I recently worked with a retailer where there were many static reports being delivered to users in various different formats and destinations. Schedule based reporting has been the classic way to deliver information to a large number of casual information consumers. I often see this in industries like retail or banking where reports are sent on daily, weekly and monthly basis to the stores and branches. In this blog post I would share some of my experiences and thoughts on how to modernize the way information is delivered without disruption.
Delivering reports the classic way
BusinessObjects deployments are like a well-oiled machines scheduling and sending hundreds or even thousands of Web Intelligence reports to file-share, ftp sites or network disk shares where the information stored , fetched and consumed. However static PDF and Excel reports can’t be distributed openly without security to a large number of users.
Custom java SDK solutions used to be the way and still are in many organizations present to split and filter the data to the right level like store, supplier or department. These SDK solutions would create a documents for each recipient through a custom web front-end portal with heavy dependency on BusinessObjects Java SDK. Although Bursting features started to replace them still custom portals remained in-place for sharing the Publications.
The challenge today is that new ways of discovering data have come to compete with the classic ways of operating. Sharing of easy to use dashboards and stories that users can consume with a few easy clicks and personalized dashboards that hold the most important KPI’s. This leads to multiple ways of consuming information and organizations still need a way to share all existing information with a single point of entry solution.
Introducing a single point of entry
With SAP Analytics Hub users are able access a single place for all analytics without causing significant rework or disruption to existing solutions. This also brings together solutions like Sap Analytics Cloud with BusinessObjects reporting.
Lets look at how we achieved this. First we needed to establish a way for users to enter the Analytic Hub easily. The best solution is to establish AD SAML SSO using Active Directory Services integration with SAP Analytics Cloud. All local users in stores had an AD account and could access directly into the single point of entry. Start by configuring AD access to your SAC tenant. There are good guides and blog posts that detail this setup. SAML Authentication Guide
Once the users are setup in SAC we need to create Teams for the users in SAC, these are required if we want to display only assets for a particular store users. As users can belong to different stores for example an Employee works in different stores they need to have access to both reports from both stores. Adding Users
Second you will need to create the Assets into SAP Analytics Hub. An Asset holds a detailed description, title, author and small content preview image. Next we needed to create links into the assets that direct the user to open either a network share or ftp site holding all the BusinessObjects scheduled reports/instances. The folder structure needed minor changes and the destinations targets of the schedules would be changed in BusinessObjects but existing schedules did not need any changing.
In the example above, we created links into the assets report folders where BusinessObjects Published the scheduled instances. This would guide the user to open their respective report(s) and with SSO enabled already they would only see the Store Folders they had access to.
If an Employee worked at multiple stores they were able to access both folders thru the Analytics Hub and only seeing the Assets thru the Teams they were assigned to. With the above solution we made the BusinessObjects Java SDK component and legacy Custom Portal solution redundant and brought in not just a new way accessing all content but also to be able to monitor the usage of the assets thru Analytics Hub.
With SAP Analytics Hub it will help the transition from on-premise to cloud and bring together both standard enterprise reporting and data discovery under one single place. This will help to fade away current existing legacy reporting portals, save costs and increase adoption of business users access in a much simpler way.