Last October, I performed a system health check for a customer using SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1. SAP BusinessObjects is an OEM package that comes with the financial system that runs their large yet highly specialized business. Like their industry peers that use the same solution, the company has upgraded from classic BusinessObjects 5 and 6 to XI R2 and currently XI 3.1, meaning that Desktop Intelligence is the overwhelming source of reports that help them run their business. Aside from the sample documents and universes provided by their ERP vendor, nearly all of the Desktop Intelligence documents live out in the wild, on desktops throughout the organization. Of course, the BI 4.1 platform offers limited support for Desktop Intelligence (see related article, Desktop Intelligence, Back for a Limited Time). But everyone, including this XI 3.1 customer, recognizes that the Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack is only a short-term solution.
I’ve seen this Desktop Intelligence scenario a lot since XI R2 was first introduced nearly 10 years ago. As part of my health check, I first made sure that the current hardware was sufficient to support the proposed number of simultaneous Web Intelligence users. Then I made sure that enough Web Intelligence Processing Servers and connections would be available. I explained to the customer the need to work with key stakeholders to identify critical Desktop Intelligence documents, export them to the BI platform into a well-designed folder structure, then convert them to Web Intelligence using the Report Conversion Tool.
This strategy made sense in 2004. But does it continue to make sense in 2014?
As business intelligence professionals, we’ve spent the last 10 years mocking desktop software and worshiping at the altar of web-based software. We’ve rolled our eyes at Desktop Intelligence diehards and showed no sympathy to users that have waited 10 years for SAP to deliver grouping functionality (it finally arrived in BI 4.1 SP2). We laughed in the face of WebiJavaGeddon (see related article, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste). But today a new business intelligence revolution is occurring and its back on the desktop where it all started (see related article, Nobody Ever Got Fired for Buying Tableau). Delicious irony.
What if old Desktop Intelligence documents could be modernized without leaving the desktop? What if SAP Lumira could open a Desktop Intelligence document? And even if it couldn’t replicate the tables and charts accurately enough (or at all), what if it at least imported the document’s data providers properly? Ideally, a desktop BI user could convert the documents themselves rather than bundling them up for the IT department’s Web Intelligence conversion project. Self-service BI upgrades, not just self-service BI.
I posted my idea to the SAP Idea Place in December 2013.
Sadly, the idea was rejected— “not planned by SAP”— because “Web Intelligence is the natural upgrade path for Deski documents.” As much as I love Web Intelligence, I would argue that it’s the historical upgrade path for Desktop Intelligence documents. It’s no longer the logical upgrade path and should no longer be the only upgrade path.
The SAP Idea Place is largely based on the popular My Starbucks Idea site used by Starbucks to engage with its customers. In his recently published book Leading the Starbucks Way, author Joseph Michelli writes that:
As items gain popularity through the votes of members in the community, moderators engage in dialogue about those ideas. Cecile [Hudon] notes, “We encourage the moderators to comment and look for responses to the most popular ideas each week, and also look for diamond in the rough ideas— innovative ideas that have low point scores because they may be too new of a concept for people to recognize as a good idea.” [emphasis mine]
This business intelligence barista thinks a Desktop Intelligence extension for SAP Lumira qualifies as a diamond in the rough idea. I hope SAP will give the idea a second look.
- Visit the SAP Idea Place
- Visit My Starbucks Idea
- Purchase Leading the Starbucks Way (hardcover edition) on Amazon.com
- Purchase Leading the Starbucks Way (Kindle edition) on Amazon.com
What do you think of my idea for SAP Lumira and Desktop Intelligence? Would you consider voting or adding a comment to my idea on the SAP Idea Place?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”