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Web Intelligence - The Future's So Bright You Better Wear Shades!

Web Intelligence: The Future’s So Bright, You Better Wear Shades!

I’m passionate about Ancient Egypt and I jump at any opportunity to indulge in discussing it, reading about it, visiting sites and museums everywhere I go. When I occasionally meet a fellow “Egyptophile” I am in my element and we can talk all day.

I am also passionate about Business Intelligence and I immerse myself in it every day learning about the most amazing real-world BI applications. Having spent 25 years with the BusinessObjects BI suite, I have an obvious bias towards talking about this particular toolset. Today, the most popular tool in use from BusinessObjects is Web Intelligence (Webi) so I find myself talking about it a lot and there is a lot to talk about these days. The BI 4 release, Webi took a quantum leap forward in terms of functionality and with the latest BI 4.2 updates, new features are continuing fast and furious.

In the last 18 months, we have seen Webi transform from a popular and powerful BI reporting and query analysis tool to a super powered tour de force of Business Intelligence. In 4.2 alone, we see new graphical charting libraries and capabilities, inclusion of geo maps and linked elements allowing usage of third party components, like D3 charts. It is now possible to create some pretty cool visual interactive dashboards with Webi. There is also the new Shared Elements feature that permits you to save any Webi chart, table or widget along with its metadata as a component and then build new Webi reports by simply using these existing saved components – that is so neat!.

With the current BI 4.2 SP04 release, there is a new optional HTML5 portal that will be further enhanced with SP05 (due before the end of the year) that provides a whole new friendly interface for the BI consumer and, being HTML5 , provides the same look and feel Webi reports on mobile and desktop.

It is obvious that there are passionate people at SAP behind the new Webi and I have had the privilege of spending time with a couple of them this year. Gregory Botticchio, the Web Intelligence Product Manager in Paris, delivered four super sessions at the IBIS event this year. I was able to attend the session where he was canvassing input for new features to be added to Webi. All attendees had the opportunity to pick 3 features they would like to see in a future release of the product. I remember one of mine was for Webi to recognize voice commands. Gregory diligently documented by request.

I also had the opportunity to spend a few days with Samuel Polichouk, Product Expert Manager for Web Intelligence and the Semantic Layer, while presenting at BusinessObjects User Group Meetings in Michigan last month. He also took time at all three user group meetings to canvass the attendees for input on what else they would like to see in Web Intelligence as well as taking careful notes on any existing issues they had experienced.

Paul Grill, Michael Ward and Samuel Plichouk at a BO User Group

Both Gregory and Samuel are so passionate about Webi that we had so much to talk about and share. It is so exciting to meet and spend time with such amazing “Webiophiles” and it is obvious why the Webi product is on fire right now. In fact, the future for Webi is so bright, we had all better wear shades!

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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  1. I totally agree with you about Webi! And the SP5 coming soon will confirm everything you say!

  2. Currently we are at BO 4.2 SP2, Patch 5 -> and when we export Webi report to excel it display string as number. do you think with SP5 it is changed or revised to show characteristic as string and number as number ?
    Thank YOu

  3. Hey KP,

    I relayed your question to one of our Web Intelligence consultants and will get back to you shortly. You might also be interested in attending our next Let’s Speak BO Webinar that will be focused on the SP5 updates: http://events.infosol.com/lets-speak-bo-webinar-whats-new-in-sap-businessobjects-bi-4-2-sp5/

    Our presenter Adam Lange is very knowledgeable and you will be able to ask any questions you have during the webinar.