Technical

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.

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.

Exploring SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2

BI4.2 beta testing has been very smooth and BI4.2 is now available for all customers to download.
There are numerous performance enhancements to the platform, tools and some very useful features have been implemented. One feature has even been added arising from popular demand via the ‘Idea Place’ portal. 
We have played with the platform and we highly recommend an upgrade. 

Below are a few of the important features we came across that will surely catch your interest. Note that there are many more enhancements but the ones listed below really left an impression on us. 

1. BI Administrators’ Cockpit

BO Administrators can now have a real time view of the infrastructure. This includes Servers, Scheduled jobs, Content usage and Applications. A demo can be found here.
The cockpit accommodates both an overview of the platform and a detailed view of the platform components.  

 Location under CMC

Location under CMC

 Example of a BI Administrator's Cockpit 

Example of a BI Administrator's Cockpit 

Servers
- High level overview of the actual status of the servers: 

 Servers

Servers


- Detailed status of all the servers with different display options: All, Failed and Running.

 Server status

Server status

Scheduled Jobs
- High level overview of the scheduled job status with the possibility to filter by time

 High lever overview

High lever overview

- Detailed overview of the scheduled jobs status with different display options: All, Failed, Running and Statistics (jobs with most instances and jobs with longest run time).
- Details of the selected instance. From the Failed tab it is possible to execute the failed instance.

2. Recycle Bin

Another great addition to the BI4.2 platform is the Recycle Bin. This comes from popular demand via the ‘idea place’.
Put simply, administrators can now recover deleted content without the need to look into backups (biar files or other possible sources). This feature saves time and provides an addition level of security for those accidentally deleted contents moments.
By default this is disabled and has to be enabled. 
However, there is a limitation of what can be recovered. Documents deleted from public folders may be recovered. Documents deleted from personal folders are not retained by the recycle bin and are not recoverable.

 Location under CMC

Location under CMC

 Example of Recycle Bin

Example of Recycle Bin

It is also possible to empty the recycle bin, same as in a windows environment context.

3. Notifications

Another great innovation for BI 4.2 are the new user notifications. This allows administrators to easily broadcast information to single user/group or to all users. For example, if there is upcoming system maintenance. Administrators can specify the timeline for the notification to be visible and also send it as an email notification. Notifications will show up in the BI Launchpad and the “My Alerts” area as well. 
In yellow, on the side screen the alert can be seen.

 Alert notification when logging in

Alert notification when logging in

 Example of notification

Example of notification

4. Webi Comments

The new Commentary feature allows any user with assigned rights to add comments to a report in the form of cell element. The comment appears in a different format from a normal cell and can only be added under “design” mode view. Users can assign the comment a title and corresponding text.
After the initial comment is created and document saved, another user can open the same document and view the comments. They can then reply to this comment thread in the side panel, all categorized under the title, and add additional notes to the comment as well.
Webi comments get exciting in the context where multiple business units need to interact on a single report. Imagine a manager, report designer, data analyst, key user or more stakeholders sharing comments on a WEBI document without a single email!

 Commenting directly on webi document

Commenting directly on webi document

5. Parallel Queries in Webi

Parallel queries are now activated by default. There is the option to deactivate and the also number of concurrent refreshes are customizable. 
Before 4.2 queries were run in sequence and the performance was obviously highly affected. 
Now with BI4.2, queries are run in parallel. This has a huge impact on report performance. 
This feature is supported on UNX, SAP HANA direct access (we will come to this shortly). Can be performed via rich client, html and applet. 

 The side screen shows an example of the parallel feature which was non-existent before BI4.2.

The side screen shows an example of the parallel feature which was non-existent before BI4.2.

6. Webi Direct access to SAP HANA

Now you can create a document directly on a Hana view as source. Same as you would do for an excel as source. 
All calculations will be done on Hana engine as much as possible adding a great performance touch to the report. 
There is no query panel, only drag and drop. This leverages the full power of SAP HANA on a simple WEBI document.
This is supported on OLAP and relational connection, html interface as shown and with the java applet.

Source of information for this blog can be found here. In case you are thinking about upgrading to BI 4.2 and are seeking the best partner to support you, don’t hesitate and contact us at sales@clariba.com.  We are running time-limited offers on upgrades to BI4.2 which you can review here.

Improving performance in SAP BI Dashboards with the parent/child technique

Working at one of our customers I was assigned the task of improving the performance of a Dashboard that was taking approximately 2 minutes to load; those of you who have experience working with end users know that this is unacceptable for a Dashboard, so in order to resolve that, there are several tips and tricks that can be used to improve the performance of a dashboard in SAP BI Dashboards (formerly known as Xcelsius) – below I will show a few.

In general, I recommend to follow these tips to improve a Dashboards performance:

  • Preferably use WebI documents and Universes to bring big amounts of aggregated data
  • Bring only to the Dashboards Visualization what is needed, keep it simple!
  •  Minimize the use of Container Components
  • Limit the number of Components wherever is possible
  • Use a parent / child technique

In my case, I found especially useful the last option mentioned above: Parent/Child technique

It consists of splitting the dashboard in different parts by having a main dashboard as a Parent and calling the other dashboards (childs) with the “SWF Loader” component to reduce the initial load time.

You can find on the internet different ways to apply this, but some posts are not very clear. Therefore, I would like to share my experience and steps to do it: 

1. Create the Child Dashboard.

2. Create the Parent Dashboard.

3. Use the SFW Loader component.

4. In the excel spread sheet copy the link of the child dashboard with the following format:  http://SERVER/BOE/Xcelsius/opendoc/documentDownload?iDocID=<CUID>&sIDType=CUID&skind=Flash 

5. Change SERVER for your server's name and port (name:port), as well as <CUID> for the child dashboard's CUID (you can find the CUID in the properties of the document in BI LaunchPad). 

6. Map the component to the cell where the link is.

7. Save the dashboard in the platform.

8. Open the dashboard in the platform and you will have the final result.

With this approach, I could drop the initial load time by 80% (new Initial load time is 10 seconds) and the customer was fully satisfied.

The main contribution of this method is to increase speed of response to end users, and therefore, improve their experience with the dashboard. This will in the end help their decision making and overall business process.

If you have any question about this technique or any others related with SAP BI Dashboards, I would be more than pleased to read your feedback.

How to develop scorecards in SAP Expert Analytics

Custom R Components – Weight of Evidence coding and scorecard builder application

Introduction

This application provides an analysis of exploratory type, used to determine which variables in the dataset have a predictive power over the dependent variable (target).

It has been a very popular method in scorecard development – for credit risk within the banking sector, but in the recent years it has received increased attention in other sectors, as well.

Prerequisites

We suggest installing the RStudio Integrated Development Environment (IDE), as it is the most popular interface for R.

You can, then, simply install the following libraries through RStudio:

  • data.table (available on cran)

To install the package use the following command: install.packages(“data.table”)

  • devtools   (available on cran)

To install the package use the following commandinstall.packages(“devtools”)

  • woe    ( available on Github)

To install the package use the following commandinstall_github("woe","barbuirina19")

If you need assistance configuring R in SAP PA Expert Analytics, refer to the following guide.

How to upload the component in SAP PA

You can download the component as a .spar file Github and then deploy it as described here.

Simply import the component by clicking the + button under models tab:

6.png

Usage

The users can set the following parameters:

7.png

Example

We can use the Insurance_training dataset, which can be found here.
This table contains data on the customers of insurance company (demographics : age, gender, children, profession and more specific: type of car, annual km, years since license, etc.)
The goal is to analyze the past accident claims and get a deeper understanding over the main characteristics of a risky client. The scorecard that gets generated can be, then, pushed into a database and used to generate risk scores for the new insurance applicants.
In the Predict tab, simply drag and drop the new component, right click on it, and Configure Settings:

After successfully running the analysis, you can explore :

1.   Scorecard table
2.    Variable importance chart
3.    Weight of evidence charts

1.   Scorecard table

2.   Variable importance chart

3. Weight of evidence charts

Please note it is mandatory that the target variable be binary and numerical. The application will not translate categorical variables into the appropriate format (e.g. “Yes/No” response variable into numerical “1/0”).
In case the target is not numerical, simply use a formula (under Data Preparation) and do the necessary changes before running the analysis.
In case the target is not binary (more than 2 values), then use a formula to create dummy variables and then run the analysis using each one of the new variables as target.

Clariba Launches Office of the CFO Division to Focus on the Most Critical Pillar of Any Organization – the Finance Team

Clariba — an independent, analytics consultancy — creates new business unit, Office of the CFO, that builds on Clariba’s considerable strengths in data warehousing, big data, business intelligence and advanced analytics to provide solutions devoted to CFOs and finance teams. Christophe Machinet has joined the company as general manager for the new business unit and will be responsible for the division’s growth.

How to overcome limitations of having 1 data source: Multisource SDK with SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio 1.5

As a SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio SDK developer, I always faced the limitation of having only one data source on my components, but now with SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio 1.5 the option of binding a data-source to a property on any component (SDK or out-of-the-box) that limitation no longer exists, and here is how to overcome it.