Apple iOS 11 has been out less than a week but it’s already old news for SAP’s mobile analytics team.
Yes, yes it is!
After years of wondering if SAP Mobile BI is ready for iOS 10, iOS 8, iOS 7, iOS 6 (I must have forgotten to complain about delayed iOS 9 support), I can say that SAP has surprised its analytics users by getting Mobile BI to the app store before the official release of iOS 11 and getting its companion apps, SAP Roambi Analytics and SAP Analytics Cloud, into the Apple App Store just a few short days after iOS 11’s release.
SAP BusinessObjects Mobile 6.6.5 for iOS includes Lumira 2.0 compatibility and is the first version to support a new iOS version before it is released.
SAP gave its mobile BI users a surprise over the weekend by releasing SAP BusinessObjects Mobile 6.6.5 for iOS. Not only does it include support for SAP Lumira 2.0 SP02 (the GA release) but also includes support for iOS 11, which will be released to the general public this Tuesday, September 19, 2017. This is the first time that SAP has provided compatibility for a new version of iOS before its release.
SAP RoamBI Analytics , SAP RoamBI Flow, and SAP Analytics Cloud don’t explicitly promise iOS 11 compatibility, so users of those apps will want to defer updating their iOS devices to iOS 11 until SAP has issued minor releases that explicitly promise iOS 11 compatibility.
SAP still keeps the stand-alone version of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer in the Apple App Store despite the fact that SAP BusinessObjects Mobile has supported Explorer content for many years and the app hasn’t been updated since 2013, which is nearly an eternity for mobile apps. It’s probably time for SAP to consider retiring the app.
The new iTunes focuses on music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks.
Apple release notes for iTunes 12.7
This means that you’ll have to use your iOS device and the updated App Store included in iOS 11 to review release history and release notes.
I recently recycled my old iPad 2 and replaced it with a new A9-powered iPad. I’ve already updated it with the latest SAP BusinessObjects Mobile app and eagerly plan install iOS 11 when it is released later this week. I intend to write soon about its new Lumira 2.0 features and delve into the growing Web Intelligence functionality gaps between the Mobile BI app and its browser-based cousins.
SAP Mobile takes one giant leap forward for Lumira 2.0 but Web Intelligence support is still a few steps behind.
SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI 6.6 is now available for download in the Apple iTunes app store. This means that we’re one step closer to the general availability of SAP Lumira 2.0.
What’s New in Version 6.6.3
SAP Lumira 2.0 support (for both the discovery and designer components of SAP Lumira)
Additional charts and functionalities for the discovery component of SAP Lumira
Good containerization support
AirWatch SDK support
SAP Lumira has been the star of the iOS Mobile BI app since version 6.3 was released in December 2015. There’s been a feature gap in mobile Web Intelligence chart rendering since SAP BI 4.0 was released over five years ago. And with the Web Intelligence team delivering new functionality like shared components and new charts like geocharts, gauges and tiles, the gap has only widened.
If history is a guide, we can expect a few months of minor point releases containing “technical improvements” to version 6.6 hopefully followed by version 6.7 around December 2017. Hopefully version 6.7 will make some progress closing the Web Intelligence mobile feature gap. But I imagine that by then the Mobile BI team will be hard at work getting ready to support the Fiorified (and Java-less!) version of Web Intelligence that will hopefully arrive in 2018.
When it comes to updating mobile BI apps, Tableau isn’t leading the race.
Although I rarely use their products, I signed up for the free mobile apps from several major BI vendors. Seeing their updates pop up on my Apple iPhone is one way that I can keep up with what’s going on in the industry.
Unlike on-premise software that requires a project plan and an off-hours maintenance window to push into production, mobile software is nearly as easy to update as cloud-based software because the vendor assumes a majority of the upgrade risks. But it seemed to me that SAP was updating their mobile BI app at a much slower rate than their competitors.
To back up my hunch with facts, I built a quick model in Microsoft Excel using product versions and release dates from the Apple iTunes store and loaded the data into SAP BusinessObjects Lumira.
As you can see in the chart below, Microsoft clearly updates their Power BI mobile app at a frequency greater than SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI or even (gasp!) Tableau Mobile (click images to enlarge).
Microsoft Power BI, a recent entry into the BI marketplace, was introduced on July 24, 2015 and has been on a rapid release schedule ever since. The Apple iTunes store had release history going back to September 5, 2015 and contains 44 releases through February 2017. Oh sure, many of the releases contain only “bug fixes” or “performance enhancements,” but so do many of the releases from Microsoft’s competitors.
Since January 1 of last year, Microsoft has updated their Power BI iOS app a whopping 35 times. Contributing to most SAP users’ Tableau envy, Tableau updated their iOS app 11 times, almost twice as many updates as SAP’s.
Microsoft releases a new version of Power BI for iOS on an average of every 12 days. SAP actually beats Tableau on this metric, releasing a new iOS version every 39.41 days to Tableau’s 42.58 days.
These are quantitative measurements and one could certainly argue that Microsoft’s numbers are padded with frequent “bug fix” updates that don’t introduce any new functionality. In terms of qualitative measurements, which are a bit more subjective, only Microsoft Power BI has a native interface for the Apple Watch. Not even Tableau can boast that. And only Microsoft Power BI boasts “conversational BI” with the ability to ask questions about data in plain English.
Ironically, none of the three Lumira charts I prepared for this article could be viewed on my Apple iPad, even though I’m using the latest versions of SAP’s BI platform and mobile app.
The SAP Mobile BI team is likely hard at work preparing updates to support the forthcoming Lumira 2.0 release. Or perhaps they’ve been reassigned to help roll out a new version of the separate SAP BusinessObjects Cloud mobile app. Or both. But I hope SAP will be able to increase the release frequency and deliver bigger analytic innovations in its core Mobile BI app.
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.
Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without wings, without wheels
Yesterday during the SAP Insider BI2016 keynote, Jayne Landry, SAP Global VP and GM for Business Intelligence announced SAP’s acquisition of RoamBI with a single slide, then quickly moved onto other announcements. RoamBI Co-Founder Santiago Becerra stepped down as CEO in November 2014 and passed away a few weeks ago. He was, in the words of InfoSol’s Paul Grill, a true BI visionary, seeing the business potential of first Adobe Flash and later the Apple iPhone (an ironic combination, to be sure). SAP customers may also recognize Santiago’s name as one of the founders of Infomerssion, the company that created Xcelsius. Xcelsius was sold in 2005 to BusinessObjects and continues to live on rebranded as SAP Dashboards.
What does the RoamBI acquisition mean for SAP analytics customers? It’s simply too early to tell. The first iterations of RoamBI’s signature mobile product only worked with the SAP BusinessObjects suite, although support was later added for other on-premise and cloud-based data sources.
SAP’s lack of an acquisition roadmap is probably an indicator that the deal came together quickly, with Santiago’s passing potentially acting as a catalyst. It’s likely that the technology gained from the RoamBI acquisition will benefit both classic SAP BusinessObjects on-premise customers as well as users of SAP’s new Cloud for Analytics offering.
I’m presenting at SAP Insider’s BI 2016 event being held February 16-19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ll be presenting three breakouts this year and co-presenting a pre-conference seminar with Eric Vallo.
Analytics end-to-end! An in-depth examination of the full analytics process and how to make it work at your organization BI Pre-conference session | Palmer 2 | Monday, February 15, 2016 | 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Co-presented with Eric Vallo, this pre-conference session provided a comprehensive look at the end-to-end analytics process, critical steps necessary for successfully deploying the right analytic tools and process, and specific ‘gotchas’ to look out for that can lead to unwanted results.
Meet the Mentors: BI platform administration Lafleur 2 | Wednesday, February 17, 2016 | 2:30 PM – 2:50 PM
SAP mentors Dallas Marks and Eric Vallo will facilitate this interactive discussion and sharing of ideas for efficient, effective administration of your SAP BI platform. Share useful tips you have uncovered, and get new ideas from your conference cohorts. Take home plenty of practical tips and new resources for when you return to the office.
Secrets of customizing the BI Launch Pad in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 BI Track 7 | Palmer 2 | Thursday, February 18, 2016 | 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Get practical tips and techniques to customize your BI Launch Pad portal, as well as new personalization capabilities introduced in SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.1. With detailed step-by-step instructions, learn how to deliver a tailored information portal that meets user needs without custom coding.
SAP Lumira Integration for the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform: What BI Administrators Need to Know BI Track 7 | Petrus 2 | Thursday, February 18, 2016 | 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm SAP Lumira is now a full citizen of the SAP BI platform and no longer requires SAP HANA. Learn how to plan, size, and configure your existing landscape for the addition of the SAP Lumira for BI4 add-on and its in-memory database engine (formerly known as the Velocity engine), and how it compliments your existing SAP BI tools.
Making mobile magic with SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence BI Track 5 | Mouton 2 | Friday, February 19, 2016 | 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Get best practices to mobilize SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports — both how to tailor your existing reports for tablet and smartphone devices, as well as hot to create new mobile-friendly views.
Join me at SAP Insider’s BI2015 conference in Las Vegas.
In March 2015, I’ll be speaking at SAP Insider BI2015 in Las Vegas, a WIS Publishing conference. It’s actually four conferences in one, as HANA 2015, HR 2015 and SAP Admin 2015 will all be going on at the same time. EV Technologies is an event sponsor and I’ll be joined by several of my co-workers (see related EV Technologies article, Viva, Las Vegas!).
BI to go! A guide to mobilizing SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM – 6:15 PM
Web and formatted reports track
This comprehensive session teaches you how to create SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports, as well as tailor existing reports, for tablet and smartphone devices. After a brief overview of how to make your BI environment mobile-ready, you will explore:
Techniques to master new mobile-exclusive capabilities, like bullet graphs and scorecards
Important differences between card view and page view
Methods to distribute bursted and personalized content to users via their mobile devices
SAP has really done mobile-curious customers a big favor with such a useful starting point.
Two years ago, I took a look at the Mobile BI samples in BI 4.0 (see related article, Sampling the Mobile BI Samples with BI 4.0). Those samples were focused on older mobile devices like the Blackberry and not newer devices like Apple iOS and Google Android phones and tablets. Today, SAP includes tablet-ready samples as part of SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 (also in later support packs of BI 4.0), but you’ll need to complete a few simple tasks to see these reports on your mobile device.
Take a look in the Web Intelligence Samples folder and look in the Mobile Samples subfolder.
Inside are six reports: Chart Demo, Drill Demo, Geo Analysis Demo, Input Controls & Filter Demo, Mobile – Table Demo, and Sections Demo.
Many of these reports look pretty plain in the BI Launch Pad, but they come to life on a mobile device. Out of the box, the documents won’t show up on a mobile device because the categories required by the Mobile BI app do not exist. So take a couple of minutes to create the categories (see related article, Creating Categories for SAP Mobile BI Documents). Next, tag each of the six mobile samples with the Mobile category (at first glance, none of the samples fared better with MobileDesigned, but feel free to compare these two categories yourself).
With the category applied, you should now be able to see these Web Intelligence documents on your mobile device. I’m using my trusty Apple iPad 2 and SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI 6.1.9 (the most recent release) and SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 SP5. Keep in mind that both the version of the mobile app and the version of the BI platform can affect how Web Intelligence documents are displayed.
The Chart Demo demonstrates how various charts using the new BI 4 visualization engine (aka CVOM) appear on a mobile device. There’s several reports within the Chart Demo document- I’ve chosen one of the more colorful ones here. Notice the bubble and waterfall charts, which we never had in XI 3.1 or earlier.
The drill demo demonstrates how to drill down with tables.
It also shows how to drill down with charts. Clicking on a column of the top chart…
…causes it and the pie chart beneath to drill to the next level of the hierarchy.
Geo Analysis Demo
The Geo Analysis Demo demonstrates how to visualize multiple metrics by latitude and longitude. Mapping is only available on a mobile device- this report looks like a bunch of boring tables in the BI Launch Pad.
Input Controls & Filter Demo
As the name suggests, the Input Controls & Filter Demo demonstrates how input controls and filtering are very nicely supported via the mobile interface.
Mobile – Table Demo
The Table Demo demonstrates how horizontal, vertical and crosstab tables appear on a mobile device. There’s multiple report tabs showing various capabilities- I chose the most colorful one here.
Just a simple report showing how the mobile user experience allows users to navigate sections.
These screen shots only show a fraction of the features SAP has demonstrated with these six samples. I was a bit surprised that there’s no bullet graph in these samples and I hope that SAP will continue to enhance this mobile-ready collection in future releases.
SAP has really done mobile-curious customers a big favor with such a useful starting point. Don’t forget that the mobile app itself has its own samples. But these samples effectively demonstrate what a Web Intelligence developer needs to do. I hope you’ll be encouraged to use the same techniques in your own mobile-ready Web Intelligence reports.
Are you currently using mobile Web Intelligence? I’d love to hear any success stories.
Apple released iOS 8.1 yesterday along with a smaller update for the Apple TV. I updated my iPad 2 and iPhone 5, both previously running iOS 8.0.2. Both of my devices have struggled with Apple’s new mobile OS, so my wife’s iPhone 5 and mom’s iPad 2 remain on iOS 7. I’m grateful that iOS 8.1 arrived so quickly after last month’s release of iOS 8. Last year, Apple mobile users had to wait until March- several months after iOS 7.0 was released- for iOS 7.1 (see related article, Still Waiting for iOS 7.1). But this year there was urgency to introduce Apple Pay, Apple’s new mobile payment system. I’m hopeful that iOS 8.1 also contains some performance and battery life improvements.
For the second year in a row, I’m on the fence about replacing my aging iPad 2. Last year, I avoided the iPad Air due to its lack of Touch ID sensor and stingy storage capacity (see related article, Why I won’t buy this year’s iPad). This year’s new iPad models add Touch ID, but the storage on the base models is still a puny (by 2014 standards) 16 GB even though the storage has been doubled in the mid-tier and top-tier models, just like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The situation is even more pronounced if you want a smaller iPad Mini 3. While updated with Touch ID, the new Mini has the same A7 processor as last year’s iPad Mini 2, not the new A8 processor available in the iPad Air 2. Three years ago, I spent $499 US on an iPad 2 with 16 GB of storage and am just a tad bitter that today $499 US will get me an iPad Air 2 with- sigh- still a whopping 16 GB of storage. I’ll look for loose coins in my sofa so I can spend an additional $100 US for an iPad Air 2 with 64 GB, but expect me to complain (loudly) about it.
Enterprises should be thrilled that Touch ID is now standard across new iPhone and iPad models. And I’m hopeful that SAP will soon release updated apps like Mobile BI that eschew clunky application passwords in favor of Touch ID authentication. But developers such as Allen Pike have lamented that customers can still buy new products like the iPad Mini and iPod Touch that still use the three-year-old A5 processor designed for the iPad 2 (see his related article, The iPad Zombie). There’s a huge gap in performance between the A5 and A8 that app developers will have to manage for several more years. And I’m personally starting to notice increasingly sluggish performance from the apps I use every day.
Traditionally, Apple keeps older models on the market at lower prices. And this year is no exception. The two-year-old iPad Mini is $249 US to introduce iPad to a larger, more budget conscious set of consumers. But this year is the first that Apple’s new models have been deliberately crippled to encourage customers to upsell to pricier models. Whether it’s the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, or even the new Mac Mini, the low-end models of each product have been designed like an automobile parked in the dealer showroom. You know, the standard model with the attractive price that the salesperson tells you to avoid because it has a lackluster engine or no air conditioning. John Gruber had a similar reaction on his Daring Fireball blog:
16 GB iPads work against the foundation of Apple’s brand, which is that they only make good products. Apple has long used three-tier pricing structures within individual product categories. They often used to label them “Good”, “Better”, and “Best”. Now, with these 16 GB entry-level devices, it’s more like “Are you sure?”, “Better”, and “Best”.
I’m an Apple shareholder and I love hearing about gross margins during quarterly analyst calls. But it seems that this year’s margins will grow not only due to increased sales volume, but due to Apple’s new upsell strategy. Apple Store employees will no doubt be coached to display more tact than “Well, you could buy the 16 GB model. If you’re an idiot.” But regardless of the tone of the messaging, I believe that is the message.