Hell Freezes Over – Desktop Intelligence returns to SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite

Desktop Intelligence is returning to the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform.

Update: This humorous article was written on April 1, 2012 – April Fool’s Day. Unlike this article, the slightly less ambitious Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack (DCP) is legitimate. You can read more about the Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack here.

Hell Freezes Over was the name given to a tour and accompanying 1994 live album by the Eagles after a fourteen-year-long break up. The name came from a statement Don Henley once made when asked when the band would get back together. Hell Freezes Over could also be the code name SAP is using for its next version of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform. Responding to customer demand, Desktop Intelligence (aka Deski) is returning to the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform as part of next year’s 4.5 release.

“Customers have spoken and SAP has listened.” according to April ErsteSAP spokesperson for business analytics. “Primarily because of its integrated Visual Basic scripting, key customers have deployed Desktop Intelligence in various office automation scenarios- some quite sophisticated- and we want to continue to support those customers.”

Long time Desktop Intelligence customers are thrilled with the news. Greg Myers, SAP Mentor and Desktop Intelligence fan had this to say about the renaissance of Desktop Intelligence.

Desktop Intelligence 4.5 is totally the sh*t.

“Many of the developers from the original Desktop Intelligence are no longer with SAP and the code is difficult to maintain,” revealed Erste, “so we are using this as an opportunity to rewrite major portions of the product and make it 64-bit, even though the other client applications will remain 32-bit until a future major release.” The SAP BusinessObjects Desktop Intelligence 4.5 UI has been freshened up with a Microsoft Office 2010-style ribbon replacing the traditional menu and toolbars from the previous version. Other features include a redesigned and more powerful Visual Basic scripting engine, a new shared charting engine first introduced with Web Intelligence 4.0 (Webi) and support for UNX universes created with the new Information Design Tool. There will be updated database support, including Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and Teradata 13 in addition to SAP’s own HANA and Sybase IQ. On the server side, new 64-bit services will power larger and more complex reports compared to the 32-bit servers they replace.

Ms. Erste stated that SAP has prototypes in the lab but currently has no plans to add Desktop Intelligence support to the BI Mobile app. “Our primary focus for this iteration was the desktop experience and Microsoft Office automation, but we will continue to listen to feedback from the user community,” she added. Ms. Erste had no comment on rumors that partners were working on add-on solutions for Desktop Intelligence mobility (see related announcement from Diversified Semantic Layer).

Jody Bankston, currently leading CBL Properties through a painful conversion from Desktop Intelligence to Web Intelligence, is ecstatic. “We were looking at empowering our users with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and interactive Web Intelligence reports, but that was going to take a lot of work and difficult change management. AND you still don’t get Fit to Page printing with Web Intelligence XI 3.1! We’d rather just keep running the same old reports and print them. Yeah, the return is small, but the investment is practically zero…so our ROI is HUGE!”

Mark Bradbourne, a BI architect at Forest City Enterprises and member of the ASUG Desktop Intelligence to Web Intelligence Influence Council agrees. “There’s still a lot of passion in the BusinessObjects community about Desktop Intelligence. We had members of the council literally breaking down in tears during our deliberations. But everyone is excited about the future”.

But not everyone agrees that SAP’s moves are in the right direction. For some customers, hell is not only freezing over but SAP is driving at top speed on the highway to hell.  Jamie Oswald, SAP Mentor and long-time Desktop Intelligence opponent, had this to say:

Desktop Intelligence is an old dinosaur. SAP is having trouble supporting the tools that they already have.  I can’t see how resurrecting an old tool improves anything, especially for customers looking for innovation in newer products like Explorer, the mobile BI apps, and the rumored Zen project.

Desktop Intelligence 4.5 will go into ramp-up next year along with the rest of the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.5 suite. No official date for the ramp-up has been announced.

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

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