Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack

Last week at the 2012 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference (SBOUC), I have a feeling this might have been the tweet heard around the world about the Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack (DCP).

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Simultaneously, Jamie Oswald‘s eyes rolled back up in his head and I may be guilty of having started the hashtag #ZombieDeski on Twitter. The conspiracy theorist in me is going to go ahead and believe they didn’t talk about this on Monday so that we wouldn’t chew them up during our live Diversified Semantic Layer episode on the ASUG News Studio stage. What a crazy feeling. Really. On the one hand, I’ve spent years anticipating the end. I’ll be honest here. I don’t hate Desktop Intelligence (Deski). I just hate the slow death. I have embraced the end many years ago and have been waiting for it. But now, it’s like Deski is on life support only because we want to keep it alive for a few more days so we can make our peace.

This is good for customers. I do believe that. Further, this is a good customer service move by SAP. You, the customer, are bound to be out there, lamenting and stressing on how to get BI4 in a reasonable time frame while retiring tons of Deski. That is a bummer and I get why that makes the BI4 proposition a ridiculously expensive one. Don’t mistake, retiring Deski is still a necessary step, but just not today in every case.

That tweet left a lot of unanswered questions. I wasn’t in the presentation personally, although had I been, SAP wouldn’t have gotten off very easy. Jamie, Greg, Dallas, and I, fueled the fire for a few days on the subject until yesterday, we got the answers to many questions.

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Oh. Burn. Probably not untrue. The click-through on that tweet link takes you to the SCN article “Deski is not back…. but here is something that will help you to move to BI 4“. Way to go SAP. Really. However, it is just a few days too late in coming I think. This is the communication that should have followed that presentation and been ready to go. This is a great example of where a morsel of what was bound to be received in a weird way could have been a whole cake of good information (when you have a pastry chef wife, analogies tend to sway towards food).

So the easy lesson, in all this, is communication is key. SAP could have given us more as they clearly knew that. Forgiven. But the same tendency exists in our own BI worlds. Releasing a new universe? Document the changes and release them to your users on your Intranet or Wiki. Releasing a new dashboard or stack of reports? Ensure they have sufficient “help” elements within them to explain why and document externally on your Intranet or Wiki. Feeling a loose parallel in my examples? Consider the circumstance in which you’ve changed formulas in variables, or data warehouse fields that calculate a measure. Or perhaps, you’ve deprecated content which will be deleted in a few weeks. Users (customers) need to be in the know. Communication is everything.

Now, back to the topic at hand

I said it before, I do believe this is a good move for customers. A few points come to mind.

  1. Don’t get complacent. In other words, do not abandon your strategy to retire Desktop Intelligence. Just know that if you can live without enhancing those reports incrementally over time, you can take swipes at migrating content to Web Intelligence (Webi).
  2. Web Intelligence is about to get better. SAP is closing the gaps so many have said they cannot live without. That is great.
  3. Bad behaviors get new legs. Carefully consider the tough position that potentially bad Desktop Intelligence content has gotten you into. The “Data Mart” report isn’t likely to live as well in Web Intelligence as it did in Desktop Intelligence.
  4. Effective planning is still key. You have a ton of Desktop Intelligence content. You have a stop-gap measure in hand. You need a game plan. Identify the Desktop Intelligence content, evaluate the effectiveness and usefulness, and selectively choose what needs to be migrated. We built and continue to enhance Sherlock to aid SAP BusinessObjects customers in the process of retiring Desktop Intelligence. Be vigilant. Don’t just accept “but I neeeeeeeeeed it” in a whiny voice from your users.

I don’t think the Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack is a bad thing. This is breathing room. Take it as an opportunity to get current with the technology and separate that effort, if possible, to incrementally bag Deski once and for all. If you’ve been reading this blog for any time, this is the kind of stuff you know my team and I eat up. Let us know how we can help.