Webi 4.0 charts and Adaptive Processing Server

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If you get an error “red X” in Webi 4.0 where actually should be a chart have a look into the CMC and check whether at least one Adaptive Processing Server hosting the Visualization Service is up and running (and enabled). Times are gone when life was easy to understand and for Webi just the Webi Proc Server was responsible…
(sometimes you even don’t get till the error. I tried to open some reports and nothing showed up at all, not even an error message…) SAP should start to add a “Dependency” function similar to regular Windows services!

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A ray of hope for frustrated BOBJ folks

Recently Mico Yuk wrote some tweets to express her frustration about the SAP Analytics (or just BusinessObjects) portfolio and missing innovation:


Wishing someone wld drop a social BOMB on #SAP #analytics << it’s faceless, dry and dead #2012 #honest
No. 1 feedback at #SAPBI12 << #SAP why do we hv so many tools that do the same thing?? << My answer = #SAPHANA Montana .. Feed the monster

It’s also good to note that #SAP copies  tools in the industry & calls it innovation. SAP no longer creates the #BI Joneses. Just follow
(“@pburckhardt: MicoYuk REALLY?? Dom you hv an example??” << #sapvisi looks like Tableau (it’s fairly visible) + Mobile BI is RoamBI knockoff)
The world would be a better place if #SAP skipped this late #Xcelsius #html5 rubbish and just accelerated #SAPzen dev. Avoid all the rework
Probably gym time before I let out what I really think on twitter… About our beloved #SAP #analytics portfolio
I’ve heard many industry folks stare #SAPzen is NOT the silver bullet for #Xcelsius to which I say +1
Dear #SAP #analytics we want innovation like infographic & human intelligence. #BI 5 pillars jargon is a wrapper to hide lack of innovation
While we’re on #SAP #bi 5 pillar talk – what heck is extreme about #SAP #analytics << Stop marketing & start bng true to adjectives please
I think #SAP #analytics should look at acquiring. The wheels of innovation are not moving. We need to be the #BI Joneses again IMO
Dear #SAP #analytics do we even hv a presence or resources in SAP LABS? Coolest ideas used to pop our from there
Our idea of #sap #analytics mobile innovation is re purporsing existing content in #2012 << are you serious? #sadbuttrue
As I implied this week. I don’t doubt #SAP #analytics will get it right? Just wonder how many customers will be left ??
IT is dying at the hands of biz users who r introducing new #BI tools evrydy as #SAPBI lags in basic functionality against its competitors.
As IT is confused on the #SAP #BI toolset they fail to meet biz needs = emergence of other tools IT is forced to adopt bcuz they hv no sltn
Dear #SAP #Analytics pl stop creating tools to compete << instead create tools that lead & hv no competition. #BOBJ used to be this b4 #SAP
Oh yes and #SAP #analytics we’ve lost faith in ur EVER CHANGING not to b confused w/ EVOLVING roadmaps. They mean nthg to biz users = buyers

First of all I can fully understand the feelings behind these lines. I have such moments if I have the pleasure to work with tools from other vendors myself like DigDash. There you find plenty of innovative features (or just basic ones) which we are missing in BO. Like the schedulable PowerPoint export using your own corporate template.

On the other hand I’m currently preparing my session “What’s New in BO 4.0” during our next BOAK event and I’m astonished by many of these new functionalities now available. In this blog I would like so share some thoughts and although it doesn’t vanish the criticism formulated by Mico, it gives at least a ray of hope…

Let’s address this Mobile BI stuff and the comparison to RoamBI. On one hand I agree, regarding visualizations SAP’s Mobile BI app can’t compete yet with RoamBI. And if talking about innovation at SAP BO we are far away from things like RoamBI Flow. Nevertheless I have three things to mention here IMO:

  1. Although I like RoamBI as a gadget, every customer who decides for it must be aware that you “lock” yourself into the iPad and iPhone. Or do you know from any exporting capabilities? As far as I know the tool you can’t even look at RoamBI analytics or a RoamBI Flow documents from a regular web browser. But is it really realistic – at least in the long term of a corporate context – that you want to keep some elements your business people use to take (important) decisions to be accessible just on a iPad? What about legal audits etc.? Anyway, if you need something outside the iPad – then you have to rebuild your content somewhere else, be it BO or another tool. This means a lot of troubles for support and maintenance not to speak of the additional investions as you have to create content twice – for iPads as well as for the rest of the world.
    This is different with SAP’s approach: Although I advise to design your Webi and Crystal Reports documents specifically for the usage on mobile devices, they are still accessible using the regular BO infrastructure. You can schedule and export the documents etc.
  2. What about SAP Streamwork? I don’t know how other vendors deal with that topic or if this is(n’t) a real demand from customers? From a technical persepective I’ve just noticed that the SAP Streamwork integration e.g. into the SAP BI app continues. I really like the annotation feature as well as the possiblity to share it directly with Streamwork. By the way: Did you know that SAP Streamwork is a new scheduling destination in BO 4.0? I personally think a collaboration platfrom like Streamwork is first of all a very innovative thing. And in addition it delivers real added value to companies. I’m not sure how useful all this fancy visualizations are in  real life and beyond “just playing around”.    
  3. I really like the BO Explorer: In terms of analyzing your data I personally like it much better than for example RoamBI. Once again, you are not locked in: There is an equivalent desktop / web edition. And within this web edition you can directly jump to Web Intelligence to further format your results from BO Explorer.

To further insist on that topic: Although from a selling perspective customers are easy to satisfy if you show them some fancy charts, I think there must be more behind. And although I agree there are some lacks of functionality in the BO frontend tools, don’t forget the strong platform they are built on: BusinessObjects Enterprise. Just think about the possibility to turn a Webi table into a Web Service and reuse this either within BO but as well outside. Think about all the options you have to set up a very sophisticated security model and integrate security into highly complex corporate standards. Even if business users don’t care about this – IT has to.

If we talk about security, have you seen the new possibility to add custom attributes to BO accounts and reuse them on Universe level, e.g. for row-level security? Here just a few screenshots:

The same on the Data Integration side: Just look at what is possible e.g. in the Social Media Analytics area – if you can read German see the blog of my coworker Roger Mathis.

Not to forget about Information Steward to manage data quality and do data profiling. Finally a tool even business users (who actually are in charge of data quality) can use.

Finally this brings us back to the question what suits better for a company: A BI-suite or a Best-of-Breed approach. Don’t forget: Many of the above cited tools are niche products. They are strong in certain areas. But in the corporate context you need to think about how to satisfy more than just one user group perhaps. Of course a BI-suite provider is less flexible and perhaps less innovative than a niche provider. But I guess you can’t have everything in the end.

Therefore as consultants and pre-sales in the SAP BO area: let’s tell customers about the “good” stuff in BO too – and show them that real added values goes beyond fancy (and sometimes useless) visualisations.