I have now spent quite a bit of time in the mobile arena and have become quite comfortable with the SAP Mobile Business Intelligence app. To see a how-to on setting up your mobile environment, please see part 1 of this blog Setting Up SAP Mobi.
The features and functionality of the app serve a very specific purpose, and perform that purpose quite well. I would describe the functionality as enabling Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports content to be viewed on your mobile device. I will say, the road to this conclusion was long and winding, trying to sift through all of the irrelevant documentation and trying to figure out what was actually applicable. With that said, I have a couple of documents and links in part 1 of this blog that will serve as a good point of reference.
One of the features that I find most valuable with the application is how it renders Web Intelligence documents. I didn’t even realize when I started on this journey that the content SAP provides with the free app (the reports with the black background) were actually Web Intelligence reports. I was assuming that some type of development had to take place to get them to look like that. I was wrong, and that made me extremely happy.
Here is a high level breakdown on how to get Web Intelligence documents to render on your iPad or mobile device:
- Create a Web Intelligence document in Web Intelligence
- The only graphs supported are: Column, Stacked Column, Line, and Pie.
- Save it to your CMS
- Categorize it to your Mobile category (if you don’t have one, create one)
- Open the document on your iPad
Viola! You now have a sleek, interactive Web Intelligence report on your iPad. The app also has some nice features imbedded; I really like how it organizes the sections. By having a window that slides out from the side to allow you to navigate the different sections, the app really utilizes the real estate and native touch functions of the iPad.
The annotation function is probably the strongest feature of the app. This feature allows the user to make notes on the report and to share a screen shot via e-mail throughout the organization. Very nice.
The Crystal Reports content acts the same, except that it is rendered the same as it is on your local device. There are no interactive features added like on the Web Intelligence reports, and it isn’t given the flashy colors and black backgrounds. This is good and bad. If you like the black background and things flying around your screen, you’re best to develop your reports again, this time in Web Intelligence. If you like how your Crystal Reports documents look then this is a plus. Your Crystal Reports documents are not limited to the look of the Web Intelligence report being rendered on your iPad.
Online and Offline
Another thing SAP did well with this solution is making the content available both online and offline. With the offline version, users are able to view the content without an internet connection. This is useful if you have users, such as members of your sales force, going on location where they may not have internet access. The document is stored on the local device, allowing them to take it anywhere. The app also gives you the option to restrict this offline capability. This aids in the security of mobile devices. If someone loses their mobile device, having only online content will reduce the exposure of sensitive information.
Now for the cons of the solution (please keep in mind that this is personal opinion based on personal experience).
- This is not a dashboarding solution and you are limited to what you create in Web Intelligence and Crystal.
- I have also found that due to the lack of compatible graphs, that it severely limits you in what you develop.
- You are also restricted to the customization of the Web Intelligence reports. I do like the black background with the vibrant colors, but if you don’t like this look, well then, tough cookies.
I found the solution for Android devices pretty abysmal.
It was extremely slow and the graphics were terrible. It was very surprising to see such a difference between the two devices. When I demoed both options next to each other, I had to open the document on the Android device, and while that was loading I showed the entire iPad demo before the Android device loaded the Web Intelligence document (and trust me, I prolonged the iPad demonstration).
All-in-all, this is a good solution to view and share Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports documents on a mobile device. If you are looking for a solution to show Xcelsius dashboards on mobile devices then you will have to look other places. I will be writing a blog post in the near future outlining and comparing some of the different mobile dashboarding solutions.