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Today I attended among others the session for the roadmap for Mobile Dashboards. In this session Anita Gibbings spoke about the roadmap for the mobile dashboards.

In the sessions we went through a number of topics :

  • Why is mobile so important
  • What is the current functionality
  • What is new in 4.1
  • Best practices
  • Roadmap and future direction
  • Design Studio

Anita also showed us some demo’s in the session where she showed the new capabilities as well as the current possibilities with visualizations.

Why is mobile so important
In the session we first started with the reasoning why mobile is so important.  Anita showed us the growth numbers which showed that mobile is now much bigger than any other computer device . Also Gartner reported that Mobile is now the number 2 priority for CIO’s.

What is the current functionality

First the technical part. If you want mobile you need at least SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard 4.0 SP05 or higher with SAP Businessobjects Mobile 4.4 or higher. You are able to run mobile on the Sap Business Objects Enterprise, the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise and SAP Crystal Server platform.  You need a platform as HTML5 in itself is only a rendering technology.

In the mobile you can use native iPad gestures such as pinch, squeeze or draw lines with gestures.  You are also able to make annotations, blur parts of the screen or crop the screen. The resulting picture you can send to others. This enables extra mobility as not only the showing of the dashboard but also communicating the results is now very mobile. In the demo we saw how a note was added to a keyfigure.  “Please explain” and immediately mailed to the person responsible.

Additionally there are security options. For example when an employee loses the iPad security is in place so the perhaps sensitive data cannot be seen.

When you create a dashboard for mobile in SAP Dashboard in the components pane you can select the Mobile only option. When selected the components pane will show only those components that are compatible with mobile.  This is very useful for starting a new dashboard as this helps you to select only the compatible components and avoid rework after testing.

When you have already a dashboard that needs to be adjusted for mobile, there is a compatibility panel to guide you. With red crosses, warnings and hints the panel helps you to identify the issues that need  to be addressed.

Finally there is a mobile preview to test the resulting dashboard in the design tool.

If everything is fine you can save the dashboard to the platform as Mobile only, Desktop only or both.

What is new in 4.1

In version 4.1 QAAWS for mobile dashboards is enabled. Also there is offline support for offline in Mobi. Note however that SAP does not support the feature. It was tested however and it works.

Customers and partners can use the HTLM5 SDK for creating add-ons.  Partners that already provide add-ons are Centigon (mapping), Antivia (xwis olap), APOS (mapping), Inovista (80 components) and graphomate (Few/Tufte like graphs). Another partner that was mentioned is Data Savvy. They provide functionality to print dashboards.

In the Designer tool there is now an option to “Allow this dashboard to be used offline”.  At runtime you now can rightclick on the dashboard and choose “Download dashboard with data to local”.

Support for Android is planned for the end of 2013.

Best practices for Mobile dashboards

A couple of of best practices were mentioned:

  • Use the nova theme as it is the only one for both mobile and web where it looks good
  • Query panel is only connectivity available in the first release but QAAWS follows in 4.1
  • Use a font that is available both in web and in mobile such as Arial, courier New, Georgia, Times new Roman or Verdana. You can change this in the document properties or per component.
  • The iPad screen is 1024×768. Set your canvas to this size in the document properties and save it as a template for use anytime you design for mobile.
  • Design for a minimum touch size of 44 pixels. As people use their fingers instead of mouse pointers menu items need more space. Especially for people with big hands !
  • Consider finger position when designing the controls! If a user almost drops his iPad trying to press the controls he almost certainly will not like the dashboard very much and avoid using it.

Roadmap and future direction

The strategy contains three themes: Mobilize information, Instant answers and Strategic use cases

Mobilize means that current BI content will be extended to mobile including Web Intelligence, Crystal Reports and Dashboards. Support will be for Iphone, Ipad, Android, Blackberry, Windows phone.  Also there will be capabilities for offline modus, security, alerts, drill, filter.

Instant answers means the ability to explore big data, collaborate with other people and use geospatial analysis and augmented reality.

Strategic use cases means embedded analytics in customized industry and LOB.

Today there are two tools, SAP Dashboard and SAP Design Studio. SAP Dashboard is based on flash and is stretched as far as it can go with flash. SAP Design Studio is a newly developed tool starting from scratch that is meant as the successor.

The planned innovations for SAP Dashboard are extended functional capabilities on connections and controls, HTML5 add on SDK and Integration improvements.

Long term is to embed mobile dashboards into applications and then only high priority visualizations and capabilities.

SAP Design Studio

SAP Design Studio makes it easy to create web applications. SAP Design studio is works with HTML5 and CSS and has an easy to use design environment . It integrates with SAP Mobile starting from version BI 4.0 FP3 SP05.

Design Studio is a multi dimensional tool You can connect to data and are able to drill down 4 or 5 levels deep and use hierarchies from BW and HANA. It will operate directly on BEx Queries, Infocubes and HANA views.

In the 1.1 version that is GA since last Friday a lot of options have been added that really add to the tool such as variables and the ability to assign css classes to components. Partners will be able soon to use the SDK’s.

Currently you do not have all the visualization possibilities that SAP Dashboard has, but it is expected that Design Studio will have caught up in the next version.

It was an interesting session. The fact that SAP Mobile allows you to annotate your reports and immediately send those annotated versions to others adds to the mobile experience.

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