Antivia Xcelsius Business Intelligence Dashboard with Web Intelligence Drill

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In an earlier post, I showed you can use BusinessObjects products like Xcelsius, Explorer on a mobile phone, and drill through to Web Intelligence running on the bi.ondemand.com BI-in-the-cloud platform.

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This post takes things one step further, with the help of SAP BusinessObjects partner Antivia. They have a great add-on solution called XWIS that makes it easier to access real-time Web Intelligence (soon to be called “Interactive Analysis”) directly from an Xcelsius dashboard.

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The XWIS solution makes it easier to create dashboards containing live Web Intelligence data, complete with the ability to create new Web Intelligence queries without leaving the dashboard interface.

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You can see various demonstrations of their product on their web site:

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Mark Hudson, the founder of Antivia, provided me with a sample file formatted for a mobile device, and I can confirm that it’s a also great solution for mobile dashboards. Here’s a short video demonstration of the XWIS interface in action, on a Google Nexus One mobile phone running the latest version of Android, which supports Adobe Flash technology.

Here’s a more in-depth demonstration, showing off some of the key Antivia features (which also work, of course, on any regular PC that runs Adobe Flash). On the home page, I set up a browser bookmark (NOT an application) that calls a standard web page containing  the Antivia Xcelsius dashboard:

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The dashboard is an Adobe Flash file, so I hold my finger on the screen for a few seconds to get the option to open it in full screen mode. The result: an intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard, with live data from a BusinessObjects Web Intelligence server:

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Antivia makes it easy to set up interactions such as drill down to the next level:

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Here’s what you get if you click on the “product analysis” button – you can of course use all the different Xcelsius graphical representations: pie charts, sparklines, etc. etc.

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Clicking on a slice of the pie chart to get more details works perfectly on the mobile device:

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In this section, I can drill down two levels and the rest of the model automatically updates:

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The really powerful part is the ability to create complete new queries on the fly. I simply click on the “My Analysis” button, and create a new view:

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The Antivia Xcelsius plugin makes it easy to provide a fully-fledged Web Intelligence query panel, directly within my Xcelsius Dashboard:

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I can create any new question I want against the data warehouse, dragging and dropping my business terms that I want to see:

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I can highlight objects and change their properties (aggregate as sum, average, etc.)

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I can add new conditions and filters:

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And I can add sorts:

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To get the results, I simply click on the “view” button in the top right, to send it to the server, where it is converted to the SQL required to query the database, using the BusinessObjects semantic layer technology. The results are then brought back and displayed within the dashboard:

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At any time, I can go back to the query definition — for example, in order to make it a crosstab (there’s also a “tree” option available, but this was the only Antivia feature I could find that didn’t seem to work correctly with the (beta) mobile version of Flash)

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And here are the results in cross-tab format:

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So, there you have it: a great solution that leverages any investment you’ve already made in Web Intelligence, and already works extremely well in mobile environments. Please contact Antivia if you’d like more information.

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6 Comments
  1. Wow! I liked the webi integration inside Xcelsius but the query panel looked so small and also it looked not so finger friendly.

    It shows that the number of business opportunities for people with smart ideas on integrating various apps is in-numerous.

  2. I agree that it’s not perfect, but given the small screen size, I was still very impressed that it was indeed useable, with a bit of care. Three possible solutions to the fat-finger problem:
    * Use a stylus (just ordered one, I’ll let you know if it works!).
    * Phone designers allowing the use of interface buttons to interact with the flash (e.g. the roller-ball on the Google Nexus one phone did work scrolling up and down lists, but I couldn’t find a way to hit “enter”)
    * Some future version of the Adobe Flash plugin that supports the use of gestures to let you zoom in and scroll around the model.

  3. Congrats to Mark and his team on this!

    For Xcelsius, there would need to be a focused engineering effort to make the technology mobile friendly. While the Xcelsius team is slow to adopt and innovate, Antivia could make a strong play for Android BI. A few mods to menu items in the XWIS UI and you guys will be cooking with gas :).

  4. Visiting back this post to take your thoughts – One of my client is looking to buy XWIS but the enterprise architects are not for it as they expect BO to provide most of these functions in the BO 4.0 platform. What is your take on it? I see that Dashboard Designer has a built in query panel now so we don’t need to go to webi to build queries. The drill down options provided by XWIS – should we not push the users to use Web Intelligence to get this functionality?

  5. Mohanraj, BI4 is in many ways a nice step forward but there are still many reasons to use XWIS with it. These include :-

    1) BI 4 will often not reduce the number of queries you need to use (which means the complexity and performance issues remain).

    2) XWIS allows you to reuse existing BOBJ content (Webi, CR) as a data source which reduces TCO.

    3) Queries in BI 4 are tied to the dashboard itself so they need to be redefined each time.

    4) Any drill requirement inside Xcelsius will still require data to be written to the spreadsheet and (usually complex) formulas be written to manage the user interaction.

    5) XWIS provides a range of other components to add user functionality (slice and dice for end-user ad-hoc analysis, data component for easy implementation of multi-component dashboards with synchronised drill)

    6) XWIS allows you to merge BOBJ data with raw-SQL data and spreadsheet data for times when not all the data is managed by the semantic layer

    7) XWIS also provides off-line dashboard, mobile access to dashboards, personalised scheduled dashboards, none of which are part of BI4

    One way for getting a feel for the difference XWIS makes is our 1-minute demo at :-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_svGq1NgapM

    Also there is a great, independent assessment of XWIS compared to BI4 by Ryan Goodman (Xcelsius Guru) at :-

    http://everythingxcelsius.com/guru-reviews/understanding-bi4-dashboards-and-xwis/4142

    Hope that helps if you would like to discuss more then please feel free to get in touch.

    Donald

  6. Donald,

    Thanks a lot for the detailed response. It helps. I will take these points to the architects. But I can see what’s coming up against me. The client has been running a BO 3.1 pilot for last 6 months and have decided to buy BO 4.0 in the coming month. The pilot team has come up with the need for XWIS as they had trouble delivering a dashboard with some 50 KPIs. The pilot team is presenting a strong case to buy XWIS. But I am sure that the architects would counter argue asking why we would want to do so much in a dashboard and the functions that are supported in WEBI (like drill down, slice and dice and complex data merging) in a dashboard.

    I shall post my experience back here again!

    Mohanraj

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