Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Reactive vs. Proactive vs. Progressive BI Administration

Administration can be not only time- and labor-intensive, but also thankless, because it can make you look reactive, even when you know you're doing your absolute best with the resources available to you. Add to this the fact that many administrative tasks are also time-sensitive, meaning they not only take your time, but they take it right now.

Reactive administration is the default approach, in the absence of any real administrative strategy.

You don't fix what isn't broken; you only fix it after it breaks, and because it's causing inconvenience for someone willing to file a complaint.

The Proactive Is the Enemy of the Progressive

You may congratulate yourself if you regularly anticipate administrative bottlenecks and make resources available to resolve issues before they affect your service level agreements. You're being proactive, and that's good as far as it goes, but you're not necessarily being progressive.
What's the difference between these two attributes?
  • Proactive BI administration is taking care of BI business before it affects your organization's business negatively.
  • Progressive BI administration is making the BI services you provide steadily better over time.

It's essentially the difference between being efficient and being effective. As Peter Drucker said, being efficient is doing things right, while being effective is doing the right things. For BI administrators and platform managers, these are complementary attributes.

However, just as the good can be the enemy of the great, the proactive can be the enemy of the progressive. Progressive BI administration incorporates the concept of continuous improvement. If you're looking for continuous improvement, you shouldn't settle for good enough.

To be progressive about this issue is to ask yourself "If not now, when?"

Getting to Progressive BI Administration

Automation, bulk operations, and deep system knowledge are the keys to progressive BI administration:
  • Is an administrative task labor-intensive?Use bulk operations to remove the repetitive aspects of the task.
  • Is an administrative task time-intensive and time-sensitive?Use automation to complete  the task in a fraction of the time it would normally take to perform it manually.
  • Are the volume of report objects, the proliferation of instances, and the complexity of schedules making it difficult to catch your breath?Catalog your content, formulate a deep understanding of your system and its users, and do what it takes to reduce your system's technical debt.
  • Is testing a drag on your ability to manage change?Automate testing to accelerate change management work flows.

But wait. There's help:
  • The APOS Insight solution helps you formulate a deep understanding about your system, providing actionable information to let you safeguard and improve it.
  • The APOS Administrator solution provides bulk report object, schedule and instance management capabilities.
  • The APOS Storage Center solution helps you implement a progressive archive, backup and selective restore strategy for your BI system content.
  • The APOS Validation Manager solution automates the testing of reports in a project-based environment.

Technical Debt & Progressive BI Administration

Without a progressive approach to your BI platform, your management of administration tasks may just be increasing the technical debt in that platform, creating and perpetuating a vicious cycle.

It may seem efficient to perform administration as a series of one-off tasks that don't relate to each other. As you cross each task off your list, you feel like you're accomplishing something. But is this approach effective? Dealing with administrative tasks tactically rather than strategically is one of the principal causes of technical debt proliferation in BI systems.

Technical debt is a drag on growth and innovation, which makes it a threat to your ongoing success, and thus to your very existence as an organization. Technical debt has been likened to a black hole, and as we all know, the very first thing you have to do to escape any kind of hole is to stop digging.

It seldom seems that simple, though. You can find excuses for not implementing a progressive BI administration strategy, but are there any valid reasons to not make your administrative capabilities more agile?.

Again: "If not now, when?"

Monday, April 23, 2018

SAP BI GDPR Compliance on the SAP Community Network

Compliance with the EU's new General Data Proctection Regulation (GDPR) continues to be on the minds of many as we get ever closer to the May 25, 2018, deadline.

We've been doing our share over at the SAP Community Network (SCN) to help BI teams prepare with a series of GDPR-themed blog posts, including:

The GDPR should be regarded as an opportunity to improve your BI deployment's effectiveness and efficiency. Adopting the privacy-by-design-based best practices mandated by the GDPR has many collateral benefits for your BI operations, security controls, resource planning, and corporate and information governance, as explained in these blog posts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Auditing Your SAP BI System for GDPR Compliance

Under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the inspection, protection and retention of the personal data of EU data subjects are the responsibilities of the organizations that control and process that data. In practical terms, a large part of that responsibility falls on the BI team, because the BI system touches on, and processes data from, a large proportion of the enterprise's data sources.

The rights of the data subject are paramount under the GDPR, and it is imperative that you have the processes and capabilities in place to respect those rights and fulfill your obligations to data subjects in a timely manner.

The APOS Insight solution provides the capabilities you need to streamline your GDPR compliance processes, giving you the speed and precision necessary to inspect and analyze the data under your care. Having the processes in place, and the capabilities to deliver results in a timely manner, go a long way toward meeting your obligations to data subjects.

Security Analysis

Use APOS Insight to analyze your BI system for security anomalies and holes, and to enforce corporate governance. Find out:
  • Who has administrative access to personal data?
  • Where are the data breach risks in your system?
  • What are the impacts of security setting changes?

Security analysis is key to avoiding data breaches, and reducing the risk of personal data exposure and misuse.

Usage Analysis

Use APOS Insight to analyze how your BI system is being used. Find out:
  • Which reports contain personal data?
  • Who is scheduling, refreshing and/or viewing reports that contain personal data?
  • To whom and how are reports containing persona data distributed?

You need to determine the scope of personal data exposure, firstly in order to minimize it, and secondly to be able to report to data subjects exercising their right under the GDPR to inspect your usage of their personal data.

Impact Analysis

Use APOS Insight to analyze the impact of changes to your BI system:
  • How do changes made to databases and universes impact reports that contain personal data?
  • How can we avoid unintended consequences for our information governance?

Impact analysis is the key to avoiding unintended consequences in your management of the BI system.

APOS Systems hosted a webinar recently hosted a webinar on SAP BI GDPR compliance.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

GDPR and the Rights of Data Subjects

If you're preparing for compliance with the EU's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into full force on May 25 of this year, the first thing you need to focus on is the rights of data subjects, because those rights are at the core of the legislation.
Here is a fairly detailed, though not exhaustive description of the rights of data subjects under the GDPR.

Data subjects have the right:
  • To be informed - data subjects have the right to know what private information of theirs the data controller/processor possesses.
  • To access - data subjects have the right to view this information.
  • To correct - data subjects have the right to rectify and update this information.
  • To erase - data subjects have the right to be forgotten (subject to other regulatory requirements).
  • To restrict processing - data subjects have the right to determine and limit the way that organizations can use their information.
  • To portability - data subjects can specify when and how their information can be shared with other organizations.
  • To object - data subjects have a mechanism to appeal how their private information is being captured, retained and processed, and to seek redress for demonstrable mishandling of their private information.
  • To understand and determine level of consent - data subjects must clearly consent to the use of their private information with regard to profiling and the analytical use of their private information.

This last right may have great significance for BI practitioners, as it determines how you can process and use the information collected from data subjects.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Solution Spotlight - APOS Live Data Gateway

Unlock live data with the APOS Live Data Gateway.

The APOS Live Data Gateway is a data connection and data transformation solution that enables live data connectivity for SAP BI solutions and expanded data source options

HANA is the model for SAP BI data connectivity. You know that SAP Lumira, SAP Analytics Cloud, and SAP Analysis for Office connect live to HANA data. If it's a good idea to connect live to HANA, it's probably a good idea for these SAP BI solutions to connect live to other enterprise data sources.

Using the APOS Live Data Gateway for extended, live data connectivity lets you:
  • Simplify user experience and data discovery
  • Select data with greater flexibility
  • Maintain current data in your SAP BI projects, without including the data in your project files, for stronger information governance and security
Find out how the APOS Live Data Gateway unlocks live data for:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Case Study - Allina Health - Implementing a Proactive System Storage Strategy

Based in Minneapolis MN, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospitals, 15 pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services that provide home care, senior transitions, hospice care, home oxygen and medical equipment, and emergency medical transportation services.

Allina has been a long-time BusinessObjects customer, and have grown from the earliest deployment of 3 users to approximately 12,000 users across all capacities within the organization. The BI team administers about 50,000 reports and hundreds of thousands of instances, and they recognize content can be both an asset and a liability.

Find out how Allina Health used APOS Storage Center to implement a proactive BI system storage strategy and:
  • Deal with problems such as accidental deletions and accidental content changes
  • Automate system cleanup to reduce the amount of content to be managed
  • Develop advanced content promotion capabilities
  • Maintain governance, compliance and audit readiness

Monday, November 13, 2017

Webinar - More SAP BI Distribution Options

In SAP BI 4.2, SP4, you can experience a broad range of distribution options from within the BI Launchpad interface. There is no need to go outside of the BI Launchpad interface for new destination types, enhanced print controls, greater encryption options, and a wider variety of format types, because they are all available right there, at your fingertips, inside the BI Launchpad interface.

Why do you need enhanced distribution? Let's consider destination types as an example.

Firstly, you need enhanced destination types to be sure that you can push, pull, print or place information to the appropriate destinations in your workflows. Appropriate destinations are the ones that ensure the information is where it is needed, and where it will do the most good.

Secondly, enhanced destination types improve your ability to govern the flow of information, ensuring that your business intelligence does not go where it shouldn't. Using enhanced destination types improves information governance, and contributes to the development of a culture of compliance.

Typically, your distribution options will consist of BI Inbox, Email, FTP Server, File System, or SFTP Server, but with the APOS Distribution Server / BI Launchpad integration, you will see a much greater variety of destination types:

SAP takes great care to promote the SAP Partner Ecosphere, because they know they will be much more agile if they do not try to be all things to all organizations. Instead, they focus on vision (the SAP BI Convergence strategy, for example), and on the core capabilities that enable that vision. If you want to use SAP BusinessObjects in a novel or unique way, well, that's what the SAP Partner Ecosphere is for.

The APOS Distribution Server / BI Launchpad integration is an outstanding example of SAP's commitment to their customers through the SAP Partner Ecosphere, and an outstanding example of the SAP Partner Ecosphere in action.

If you want to see enhanced distribution in action, please tune in for our webinar:

Register for this webinar
When: Wednesday, November 15, 2 pm EST
Enhanced Distribution & Integration
of BI Content into Business Workflows

In this webinar, Jason Young of Computer Services Inc. (CSI) joins us to describe how CSI used enhanced distribution techniques to integrate SAP BusinessObjects into their core bank processing solution.