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The Future of BusinessObjects Dashboards – Lessons from Egypt

On a recent trip to Egypt, I was amazed at the number of older vehicles I saw on the road dating back to the 1960’s and even older. These are not the beautifully conserved collectors’ items that you see here in the US but are mostly pretty beaten up with body parts often missing. Yet the incredible thing is they are still running and providing both value and productivity to their very demanding owners. The Egyptians are masters at fixing things and keeping them going.

The manufacturers of these 50-year-old plus vehicles no longer make parts for them or maintain them but a network of entrepreneurial companies and individuals do.

The fact is that most Egyptians cannot afford to buy a new vehicle or even a recently used one so, out of necessity, they have found ways to keep the ones they have going.

If you have driven in Egypt (and have survived) you will know that Egyptians put their vehicles through a lot and these older models have stood the test of time both in terms of their reliability and robustness.

At the IBIS 2018 BusinessObjects event in June, there were a lot of people asking about the future of BusinessObjects Dashboards (aka Xcelsius). Since Adobe has announced the end of life for Flash (which Xcelsius is written in) for December 31, 2020 (about 2.5 years away), SAP has said that it will no longer support BusinessObjects Dashboards after that date.

Most Xcelsius customers I have spoken with do not feel that SAP offers a viable alternative for their BI dashboards. SAP Design Studio (now called SAP Lumira Studio) is not a BI tool, it is a Web application development tool and requires programming. SAP’s new BI platform in the cloud (SAP Analytics Cloud) promises to have comprehensive BI dashboard development capabilities but it is not there yet.

Some BO Dashboard customers have tried using the newer versions of Web Intelligence for dashboard development and that can be a solution for simple dashboards, but it still lacks both the dynamic visualization and ease of development of Xcelsius.

To that end, some customers have tried using Tableau, PowerBI and other BI dashboard /data visualization products. Again, in some situations that may work but it is not always easy to figure out how to get these tools to do the same things as Xcelsius and, in some cases, they cannot.

There is also the cost of licensing issue and many existing Xcelsius customers simply cannot afford the licensing required for these new BI solutions.

The truth is that for many of these organizations, there is no real affordable and functional equivalent to Xcelsius on the market today, so they want to use Xcelsius for as long as they can or until that equivalent comes along.

The good news is that, just like the old Egyptian vehicles, a network has emerged to keep Xcelsius going.

The emergence of dCode a couple of years ago combined with new capabilities in Xcelsius 4.1 and above enables the generation of HTML5 Xcelsius dashboards both on desktop and mobile. These Xcelsius dashboards have no reliance on Flash for their run-time. At the same time, a whole new collection of HTML5 components have been created for Xcelsius HTML5 and can be found at www.getdVeloping.com.

Even more exciting were discussions at IBIS about creating an equivalent replacement for Xcelsius which is now being studied and a pilot created by the InfoSol UK Labs team under the code name “Squirrel”. One of the key features of Squirrel would be an Xcelsius migration capability.

The important takeaway here for BO Dashboard/Xcelsius users is not to panic and to understand that there are options to both continuing to use Xcelsius for the next few years as well as truly viable alternatives in the works.

About Paul

Paul Grill started his career in Information Technology in the U.K. in 1978, as an Executive Data Processing Trainee for Honeywell. More than thirty years later, he still has a voracious appetite for learning as Information Technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. He was first introduced to the world of Business Intelligence in 1991, in France, when he saw a demonstration of an early version of BusinessObjects on Windows 2.1. He returned to the U.S. to rave about this phenomenal product, but it was many years before BusinessObjects made it into the mainstream. Paul founded InfoSol in 1997, and made Business Intelligence one of the key solutions offered by the company. Today, InfoSol is a leading SAP BusinessObjects solutions partner, known for its expert consulting, education and innovative add-on solutions. Paul is well known within the SAP BusinessObjects community for his extensive knowledge of Business Intelligence, and he has lectured and written many articles on the subject. Paul enjoys writing, running and coaching kids soccer, and is passionate about Ancient Egyptology.

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