Introducing the Clariba SAP Business Intelligence Benchmarks: measuring the performance of your SAP BI Platform

As SAP Analytics expert partners, we felt the need to develop an internal tool to help us measure a SAP BI server’s performance when handling more and more data and more and more users. We needed to scientifically and objectively measure SAP BI performance and benchmark it against other servers or after server tuning. In order to achieve this, we leveraged Apache Software Foundation's JMeter as well as plugins built by its wonderful community, and applied our Business Intelligence expertise to the results. We moved on to develop a battery of test scenarios in order to account for several business cases that can be further tailored to suit any client's needs. The result are the Clariba SAP Business Intelligence Benchmarks

Connecting your On-premise SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform with SAP Cloud Platform

With the new capabilities and opportunities provided by SAP Cloud Platform (SCP), a hybrid scenario requiring connectivity to cloud-based data with on-premise SAP BI solutions is a bit of a challenge. Below article addresses how to set this up successfully. 

Design Studio: How to create alerts in a Crosstab with HANA data in 3 Steps

Conditional formatting, as we already know, is a property that allows creating alerts for users, focusing their attention on relevant values appearing on key business metrics.

Unfortunately, this feature is not available for HANA data sources; we needed to find an alternative solution to deal with this issue for our customer. Although the Scorecard component provides a solution, our Clariba of experts have found a low maintenance solution that is scalable and provides better performance. Let us show you how we have achieved this.

Current picture of the digital transformation in Spain: small survey made among some representatives from the biggest Spanish companies, performed during SAP Dreamzone, with surprising results

60% of strategic decisions are still made without the support of Business Intelligence tools. Big companies are still allocating a 50% of their IT budgets towards infrastructure: cloud solutions are not broadly adopted due to the fear of losing data privacy. Only a 10% starts using predictive analytics. IoT, AI and Machine Learning are believed to be the solutions of the future

Clariba digital transformation survey SAP Dreamzone

Digital transformation in Spain is a fact.  Several companies started using cloud solutions, data analytics using IoT sensors or predictive analytics, and developing AI and Machine Learning initiatives.


Last March 29th, Clariba had the chance of participating at the SAP Dreamzone event in Madrid, perfect scenario to talk about these matters. We asked some relevant questions to the assistants:

¿How many of you still make decisions without the support of BI tools?

60% raised their hands. Taking into consideration that most of their companies have BI tools available, it‘s a surprise that only 40% of the management level are actively using them. Clearly, most companies still need to move towards self-service BI tools, as in most cases IT departments are still the BI environment owners, and the culture of Analytics needs to spread and impregnate deeper into the organisation.


SAP Lumira 2.0 offers users self-service powerful analytics features without the need of high IT skills. We believe it will become the main BI solution needed to spread the analytics culture across all levels and people into any organization, allowing a better decision making and ultimately creating efficiency and value. 
 

What % of your annual IT Budget is allocated towards infrastructure and its maintenance?

The audience mainly answered 50% of their budgets are allocated towards infrastructure. Apparently quite a high portion, the reason being most companies are reluctant to move their data out of their premises. This isn’t however an issue for BI tools. Modern cloud-based BI tools like SAP BusinessObjects Cloud and the strate-of-the art SAP Digital Boardroom for high management dashboarding, allow having all dashboards, planning and exploring tools in the cloud, while the data remains at the company’s premises. This way, companies maintain control and protection of their data, while it is consumed online, in a hybrid setup.

How many of you are using predictive analytics?

10% of the audience affirmed using them. Looked like a small % bearing in mind companies are starting to recruit data scientists and experimenting with data prediction and mining.

¿How can SAP help these companies spread predictive analytics into other areas than IT? 
The answer is SAP Predictive Analytics together with SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. Both solutions allow users without statistics skills obtain analytics predictions based on historical data. Predefined features such as clustering, data correlation and prediction can be learned in a few hours. The outcomes are impressive and the needed investment is very low, since all these features come bundled in SAP BI Suite Premium and SAP BusinessObjects Cloud


We foresee this % will dramatically get increased in a short time. 
 

¿How many of you believe IoT, AI, and ML are going to enhance the interaction with customers?

Although companies still see these as distant solutions in time, a vast majority answered affirmatively.

We already see relevant samples of IoT implementations allowing companies to leverage data coming from objects, such as vehicles, industrial machinery, football players, etc.  These companies develop solid competitive advantages which were unimaginable before.  Predicting the failure of a machine before it happens, thanks to the information retrieved by sensors, has an enormous direct impact on different business areas, such as maintenance, finance, production, etc. Clients are nowadays looking for more satisfying and differentiate experiences. New solutions like SAP Leonardo for IoT and SAP Clea for Machine Learning will become strategical tools.

We at Clariba are aware of this change, and are willing to guide and give advice to our clients in their way towards digital transformation, differentiation and success.

Clariba, SAP’s #1 analytics partner launches operations in Saudi Arabia

SAP Saudi Arabia and Clariba, recognised as one of the leading SAP big data analytics partners in the Middle East with offices in the UAE and Qatar, are proud to announce the expansion of Clariba to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“With our expertise and references across the region, we look forward to providing our customers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia best-in-class analytics solutions powered by SAP’s world leading analytics and big data platform”, says Abdulgader Al-Harthi, General Manager – Saudi Arabia, Clariba. From its newly launched offices in Riyadh, Clariba aims to provide customers across the kingdom with the ability to unleash the potential of their data to drive their digital transformation initiatives. “We look forward to offering incremental value to our customers with our trusted partner Clariba”, says Ahmed Al-Faifi, Managing Director, SAP Saudi Arabia.

Present in picture (left to right): Abdollah Faadhel – Head of Ecosystem & Channel SAP Saudi Arabia Marc Haberland – Founder, Managing Director Clariba Ahmed Al-Faifi – Managing Director SAP Saudi Arabia Abdulgader Al-Harthi – General Manager Clariba Saudi Arabia Hossam Darra – Head of Industries Sales SAP Saudi Arabia Andy Froemel – Chief Operating Officer SAP Saudi Arabia

Present in picture (left to right):
Abdollah Faadhel – Head of Ecosystem & Channel SAP Saudi Arabia
Marc Haberland – Founder, Managing Director Clariba
Ahmed Al-Faifi – Managing Director SAP Saudi Arabia
Abdulgader Al-Harthi – General Manager Clariba Saudi Arabia
Hossam Darra – Head of Industries Sales SAP Saudi Arabia
Andy Froemel – Chief Operating Officer SAP Saudi Arabia

Aspire Academy Enables Sports Talent with SAP and Clariba

SAP's Digital Boardroom presenting Sports Analytics powered by SAP and Clariba. Photo by Stefan Wagner (@Stefan_Wag) SAP

SAP's Digital Boardroom presenting Sports Analytics powered by SAP and Clariba. Photo by Stefan Wagner (@Stefan_Wag) SAP

Rising from the desert, Aspire Academy is a symbol of Qatar’s ambition in sports. Boasting coaches and sports scientists from around the globe and housed in some of the best training facilities in the world, Aspire Academy exists to develop sporting champions.

In June 2016, Aspire Academy and SAP announced an historic agreement in Doha, Qatar. This strategic partnership stands for a strong commitment between a global leading technology company and a knowledge-driven youth athlete academy with Aspire Academy becoming the ‘Strategic Sports Partner’ for SAP and SAP in the role of ‘Strategic Technology Partner’ of Aspire Academy.

The alliance aims to deliver a significant contribution not only to Aspire and SAP but also to the world of sports with a special focus on young athletes’ and team development by innovating in sports performance data management and analytics. The premise is to utilize performance data in new ways to unlock innovative approaches in developing sporting talent, starting at the sub-elite level.

Since its start in 2004, Aspire has invested in numerous performance and science technologies. In any given week, the number of data points added to the information ecosystem from matches, training sessions, assessments and more, is substantial.

Allowing coaches, sports scientists and management to tap into this valuable sports performance data in real-time, and providing them with a self-service analytics capability across all data sources became a critical requirement for Aspire Academy. In addition, engaging Aspire’s high school age student-athletes with visually appealing and motivating information by bringing together information from sources from inside and outside of the organization was a critical success factor. They also applied for sport results and performance planning data, medical, sports science and academics input, as well as data from the clubs, leagues and federations of the sports to which they belong.

Underlined by SAP’s principle to Run Simple, and thanks to the in-memory technology platform SAP HANA and the company’s analytics portfolio, a first step was to integrate the rich data sources of Aspire’s operating environment. In co-innovation with Aspire Academy, SAP and Clariba – an independent Big Data analytics consultancy based in Europe and the Middle East – the team developed Aspire’s Football Performance Analytics solution that provides the necessary analytical capabilities to the Academy allowing it to develop one of the world’s smallest talent pools and deliver on the State of Qatar’s global sporting ambitions.

Leveraging Aspire Academy’s expertise in driving sport performance, and equipped with the latest technology powered by SAP and Clariba, coaches can now analyze team and player performance right on the pitch. With the Football Performance Analytics solution, coaches now have access to all performance data around match analysis, training, individual player development and even video analysis on one single, easy-to-use iPad application.

The team at Aspire is currently working on finalizing its world leading Football Performance Center, to be inaugurated in summer 2017. For this prestigious project, Aspire Academy will be bringing together the most advanced technologies and are thinking toward leveraging SAP Digital Boardroom to provide interactive player assessment analytics.

At the recent Aspire Academy Global Summit 2016, Stefan Wagner, SAP’s global manager for Sports & Entertainment, and Luca Spinelli, general manager of Clariba in Qatar, presented the latest insights of the collaboration with Aspire Academy in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The joint presentation to Aspire’s fellows from across the world outlined the importance of the integration and connection to multiple data sources — such as GPS data from training sessions, match data from external providers, or club-internal information — in order for today’s clubs and associations to achieve a competitive edge.

With a small talent pool and high global expectations Aspire is forced to develop competitive advantage in different ways than leading sport nations with a strong sports culture and ready access to talent can do today. In partnership with SAP and Clariba, Aspire Academy is now more than ever striving to become the world’s leading academy with the objective to enable the best coaching and performance decisions.

The original press release published by SAP can be found here.

Clariba is expanding globally — the sky is the limit

Clariba began with offices in Barcelona, Spain and then expanded internationally to Doha and Dubai, attracting the best talent to work with leading customers in telecommunications, retail, healthcare, transportation & logistics, oil & gas, and banking sectors. We believe that sky is the limit and therefore we are opening other global offices in order to fulfill the needs of our growing customer portfolio and to continue to provide the best service possible. 

We are happy to announce that we’re opening new offices in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Riyadh (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) & Pretoria (South Africa). Follow us on social media — Don’t miss out!

Top 10 Reasons to Move Business Intelligence to the Cloud

1.    Capital-expenditure Free

No need for costly in-house infrastructure makes it attractive for business owners — a low-risk venture with great reward potential. Businesses can take advantage of the fact that a cloud-based BI solution reduces the capital expenditure as there is no hardware or infrastructure to set up. 

2.    Scalability

Cloud BI applications are easily scaled to accommodate the growth of the business and its number of users. Hosting BI in the cloud enables organizations to cope with growing data volumes without having to upgrade or migrate to other systems. 

3.    Security

Data is every organization’s key asset.  One of the challenges for many organizations can be protecting this sensitive data. Cloud BI stores company data in actively managed data centers where security experts are actively monitoring for security threats around the clock.

4.    Disaster recovery

There is no need for in-house disaster recovery as soon as companies start relying on cloud-based services. Robust disaster recovery solutions are provided by the cloud provider. 

5.    Automatic software updates

Unlike on-premise solutions, cloud-based BI does not tie up an organization’s internal resources for costly upgrades. Applications are automatically updated by the cloud provider with minimal downtime. 

6.    Increased collaboration

With BI in the cloud, teams can access, edit and share content anytime, anywhere, and make decisions in real time. 

7.    Content control

While all data is stored centrally, employees see only relevant information for their line of business. This enables everyone to see only one version of the truth yet optimize the necessary data management.

8.    Work from anywhere

Cloud-based BI applications can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, on any device by using a web browser. 

9.    Competitiveness

BI in the cloud provides access to robust, enterprise-class technology, while ensuring an agile BI environment. This means more flexibility and faster response to changing market demands. 

10.    Environmentally-friendly

Cloud solutions are here to help optimize the usage of server infrastructures, they are also effectively reducing carbon footprint, which means making cloud a more environmentally-friendly proposition.

Not moved to the cloud yet?

Perhaps it is time to think about moving your BI to the cloud and leverage these advantages? Contact our team at sales@clariba.com in order to start your cloud experience NOW.

Design Studio: Formatting the Crosstab Component

As you may know, when it comes to changing the appearance of a crosstab in Design Studio you need to add some properties in the CSS file. To do so, there are some posts available on the Desing Studio Community Forum that advice on changing the style of the different parts of the crosstab (headers, rows, etc…), but there is not much information about complex changes such as hiding columns or changing column names. 

In this blog article, we are going to explain some tricks and tips that we have found in the community and which allowed us to implement new functionalities following the idea of different workarounds. As a reminder, the image bellow shows the structure of the Crosstab component in Design Studio.

1.png

The tips we are going to explain here are:

  • Hiding Dimension Columns
  • Changing Column Names
  • Allowing Row Selection without measures

Hiding Dimension Columns

Sometimes we want to hide some columns in order to add new functionalities to the dashboard. For example, when we need a dimension’s value of the selected row but we don’t want to display that dimension in the crosstab, or when the user wants to select which measures to display in the table using input controls.

Following the workaround explained in the post “SAP Design Studio - Showing/Hiding Crosstab Columns with Measures with CSS and Scripting” it is possible to achieve the same purpose but with dimension columns, we only have to add the following line of code in the CSS file:

The class .sapzencrosstab-HeaderRow belongs to each row of the dimension columns and the function nth-child() allows us to select the column we want to modify. In that case, we specify to not display the second dimension column by overwriting the display parameter.

Changing Column Names

This is one of the most in demand features of the developer community, it may be a simple functionality but at the present time it’s only possible to achieve via CSS. Following the workaround of the thread “cross tab – change column name” in the forum of the Design Studio Community it is possible to change the name of any header and any content in the crosstab.
In the next example, we explain how to change the header name of the first measure column.
Original table:

9.png

Step 1:
First we have to find where the header is placed in the HTML code and the class that references it. Once we find that, we can add the following CSS code:

In that case, the class of the header's measure columns is .sapzencrosstab-ColumnHeaderArea and using the function nth-child() we can decide which header we want to modify. What we do here is add “Link to document” before the content of the header. If we want to modify the dimension column headers we have to use the class .sapzencrosstab-DimensionHeaderArea

Step 2:
To remove the content of the header we have to add the next line of CSS code:

Here we hide the default content of the header and set the height of the cell to zero. That will make the string that we added in the previous step to be displayed as a header.

Allowing Row Selection without measures

The row selection in the Crosstab component is done in the measure area, meaning that if we do not display any measure in the table we are not able to select any member. To solve that limitation, we can use the same workaround explained in the previous point. The solution consists of adding a dummy measure and changing the content of the cell to a text such as “Click here” or “Link”.
Original table:

Step 1:

First, add a dummy measure in the Crosstab component and add the following CSS code: 

As we mentioned, we use the same approach as changing a column name, but in this case we change the CSS class .sapzencrosstab-DataArea and using the function nth-child() we specify that we want to modify the second measure column.

Step 2:
The final step consists of hiding the header of the new added column and hiding the default content of the measure for each row. To achieve that we have to add the following CSS code:

To hide the header of the new added column we take advantage that this column is the last one of the table so we can use the class .sapzencrosstab-HeaderCellLastRow to modify the content.

Benefits

The benefits of the different tips and tricks explained here are the following:

To the developer

Knowing how to implement new functionalities in Design Studio that are not quite well explained in the Design Studio Community allows the developer to reduce time to build a complex dashboard, and avoiding wasted time researching possible workarounds and testing them. Additionally, it offers a great opportunity to impress the client with these new functionalities.

To the end user

The business user does not need to know about the implementation but with the techniques explained here he will enjoy new functionalities that may have been requested, and were previously not possible to achieve.

Links

SAP Design Studio - Showing/Hiding Crosstab Columns with Measures with CSS and Scripting
http://scn.sap.com/community/businessobjects-design-studio/blog/2014/07/28/sap-design-studio--showinghiding-crosstab-columns-with-measures-with-css-and-scripting

SCN thread: “cross tab - change column name” 
https://scn.sap.com/thread/3598154

Customize your layout in SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio
http://scn.sap.com/community/businessobjects-design-studio/blog/2013/07/21/design-studio

Top 5 UNX Roadblocks and How to Overcome Them

I am writing this blog based on my experience using BOC and its connectivity with a Unx.

#1 I am unable to see the “200” confirmation message.


This is a notorious error and it comes up pretty frequently for most new users of BO Cloud. It can be frustrating but it’s actually pretty simple. The “200” message is not as flamboyant as you might think.
 
To resolve this, you need to make sure of the following:
    1) Make sure your tomcat service is running! Hold windows button + R, then type services.msc, locate Apache, then confirm that the service is started


    2) You haven’t deployed the BO Cloud Agent correctly. Go to tomcat folder then webapps folder, and look for the BO agent folder. OR go to http://[localhost]:[port]/manager/html and make sure BO Cloud Agent is running. I like to deploy by simply coping the .war file and pasting it into the webapps folder. It works every time.

    3) Your tomcat-users file is not updated correctly. I will save you the headache. The lines below work so just copy it and you should be up and running. Make sure to open the file with administrative rights in order to edit and save.

    4) Finally, before typing the magical url “[localhost]:[port]/C4A_AGENT/service/api/epm/bw” into your browser, make sure you have fiddler installed! (or any browser extensions). Make sure fiddler is running, then visit the URL, enter your credentials, then the “200” message should show up in fiddler like the image shown here.

#2 I have configured tomcat correctly and received the “200” message; I think my HCC is configured incorrectly and therefore the unx connection is not working.


Assuming you have already opened a ticket with SAP Ops team to open an HCC account, you need to make sure of three things:
    1) Make sure that /C4A_Agent/ is set to path and all sub-paths.

    2) The virtual host and port in HCC matches the one in both the Administration screen and connection screen in BOC.
    3) The username and password in the administration screen in BOC matches the one set in tomcat-users file.

#3 I have configured both HCC and Tomcat correctly, but now I am receiving an Error that says “Make sure BO Cloud Agent is Deployed correctly” and wouldn’t let me create a connection, what should I do?

This issue had taken me a while to figure out but the resolution is easy and silly. Make sure that you are creating the connection in the BOC tenant that your HCC account is designated to. For example, if your BOC runs on tenant 005, and you were assigned an HCC account for that tenant, then you cannot use the same HCC account for tenant, say, 008. So, only 1 HCC account (S-User) can be assigned to only 1 tenant.

#4 I have finally managed to create a connection but now I am receiving an error when I query the Universe.

This is another sticky error that takes some time to figure out, yet the solution is simple – again. You need to be using a BI platform account that has administrative rights in order to avoid receiving errors when querying a UNX. As of now, it is unclear what specific rights are needed to avoid errors, but having administrative rights resolves the issue.

#5 A new version of BO Cloud agent is out. Please update your agent.

I dislike receiving this error because it interrupts my workflow but the message is self-describable. You need to go to support.sap.com, download the new agent .war file, remove/undeploy the old agent, and deploy the new one in tomcat.

BONUS!
 
#6 My BOC cannot locate my BI platform, why?

You need to be using your BO Cloud inside the local network where your BI platform sits. So if your BI platform is hosted in the cloud, then you need to remotely access that virtual machine and do the configuration there. Once the connection is setup, you can acquire data from your BI platform from any internet connection.