Posts Tagged ‘Antivia’

Oct
15

Webinar Recording: Collaborative design is the key to great interactive end-user BI

Thanks to everyone that registered for the webinar, “Collaborative Design is the Key to Great Interactive End-User BI” with Donald MacCormick and Mico Yuk. As promised the recording is available for those who could not attend.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click here: http://bit.ly/1eok4m1

Some key points discussed during the webinar include:

  • User Engagement 101 (BIDF Style)
  • Why are Collaboration and Iterations so Important?
  • Next generation Business Intelligence

Enjoy the webinar and please feel free to leave any comments or questions for the speakers below.

Other Announcements:

Don’t miss out on the last chance to join Mico on the BI Dashboard Formula tour this year! Final stop -Montreal, Canada on November 11th.

Mico will be teaching the following 2 modules from the BI Dashboard Formula:

  • Module 1- PlanningLearn how to identify gaps in project resource, the business goals and alignment up front, to avoid any pitfalls later on in the process
  • Module 2- Dashboard ScopingStrop struggling with the business users to generate KPIs. Learn how to use our #1 rated BIDF Blueprint to work with your users, and let it do the work for you

For more information, please visit: BI Dashboard Formula tour page.

This is your final opportunity to learn from one of the best BI Dashboarding Gurus in the world!

Soo Tang Yuk (@sootangyuk) is the ‘Xcelsius Gurus Network” community manager and evangelist. To find out more, please visit her aboutme page.

Sep
23

Webinar Alert: Collaborative design is the key to great interactive end-user BI

Webinar- Collaborative Design

Interactive Business Intelligence is all about delivering information in a way that end-users can actually use. This means getting BI to speak the users’ language rather than following the failed ad-hoc BI mantra of trying to get end-users to adapt to generic BI tools.

The old phrase “users don’t know what they want until they see it” all too often becomes “users don’t know what they want until they use it”.

This is why involving end-users in the design process for interactive BI is essential. This is a key learning point from Mico Yuk’s BI Dashboard Formula (BIDF) and has been baked into Antivia’s new, next-generation BI design tool – XWIS DecisionPoint.

Mico and Donald

Join us on October 3rd to hear from Mico and Antivia’s Chief Product Officer, Donald MacCormick, two of the BI industries leading thinkers on how to make your BI projects more successful through collaborative design.

Webinar Information:

  • When: Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
  • Time: 11am EDT / 8am PDT / 4pm BST / 5pm CEST
  • Registration: http://bit.ly/185n9aC

Don’t miss out! This fun ‘eye opening’ webinar is guaranteed to give you a different perspective on how to make your BI projects more successful.

Soo Tang Yuk (@sootangyuk) is the ‘Xcelsius Gurus Network” community manager and evangelist. To find out more, please visit her aboutme page.

Dec
13

ALERT: Must Attend #AllAccessSAP Xcelsius SOD Followup & SAP BI Roadmap

A few weeks ago we asked customers to let us know what they wanted to discuss and who they wanted to hear from as a part of our BI Dashboard Formula product ‘Get your BI Dashboard Project on Track in 2013’ campaign: http://bit.ly/TQYn1V

Receiving an astonishing 2K+ votes, we made this the last AllAccessSAP webinar of 2012! For the first time ever we’ve gathered all three of the SAP BI Product Managers in one place to have a NO BS discussion covering the most voted on topics from the survey.

SUPERSTAR CAST:

  • Webinar Hosts: Mico Yuk, Ryan Goodman
  • SAP BI Product Managers: Ian Mayor (SAP Dashboards, Design Studio), Mani Srinivas (Visual Intelligence, Explorer), and Charles Gadalla (Predictive Analysis)
  • Special Guests: Check in with SAP community members around the world on the state of their BI!

WEBINAR AGENDA (120 minutes):

  • 30 mins – Introductions and SAP BI Product Managers presentation answering your initial registration questions
  • 30 mins – Live questions from chat and twitter #AllAccessSAP hash tag
  • 30 mins – Open discussion led by hosts
  • 30 mins – Check in from special guests and global customers on their state of BI

MOST VOTED TOPICS:

  • Update on Xcelsius Statement of Direction (convergence with Design Studio)
  • Xcelsius HTML5 the right route?
  • Understand the Visual Intelligence/Explorer roadmap
  • Who should use Predictive Analysis

WEBINAR DETAILS:

  • Registration Link: http://bit.ly/TQYn1V
  • When: Friday, December 14, 2012
  • Time: 9am EST to 11am EST

END GOAL: Provide clear unbiased answers on these ‘touchy’ subjects so that you can enter 2013 with a clear roadmap on what is best for your organization.

The #AllAccessSAP webinars are famous for producing breaking news and having quite an engaging audience discussion. Join us!

Not able to attend the live session? No worries… Register to receive the recording!

Mico Yuk is a SAP Mentor Alumni and BI Influencer, co-founder of Benchmarkers Business Intelligence and founder of the Xcelsius Gurus Network, the Everything Xcelsius blog and BI Dashboard Formula. To learn more about her, please visit her about page.

Sep
19

Free XWIS test-drive coming to a city near You!

During my keynote at the recent “Mastering SAP BusinessObjects” conference in Melbourne, Australia I said “in order to make Xcelsius or SAP Dashboards enterprise ready you need XWIS from Antivia.” I said this because Antivia’s XWIS closes five key gaps in Xcelsius / SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards functionality which are fundamental to enterprise dashboard success:

  1. Reduced complexity
  2. Design productivity
  3. Dashboard performance
  4. End-user functionality
  5. Mobile delivery

Just as WebIntelligence makes it easy to manage multi-dimensional data with its micro-cube, so XWIS brings similar in-dashboard OLAP capabilities to Xcelsius development. This reduces dashboard complexity by avoiding the need to create multiple connections to the server for different slices of data and by eliminating the formulas required to knit these slices of data together in the spreadsheet. Less complexity means you’ll achieve a significant increase in design productivity (meaning more dashboards, developed more quickly) and at the same time you’ll see a dramatic improvement in dashboard performance (both initial load and click-to-click). XWIS also enables the out-of-the-box addition of key end-user functionality such as drill-down, drill-across and “slice and dice”. And to top it off, all this is available both off-line and on tablet devices. But, I want you to see this for yourself … so, I’d encourage you to get along to one of the hands-on XWIS test-drives that Antivia is planning, this fall. By taking a test-drive, you will see all of these capabilities in action as you build your own interactive, connected dashboard, from scratch, against a significant dataset, within minutes, using XWIS.

Antivia is running test-drives in Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and New York during the first week of October.  My good friend Donald MacCormick (a key-player in the acquisition of Xcelsius by Business Objects and one of the guest speakers I hand-picked for my BI Dashboard Formula) is hosting each test-drive. Given the interactive nature of these events, space is limited, so I would urge you to register for an XWIS test-drive today.

Mico Yuk is a SAP Mentor and BI Influencer, co-founder of Benchmarkers Business Intelligence and founder of the Xcelsius Gurus Network, the Everything Xcelsius blog. To learn more about her, please visit her about page.

Aug
11

Understanding BI4 Dashboards and XWIS

If you’re using Xcelsius (now SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards) for your enterprise dashboard projects, by not looking beyond what comes “in the box,” you may well miss out on capabilities which could make a critical difference to your project; even with the advent of BI4.

What you get with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards is one of the best dashboard design platforms because of its free-form design paradigm for rapid dashboard development. Another great thing about SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards is the community of experts and third party providers who fuel adoption, education, and innovation.

A great example of this is XWIS from Antivia. The folks at Antivia say “every connected Xcelsius project could deliver better, faster and at lower cost using XWIS” and I have to say there is good reason for this, having created many connected dashboards over the years. I have taken a stronger stance in the last year endorsing XWIS 2.5 and would agree that XWIS can deliver between 10 and 20 times productivity improvement to Xcelsius projects. “Production dashboards in days not weeks or months” can actually be achieved, which is why XWIS has become a tool of my dashboard design trade!

Having said that, over the last few months I have been asked a number of times if the value of XWIS diminishes now that BI 4 is about to go to GA. My short answer is “no” for XWIS 2.5 and “absolutely not” for the recently announced XWIS 3.0. To elaborate, I wanted to share both XWIS and BI4 capabilities so you can determine for yourself.

What do I get in the box with BI 4?

BI4 is a significant upgrade to the SAP BusinessObjects product suite, perhaps the largest in its history, and has customers eagerly awaiting the GA (some details of the new capabilities of BI 4 can be found at SCN in Pierre Leroux’s blog: “Innovations SAP BusinessObjects 4.0“).

Included in the upgrade are a number of enhancements specific to SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0, the most significant being:

Embedded Query Designer

The embedded query designer is a great new way of streamlining the existing Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) process. Now it is possible to design your queries using a standard BOBJ query panel inside the Xcelsius environment. No more needing to reach for the stand-alone QaaWS front end. It currently only works on the new “unx” universes but expect that to change in the future. So, for people who are using QaaWS today this represents a great step forward in terms of developer workflow and productivity.

Direct binding

For queries which are created with the new embedded query designer, it is now possible to bind the results directly to chart and selector components, without having to go through the spreadsheet. This is yet another important step forward for the maturity of this dashboard development platform, alleviating traditional workflow and performance implications of spreadsheet binding.

Parameter Selector Component

Working in tandem with the previous two features the parameter selector component makes it simpler to add query parameterization capabilities to your dashboard so that the end-user can see different slices of data by selecting a new parameter for the underlying query.

What are you missing by staying inside of the box?

There are many compelling reasons to use XWIS with both XI 3 and BI 4, including long standing XWIS features, such as:

Content re-use:

One of the strengths of XWIS is that is lets you reuse existing BI content (WebI reports, Crystal reports (on a universe or not), JBDC queries …). It is almost certain that you already have the data you need for your dashboard in an existing, managed price of content already governed under SLAs. XWIS allows you to re-use this content rather than having to create new queries.

Hierarchies and auto-drill:

XWIS natively supports hierarchies from your universe, but even better, it also provides an interface to edit and persist new hierarchy definitions, so you can re-use them on other dashboard projects. Furthermore, through its hierarchical data support, XWIS also supports auto- drill both within its own components and also in native Xcelsius components using its innovative Autowire feature (see below).

Cached Data Sources:

Because XWIS can leverage Crystal or WebI as a data source (in addition to JDBC), you can leverage BOE scheduling to offload complex number crunching, and then push scheduled data to your dashboard that you can drill and filter through.

Dynamic Measures and Dimensions:

One of the really powerful features of XWIS is the possibility to change the dimensions and measures (and even the underlying report) dynamically at run-time depending on end-user actions. This is a game changing feature for developers; with a flick of a switch you can increase the sophistication of your dashboards to answer more end-user requirements more easily.

Design-Time Variables

If you require a custom variable in a dashboard, you don’t have to go back to the universe designer or bind your data to the spreadsheet, in XWIS, you can create custom variables right inside of the property sheet while maintaining its hierarchical relevance and drill path.

Autowire:

Bypasses the spreadsheet for charting components and allows XWIS components to directly connect to Xcelsius charts complete with support for hierarchies and auto-drill.

And now in XWIS 3.0, there is even more capability, including:

Live preview

The latest version of XWIS allows you to see your data immediately at design time, in tables, charts, and even GMaps Plugin. This is a huge timesaver and changes the whole dynamic of creating a dashboard by eliminating the need to continually go to preview mode to see how the dashboard will look to end users. This feature really does have to be seen to get a full appreciation of how radically it alters the design experience.

Data Sync:

Keeping a number of components in sync whilst navigating around a dashboard, is often a key requirement (and one that some niche dashboard providers have done a good job at), the new data component in XWIS 3.0 brings this capability to Xcelsius.

Data Merge:

With many organizations needing to combine BusinessObjects data with other sources (e.g.  SQL, OLAP, spreadsheet), XWIS allows you to merge data from multiple sources, within your dashboard, and then take advantage of all the XWIS capabilities (auto-drill, slice and dice, etc) using the combined dataset.

Where do you go from here?

When the rubber meets the road and stakeholders are accountable for delivering dashboards back to the business, developers need confidence to deliver a wide range of capabilities. This is where tools from partners within the SAP eco-system can make the difference to your XI3 and your BI4 projects.

When it comes to a complete dashboard lifecycle, I have always believed that Antivia approaches BusinessObjects connectivity and integration the way that it should have been done in the first place with Xcelsius. New BI4 enhancements illustrate that SAP is committed to improving enterprise integration and connectivity. If your company is already building dashboards with success using QaaWS for your enterprise initiative, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 will certainly be a breath of fresh air. However, if you really want to get the most from your dashboard development investment, I suggest that you give XWIS a serious look.

Feel free to post questions and comments here, as I would love to get the community’s feedback on this topic.

Ryan Goodman is the Founder of Centigon Solutions, an SAP® software solution partner, that is strategically focused on developing add-on products for use with Xcelsius®. To learn more about him, please visit our Gurus page

Jun
15

The Five “Unorthodox Principles for Dashboard Success”

Over the past several years, in my time at SAP BusinessObjects and more recently with Antivia, I’ve been privileged to witness many dashboard projects at many different organizations around the world. Looking back on these, I realized that aside from the mainstream Business Intelligence principles which most people talk about (e.g. involve the business users, make sure you have a high level sponsor, data quality matters, etc., etc.), there are also some rather less orthodox principles which help to deliver business benefit through dashboards.

These five “unorthodox principles for dashboard success” are :

  1. Definitions don’t always help
  2. Visuals matter
  3. Users always want more
  4. Beware of end-users and large data sets
  5. Knowing is nothing, doing is everything

And, they are explained in detail in a new Antivia eBook (registration required).

Together, the 5 principles provide a bit of a sideways look at the world of dashboards, and although they might seem a little tongue in cheek at times, each principle contains advice that I believe will genuinely help you to deliver dashboards more successfully and more valuably across your organization.

Donald MacCormick is the Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Antivia, an SAP® software solution partner, and creator of XWIS the Xcelsius-to-SAP BusinessObjects connectivity solution. In past years, he was a long term member of BusinessObjects and Crystal, and part of the team that brought Xcelsius into the BusinessObjects portfolio.

Apr
28

What are Dashboards really for?

Dashboards are for Action, Not Information!

Given how much has been said about Business Intelligence over the years, it is hard to imagine that someone could, within the 140 character constraint, use a single post on Twitter (I still can’t quite bring myself to say “tweet”) to impart real wisdom about BI, but a few weeks ago I saw something from Gartner analyst Andreas Bitterer which did exactly that. He wrote :

Ironically, the timestamp on the post was April 1st, but I very much hope that this was not meant as an April fool because it cuts right to the heart of what effective BI is all about.

Business is not about knowing, it is about doing.

A good business intelligence system should reflect this. Unfortunately, there is a large part of human nature which is reassured simply by knowing. This tends to spawn BI systems which help people feel that they are in control, rather than do anything useful to actually drive the organization forward.

So for EVERY report, spreadsheet, dashboard, query, visualization, or whatever other form your BI takes, I would encourage you to make sure that there is a clear line of sight from the information you are delivering, to an action someone is going to take to move your organization forward. If you can’t make this connection, I would question the business value being delivered.

This is particularly true in the world of dashboards.

Dashboards are too often limited to simply giving an overview of the current situation.

It helps people to know what is happening, but offers nothing to help them drive action. This misses a huge opportunity, as a well-designed dashboard should provide interactivity to allow its users to drill into the data to help them decide what to do next.

A sales dashboard that only indicates you are on track for the quarter is of very-limited value, one which simply tells you that you are behind plan is not much better, but one which allows you to find out, based on past evidence, which customers in which region are most likely to buy which products is a huge step forward. Now it is much easier to take immediate and effective action (regardless of whether you are behind plan or not).

So, if your dashboards are simply single-screen windows onto the current state of play, perhaps you should consider adding a little well thought out interactivity to better direct end-user activity.

Donald MacCormick is the Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Antivia, an SAP® software solution partner, and creator of XWIS the Xcelsius-to-SAP BusinessObjects connectivity solution. In past years, he was a long term member of BusinessObjects and Crystal, and part of the team that brought Xcelsius into the BusinessObjects portfolio.

Apr
12

Xcelsius News: Interview with Donald MacCormick (@donaldmac) about being back in BI with Antivia

Being the first to deliver all news, we heard recently that having left SAP BusinessObjects 2 years ago, Donald MacCormick, the former CTO of BusinessObjects who played an instrumental role in the acquisition of Xcelsius by BusienssObjects in 2003, is heading back to the world of BI to become the Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Antivia. Known for his ‘tell it like it is approach’ we manage to catch up with him to ask a few questions about his new role and outlook on BI! This is a great read, enjoy.

Q: For those who don’t know you, why don’t you tell us about your history with Xcelsius and BusinessObjects?

Donald: Back in October 2003, Roger Sanborn, one of the key product managers at Crystal, sent me an email suggesting I go to the site, www.infommersion.com. Infommersion were the creators of Xcelsius and as soon as I saw it, I was captivated by the concept. This was a couple of months before the acquisition of Crystal by BusinessObjects closed, which was fortunate timing as BusinessObjects was a much more acquisitive company than Crystal. I spend the next few months demoing Xcelsius to anyone in the organization who would listen,to the point where I think that some people thought I was on some sort of commission from the folks at Infommersion, but finally, about 18 months later, after a lot of hard work (mainly by Tom Schroeder and Mike Brooks), Xcelsius and the Infommersion team became part of BusinessObjects, and the fun really started.

Q: What exactly brought you back to Business Intelligence?

Donald: I left SAP BusinessObjects and the BI world two years ago for a fantastic opportunity to work at a mobile banking startup in California, but personal commitments meant I had to return to the UK and, as a result, I had to find something new. Having spent the previous 20 years in the BI community it was always likely that I would return to it sooner or later. I find the BI world fascinating, the use of information is universally acknowledged as a key activity for organizations, but it is hard to find organizations who do it really well. As a result, there is huge potential for both business impact and technical innovation which is an exciting combination. Additionally, BI is a market where there is hype and substance in almost equal measure, which makes the whole process of marketing BI tools an interesting one. So, when the opportunity arose to get involved in both product and marketing with a BI startup, it was not that hard a decision.

Q: Why did you choose to join Antivia in particular?

Donald: The genesis of Antivia’s XWIS product was at a meeting I had with Mark, Paul and Jason (three of the Antivia founders), where I was talking about an issue which had just caused the loss of an Xcelsius sale. They immediately said, “Give us a week, we think we could do something about that!” and sure enough a week later they gave me a demo of the first prototype of XWIS. Since then I have been involved with them as an advisor and board member, it has been amazing watching them take that initial pre-alpha of the product, flesh it out, sell it to their first customer and take it all the way through to the point now where many mainstream SAP customers around the world use XWIS to underpin their enterprise Xcelsius dashboards.  Joining them full time felt like a natural next step. In addition, having worked for a California based start-up for the last two years, it feels like a nice balance to now be involved in the UK technology start-up world which is much more active than many people realize.

Q: What does Antivia’s XWIS add-on for Xcelsius actually do?

Donald: This is not really the forum for an advert, so if people want to find out I suggest they go to our website at www.antivia.com, but to give you a teaser Ryan Goodman from Centigon Solutions was kind enough to say recently, “I can vouch from personal experience that XWIS cuts [enterprise Xcelsius dashboard] development time by 10 to 20 times”!

Q: Does that not make it competitive with SAP?

Donald: Actually quite the contrary, XWIS is completely complimentary to the SAP product set, it helps SAP customers get more from their Xcelsius and BI Platform investments, it is a win for Antivia, SAP and our joint customers. As a platform, SAP BusinessObjects is always going to be at the heart of a strong ecosystem. Antivia is striving to be a key player in that ecosystem driving co-innovation with SAP products. We started with connectivity between Xcelsius and WebI, but have since expanded to off-line dashboard distribution and most recently, mobile dashboard delivery and have more co-innovations in the works for the rest of 2011 and beyond.

Q: So what do you think about the recent “Xclesius” name change?

Donald: Given the many strong opinions expressed on-line when they made the change it would have been hard not to notice, but knowing Xcelsius from before it was acquired by BusinessObjects I find it hard to call it anything else. I sympathize with the rationale for the change, but I am afraid that for me “Dashboard Designer” is a little too soulless for one of the more innovative software products of the last 10 years.

Q: Going back to BI, you talked earlier about “BI hype and substance in equal measure”, what did you mean by that?

Donald: The substance of BI is that it is universally accepted as a vital activity for organizations. After all, who doesn’t believe that there is value in better use of information? However, the art of BI is to tease this substance from the inevitable short term hype as new technologies emerge. A good example is the current buzz about “big-data”. Clearly there is an advantage to being able to analyze huge amounts of data and “big-data” sounds exciting, but we need to be careful, as with so many new BI technologies over the years, there is both hype and substance lurking. The hype of “big-data” is the idea that a few people in an organization can analyze large volumes of data and come up with magical, instantly transforming insights. The substance is that the results of deep analysis can be used to drive the right subsets of information into the hands of people right across the organization to help them be more efficient and effective in their everyday jobs.

Q: So, having just left the world of mobile banking, how do you see mobility affecting BI?

Donald: It is obvious that mobile will profoundly affect BI over the next few years, just as it will affect pretty much every other part of our lives. However, once again we need to be careful not to get carried away with the hype. To a large extent BI has been mobile for many years already, most of us travel with our laptops and so BI is already within easy reach. The question is what additional business value can BI offer if delivered on a tablet or a SmartPhone? Without answering this we risk spending a lot of time, money and energy mobilizing BI without getting a good return on that investment. Obviously the starting point will be to take existing BI content and mobilizing it, however, we need to find ways of making sure that this does not mean a redevelopment for every device, as that would be a lot of cost for little return (this is a key focus of the XWIS Anywhere product). Ultimately, there will be more to mobile BI than simply delivering content on the iPad, because it is easier to carry around than a laptop. Mobile offers a new real-time channel to end-users which can significantly amplify the benefits of BI, but only if we take the time to make sure that each user gets exactly the information they need to do their job, no more, no less.

Q: So now that you are back what is the best way for folks to follow or keep up with you?

Donald: The quickest way to connect to me is via twitter @donaldmac. Some folks have also been taking advantage of my free Xcelsius add-ons at http://xcomponents.blogspot.com/.  Expect lots more in the upcoming months…

Soo Tang Yuk is the ‘Xcelsius Gurus Network” community manager and evangelist. To find out more about her, please visit the About Us page.

Jan
13

No more QaaWS?

Xcelsius is one of the most innovative business products of the last decade and in combination with the BusinessObjects platform (both XI 3 and BI 4), it provides a world-class, market-leading, enterprise dashboarding solution which is delivering enormous value to thousands of organizations around the world. Given this, it is not surprising that on Twitter and in the blogs, there is a excitement building in Xcelsius circles about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 and Xcelsius 2011.

The focus is mainly on three new capabilities:

  1. The new embedded query creation capability (replacing QaaWS)
  2. The ability to bind these queries directly to components (rather than going through the spreadsheet)
  3. Built in “Query prompt Selector” controls.

As stated in the “What’s New” documentation for BI 4.0 these new features are “focused on improving productivity and direct enterprise data connectivity”. The $64,000 question is “are the productivity improvements they bring marginal or breakthrough?”

As anyone who has been involved in developing Xcelsius dashboards connected to server side data will know, the two key things which hamper productivity are:

  1. The need to manage multiple connections to the server
  2. The need to use many formulas to manage the data from these queries into the components based on end-user selection

These are also key drivers of total cost of ownership because the complexities they introduce to the initial development also, even more dramatically, affect the cost of ongoing support and maintenance.

Multiple Data Connections

The main reason for having multiple data connections is to get data from different hierarchical levels with each level (indeed each combination of levels from different dimensions) requiring a different query. So a dataset with just two hierarchal dimensions, each with three levels of hierarchy, would require 9 (3×3) different connections to get all possible levels of data. However, it goes beyond that, the need to also have “select distinct” queries to populate lists of values and a number of other auxiliary requirements, mean that most non-trivial connected dashboards typically require between 10 and 20 queries to serve the end user needs, even on a single dataset.

Spreadsheet formulas

With multiple datasets comes the need to manage which dataset drives which component in response to the end user selection. The formula engine of the embedded spreadsheet is an incredibly powerful and flexible method for doing this, however, as has been commented on so many times in the past, spreadsheet formulas are incredibly difficult to debug, document, and maintain. This is even more true when the use of complex formulas (e.g. ones using data manipulation functions such as VLOOKUP) is required.

If we combine these two together into an index of Xcelsius complexity it would look something like:

Xcelsius model data complexity = (100 * number of queries) + (10 * number of unique “complex” formulas) + (3 * number of unique simple formulas) + number or repeated formulas

(I have just pulled the factors here out of the air to illustrate the point, but would love to engage with others in the Xcelsius community on a standardization of a measure like the one above)

So the question is: “do the new query and binding capabilities of BI 4.0 reduce this (or any similar) complexity index ?”

Unfortunately, based on what I have seen so far, the answer is “no”. Although the new query capability “replaces” QaaWS, it looks to have pretty much the same level of query sophistication, i.e. fairly static, parameterized queries (although the new capability does add the ability to add static sorting), with no dynamic, hierarchy awareness. This means that it is unlikely that Xcelsius models ported to BI 4.0 would  be able to rescue the key complexity drivers of “number of connections” and “number of data manipulation formulas”.

This in turn minimizes the value of the other new features, because directly binding data from a query to a component and managing that query directly with a prompt selector is only really useful if the query returns all the data you need. Otherwise, you are still left with needing to manage the data through the spreadsheet which disqualifies the use of these new features.

That is not to say that there are no benefits to the new capabilities. They do make the whole process of initial query creation simpler, because you can do it all from within the Xcelsius environment and for simpler dashboards that have static  (albeit parameterized) data requirements the new direct binding and prompt selectors will prove to be a productivity boost. Additionally, they also make demos of data connectivity in Xcelsius much simpler!

If anyone feels differently, or even better, has an example of a real-world Xcelsius dashboard which is much simpler using the new features, I would love to hear about them. I would also love to hear any thoughts people have on the creation of a complexity measurement for Xcelsius dashboards.

Donald MacCormick is a board member and strategic advisor to Antivia, an SAP® software solution partner, and creator of XWIS the Xcelsius-to-SAP BusinessObjects connectivity solution. In past years, he was a long term member of BusinessObjects and Crystal, and part of the team that brought Xcelsius into the BusinessObjects portfolio.

Dec
9

HTML5 + Xcelsius: Local Data Storage

Xcelsius does not have a built-in feature that allows the storage of local data, a commonly requested piece of functionality. Up until very recently there has been no really easy way to accomplish it with simple client tools, and one way or another it required jumping through several hoops. Fortunately, HTML 5 brings us a feature called localStorage, which allows HTML pages to store data locally across browser sessions and after the closing of the browser window. This is one of many capabilities that HTML5 brings to the table, transforming the browser into a tool with much more potential for serving up fast, more powerful and lightweight applications.

(more…)