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Blair Wheadon, SAP Director of Solution Management, (follow him at @BlairTWheadon) provided a webcast on November 2nd as part of the Business Analytics Webinar series.  Some forward looking statements are included so things are subject to change – the general disclaimer applies.

 

On September  16th the general availability of BI 4.0 was released.

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Figure 1, Source: SAP

 

Figure 1 shows the new features in  4.0 with HANA Support, interoperability between the tools and more.

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Figure 2, Source: SAP

 

Figure 2 shows improvements in speed, improvements in the semantic layer, “mobile BI in your hands”.

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Figure 3, Source: SAP

Ramp-up is not a beta program but for fully supporting production.   BI 4.0 is available for those customers with a current maintenance.

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Figure 4, Source: SAP

 

See how you can get 4.0 in Figure 4.

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Figure 5, Source: SAP

 

BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3 will have a ramp-up program.  4.1 is now in 4.0 codeline.  Figure 5 explains the rationale.

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Figure 6, Source: SAP

 

Figure 6 is forward-looking and subject to change and shows the Roadmap.  Blue current is the BI 4.0 platform and a “common user experience” between the tools.  A common query pane exists between Crystal, Dashboards and Web Intelligence.

 

Planned innovations in yellow is 4.0 Feature Pack 3.  The BW scaling factor will be supported in the major client tools (SAP integration).  StreamWork is on the on-demand collaboration solution.  Integration BI 4.0 content with StreamWork activities and collaborate on those BI content whether it is a report or dashboard.  Analysis OLAP will have HANA connectivity. 

Content search will have deeper search and suggestions “did you want to search for this…”.  In Feature Pack 3, will support HANA as a CMS database.  For the developer there will be web service APIs for Crystal and BI platform.  A new JavaScript API is available for Crystal.  Embedded analytics is when BI stack is integrated with SAP Business Suite to invoke business suite transactions inside BI.  Analysis Edition for Application Design is new. 

Future Direction is in green– beyond 4.0 FP 3.  They intend to make semantic layer more lightweight and embeddable – embed into an application.

 

Feature Pack 3 Innovations for Explorer:

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Figure 7, Source: SAP

Figure 7 shows improvements with geographical data in BusinessObjects Explorer.  It is geographically “aware”.

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Figure 8, Source: SAP

 

As Figure 8 shows, they intend to share Explorer on the web with mobile users.  It has multiple panels.  The arrangement of panels is controlled by business user – add new panels and visualization.  They use Query Panel on universe to access data without having to go to IT.

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Figure 9, Source: SAP

Figure 9 shows that they recognize the time-based dimension and facets.  For example, it will understand that Monday is a date.  It integrates well with charts and recognizes the time based dimension on a chart.

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Figure 10, Source: SAP

 

Guided search will provide with “did you mean” question as shown in Figure 10.

 

Question & Answer:

Q: How can consultants upgrade their skills in these new products?  Are there training programs available?
A: Easiest is the Official Product Tutorials – SAP BO BI Suite on the SAP Community Network
Official Product Tutorials – SAP BO BI Suite

Q: Will BI 4.0 support Internet Explorer 9
A: It will but does not today but it is coming in feature pack 3

Q: Can you elaborate on embeddable semantic layer?
A: Right now semantic layer is bound to BI server.  Concept is to make the semantic layer available inside the application

Q: For geographical visualization do we need the help of Google Map?
A: No, visualization in Explorer is done with Common Visualization Object Model using SAP’s mapping  technology

Q: What are the benefits to connect it with BW 7.3?
A: Improved speed is the benefit and BICS connectivity
Web Intelligence is improved by a factor of 5 with BW on 7.30

Q. What are the requirements for the geographical features?
A: Only prerequisite is the Explorer license

Q: Future of Live Office and Query as a Web Service
A: Query as a Web Service is in a deprecated state; see help.sap.com for Feature evolution document.  Deprecated means it is still shipped with 4.0 but likely go away in the future.  The reason is that they made improvements in access and improvements in Query Panel and BICS.  Data access to promote is the Query Panel inside Dashboard.  Live Office as a Dashboard data access and embed BI in Office documents.  Maintain Live Office as a way to embed inside BI documents

Q: New enhancements for Crystal Report Enterprise
A: Feature Pack 3 has new API with a REST based web service API.  Restoring direct to data access without going through Universe.  Web based report templates – resolve the “blank canvas problem” and use the work that others have done and remap to your data source

Q: Will it support Office 2010?
A: Today some products support 2010 and others do not

Q: Internet Explorer 9 on BusinessObjects 3.1 SP5?
A: See ASUG webcast coming November 16th that will cover that

Q: What kind of mobile improvements are in FP 3?
A:  Improved platform support, improved filtering Web Intelligence, touch support on BlackBerry, Explorer will get geo location awareness and Exploration Views, smart visualizations with adapting view.  New platforms include Blackberry Playbook and Android.

Q: New Web Intelligence features in FP 3?
A: Improved support for BW integration (scaling factor support), new export to save as text and incremental charting improvements

Q:  How compatible is BI 4.0 with HANA as a back-end database
A:  Fully supported as a database via ODBC.  Right now do not support CMS as a database on HANA.

Q:  Means sentient analysis that I can search as unstructured text?
A: Text analysis can take unstructured text and scan it and discern the sentiments and emotions in text – it can read your text and identify if what saying is positive or negative.

Q:  Which version includes predictive analytics?
A: It is sold stand-alone

Q: Is upgrade from 3.1 to 4.x seamless?
A: It is a fresh install, supporting on a 64 bit operating system and then migrate your content over

Q:  What are the improvements in Dashboards in FP3?
A: BICS interface to consume BW data, hierarchical improvements
Support for the Flex SDK 4.0

Q: What is the feature pack service pack release strategy?
A:  See BusinessObjects release strategy on Service Marketplace

Q: Will SAP BusinessObjects Mobile be available for BlackBerry
A: Yes, available today

Q: Prebuilt dashboard and impose security on that?
A: Yes

Q: When upgrade OLAP .unv to unx?
A: .UNX allows access to OLAP cubes.  Blair is not sure of migration path for OLAP universes; relational .unv has migration path to .unx

Q: Can we open DeskI in BI 4.0?
A: No

Q: How plan to integrate with difference social sites?
A: Announcement coming soon

Q:  Will migration of XC 2008 Dashboards require a lot of work? 
A: No changes to migrate

Q: Is Live Office coming to an end?
A: No, it is included in BI 4.0 and supported in BI 4.0

Q: Are there demo versions of this product?
A: Sign up for Edge trial download – 60 day trial

 

Are you interested in more information – consider attending these ASUG webcasts below:

 

November 21 ASUG Dashboard Feature Pack 3 Webcast

November 22 ASUG BusinessObjects Explorer Feature Pack 3 Webcast

December 1 ASUG SAP Integration wtih BusinessObjects Webcast

December 7 ASUG BusinessObjects Analysis Feature Pack 3 Webcast

December 14 BI Platform Feature Pack 3 Webcast

 

For excellent explanations and examples I also highly recommend Ingo Hilgefort’s latest SAP Press book Integrating SAP BusinessObjects 4.x BI Platform with SAP NetWeaver which includes Feature Pack 3 release.

 

Thanks to Blair Wheadon for this webcast.

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