BusinessObjects Community

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Let’s Speak BO Together– Highlights of 2018

by Bree-Anna Mustad on December 19, 2018 No comments

The Let’s Speak BO Webinar series that began in the winter of 2015 just recently concluded its third straight year of bi-weekly Business Intelligence Webinars with a fantastic close. Adam Lange, with A. Lange Consulting, lead a jam packed session dedicated to all of the new things our BusinessObjects community can expect when upgrading to BI 4.2 SP6. From Administrative enhancements to reporting feature releases, our SpeakBO listeners received a wealth of information to consider with their BusinessObjects investment moving forward into the New Year.

For me, it has been a privilege not only hosting the Let’s Speak BO webinar series for three years, but also forming relationships with the vast BusinessObjects community worldwide. Some of my favorite emails and calls have been with devoted listeners expressing gratitude and excitement for the free educational offering, which seems to be quite unique these days in the space of SAP BusinessObjects information sharing when it comes to the original core BusinessObjects toolset.

Here’s a look at some of the topics hosted in 2018 that viewers found very helpful to not only improve their personal work with the tools, but also inspire decision making when it comes to upgrades, looking into third party solutions, leveraging the existing platform and all of its features, assisting group training within organizations, and more.

BusinessObjects Administration:

This year we hosted a variety of topics for BusinessObjects Administrators. The topics include:

...and of course the latest and greatest with the recent release of BI 4.2 SP6.

Inspired by our listeners, the Let’s Speak BO webinar series has put together a new lineup of Administrative topics for 2019.

Topics like:

  • Customizing your BI Launchpad for Global Branding and Organization Synchronization
  • Discovering the Administrative Management Tool in Web Intelligence
  • A Migration look at Converting Desktop Intelligence Reports to Web Intelligence

…and much more!

The World of Web Intelligence in 2018:

One of the most requested, well attended, and popular topics among the BusinessObjects community seems to remain that of the well-regarded reporting tool- Web Intelligence. This year on Let’s Speak BO, we put together more topics on Web Intelligence for our listeners than ever before. And still, they cannot seem to get enough.

In a single hour, our viewers received fantastic deep-dives into topics like:

…and so much more!

The topics didn’t end there.

This year we had fascinating case studies and new topics on:

As a listener myself to these amazing sessions, I have learned a lot about where the community of BusinessObjects is in regards to educating themselves and wanting to improve upon their usage of these fantastic tools. It inspires me to further my relationships with individuals and organizations, large or small, out there who are inspired to grow within their investment by continuing to learn about these tools, and more importantly, help others within their organization expand their reaches by learning and educating themselves as well.

To conclude the year, I would like to thank a special few of our listeners who shared countless calls and emails with me chatting about their experiences with BusinessObjects and sharing their story on how they lead educational sessions and webinars of their own, inspired by our bi-weekly webinar series. Or how a professor of a prestigious university has his students not only listen live to our webinars, but then write papers or conduct group projects on what they learned, to better prepare them for the real world.

These stories, I personally get to leave the year with, have truly inspired what’s to come:

  • 2019’s Line up of Webinar Topics
  • Open Format Discussions
  • Live Q&A’s

…and brand new customer case studies that I hope you all continue to enjoy and benefit from.

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Bree-Anna MustadLet’s Speak BO Together– Highlights of 2018

Key Features in SAP BusinessObjects Promotion Manager for Administrators

by Bree-Anna Mustad on July 27, 2018 No comments

Key Features in SAP BusinessObjects Promotion Manager for Administrators Feature Image

This webinar explores some of the key best practices in utilizing the Promotion Manager tool within the LCM options inside of SAP BusinessObjects. Promotion Manager, an Administrators side-kick, contains a wide range of features and actions that allow administrators of BusinessObjects to save on time as well as space when running reports or day to day jobs.

VIEW WEBINAR RECORDING

This is an important tool to be aware of when considering major upgrades or large migrations in BusinessObjects. By understanding much of the tools capabilities, Administrators can save time and interruptions by working through some of these key best practices.

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Bree-Anna MustadKey Features in SAP BusinessObjects Promotion Manager for Administrators

SAP BusinessObjects Administration Can Be Self-Serving?

by Bree-Anna Mustad on July 23, 2018 No comments

Self-Service BusinessObjects Administration Feature Image

An hour didn’t seem long enough in the Let’s Speak BO webinar hosted on July 10th 2018 as Minith Patel, Senior Consultant and SAP BO Administrative expert, took our listeners through a case by case adventure of how to become a fully sufficient, self-service BO Administration organization.

>>VIEW THE WEBINAR

This was a fascinating and creative look at what it means to think through the array of situations that might arise with employee requests when it comes to making necessary adjustments to their environment while maintaining the integrity of an organization’s administrative security.

Here are just a hand-full of the topics explored:

  • CMC restricted features
  • User Group Assignments
  • Customizing your CMC Tab Configuration
  • Why team delegation to a helpdesk alleviates the administrators
  • Creating certain windows AD self-service groups based upon departments
  • The LCM toolset and how they can best be used
  • Setting up tasks, events and assignments
  • A sneak peek at the automation framework tool

Far too often the SAP BO Administration for an organization neglects to evolve itself in terms of alleviating workload by consolidating the common requests into a new map on how to expand towards self-service concepts. This webinar allows administrators to imagine creative ways on how others can assist themselves within the CMC and BI Launchpad while maintaining user restrictions in order to improve work productivity and reduce redundancy of day to day tasks for the BI Administrator.

For those looking to learn more about the LCM tool, Promotion Manager, check out our webinar on The 12 Best Practices for using Promotion Manager happening July 24th at 10am PST. You can find it on our upcoming webinars page.

 

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Bree-Anna MustadSAP BusinessObjects Administration Can Be Self-Serving?

Platform Optimization: Harmonizing Processes at a Nationwide Supermarket Chain

by Bree-Anna Mustad on June 14, 2018 No comments

Platform Optimization: Harmonizing Processes at a Nationwide Supermarket Chain

This case study is a fascinating one for any organization, supermarket or not, that is looking for a holistic Business Intelligence approach to multiple platform synchronization in order to improve upon data governance and the consolidation of reports. Albertsons/ Safeway, a recently merged Nation-wide supermarket chain has for many years heavily relied upon SAP BusinessObjects Crystal Reports and Crystal Enterprise as their primary reporting software. Coupled with SAP BI4 and InfoSol’s InfoBurst Enterprise Platform, this webinar takes an in-depth approach to looking at how a Business Intelligence team created an effective management strategy in order to join data generated from SAP BI4 and the InfoBurst Platform into a single analysis and reporting platform.

VIEW WEBINAR RECORDING NOW >

Case Studies hosted on our Let’s Speak BO webinar series seem to gather the most attendance, primarily because all of us within the BusinessObjects community are continuing to look for way to leverage our existing environments in better, more efficient ways. Rather than the unfortunate approach these days, to moving off of our investments into something new.

Crystal Reports and Crystal for Enterprise have both been around since the beginning of SAP’s BusinessObjects adoption. Over 37,000 Companies in the United States today still rely upon Crystal as their primary reporting tool. These records, considering the advancements in tools like SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, are still quite high considering the majority of our high-tech age in the business world seem to still prefer viewing their reports in PDF or Excel outputs, regardless of the reporting tool used. Crystal is fantastic for this. From generating invoices, creating neat and customizable reports, to pushing data out on a scheduled bases with InfoBurst to large subsets of customers, emails, FTP sites, in formats like PDF, Excel and more… Albertsons/ Safeway succeeded in a fascinating Business Intelligence use case of what it means to consolidate, leverage, automate, and ultimately “optimize” their multi-platform investment.

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Bree-Anna MustadPlatform Optimization: Harmonizing Processes at a Nationwide Supermarket Chain

Smoothing Out the Inevitable: Excelling Data into Web Intelligence

by Bree-Anna Mustad on May 30, 2018 No comments

Smoothing out the inevitable: Excelling Data into Web Intelligence

One would imagine in our ever advancing world of data access in BusinessObjects that no longer would companies so heavily rely upon one of the oldest reporting tools and data sources out there; Microsoft Excel. However, time and time again through webinar presentations or our annual BusinessObjects User Groups, conversations still manage to come down to talking about this one, irreplaceable (it seems) and not going anywhere- data storage/ reporting solution.

In a recent study to global business software systems, about 81% of business and organizations today still heavily rely upon Excel. This percentage is quite high considering each year more and more database management tools are being introduced, or version enhancements to existing systems like SAP BusinessObjects Universe Design Tool, or Information Design Tool, are advancing to heightened levels of usability.

VIEW WEBINAR RECORDING >

Still Excel remains a large demographic in business data storage. Not only as an easy to use, not quite so pretty, reporting solution; but also as a method of hard-copy databases floating amidst endless company folders and portals for storing historical, valuable information.

Due to such a large toolset as the SAP BusinessObjects suite, users of reporting solutions like Web Intelligence, also find limitations in accessing the Universe or IDT, in order to extract the data they need in a timely manner. These limitations, although common, due to the construct of a Universe and Administrative permissions, cause an inevitable need to work around the Universe data and simply load straight from Microsoft Excel.

Michael Ward from Creative Technologies Training & Solutions (CTTS), a fantastic expert, instructor and advocate of the beloved reporting tool within BusinessObjects, Web Intelligence, put together a fantastic webinar loaded with tips and tricks on how to best leverage your Excel data into SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence. This webinar is well worth attending and having a notepad. For such a straight forward topic on Excel into Web Intelligence, our viewers we surprised with the variety of methods one can not only import their Excel Spreadsheets, but also refresh, reload, and reconstruct the data within Web Intelligence.

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Bree-Anna MustadSmoothing Out the Inevitable: Excelling Data into Web Intelligence

User Specific Options in BusinessObjects and more

by Bree-Anna Mustad on March 29, 2018 No comments

Let’s Speak BO’s fantastic BusinessObjects Administrative expert, Amy O’Neel, joined the community again in an in-depth and information session focused on User Specific Options in BusinessObjects.

Diving into user roles, group roles and maintenance, Amy took the audience through live demonstrations enhanced with step by step ‘how to’s’ while discussing the comparative features native to BusinessObjects Administration. This webinar highlighted the differences between Native and Business filter options as well as personalizing variables with BOUSER and other system variables.

For administrators, this was a fantastic webinar to take notes on; our SpeakBO listeners were able to learn about how to structure and maintain customized user and group options in BusinessObjects to best cater to their security rights and data access within their organization.

| View Webinar Recording

User Specific Options in BusinessObjects is a region in BusinessObjects Administration that can also rely upon task-assisting third party solutions. Some of the solutions mentioned in this webinar were InfoBurst Publish; a report distribution and delivery platform that can automate and refresh the reporting content in a manner that exceeds the native BusinessObjects publisher, as well as 360Suite.

For more information on the third party solutions that can assist with BusinessObjects Administration visit us here.

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Bree-Anna MustadUser Specific Options in BusinessObjects and more

Developing SAP Dashboards in Half the Time with Better Performance

by Bree-Anna Mustad on February 23, 2018 No comments

If I were to ask an SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard developer what the most time consuming aspect of a dashboard project is, I would most likely get one of three answers: organizing the data for it, the design and aesthetics of it, or the time spent building it due to the difficulty in having multiple developers on a single project.

More often than not, a dashboard project tends to be a group effort; those who have a say in the look and feel of it, those who want to be hands-on in the development process and those who dictate the changes and enhancements for end user consumption. However, anyone who has worked within SAP BO Dashboards may attest to the fact that sharing an .xlf (dashboard file format) is not easy. In most cases, when we attempt to share dashboards with one another, in order to have multiple developers on the project, we risk original file corruption, component failure, and performance issues.

Why does this happen? SAP Dashboards just does not like to be opened on many different machines, within different versions, or many times throughout the day. It was not until recently a solution well worth looking into appeared in the components gallery as a third party add-on to our favorite data visualization tool. This component, appearing similar to a multi-tab selector, is Advanced iFrame.

Runali Ghosh, a long time InfoSol Dashboard developer, consultant, and expert on data visualization projects, hosted a fantastic webinar on February 20th 2018 on this exact solution: How to develop a dashboard in half the amount of time by allowing multiple developers to work on it while improving the performance of the dashboard immensely.

View the Recording

Advanced iFrame is a third party solution which allows multiple developers to integrate a dashboard designed from their individual desktops and bring it together into a single Dashboard model. The concept of how this works stems from a Parent > Child relationship between models so each model can communicate as well as pass parameters to and from one another, regardless if the pieces are developed separately. Because of this, a developer is able to split the development of a complex dashboard project into individual models and then use Advanced iFrame to essentially “stich” them back together into a cohesive, seamless dashboard.

I believe, the best third party solutions out there which integrate with SAP BusinessObjects are the solutions that enable developers to use the fantastic SAP toolset productively and efficiently. These time-saving solutions not only help us develop reports and dashboards in these tools to the maximum of their capabilities but also inspire us to develop creatively. I look forward to seeing more dashboard use cases leveraging Advanced iFrame.

For a list of some of these add-on components and to learn more about Advanced iFrame, visit this page that provides an overview of getdVeloping, Inovista, Centigon and Data Savvy components.

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Bree-Anna MustadDeveloping SAP Dashboards in Half the Time with Better Performance

HTML5 - The Future of SAP Dashboards

by Bree-Anna Mustad on February 2, 2018 No comments

This demonstration-based webinar hosted a wealth of information for you SAP Dashboard designers when it comes to the latest features in Dashboards 4.2 SP5. Mel Sheppard, an experienced and innovative Dashboard Developer, showcased a variety of new features as well as limitations in the latest version of our favorite Dashboarding tool, previously known as Xcelsius.

This webinar is well worth listening to for those of you who are considering upgrading to 4.2 SP5 for future Dashboard projects. The primary reason being, the newly added HTML output option is substantially different than the standard mobile option for developing, previewing, and publishing Dashboards using native SAP components.

Mel’s in-depth explanation and demonstrations on the precise differences between the two outputs answers the common question between the differences of publishing for mobile verses HTML.

You can view the webinar by following this link

Developing for mobile in the SAP Dashboard Designer tool has been around since the beginning of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0. However, with the recent release of 4.2 Service Pack 5, a new option of previewing in HTML has swept the designer tool promoting a new way of approaching the planning stages for Dashboard projects.

SAP Dashboards continues to thrive in the world of data visualization due to the product’s immeasurable, custom-like features. Perhaps this latest release will continue to move us in a direction of HTML5 and mobile-friendly application development which in turn will someday leave its opponent, Flash, behind.

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Bree-Anna MustadHTML5 - The Future of SAP Dashboards

Security Lessons in BusinessObjects

by Bree-Anna Mustad on December 13, 2017 No comments

BusinessObjects Security Feature Image

Amy O’Neel hosted an interesting session yesterday during our Let’s Speak BO webinar series on Security Lessons in BusinessObjects. The session focused on Explicit Settings based upon User Inheritance; an important and overlooked feature available in BusinessObjects, demonstrating customizable options for user restrictions in the BI Launchpad.

You can stream Amy's webinar right here.

This feature sparked a lot of interest throughout the webinar, seeing that it enables the administrator to set up an automatic retrieval of secondary access rights per user in order to bypass a “declined notification” to the user based upon individual access restrictions. Amy O’Neel, BusinessObjects Administration expert, did a nice job of explaining this important BusinessObjects security concept by demonstrating and discussing the permissions by hierarchy, and how one rule can be overwritten by another rule due to the permission settings.

Attendees also seemed to be intrigued by the differences in features that have been enhanced and/or removed due to version upgrades. Because of these version-based questions during the webinar, Amy took the audience through a deeper look at the BO security options by version from XI 3.1 to BI 4.x and some of the significant changes made by BusinessObjects to the BI Launchpad. Amy discussed how higher versions had removed certain features all together; features like “drill mode” for the administrator when viewing user access rights and the interactive feature of hiding or showing toolbars.

Some of the good changes in 4.x that Amy also touched on were some of the enhancements to the administrators experience by the renaming of certain settings that enable better navigation for custom security set up in the BO environment.

Amy will be hosting a part two to this webinar presentation on BusinessObjects security at IBIS 2018 where she will take the Top 10 Case Studies based upon customer experiences, how the security issues or requirements were resolved, and more importantly the valuable lessons learned in each security scenario.

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Bree-Anna MustadSecurity Lessons in BusinessObjects

Mobile Business Intelligence with Web Intelligence

by Rajesh Ponnurangam on May 8, 2017 No comments

Couple of weeks ago I presented a topic, “Going Mobile with Web Intelligence”, as a part of our Let’s Speak BO webinar series. During the session we asked the attendees whether they are using Web Intelligence on the Mobile BI app. There were about 60 attendees and only 10% of the attendees were currently using WebI on mobile while 50% of them did not have any plans to use Mobile BI and 40% of them had plans to use WebI on Mobile within the next 12 months.  Although web Intelligence on Mobile BI is less popular, I strongly believe that mobile BI app support for Web Intelligence, which has come a long way since it’s inception, is better than any other BI tool rendering on the Mobile BI app. It is also an easier solution for any organization to start with Mobile BI. In this blog I have outlined 5 major topics discussed during my presentation.

  1. Difference in Visuals - The look and feel for native charts and report parts of Web Intelligence is completely different from what is seen on the BI Launch Pad. I see that as a cool feature since the navigation on an iPad is completely different from the navigation on the BI Launch Pad. Business users can’t use a mouse here and there’s no right click on an iPad. With very minimal effort we can have a visually appealing dashboard just by displaying data on native Web Intelligence charts. In the example below, I have illustrated how an iPad renders a webI report with 8 different charts into 4 charts on 2 pages that can be swiped. Another big advantage we get with the Mobile app is the Card layout structure (placing a report in the Mobile Category), where the reports are automatically adjusted to the screen size.

  2. Intuitive Chart Codes – With the usage of chart codes and conditional formatting, we can transform a normal/boring tabular form of data into a cool score card. These score card options are not a part of native BI Launch Pad, but by using the Format Table options, we can create visual score cards that can be used by analysts to quickly diagnose positive or negative performances

 

  1. Working Offline - In order to view the reports offline, the BI server needs to be enabled with a “true” value for Offline Storage. To enable offline storage, navigate to BI Server - Central Management Console -> Applications -> SAP BusinessObjectsMobile -> Properties -> Client Settings


For a report to work offline, the report will need to be downloaded to the device while there’s an active internet connection

 

Only a few features are supported in the offline version. Before you decide on offline viewing, analyze the report features which are supported offline and then design the report accordingly.

What’s Supported in Offline Mode? - Sections, Chart & report navigations

What’s Not supported in Offline Mode ? - Drill down, Filters, Input Controls, Parameters, Element Linking and Open Doc

  1. Delivering Mobile BI Connection to Users - A large number of organizations adopt remote work strategies and it is extremely difficult and time consuming for the BI admin to set up a connection individually on every user’s iPad. To set up a connection you need the information such as Tomcat URL and CMS Name. Not every user might be aware of this information. The easiest solution is to create a hyperlink with the server information and email the link to users. When the link below is configured with server & CMS names and opened from an email on the ipad, the app opens up with the BI details and the users need to fill in only their BI credentials

sapbi://addconnection?ConnectionType=BOEConnection&name=<con-name>&server_url=<server-name>:8080&cms=<CMS-NAME>:6400&authType=secEnterprise&default=no

There are sophisticated Mobile Device Management tools from SAP and a lot of other vendors such as Airwatch, MobileIron and Mass360 who do a much better job of pushing updates, controlling, and remotely managing a user’s device. Organizations have to come up with a solid strategy for managing Mobile Devices and to answer questions such as “What if a user’s device is lost?”, “How can the device be wiped remotely?” et al

  1. Skillsets required for implementing Mobile BI - In terms of the report development skills, the report writers need to get familiar with certain chart codes and organizing the reports under categories. The display of various report elements is a trial and error exercise because there is no mobile preview option within Web Intelligence. The BO Admins have to get familiar with Mobile Server settings and Client Settings. To access the BI Server from an outside network, the network and BO admins have to work together in troubleshooting Mobile BI connections as well as building a strategy for BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices).

Mobile BI with Web Intelligence is an evolving topic and everything that I have discussed in this blog might take a different turn with the next release of BI 4.2 which is SP04. I am eagerly waiting for SP04’s FIORI based navigation with HTML5 based Web Intelligence reports. Once it is on GA, I will work on a webinar specific to Web Intelligence SP04. Feel free to comment, email or Tweet your questions, feedback and suggestions to me. For more exciting webinar content, register yourself at speakbo.com if you aren't already!

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Rajesh PonnurangamMobile Business Intelligence with Web Intelligence