2016 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2016 is almost over. I began the new year moving my blog to a new web hosting service. A side benefit was finally moving my blog to the DallasMarks.com domain from the previous DallasMarks.org domain. You’ll definitely want to update any bookmarks that you have.

It’s taken ten years, but this year Eric Vallo asked me to transition from services into presales. I also visited the SAP Vancouver office for the first time to receive SAP BusinessObjects Cloud presales training for partners. Sometimes your dreams don’t come true how and when you expect them to. In 2006, I got my first passport on the hopes that I’d be accepting a presales job with BusinessObjects and traveling frequently to Vancouver, BC for training. That opportunity did not come to fruition, nor did two additional attempts after SAP’s acquisition.

This year was the first that I did not attend or speak at the annual ASUG BI conference (see related article, Watching #ASUGBIA from the sidelines). I’ve spoken at the national event each year starting with BusinessObjects Insight 2006 conference in San Francisco, California and was an attendee at Insight 2005 the year before at the Gaylord resort in Orlando, Florida. Missing the annual event and its networking opportunities was a big bummer and yet another reminder that not every career opportunity is under one’s own control. What I have learned this year is that many more people have seen my writing than seen me give a presentation. So I am endeavouring to write more frequently in 2017.

One of the things I’ll be writing in 2017 is the fourth edition of Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide from SAP Press with co-authors Jim Brogden and Christian Ah-Soon (see related SAP Community article, Is There Room On Your Bookshelf for Web Intelligence, Fourth Edition?)

Even though I missed both the 2016 ASUG volunteer meeting and ASUG Business Intelligence and Analytics conference, I remained an active ASUG volunteer as program chair for the Kentucky chapter. Due to some career transitions, I inherited planning the annual ASUG Developer Tools Day, co-sponsored by the Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky ASUG chapters. I’m looking forward to the 2017 ASUG volunteer meeting next month in Chicago, Illinois.

2016 Travels

courtesy of TripIt and Google Maps

It’s a challenge to beat last year’s trip to SAP’s Paris office, but my first visit to SAP’s Vancouver office was splendid. I ran into Blair Wheadon at Starbucks and Ty Miller at the SkyTrain station. It was good to see familiar faces like Jayne Landry kick off the partner event and Radim Bacinschi gave me a personalized tour of Vancouver.

2016 Webcasts

Books Read and Reviewed

I’ve noticed that I’m not reading as many books, due in part to three active children as well as eyes that now need reading glasses. I still read lots of shorter articles from my laptop or tablet, but book reading is an area of my life where I need to set higher goals in 2017.

SAP Lumira Essentials by Dmitry Anoshin

2016 Writing

In addition to the articles I’ve written here on my personal blog in 2016 (click here for complete list), you’ll want to check out the articles I wrote for the SAP Community (see my profile on SAP Community for a complete list).

Or the articles I wrote for EV Technologies (see my profile on EV Technologies for a complete list).

Thanks for your encouragement and support this year. 2017 should prove to be another interesting year. I’m already scheduled to present two sessions at SAP Insider BI 2017 about SAP BusinessObjects Lumira and SAP IQ (read related article here). I’ll also be attending the January 2017 ASUG volunteer meeting with my fellow Kentucky volunteers Eric-Stephan Neill, Vince Barber, Ashley Lowe, and Theresa Westlund. And no doubt SAP will provide a few interesting announcements to keep us on our toes.

SAP Insider BI 2017

Join me for deep dives into SAP Lumira and SAP IQ.

Join me this February 27 – March 2, 2017 in Orlando, Florida at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort for SAP Insider BI 2017, the definitive conference for professionals who use and support SAP BusinessObjects BI, SAP BW, and SAP analytics solutions.

This year I will be presenting two sessions – the full conference agenda is available on the conference web site.

SAP BusinessObjects Lumira integration with the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform: What BI administrators need to know.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm, room Asia 3

Learn how to add SAP BusinessObjects Lumira support to your existing SAP BusinessObjects BI landscape, and deploy to your user community with confidence. By attending, you will:

  • Learn how to install, size, and configure the SAP BusinessObjects Lumira in-memory database engine on your existing SAP BusinessObjects BI landscape
  • See step-by-step how to configure security and govern SAP BusinessObjects Lumira desktops from the BI platform
  • Explore which SAP BusinessObjects Lumira capabilities are supported in mobile BI and which ones are not
  • Best practices for monitoring the SAP BusinessObjects Lumira engine for peak performance

How SAP IQ can accelerate your existing data warehouse with minimal effort

Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm, room Northern E-4

SAP has amended the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 license to include 1 license of SAP PowerDesigner, 8 cores of SAP Data Integrator, and 8 cores of SAP IQ. Discover how this “data warehouse in a box” solution can accelerate your existing data warehouse with minimal effort, and how to lead a pilot project to determine the feasibility of migrating to the SAP IQ platform. Learn how to:

  • Use SAP PowerDesigner to automatically recreate existing data warehouse schema DDL from the current platform to SAP IQ
  • Use SAP Data Integrator to move a snapshot of the existing data warehouse to SAP IQ
  • Modify an existing universe to use SAP IQ with minimal disruption to downstream SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence content
  • Benchmark the old and new solution to determine ROI

Attendees will be able to take home a project plan to manage their own SAP IQ pilot.

Register by January 27 and SAVE $550! BI 2017 is co-located with Basis & SAP Administration 2017 and HANA 2017. Your registration will allow you access sessions across all 3 events at no additional cost.

Presentation downloads for all sessions are available to conference attendees from the SAP Insider web site.

Data Visualization Humor

Hopefully none of the “featured” visualizations belong to you.

There’s enough bad data visualizations out there to mock publically. Here are some sites that do just that.

  • Junk Charts – examples with commentary on how to make improvements. You can also follow @JunkCharts on Twitter.
  • WTF Visualizations – a Tumblr blog of “visualizations that make no sense”. You can also follow @WTFViz on Twitter.

Are there other sites that I should list here?

SAP Business Intelligence in the ‘Burgh

I will be speaking about the latest SAP innovations in analytics at the next Pittsburgh BusinessObjects User Group (PGHBOUG) on Thursday, December 1, 2016.

What’s New in SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise 4.2

SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise 4.2 provides a wealth of new enhancements whether you are a user, developer or administrator. This session will focus on innovations as seen through the eyes of a business user who uses Web Intelligence or Lumira on a regular basis. We’ll also unpack the benefits of adopting the Information Design Tool for universe design and SAP IQ for accelerating your existing data warehouse architecture.

SAP Lumira: What BI Administrators Need to Know

Learn how to add SAP Lumira support to your existing SAP BI or Edge landscape. See several of Lumira’s unique features for trusted data discovery and deploy to your user community with confidence.
• Learn how to install, size, and configure the SAP Lumira in-memory database engine on your existing SAP BI landscape
• See step-by-step how to configure security and govern SAP Lumira desktops from the BI platform
• Learn which Lumira capabilities are supported in Mobile BI and which ones aren’t
• Adopt best practices for monitoring the SAP Lumira engine for peak performance
• Understand how SAP Lumira and Design Studio will converge with their 2.0 releases

It’s been over four years since I’ve been at a Pittsburgh meeting and am looking forward to sampling some pierogis and local craft brews. Visit the Pittsburgh BusinessObjects User Group web site for meeting location, directions and other details.

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 a 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

Read Part One of this article, The Road Unexplored: A Future for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.

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?

Read Part Two of this article: The Road Unexplored: Alternatives to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.

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

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