Posts Tagged ‘Mobile’

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.

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Categories: Dashboards Tags: ,

New Ideas Spark Hydro One Into Action

May 16th, 2012 No comments

The second day of Sapphire has seen many fabulous testimonials from customers.  Companies are changing the way they do business by leveraging the latest SAP technologies including: HANA, BusinessObjects and Mobility.

Hydro One was one of those customers and I wanted to highlight what they’ve done.

Mike Winters and Laura Formusa represented Hydro One in the session, Transforming the Hydro One Customer Experience with SAP Solutions.  It was clear.  SAP is making a serious difference.

The more information you can put in the hands of
the people on the ground, the faster they can restore
power.  Mike Winters

Delivering The Goods

Utilities have a large number of competing priorities and limited dollars by which to execute on those priorities.  Aging infrastructure, economic downturn, regulations, aging workforce are just a few of the challenges faced at Hydro One.  In fact, Laura reminded us that some of their infrastructure is more than 100 yrs old and much of their infrastructure was added after WWII.

In 2007 Hydro One purchased SAP ERP and Supply Chain to run their core business.  They then added HR, Finance, Payroll and BI and achieved a number of important business benefits around business process management and standardizations.  SAP was not an IT Solution but rather a stimulus for changing the culture of the company.

One example Laura highlighted was strategic sourcing, which is now enabling Hydro One to streamline it’s procurement process and deliver something for less.  In fact, they have see over $100M is savings since their SAP implementation.

The more we can control costs, the better off we are.
Laura Formusa

Smart Meters

Technology has not only changed the back office at Hydro One.  Thanks to SAP, Hydro One was able to successfully deploy 1.3M smart meters with virtually no issues and uses SAP for Asset Management.

It wasn’t that long ago that Hydro One was managing outages by sticking a pin in the map every time a customer called.  Now with data from smart meters, they are able to pin point outages and map this data to systems that can do instant triangularization.  This means that crews are deployed faster to the right, prioritized locations so they can restore power more quickly and ultimately increase customer satisfaction… but that’s not all.

More precise Outage data also helps Hydro One increase safety as Laura pointed out.  During bad winter storms in Ontario, it’s not uncommon for roads to be closed and for conditions to be hazardous.  By pulling together more granular outage information, field service workers will know precisely where to go.  This saves them unnecessary trips down potentially unsafe roads looking for downed lines.

Outage Data Goes Mobile

Mike demonstrated a iPhone app that Hydro One is currently working on which customers will be able to download.  This application will tell the customer of all the existing outages, how many customers are affected and how soon the service will be restored.  This means that customers can proactively check from their cell phones and avoid calls into the operations center.  (Avoiding the opportunity to listen to 30 minutes of Vivaldi).

Outage Information on the iPhone

Field Service Enablement

Mike also demonstrated a concept iPad app which would transform how their field service teams receive work order assignments, perform preventative maintenance and log their time.

Technicians will be able to:

  • See the equipment via the iPad camera overlayed with status icons
  • View assigned work orders and associated work instructions
  • Identify historical issues with the equipment (temperature, oil pressure)
  • Access Schematics of the equipment
  • Enter Time Tracking Information
  • Complete and close Work Orders

View Transformer with Augmented Reality

Technical sees historical trends of Oil Pressure

It was amazing.  You had to see it to believe it.

Hydro One is mashing together GIS information, BusinessObjects Augmented Reality, Grid Analytics, Asset Management, Work Management.

Everything is there.  Just a finger swipe away.

Cost Justification

Cost is probably the only reason why these concepts haven’t yet been put into reality.  Hydro One is working to determine the true value of everything they are doing.  Cost pressures remain.  Mike Winters said that so far all their projects have shown a positive return on investment.

Fact Not Fiction

Much of what Hydro One demonstrated looked like something you see in the movies – but it’s not fiction.  Given the right business challenge, customers are looking to SAP to over come difficult obstacles.

Hydro One is an early adopter, but it’s exciting to see this type of eye popping innovation in the Utilities segment.

SapphireNow has been a great event to see some of the solutions that customers have come up with — much of it leveraging out of the box analytics technology that comes with BusinessObjects.

Enjoy the rest of the show.

UPDATE: Session Replay

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Peabody Energy Fuels BI Innovation

May 14th, 2012 No comments

As usual SapphireNow delivered some amazing presentations today.  None better than the session called, See the Future Now with the Latest Mobile Analytics Solutions.  The good news, bad news was if you thought it was going to be all about Mobility, you were wrong.  It was much more.

This standout session was a 20 minute information-fest on how to get the most out of analytics through the strategic deployment of business intelligence.

Deliver BI Programs

Keith Bowles is helping change the way Peabody Energy leverages analytics.  They are an $8 billion dollar utility with 8,000 employees and they have developed a BI program that is leveraging ever ounce of value out of the SAP Analytics Suite.  Peabody runs core SAP technologies and is very focused on leveraging standard tools and content — and it is paying huge dividends.

Stop BI projects and start delivering BI programs.  Keith Bowles

Peabody Energy is a BusinessObjects v4.0 FP3 ramp-up customer and Keith pulled back the kimono and let us see BusinessObjects running against their live environment.  They are leverage both legacy SAP BI technologies such as web application designer and well as deploying BusinessObjects centric technologies such as Xcelsius.

Your company doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, so it’s up to you to educate them about your BI capabilities.  In Peabody’s case they leverage a BI portal and provides monthly updates on topics like:  training, tips and tricks and technology innovations.

I particularly loved the idea of their program, Rent a BI Expert.  It’s a consultative training opportunity where the business can ask questions and focus on a specific “real world” reporting problem.  This helps them build momentum in the business as well as getting the business to take ownership of their analytic needs.

Information Without Context is Useless

Peabody delivers all their reports through the employee portal.  Instead of using the BI Launchpad, they simply use their SAP Portal technology to provide links to all their BI content.

When delivering reports Keith reiterated the critical importance of providing business data within context.  If you are producing 13 metric tons that doesn’t tell you anything, but if you say you are producing 13 metrics tons on a budget of 15, then that’s an entirely different story, which is why they always focus on context.

Peabody Uses Context to Deliver Insight

Red, Yellow and Green are three of the most important colors at Peabody.  There is so much information and the business is changing so rapidly, you have to manage by exception.

CIO Spend Dashboard Tracks Costs

In this CIO dashboard, Keith explained how the CIO tracks critical KPIs.  After clicking on a measure and seeing the high level details update, he can then link to other reports to see the financial spend details.  It’s like a web, focus on the central themes in the dashboard and allow the users to spin out from there.  Peabody’s spend dashboards provide one level of drill-down together with additional analytics showing time-series trends including monthly spend, YTD spend, historical spend (context), budget and headcount.

BI Widgets

Keith reminded me that sometimes older products can be easily overlooked.  BI Widgets is a great example.  I rarely talk about this solution anymore and yet this was the perfect solution for a use case for their executives.  Their Executive VP doesn’t want to have to log in or go to a portal, he simply wants to have the latest BI information on his computer desktop.

Enter BI Widgets.

Peabody created a Widgets bar, which allows them to easily swap back and forth between different dashboards and report visualizations.  It’s an elegant solution and perfect for their users.

Here’s the resulting desktop:

BI Widgets Deliver Real-time Insight on the Desktop

BI Mobile

With 177 iPads, Peabody has begun to deliver mobile analytics using standard SAP tools.  The hardest thing about rolling out mobile applications was getting their IT organization beyond the idea of VPN.  After some key discussions between both SAP and Peabody IT teams, they got the green light.  Getting Mobile BI up and running at Peabody took 8 days – 7 days for security and 1 day to deliver the application.  (Peabody is looking to deploy Afaria later this year.)

Peabody delivers key content to 177 iPads

Keith reiterated the speed of delivery of new analytic content.  Although most of your reports may have cool charts and graphics, continue to think out of the box. Within a few taps of the screen, Keith showed show the CIO is able to get the latest summary detail around IT projects and since Peabody is in the ramp-up program and running BusinessObjects v40 FP3 in production, they are able to use the latest collaboration features to allow for annotation direction onto the report.

Latest BusinessObjects Mobile delivers on screen annotations

SAP Experience

Peabody is also using the latest SAP Experience mobile application as well.  They are leveraging the new Exploration Views capabilities which have been added to BusinessObjects Explorer.  This means Peabody BI team can provide more self-service interactive dashboarding to business leaders.

New Exploration Views deliver self service dashboards

If you’ve not taken the time to download SAP Experience to your iPad, I recommend you do it today.

What Better BI?

Don’t have dashboards today?  I smiled when Keith suggested that you find out what your organization is bonused on and then put that information into a dashboard.  “Guaranteed you will have users using dashboards now.”

He’s right.  And he’s talking about alignment.  Alignment is critical.

Review board goals, strategic plans and LOB goals when identifying KPIs to track and report.  Understand the long and short term goals of your organization.  If you do that it should be much easier to get that essential foundation of any successful BI project, executive sponsorship.

Companies need to embrace BI more holistically.  Stop doing BI projects and run BI programs.  This will allow your organization to increase standardization and reuse.  It will also allow you to reallocate your time to take on other challenges such as governance, information management, mobility and develop your strategic BI vision.

UPDATE:  Link to the recorded session:

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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


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…

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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:

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?

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