Our “Future of Webi” webinar on March 14, 2018 was a big hit. More than 1,000 people registered to hear Gregory Botticchio of SAP talk about BI4.2 SP06 and the company’s plans for the future. To continue the conversation, we hosted a live chat on Twitter with Gregory Botticchio on April 12. If you missed it, here are the takeaways.
Q1: Facebook has been urged to implement GDPR globally. What about Web Intelligence?
Web Intelligence is an ad-hoc Querying and Interactive Reporting Tool. It is a BI product which processes data in a generic manner. There are no personal data categories. Then, Webi does not provide any feature that enables to edit data. All data contained in our reports are imported from underlying databases. We offer features enabling the document creators to make sure that their documents are always in sync with the database.
It behaves like this: when opening a document: firstly, the document can be purged of the data by default. Secondly, all its old data is removed first and then refreshed with the latest data from the database.
Moreover, retention policy can be implemented using the scheduling mechanism. This feature creates instances of a document periodically (for example, it refreshes a document and stores the result each morning). Administrators can then create rules allowing to delete these instances after a configurable time period.
Q2: What are the key advantages of Webi compared to Microsoft Power BI?
In my point of view, the main advantages of Webi, in general, are:
- The native support of the Semantic Layer (the BOBJ universes), letting the end-users ask ad-hoc questions on their data.
- The best access to HANA (online) and BW: we support most of BW metadata constructs (currency, aggregation, restricted key figures, prompts, etc…). And our performance/scalability is way better than Microsoft access to BW.
- The strong and powerful formula language allowing to transform and calculate anything.
- The freedom you have to present your data in the precise form that you want.
- The complete reporting features: same value breaks, multiple blocks by section, etc…
- The Sharing and Collaboration capability that you get by leveraging the BI Platform: you can share your Webi doc and contextually comment the data in it.
Q3: Which Service Pack would you recommend for my Business Objects environment?
Regarding the upgrade/update, my rule of thumb is the following one “latest Service Pack, latest Patch”. But, exceptions exist ;-).
Today, we would recommend the patch 7 for the SP04, and the patch 5 for the SP05.
For the customers who wonder the time required to do two installations (the SP then the Patch) we recently delivered a tool, the “Combined Installer for SAP BOBJ BIP”. It allows merging an SP + a Patch into one single installer, and this is for the benefit of our customers. To get it, you have to contact SAP support and ask for it.
Q4: What are the expected release dates for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP06 and SP07?
Service Pack 06 is planned for August 2018.
And the Service Pack 07 is planned for Jan 2019 (small shift).
I already started to communicate on the early content of the SP06, in some webinars (I did one with 360Suite weeks ago). The SP06 content is not finalized yet and you can expect additional surprises.
For the SP07 content, we will start the discussion shortly.
Q5: What are the top three innovations in BI 4.2 SP06?
My favorites are as planned:
- Auto-Refresh for the new Webi Interactive Viewer: it’s the ability to make a Webi doc full screen and to start an automatic refresh, every X minutes. It can last as long as nobody stops it.
- Time Dimension: it’s the ability to take a DATE dimension and to turn it into a TIME hierarchy (Year > Quarter > Month > Week > Date). This will enable a real time-axis for greater analysis in your reporting.
- View Time Security: it’s the ability to restrict the data stored in the Webi document at the view time, based on the Business Security Profile (BSP) defined for the users (in Information Designer Tool, IDT, relational unx only). No need to refresh the data to apply the BSP when opening the document, it offers the same result than a refresh-on-open but without the refresh action cost: No query execution = performance gain!
Q6: Does SAP have a plan to launch BusinessObjects BI 4.3?
As of today, the BI 4.3 project is on Pause. We communicated it during the recent strategy update at the beginning of the year.
Does it mean we will never deliver it? NO! Does it mean we will stop on-premise innovations? NO!
We have heard the customer feedback, and we are evaluating the best way to deliver new innovations: either to continue to deliver in service packs every 6 to 9 months or through a 4.3 release. We’ll come back to the BI community with a proposal in the next few weeks.
(We are evaluating the need for a minor release versus many service packs, delivering the same innovations).
Today, we need time to establish the right On-Premise strategy in relation to the Cloud/Hybrid direction SAP is taking.
Q7: What can we expect regarding the future direction of #WebI?
We plan to innovate in the following area of the product. For instance:
- Enhancements in the new Webi interactive viewer to make it even more interactive.
- New UX for the Webi designer to make it modern.
- Most wanted Customers’ ER: shared data by exposing the Webi semantic to the external world.
- Last but not least: Hybrid.
Q8: How does Webi fit into the new SAP analytics roadmap?
Web Intelligence is the KEY OPERATIONAL REPORTING TOOL in the Hybrid world. The plan is to continue to provide real innovations and key enhancements our customers are asking for. No question about that.
What I see is WEBI + SAC = Better Together!
If you look at the recent Webi roadmap, you will discover that the planned content is great, and the features proposed should re-enforce the product positioning, extending its usage beyond operational reporting.
At the same time, we will build bridges between SAC and Webi/Universes for the benefit of the installed base.
For instance, we recently delivered the SAC Live Universe Connector which allows access universes from SAC, in order to build story. What I like about this one is the fact that, 1/ it enables Agile BI on your existing universes, 2/ the data never leaves your corporate network, they remain behind the firewall.
We have a program running for this one, if you want to contribute, you’re welcome!
The overwhelming response to our webinar and Twitter chat suggests there’s a lot of interest in the future of SAP BusinessObjects and Webi.
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