Been a while since my last post, but things have been busy! Not too long ago a call went out from Ingo Hilgefort, SAP mentor and all things BusinessObjects extraordinaire! Ingo and the team at SAP BusinessObjects have been busy lately promoting the SAP BusinessObject BI 4.0 Platform (SBOP), getting it out to customers on time after a couple of delayed releases, explaining and promoting the new features to the community, fixing the inevitable bugs and preparing for the next release… phew! Quite a mouthful.
I’ve been implementing the software at a customer and the results are great so far. Sure there are improvements that can and will be made to get these two pieces of software working together in a friendlier and easy way. But on the whole it functions well and delivers great value. In particular the deployment I’m working on is using SAP NetWeaver 7.3 as the back-end data warehouse and SBOP BI 4.0 as the front-end presentation layer and BI toolset. One of the key benefits of deploying SBOP in such as system landscape is the connectivity of SBOP BI 4.0 to SAP BW through the BICS interface. This interface is vastly improved in terms of efficacy and efficiency, in comparison to previous versions of Business Objects.
A call out
I was browsing through my twitter feeds the other day and was stopped in my tracks by a call out from Ingo.
Following the link provided in the tweet, will take you to one of Ingo’s numerous blog entries on SCN (he’s been busy!), which is titled ‘Make your voice heard – SAP BusinessObjects BI and SAP NetWeaver BW’. I distill this blog down to be a rallying call for customers to let Ingo and SAP know what features you’d like to be included future SBOP releases to more tightly integrate with SAP BW. The hope being that you’re idea will get voted up and be included in a not too future release. Ingo states:
Now what is your Action?
Are you a customer using SAP BusinessObjects BI in combination with SAP NetWeaver BW ?
If Yes, then navigate to the IdeaPlace area and use the opportunity to influence the next release by using your vote for the most important ideas.
I’ve provided the link here below that will take you to the IdeaPlace area:
I’ve added a couple of ideas to this collaborative website. These are based on my experiences with the current state of play with SAP BusinesObjects 4.0 and SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3. We’re using BW 7.3 SP3 and SBOP BI 4.0 SP2 Patch 7. My ideas are as follows:
- Schedule BusinessObjects reports when SAP NetWeaver BW data is available; and
- Support of report data based alerting beyond Crystal Reports.
Schedule BusinessObjects reports when SAP NetWeaver BW data is available
The overall requirement is to schedule reports in BusinessObjects when data is available in SAP NetWeaver BW. This could be, for instance, when a daily data mart load process is complete in SAP NetWeaver BW, a set of related Web Intelligence reports are to be scheduled and published in Business Objects. Currently, it is possible to meet this requirement through a workaround that uses a file based event in BusinessObjects. A file can be created at the end of a load process chain in BW, which in turn triggers the event in Business Objects.
It would be preferable to create a custom ‘data available’ type event in Business Objects, which listens to a similar event which can be triggered in SAP NetWeaver BW in a process chain. This would be more flexible and supportable than the current arrangement.
Support of report data based alerting beyond Crystal Reports
Report data based alerts (e.g. on data exceptions, conditions) are currently only available in the Crystal Reports Business Objects tool. This type of alerting allows for further notifications sent to users within BI 4.0 based on report data. It would be great if this feature was extended to other tools in the Business Objects suite, for instance the widely used Web Intelligence tool. Currently customers that are choosing not to deploy Crystal Reports do not have this capability within the Business Objects tool suite.
Voting and my call to you!
The current state of voting on these two ideas at 23 Nov 2011 are:
I say to you all (with tongue in cheek) – check out these ideas and vote them up!!!
On a serious note though, do get out there and post your ideas. Also do respond honestly, either way (up or down) to my ideas. Rather than complaining about what features aren’t available I think we as a community definitely should help SAP and Ingo out on this one. After all they are only seeking advice on how to improve the software that we and our customers end up using every day.
I recently briefly met Ingo at the Mastering SAP Business Intelligence 2011 Conference in Melbourne, Australia and posed these questions to him. Ingo, even with his busy schedule, made himself available to the community there and I’d like to thank him again for considering and answering my questions. As Ingo suggested in his blog, I’m only one of many that have bounced these ideas of him and I support the need to collate all these ideas together in the one spot, the IdeaPlace.
A Virtuous Circle
Other better known commentators than me in the industry have previously remarked on the collaborative power of SAP’s community network (SCN). Amongst other things, they’ve remarked on how SCN forms not only a support network for member’s of the community amongst themselves, but provides valuable feedback to SAP on fixing errors in their software releases and also advising SAP on how their software can be improved. These include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Mark Yolton’s blog on ‘Changing the World through Small Moves, Smartly Made: The Power of Pull’ July 2010;
- Mark Yolton’s blog on ‘SCN Praised as a Leader in Social Media’. April 2010;
- Thorsten Franz on ‘Speaking about information gathering, preaching about collaboration’. September 2009;
- Jon Reed’s discussion on ‘The Potential of SAP Idea Place – Crowd Sourcing SAP’s Future Direction’. July 2010.; and
- Jon Reed again with a podcast on ‘How SAP Community Network, Partner PGS and EcoHub Help Collier County Manage Grants’. April 2010.
I know that the SAP Community Network site has often been an invaluable tool for me in quickly finding answers to questions that I’ve had while out at a customer site. It’s often a lot quicker to find the answer on SCN rather than me trawling through the library of documents and how to guides that I carry around with me on my trusty USB stick. That’s definitely saying something positive about how easy SCN is to use and also the depth of knowledge contained in it. The guiding principle I usually follow when I have a burning question is, ‘If I have this question, then I’m probably not the only one that has it and it’s probably all ready been answered on SCN!’. Also in the rare case where I am the only person to ask a particular burning question, I’ll pop it up there for all to see – and hopefully answer.
It struck me that Ingo’s call out for suggestions on how the integration between SBOP 4.0 and SAP BW can be improved, is just another facet of this virtuous circle. It must be a huge competitive advantage to SAP to be able to directly tap into their customer and partner base and reach out to them for ideas on how their software can be improved. I mean, these are the people on the ground who are using the software on a day to day basis, striving to get value out of it for their organisation or customer. If these people don’t know how the software can be improved, then that begs the question, who does?
Particularly when we are talking about useability and productivity gains, surely this communal process is much more efficient and powerful than SAP surveying the community or having a stab at what improvements can be made from a top down view. Of course SAP know the innermost workings of their software and the code and can enhance things from a technical viewpoint, but how would they truly know what the community desires, without consulting them? I can think of no more efficient way than exactly what Ingo has done.
I’m definitely critical of SAP from time to time, so I’m not just pumping up SAP’s tyres when I say my hat is figuratively off to you on this one. This is a great open process that is just so powerful to the user base and to SAP. Congratulations. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to vote my ideas up – let’s see them in the next release!
* Perhaps after promoting SCN so strongly in this post, I should post this blog up on there too!