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Xcelsius for the iPad – Today!

September 19th, 2011 5 comments

If you’re like the other thousands of SAP BusinessObjects customers, you would love to move your Xcelsius dashboards to the iPad.  Right?

The problem is flash.  Steve Jobs hates flash and steadfastly refuses to support flash on the iPad.  Even on tablet devices that do support flash such as the Samsung Galaxy, some people complain that flash applications are too sluggish.

So What’s the Solution?

I discovered a very special app on iTunes called iSwifter .  iSwifter allows flash to run on the iPad… so to speak.  Actually flash does not run on the device at all but it is streamed to the tablet.  I have visions of thousands of computers with Internet Explorer sessions running.

Within a few minutes and $4.99 later, I was up and running.  I was able to connect to an instance of SAP BusinessObjects that was accessible over the Internet.  There are however multiple problems with this app.  I found that iSwifter:

  • Only connects to publicly available websites.  The URL you are connecting to must be a publicly accessible site
  • Requires a WiFi connection
  • Isn’t completely secure.  Your connection with the iSwifter server doesn’t appear to be secure.

Apparently there is a large demand for this type of technology because the company recently reported revenue to exceed $10M and they have moved from a one-time fee to a monthly subscription service.

Enter Exxova

Exxova is a subsidiary of Bartronics India Ltd.  Their US Headquarters is located in Alpharetta, GA and Mark Hillam, who used to work at BusinessObjects, is the president of their BI practice.  I saw Mark at Sapphire after his team made quite a splash showing Xcelsius dashboards on the iPad using their app MyBI.  More recently Mark invited me to their offices to spend more time with the solution and I was very impressed.  Although it is still relatively early days for this solution, it holds a lot of promise.
Today with Exxova,  you can deploy ALL your existing BI content to the iPad without any modifications.

For more videos click go here:  http://www.youtube.com/user/ExxovaWorldwideCorp

I recommend that you download it and play around with it.  It’s free.

There are several really nice features.   I found that MyBI:

  • Can be implemented within your corporate firewall.
  • Does NOT requires a WiFi connection (although 3G is pretty slow).
  • Provides special gestures to simulate right-click, scroll, pan, zoom in and out.

Here are some screenshots from MyBI

Exxova Help Screen

Exxova Home Screen

Xcelsius Dashboard

WebIntelligence on the iPad

What Approach Will Your Company Take?

We seem to be at one of those paradigm shifts where organizations need to make a decision.  There is no doubt that companies are adopting the iPad device in ever growing numbers.  The $million$ dollar question is:

Do we create custom interfaces for the iPad or simply make our existing content available there?

Are you prepared to invest heavily in the iPad and build your own apps or purchase additional apps that require additional development and redesign efforts  or are you going to wait and see how the tablet market plays out.  The iPad is the predominate player today, but who’s to say that this dominance will remain?  And besides, the iOS platform only supports Apple devices.  Oh what I would give for a crystal ball.

The choice is yours, but today, I see MyBI from Exxova as a good alternative to redevelopment.  (and just in case you are curious — no, I did not get paid to write this article nor have I ever received any compensation from Exxova, but I’ve seen the solution, played with it and think that it’s worth considering.)

I am curious to hear from you.  What do you think?  Is a custom iPad interface worth the redevelopment?

«Good BI»

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0

October 8th, 2010 8 comments

SAP is closing in on their release date of the next major release of BusinessObjects… and as with any release, marketing want to get the name just right.  We’ve seen quite a few changes over the years.

Evolution of A Name

Remember all those changes in Windows naming? Windows 3.1, Windows 95, then Windows XP?  Now finally it’s back to numbers with Windows 7?  There’s probably someone out there that’s written a book about how to name your next software release.  🙂

Here’s a look at where we’ve come from in the last 7 years of BusinessObjects Product Names… starting back in 2003 with the combination of BusinessObjects 6 and Crystal Enterprise 10 into the new XI… Xtreme Insight!

BusinessObjects Product Names

The More Things Change

… the more they stay the same.  It is so true… and the upcoming release will include some additional name changes.  Here are some names on the horizon.

XI Product Name 4.0 Product Name
SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform
Crystal Reports SAP Crystal Reports
SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence
SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius Enterprise SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards
SAP BusinessObjects Voyager SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP
(Advanced Analysis, Pioneer*) SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for MS Office
SAP BusinessObjects Explorer SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

For more information on the whys check out Jon Reed’s blog post.

It’s amazing how some product names take on a life of their own even before the product is released.  Pioneer is a great example.  It is the first release of the legacy SAP BEx Web Analyzer and SAP BEx Analyzer for Excel.  Pioneer was simply the code name for this yet to be release product.  We can now retire that code name and begin using the actual product name, SAP BusinessObjects Analysis.

Xcelsius

Some name changes like Xcelsius were introduced even before a major new release. Earlier this summer, I had someone call me to ask me about SAP Crystal Dashboard Design.  I’d never heard of it. It wasn’t until I googled it that I discovered that we weren’t offering a new product.  SAP had just renamed some Xcelsius packages.  SAP Dashboard Design and SAP Presentation Design had formally been known as Xcelsius Engage and Xcelsius Present, respectively.

Thinking back, Xcelsius has also been through a number of changes:  Xcelsius 4.5, Crystal Xcelsius 4.5, Xcelsius 2008…  It will be interesting to see if the Xcelsius Designer, aka Xcelsius 2008 keeps it’s name and becomes Xcelsius 2010.

Don’t Wait… Start Today

Did you know that SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Excel has already been released?  Yep!  The plug-in for Excel is completely stand-alone and can be used without interfering with your existing BusinessObjects XI 3.1 environment.  If you have SAP and want to get the best possible connectivity within Excel without waiting for your entire environment to be upgraded, you can.  Today.

«Good BI»

Cool Dashboards from ProMorphics

May 31st, 2010 No comments

Although I’ve worked in a number of different industry verticals, I’m currently focused on the Utilities vertical.  I’m always on the look out for great dashboards and I found some!  I want dashboards that combine the best features of Xcelsius together with amazing usability and depth of function.  My latest discovery is from ProMorphicsProMorphics is a services organization and they have been a member of the SAP Ecosystem for a number of years.   I recently got a chance to view the results of some of their compelling dashboards  and the results speak for themselves.

When I spoke with ProMorphics they talked about their commitment to listen to the customer and to go the extra mile.  They’ve been extremely successful at using Xcelsius as a prototyping/rapid development tool so that they can get feedback and turn the results around extremely quickly.

Their sample dashboards focus on these three areas:

  • Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
  • Field Operations
  • Sales and Financial Performance (Peek Performance)

If you work in a utility related industry, you may want to engage ProMorphics and leverage their expertise.  It’s not surprising that 70% of their business comes from repeat customers.

ProMorphics Operations Dashboard with Custom Xcelsius Controls

Interactive Demos

Although ProMorphics does not allow you to download their .xlf files, you can view the dashboards via the following website:
http://www.promorphics1.us/22/interactivedemos/demos

Here is a 10 minute video walk-through of their Peak Performance dashboard with Kasia Szewczyk
http://www.promorphics1.us/29/audiovideo/recording

Conclusion

It’s always good to see partners who exploit all the features within a solution.  In the screenshot above, you can see how they have built Google Map integration as well as a custom calendar control.  These are examples of custom Xcelsius controls written in Flex.  I saw example after example of custom controls, developed to make sure they gave the customer exactly what they wanted.  If you engage ProMorphics in a project, they will also make these custom Xcelsius controls available to you.  Some partners like Centigon Solutions do allow you to buy their Xcelsius controls separately but ProMorphics currently does not.

«Good BI»

Categories: Dashboards, Partners Tags: , ,

SAP BusinessObjects Demos on YouTube…

September 15th, 2009 No comments

I’m amazed at how easy it is to find information these days.  Today I decided to do a follow-up post based on my most recent WebIntelligence demo post.  After a little searching around and I found a number of demos that had been posted by David Collins Dixon onto Youtube.  David has written a number of books about the SAP Business Information Warehouse (or BW for short).

SAP Integration Demos

Here are the list of demos:
http://www.youtube.com/user/davidcollinsdixon

Crystal Reports Demo leveraging SAP Hierarchies (No AUDIO)

David does an especially nice job with the Crystal Reports demo and shows you how to use the Hierarchy Node so Crystal Reports can properly leverage your SAP Hierarchy definition.

Xcelsius Demos

There are also a couple of demos from the guys at Everything Xcelsius:
http://www.youtube.com/user/XcelsiusGurus

If you find any SAP BusinessObjects videos that you think others would benefit from, just add links to them in a posted comment.

«Good BI»

Cool Xcelsius Dashboards and Where to Find Them

May 29th, 2009 12 comments

They’ve Got Style

I continue to be amazed by the dashboards being developed by our customers and partners to meet on going business needs.  Across every industry and every organization, regardless of size, companies are able to consolidate information into a single, interactive dashboard view.  Customers constantly ask me for examples of what other organizations have done, so I decided it was time to assemble a list of the best Xcelsius websites with samples.

Some of my Favorites

  1. My absolute favorite site is Inverra.  They are constantly updating their site with unique KPI centric examples.
    http://www.inverra.com/Dashboards/demos.htm
  2. Benchmarkers.  Great Design, Xcelsius Experts.  Training Provided.
    http://www.benchmarkers.com/showcase/
  3. Analysis Factory.  Very professional graphics.  Their supply chain example is tops.
    http://www.analysisfactory.com/gallery.html
  4. MyXcelsius Showcase.
    http://myxcelsius.com/showcase/
  5. SAP SDN Xcelsius Samples. These samples are either from SAP or have been uploaded from customers.
    https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/boc/xcelsius-samples

Dashboarding Ideas

Need to keep you finger on the pulse of the dashboarding scene?  Looking for great ideas around dashboards in general?  There is one website above all others that has great information about creating dashboards with both Xcelsius and non-Xcelsius based technologies.  The website is Dashboard Spy and I highly recommend you give it a look.
http://dashboardspy.com/

They also have a great list of dashboard screenshots that’s worth a look:
http://dashboardspy.com/screenshots.html

«Good BI»

Categories: Dashboards Tags: ,