Watching #ASUGBIA from the sidelines

Unfortunately, I am not one of the top ten reasons to attend ASUG BIA this year.

ASUG released a YouTube video listing the Top Ten Reasons to Attend their BI + Analytics Conference on October 17-20, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sadly, for reasons beyond my control, I won’t be there. It will be the first annual BI conference that I miss since first attending BusinessObjects Insight in 2005. It looks like a spectacular event, especially with keynotes from industry thought leaders Wayne Eckerson and Claudia Imhoff. If you’re fortunate enough to attend this year’s event, send me a postcard!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is SAP Mobile BI Ready for iOS 10?

It’s tempting to upgrade immediately to iOS 10, but SAP Mobile BI users should wait. If they can control themselves.

Today, Tuesday, September 13, 2016, is the day Apple officially releases its latest mobile OS, iOS 10, to the public. Although SAP’s recently acquired Roambi apps received iOS 10 updates yesterday, we’re still waiting for an iOS 10 compatible update for the SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI app, which historically arrives about a week after Apple updates its OS. It’s likely that Apple may have some iOS 10.1 fixes ready by then.

Today is a good day to remind your SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI users that they should avoid updating to iOS 10 until all of your organization’s mission-critical apps support it.

Today is a good day to remind your support staff to confirm the iOS version during any support calls, as there are frequently small glitches that occur until vendors release a fix for the latest Apple mobile OS.

And lastly, if you haven’t yet implemented a mobile BI strategy, it’s time to take a fresh look at both SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI and SAP BusinessObjects Roambi, which are complementary, not competitive solutions from SAP.

UPDATE: SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI version 6.4.13 was released September 16, 2016 with iOS 10 support (see related SCN article, SAP BusinessObjects Mobile now supports iOS 10). Assuming your other enterprise mobile apps are ready for iOS 10, feel free to update your iPhones and iPads.

SAP Insider Reporting & Analytics 2016 INTERACTIVE

Join me and my friends at SAP Insider’s Reporting & Analytics 2016 INTERACTIVE conference.

Join me at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida on November 2-4, 2016 at SAP Insider’s Reporting & Analytics 2016 INTERACTIVE conference. I’ll be there with my co-workers, Chris Bushmeyer and Eric Vallo (see the full EV Technologies speaking roster here). I’m giving two presentations about Web Intelligence and will be sharing the latest visualization enhancements included in the latest SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise 4.2 Support Pack 3 release.

Leverage the newest capabilities of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence to create powerful visualizations for your data

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM, room TBD

There’s a story in your corporate data, but sometimes it needs an analytic storyteller to bring that story to life. SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.0 introduced a new charting engine, several new chart types, and a redesigned workflow for creating charts. In this session, we’ll look at the features in the latest 4.2 release. Learn not only how to use Web Intelligence charts but when to use them by applying best practices for the display of quantitative information on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

  • Discover Web Intelligence 4.2 charting capabilities, including new geolocation charts
  • Learn best practices for displaying quantitative information
  • Review special considerations for tablets and smartphones

Making mobile magic with SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence

Friday, November 4, 2016 @ 10:30 – 11:45 AM, room TBD

Ready for mobile business intelligence? This comprehensive session teaches you how to create new SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports and tailor existing reports for tablet and smartphone devices. Learn how to configure the BI platform to be mobile-ready as you learn:

  • Techniques to master new mobile-exclusive capabilities, like graphs and scorecards
  • Important differences between card view and page view
  • Using publications to distribute personalized content to users via their mobile devices

Download the presentation slides and sample downloads from the SAP Insider web site.

Image credit: Rosen Shingle Creek

SAP Lumira Essentials

Until Lumira has its own movie, at least we have books to appreciate.

Dmitry Anoshin has the distinction of being the author of one of just two books about SAP Lumira. SAP Lumira Essentials (ISBN 978-1785281815) is offered by Packt Publishing and provides comprehensive coverage of the key features of SAP’s data discovery product.

The book was written using SAP Lumira version 1.21. Version 1.31 is the most current release, and will remain so for several months until SAP Lumira 2.0 makes its debut sometime in early 2017. SAP Lumira has been a difficult product to keep up with, having agile product updates roughly every six weeks, and Dmitry is to be commended for hitting a moving target.

While there have been changes to both the SAP Lumira product and its roadmap since version 1.21 was introduced, there’s some great things to love here. The book comes with a substantial amount of sample content, including some spreadsheets, a mySQL database and a universe. There’s an entire chapter on preparing data that shows how to perform data cleanup, enriching, and merging. There’s also a chapter on working with visualization extensions. This material translates well to the most current version of SAP Lumira.

Some of the topics covered have changed since this book’s publication. SAP has abandoned SAP Lumira Cloud in favor of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, a completely different offering. SAP Lumira is now fully integrated with the SAP BusinessObjects platform. And the universe and BW connectivity is substantially improved.

That said, some people prefer having a book that they can make notes in instead of just online documentation. And this book is one that can answer a lot of questions about SAP Lumira.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Road Unexplored: Alternatives to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

Gartner believes search-based data discovery is a cool idea. Without continued interest from SAP, will fans of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer have to turn to alternate vendors?

I recently received an TDWI webinar invitation with a catchy subject line.

Want Faster BI? How Search Makes Your Analytics More Accessible

I immediately thought of my previous article (see related article, The Road Unexplored: A Future for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer) and continued to read.

Search-driven BI solutions can make finding and querying data a faster and easier experience. Most users are only familiar with search through the use of commercial search engines. However, search can help users quickly locate data and analyze it, and it can also help the entire organization by building a reusable knowledge base about the data and how it is used.

Intrigued, I signed up for the August 4 webinar which began with some market insights from David Stodder, Senior Director of Research for Business Intelligence at TDWI. It then transitioned into a sponsored presentation from ThoughtSpot. I was not familiar with ThoughtSpot but learned from their web site that they were identified by Gartner, a leading research firm, as one of the “Cool Vendors in Analytics” in 2016. Cool like Arthur Fonzarelli.

And in their Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics, Gartner identified ThoughtSpot along with Attivio, Connexica, Incorta, and Zoomdata as providers of “Search-Based Data Discovery”.

Based on SAP’s BI roadmap, it might seem that Qlik and Tableau are the only other vendors in the analytics market. But vendors like ThoughtSpot continue to demonstrate that the idea of search-powered analytics we first saw nine years ago as BusinessObjects Polestar remains a powerful one.

Gartner thinks search-based analytics is a cool idea. Let’s hope that somebody at SAP still does, too.

Explorer makes us sad

Search-Based Data Discovery Vendors

Search-based Data Discovery in the Press

Thoughtspot’s Search for Data Analytics Finds Results Fast by Phil Wainewright, published by Diginomica August 16, 2016

Links for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

The Road Unexplored: A Future for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

Four years is an eternity in enterprise software development. Is it time to bring Explorer’s mojo back with a revised product roadmap?

Pity poor SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. Born as a poster child for innovation in business intelligence, it became a foster child- passed from product owner to product owner without a devoted and loving parent. Customers had their own reasons for not adopting Explorer, the most significant reason being- at least historically- licensing costs. I’ve been a passionate advocate of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, giving many presentations to BI administrators over the years beginning with “Deploying BI to the Masses using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer” at the 2009 Global BusinessObjects Network (GBN) conference in Dallas, Texas. In my experience, most SAP BI customers have stuck largely with Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports, with a smattering of Xcelsius dashboards. But customers who have adopted Explorer really love the tool and have made significant investments in it.

The current state of affairs is unfortunate, because if you’ve seen a SAP HANA demo (and who hasn’t?), you’ve most likely seen a demonstration of Explorer and how briskly it interacts with large volumes of data in the SAP HANA platform. SAP’s most unloved BI tool demonstrates how lovely SAP HANA can be.

It’s been four years since SAP released a significant update to Explorer. SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 Feature Pack 3 was released on June 15, 2012 and brought many new features to the BI4 platform that missed the original GA date, including Explorer Exploration Views. At the time, Exploration Views was one of the key benefits SAP touted as part of Feature Pack 3. But four years without innovation is an eternity in enterprise software years.

The SAP Digital Board Room is the spiritual successor to Explorer, not because of its feature set (although it does offer some of Explorer’s faceted navigation capabilities), but because of who its target user is (see my recent SAP Community Network article, Thoughts on the SAP Digital Boardroom). But the SAP Digital Board Room was not designed to provide a home for legacy on-premise Explorer information spaces.

As SAP focuses on bringing the second generation of Lumira and Design Studio to life, it seems likely that another year or possibly two will pass before Explorer’s search and exploration capabilities are fully incorporated into Lumira. But what will the delay mean for current Explorer customers, whose pain in dealing with Adobe Flash is second only to Web Intelligence customers dealing with Oracle Java? How should we reconcile SAP’s commitment to not expire BI content with the marketplace’s rejection of legacy technology like Adobe Flash? And if not from Explorer, where will the next business intelligence breakthrough for casual business users come from?

Is there a better path forward for Explorer than the current roadmap allows? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or on a related Explorer thread on SAP Community Network, How and when will Explorer functionality migrate to Lumira?

Major Milestones for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

  • October 2005, BusinessObjects releases Intelligent Question XI Release 2, Explorer’s spiritual ancestor
  • October 2007, Debuted as Polestar on XI R2 for Microsoft Windows
  • July 2009, Polestar rebranded as Explorer for XI 3.1 SP1 release
  • July 2010, Explorer XI 3.2 added support for IBM AIX, SUSE Linux, and Edge BI platform
  • September 2011, Explorer 4.0 goes GA, integrated into BI Launchpad 4.0, removes UNV support and adds UNX support, introduces direct connectivity to SAP HANA with 4.0 SP2 FP11
  • June 2012, Exploration Views introduced in BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3 September 2013: SAP restores UNV support with BI 4.1
  • June 2014, SAP announces plans to not expire content, fold Explorer use cases into future version of SAP Lumira as part of a convergence of the SAP BI tool portfolio

Recommended Reading

Ten Features That Absolutely Must Be in BI 4.2 SP3

It’s been four years since I published my wish list for BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3. I revisit the list and see what, if anything, has made it into the SAP BI suite.

Four years ago, I wrote an article entitled Ten Features That Absolutely Must Be in BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3. With SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP3 soon going into general availability, I thought it might be interesting to review the current status of my original wish list.

1. Tree control for Web Intelligence universe selection

No improvements here and none expected for the forthcoming SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Support Pack 3. But perhaps SAP will surprise us with a redesigned universe selector panel in the fully-functional Java-free Web Intelligence coming next year in Support Pack 4?

2. Improved visual distinction between UNV and UNX universes in Web Intelligence

I don’t think there’s been much change here. Still an opportunity for some subtle UI improvements.

3. OLAP universe support for Explorer

Lack of OLAP support for this aging product is by design according to SAP KB 1559221My friend who requested it got tired of waiting and is now a Tableau developer. True story.

4. UNX universe support for Live Office

Fixed. UNX support was finally added to starting with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP6. Live Office isn’t for everyone, but Excel geeks seem to really like it. And Live Office is going to live on in the simplified BI portfolio as its functionality is converged into a future version of Analysis for Microsoft Office.

5. Improved qualification selection in Information Design Tool

Fixed. There have been many usability improvements in the Information Design Tool and this is one of them. If you last took a look at Information Design Tool way back when version 4.0 was released, it’s time to take a second look at the new 4.2 release.

6. Corporate customization of Central Management Console

This request is still unfulfilled but perhaps we’ll see something when the CMC gets the Fiori treatment next year? I’m not looking for robust customization like the BI Launch Pad has. I just want a simple way to change some text strings and colors (using preset themes) to easily distinguish multiple landscapes in the BI lifecycle (Development, Test, Production).

7. No more monolithic Adaptive Processing Server

Fixed. SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 introduced the System Configuration Wizard for APS configuration and some other post-installation tasks, which you can read about here.

My big gripe here continues to be that Design Studio and Lumira both add services to the Adaptive Processing Server. Because these two products are “add-ons”, the System Configuration Wizard doesn’t accommodate them very well. I hope the situation will improve next year when Lumira and Design Studio 2.0 standardize on a single server-size engine.

8. Improved control of Web Intelligence default paper size

Still an open item. Since non-A4 paper size mostly an accommodation for American users, no doubt this improvement is far down on the enhancement backlog, if it’s there at all. Perhaps paper size is less relevant in a greener 21st century?

9. Improved browser support

Fixed. SAP has made major strides in browser support. The biggest obstacle to browser support is how various browsers handle (or refuse to handle) plugins like Adobe Flash and Oracle Java. Fortunately, SAP is working really hard to deliver a plugin-free version of the platform, starting with enhancements to the Web Intelligence HTML panel in the forthcoming BI 4.2 SP3.

10. Improved and better organized sample content

Still as bad as before, except that SAP has added some really nice sample content for mobile devices (see related article, Sampling the Mobile BI Samples with BI 4.1).

Conclusion

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence BI 4.2 Support Pack 3 is almost ready for general availability and contains some really exciting improvements, including four of the items on this wish list. But I hope there’s still time to include the remaining six improvements in BI 4.2 SP4.

What’s on your SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP3 wish list?