The Future of Dashboards – Strategy and Direction
by Adam Binnie, Global VP & GM, Business Intelligence, SAP — *A recorded version of the webinar is available at the end of this post*
“Mobility first” is clearly the priority of SAP and nowhere is this more important than with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards. Executives using our solutions rely more and more on having information at their fingertips anywhere, anytime to enable them to make better decisions, faster.
SAP has put significant energy into listening to our customers, and speaking with analysts and partners, to gain a clear understanding of how our customer’s expectations are evolving for their dashboarding solution.
When we talk about dashboards, let’s focus on those that are professionally authored, not self-service, which are addressed by our SAP BusinessObjects Explorer solution and e-views functionality. Professionally authored or power/IT built dashboards, in particular, have high mobility expectations as these are frequently the source of KPIs for senior management and a single, trusted version of information used by them to make real-time decisions on the fly. Increasingly we see use cases of mobile dashboards driving sales and field service to better decision making on the road and improving company profitability. It’s crystal clear that we need to be innovating in this area with mobility first.
Current Situation and Issues
The SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 suite currently offers SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly Xcelcius) for building highly visual, flash-based dashboards delivered on the Web. But Flash has become a huge barrier to getting content onto mobile devices. For customers that leverage SAP NetWeaver BW and employ SAP BEx Web application designer to create visual applications, mobile solutions are also not available today.
For those customers that leverage SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, this technology will allow dashboards to be recompiled into HTML5, which can then run on an iPad, as well as many other mobile devices.
At the same time, and targeting customers that leverage SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse or SAP HANA, we plan to deliver a new technology solution (code named Zen), that is intended to provide rich, professionally authored, HTML5 applications and dashboards.
- HTML5 for rendering the “mobile first” experience and parity of experience between mobile devices and the desktop.
- Data access layer structured to support both big data (SAP HANA) and SAP NetWeaver BW data sources.
- Rich set of controls allowing both complex application development and quick easy dashboard production.
It means choice and immediate value for both customer bases. Customers already employing SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly Xcelsius) will be able to deliver rich dashboards on mobile devices. While customers looking to create more complex and sophisticated user experiences will have that control within project Zen.
Moving forward, the intent is for these two to slowly merge together, bringing the richness, diverse data source support, and dynamic “what-if” capabilities of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards to the Zen architecture; in addition to bringing the fine grained control and enhanced development experience to the dashboards world.
The intent is that both technologies, and their content and applications, will resolve onto a common tool within a few releases, and with minimal disruption for the customers using them.
Phase 1 (roughly end of 2012)
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards gains HTML5 output option to allow delivery to mobile devices.
- Zen’s initial release plans for HTML5 application development connected to SAP HANA and SAP NetWeaver BW.
- Both tools plan to leverage the SAP BusinessObjects Mobile app to manage them locally on the device and provide a single point of entry.
- The HTML5 component library of Zen is anticipated to expand to match current SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards offerings.
- Third party components support is planned for Zen so the large eco-system of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards can also start to reach out to new customers.
- We anticipate continuing to expand the range of charting and other visualization choices for designers, and inlcude additional features like: Write Back, Annotations, Scheduled Views, Dashboard Bursting to name just a few.
- The plan is to unify the data access technologies allowing the new Zen runtime to access all types of data and converge the two design environments into one.
We’ve been listening to our customers and focusing on how best to deliver to their needs with both more robust solutions for dashboards that reflect the changing technology and implementation realities of our customers. Zen and SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards represent our solution that is intended to deliver innovation more quickly while minimizing customer disruption, and protecting investments in SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards.
You can find the official SAP BusinessObjects Dashboarding Statement of Direction and Strategy, here.
Watch a recorded version of the webinar, here:
Disclaimer: This article contains forward-looking statements and all information about future products only outlines possible developments that are subject to change.