SAP BusinessObjects Exploration views
A while ago, I discovered prototype of a new SAP BusinessObjects product which is called SAP BusinessObjects Exploration Views.
It is a product which could be described as a webbased ad-hoc analysis solution.
You can try it online by clicking this link.
I’m quite amazed about it’s functionality and especially it’s flexibility.
Let’s go through some of my early findings.
- It’s fully webbased
This is a great plus. Just like the SAP BO Explorer, this tool runs in your web browser by using your Flash plugin. This has great advantages for support costs, required hardware specs, scalability, etcetera. It also seems to run smoothly on tablets. This is quite interesting!
- Personalization options
You can specify the design of your “exploration view” just by dragging and dropping graphical objects, control objects (for example filter boxes) or tables to the place where you’d like to see them. For example in SAP BO Dashboards (fka Xcelsius) this can only be done by the developer of the dashboard. Not the end user. This can be a great plus. Another personalization feature is that you can change the type of visualization. By simply clicking the “change the visualization” button, you can choose from a large selection of vizualitions whilst keeping the underlying data. In SAP BO dashboards (fka Xcelsius), you need a developer for such kind of options.
- Visualization options
If you’re used to work with SAP BO Dashboards (fka Xcelsius) you will see quite some overlap in the graphical possibilities. For example the bar and line charts, pie charts and also the gauges will look familiar. There are also some default themes included and with a single click of your mouse button you transform your “exploration view” into a completely different style. One I like quite much myself is the “sketch” theme which is displayed below.
- Steep lurning curve
With only the minimal amount of training you’ll be able to set up a view to present your analysis on that difficult and complex information spaghetti. A regular internet user or which is used to working with online applications and which has some BI application experience will get very much out of this product without even a single training hour.
- Data flexibility
If you click on the “explore” button, you can set specific options for the selected object. This also includes the option to change the data to be shown (dimensions & measures). It’s even possible to set a drill by adding two dimensions (for example year and month).
- One version of the truth
You don’t work in MS Excel so data manipulation options are minimal. Executives always seem to fall in love with terms like “one version of the truth” so write this one down
Since this is only a prototype and I haven’t worked with it in a real production like scenario, I’d like to go a bit deeper into a single con, which is the overlap with other tools in the SAP BusinessObjects BI suite.
- Overlap with other tools
The SAP BusinessObjects BI suite has lots and lots of front end tools and with this “prototype” solution there comes quite some overlap with for example SAP BO Dashboards (fka Xcelsius), WebIntelligence and also the SAP BO Explorer. At the moment, it’s already hard enough to advise customers on which tool they should use for which purpose and this doesn’t really makes it easier.
If you look at SAP BO Dashboards (fka Xcelsius) it proves to have quite some overlap in features like graphs, drill downs, alerts etc . However, SAP BO dashboards is much stronger on the visualization front and has numerous options for connecting to all kinds of datasources. SAP BO Dashboard remains the dashboarding tool without a doubt.
The SAP BO explorer (which is already available) shows great overlap with this tool and one of my SAP BO buddies Xavier Hacking (@xjhacking) was wondering why these new features of SAP BO Exploration views aren’t integrated into the SAP BO explorer since they show great overlap. I think that the SAP BO explorer is the tool for finding the answer to that very important question. It lets you find the needle in the haystack. SAP BO Exploration views looks like it’s much more a combination of WebI and the, not yet released, SAP BO analysis for the web. The SAP BO explorer gives you a single driving lane to help you answer that single question where SAP BO Exploration views gives you highway with 5 driving lanes to answer multiple questions at the same time. This can result in not getting to your desired destination because you loose track of your goal. In the SAP BO Explorer, this will not happen.
There are a lot more features I could talk about (for example the clipboard or the alert option) but this post shouldn’t be too long so let’s wait and see what SAP BusinessObjects will do with this prototype. I’m quite enthousiastic about it and I’m looking forward to playing around with it a little bit more. For now, that’s all folks!
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