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With almost 10 years of experience in delivering BusinessObjects solutions at Business Objects and then at SAP as an internal customer (we drink our own Champagne!), I have experimented two successive revolutions transforming completely our BI strategy.  This is what I would like to share in this blog, as an example of how we are deploying and using our own tools – for the purpose of everyone interested in BI, being in a same situation or not having gone through the below transformations yet.

Transformation 1: from Desktop to Enterprise BI, 2005 to 2007

In the overall movement of software to Web framework, the rollout of BusinessObjects XI R2 at the end of 2005 has been the first revolution, bringing the concept of unique, global BI platform, with 2 major benefits:

  • One single version of the truth: from now on, displayed in a set of reports accessed online by all users via the same portal (Infoview). This is the end of individual reports stored locally on each laptop.
  • No longer need for local client installation and database connectivity with web based deployment.

While purpose seemed to be extremely positive for our BI strategy overall, the reality for individuals was completely different. The first feeling was a loss of control, having to move from a client application (BO Reporter) with all reports accessible directly on laptop to an online Web portal: it was seen as a significant change with pain points and no added value.

This is where IT, taking a much bigger role in this centralized BI world, had to drive the change and to convince the Business community. For a classic BusinessObjects customer like Business Objects IT, it took 1,5 years where our role changed from Technical expertise to Consulting.

Even in 2007, Business Objects internal IT was one of the pioneers in the completion of this transformation, and I remember sharing my experience at the BusinessObjects User Conference as described below: 

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At the end of this long tunnel, our BI landscape was looking completely different and for the 1st time, we were able to talk about a global BI strategy:

  • With 1 unique version of the truth, accessible via a unique Portal page.
  • With a community of BI champions (BI Power Users) sharing experience and expertise on their BI solutions.
  • Going forward, this technological transformation led to a Business transformation, federating regional Divisions to align their processes to create one single, Global Reporting!…

 

Transformation 2: Mobility, since mid 2010

BI on mobile devices was already available since 2009 with good feedback, but the limitations imposed by the devices did not allow to trigger the “this is what I need, now”.

This trigger came indeed in 2010 with the tablets: right screen size, right visual capability, and amazing interactivity with an unlimited range of possible gestures: from almost 0, Mobility has become in a few months a Must Have, a prerequisite for any new delivery.

Beside the numbers, the transformation has taken multiple effects:

  • Adoption driven by the Business: as opposed to the 1st transformation, this one did not require any push from IT.
  • Transforming behaviors : previous Information Consumers receiving reports as PDF snapshots have become Active Users of the Applications
  • Changing mindset: this Business community is very keen to install a new App, even a prototype, as long as it brings new features, new gestures. As opposed to Platform upgrades, Mobile App upgrades have become a Business demand! 

What will be the next transformation? When is it planned?

At least before, there are a few steps left in Mobility: today, we are still talking about tools and systems, and not about solutions: maybe the next step could be to offer to our Business this BI Mobile solution allowing our Community to access the Information without knowing which App and Which source they are using – just focusing on the need… Today still a vision, tomorrow maybe concrete?…

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  1. Simon To
    Hi David, thanks for this great blog. It brought back a lot of memories. 🙂 Before SAP takes BusinessObjects to the next transformation which might be Cloud computing, they need to solidify Mobility first. The reason why people are still talking about the tool and not the solution because the tool has many holes. It is not a completed product yet. These holes are currently being filled by 3rd party solutions.
    Thanks.
    simon
    (0) 

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