Monday, March 24, 2014

APOS Announces Release of Dashboard Migrator for SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio

APOS Systems Inc., a leading provider of well managed business intelligence (BI) solutions for SAP BusinessObjects, announces its new Dashboard Migrator for SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio. The Dashboard Migrator is a plug-in that lets you leverage your existing SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly known as Xcelsius) development in the new SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Design Studio environment. Using the Dashboard Migrator, dashboard developers can embed Xcelsius components and complete dashboards in their Design Studio projects.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Query Governance and Self-Serve BI

We have seen the future of BI, and it is self-serve. The growth of BI has steadily tended away from simple, passive reporting toward engagement and interaction, and finally to providing the ability to build your own query and render it with statistical and visual impact.

SAP Lumira is a prime example of this trend. If you didn't get a chance to see Stefan Schmitz as a guest presenter for our SAP Lumira, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, BI 4, and Self-Serve BI webinar, then you can check out the recorded webinar to see how Lumira is starting to change the way that BI users analyze, present, and consume information.

Standard reporting is a remnant of the old command and control hierarchies so common not so long ago, but we are all information workers now, and we need to be able to explore, digest, and present information in ways that help us contribute to the enterprise.

But self-serve BI is a good news/bad news story. The information consumer's liberation creates challenges for BI platform managers and administrators. To make self-serve BI work, administrators are ceding control of information and information sources to information consumers, and the administrative challenge is to maintain a robust BI system and consistent service levels while the system is receiving more information requests at different times and in different ways.

As a BI platform manager or administrator in a self-serve BI world, your objectives are clear:
  • Optimize queries
  • Optimize data connectivity
  • Foster data connectivity accountability

From these objectives flow your challenges:
  • Data connection visibility - so much of what happens in the delivery of business intelligence happens outside of your BI system, and typical BI monitoring does not account for these processes.
  • DBA dependency - even if you can identify problem queries that are affecting BI system performance, you may have to rely on DBAs external to your department to troubleshoot and remedy problems.
  • Bottlenecks - with standard reporting, you can optimize system performance by controlling when and where queries run, but self-serve BI is driven by events outside of your control.
  • Accountability - your best friend is an educated user, but you can't educate users if you can't track user behavior.
  • Service levels - in the final analysis, you'll be judged by your system's performance -- how well it delivers timely information -- regardless of how much control you have over how it is used.

Fortunately, you can use the APOS Intelligent Data Access Controller (IDAC) to help you become more proactive in monitoring, managing and auditing your BI data connectivity. With IDAC, you can:
  • Manage and monitor queries without creating a negative impact on system performance
  • Manage queries centrally
  • Monitor queries in real time
  • Cancel queries automatically
  • Cancel queries remotely
  • Analyze information offline to optimize performance
  • Monitor data access proactively per regulatory requirements
  • Encrypt credentials in property files
  • Track specific fields for sensitive data audit

Monday, March 3, 2014

New: Xcelsius Activity Logging with APOS Insight

APOS Insight for SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.1 and BI 4.x now has Xcelsius Activity Logging capabilities.

We've been hearing for some time from platform managers and dashboard designers that they need better ways to understand how their dashboards are being used so that they can improve their dashboards, and thus improve service to their users. As a result, we've added Xcelsius Activity Logging capabilities to APOS Insight.

While native Xcelsius logging (i.e., basic information such as who opened a dashboard and how long they used it) may be adequate for normal day-to-day operations, organizations that want to be proactive in their development and evolution of dashboards need more information. APOS Insight lets you ask much more specific questions about how your dashboards are being used.

The APOS Insight Xcelsius Activity Logging feature uses an add-on to Xcelsius (or Dashboards 4) to configure real-time logging of Xcelsius user activity to the Insight database. To configure logging, you bind the APOS logging control to cells in the spreadsheet that represent property name and value pairs. When a value changes it is logged to the database.

For example, if you want to know which tabs dashboard users are viewing or not viewing, you could bind the APOS Xcelsius Logging control to cells that control tab visibility. Using this and similar types of information for a group of users, developers, administrators and managers can judge how a dashboard is being used, and thus how effective the design of the dashboard is.