QlikView Next front-end vs SAP BusinessObjects Mobile

Posted by on May 4, 2014

I just took the time to watch this video previewing QlikView Next. In the video a good preview is giving of what this new QlikView tool looks like and works, and it seems pretty cool. It also worries me when I look at the mobile BI solutions SAP is currently providing in the SAP BusinessObjects Mobile app.

If I understand it correctly Next is some kind of BI vision for the future, where they want users to move from passively receiving reports to more actively participating in analysis. They made a beautiful website for this, but I can’t really find out what the really big deal is here. Things like the Discover, Decide, Do cycle are not really groundbreaking or unique.

But, I can see from the video demo that the tool itself is purely developed from a user experience perspective and fully compatible for mobile usage. It runs in Safari on an iPad without having to install something. You can easily select data and use ‘natural’ gestures as pinching to zoom in on charts. I really like the way you can circle around a group of data points to select them.

The user can create new analyses himself by drag-and-dropping components (charts, filter boxes etc.). From these analyses a story can be composed, including written text. This storyboard can be distributed to others and from a datapoint in this storyboard a user can go back to the original (more detailed) analysis.

So let’s compare this to what SAP is offering in their SAP BusinessObjects Mobile app. The Mobile app can show predefined Webi, Crystal, Dashboards and Design Studio application. Except from some basic annotations and mailing screenshots there are no options to add information or adjust what you are seeing. The interactivity/usability options within the reports (making selections for example) are miles behind what QlikView Next is showing in the video demo.

I also tried SAP Lumira Cloud on the Mobile app. It let’s you create a single chart, add and move some dimensions and measures. You can even click one or more datapoints on the chart to filter, but this doesn’t work really smooth. Also pinching and swiping seems to have no effect. And I just can’t figure out how to add more charts and/or a storyboard. Frustrating.

Conclusion is that the SAP BusinessObjects Mobile app still sucks and there is a lot of work to do to close this gap. The problem is that the approach for the Mobile app always has been to make (existing) BI4 reports available on mobile devices, which led to crappy solutions. It is just like publishers trying to port their newspapers and magazines to the iPad, in the exact same format as the printed paper (see my Blendle post).

Instead, SAP should start all over again and recreate their Mobile app from a pure mobile usage perspective (and not just continue to port Lumira to the iPad!). Also for Design Studio we need upgraded components that include these cool mobile gesture features like smart data selections.

By the way thanks to @pieter_hendrikx for the tip on this QlikView Next video.

Posted in: New technology, SAP BusinessObjects

The future of reading is almost here

Posted by on Apr 13, 2014

Just a few years ago I used to have a lot of subscription on monthly, weekly and daily magazines and newspapers. Yes the classic paper editions that were delivered at my home.  There are a lot of problems with these ‘information’ products which eventually made me cancel everything.

The daily newspaper is of course always outdated, and I didn’t want to keep paying for the comics, some columns and the football (p)reviews. I tried the weekend edition, but the subjects of the deeper analyses articles seem to be chosen completely at random. It’s just a gamble what they come up with every edition. Bye bye Telegraaf and Financieel Dagblad.

I’ve read Elsevier, a big weekly magazine on politics and current affairs, for many many years. But, they got lazy with republishing some big multipage ‘stories’ every year (tips on doing your taxes around tax time, tips for your holiday around the summer etc.). The political news analyses are not really better than the ones you can find for free online and their tech articles are just a joke. Bye bye Elsevier.

I also had a subscription to the largest weekly football magazine in Holland (Voetbal International). Since a few years ago they have two 90 minute talkshows each week, which I can listen to for free while driving to work. Also the magazine mostly covers the bigger teams, in which I don’t have any interest. So bye bye VI.

But, once in a while these magazines or newspapers have one or even a few articles that I really do want to read. For example when the football magazine has a big article on my team. My strategy was to quickly read that specific article from the supermarket news stand during shopping and thus not paying for the €4 magazine. Not really a good strategy since I might miss some interesting articles and this only works with the magazines (and not with newspapers; too much hussle).

So luckily there now is something called Blendle. Blendle is a website that can be seen as an iTunes Music Store for articles. So how does it work? Blendle gives you access to (almost) all available magazines and newspapers in Holland. You can scroll through them and if you see an article that you like, just click it to read it. Each article has a price, mostly ranging from €0,10 to €0,25. So instead of buying a full magazine for maybe a few cool articles you can now just get that single specific piece you actually do want to read.


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Posted in: Going Paperless, Lifehacking, New technology

The End of Work

Posted by on Jan 12, 2014

raceMachSo, where did all the jobs go? And where are future jobs coming from? I recently read the 2011 book Race Against The Machine by Brynjolfsson and McAfee and these guys have an interesting view on these questions.

To answer the where did all the jobs go question the authors take another direction than the standard “the economy is not growing fast enough” or “the economy is stagnating and productivity has stopped rising” reactions. They came up with the End of Work argument, which I don’t think I have heard somewhere before as the reason for the current – and constant – high unemployment.

This End of Work idea states that we don’t have too little technological progress, but instead too much! Fewer people are needed to produce the goods and services we require, and all of this is caused by computer automation. But, not only automation of the “dump & easy” repetitive tasks, also more advanced work is evaporating. Think of translating a conversation in real-time or driving a car. 15 years ago this was almost science fiction but today Google is pretty far with these technologies. And once these jobs are gone they just won’t come back anymore.

The big question is who will be effected most by this End of Work. This is actually the interesting part. If we divide the labour market in low, middle and highly skilled workers, surprisingly the workers in the middle category will be effected most, and not the low skilled workers. Why? In an era of more and faster automation it probably is easier to automate the work of a bookkeeper, translator, call-center agent or taxi-driver, than the work of a gardener or hairdresser. For the latter types of jobs you would need very sophisticated and expensive robots, while a translator will be easily substituted by a free Google Translate service. Imagine the impact this will have on our society.

Here in Holland the babyboomers are leaving the workforce since a few years. This would mean more room for younger people on the job market. But I still don’t see any positive effect on the unemployment rate. Two years ago I even did a SAP BI project myself to fully automate the work of two office employees that were about to retire. And they indeed weren’t replaced by new hirees anymore…

Obviously the jobs that require a lot of teamwork and creativity will stay in high demand. I was happy to see that they specifically named jobs in data visualization and analytics as highly valued, so we are probably safe for now. On the other hand, if you are in a traditional type of job where someones tells you exactly what you have to do every day, you will get in real trouble sooner or later…

Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee – ISBN: 978-0984725113

Posted in: Books, Featured, New technology, Other, Review

Book review: SAP HANA – An Introduction

Posted by on Oct 28, 2012

One of the most anticipated SAP books of 2012 is finally here: SAP HANA – An Introduction published by SAP Press (who else). I had the pleasure to see both authors Bjarne Berg and Penny Silvia at last year’s European BI2011 event in Amsterdam. Looking back at their sessions this should be a quality book so my expectations were high.

My last attempt at diving into the HANA stuff was in August and didn’t end that well. After successfully setting up  our Amazon/AWS HANA box and installing the tools I got stuck at SAP HANA Studio. So let’s see if this book will really show me how this thing works.

SAP HANA – An Introduction is divided into two parts: First the What, Why and When and second the How. The What, Why and When part, which takes about a third of the 400 book pages, is all about explaining things. What is in-memory computing, what is big data and how does the HANA solution look like. Here I got some answers to some basic questions that I still had on HANA. For example what would happen with the data in case of a power failure (since all of your data is loaded in-memory). Another thing nobody could explain to me was the concept of working with column-based storage of data versus row-based storage, which is illustrated very well in this book.

SAP HANA comes in two versions: A Standalone version and a version for SAP BW. The book not only covers the technical requirements and differences on both versions, but also the required skills you’ll need in your project team to implement HANA for each option. About 50 pages are dedicated to HANA use cases for both versions and provides guidelines on how to fit HANA into your business strategy.

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Posted in: Books, New technology, SAP HANA

Xcelsius Dashboard Printer 2.5 update

Posted by on Sep 2, 2012

Last November a very useful add-on for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards was announced by Data Savvy Tools: Xcelsius Dashboard Printer. This add-on component replaces the standard Print button component which only has one very basic functionality: Printing the whole dashboard as you see it. The Xcelsius Dashboard Printer add-on component lets you select a portion of the dashboard, queue up multiple snapshots before printing, format the output and add annotations.

Since my post on this component some nice improvements have been added to the initial version of the add-on, like for example the annotations. On top of that the upcoming 2.5 version now adds features like capture to clipboard, configuring different output formats for each snapshot and keyboard shortcuts. Unfortunately the capture to clipboard option only works with Internet Explorer 7+; other browsers will show the screenshot in a new window so you can copy it from there.

In the demo dashboard below you can try the component for yourself and compare it to the limited Print button component. More info at DataSavvyTools.com.

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Posted in: New technology, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, Xcelsius