Yesterday was the first day of the 2012 ASUG BOU conference and the day started well with a keynote from Bridgette Chambers the ASUG CEO and Sanjay Poonen, Head of the Mobility Division. As expected, the primary emphasis was on mobility and analytics. There was also interesting comparison made for the overall ROI for organizations supporting multiple platforms to support their technological stack as compared to switching over to SAP (starting with Sap HANA) for end to end needs. It's probably a no brainer that switching to a single vendor for all technological needs will be more cost effective, but I think the bigger question is what it would take for the customers to be convinced to scrap the existing stack and start from scratch.

I agree with Sanjay Poonen that most of the customers still spend majority of effort and cost in keeping the "lights on" rather than on "Innovations" and it is necessary that the out dated systems are replaced with a systematic and a visionary approach.

The next session that I attended was on Mobile BI usability presented by Robert Aylesworth and even though the session was good, I felt that we could have gained more is there was more discussion around challenges and common pitfalls. The quick survey done in the room on what the audience felt were the common problems with mobile BI highlighted: text that's too small, non-intuitive, slow, often crashes, too busy and a different view on different devices. The presentation that followed was intended to address these common problems. As Robert Aylesworth stated the five principles of usability include: Learnability, Efficiency, Memorability, Errors and Satisfaction. The key learning from the session included: knowing your audience, encouraging users to play, making it simple and only providing what is necessary on the mobile device. Additionally, trying to make the visualization simple, intuitive and platform agnostic were key takeaways. There was also a comparison made between different BI mobile products in the market and Xcelsius seemed to have an edge with complete control on look and feel once the HTML 5 support comes to market. I think most of these discussion points may have already been known to the audience but nevertheless it was a good session.

I followed up this session with an interesting session by Antivia, a SAP software solutions partner. Their product was pretty impressive with a simplified designer interface for the Xcelsius dashboards and also a fairly easy mobile deployment. The recommendation from Antivia was to treat mobile initiatives as tactical enabling a quicker ROI which buys IT more time to finalize the mobile strategy and direction. Some of the requirements and key features of Antivia XWIS mentioned in this session for BI mobility was widest range of supported devices, native experience on each device, standard look and feel, easy access to BI content, intuitive and documented metadata from flash to HTML 5 presentations are a key use for snapshot, ability to annotate and email, and also present the off lines essential for presentations.

The authentication is leveraging the existing SAP BOBJ security; there is encryption on device and also over the wire. There were more features discussed and based on what I heard I think this is an impressive product to cut down the development time associated with Xcelsius dashboards and also bridge the gap until HTML 5 is proven for performance and usability. Overall, this was an impressive presentation.

I also attended the BOBJ explorer session which was good to get an idea of the ad hoc capability of the tool and how it linked to Universes and the WebI reports.

The last session for today that I chose was on configuring the BI 4.0 Mobile solution. This session was presented by William Roche and I think he did justice to a relatively dry topic. The presentation provided an overview of things to be kept in mind while going for a deployment of the BI 4.0 Mobile solution. Some of the things discussed were to have a separate box for installing the mobile solution and not bundling it with the BI 4.0 solution, configuring the WDeploy files, having a dedicated database and the mobile reports are required to be saved under Mobile Category to be accessible.

Overall, the day went by quickly with some good sessions and plenty to think about. Looking forward to another great day at the conference!