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.
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
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
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.
How to create the default categories for the Mobile BI app.
One of the current drawbacks of the current state of SAP mobile analytics is that not every Web Intelligence document can be rendered via the Mobile BI app. To get around this, SAP leveraged the existing categories mechanism, a seldom-used feature originally brought to the XI platform to allow the migration of categories from classic BusinessObjects 5.x/6.x. There are four default mobile categories, although only three are presently used by the Mobile BI app: Mobile, Confidential, MobileDesigned, and Featured. These are defined in the Central Management Console (CMC) under Applications -> SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI (wouldn’t “Mobile BI” have been enough?) and described in the Mobile BI Report Designer’s Guide on the SAP Help Portal. The details about the Featured category are descibed in the Mobile BI Administrator’s Guide.
Mobile – The “gatekeeper” category that controls whether content appears on the mobile device. It must be selected regardless of whether Confidential, MobileDesigned, or Featured are also selected.
Confidential – Prevents sensitive content from being permanently stored on the mobile device. Useful, but not a replacement for corporate mobile security policies or the use of centralized mobile device management.
MobileDesigned – Use “page layout” (close to original report design as possible) rather than default “card layout” (Mobile BI makes best guess how to display content).
Featured – Content is automatically downloaded to the mobile device when you log on to a server connection, or when the home screen is refreshed.
These categories are not created by the installation program, so you’ll want to create them as a post-installation task. The categories can be created in a flat structure as shown below. With a flat structure, mobile documents must be tagged with the Mobile category and optionally with one of the other three categories.
But I prefer to arrange them in a hierarchical structure, as shown below. The benefit to this structure is only a single category is required to tag the document. Tagging a document with MobileDesigned, for example, will automatically tag it with the Mobile category via inheritance.
Starting with Mobile BI 6.0, additional categories can be used to further organize documents on the mobile device. I’m not sure why folders have been shunned, other than robust folder structures may have proved too cumbersome for the average mobile executive’s thumbs. Below you can see that I’ve added the categories Candy, eFashion, Pizza, Samples, and WDI to the CMC.
And here’s how those categories appear on the mobile device. Notice that category sorting in the mobile app is case sensitive but is not in the CMC.
I hope this article will inspire you to create the four default mobile categories and begin exploring the features of the SAP Mobile BI app.
SAP KB 1851936 – Web Intelligence reports viewed in the SAP Mobile BI app for iOS are rendered differently between iPad generations
SAP Note 2007461 – Non-indexed Explorer Information Spaces are displayed in the report list on the SAP Mobile BI app for iOS
SAP Note 2076233 – Respect Category for Mobilizing Explorer and Xcelsius Content