Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Welcoming a New Voice to Well Managed BI

You may have noticed a new voice on the Well Managed BI blog: Brad McCallum will be contributing regular posts on numerous topics, with a particular focus on location intelligence issues.

Before joing APOS as Marketing Manager over 2years ago, Brad spent 8 years working for Esri Inc. at their Redlands, California, headquarters. At Esri, Brad worked in the Industry Solutions Group as a technical liaison between the business and GIS communities, helping businesses, GIS developers, and Esri partners build industry-specific GIS solutions.

While with Esri, Brad spent a substantial amount of time working with Dr. David Huff, developer of the Huff Model, and Huff's Law.

Brad learned GIS at COGS (College of Geographical Sciences).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On the Road...

APOS hit the ground running in January and we haven’t slowed down since. We kicked off 2012 with a number of location intelligence events that focused on the geospatial side of our product line. One event in particular was very rewarding: the Esri business partner conference in Palm Springs, where we were presented the award for Enterprise Integration Application. We are very honoured to be identified as a leading partner with the GIS giant Esri.

Since then, we have continued to meet and interact with people focused on location intelligence by attending some industry focused events, such as HiMMS, the Esri Petroleum users group, the Location Intelligence Conference and TDWI, an event that promotes leadership and best practices for BI professionals.

In addition to these LI focused events, we participated in SAP BI 2012 and the Sapphire Now & ASUG annual Conference.

To all of you who dropped by to see us at these conferences and tradeshows, we thank you. Without your feedback,
we can't continue to be the leading provider of well managed BI solutions for SAP BusinessObjects.

The summer is always a slow time for conferences; however, we plan to be out on the road promoting our well managed BI and location Intelligence successes. To find out where we'll be next and arrange to meet with members of our team, please feel free to contact 
Jay Murdoch

SAP BusinessObjects Migration with APOS Publisher


Your organization probably has many reasons for moving to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0. SAP cites data access as one of the key reasons enterprises should upgrade. Better integration with SAP BW, the new dimensional semantic layer, and multi-source universes enhance that access, but enhanced access is only half of the story. If you have more, or more detailed, information at your disposal, then you will also likely have increased or more complex delivery requirements.
What will you do to enhance delivery of information to the all-important information consumers in your organization?

APOS Publisher is a complete publishing solution for SAP BusinessObjects, allowing you to maintain consistent document bursting, consolidation and delivery processes across multiple versions of SAP BusinessObjects.

With APOS Publisher, you can:
  • Use business rules to generate a large number of individually scheduled reports automatically.
  • Burst large report instances into smaller instances based on business rules, convert to a common format and distribute.
  • Emulate Desktop Intelligence's use of scripts to extract data from various data sources.

APOS Publisher is an essential solution for organizations that have complex SAP BusinessObjects distribution requirements with multiple report format and destination types. For such organizations, APOS Publisher is a complete SAP BusinessObjects publishing solution, including robust bursting management, post-processing distribution service, report package management, and assured delivery to extend those available in SAP BusinessObjects. Publisher automates these tasks while providing personalized reporting to your information consumers.

SAP BusinessObjects platform managers and technicians value the flexibility and agility that Publisher's custom properties, flags and settings add to their scheduling, bursting and distribution efforts, and the ability to zip and encrypt reports.

SAP BusinessObjects Migration with APOS Storage Center


APOS Storage Center makes it easy to back up, archive and selectively restore your documents of record in a secure and timely manner — essential to ensuring regulatory compliance and meeting the needs of your information consumers, particularly when you are limiting the amount of content you are migrating.
APOS Storage Center is a dedicated SAP BusinessObjects document lifecycle management solution. It is designed to ensure the integrity of your documents, safeguard data privacy, and support regulatory compliance. It should be a key element in your disaster recovery plan ‑ before, during and after migration.

APOS Storage Center helps you:
  • Mitigate risk by safeguarding objects, document instances, and instance integrity for audit and compliance purposes.
  • Migrate document instances from one deployment of SAP BusinessObjects to another; perform partial or complete migration.
  • Extract and export objects and document instances to other formats such as PDF (e.g., export Web Intelligence reports, which are Universe-dependent, and Desk Intelligence reports, which are deprecated in BI 4.0, to PDF to ensure access to the documents of record).
  • Implement an intelligent means to purge Web Intelligence reports while retaining retrievable versions.
  • Manage disc space carefully.

SAP BusinessObjects Migration with APOS Administrator


APOS Administrator automates and simplifies object, instance, and schedule management. During migration, reports are typically relocated. Use APOS Administrator to save, import, batch modify, and export schedules.

You can:
  • Adapt the migrated source system to the new environment using bulk operations on a large number of system objects (reports, folders, users, security, settings, etc.).
  • Import schedules from the legacy system, then map and export them to the new system.
  • Analyze an entire report instance environment at once.
  • Apply actions to instances in bulk.
  • Establish control over migrated instances/schedules.
  • Modify recurring schedules.
  • Manage scheduling crises quickly and efficiently.
  • Manage objects in bulk.
  • Perform sophisticated deployment of reports and documents to the system.
  • Promote objects from development/testing to production efficiently and in compliance with data security and privacy requirements.
  • Control security to the various objects.
  • Perform common maintenance of Users and Groups, simplifying the onerous task of setting advanced security rights.

APOS Administrator provides administrative capabilities that simplify, complement and enhance SAP BusinessObjects object and document instance management and scheduling features. In the hands of platform managers, BI technicians and other power users, APOS Administrator makes SAP BusinessObjects more responsive to enterprise information needs.

APOS Administrator saves valuable administrative time through automation and task streamlining, reducing human error, and providing the agility and flexibility to meet the changing needs of information consumers. Whether you're managing or re-engineering business processes, establishing crisis management or disaster recovery procedures, or preparing for migration to a newer version of SAP BusinessObjects, APOS Administrator creates value through operational efficiencies, establishing trust through reliability.

SAP BusinessObjects Migration with APOS Insight


The APOS suite of well managed BI solutions simplify, automate and complement many SAP BusinessObjects management and administrative tasks. They enhance system visibility and increase your control over BI content. Because they help you optimize your BI system, they are also extremely useful during all phases of your SAP BusinessObjects BI4.0 migration.

APOS Insight provides a complete snapshot of what is happening at any given time within your system, meaning that you can analyze system usage and bottlenecks over time as a preliminary step in planning your new implementation. You can:
  • Populate a database with point-in-time snapshots of system status
  • Extract benchmark information about your system before the migration, then after the migration, and compare them.
  • Run comparison reports/queries of what has changed.
  • See where reports have moved to in the new deployment.
  • Map IDs in one system to IDs in the other.
  • Compare the security structures between the two environments to ensure groups are in place, users are in groups and all are properly permissioned, thus eliminating security holes.

Once you have deployed the new version of SAP BusinessObjects, APOS Insight continues to provide high value with enhanced metadata management, audit, and monitoring capabilities.

Well Managed Migration with APOS Solutions

From the frequent feedback and numerous requests we've received, it's clear what's on many of our customers' minds: migration. Specifically, migration to the new SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.x platform.
SAP's instructions for migrating to its new version are deceptively simple. If you have any project management experience, you'll know that that apparent simplicity hides substantial complexity and many potential risks. For any enterprise softsware deployment or upgrad, risk mitigation has to be the primary objective.
How can you ensure your risks are low and your ROI is high?
APOS well managed BI solutions should be part of your SAP BusinessObjects risk mitigation strategy ‑ before, during and after the migration process. Together, these solutions form a suite of well managed BI solutions to help you perform due diligence with regard to the "5 pillars" of well managed BI:
  • Strategy / Optimization
  • Security
  • Performance
  • Operational Maintenance
  • Compliance

The time to achieve well managed BI is before you migrate to BI 4.0 FP3, not after, and APOS has the solutions to help you plan, design, implement, cut over and go live effectively. The key to a successful migration is effective risk management. The more variables you account for during planning and design, the fewer deviations there will be from the project plan during and after implementation (and the more likely the project will be to come in on time and on budget). You mitigate risk by knowing your system, your requirements, and your capabilities prior to migration.

That's the role of APOS well managed BI solutions:
  • APOS Insight benchmark and optimize performance, plan the target environment, compare security environments.
  • APOS Storage Centersafeguard object, instance integrity for audit and compliance; save to neutral formats; purge Web Intelligence reports intelligently; manage disc space.
  • APOS Administrator clean up content; manage security and users; apply bulk operations on objects, instances, recurring schedules to simplify complex deployments.
  • APOS Publisher develop enhanced information delivery capabilities ‑ advanced bursting, consolidation and document delivery based on business rules.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SAP Announces Intent to Purchase Ariba - $4.3BN

Ariba, the Sunnyvale, California, based cloud computing developer, is the latest acquisition target for SAP. According to SAP, Ariba "is the leader in cloud-based collaborative commerce applications and the second-largest cloud vendor by revenue." The purchsase price is said to be US$4.3 billion.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Redefining BI

In the March 2012 edition of IT in Europe, SearchDataManagement.co.UK's Brian McKenna presents a simplified definition of BI:

Business Intelligence is ripe for defamiliarisation as a term. For IT professionals, the temptation is to understand it to mean query and reporting tools from the BI megavendors. But for one of the finance professionals quoted in this issue of IT in Europe: Data Management & BI Edition, “business intelligence means trying to make money out of data.” [Emphasis added.]

I like this definition, because it takes us closer to first principles. It takes us back to strategic objectives.

When we get set in our ways, comfortable and complacent in the status quo, we start to mistake the practice for the objective. Why do we do things the way we do them? Because that's the way we've always done them.

But the imperative to optimize the top and bottom lines of an enterprise requires us to re-examine our practices on a continuous basis. Can the practice be improved to bring us closer to our strategic objectives? Can a practice be said to be a best practice if it is not connected somehow to the realization of a strategic objective?

As I said, I like the redefinition. However, I don't think it goes far enough. I'm in the Peter Drucker school of thought on this one. Drucker was suspicious of the profit motive as a primary business driver. The purpose of a business, according to Drucker, is to create a customer. By measuring the success of the company against the ongoing relationship with the customer, we create a business that is first and foremost sustainable, but also mutually profitable.

BI's potential contribution to the pursuit of strategic objectives is obvious but not inevitable. BI professionals need to take a progressive approach ‑ to look for ways to achieve strategic objectives through better utilization of the BI platform.

In an article dedicated to the centenary of Drucker's birth, Oliver Marks notes another Drucker maxim: "Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes." For the BI professional, it's not just about improving knowledge, but about improving the way knowledge is stored, managed and disseminated.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Location Intelligence for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (Xcelsius) -Free

The APOS Location Intelligence Solution (LIS) can now be embedded in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 (FP3) Dashboards (formerly known as Xcelsius) ‑ free of charge.

The APOS LIS Standard Edition lets you embed maps you create using Esri's ArcGIS Online (arcgis.com). At arcgis.com, you can choose from hundreds of maps with valuable business information and use them as backdrops for your business data.

Try the interactive demo

The Standard Edition presents an opportunity to apply location intelligence to Xcelsius dashboards and Crystal Reports, letting you communicate compelling geospatial visualizations throughout your enterprise. It also provides a clear upgrade path to enterprise location intelligence.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The New APOS Website Is Here

Here's a shout-out to Martijn van Foeken (@mfoeken), who was one of the first to notice and tweet about the redesigned APOS website. Since the site's soft launch at the end of April, we've had lots of feedback from our friends, but none so vocal as Martijn's. Thanks.

The site does not represent a departure for us: it's just catching up. It now shows our focus on the concept of "well managed BI," the organizing principle of our solution set.

What do you think of when you think of APOS Systems Inc.? Maybe you think of report scheduling, or report bursting. Maybe you think of system monitoring and alerts. Maybe you think of backup and selective restore capabilities. Many people use APOS solutions to resolve specific issues they have esperienced in SAP BusinessObjects.

But the point is that APOS solutions grow with your SAP BusinessObjects deployment and your information consumers' needs, helping you become less reactive and more proactive in meeting those needs. APOS solutions resolve the issues you have now, and many of the ones you haven't yet experienced -- but will. They help you in your ongoing quest for well managed BI.