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Web Intelligence Year in Review: A Sort of Homecoming

My first blog post here will be a look back at 2008. While 2008 was a fantastic year in many areas for Web Intelligence customers, partners and users, if I had to choose just one significant “event”, it would be the below.

Homecoming, of sorts

2008 was “déjà vu all over again” for many users of Business Objects software. In the XI 3.0 release last summer, we announced Web Intelligence Rich Client, which enables BI content to be taken offline. For Web Intelligence customers, this provides them an unparalleled capability: Identical workflows whether using the dHTML, Java or Rich Client deployment options, whether working while connected to the BOE platform or working disconnected on the train or in the airport lounge.

For those of you knew to Web Intelligence, let me make it perfectly clear: Rich Client users can be connected to their BI content online, take that content “offline” for analysis and building reports, then resync that content for sharing with web-based consumers. Then, other users, using the Java Report Panel or the dHTML web-based deployment options, can access that same content and edit, analyze and format reports all online. Three deployment options. Same workflows. Same capabilities. Online or offline.

For many Business Objects customers, the Rich Client’s offline capabilities may have felt like a “homecoming”. The reason is, Desktop Intelligence and its precursors (aka “Full Client”) have had offline editing capabilities for many years.  Desktop Intelligence was built as a Windows application, so many BI usage scenarios grew out of a dependency on and expectation of offline capabilities.

But there is one huge advantage that Web Intelligence offers. Desktop Intelligence content does not provide web-based users with interactivity. So no online sorting, filtering, formatting, swapping columns/rows, changing a table to a chart, etc. It was never architected to do so. Desktop Intelligence users might say, “As long as I can download the content locally and edit with my trusty Deski, who cares about online editing?”

Well, if you’re a report author who has ever been bothered by a host of users requesting incremental modifications to your content, you sure would appreciate the web-based interactivity for consumers of the content you create. “Let them add their own sorts, filters and ranking, I’ll focus on the hard stuff!” And if you’re in IT and you want to deploy to a wider internal audience or partners or customers in an extranet scenario, web-based interactivity sure is cheaper as well as enticing as a value-added differentiator to keep the users coming back.

Web Intelligence, if I can be so painfully obvious, was built as a web-based tool for analysis and reporting. Web-based interactivity — free-form layout, sorting, filtering, calculations, turning tables to charts, etc. — is built in. Web Intelligence Rich Client complements this by providing offline capabilities for both professional authors and analysts and (bonus!) it supports Excel as a data source that can be merged with corporate data.

I assert that this online-offline duality makes Web Intelligence one of the most unique offerings in the market, and I’m proud to see the results of our engineering team’s hard work and vision in delivering this capability.

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