Posts Tagged ‘Best Practices’

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,

«Good BI»

Virtualizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4

June 18th, 2013 1 comment

Last year I wrote a quick article about Virtualization support for BusinessObjects.

Since that time, SAP has been doing a lot of testing and refinement to guidelines regarding virtualizing your BI 4 environment.

Originally only advertised to a handful of attendees at Sapphire the link has had over 1,000 views per month.

This is the official guidance you should be pointing all customers, partners and employees to when it comes to BI 4 virtualization.  This document can be used by your BI team to make sure and negotiate the right sized infrastructure from your IT team for a large scale move to BI 4.  Don’t get caught short.

Ashish Morzaria has done a great job and putting everything together in one place.   He’s collected feedback from actual customers together with performance tests that have been run internally at SAP.  All this information is put together in a 42 page everything-you-need-to-know whitepaper on VMWare ESXi 5:

Check it out!

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U-verse and Ooma – What I’ve been waiting for…

June 7th, 2012 2 comments

I know that most of you come to my blog to read about Business Intelligence, but I just had to share the fantastic experience that I just had signing up for new TV, Internet and telephone service.


For the last 12 months I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about my Internet costs.  I was spending way too much but I just couldn’t find the right replacement package.  I kept running the numbers and it seemed seem that I would be able to save all the much more money.

Before the switch I was paying for:

Dish Network:

  • Theater Room:  Dish Network HD DVR (with two tuners)
  • Bedroom:  Dish Network DVR
  • Spare Bedroom:  Standard Receiver
  • Play Room:  Standard Receiver
  • Total:  $143.58 (but I won’t count the extra $15 for Fox Soccer Plus)


  • Standard Phone Line
  • DSL Internet  (3 Mbps)
  • Total:  $89.00

  • Long Distance (we call England regularly)
  • Total:  About $20 month

That means all together I was paying about $252.58 per month!  Crazy right?

My Experience with Dish Network

First I have to say that there was a lot I liked about Dish Network.

I really liked the quality of service, the choice of both Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus and especially the DVR’s ability to quickly jump through the commercials.  The control you have over the TV watching experience is great.  FF jumps 30 seconds forward and REW jumps 10 seconds back.  Instantly!!  I haven’t found anyone else to do that. (U-verse is pretty slow in comparison.)

My favorite feature, which no other provider can match is the ability to do slow motion.  We watch a lot of soccer and in many situations there isn’t time for the broadcaster to provide sufficient replays or slow motion.  No problem.  With Dish Network you can go as slow as a DVD at 1/16 speed or as fast as 300x speed.  It’s great and the remote is super easy to use.

The few things that frustrated me about Dish Network were pretty standard complaints.  I was loosing the signal when it rained really hard or if there was severe bad weather.  About once every 18-24 months, the dish on the roof would come loose and the signal quality would degrade to the point of needing someone to come out and adjust it.

I liked Dish so much I was with them 8 years, but  I had seen my bill grow little by little.  I believe at the start it was about $80/month to $143.  Something had to change.

Discovering Ooma

I did a little research on Consumer Reports and discovered that they recommended Ooma if you were interested in VoIP.  I had always been intrigued by VoIP technology and “free phone calls” but the huge growth in services like Vonage and the subsequent poor call quality, I wanted to make sure it was right.

After a lot of research, I was convinced that Ooma could provide me exactly what I wanted:  Unlimited free long distance and a great international plan.  I also needed to be able to keep my number.  I mean, after having the same home phone number for 20 years, who wants to get a  new one?

I had seen Ooma devices at my local Costco, but I wondered if I could get the unit somewhere cheaper.  The hardware was $199.99 on sale.  (Good news is that the prices keep coming down.)

Selecting a Bundle Provider

For me, this decision was pretty simple.  Since I knew I wanted to use Ooma for phone service. Charter Communications is the only cable operator in my area and they have a very poor reputation.  Consumer Reports recommended U-verse or Fios, but only U-verse serviced my area, so what could I get?

I was pleasantly surprised.

Although I was already using BellSouth for telephone and Internet, AT&T treated me like a new customer, so I was able to get an amazing bundle deal, which – even after the introductory rate will be very reasonable.  I didn’t cancel my phone initially because I needed to make sure that I would be able to port it over to Ooma once I got that sorted out.

Best of all I was able to visit my friendly neighborhood AT&T store which made shopping and selecting my service options that much easier.  Nice job AT&T.

U-Verse Installation

The U-Verse installation was pretty straight-forward.  I had an amazing engineer, Alex, who come out to my house and surveyed the situation.  Originally he wanted to run a CAT-5 wire around my house, but I was very much against that idea.  After talking about it for about 30-45 minutes Alex agreed to try and use the existing CAT-3 phone wiring I had in my house.  Although it wasn’t “officially” supported, he was willing check the phone outlets and if necessary adjust the wiring so that there was a direct, uninterrupted connect from the U-verse box to the phone jack in my office.

It was amazing.  Fortunately my house was wired such that no “rewiring” had to be done.  It just worked the first time.  Once the Internet was up, Alex installed the three TVs. When I told the engineer I was planning on installing Ooma, a VoIP solution, we also went ahead and preconfigured my phone jack in the office for two plugs one for the inbound Internet from the AT&T U-verse router and the other for the outbound dial-tone that Ooma would send through the phone line to all my phones.  Brilliant!

Because I previously had Dish, it took Alex a little longer than expected to finish wiring all the TVs, but after about 5 hours, the job was done.

It was interesting to see the difference between Dish Network engineers (contractors who don’t work for Dish but do all the local service) and the U-verse engineers.  Although I never had a “bad” Dish engineer, the AT&T engineer provided a consistently superior customer experience.

Ooma Purchase

As I mentioned I was looking for a cheaper alternative to Ooma, so I went to eBay.  It’s getting harder and harder to find good deals on eBay with so many items with high reserves or Buy Now prices.  With that said, I set up a search and monitored Ooma Telo devices that were selling.  I found that many were going for near their retail price, but eventually I found the one I wanted.  I found a used Ooma Telo which was being sold used and would require $60 for reactivation according to the listing.

My final purchase price was $71 + $11.70 shipping.  The activation ended up being $79.99, which means I was able to get the necessary hardware and activation for only:  $162.69 (vs. $214 for a new one with tax).

Ooma Installation

You can’t get much simpler.

I unpackaged my Ooma device, plugged it into the Internet and then followed the online instructions.  At first, the Ooma service didn’t understand my product’s activation code, but that was only because it was a used device.  After paying the $79.99 activation fee, I was good to go.

During the installation I selected a “new” phone number and hooked up a spare telephone.  I was able to make calls.

Now I had two phone numbers — my legacy home phone number from AT&T and my new Ooma number.

Ooma Phone Porting

As I said before I didn’t want to give up my old number, so I paid on additional $39.99 and filled out all the paperwork online.  Ooma even had me include a copy of a past bill to try and expedite the process.  Although they warned me that the process could take up to 4 weeks, I was amazed at how quickly they got it done.  5 days!

I knew my porting was underway because the website provides regular updates as to the process.  I knew it was almost done when for about 2 hours during one afternoon, when I picked up my phone, the line was dead.  I took the opportunity to plug my Ooma telephone signal into the plug the AT&T engineer had provided and presto, we were good to go.

During a brief two hour window I did have a few people try and call and they got the message, This number has been disconnected or is no longer is service, but that was a very minor inconvenience considering I was able to keep my home phone number from the last 15 years!

So How Much Am I $aving?

Great question!  I’m saving a bundle!

Here are my one-time charges (credits)

  • U-verse TV:  Free Installation
  • U-verse Internet: Free Installation
  • U-verse New Customer Credit: ($100.00)
  • Ooma Telo: $162.69
  • Ooma Number porting:  $39.99
  • Shipping back Dish Network Equipment:  $45  (this was Dish’s final insult)

Here is my total monthly charges:

  • U-verse U-300:  $108.00  ($73.00 first 6 months)
  • U-verse Internet Up to 12 Mbps:  $52.00  ($34 for first 6 months)
  • Ooma Basic Service: $3.47 + about $10 for international calls.

Not only am I saving money but a got a HUGE upgrade in services.  My Internet is now blazing, phone service has amazing perks and I haven’t had a single blip in service in the last five months.

That means that after 12 months I will have saved a total of: $1035.46 and in two years I’ll have saved $1804.78!  That’s enough to fly to England and see a football game live!

In case you’d like to know how much you can save feel free to use the $AVE A BUNDLE calculated I created used SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards!

[swf src=”” width=600 height=431]

To access this dashboard and associated source files, download them here:

The bottom line is ROI. What is your return on investment. As we talk with customers about HANA and the new opportunities it brings to the business, we always have to go back to ROI. Every investment needs a payback.

«Good BI»

Fixing Permissions: Am I Allowed To Do That?

May 18th, 2012 16 comments

One of my least favorite topics is licensing.

It seems like every year as corporate strategies change and as customers push for simplified licensing, SAP comes out with a new way to sell it’s products.  If you’ve been around a while you’ll recognize some of these:

  • BusinessObjects Enterprise
  • BusinessObjects Enterprise with Interactive Viewing
  • BusinessObjects Enteprise Premium
  • BusinessObjects Edge
  • BusinessObjects Edge Premium
  • Premium Package, Visualization & Reporting
  • Premium Package, Query Reporting & Analysis
  • BI Package
  • BI Suite

What I’m not going to do is explain how SAP licenses it’s products.  That’s what the sales guy is for.

What I do want to explain is how the functionality within the licensing model breaks down and how it impacts you as the BusinessObjects administrator.

Licensed User Type

With BusinessObjects, licensing was pretty straight-forward.  You could either buy:

  • CPUs – unlimited active users running on a limited number of cpus (cores typically counted as 1/2).
  • Named users – one license per named system user on unlimited hardware.
  • Concurrent users – a delightful combination of unlimited users set up on unlimited hardware, but only a given number of those users could log in simultaneously.  (This license went away for a while and now it’s back for specific situations.  Typically customers can figure on 10:1 rate of potential users to concurrent users).

When SAP acquired BusinessObjects all that changed.  SAP introduced the idea of licensing both the ‘platform’ as well as the user count.

SAP customers who use BusinessObjects must purchase licenses for the platform (cpu or named users) as well as a named user license for every person who accesses the BusinessObjects environment.  The only problem is that there is typically a big difference between the capabilities a power user/administrator needs and a casual user who only accesses the system occasionally.

In order to provide try and keep licensing simple, while at the same time providing a differentiation between power users and casual users, SAP created the concept of a licensed user type.

There are two:

  1. Expert users – also know as Business Expert or Business Analyst Users
  2. Standard users – also known as Business Information, BI Viewer or Viewer Users.

What Is My User Allowed To Do

I’ve created a table which breaks down the each product and explains what the user is able to do within that product.  Note that an expert user can do everything a standard user can, plus the additional items listed in the Expert User Rights column (which is the equivalent of ‘full access”).

SAP BusinessObjects Platform

Product Standard User Rights Expert User Rights
BI Platform Access platform services and view environment Modify BI Platform environment, security definition and make modifications. Access and administer (profiles, configuration) platform services.
Live Office View integration with Microsoft Office for viewing reports, dashboards Design and edit queries
BI Workspaces Customize, view personalized reports, dashboards
BI Widgets Customize, view personalized BI widgets Design, author, and create BI widgets
BI Launchpad Personalize your user profile
SAP BusinessObjects Integration  (Oracle, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards) View data from business applications in a report, analysis or dashboard (indirect access)

SAP BusinessObjects Tools

Product Standard User Rights Expert User Rights
Crystal Reports View (refresh and schedule) reports Schedule, author, edit, and update reports
WebIntelligence View (refresh, schedule, export, zoom, sort, search, filter, drill, apply basic formatting) a predefined report Schedule, author, edit, and update analyses and queries
Dashboard View (refresh and interact) dashboard models Schedule, author, edit, and update models
Analysis for OLAP Customize, view personalized BI widgets Design, author, and create BI widgets
Explorer View (search, view and navigate) data sets  Schedule, author, edit, and update Infospaces
BI Mobile View (refresh and interact) documents Author, edit and update analyses and queries
Note that this information can change at any time,
so always check with your SAP sales team to make
sure you understand the capabilities of each license type.

Controlling Access

As administrators, it’s very important to make sure standard users are not using functionality of the expert users.  The good news, bad news is that in most cases this type of user differentiation is a paper license and not controlled by the license key.  This is good because it means that as SAP’s licensing model changes, you don’t have to run out and get new license key or download a new service pack.  The bad news is, you need to setup BusinessObjects security so that standard users don’t accidently extend the reach of what they are licensed to do.

Setting restrictions based on the tables above is pretty straight-forward for most of the application permissions.  In most cases access should be set to “View” and that takes care of it.  The one except is WebIntelligence.

Controlling WebIntelligence

In order to be a standard user, you should explicitly deny specific permissions within the WebIntelligence application.  To access these permissions from the CMC home page, choose Applications.  From the list of available Applications, scroll down the list to Web Intelligence.

Select Web Intelligence and select Manage > Properties from the menu (or user the right-click menu).  Next choose User Security from the navigation pane.

Add a new Principal (if one is not already there) or highlight an existing principal user or group.  We want to Assign Security and restrict WebI access.  The default access right should be View.  We will then want to modify this by clicking the Advanced tab and selecting Add/Remove Rights.  From the left navigation pane, select Application > Web Intelligence.

Manage WebIntelligence Application Security - Scroll down to see ALL the permissions

We are now going to explicitly deny the following rights:

  • Desktop Interface – * all permissions *
  • Documents – enable creation
  • Documents – enable publish and manage content as web service
  • Interfaces – enable Rich Internet Application
  • Interfaces – enable web query panel
  • Query script – enable editing (SQL , MDX…)
  • Query script – enable viewing (SQL , MDX…)
  • Reporting – create and edit breaks
  • Reporting – create and edit conditional formatting rules
  • Reporting – create and edit input controls
  • Reporting – create and edit predefined calculations
  • Reporting – create formulas and variables
  • Reporting – insert and remove reports, tables, charts and cells

If you look under the permissions for WebIntelligence, you will now see the only permission you can modify on a per report basis is Edit Query, which no longer matters because here we’ve explicitly denied Query script – enable editing (SQL, MDX…) within the WebI application.

Once the changes are complete, you should be able to access existing WebIntelligence documents and see that a number of features are now disabled (grayed out).

Standard User Access WebIntelligence With Restricted Permissions

If you have additional questions about permissions and how they might have changed from older versions of BusinessObjects, you can access the information here:

I hope this blog has been useful.  Please do NOT leave any comments below about licensing.  I won’t be able answer these.

What I did want to answer is any questions about the difference between the different user types and show you how to modify the security within BusinessObjects to make sure you are in compliance with your license agreement.  Hopefully it’s mission accomplished.

«Good BI»

Take Advantage of Conference Replays!

May 11th, 2012 No comments

With everyone gearing up for SapphireNow in Orlando I’d like to remind everyone to take advantage of the many conference replays that are available on varying SAP Websites.

Influencer Summit

Simply login using your login.

This event wasn’t that long ago, December 13-14, 2011.  There is some great content here.  I especially liked the customer testimonials given in Analytics: Systems of Engagement & Customer Showcase.  Steve ribs Howard Dresner about coining the term Business Intelligence.

Keynote from BI 2012

Signing up for a login to the Insider Learning Network is free, so enjoy!

BusinessObjects User Group 2011

Click on the 2011 Ondemand Videos and you’ll find about 92 videos from the conference, unfortunately a lot of the ASUG News slots are mini-advertisements for the sessions.  They do however provide some of the highlights of what was discussed which is still valuable.  You can also access SESSION PROCEEDINGS and download the powerpoint presentations that were provided by the speakers.  Note that there are a lot of sessions listed here, so use the left hand navigation to select the correct BOUC session.

Although this website has an amazing look and the video quality is spectacular, the navigation is a little less obvious.  To search the recorded sessions, open the SEARCH on the left hand side.

SapphireNow 2010/2011

There are nearly 600 recorded sessions on offer for you!  If you can’t remember what was talked about last year or if you simply want to review what you heard, this is a great resource.  This website combines sessions from 2010 and 2011 and I’m sure will soon host all the sessions from 2012.  Using the Year filter on the left, you can select only the sessions from a specific year.

Note that SapphireNow Madrid should also be available:, but the website appears to be down at the minute.


For all the technical content you want, check out this TechEd Website.  Note that some of the content in the Archive is dated, so you’ll probably want to stay with the videos under the Content and Lectures sections.

You may also find some additional TechEd content on SCN:

TechEd Beijing

The teched website above didn’t include content from Beijing, so you can find that separately.  The video highlights from Beijing only include the following ‘english’ keynotes from:  Vishal Sikka, Bill McDermott, Hasso Plattner.

SAP for Utilities

Unfortunately here you’re only able to see a sample of 6 videos.  I also provided a link to the keynote session by Steve Lucas here, which is excellent.  If you are a Utility I recommend you check it out:

Bottom Line

SAP hosts some great events, but budgets are tight and you can’t always attend all the events that you’d like in order to keep up with ongoing education.  Do yourself a favor and take advantage of these free resources.

Learning never exhausts the mind.   Leonardo da Vinci

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