Posts Tagged ‘SAP BI 4.0’

Dec
31

Recording: #AllAccessSAP Xcelsius SOD Update & 2013 SAP BI Roadmap & Stats!

Happy New Years!

We first want to say thanks for attending our final #AllAccessSAP webinar of 2012. Unlike our past webinars, we did something a bit different this time.  We issued a survey to our audience asking them ‘What’ they wanted to hear about and from ‘Who’.  We were astonished to receive over 2,200+ votes (see details below).

SURVEY: Pre-Webinar Results (2,200+ Votes) revealed…

  1. WHAT – 49% of you wanted to hear about the Xcelsius SOD Future,  SAP Tool Choices and Dashboard Mobility
  2. WHO – 78% of you wanted to hear it from Mico Yuk (myself), Ryan Goomdan, SAP Analytics Product Team


STATS: 4 Amazing Webinar Facts

  1. Registration soared to almost 500+ registrants! (20+ countries)
  2. 3 Superstar SAP Analytics Product Managers as panelist, namely Mani Srinivasan, Charles Gadalla and Ian Mayor who all did an AMAZING job answering questions!  Big thanks to them for participating and making this a success. :-) (special thanks to Mani and James Fisher for organizing)
  3. Great Blog ResponseRead an exciting recap from SAP Mentor Zimkitha Buwa
  4. In less than 2 hours  - 529 tweets on our twitter hashtag #AllAccessSAP  from over 71 contributors (special thanks to everyone that participated in making this webinar go viral!)


RECORDING: Xcelsius SOD Update + Clarity on Visual Intelligence & Predictive Analysis (60 mins of No BS)

NOTE: This webinar was 120 minutes long but due to issues with gotowebinar we only were able to post the first 60 minutes. This unfortunately chopped off the ending where we had BI Community members check in from over 5 different countries including the Middle East, South America, USA, Canada, and Australia.  What a great way to end the year! Sit back, relax and listen….

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click the direct link: http://bit.ly/Uhalm2

What’s Next?

As we enter 2013 we are planning to do these webinars on a quarterly basis, and also rebrand it to be part of our new BI Community by Jan 31st 2013.  So stay tuned! We look forward to bringing you more good info!

Mico Yuk is a SAP Mentor Alumni and SAP 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.

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.

Nov
5

To Xcelsius or Not Xcelsius? Do you have the answer for 2013?

As we approach 2013, the 3 BIG questions on everyone’s mind are,

  1. Should I keep using Xcelsius?
  2. When do I use Visual Intelligence or Explorer?
  3. Is Design Studio really going to work for the business?

Determined to give you a clear roadmap for 2013, we are working with our SAP BI friends to conduct a FREE 2-4 hour webinar marathon of NO BS all high value info, but we need your HELP!

Please take 30 seconds to let us know: WHAT you want us to cover and WHO you want to cover it.

>> Click here to vote and let your voice be heard!

This campaign will be entitled ‘Getting your BI project on Track in 2013′ and it will probably be the biggest webinar the SAP BI community has seen again (given our reputation),  BUT only if we get our feedback. Our goal is to receive at least 300 responses by Friday (11/9) to confirm its worth our time. Please share the link with anyone in the SAP BI Community that will be affected by these decisions!

>> Take our 30 second survey now.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete the survey! You won’t be disappointed!

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

Aug
3

Dashboards don’t kill dashboard projects, People do!

Recently, I had the chance to think about past dashboard projects that I helped save, or complaints I have recently heard about “at-risk” dashboard projects. I offered the following as advice to colleagues and wanted to share my thoughts with you… I offer these three things to consider as your organization looks to improve your dashboard project success rate:

TIP 1: Know who you are designing for and what they need

“Dashboards” are tools to help business people assimilate information, but different roles, lines of business, and management levels need the right information at the right time.

Strategic Dashboards- Management / Executives

Strategic dashboards should present top level KPIs and performance monitoring metrics for management or executives. Sometimes these managers want everything including the kitchen sink, or believe that one dashboard project (expense) can serve the needs of management and lower levels. One dashboard should not typically serve the needs of multiple roles, and as I have found, it is typically easier to build two dashboards than try to build the security and logic.

Analytical Dashboards- Analysts

Analysts typically end up wanting the raw data so they can play with it in Excel. We have great new tools from SAP like Visual Intelligence and newer versions of Explorer that can begin to approach the needs of an analyst. Dashboards do make a great entry point for analysts, but generally lack the horsepower required out of the box. I have seen WebI or the addition of Antivia XWIS remedy the data volume, adhoc, and data export requirements that often come up with analytical dashboards.

Operational Dashboards- Operations

Operations generally means instant, real-time information. Call centers, dispatch, and emergency management users are typical consumers and if they don’t have a fast, super simple user experience, they will trash your dashboard. The connectivity needs to be very fast, especially in an operations center where someone is physically reviewing the dashboard throughout the day. Typically a bottle neck is real-time data availability unless the customer has experience building real-time applications. As such I recommend you flushing out this before dragging a single component onto the canvas.

Informational Dashboards- Everyone else

Informational dashboards are typically geared toward a broader audience of business users. As such, your dashboard needs to be built to win over this audience. The best way to do so is ensure the first phase of your project is delivered quickly, looks amazing, and must be functional.

TIP 2: Set expectations from day 1

A dashboard design solution like Xcelsius has always been our BI Army Swiss knife for applications, but it is not magic. It has its own set of technical limitations that should be understood and communicated. A dashboard developer or project manager should set expectations for what is possible out of the box, what extendable using third party software is, and that if you wait for SAP to deliver the fix or feature, it could be a long wait.

I have walked into countless engagements where the business defined requirements and was told those requirements were possible with Xcelsius, yet no one ever pushed back to set expectations that it would require 40 queries and take 5 minutes to refresh. This is not good!

TIP 3: Find a business champion

Many dashboard projects may be pushed from the top down to end users who may have existing tools and processes for doing things. You have one shot to make an impressions with a new application and if you don’t have someone on your side who is respected by end users you could run into trouble even if you build the best dashboard. A business champion can provide gut checks along the way to make sure the dashboard will be generally adopted, and help evangelize the excitement of a new dashboard so upon delivery, you don’t face an angry mob who will block adoption of the new dashboard.

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.

Apr
23

Recording and Book Giveaway: Most Important Xcelsius Webinar of 2012

Hi Everyone,

We first want to say thanks for attending the Most Important Xcelsius Webinar of 2012! Consider  this to be one of three upcoming blog posts discussing the details of the webinar. Please be sure to read it all the way through before previewing the video to view some great outcomes from the webinar.  Enjoy!

10 Amazing Webinar Facts

  1. Registration soared to a record 1086! (30+ countries)
  2. 64% show up rate with over 700+ attendees
  3. 400+ Questions received
  4. 96% Attendee approval rate from feedback survey!
  5. 500+ tweets on our twitter hashtags #AllAccessSAP and #XcelsiusSOD reflected the traffic of a mini conference (and still going BTW)!
  6. 48% of the customers on the call had both SAP BW and Business Objects when polled
  7. 82% of the attendees had no idea what SAP Zen was (though Zen reflected 30% of the questions asked and is the next most requested AllAccessSAP Webinar)
  8. #SAPZen twitter hashtag has been bred into life!
  9. SAP BI Commnity Response was historical and overwhelming! To date we have 7 blog posts, 1 podcast and 1 semantic analysis and counting…
  10. 6 Amazing SAP BI panelist, namely Mani Gill, Ty Miller, Jason Rose, Ian Mayor, Scott Leaver and Mani Srinivasan did an AMAZING job answering questions!  Big thanks to them for participating and making this a success. :-)

Anticipated Xcelsius Book Giveaways!

You couldn’t possibly think that we forgot the BOOK GIVEAWAY from our friends at SAP Press?!  CONGRATS to our winners (check your emails for more details).

  • Winner #1 – Marc Teixido Ibarz (SP)
  • Winner #2 – Ruby Norley (US)
  • Winner #3 – Bala Seetharaman (IN)

I wrote the foreword for this book and can personally recommend that you buy it now, especially if BI4 is on your plate.  Electronic versions available for non US folks too!

AllAccess SAP Xcelsius Webinar Recording (60 mins of No BS)

Sit back and turn up the volume…

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click the direct link: http://youtu.be/vMVnBnr0PHY

Useful Links & SAP BI Community Webinar Responses

Additional Responses from the Community post this blog:

Our Fav Tweets – Share the Community Passion!

What’s Next?

I will follow up with 2 more blog posts in the next week. One that seeks to get even deeper answers from SAP on the most pressing questions not covered in the webinar. My 2nd blog post will focus on my thoughts on the Xcelsius SOD and what it means for SAP customers and their existing and future dashboards.

Your Feedback is Required

We want to hear from you! Do post your comments below or on twitter using our hashtags #AllAccessSAP and #XcelsiusSOD to keep the conversation going. Remember big brother is reading. :)

Mico Yuk is a SAP Mentor and SAP 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.

Oct
25

Operational Reporting: Leveraging Crystal Reports as a Model for Embedded BI

As I attempt to describe in the below figure, there are a few types of BI that are currently available from BI vendors. Historically, most BI deployments began with pure reporting that delivered information to those who needed it for making decisions. Those reports were either printed or delivered electronically via email or a portal. From that basic reporting arose a requirement to either see more high-level, graphical information (e.g., dashboards) or a requirement to have more interactive reporting. Over time, the deployment eventually builds up to where the implementation and the users are mature enough to need analysis capabilities. Of course, today, users are more mature with regards to locating information, manipulating that information, and telling a story with it. As such, more and more BI deployments are starting with analysis.

All of these different types of BI can either be accessed in a standalone mode or embedded. With SAP BusinessObjects, standalone can mean either via a desktop application, BI LaunchPad, or one of the various mobile applications that exist. From an embedded standpoint, you could imagine information being delivered via an internal portal (e.g., SharePoint) or within another vendor’s application (e.g., Sage CRM). For SAP Crystal Reports, and other reporting tools, this has been a cornerstone for engaging partners and proliferating BI content.

Operational Reports

When you think of reporting, you would typically envision something like operational reports. These are reports that contain specific details about an entity and are directly responsible for supporting business processes. For example, if you were a support representative and were helping a customer on the phone, you might want to see a list of all orders that the customer has placed over the past 12 months. An operational report, such as the one below, would be one way to display this information.

In addition, operational reports are usually embedded directly within other applications. In the above example, the reports for support representatives could be embedded directly within a CRM application. This would allow the individual on the phone with the customer to click a button or a link and quickly bring up the information that they need to reference. In this scenario, the data is either contained within a database behind the CRM application or is generated by the application. In either case, the data is then pushed into the embedded report while the application is running so that the support representative can get what they need in real time.

The figure below shows an example of an application, Sage SalesLogix, which currently embeds Crystal Reports content.

In this workflow, a user has searched or browsed a list of available reports in order to find the one that is relevant for them.

In any case, the important bit is that Sage did not need to develop a report component on their own. They were able to take something, Crystal Reports, which was already built and embed it. The benefit to their customers is that they have a well known reporting solution built in, they can create their own reports using Crystal Reports, and can more easily upgrade their reporting solution by leveraging the SAP BusinessObjects suite to deliver other types of BI content.

Leveraging Embedded Reporting as a Model for Embedded BI

The widespread embedding of Crystal Reports, and other reporting solutions, into other software begs the question of how we (as a general BI ecosystem) can leverage all of this experience of embedding reporting so that we can make it easier to embed BI as a whole. There are examples out there today where interactive BI content and analytics are being embedded; however, this is an area of growth for BI.

What examples do you know of where this is being done today? How can BI software vendors make this easier?

Coy Yonce is a Principal Technical Architect at EV Technologies and has worked in Business Intelligence for over 10 years. Before joining EV Technologies, Coy was a Crystal Reports Product Owner at SAP for many years. His main focus is leading conversations and being active in the BI community. Connect with him directly via:

Twitter – SDN – Zerply – Scribd – Slideshare – LinkedIn – Google+

Oct
18

Enterprise Reporting: How does Crystal Reports fit in and where is it going?

Crystal Reports began in 1988 under the name of Quik Reports DOS. It was created out of necessity, as the original developers needed a better tool for generating views of the data contained within their accounting application.  Through the years, the product has been integrated into many applications and development environments, but has remained a product focused on creating and distributing quality formatted reports that can be created on top of almost any data source.  With the latest mainstream version of SAP Crystal Reports 2008, this remains true.

SAP Crystal Reports Timeline

The product itself is commonly identified as a Business Intelligence tool; however, it is also referred to as a product for Enterprise Reporting, Operational Reporting, or Business Intelligence Reporting. Regardless of the classification, many market analysts consider reporting to be a key component of any Business Intelligence product suite. At SAP, it is classified under the Business Analytics suite of products.

SAP High Level Product Portfolio

Who are some of the key competitors for Crystal Reports?

  • Microsoft SQL Reporting Services
  • IBM Cognos Business Intelligence Reporting
  • Information Builders
  • Telerik Reporting
  • JasperReports
  • Pentaho Report Designer
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Oracle Reports
  • ActiveReports
  • Stonefield Query
  • QlikTech
  • Tableau

With all of these competitors, plus many others that I have not mentioned, the struggle is to differentiate while maintaining true to the vision of creating strongly typed, interactive reports on top of any data source and allowing those reports to be distributed to users in their own environment.  We don’t want to create an analysis tool. We don’t want to create a tool for the average user to start creating reports. SAP BusinessObjects provides other tools for that purpose. We want to be the tool used to create beautiful reports on top of the amalgamation of any data sources you can throw at it.

Through the years, we have found ways to create interest around the product. We’ve been an embedded report designer in many development environments: Visual Basic, Visual Studio, Eclipse, Borland, and Rational. We’ve created features that allow for accessing newer data sources like XML and web services. We’ve provided ways to embed more engaging visualizations via the embedding of Flash objects. We’ve also provided more interactive features for the report consumer – without stepping too far into the realm of creating a pure analysis tool.

We have our fans and we have our haters. Most people like our ability to create strongly typed reports, the fact that we connect to many different types of data, and the interactive features that we provide for report consumers. Some people struggle with using an outdated report design UI and with embedding reports into their own applications via our APIs. We have a plan for addressing those concerns and delighting our already ecstatic users.

Starting with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0, we introduced a new report design tool that is currently called SAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise. Over the next few years, you will see this become the primary report design tool that customers use; however, this will take some time. Not only do we need to close gaps between the mainstream version of crystal and the new version, but we also need to get customers onto the BI 4.0 platform before they can start using the product.

While closing gaps is a definitely a priority for creating interest in the new designer, we also want to introduce new features that will delight users when they find them. Some examples are our new REST and JavaScript APIs, new visualizations capabilities, a focus on best practices in information design, enhanced viewer workflows, and an online library of report templates. I will write posts about those topics later on both Everything Xcelsius and the SAP Community Network.

For now, I’d like to share with you a quick summary of the posts you will see over the next few weeks.

Types of Reports

I plan to write a four part series that will focus on the types of reports that typically created with products like SAP Crystal Reports and how you can go about creating them. The four types of reports that will be covered are: Operational Reports, Short-Term Strategic Reports, Long-Term Strategic Reports, and Forms. Each of these has their place and purpose in a Business Intelligence deployment.

Coy Yonce is a Principal Technical Architect at EV Technologies and has worked in Business Intelligence for over 10 years. Before joining EV Technologies, Coy was a Crystal Reports Product Owner at SAP for many years. His main focus is leading conversations and being active in the BI community. Connect with him directly via:

TwitterSDNZerplyScribdSlideshareLinkedInGoogle+

Sep
27

ASUG SBOUC BI4 Release Party OFFICIAL RSVP!

Steve Lucas and Adam Binnie

Steve Lucas and Adam Binnie of SAP

Hi Folks,

The most anticipated event of the ASUG SAP BusinessObjects conference is finally here and its BIGGER and BETTER!

We are excited to formally announce the Official SAP BI4 Release Party (aka the 3rd Annual Xcelsius Gurus Reception), hosted by none other than myself Mico Yuk (founder of Benchmarkers.com and EverythingXcelsius.com) and the infamous Steve Lucas, Global GM & Senior Executive of the SAP Business Analytics & Technology Portfolio!

If you attended our event in previous years, you probably know that it looks more like a Vegas nightclub on Friday night than a regular ‘boring’ corporate event.  We plan to keep it that way (just don’t tell our sponsors at SAP :) ).

Now for the long awaited details:

  • Location: ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference (Orlando, FL)
  • Hosts: Steve Lucas & Mico Yuk
  • Date/Time: Tuesday, October 11, from 6:30-9:30pm EST
  • Room – (Final details will be sent in confirmation email on 9/29)
  • Attendee Count: 250 (space is limited)
  • Special GuestsBridgette Chambers (ASUG CEO) and much more!
  • Prizes – 3 door prizes (just drop your business card in at the door to enter), BI4 Video Confession prizes!
  • BI4 Video Contest - Submit your videos now, or take them at the event to gain a chance to win an iPad2.  More details by clicking here!
  • Features – 2 Open Bars, Open Buffet, networking tables..
  • How to RSVP: Please send an email with ‘RSVP’ in the subject to events@everythingxcelsius.com by Wednesday, October 5, 2011.
  • IMPORTANT! –  You MUST be REGISTERED for the ASUG SAP BusinessObjects conference to attend this event. Space is limited and we are always booked to capacity within 48 hours of this notice, so please send in your RSVP as soon as possible. Confirmation details will be sent out via email prior to the event with instructions on where to pickup your wrist band. All registered guests will be required to show a wristband upon entrance without exception.

Sponsored in part by SAP, the event promises to provide a host of surprise guest, as well as a BI4 video confession booth where customers can tell their story to win exciting prizes, a chance to network with fellow SAP BusinessObjects community members and the SAP BI team, door prizes, 2 open bars and an open buffet! Let’s also not forget it’s ASUG’s 20th Anniversary celebration!

We would also like put in a call for volunteers, if interested please send an email to gurus@everythingxcelsius.com. We can’t wait to see you! Thanks!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Kurt BilaferJason Rose, Sanjay Poonen and of course my wonderful co-host Steve Lucas of the SAP BI Team, and Bridgette Chambers and her right-hand man Richard Zepeda of the ASUG team for making this event possible! Thanks for supporting our community!

Mico Yuk is a 2010 SAP Mentor and the founder of the Xcelsius Guru Network, the Everything Xcelsius blog, and co-founder of Benchmarkers Business Intelligence. To learn more about her, please visit her about page.

Sep
26

Xcelsius Bootcamp Tour Special!

I know I have not blogged in a while on EX (this will change in 2012), but I wanted to share some exciting news.  The Xcelsius Gurus have joined forces with SAP Wispubs to do a 4-city Xcelsius Bootcamp tour (Chicago, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Copenhagen).  We had a sold-out crowd in Chicago last week, and boy was it intense and fun!  I seldom sell anything (including the fact that our consultants build the best Xcelsius dashboards in the industry), but after being a part of the first bootcamp I am encouraging all customers, who can get to 1 out of the 3 last bootcamps, to attend before we sell out again, as I’ve honestly not seen so much solid content in one 3-day Xcelsius boot camp.  Best of all, if you read to the end we have a special gift just for those who sign up now from our community.

Here are 3 reasons why you should attend (IMO):

  • Mico’s Part – In case you have never heard me speak, I love to rock the crowd.  This is no different.  I get to open the event by introducing all of the other speakers and also laying the foundation down on how to scope and plan one’s dashboards.  The feedback I got form the first hour from a few attendees was simple: “This was worth the entire cost Mico”.
  • Two Hands-On Sessions: It also features 2-hard core hands on sessions that include building a dashboard and using other exciting features in BI4.0 with SAP’s very own Matt Lloyd and Decision First Technologies, Chris Hickman
  • World Class Speakers – fellow Xcelsius Gurus, Chris Hickman of Decision First Technologies (who is an SAP BusinessObjects ace and provides deep insight on all BOE related topics), Dr. Bjarne Berg of Comerit (who is an SAP BW and Xcelsius specialist), Matt Lloyd of SAP (not sure there is anyone who knows the Xcelsius platform better, we go back many years), Emily Mui of SAP (another old friend who handles the marketing of the product and has deep insight and answers for customers regarding the roadmap), then myself Mico Yuk (just the biggest Xcelsius groupie that ever lived)
  • I must add the 100% Money-back Guarantee though I can assure you, NO ONE will use it. We had a 97% referral rate from the Chicago event!
  • Much more – Panel discussions, Governance and Performance Tips

Here is a pic from the Chicago event, just so you can see how packed and intense these sessions were.  Energy was amazing.  Even I learned a few things!

Philadelphia is coming up in just 7-days and we are almost sold out. Same goes for Vegas as far as I know.  As you know we always want to ensure our community is well taken care of.  So for those of you who sign up from reading this blog by 9/30 to ANY of the locations, you will get a complimentary free 6-month membership to the new BusinessObjects Expert website (high quality content) as a THANK YOU from EverythingXcelsius.com.  We created this deal especially for you and it is NOT available elsewhere, not even on the actual registration website. Sign up now!

Complimentary FREE 6 month Subscription to the BusinessObjects Expert Website (using our URL)

Note you MUST USE the specific URL in this blog to get the FREE membership.  Cut and paste into your browser if it is not working:  http://www.xcelsiusbootcamp.com/homePage.cfm?usergroup=bbi-us. (Please note, upon completion of  registration to the bootcamp, you will receive a notification within 24-48 hours with instructions on how to signup for the free 6-month subscription.)

I look forward to seeing all of you, so drop me a line if you plan to attend. I have another huge announcement this week for the ASUG SAPBusinessObjects User Conference attendees about our exclusive BI4 Release Party and how to RSVP. Stay tuned!

Ciao,

Mico Yuk

Mico Yuk is a 2010 SAP Mentor and the founder of the Xcelsius Guru Network, the Everything Xcelsius blog, and co-founder of Benchmarkers Business Intelligence. To learn more about her, please visit her about page.

Aug
24

The value of the SAP BusinessObjects Ecosystem

Ryan Goodman’s last post, Understanding BI4 Dashboards and XWIS, drew a couple of comments (here and there) expressing frustration that capabilities of third party extensions ought to be delivered as a native part of the SAP Business Objects product.

To my mind this is a glass-half-empty view of things. Although the BI4/XI3 platforms come with numerous connectivity options for Xcelsius, no software is ever 100% feature complete (that is what upgrades are all about), so inevitably there is room for people to dream up ways in which features could be better. The great thing about SAP BusinessObjects is that (through both their Crystal and BusinessObjects histories) they have had the foresight to make sure their products are open to third-party developers to extend and enhance their BI platform through an ecosystem of innovation. So the glass-is-half-full view is that rather than having to wait for SAP BusinessObjects to provide a particular feature in a future release there is a product which fills them today.

(As a side note, the nature of third-party extension means that this also follows Vishal Sikka’s vision of “innovation without disruption”, with extension products integrating seamlessly with existing versions of the platform.) As I mentioned in a recent post on BI standardization, this partner ecosystem is one of the key advantages of choosing a large BI platform vendor.

In one of the comments the concern was that customers have to spend more money on such partner extensions. Again this is a glass-half-empty view because, whilst extensions will usually come at a cost (third-parties have to make a living too) they will also usually be designed to provide a return on investment. Anything else is just too hard to sell, so using the right extensions should be a financial saving rather than a financial drain.

The other comment seemed a bit confusing, it started by asking “why are we looking for different products to try and integrate with one another” and ended up suggesting a jump to a completely different dashboarding environment, which would require much more integration effort with the core BI platform, than any well designed platform extension would need. This comment is doubly ironic as many platform extension products are specifically designed to add features which avoid the need to jump to new non-integrated environments.

Overall I would recommend you resist the urge to be indignant and reject third party tools because they “should have come in the box”, this is a classic instance of being “right rather than effective”, make full use of the power of the ecosystem around your BI platform, assess extensions on the ROI they generate for your current situation and only when you run out of options inside your ecosystem consider non-integrated tools outside it.

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.