Posts Tagged ‘Xcelsius 2011’

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.

Dec
6

Advanced Printing for Xcelsius is Here… Finally!

A few months ago, I received an email with a subject, “check out this print component” from Gabriel Braun at DataSavvy Tools. When I fired it up, I had a smile ear-to-ear because I was sitting in front of exactly what every customer has been asking me for the last 5 years… A robust print button capable of letting me choose what I want to print, control layout, and print to landscape or portrait. So I am happy to say that thanks to the Data Savvy Tools ingenuity, the community now has a fantastic option for printing: Dash Printer

While we try to keep promotions to a minimum on EverythingXcelsius.com, we could not resist posting about this new component because it is so heavily requested among customers. While some would argue that a basic function like printing should be taken care of by SAP, history has told us that they prefer to use the ecosystem to fill in certain gaps. Frankly, I don’t think that it could have been done any better than this.

After clicking on the print icon, you can click and drag to draw the area for which you will print. This way if you only want a portion of your dashboard printed, you can do so.


While still inside of your dashboard, you can instantly toggle the scale, margins, layout, and alignment of your image to print exactly what you want. This way every user is presented with the same visual print setup regardless of operating system.

So if you need an advanced print button for Xcelsius, you can now look to DataSavy Tools for a sound solution moving forward. Get the Dash Printer NOW!

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
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.

Apr
6

Your ONE MUST HAVE Xcelsius feature…

I have seen several lists of features that individuals request over the years. Having designed hundreds of Xcelsius dashboards myself, I am so used to the technology that I have put a box around how I design applications. Now that I have been involved in designing applications outside of Xcelsius, coming back inside of the environment leaves me with several gripes. I don’t know about you, but there are just a few added features that would make a HUGE impact on my design decisions. For instance:

Dynamic selection property for table, scorecard, list view, and charts

All standard selectors (label menu, listbox, etc) allow you to bind the selection on the behavior tab, which is heavily used by many dashboard developers I know. For some reason, this property was omitted from the most popular selectors. This little feature has negatively impacted more than 70% of my dashboards, creating a less than optimal user experience. If SAP gave me this one property, my ability to build exactly what customers ask for would increase 10 fold. The order of importance for which components get this property starts at tables, then charts, then toggle selectors.

So, what is that ONE feature that you can no longer live without in Xcelisus?

If you could have ONE, and only ONE feature, added to Xcelsius that would provide the most impact to all of your dashboards, and never have another new feature again… what would it be?

Make sure SAP Hears You!

Once you have thought about this and shared it with the group here, I will make sure that all of the powers that be, view this post, but you also need to ensure that your request is officially put into the SAP request list. To do this, copy your request into the official SAP Idea page to ensure your voice is heard. The community really needs to ensure that we are asking for the right things to make Xcelsius an order of magnitude better than it is today. Thanks for your help.


Click Here to Submit your Idea to SAP!

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.

Mar
22

Webinar Alert: Introducing SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 2011 (Xcelsius)

This week I am extremely excited to help introduce through SCN, the latest version of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 2011, on Wednesday, March 30, 2011, at 10:00 am PST, 1:00 pm EST.

For our Xcelsius Gurus network members who have stayed on top of the BI4.0 launch, you may have already seen some of the features in previous webinars. With this webinar, I am going to take a slightly different approach to introduce Xcelsius based on my previous experiences using the tool and highlight its newest strengths. Following the webinar, I would love to congregate to gain your feedback.

SIGN UP NOW!

See below for the for the official SCN Announcement:

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

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.