Everything Must Change

Like it or not, everything MUST change, including SAP’s analytics roadmap.

You’ve probably never heard of Benard Ighner. But in 1974 he penned a song entitled “Everything Must Change” which he performed on the Quincy Jones album Body Heat. Since then, the song has been widely covered by artists in the pop, jazz and R&B genres.

Everyone must change
Nothing stays the same.
The young become the old,
Mysteries do unfold.
‘Cause that’s the way of time
Nothing and no one goes unchanged.

Everything Must Change by Benard Ighner

Last month, SAP analytics executive Mike Flannagan published a February 7, 2018 blog that was a prelude to a February 15, 2018 #askSAP webinar. His blog was entitled A Deeper Look into SAP’s BI and Analytics Strategy and made two key points, one intentional and one not.

First, the intentional message was that SAP is focusing on one data discovery solution, SAP Analytics Cloud. This means that SAP Lumira Discovery- freshly released in 2017 after an extensive and lengthy redesign- will only see small maintenance releases during 2018 and 2019 while SAP Analytics Cloud will continue to be updated every two weeks. Many SAP analytics customers will be unaffected by this announcement, as they have settled on a best-in-breed analytics strategy with Tableau, Qlik, or Microsoft PowerBI as their tool of choice. There will be some disgruntled customers who bought into SAP Lumira, which does not have an automatic migration path to SAP Analytics Cloud.

Second, the unintentional message in Mike Flannagan’s blog was that SAP Analytics Cloud is becoming the primary analytics offering by SAP. Oh sure, the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform is still supported, but the goal is to loosely integrate it with SAP Analytics Cloud via the SAP Analytics Hub, another SAP Cloud Platform-based offering. A red flag for SAP BusinessObjects on-premise customers is this- “SAP has recently extended support for SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.2 by two years”. This “great news” means that End of Mainstream Maintenance for BI 4.2 now occurs on 12/31/2022 and End of Priority One Support Phase now occurs on 12/31/2024.

SAP is to be commended for its current strategy of continuous innovation via support packs, which will continue into 2018 with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Support Pack 6 being released in the July 2018 time frame and Support Pack 7 being released in the December 2018 time frame. However, contrary to any “rumors” that you may have heard, there are no current plans for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.3. This is unfortunate, because there are significant innovations that need to come to the BI platform but won’t on a support pack budget. And according to SAP’s roadmap, the BI platform will become an innovation-free zone, as any cool and modern technology will only be added to SAP Analytics Cloud.

SAP’s new analytics strategy has significant impacts for its customers who love the on-premise (but also cloud-ready) BI platform. Its strategy even has significant impacts for analytics professionals such as myself who find themselves at a skills crossroads. The SAP BI platform isn’t quite dead (heck, Desktop Intelligence has been dead for years and many of you are still out there using it!), but it’s no longer a solid foundation for a career with analytics- SAP or otherwise. I’ll be exploring both of these angles in future blog posts.

Nothing and no one goes unchanged. But for now, enjoy a two-minute, heart-pounding arrangement of “Everything Must Change,” performed by the world-champion Blue Devils drum corps in their 2017 show, “Metamorph”.

Is your organization’s analytics strategy changing in response to SAP’s recent announcements? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


New BI Launch Pad Customization in SAP BI 4.2 SP5

A new and much welcome enhancement for the BI Launch Pad logon screen.

Although SAP is spending most of its analytics budget developing SAP Analytics Cloud, innovation is still happening on the BI Platform. In SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP5 (released in December 2017), SAP has introduced a new property for controlling the behavior of the Authentication drop-down box on the logon screen.

The behavior of the logon screen can be customized by copying the default BILaunchpad.properties file from C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\default to the adjacent directory C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom (see my original article about BI customization, Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 and BI 4.2).

A new property- logon.authentication.visibleList– now joins authentication.default and authentication.visible that controls which authentication types appear in the authentication drop-down list. By default authentication.visible is set to false, but most organizations have to set it to true so the Administrator can choose Enterprise authentication and everyone else can choose something like Windows AD, LDAP or SAP authentication.

logon.authentication.visibleList property for BI Launch Pad customization

Here is how the default list logon.authentication.visibleList=secLDAP,secWinAD,secSAPR3,secOraApps,secPSE1,secpsenterprise,secSiebel7,secEnterprise appears.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

The new logon.authentication.visibleList parameter not only controls which authentication types are displayed, but also the order(!) that they are displayed in. As an example, I’ll move secEnterprise from the beginning to the end of the list.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

And here’s what it looks like when I shorten the list to only the desired authentication types.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

IMPORTANT: Remember that you must copy the contents of C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom to C:\SAP BusinessObjects\SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0\warfiles\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom before applying any patches, as the latter is the location the patch installer will redeploy web applications from. I also recommend keeping copies of any customized files on a project intranet or some other location that isn’t a SAP BusinessObjects server.

This small enhancement to the BI platform is a big deal that enables BI teams to simplify the interface, reducing both human error and help desk calls. I’m eagerly looking forward to additional BI platform enhancements that we’ll see later this year in BI 4.2 SP6 (July 2018 timeframe) and BI 4.2 SP7 (December 2018 timeframe).

State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade – February 2018

SAP BusinessObjects 4.1, SAP Lumira 1.x and SAP Design Studio 1.x maintenance all come to an end in 2018. Here’s how to plan for the future.

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these “State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade” articles. In fact, I didn’t write one at all during 2017. But there are some key events happening in 2018 that are going to affect BI strategy for many SAP customers.

Read the State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade – February 2018 on the SAP Community site.

I wrote the article one week before Michael Flannagan posted his Deeper Look into SAP’s BI and Analytics Strategy, but the points are still valid for SAP customers using the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite.

2017 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2017 passed quickly.


I’m still proudly serving as the program chair for the ASUG Kentucky chapter, a role that I’ve held for three years. This was the second year that I helped organize the ASUG Developer Tools Day event in December. It was also the second year that I did not speak at the annual ASUG BI conference (now rebranded as the Eventful Group’s BI+A Conference); however, I did get to attend to assist my co-worker and fellow SAP Mentor Greg Myers for hands-on session with SAP Predictive Analysis .

Desktop Intelligence

If you would have told me in 2007 that ten years later I’d be helping customers retire Desktop Intelligence, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I worked with two organizations, one mid-sized and another a Fortune 200 public utility. In both cases I was not only surprised that Desktop Intelligence was still around but that the adoption of Web Intelligence was non-existent or anemic. It’s a good feeling to know that these two organizations are future-proof for the next few years.

Pre-sales with SAP

Although I transitioned from pre-sales back to managed services, I managed to do a lot more pre-sales work in 2017, helping SAP account executives and their customers better understand their BI environments with free BI-on-BI assessments powered by Sherlock from EV Technologies. Doug Turner and I worked with organizations of all different sizes and industries and got to know a lot of SAP account executives and sales engineers.

Web Intelligence

A big deal for 2017 was creating the fourth edition of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide for SAP Press, which was released on September 25th. When I worked on the second edition, I was a traveling consultant with nothing better to do than sit in a hotel room and work on a book. I’m grateful that my family tolerated me spending evenings working on this edition of the book. I continue to be amazed at how different writing a book is from blogging (at least for me). We added Christian Ah-Soon from SAP as a significant contributor to the book, based on SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 that went GA toward the end of our book deadline.

2017 Travels

courtesy of TripIt and Google Maps

I’m not traveling as much these days. I’m just an average passenger when I fly on Delta airlines and I miss my Platinum days very much. I still have TSA Pre-Check, so at least there’s that.

  • ASUG Volunteer Meeting (January 21 – 22, 2017)
    Chicago, Illinois
  • SAP Insider BI 2017 & HANA 2017 (February 25 – March 2, 2017)
    Las Vegas, Nevada
  • SAP Lumira 1.31 customer coaching (March 19 – 22, 2017)
    San Antonio, Texas
  • SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 and Desktop Intelligence migration (April 10 – 13, 2017)
    Charlotte, North Carolina
  • ASUG Kentucky Summer 2017 meeting (June 8, 2017)
    Louisville, Kentucky
  • ASUG/Eventful Group BI+A Conference (August 6-9, 2017)
    Nashville, Tennesee
  • ASUG Kentucky Fall 2017 meeting (September 14, 2017)
    Highland Heights, Kentucky
  • SAP Insider Reporting and Analytics INTERACTIVE 2017 (November 27 – December 2, 2017)
    Las Vegas, Nevada
  • ASUG Developer Tools Day 2017 (December 7, 2017)
    Highland Heights, Kentucky

Books Read and Reviewed

I must admit that with a busy schedule and now the need for reading glasses that I’m not reading as much as I should. I’ll try to do better in 2018.

Presenting Data Effectively, Second Edition, by Stephanie Evergreen

The Big Book of Dashboards by Steve Wexler, Jeffrey Shaffer, and Andy Cotgreave

For the Love of Spock

A fascinating look at the actor that made an extra-terrestrial from a cancelled 1960’s TV series into a cultural icon.

For the Love of Spock is a documentary released in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. It’s directed by Adam Nimoy, the son of the late Leonard Nimoy, who died on February 27, 2015. Because of the actor’s death, the focus of the documentary shifted from being a documentary purely about the Star Trek character Spock and his influence on society to a documentary about the actor himself and his often difficult relationship with his son.

Star Trek was cancelled shortly after I was born, so my first memories of it was it running in syndication when I got home from school. Later, I was able to see the feature films, starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.

I find it fascinating that both Leonard Nimoy and Harrison Ford both wanted to kill off the characters that made them household names, Spock and Han Solo, respectively. Spock originally died at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982 only to be brought back to life in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in 1984. Leonard Nimoy continued to portray the character while directing both Star Trek’s III and IV. He portrayed a much-older Spock both on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as on the big screen with JJ Abrams reboot of Star Trek. It seems that Leonard Nimoy came to terms with his signature character, or at least appreciated its financial success.

Regardless of whether you love or hate Star Trek, Spock’s influence on popular culture is undeniable. The half-human, half Vulcan character inspired many well-known scientists, interviewed for this documentary, to pursue their careers. I hope you’ll check it out either on Netflix, Amazon Video, or DVD and Blu Ray.

Live long and prosper.

All the Web Intelligence That’s Fit to Print

Printing a Web Intelligence document isn’t a necessary evil- it’s simply necessary. And SAP should graciously support users who work in industries where a printer is required equipment.

Back in 2011 when I wrote All the Desktop Intelligence That’s Fit to Print, I was working on what I hoped would be my last project migrating Desktop Intelligence documents to Web Intelligence. Fast forward six years to 2017 and I’m still helping several customers retire Desktop Intelligence. And in 2017, the Web Intelligence Job Server still doesn’t have the schedule-to-printer functionality that existed for Desktop Intelligence and is still available for Crystal Reports users.

This year, the SAP Idea Place moved to a new home- the SAP Customer Influence portal. The idea to Schedule Webi documents to a Printer– submitted by Brian Thomas on January 10, 2011- was reviewed by SAP and set to “not planned”, despite the idea currently having 64 votes- many more than the ten votes SAP required for consideration. The idea has comments from Web Intelligence users across multiple industries making their case for schedule-to-print.

Instead, Samuel Polichouk, an SAP product expert in Paris where Web Intelligence is developed, wrote:

In our world which become more and more “mobile”, printing is not something we would like to invest in scheduling webi documents. Therefore I prefer to set expectation saying that we will not include this in our backlog for coming releases.

While I appreciate Samuel’s perspective, the world still needs printers. I’m still baffled why I hear a dot matrix printer grinding away at the gate agent’s desk whenever I board a commercial airline flight, but there it is- some kind of compliance requirement that won’t go away.

Please continue to vote for this necessary idea and hope that SAP will review its position on the matter, bringing much-needed printing capabilities enjoyed by Desktop Intelligence and Crystal Reports users to the legions of Web Intelligence fans.

UPDATE: Voting is closed for this particular idea; however, I’d be grateful if you’d leave a comment on this article describing a use case for Webi printing or why you support adding this feature to the platform.

Securely Speaking

I’ve made this blog more secure with SSL.

In the interest of safety and privacy, I’ve added SSL to the web site. Hopefully this change is transparent. If you type http://www.dallasmarks.com into your browser, you should be automatically redirected to https://www.dallasmarks.com/. If you encounter any problems with the new configuration, would you take a moment to either submit a comment on this post or send me a tweet?