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ENTICE Users with Interactive Dashboards that work…

July 11th, 2013 No comments

I was delighted to see yet another extremely informative webinar from Antivia.  They partnered together with FedEx to deliver a compelling webinar that discusses how organizations can use dashboards to simplify the consumption of key corporate information.

Donald MacCormick kicked off the webinar with a reminder that we don’t always see what we think we see and that dashboards in their interactive variety aren’t really dashboards, but rather the future of end-user business intelligence, especially when it comes to delivering content to mobile devices.

Checkershadow Illusion by Edward Adelson (MIT)

Donald used the BBC Weather website and Yahoo!MarketDash iPad app as examples of interactive “ENTICE”-ing dashboards that are:

  • Easy to Use
  • No-Training Required
  • Task focused
  • Interactive
  • Connected
  • Engaging

FedEx ICE Project Results

ICE stands for In-Center Excellence and was deployed to help the organization improve performance across  FedEx Office (Kinkos) locations.

Andy Mills and Charlotte Huff discussed their use of SAP BusinessObjects and how together with the leadership from their new COO, Kim Dixon, they were able to transform the way the FedEx Office Personnel access critical business metrics and information.  They focused on leveraging dashboards to provide a ‘one stop’ for information coming from multiple systems.  They also make sure the information was actionable.  In addition, by leveraging the Sharepoint portal to allow users to collaboration and provide ‘kudos’, the team helped FedEx Office to create a positive energy with friendly competition and positive peer feedback.

Here is a video of the presentation… and listen to all the great ideas they used for generating BUZZ prior to the release.

What struck me was the emphasis that these interactive dashboards aren’t ‘done’, but rather continue to involve to include new elements of FedEx’s ongoing strategy.  As needs arise to include additional financial reporting or voice of the customer information, their dashboards are evolving as well.

Are You Building Relevant Analytics?

What was apparent from the results is that FedEx Office is forward thinking and putting together an evolving, future-proof analytics strategy.  Through their example’s like theirs many customers are leveraging a new type of dashboard that is built was the following important concepts in mind:

  • Dashboards Replacing Reports
  • Simple and Sophisticated
  • Wide Adoption (1000’s of users)
  • Lean / Agile / Iterative Approach
  • Feedback from End-users
  • Engaging BI
  • Actionable BI

BI is not there to let you know, it is there to let you act.   – Andreas Bitter

If you’d like to contact Antivia, visit their website and they’ll be in touch,  http://go.antivia.com/Contact.html

«Good BI»

Preview of Dashboards on the iPad

May 30th, 2012 No comments

Here is a quick preview video of dashboards running on the iPad using HTML5.  We should see this functionality available by end of 2012.  I think it looks pretty good so far.

Xcelsius on iPad Preview

This is a preview of the new product changes based on SAP’s statement of direction for Xcelsius.  For all the details about this, check out the following post on EverythingXcelsius.  It’s good to see that they haven’t developed a standalone application for dashboards, but rather are keeping all the different content types together.

Latest Features Available Today

In case you haven’t see it, here’s a nice overview demo of some of the latest capabilities of the BusinessObjects Mobile app for the iPad.

The latest BusinessObjects Mobile app provides drill up and down, support for sections, on-screen annotations as well as map integration with Google.

«Good BI»

Categories: Dashboards Tags: ,

BusinessObjects BI Decision Tree

May 21st, 2012 1 comment

UPDATE 10/5/2012:  Things have continued to evolve since May and therefore this post has been updated based on the latest roadmap information coming from SAP together with, as always, some of my own thoughts and opinions.

The good news, bad news about the SAP BusinessObjects product suite is that although there is a lot of best-of-breed functionality there, it can sometimes be a challenge to know what tool to use in every situation.

As a result, I did some research, leveraged some pre-existing content from SDN and came out with this updated BI Decision Tree.

BI Decision Tree

I have updated this decision tree to include the two recent product announcements

  • SAP Visual Intelligence
  • SAP Predictive Analysis

This chart is not meant to be a definitive guide to selecting the right tool because there are always additional factors to consider, but by and large this will get you there most of the time.

Click on Chart to Enlarge

10/5/2012 CLARIFICATION:  If you are doing Business Intelligence of SAP BW, you should be always look at using Analysis for Office for OLAP Analysis within Excel and Analysis for OLAP for OLAP analysis over the web.  These solutions are premium alternatives to the legacy BEx Analyzer for Excel and BEx Web respectively.  Personally I prefer Analysis for Office for all my BEx Analysis just because I prefer the performance and interface of Excel to the one delivered on the web.

Analysis for Application Design (Code named Zen) is still under development and will be the premium alternative for Web Application Designer.  Here is the official SAP SOD for dashboarding.  So glad Miko pushed for this webinar!

WebIntelligence Rocks

Since I discovered Business Intelligence using Crystal Reports and consider it my “first love”, this admission hurts.  I had this blog 90% written when it hit me.  Does anyone even use Analysis for OLAP?  Why put it on the chart? Everyone uses WebIntelligence for connecting to OLAP data.

Today,WebIntelligence provides OLAP connectivity through the semantic layer and the WebIntelligence user interface is OLAP aware with a grown up OLAP look & feel.  It can feel like a native OLAP tool instead of a relational tool that just flattens OLAP data.

10/5/2012: WebIntelligence is not a native OLAP tool so there are limitations.  If you are using SAP BW, only Analysis for Office and Analysis for OLAP are native OLAP tools and will give the full richness of an OLAP experience.  Some capabilities that are not supported by WebIntelligence are:

  • The ability switch hierarchies without “refreshing” the report
  • Ranking data at a given hierarchy level

The End of Analysis for OLAP?

SAP customers that I’ve worked with are using WebIntelligence to do their formatted reporting and Analysis for Office to keep their finance users happy.  I see some Crystal Reports, but WebIntelligence came a long way in BusinessObjects v4.0 with formatted reporting.

Did you see any Analysis for OLAP sessions at Sapphire this year?  I didn’t think so.  And typically session content is driven by customer interest.

It’s a lonely time for Analysis for OLAP (a.k.a. OLAP Intelligence, OLAP Analysis, Seagate Analysis – boy I’m feeling old).

10/5/2012: I’ve received some feedback from folks saying that Analysis for OLAP is alive and well and has parity functionality with Analysis for Office.  Well, it’s not quite parity when it comes to all the shortcuts and right-clicks, but if you can’t use Analysis for Office, then it does get the job done.  

Your Thoughts

Please let me know your thoughts on this topic.

Do you find it pretty easy to help customers know what tools to use when?

«Good BI»

 

Antivia Adds Xcelsius on the iPad

January 16th, 2012 4 comments

Are you ready to move your Xcelsius (SAP Dashboards) to the iPad yet?

There’s nothing stopping you!

No, not even the fact that iOS doesn’t support flash.

Antivia’s new XWIS Anywhere bring a new product to their already popular suite of BusinessObjects extensions.

Antivia XWIS Anywhere

Antivia’s XWIS Anywhere is going to overcome a technology hurdle that SAP has been unable or unwilling to clear — Xcelsius (aka SAP Dashboards) on the iPad.

Antivia provided an in depth 55 minute presentation about Antivia XWIS Anywhere.  They are committed to:

  • Mobilizing Any Xcelsius Dashboard
  • Providing a Native iPad Experience
  • Full Catalog and Management inside SAP BusinessObjects
  • Additional iPad Security (for locally cached content)
  • Quick Deployment (hours instead of days or weeks)
  • Allow Offline Slideshows  (Screenshots of Xcelsius dashboards)
  • Access to WebIntelligence and Crystal Reports

Notables

It is important to note that because XWIS Anywhere is leveraging the SAP BusinessObjects repository, if the dashboard does not exist in the repository then it will not be available for the iPad.  A perfect example of this is the Xcelsius BICS connectivity for Netweaver.  These dashboards must be published to SAP BW and run from within the context of the Netweaver application server.  However, this is only a short term limitation.  SAP does plan to support BICS  connectivity for Dashboards saved into the SAP BusinessObjects repository with the next release, SAP BusinessObjects v4.0 SP3.

One glaring feature that seemed to be missing over the similar solution from Exxova is the zoom in/zoom out capability.  With Exxova, it works very much like the native iPad browser.  Users can use two fingers to zoom in and zoom out of their Dashboards.  This is great when viewing dashboards which might be hard to read – or helpful for executives who have difficulty with small print.

UPDATE:  XWIS Anywhere does support pinch and zoom (using native iPad gestures)

Here is a sample dashboard view:

Hospice Dashboard - Standard View

By placing two fingers on the screen and pulling them apart, Exxova allows you to zoom into a specific area of the dashboard and at the same time a small thumbnail (indicated by the red arrow) shows you a small red box indicating where you are on within the context of the dashboard:

Same Hospice Dashboard - Zoomed In

Future of SAP Dashboards

Donald MacCormick indicated during the webinar that Xcelsius/SAP Dashboards will be move to HTML5 in 2012.  That means he expects some subset of functionality available by the end of 2012.  What does that mean for you?   It means you can invest in Antivia today, move your dashboards to the iPad today, and when SAP eventually provides full Xcelsius HTML5 functionality (that could be some time), you can move ahead at your own convenience.

You will be prepared for change before it happens.  Because the XWIS Anywhere application is a native iPad application with a “screen emulation” technology in the middle, when HTML5 becomes available, Antivia will simply replace the existing “screen emulation” technology with the HTML5 SAP Dashboards output.

Keep your users happy.  Make dashboards available on the iPad today.

You won’t regret it…

«Good BI»

 

Fixing Flash for Xcelsius

September 21st, 2011 1 comment

If you’ve been using Xcelsius very long then you’ve probably experienced the heartache of having users download the latest version of flash and having it break their Xcelsius dashboards.  It doesn’t happen very often, but once and a while, Adobe releases a version of flash player that is utterly incompatible with Xcelsius… and when that day comes you’ll be glad you found this blog post!

Rolling Back Flash

Flash is a funny animal.  Not only does Adobe install the flash player on your computer but it also installs flash within your IE browser.  Therefore the first challenge is uninstalling flash and here’s how to do it.

Uninstall Flash

This isn’t as easy as you might think.  A simple Windows Uninstall will not work.

  1. Download the Adobe Flash Player uninstaller: uninstall_flash_player.exe (229 KB).
    (Alternatively you may download it from my local site here)
  2. Save the uninstaller file, choosing a location where you can find it–your Windows Desktop, for example.
  3. Exit all applications. Check the taskbar and the system tray to make sure that no user applications are running. NO MS OFFICE APPS.  For example, if you see icons for browsers or instant messaging (IM) clients such as AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger, right-click the icon and select either Close or Exit. The following image shows how to close the Yahoo! Messenger client after right-clicking its icon in the Windows system tray:

  1. Run the uninstaller. If you see the message “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?,” click Yes.
  2. Go into the control panel and make sure “Flash Player” is not available.

After The Uninstall

Check your version:  http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/

It should indicate to you that flash is NOT installed.

Installing a Legacy Flash Verison

All the old versions are located here:  http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/142/tn_14266.html

I downloaded and tested the following procedures using Flashplayer10_1r102_64_winax.zip

  1. Make sure all applications are still closed.
  2. Unzip Flashplayer10_1r102_64_winax.zip (This is an “active” version of Flash for Internet Explorer which you will need)
  3. Run it the installer.
  4. Go to:  http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/  and verify it’s working…

Finito

Now’s there’s just one final tip to consider.

Turning off Auto Updates

You might want to turn off automatic updates of your flash player.  This article explains how:
http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/713/a7138026.html

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Categories: Dashboards, Help! Tags: