11 Posts

As a global BI conference junkie (being a speaker makes this unavoidable), I get the same question at the beginning of the year from folks in the BI community:


“Hi Mico, do you mind recommending the top BI conferences I should attend this year?”


While I always respond with my top three conference picks, I never actually reveal how I derive those rankings… until now that is. I measure all conferences using five criteria, most based on the ‘Who’.  For the sake of ‘analytics’ let’s call them my five KPIs.  They each carry a score of 0-5, 0 being the lowest (do not attend) and 5 being the highest (you can’t miss it even if the world freezes over!).


With the excitement around the upcoming BI2014 / HANA2014 conference in Orlando on March 24-27, 2014, I figured it might be helpful to provide some honest feedback and advice to those considering attending and the first timers.


Disclaimer:  My honest feedback and ratings below, are 100% my opinion. It is intended in no way to disregard the sweat and labor it takes to put on these monster events, or discredit the highly underrated staff at SAP Insider who pull them off.


#1. WHO ATTENDS MY SESSIONS (Rating = 5.0)


This may not make sense, but hear me out.  With the amount of work and energy it takes to produce a ‘life changing’ presentation for a big conference such as BI2014, one has to be a bit picky in deciding where to present. As a speaker, I can judge the quality of a conference based on who attends my sessions.


PROS: When it comes to BI2014, I’ve never had the ‘wrong audience’ problem, which is why I rated it a 5.0. In Vegas at BI2013 last year, my session not only had a record 250+ people, but it also had a bunch of familiar faces (a good sign of quality) and lines of attendees who brought their questions.


CONS: Rooms need to be bigger! I hate to turn away folks. Space is always an issue.


ADVICE: Create your agenda using the BI2014 website (login req) beforehand. Reach early to your favorite sessions to avoid standing or sitting on the floor.


This year I’ll be doing a repeat of my most popular session along with a new one that has been requested for some time:



Coming from the BusinessObjects world, I was one of the first visible thought leaders from the BOBJ side to embrace the SAP Insider BI conference. I admittedly went there four years ago on a whim thinking ‘K Mico, you’ll have to adapt sooner or later to this new SAP thing, better start with the BW side.’ I honestly didn’t expect to see a lot of BusinessObjects content… and boy was I wrong!


PROS: This event is always full of BOBJ/BW customers, who are eager to learn more about BusinessObjects. It is truly the best of both worlds.  It also attracts some of the top BI speakers from the BOBJ world as well. There are a number of scheduled networking sessions you can take part in!


Mico_Friends BI2013.jpgHaving fun with SAP Analytics Social Media crew!


CONS: Unlike some of other global BI events that I attend that have mobile apps that allow attendees to connect before and during the event, the SAP Insider events lack this type of visibility. You’ll need to do some homework to figure who is coming. (3/11 update) SAP Insider provide a link to this site where attendees can use their social media accounts to login and network: BI 2014 attendee directory.


ADVICE: Make a list of the top 10 persons and vendors you want to meet and try to set up meetings at the event before hand.  With all the sessions and over 1,000 attendees, time flies!


Talking about networking… I’m hosting my first private Data Visualization Mastermind meetup. You can RSVP by clicking here. Location details will only be provided at our booth (see below for location). A free copy of my book will be provided to the first ten attendees who RSVP.

BIDF Booth 840.jpg

#3 WHO’S TEACHING WHAT?! (Rating = 4.6)


Don’t you hate to be sold? Ugh. I’ve stopped attending a few conferences (I won’t name here) because I absolutely HATE to attend sales presentations that are masked as educational sessions. 


PROS: In attending SAP Insider’s BI sessions, I've always enjoyed their great variety of hands on sessions, coupled with live presentations and workshops.  BI2014 is really a ‘who is who’ in SAP BI events. With some of the best known speakers, authors, customers, and thought leaders in the BI world such as: Joerg Boeke, Dr. Bjarne Berg, Timo Elliott, Christopher Hickman and Andrew Joo, to name a few.



Mico_SAPFriends BI2013.jpgLearn from the best.. here with fellow speakers Martin Gillet, Luke Marson and Jason Rose!

CONS: No conference is perfect! I’ve probably ran into two ‘salesy’ sessions in the last four years.  The good news is that I did not see either vendor return.


ADVICE: Pre-conference day is cheap and packed with great hands on workshop. Book it before it sells out! Once you’ve set up your agenda, make a list of what you expect to get out of each session along with questions you want the speaker to answer. This one tip alone will at least double your ROI.  They say ‘Preparation is the mother of Success!’


#4 WHO’S KEYNOTING?! (Rating = 4.3)


Being the first major SAP BI conference of each year, SAP uses this event to make big announcements in their SAP Analytics portfolio. For those who are in a decision making and planning role, this is a critical component.  This year, it is co-located with HANA2014 as well, showing how the event is evolving in the SAP ecosystem.


PROS: This year will feature keynotes from dynamic speakers like Steve Lucas and Jason Rose.  I know both of these guys personally. I was told we should be in for some exciting demos. Last year they had a DJ and Steve’s keynote turned into a nightclub with dancing analytics on the screen! (not joking)


CONS: I did deducted a few points only because I wish that SAP Insider would have non-SAP or big vendor keynote speakers to balance the event. 


ADVICE:  To get the most of both keynotes, be sure to come with an understanding of your organizations current state of technologies like BI and/or HANA, being sure to note the challenges and future goals. As SAP outlines their plans, write down your questions to take back to your account rep to ensure you are aligned.



#5 WHERE IS IT LOCATED?! (Rating = 3.5)


Let’s be honest.  While Las Vegas (where the event was traditionally held) is an acquired taste, Orlando is child’s play, literally. 


PROS: If you’re a family person and can couple this with a vacation then you should be ecstatic! I’ve attended a few events in the lovely Dolphin and Swan hotel, I must say that Todd’s downstairs is delicious (though usually packed) and with a short walk you can get across the boardwalk to a few small shops


CONS: If you’re here primarily for business, Orlando is not exactly the most adult environment.  Also, if the event is in the basement of the hotel, forget having a phone signal. Better bring a mifi.


ADVICE: Book any dinner reservations right now.  If you’re a family person, turn the trip into a vacation. If not, consider driving down to Miami or Key West for the weekend if you're addicted to the ocean like me.



You may want to start using my conference grading system to ensure your conference dollars stretch as far as they can in 2014.  To get maximum bang for your buck, do follow my words of advice.


See you there!  Be sure to follow me online for my next post where I discuss in detail what I’m presenting and why, as well provide live updates from the conference.

Thanks to everyone who attended the Reportapalooza "Behind the Reports" webinar yesterday!  Below is  a quick recap of where we are with the Reportapalooza competition.  The final winner will be announced on Nov 22th.


  • Challenge #1 (Done) – Winner , Mico Yuk (Check out my Coffee Consumption Calculator)
  • Challenge #2 (Done) – Winner, Mico Yuk (based on traffic sent to Report a Hero Page)
  • Challenge #3 (Done) – Winner, Brian Durning (voted best Crystal Reports Video by Community)
  • Challenge #4 (Done) – Winner, David Deitch (voted best Charity Dashboard by Community)
  • Challenge #5 (In Progress) – "Reporting Remix" (What this series of blog post is about).
  • Community Dashboard Challenge (In Progress) – Voting end tomorrow Nov 12th for your favorite community dashboard.
  • Experts Webinar- "Behind the Reports" (Recording should be available soon) – You don’t want to miss the important tips and answered questions by the experts!
Now for a quick recap of the last 2 posts:
  • Part 1 - I went over some Q&A on what it would take on a high level to embed your Xcelsius charts and maps into a Crystal Report, as well as some pros and cons of both.
  • Part 2 - I went over how to set up your map in Xcelsius so that it can be consumed by Crystal Reports.  I used Google Maps (compliments of Centigon Solutions) for this example as it much more robust than the out box maps in Xcelsius.
  • Part 3 (the last one) - I am going to show you the  step-by-step process on how to embed your Xcelsius .swf file into your Crystal Reports.

6 Simple Steps to embed your Xcelsius .swf file into your Crystal Report!


1. Open Crystal Reports 2008 -> Click on blue icon to Embed Flash file


2. The Google Map should appear in your dashboard



3. Right click on the Google Map -> Click ‘Flash Data Expert’ to bind the Crystal Report Data


4. Drag the Label field, in this case ‘Sheet1_.Label’ into the 2nd row in the ‘Insert Row Labels’ section


5. Drag the Address field, in this case ‘Lat,Long’ into the 1st row in the ‘Insert Row Labels’ section -> Select ‘OK’. (Note: The map is now connected, so you can see the heat map data display in the preview.)


6. Voila! Your data and your map now appears in your Crystal Report.



As a BONUS, I attached the files that I used for the series.  Click here to download. Again, just a quick reminder to cast your final votes by tomorrow (11/12) on the 3 dashboards that were submitted by the community to show your support. 

As usual, before getting started I want to provide a quick recap of where we are with the Reportapalooza competition. This is the last week of voting before the final winner is announced on Nov 22th!


  • Challenge #1 (Done) – Winner , Mico Yuk (Check out my Coffee Consumption Calculator)
  • Challenge #2 (Done) – Winner, Mico Yuk (based on traffic sent to Report a Hero Page)
  • Challenge #3 (Done) – Winner, Brian Durning (voted best Crystal Reports Video by Community)
  • Challenge #4 (Done) – Winner, David Deitch (voted best Charity Dashboard by Community)
  • Challenge #5 (In Progress)What this series of blog post is about.
  • Community Dashboard Challenge (In Progress) – Vote until Nov 12th  for your favorite community dashboard.
In Part 1 of this series I went over some Q&A on what it would take to embed your Xcelsius visualization (in this case a map) into your Crystal Report, as well as some pros and cons.   In Part 2 I am going to cover how to set up your map in Xcelsius so that it can be consumed by Crystal Reports.  For this example we will be using Google Maps (compliments of Centigon Solutions) as it much more robust than the out of box maps in Xcelsius.

5 Simple Step to getting your Xcelsius (aka #SCDD) model ready!


1.       Install Google Maps Plug-in for Xcelsius (more details on how to do this here)


2.       Add the  GMaps Plugin to your Xcelsius dashboard

3. Configure your Excel spreadsheet to hold 2 columns of data for the Google Map: 1) Map Address 2) Map Labels


4.       Go to Data Connections in Xcelsius -> Add the ‘Crystal Reports Data Consumer' Connection


5.       Configure the ‘Crystal Reports Data Consumer’ Connection so that the ‘Row Headers’ are bound to the  Excel cell area you created in Step #3


In Part 3 I will focus on the final step:  Bringing your Xcelsius Map into Crystal Reports.  One last thing, please don’t forget to cast your votes on the 3 dashboards that were submitted by the community to show your support. 

Before getting started, I want to provide a quick update on the Reportapalooza competition: 


Unfortunately, I fell a bit behind while attending 2 SAP Conferences back to back this month.  Sorry if I let anyone down but I can't tell you how much I appreciate the support.  I also want to give a huge CONGRATS to our current leader David Deitch who is an Xcelsius beginner turned Guru in this competition!

Now to Challenge #5.  Labeled the ‘Report Remix' challenge, I am tasked with learning more about Crystal Reports 2008 and sharing it with YOU the community, hence the 'remix' which is to take you on the journey with me of learning a new Crystal product :) .  Below is my official public statement:


So let's get started with a few simple questions?

Q. How can you integrate Xcelsius flash files into your Crystal Reports?

A. It's a 2 step process. You first have to configure the Crystal Reports Data Consumer connection in Xcelsius (seen below) and then use the .swf button in Crystal Reports to embed the Xcelsius flash file. (More details on how to setup each will be provided in the next article)

Q. What are the Pros and Cons?

A. Pros - It is no secret that Xcelsius' ability to handle large amounts of data is VERY limited. By embedding your Xcelsius flash file into Crystal Reports you get to leverage the power of the Crystal engine while utilizing the beautiful graphics in Xcelsius. It's like having the best of both worlds.  In fact, in my next blog posts I am going to show how to integrate a map in Xcelsius into a Crystal Report.

A. Cons - If your not as familiar with Xcelsius you may have some issues using the ‘Crystal Reports Data Consumer' connection. It could use some fine tuning (note to the  Product Team :))

One more thing! This is your last week to submit your dashboards to the community Reportapalooza competition.  Hope you read this far down,  because if you have something worth seeing I am opening the door to review any entries that you send via email to gurus at everythingxcelsius.com and provide feedback if sent by 10/31 @ 12am EST.


Hi Folks,

Quick blog post, live from Orlando, while we're getting ready for the ASUG BusinessObjects conference, which starts tomorrow!

I finally got the chance to put my agenda together and below are a  list of sessions (sorted by day) that are must attend for all fellow  Xcelsius gazelles.  (NOTE: Items highlighted in BOLD are extra sessions that I think every Xcelsius fan should attend.)

Tuesday, Oct 5th, 2010

  1. 9:15 AM-10:15 AM: Getting Smart with Xcelsius (Mark Hudson from Antivia.com)
  2. 10:30 AM-11:30 AM: Xcelsius + Google Maps + 15 Minutes: A Coding Must-See (Ryan Goodman from Centigon Solutions)
  3. 10:30 AM-11:30 AM: Dashboarding: Modular vs. Composite vs. Custom (Matt Hawkins from Kingfisher)
  4. 1:30 PM-2:30 PM: Ten Key Xcelsius Dashboard Design Patterns (Loren Abdulezer author Xcelsius 2008)
  5. 2:45 PM-3:45 PM: Best Xcelsius Business Dashboards - Case Studies (Paul Grill from Infosol)
  6. 4:00 PM-5:00 PM: Influence Council - Dashboarding and Visualization (Scott Leaver from SAP|Bruce Novell chair of Influence Council)
  7. 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM: Xcelsius Reception (RSVP Required)

Wednesday, Oct 6th, 2010

  1. 10:30 AM-11:30 AM     Taking BI Mobile (Emily Mui from SAP Xcelsius Team)
  2. 1:30 PM-2:30 PM     Best Practices for BI Success (Cindi Howson, reknownd BI Author)
  3. 2:45 PM-3:45 PM     Visualization for Experts (Donald MacCormick from Antivia)
  4. 2:45 PM-3:45 PM     Introducing SAP Crystal Solutions (Blair Wheadon SAP Crystal Team)
  5. 4:00 PM-5:00 PM     Jason Rose and George Mathew present "The Future of SAP BusinessObjects Analytics"
  6. 5:45 PM-6:00 PM     Are Dashboards the right choice for your organization? - Dashboarding SIG Members

Thursday, Oct 7th, 2010

  1. 8:00 AM-9:00 AM     True Confessions of an Xcelsius Guru (Scott Strool from Everything Xcelsius / Benchmarkers Business Intelligence)
  2. 9:15 AM-10:15 AM     Tour of SAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise XI 4.0 (Coy Yonce, Crystal Report Product Manager)
  3. 11:45 AM-12:45 PM     Dashboard Design 2011 (Xcelsius) Release New Features (David Dalley |Donna Dong)

There are a ton of other exciting sessions not mentioned here, but at  least this will give the Xcelsius folks a head start. See you there!

Mico Yuk

How ASUG Won Me Over

Posted by Mico Yuk Sep 29, 2010

As a SAP BusinessObjects “legacy customer” why should I pay to join ASUG,  a predominantly SAP organization? This is perhaps the million dollar  question and one that many SAP BusinessObjects folks have been asking  themselves for the last 2 years, post the SAP acquisition. I was also in  the same boat, but instead of speculating, I was blessed enough to  connect to some key folks who changed my entire perspective and I want  to share my experience with you. (Note: Anything that I state here is  not for the purpose of advertising or discrediting ASUG.  It is simply  based on my actual experiences and personal thoughts.)

So you can easily follow my journey through ASUG, I am going to  summarize what I call ‘the how ASUG won me over timeline’, one person at  a time.

  • (May 2010) ASUG Dashboarding SIG Volunteer – I was invited to join earlier this year by the SIG’s chair, my former client and colleague, Gabe Orthous,  from McKesson. While the progress with this SIG has been fairly slow,  considering the group has only met about twice to date so far, I was  surprised to find tenured members, such as Paul Grill of Infosol, whose outspoken persona always shines light on the “real issues”.  The joint webinar I conducted with Ryan Goodman in August is an example of the SIG’s effort to provide quality content  to its few hundred members (most of which are from the SAP side).
  • (July 2010) ASUG Atlanta Chapter – While having lunch with Gabe and another fellow ASUG Dashboard SIG volunteer, Durgesh Das, I then met Rajeev Kapur (a very friendly, but influential BI leader from Newell Rubbermaid).  Tasked with managing both the SAP and BusinessObjects suite in his own  environment, Rajeev happened to also be the head of the ASUG Atlanta chapter.   He is responsible for organizing  the local Atlanta ASUG Chapter events  that are attended by almost 300 customers and partners. Expressing the  need to get more BOE folks to these events, though skeptical, I attended  the first on Sept 17th at the COKE Enterprise with my buddy Durgesh (I documented my entire experience via twitter with photos). In a nutshell, there were 4 segments of sessions from  9-5pm and each segment contained a BusinessObjects session that was not  only well attended, but quite informative.  I learned about RoamBI,  Crystal Reports integration with Xcelsius, and the BusinessObjects  Roadmap. Did I forget to mention, that as a BOE vendor, there was not a  shortage of SAP customers who needed help with their BOE  implementations? So honestly, I left there wondering, how can I possibly  get more BOE folks to see what I saw?  The best was yet to come!
  • (Sept 2010) Conversation with ASUG CEO Bridgette Chambers – Triggered by some feedback from the webinar I conducted with Ryan Goodman, (which I will not discuss here due to  its irrelevance) I was then contacted by ASUG’s very own CEO, Bridgette Chambers.  Like many of you, I had read about her new role as the CEO of ASUG last  year, but when her secretary called to set up a call with me, I  thought, “OK, maybe these guys are serious about getting BOE folks on board!” Without going into full details of the entire conversation, what stood  out to me the most was her absolute focus and determination to win over  the BOE community. It honestly left me wondering, “With this type of  leadership at the top, why does it seem that ASUG has failed to capture  the attention of the BOE community?” Simple answer. They did not choose a  BIG ENOUGH SHOVEL to penetrate the heap known as the BOE legacy  customers.

Conclusion - At this point, however, I am convinced that there  is tremendous value in ASUG, but just unsure how to relay this to our  BOE community. I think most will agree, that ASUG did a poor job of  transitioning the GBN members when they took over which left the  BusinessObjects folks wandering out there, turned off by member fees, a  bad ASUG website, a confusing strategy to bring them board, and no  visibility into the true value of joining this ‘seemingly’ SAP vested  organization.

So my take? If you are a customer the membership is free until the end of the year. Please check it out. I’ve not only  gained great friendships and associates, but also new customers and lots  of new friends to network with and to exchange knowledge. And because  the BOE community is so small, there is a lot of room to really  influence what ASUG does. Not to mention, the SAP folks I met have such a  deep interest in  BusinessObjects. There is no excuse that one will  hear about SAP modules  all day. I sure did not! I did however, learn a  lot about how  BusinessObjects work on top of SAP. So I definitely  encourage you to join me on this journey folks. See you next week in  Orlando!

And Reportapalooza continues! Two weeks ago I wrote my first blog post about this exciting SAP BusinessObjects virtual competition. Since then, THANKS to YOU, I won Challenge #1 with my Coffee Consumption Calculator.  I can't thank everyone enough for the overwhelming support and feedback  that I received! I am cooking something up in the form of a free  giveaway, to show my appreciation, once the competition ends for all of  you.

The bad news? I did not fare as well in Challenge #3, “Lessons from a Reporting Maestro”, but a huge CONGRATS to the winner Brian Durning (ASUG Crystal Reports SIG Chair). He did an awesome job, including,  providing some direction on my beginner video (along with my colleague  and Crystal Reports Guru, Mike Garrett).

So what’s next? Below is a quick review of the past and upcoming Reportapalooza events:

So what’s Challenge #2? Many folks have asked me about getting involved with Reportapalooza not realizing that this is exactly what the “Report Hero” challenge is all about. It’s simple, submit your heroic experience with SAP Crystal Reports or Dashboards by October 8th,  2010, and you may become the next superstar! Not only can you register  to win prizes, (I was shocked to see that 3 of my twitter friends won  $25 ITunes gift cards for Challenge #1!) but if chosen, your story will  be turned into a collectible music poster and highlighted in the competition and community.

My advice? Don’t walk, Run to submit your story NOW. If you are an SAP BusinessObjects report writer/developer or consumer  this is a no brainer! It takes 5 minutes to submit your short story, so  do it now! In addition, we will feature the winning story on our blog as  well.

Thanks again for all the great support!!

If you are on twitter following the @XcelsiusGurus you’ve probably heard the new buzz word #Reportapalooza, SAP's new virtual reality show where 5 Crystal Reports / Xcelsius experts will compete for prizes. The cool part?  All challenges will be judged by YOU, yes YOUthe community who will also have the chance to participate and win fun prizes.  Think ‘American Idol’ except instead of singing we are building reports. Oh yeah,  no one gets voted off, points are tallied each week and at the end of the competition.

Talk about neat?  Outside of being excited that SAP is entering THIS century with their marketing efforts :) take a quick peek at the impressive TOP 5 EXPERT LIST below which you can also follow on twitter here.

  1. Mico Yuk – yes that’s me, so hopefully you are somewhat biased in your voting LOL! SAP 2010 Mentor, Founder of this blog / Xcelsius Gurus Network, Xcelsius fanatic/blogger
  2. Jamie Oswald – fellow SAP 2010 mentor, former GBN Ambassador, long-time BOE Specialist
  3. David Deitch –   Owner of largest Linkedin Crystal Reports Group, long-time Crystal Reports Guru
  4. Jim Brodgen – SAP BOE Webi Author, Xcelsius 2010 Winter Olympics winner, long-time BOE Guru
  5. Brian Durnim – ASUG Crystal Reports SIG Chair, long-time Crystal Reports Gurus


The competition officially starts today so be sure to visit the siteand sign up for email updates to win prizes!  I will be blogging throughout and offering some specials to our community as well. :-)

GET STARTED NOW - Vote on our first challenge poll today to pick which dashboard you want us to build and win a $25 Itunes gift card. Click here!

Here are some related articles:

  1. Official Press Release
  2. Social Media Today Article

If you are the average Xcelsius user who demos dashboards on a regular basis via PowerPoint you’ve probably encountered the issueseen below when you try to view your dashboards in PPT after updating to Adobe Flash Player 10.1  As you can see this issue has been looming for about a month now, and there is finally a solution.

This week SAP informed us that they've finally been able to work with Adobe to create a patch.  The good  news?  SAP JUST ANNOUNCED THAT ADOBE RELEASED THE FIX EARLY. Adobe Flash Player update just released (fixes SWF in PPT bug)

Here is Adobe's official announcement.

Be sure to share your experiences with the community in the comments section!

It is such a pleasure to be the first SAP Mentor to kick off this new "Dear aBI"  gives advice on Business Intelligence on the SCN Network.  As a BusinessObjects reporting community evangelist, I was first humbled, but then excited about being asked to do this.  I'm always amazed at how many questions we get from the community.  The goal of this new column is to address the most common ‘important' ones.  While the answers are subjective, the opinions represented here are not only from experience, but also from a number of reliable sources both within and outside of SAP BusinessObjects.  Kudos to Jason Cao and everyone involved in getting this kicked off!  It goes to show, once again the commitment that SAP BusinessObjects has to getting the correct information to their users.  I encourage everyone to submit their questions, small or big and we will do our best to address them. Enjoy!


Dear BI Expert,

I'm trying to connect my Xcelsius dashboard to SAP BusinessObjects, which connection should I use QaaWS or Live Office?



Chris in Miami


Dear Chris in Miami,

This has been an ongoing debate and while opinions may vary, based on experience we would recommend Query as a Web Service (aka QaaWS) over Live Office in terms of overall stability and limited scalability.  If you need to use Crystal Reports or Web Intelligence documents as your data source then using Live Office is the best option. However, if you have the ability to get the data directly from the Universe we highly recommend using QaaWS.  From a performance perspective when a query is called in QaaWS it hits the database directly, while Live Office puts the load on the BusinessObjects Enterprise reporting engine.  In addition when using QaaWS the logic and calculations required for the dashboard is pushed to the DB either via SQL or DM/DW & ETL, while in Live Office this ‘heavy lifting' is done in the reporting documents.  We have also seen more incidences of unstable behavior using the Live Office connectivity during the actual development process, but did not encounter the same issues with QaaWS.  However, keep in mind that with both connections the key to good performance and scalability is keeping your data set to a minimum.  To gain more details on this topic click here to see a webinar that I presented with Ryan Goodman of Centigon Solutions that compares each connection and explain when to use them.

If using WebI, one third party option worth mentioning is the Antivia XWIS.


Dear BI Expert,

Can you explain how the Xcelsius licensing works?



Phil in Los Angeles


Dear Phil in Los Angeles,

With the release of Xcelsius Service Pack 3, SAP BusinessObjects made a few changes to the licensing structure of Xcelsius products:

  • Xcelsius Present (now known as SAP Crystal Presentation Design) - Designed for the individual business user, this license can be purchased directly online and allows the user to export their dashboard to any Microsoft Office application such as Power Point, Word or Excel and also Adobe PDF. It is the entry level of all the Xcelsius versions. NOTE: this version does not allow the user to connect to any live data sources or export to Adobe flash (.swf) format which is needed to embed the dashboard in an HTML page).
  • Xcelsius Engage (now known as SAP Crystal Dashboard Design) - Designed for individuals, departments or small businesses. SAP Crystal Dashboard Design is available in two (2) editions. NOTE: Both editions only allow a maximum of two (2) data connections per dashboard:
  1. SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, personal edition - An easy introduction to dashboarding functionality, this edition lets you create business dashboards and data presentations from spreadsheets and corporate databases - and share them live through Crystal Reports, Microsoft Office, Adobe PDF, and the Web.
  2. SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, departmental edition - A powerful dashboarding solution for small and midsize companies, this version has all the benefits of SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, personal edition - plus additional data connectivity and platform integration options. Flexible data access is available through Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, Adobe LiveCycle Data Services, Web services, XML data connections, and SAP BusinessObjects Live Office which allows you to connect to multiple data sources. SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, departmental edition, can be used with SAP Crystal Reports Server or in a standalone fashion.
  • Xcelsius Enterprise (naming to be announced sometime this year) - This version of Xcelsius is designed for enterprise organizations and can only be purchased through a sales rep or your SAP client partner contact. Xcelsius Enterprise is usually purchased with Xcelsius Enterprise Interactive Viewing. Whereas Xcelsius Enterprise is the designer, Interactive Viewing is for the user who will be interacting with the dashboards. These licenses can be purchased as part of the BusinessObjects Edge or Enterprise licensing bundles. Xcelsius Enterprise includes all the features in the first two (2) versions plus the ability to have an unlimited number of connections as well as the Query as a Web Service and Live Office data connectivity options.


Dear BI Expert, 

I want to learn Xcelsius, where can I find more information on training?



Paul in Boston


Dear Paul in Boston,

Depending on your budget there is a number of places to gain Xcelsius training.  Below are my suggested resources in order of preference and developer level:

a.      FREE Training    

  1. Blogs - Xcelsius Gurus, My Xcelsius, Ryan Goodman, David Taylor
  2. Beginner Videos - Datapig Technologies, Xcelsius Gurus Youtube Channel, SAP Xcelsius YouTube Channel, MyXcelsius YouTube Channel
  3. Other Resources - SAP Xcelsius Webinars, Xcelsius Gurus Slideshare, SAP Business Analytics Webinar Series


  1. Webucator - Virtual Online Training (mostly for beginners, very affordable)
  2. Infosol - Register online. On site ongoing classes (Beginner and Advanced)
  3. BIT Advisors - Register online. On site ongoing classes (Beginner and Advanced)
  4. RZ Solutions - Register online. On site ongoing classes (Beginner and Advanced)
  5. Xcelsius Gurus - Offers private group training to organizations (Beginner and Advanced)
  6. SAP Xcelsius Online Learning - Virtual. Learn at your own pace (Beginner ONLY)


Dear BI Expert, 

How can I obtain Xcelsius on my iPhone or iPad?



Michael in Chicago 


Dear Michael in Chicago,

Due to the lack of support for Adobe flash on the iPhone, Xcelsius is not available for either the iPhone or the iPad (FleXcelsius Guru, Evan Delodder wrote a great article on this topic).  However, a good alternative that many users enjoy, is using the iPhone app, RoamBI that allows for the visual display of charts on both the Iphone and Ipad. It also connects to BusinessObjects Webi Reports as well Excel spreadsheets and other data sources. To find out more, visit their website at http://RoamBI.com/.


To learn how to submit question(s) to one of our BI Experts, please visit the BI Advice Wiki

Winter Olympics Dashboard (Xcelsius) Challenge Winners

Even though I work with Crystal Dashboard Design (Xcelsius) on a daily basis in the "real world", judging the Xcelsius Challenge for Community Poll Results proved to be very interesting.  While the challenge and the data seemed pretty simple and straightforward, I was very impressed with the quality and creativity of the submissions.

To be fair* in judging the dashboards, I decided to use a very ‘real world' criteria.  Overall, the dashboards demonstrated creativity, great data, and competitiveness.  Each dashboard was graded on the following 3 criteria below and given a score between 0 - 5 (5 being the highest, 0 the lowest) for each criteria.  The scores were then summed together to determine the winner.

* The results and ratings reflected here are based on my own personal perspectives and experiences and are therefore subjective.  As fair as I try to be based on best practices, I am sure that another individual would judge the dashboards using a different criteria and get different results.


  1. Usefulness - Can the user make a ‘valued' real analysis based on the data displayed?
  2. Desirableness - Does the design and functionality of the dashboard foster ongoing use?
  3. Creativity - Did the developer go the extra mile to incorporate any add-on components or creative elements?

* Details of each criterion can be found by downloading the presentation that I collaborated on with Natasha Lloyd of the SAP Business Objects Xcelsius User Interface team at SAPPHIRE 2010 in May 2010 by clicking here.

See the chart below for the final rankings by Contestant.


  1. Jim Brogden - It was obvious that a lot of time was spent not only on the UI of the dashboard, which is well branded to the event, but also a lot of thought was put into how a Winter Olympic fan would want to navigate through the data by sport and then drill down further to see the result details in one screen. Great job!


  1. Mike Allison- Great job on the design. Lots of good info.
  2. Yunus Kaldirim- Great job on the design. Easy to use navigation


  1. Marton Harvoth - The best thing about this dashboard was its great use of the white space on the screen as well the Stephen Few approach to micro charting on the bottom right hand which was very creative. While it's not obvious where to click at all times, the dashboard displays all the data a user would need to do a complete drill down analysis in a very cool way.  Great job!
  2. Kalyan Verma - Very nice branding of the event with a consistent look and feel utilizing a variety of different charts.  Simple and to the point, just like a true Xcelsius Guru.  Great job Kalyan!


A message to newbies who are picking up Dashboard Design (Xcelsius) for the first time - don't get discouraged by the rankings. Kudos to you for courage and willingness to pick up a new tool, develop new skills and joining the challenge. Keep it up! Don't stop!


Most of the entries were very creative, but in general there are a few things that I saw across a number of the dashboards that we can all learn from.

  1. Text Size - When viewing a number of the dashboard in different browsers the text on most of them were hard to read. It was clear that some of the developers never really exported and launched the dashboard in an actual browser to ensure the UI would be appropriate for the user. In the real world this would be detected during the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) phase!'
  2. Useless Data - In an effort to provide useful analysis it appears that some users included a bunch of data that seem irrelevant to the actual numbers and may take away from the final analysis. In the real world we consider this scope creep!
  3. Design vs. Usefulness - On some dashboards it was clear that the user prioritized the coolness and look and feel over the overall effectiveness and real analysis of the dashboard. Remember there has to be a balance in both. My general rule is nice to look at and easy to use! KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stupid!

I'd love to gain your feedback so feel free to comment to this blog or chat with me on twitter.


  1. View all entries!
  2. New Poll: What is your favourite Winter Olympics Sport?
  3. Xcelsius Challenge for Community Poll Results
  4. Xcelsius Challenge - Get ready to be amazed!


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