it for all users working with all kinds of data, not just for the experts in data science, financial planning, or business analysis. And allow them to do things in a matter of minutes or hours, not weeks.

Was it a risky move? Well, it was certainly gutsy, because this endeavor would require a huge amount of work and a big shift in mindset. Not to mention major changes in development processes for rapid cloud releases and a new design philosophy that puts the business user at the heart of the application. But for the Analytics Cloud team, this was the only way forward for business analytics software. Not just for SAP, but for the world. In other words, the risk of not moving to the cloud was far greater than the move itself.

Vancouver: Where it all begins

The SAP Vancouver office turned out to be the best place possible for SAP to realize this vision. Not only is SAP the largest software development employer in British Columbia with over 1200 employees, it also happens to be the heartland of business analytics software owing to its history since the 1980s of producing market-leading business intelligence products from Crystal Reports to BusinessObjects Enterprise. It made complete sense that it would be this group, with its rich expertise and experience in the industry, to be the ones to bring end-to-end analytics capabilities together in a single cloud product for all people — from the top floor to the shop floor.

Gerrit Kazmaier (back row, second from the right) posing in front of the SAP Digital Boardroom
with one of his many Analytics Cloud development teams at SAP Vancouver

The team's hard work this past year has paid off; SAP BusinessObjects Cloud took the world by storm at SAPPHIRE 2016. As SAP's flagship cloud analytics offering, it's the union of easy-to-use business intelligence, planning, and predictive tools with a backend powered by SAP HANA that allows users to work with trusted data from the enterprise - something only SAP can do. The SAP Digital Boardroom, built on top of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, is a great example of how information across lines of business can be made accessible literally right at your fingertips on a large touchscreen display.

Disrupting the office - in a good way

With customer demand skyrocketing and key customers like Red Bull in co-innovation projects with the development team, no one at SAP Vancouver these days is surprised to see large numbers of new hires joining the team each month. The team continues to grow rapidly, and is looking to bring in more tech talent from across the country. It's a culturally rich and diverse team that knows how to work hard and play hard, and they're extremely proud of what they deliver.

Much more to come

The possibilities are endless for a pure cloud analytics offering backed by the power of the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, and we're excited to bring to life more ways for people to wrangle, visualize, and get insights from any data they want. Here in Vancouver, we know we're onto something huge. And we've only just begun.

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