How to Turn Web Intelligence Reports into BusinessObjects Dashboards

  • by Jim Brogden, Senior Consultant, Daugherty Business Solutions
  • February 2, 2012
Learn best practices for integrating SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence data into SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, with a focus on how to use Web services generated in Web Intelligence Rich Client. This type of integration allows dashboards to become dynamically loaded applications rather than manually refreshed visual models.
Key Concept

BI Web services are Web-based applications that enable the exchange of data between BusinessObjects client tools. BI Web services provide the capability to pass data from Web Intelligence to BusinessObjects Dashboards by sending the cluster unique identifier of a source report block to a destination object. This information is communicated through a Query as a Web Service connection type in the BusinessObjects Dashboards Data Manager using a Web Services Description Language URL. Table data from the sourcing Web Intelligence document is then linked to the dashboard, enabling it to consume the information as output values. The biggest advantage of Web services is that they alleviate the need for manual data refreshes in dashboards.

The need for data discovery and data exploration is often the underlying driver behind ad-hoc reporting. With SAP BusinessObjects, users have a tool that can help them discover trends quickly and pinpoint outliers when sifting through tables containing millions of records.

For many analysts, the tool of choice for this type of analysis has been, and continues to be, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence (also known as WebI). However, what if the data discovered is so powerful that every decision-maker in the organization needs to see it to believe it? And not just to believe it, but to make crucial business decisions based on the information? Should executives be asked to log on to InfoView to launch a Web Intelligence report or SAP Crystal Report? Or is there a better way to deliver the results to high ranking officials? In my opinion, the answer to this question is SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly known as Xcelsius) because of its highly customizable interface and portable delivery methods. The integration of Web Intelligence data into BusinessObjects Dashboards makes dashboards even more valuable.

Once Web Intelligence has been selected as the tool for retrieving and analyzing the data and BusinessObjects Dashboards has been selected as the tool for delivering the information, analysts are potentially faced with two dilemmas. The first dilemma centers on a skills requirement to effectively work with both Web Intelligence and dashboards. Ad-hoc report development capabilities are at the core of required competencies for data analysts, making Web Intelligence a reliable and commonly used tool. However, the capability to develop dashboards isn’t quite as common or as easily found with the same resources. To fully harness the power of a dashboard, analysts who truly understand the data must be involved in the design of the user interface in addition to the information that it delivers.

The second dilemma, and the focus of this article, is finding a way to integrate the data in Web Intelligence into a dashboard. From my experience, there are four common methods to integrate data from Web Intelligence documents into BusinessObjects Dashboards. These methods are listed below with the primary focus of this article being the first method, Web services.

  • Web services (generated in Web Intelligence Rich Client)
  • BusinessObjects Live Office
  • Query Browser – Universe connectivity  (available only in BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0)
  • Third-party products

Jim Brogden

Jim Brogden is a senior consultant specializing in SAP BusinessObjects and data visualization for Daugherty Business Solutions in Atlanta, GA. He’s the lead author of the first official book dedicated to Web Intelligence covering version XI 3.1 and the SAP PRESS book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.0 – 2nd Edition, a blogger on http://www.myxcelsius.com/, a BusinessObjects Certified Professional, award-winning Xcelsius dashboard designer, ASUG volunteer, and active contributor at SAP’s Idea Place. You may view Jim’s profile on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/jimbrogden and follow him on Twitter @jhbrogdenjr.

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