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May 16, 2012

Enterprise Mobility with Sybase Unwired Platform

Many organizations face the need for making an important decision of choosing the right development approach after selecting a mobile platform  like SUP (Sybase Unwired Platform).  While there is no best solution that works all the time, this paper attempts to bring in the pros and cons that each of the approaches carries with reference to enterprise requirements and different business cases.

Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) is a mobile enterprise platform for quickly developing & deploying enterprise grade mobile applications that connect business data from heterogeneous backend systems. SUP helps leverage its platform features like security, device management and develop mobile applications much faster than what it would take without a platform like SUP.

Many organizations face the need for making an important decision of choosing the right solution approach after they have chosen a middleware like SUP. Mobile application development can be done using any of the following approaches.
1) Native Applications
2) Web Applications
3) Hybrid Applications

This paper highlights the solution approaches available within the Sybase Unwired Platform for mobile enabling your enterprise functions. It also discusses ways to select the right approach between the Native Approach and the Hybrid (HTML5) and Mobile Approach.

Read more here.

May 11, 2012

Unlock More Value from Your SAP Enabled Business Transformation Faster with Infosys' SAP Industry Pre-Configured Solutions

Guest Post by

Dale Strickland, Senior Principal, Infosys

Clients can significantly benefit from Infosys' SAP Industry Pre-Configured solutions to accelerate time to value and implementation timelines. They provide our clients a functioning SAP environment that addresses their Industry challenges. We couple our SAP pre-configured environments with Industry Process Repositories that provide a toolkit rich with solution related artifacts that can be leveraged to accelerate client adoption of the pre-configured solution and the Business Transformation program.

By taking the approach of "Why Change" the Pre-Configured Solution vs. a "typical" implementation approach, clients can reduce program delivery time (up to 30%) by starting with an Industry pre-configured solution.

Clients that leverage our pre-configured solutions select the components of the solution that meet their targeted end state. The "delta" between the targeted end state and the pre-configured solution scope are then prototyped, designed, and implemented. 

IMPACT and SAP's ASAP Methodolgy - a Winning Combinaion
The IMPACT Framework™ keeps SAP's ASAP methodology at the core. It works hand-in-hand with ASAP to provide a fuller and richer approach to managing SAP enabled business transformation. ASAP provides a tested and benefit driven approach to implementation; coupled with IMPACT™ and VRM™ Infosys is able to provide clients the ability to unlock even more value from their transformation.

Four Major Phases to Successful SAP Transformations
As an SAP transformation progresses from visioning to operations, it should follow a logical progression.  The best transformations place the right emphasis on each phase to achieve the required value for the client /objective at each step of the journey. The Infosys IMPACT Framework™ provides a holistic, integrated approach for implementing Business Transformation programs. It looks across all capability areas of importance to a company while keeping a focus on the value proposition and delivery for the company and its customers.  It spans the full lifecycle of a transformation from setting the direction of the transformation, to detailed design, execution, and finally ongoing support.  The framework is designed to be modular and customizable for each client's situation.

How Infosys can Optimize Efforts
Business transformation programs are notoriously difficult. Even programs delivered on time and on budget often leave internal stakeholders questioning the value that has been delivered.  Stop by the Infosys Sapphire Booth #2800 and talk to our consultants to further discover how Infosys' IMPACT™, VRM™ and Pre-Configured SAP solutions can help you unlock value form your transformation programs Faster .

About the Author: Dale is a Senior Prinicipal in Management Consulting under Consulting & Systems Integration Unit in Infosys. With a varied experience in IT industry, Dale is currently in the Process Transformation track and working on Business Transformation solutions for Infosys.


May 10, 2012

How In-memory solutions will revolutionize the way BI solutions are designed and built?

Guest Post by

Nitin Vilas Kulkarni, Principal Consultant, Retail, CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys

With memory prices coming down steeply, in-memory solutions are becoming more affordable. Gartner expects that by 2014, 30% of analytic applications will use in-memory functions to add scale and computational speed. We are already witnessing solutions and appliances like SAP HANA generating significant interest. As in-memory solutions become main stream, I think we need to re-visit fundamentals of data warehouse design and development to leverage power of these solutions.

Today, most data warehouses are build using layered and scalable architecture concept where there will be distinct layers for staging, integration, reporting. There is lot of data duplication in reporting layer as the layers are built for good reporting performance. I think the design of DW usage, design and development will undergo changes in the following areas. Here is my top 10 list (not ranking):

  1. Embedded analytics enablement - In memory solutions will allow analysis of large data quickly and thus will support embedded analytics in business processes for better decision support. Hence, the design of warehouses will need to support this to take full advantages of the technological changes.
  2. Data integration at run time from multiple systems - Most data warehouses require extraction and storing of data in warehouse where reports are built.  While tools such as Business Objects offer functionality of combining data from multiple systems in semantic layer, the real life usage was limited due to performance challenges. In-memory technology will support this design better and reduce physical movement of data across systems.
  3. Creation of standard predictive and statistical models - While most companies desired to create predictive and statistical models for mining, the implementation was constrained by computational power. In-memory technology combined with parallel processing will make such models main stream.
  4. Tightly integrated consolidation and simulation applications - Planning and consolidation applications were built separately (and not in data warehouses). The in-memory solutions will help you built the application in your warehouse with calculation engines running in the same warehouse. This will help in reducing latency and data redundancy.
  5. More flexible hierarchies and master data - User defined hierarchies and master data can be supported better. The new design will allow for such designs will power of in-memory solutions where results need not be pre-aggregated.
  6. Elimination of layers - The layered architecture leading to data redundancies can be eliminated for the large part.
  7. More scale leading to mindset change about data - Most data warehouses were built considering data volume limitations in mind. These limitations are going away and you can now retain data longer, bring in external and unstructured data for analytical needs. The functions such as text analysis, pattern recognition can be supported and design will involve the same.
  8. Consolidation of data warehouses - Many organizations adopted strategy of building multiple landscapes (regional, global) to overcome challenges of data volume and address performance issues. Such warehouses can be combined due to compression of data.
  9. Self service oriented design - The design must enable self service for business. Hence, IT must enable data and allow business to take control of analytics. While this concept is not new, in-memory solution will allow good performance without need for IT department to build architected data marts.
  10. Iterative development methodology - The in-memory solutions will give ability to perform development iteratively since models can be built and changed easily. Business will be able to 'experiment' on data and thus iterative development methodology will yield best results.

About the Author: Nitin is  Principal Consultant currently part of Retail, CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences unit at Infosys. His areas of expertise include Business Intelligence with special focus on In-memory solutions and BI architecture.


May 9, 2012

Business Transformation focus on value - Our Value Realization Model (VRM(TM))

Guest Post by

Dale Strickland, Senior Principal, Infosys

The Value Realization Method™ (VRM™) is Infosys' metrics-focused approach to ensure that project business value is achieved.  We believe that, "You can't manage what you can't measure." While our IMPACT™ framework drives business transformation by ensuring rigorous delivery and solution adoption; VRM™ is the engine that drivers tangible value for our clients who use IMPACT™.
VRM™ consists of 8 components and 3 proprietary tools that are used during the program lifecycle.

•         Value Scan                                                                                                         
•         Business Case
•         Value Diagram
•         Metrics Management
•         Benefit Tracking
•         Decision Framework
•         Value Enabled Solution Design
•         Value Audit

•         Value Profile Repository
•         Process and Metric Repository
•         Benchmarking Content

Pre-Configured Industry Solution in specific verticals based on SAP Best Practices
Infosys Pre-Configured Industry Solutions provides our clients with a functioning SAP environment that address their Industry challenges and accelerates delivery and time to value.  They include a functioning SAP instance with end-to-end configured scenarios across the industry value chain along with a number of custom developed solutions that address Industry specific pain points and accelerate time to value.  By taking an approach of "Why Change" the Pre-Configured Solution to minimize changes vs. a "typical" implementation approach, clients can reduce program delivery time (up to 30%) by starting with an Industry pre-configured solution.

Industry Process Repositories
Infosys Industry Process Repositories complement our pre-configured solutions and provide our clients with a toolkit rich with solution related artifacts that can be leveraged to accelerate client adoption of the pre-configured solution and the Business Transformation program. The artifacts include:
•         BPMLs with Process Maps and Process Decompositions,
•         Industry Best Practices, and Business Process Procedures,
•         Process Metrics, along with Value and Operational Levers,
•         Value Diagrams providing visual representation to see the linkages of value and operational levers to processes and SAP Modules,
•         Personas, summarizing the characteristics that are  most representative of a group external customers and internal users and their key asks of the transformation 

Based on our experience delivering business transformation initiatives, Infosys has developed this Value focused Method that enhances the overall comprehensive, customizable, modular framework for achieving successful business-focused transformations.

May 3, 2012

BO Mobile is ready for "Primetime"!

SAP has been having a two-pronged strategy and separate product lines for Mobile Analytics: BusinessObjects Mobile for enabling purpose-built BI content on Mobile devices and BusinessObjects Explorer Mobile for enabling data search and exploration via Mobile devices.

Recently SAP announced the next big enhancement to BO Mobile product - version 4.1.0, with many new additional features and enhancements. As someone who had used earlier versions of BO Mobile for BlackBerry and iPad, I found some of these new features really exciting, which I have discussed in this blog.

SAP has been having a two-pronged strategy and separate product lines for Mobile Analytics: BusinessObjects Mobile for enabling purpose-built BI content on Mobile devices and BusinessObjects Explorer Mobile for enabling data search and exploration via Mobile devices. There is a third angle to this as well, the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP). SUP is definitely SAP's principal mobile platform, and eventually Mobile BI will integrate with or fold into it. At this time however, details of SUP's integration with BusinessObjects are sketchy at best.

In this blog, we will discuss some of the enhancements and features that will be available as part of BO Mobile 4.1.0.

BusinessObjects Mobile has been around since BO XI R2, supporting interactive on-demand reporting via handheld mobile devices. There have been numerous enhancements and upgrades to this product since then. However, in my view, the biggest upgrade happened last year with the release of BO Mobile for iPad. This release enabled organizations to "render" BI content (only WebI) on an iPad. It was the first step to extend Business Intelligence into the hands of mobile workforce and senior execs, on a much more usable device than a smart phone. However, the initial feature set was limited and not much customization was possible.

Recently SAP announced the next big enhancement to the product - version 4.1.0, with many new additional features and enhancements. As someone who had used earlier versions of BO Mobile for BlackBerry and iPad, I found some of these new features really exciting:

Enhanced functionality on WebI documents -

  • Users can now drill into the reports - both from tables and chart
  • Input controls defined in WebI reports are available on iPad
  • If a WebI document has multiple sections defined in it for data grouping, those are available on mobile and users can switch sections easily
  • Multi-dimension charts are now supported. This was an issue earlier.
  • Content rendering on iPad was automatic, based on a pre-defined display rules. For example, if there are multiple reporting components on a WebI document such as tables, charts, etc., they were translated on iPad in an automatic mode. Now users have more control over rendering on iPad through what is known as flexi-layout.

  • Data visualization on geo maps. However, unlike BO Explorer Mobile, location awareness is not yet available.

New Collaboration features - There are some cool new features for collaboration and sharing of BI content via Mobile.

  • Users can add comments or annotations to the report, either using keyboard or simply scribbling.
  • Part of the report can be cropped and/or blurred.
  • It can then be sent to another user via email. The recipient can access the content via either a desktop or an iPad - separate URL's available in the email.

Security and admin features - These came up as questions/concerns in almost every client discussion. Glad that SAP has addressed to a large extent.

  • There is a new "Confidential" category that can be set for each report. If the report is tagged as confidential, users cannot download it to the device. It must be viewed online. The advantage is that there will no data stored on the device and moreover users will always get the most recent version from the server. On the flip side, users cannot view the report in offline mode and must be connected.
  • Instead of disabling report download individually, admin can disable report downloads completely at a global level also. However, in my view, to disable offline usage completely is not a great idea. (Note: Data on device is already secured using encryption.)
  • Another key security feature is to define validity time (TTL) for downloaded reports. After the TTL is over, users cannot use the downloaded version and will have to get the fresh data from the server. This is a great way to ensure that users always download and refer to the most updated data.
  • Admin can now also disable storing of password on the device. If disabled, users will have to key in the BO password every time. This again has its own merits and demerits. The control however is now in administrators' hand.

Other big additions to the new version are, support for Crystal documents and integration with Streamwork, SUP and Afaria. But more on these, next time.

However, there are some more features which I wish BO Mobile had....

  1. Some limited ad-hoc capability for users e.g. ability to add/remove table fields/dimensions
  2. Ability to change chart types on the device
  3. Report Personalization
  4. Some kind of simulated desktop environment for report publisher to "preview" the content before publishing
  5. Integration of BO Mobile with BO Explorer Mobile. May be a unified mobile app for both?
  6. And lastly, iPhone and Android support

SAP has already mentioned about some of these features, and more, in the future roadmap.  Nonetheless, the host of features and functionalities available in version 4.1.0 makes BO Mobile a compelling choice for organizations looking for options for Mobile Analytics. In my opinion, BO Mobile for iPad is now ready for "Primetime"!

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