Posts Tagged ‘businessobjects’

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»

BusinessObjects XI 3.1 SP6 full build available…

March 27th, 2013 14 comments

I was reviewing my SAP Support Portal Newsletter after returning from vacation and discovered that SAP has released SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 Service Pack 06 – Full Build.  I really wasn’t expecting that — but I was happy to see it.  It sure beats worrying about the correct ‘upgrade path’ to such as the complications associated to moving to SP5.

XI 3.1 SP6 has released on all the standard platforms:  Linux on IA32 32bit,  HPIA_64,  HP-UX on PA-RISC 32bit,  AIX 32 Bit,  Solaris on SPARC 32bit.

Although I’ve been actively using v4.0 for a while, I know that many SAP Analytics customers haven’t yet made the transition to v4.0.

I would definitely like to hear from customers who are still waiting to make the move to find out where the hesitation is.  From what I understand most of the core stability issues have been resolved.

Highlights on XI 3.1 SP6

The big standout I saw was support for Windows Server 2012, which I had been asked about several times and I’m glad to see it’s there.

This release also fixes an outstanding issue with the length of the opendocument URL character limit of 2083 characters, which can be an issue if you are doing a lot of document to document hyperlinking.

If you are interested in additional details around what’s new, you can find that here:

You can also find the PAM document here:

Other Notables for XI 3.1

Know your dates and deadlines.  You need to plan to be off XI 3.1 by the end of 2015 and that’s not very far away.

Release to Customer:09/30/2008
General Availability:09/30/2008
End of Mainstream Maintenance:12/31/2015
End of Priority One Support Phase:12/31/2017

It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years already!  I’m feeling old.

Are You Getting Notifications?

If you have access to SAP Support, then you should also be taking advantage of regular alert notification emails that you can proactively receive from support.   You can sign up for them here:

You can define exactly what products you want to receive notifications about.

Here is a video tutorial that walks you through it.

Don’t delay.  Sign up today.

«Good BI»

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»


FREE SAP BusinessObjects Tutorials and Training

February 20th, 2012 5 comments

New to the SAP BI Product Suite?  Looking for free training?  You’ve come to the right place.  SAP provides a large number of free videos and tutorials for all aspects of the BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Suite.

Here is a link for you to commit to memory…

Here you will find several getting started tutorials for end-users.  It’s a great way to get familiar with some of the basic capabilities of the BI Suite, so if you’re helping new users learn about BusinessObjects, this is a great site to leverage.

For products that are not completely new, there are What’s New overview tutorials and individuals tutorials for new features.

There is also some comparison tutorials including:

Subscribing to New Content

If you are one of those folks who always wants to have a look at the latest and greatest learning content, I recommend you subscribe to the eLearning channel.

RSS Feed for eLearning:

Or if you prefer, you can follow the BI Suite eLearning on twitter:  @SAP_learn_BI


«Good BI»

BusinessObjects Collaboration

February 1st, 2011 2 comments

So I wrote recently about Idea Place as a great way to share your ideas with the SAP Developers.  Hopefully you’ve all gotten signed up and had a chance to long some of your best ideas ever.  Ideas which will quickly see SAP BusinessObjects rocket to the top of the BI charts.

… so here’s my idea.

IDEA # 2630:  What about creating a link in every viewer (e.g. Crystal, WebI, Xcelsius) to allow users to quickly and easily share access to an important report are piece of information?

Impact of Social Media

Isn’t it true that the ability to find information, collaborate and make decisions is what Business Intelligence is all about?  Hasn’t SAP been talking more and more about collaborative decision making through Streamwork?  Isn’t is also true that more and more organizations are seeing the value of collaboration – not just within a BI Environment, but also from outside with solutions like Yammer?

SAP BusinessObjects Collaboration Today

SAP BusinessObjects has had the ability to do collaboration from within the BI environment from some time via Discussions.  Unfortunately, the functionality was never really given the attention it needs.  It lacks:

  • The ability to automatically notify interested parties of the posted comment
  • The ability to easily access and leverage these InfoObjects via the SDK

Then there’s the ability to “Send To” a report.  I’ve never really understood this.  Why would I want to use email from within the BI environment.  Would I not want to have this feature fire-up my email client and insert a link into the body of the email?  To me, this approach seems a little old school… and besides there is no integration into your corporate address book for the To: and Cc: lists.

So far I haven’t seen any changes around collaboration for SAP BusinessObjects v4.0…

Send To Dialog


This screenshot from WebIntelligence shows us what we’ve all seen before.  I don’t know about you but “Send to Ftp” – Say what?

I wonder if they stripped the code out of the feature, if anyone would even notice.

My SAP BusinessObjects Collaboration Wish List

Some people are asking for integration with Twitter and Facebook, but to be honest, I can’t see that happening.  I don’t know anyone who uses Facebook for work.  (Although I know plenty of people who use it during work.)  So what does make sense?

I love opendocument!  It’s a capability that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but is a huge unsung hero.  Opendocument allows you to specify a set of parameters on the URL and as a result, open a specific instance of a report.

So what about the ability to be in ANY type of report content and for you to be able to click on a button and the system will generate an opendocument URL to your clipboard.

Wouldn’t that be cool?  I think so.

It would also be nice if SAP would then provide a URL shortener within the CMC that you could configure if you wanted URL shortening.

This would mean that regardless of what technology you chose to enable collaboration within your enterprise, you could quickly and easily reference SAP BusinessObjects content and include it in the discussion.

If you are scratching your head thinking you’ve seen this before, you’re not alone.  When Explorer was introduced, it provide two really nice features.  Bookmark and Email.  In Explorer, if you bookmark Explorer, when you click on the bookmark, the system will return you to exactly the same view you saw previously.  In the case of email – Explorer will provide a link to the Explorer page at the top of the email and then provide IN-LINE graphics and text, which represent the data you’ve been viewing.

Inline Report Content in Email

Yes – I know – this DOES introduce the potential of the email being sent to someone who’s not supposed to see the data, but at most organizations I’ve worked with, they would prefer the option of turning it off then not having it in the first place.

What’s on your BI collaboration wish list?

«Good BI»

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