SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio: Charting the Transition from SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards Software
For many SAP BusinessObjects customers migrating to BI 4.1, the next step on their migration timeline is the adoption of SAP’s new standard in dashboard and application design, Design Studio. This new technology offers substantial benefits, especially to organizations that are looking to enhance their users’ mobile experience. Integration of dashboards and Web apps into SAP BusinessObjects Mobile solutions enables more effective communication of a shared version of the truth, which serves to improve alignment of decision making processes across the enterprise.
Design Studio is disruptive technology in the best sense of that phrase: it is transformative in that it changes the way and the effectiveness with which you communicate. Its multidimensional, interactive and mobile-ready visualizations mark a significant advance. Scalability and re-usability make it the dashboard solution for the future.
Planning Your Transition to Design Studio
Design Studio is a result of SAP’s ambition to provide cutting-edge, multi-platform visualization across the enterprise. It consolidates the development of dashboards and Web apps within a single environment. While it may present a learning curve for your dashboard designers, its range of use makes the retraining and repurposing of resources quite worthwhile. However, such retraining and repurposing takes time, so the transition from Dashboards is one that must be managed.
As a platform manager, you will have many needs for which to plan. The first need is for you to plan a clear path to Design Studio adoption. Because Design Studio is a completely new technology, you can’t simply migrate your dashboards to Design Studio in the way that you migrate a UNV universe to UNX.
Adopting Design Studio may seem to be a classic case of “no pain, no gain,” but the challenges you face are eminently manageable, and the rewards will be immense. Your initial challenges:
- Maintaining Service Levels: Your first challenge is to maintain and improve service levels for your information consumers. You need to make the transition invisible to them. They should notice only improvements in service, not degradations.
- Leveraging a Large Dashboards Investment: Once you adopt Design Studio, you will use it for all new dashboard design. You are not required to update your existing Dashboards, as they will continue to function as before in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1. However, if you wish to take advantage of the new Design Studio technology’s mobile reach and other features, you will eventually want to recreate many of your old Dashboards in Design Studio.
- New Technology, New Skills: The use of spreadsheets to build Dashboards was itself a specialized skill, but your dashboard designers will now have to become proficient in Java Script coding, or you may have to develop new resources entirely. The resulting dashboards will be more accessible across a broad range of devices, but your challenge will be to manage the acquisition of new skills by your resources in order to achieve those results.
- Making the Partner Ecosystem Work for You: If your investment in Dashboards has been substantial, you likely have a number of third-party extensions in place for specialized functions. Your challenge will be to inventory these, discover whether the new technology removes the need for them, and if not, whether the extensions can be replaced in Design Studio with equivalent extensions.
There Is Help Available
Managing your dashboard migration timeline may become a lesson in bizarre business geometry: the shortest line between two points just may not be a straight line. Getting from point A to point B may require some resource juggling, and some resourcefulness of your own.
Fortunately, SAP has numerous online resources to help you manage the transition to Design Studio:
- The SAP Community Network has numerous resources.
- The SAP Application Development Partner Center has resources to help the SAP BusinessObjects partner ecosystem to develop extensions to Design Studio
- The SAP Press has titles such as Getting Started with SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio to help you get your bearings.
In addition, SAP is actively encouraging its partner ecosystem to develop solutions to smooth the transition. One such solution is the APOS Dashboard Migrator, which can help with many of the challenges described here. Developed in collaboration with SAP, the APOS Dashboard Migrator lets dashboard designers include components or whole dashboards built in Dashboards (including third-party extensions) as elements in Design Studio dashboards.
 Refer to the SAP BusinessObjects Dashboarding Strategy and Statement of Direction
Very positive and upbeat thinking on the road to Design Studio. The phrase "your dashboard designers will now have to become proficient in Java Script coding," sends shivers down my spine and that of many on BI developers I suggest.