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The goal of Web Intelligence is to provide users with two interrelated capabilities: the analysis of business data that ranges from simple personalization to deep analysis and the ability to quickly create simple or even sophisticated reports so these users can better communicate their analysis efforts to other users. The combination of the ad-hoc analysis and reporting capabilities is essential for meeting the needs of business users who don’t need, or want, to be specialised as “analysts” or “report authors”. They want answers and they want to be able to share those answers in a context that keeps the BI data “alive”.

There are many customer workflows that I have encountered that fall within the confines of this goal but fail to use Web Intelligence properly. What do I mean by properly? That is to not only use Web Intelligence to access information, but to do so in a manner that takes advantage of its design and the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise platform architecture. For example, a user could easily build and share a document that returns millions of rows of data and has multiple report tabs for users to consume information applicable to their role. This would give users access to the information that they need to make decisions. In addition, the document would perform poorly and would be difficult for users to navigate. It would also negatively impact every other user of the platform. While the workflow fits into the overall goal of Web Intelligence, it does not fall within best practice or with how Web Intelligence is intended to be used.

This workflow is easily improved by publishing a document that does not necessarily have every little piece of information that a user may eventually need. Consumers of information are interested in not only taking advantage of the insights of others but also deriving their own insights by analyzing the data in a way that makes sense for their role within the organization. By presenting the user with a document that has a basic level of information, they are able to see what the original document designer thought was important and they are able to discover new information by performing a deeper analysis on their own. Web Intelligence provides the means to accomplish this refined workflow, which will reduce the size of the base document and improve the navigation by taking advantage of built-in analysis functionality.

The idea here is that users are able to get access to the information that they need by building upon existing content and insights derived by others. Those information consumers do not have to jump into Web Intelligence and start building queries on their own. This creates a community of more informed decision makers and a more agile organization.

It is the goal of this blog to not only share information, but also to educate on best practices for using Web Intelligence. This will be done through the presentation of real customer use cases, discussing potential improvements in observed workflows, feature / functionality demonstrations, discussions and by providing report samples.

What should you, as the audience, expect?

Real Customer Use Cases
These will be anonymous but insightful presentations of customer uses of Web Intelligence with their challenges and successes highlighted.

Discussions of Potential Improvements in Observed Use Cases
Again, these will be anonymous reviews of how observed customer use cases could be improved through the use, or expanded use, of Web Intelligence.

Feature / Functionality Demonstrations
These will be straightforward demonstrations of features and functionality that may be popular, new or not so well known. The goal is to educate around the use of these features.

Discussions
I expect that every post will generate some form of discussion amongst the audience; however, at times, I will only post for the explicit purpose of soliciting feedback. This may be gathering requirements for future versions of the product or just because we are interested in hearing your thoughts about a particular use case, workflow or feature.

Report Samples
Occasionally, I will be posting report samples with features and functionality demonstrated or with new ideas about how to design your information. These are intended to be educational so that you can import these ideas into your own reports.

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3 Comments

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  1. Alexander Schuchman
    The marketing products describing WebI are painting the wrong picture.  They are showing the current working version of WebI as a complete replacement for the existing BI Web Reporting product.  In reality, this is far from the truth.
    If you look at the product, it’s excellent at presenting data using a wealth of visualization techniques.  However it’s no BI drill-down, slice and dice workhorse for large enterprise type data sets.  We are hitting limitations in the data set size that we can pull into WebI, where we don’t encounter these issues in BI since these drilldowns are pulled using the OLAP engine realtime(maybe even using BIA).
    I think it would be helpful to hear some nice use cases where WebI is a perfect replacement for BI Web Reporting.
    -Alex
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    1. Coy Yonce Post author
      Excellent comments Alex. I would love to hear more about the challenges that you are having with Web Intelligence compared to the other solutions that you are using. Do you have some time next week to chat over the phone?

      I agree that use cases showing how Web Intelligence can be used for analysis in large enterprise deployments are in order for this blog. I will work on getting some details put together around this and, potentially, even highlighting some real customer use cases in this area.

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    2. Dorien Gardner
      Actually, it comes down to what you are really trying to do. If you want to wonder aimlessly through vast amounts of data trying to determine what you should really be looking at then perhaps a data model that is already conformed into a hiearchical model with in-memory indices is most appropriate.

      However, it is also important to understand the best practices approach for doing Ad-Hoc analysis when leveraging Web Intelligence.

      There are numerous methods for going against large data sets when using Webi. There are numerous large deployments with vast amounts of data. The question is do you really need all that vast amount of data within the report itself?

      When performing Drill Down and Slice and Dice what level of the hiearchy and what level of detail do you really require as part of the initial report?

      Bringing in low level detail data on the off chance that someone might need to look at a few rows is certainly not the Best Practices approach to using Webi. You want to bring back an appropriate level of the hiearchy and then drill (with a new dynamic query) to get the lower level detail data.

      This will execute a contextual query that should be appropriately fast because the data being retrieved should have enough context and indexes to get the subset of detail data with excellent response.

      If you take this approach and along with Publishing and Distribution, to filter the original query (that builds a dynamic cube structure), for the target recepient, large databases can easily be handled by Webi.

      Regards,

      Dorien Gardner
      Principal Deployment Specialist, OEM
      SAP Americas, Inc.

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