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Insights from Consultant and Author Jim Brogden on Reporting with SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence

by Kristine Erickson

October 18, 2010

Jim Brogden, co-author of "SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence"

In this interview, author and BI consultant Jim Brogden discusses his thoughts on SAP BusinessObjects reporting and his book "SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence." Hear the full interview with Dave Hannon of SAPinsider and Insider Learning Network in the "Benefits of BI" podcast  (October 14, 2010).

Dave Hannon: I'm speaking today with Jim Brogden, a consultant with Daugherty Business Solutions and co-author of the book "SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence." 

First off, I wanted to get some background on your book. What made you decide to write a book about Web Intelligence?

Jim Brogden: I started working with BusinessObjects around 2005, and one of the first things I did was ask "Where's the book?"

I wanted to go out and get a book on Web Intelligence -- and found out there wasn't one. Luckily I was at a good organization and I learned quite a bit about BusinessObjects right there on the job, and I knew quite a bit about business intelligence reporting in general.

I finally started to put together the idea that maybe I could write the book. There was some material that I just didn't have the experience with, so, luckily, I found two very experienced co-authors: Heather Sinkwitz and Mac Holden. Heather has been a certified instructor of BusinessObjects for a number of years and has several years of BusinessObjects reporting experience. And Mac has quite a few years of experience with SDK.

DH:  Jim, I read that you were one of the first 40 people in the world to become a BusinessObjects-certified professional as well as a migration specialist. What is it about BusinessObjects that interests you so much?

Jim Brogden:  I really like the ease of use in Web Intelligence reporting, the filtering, the access to data through the universe, pulling the data into the cube.

You've got access to quite a bit of information right there within a report -- and you can shape it and pivot it and filter it and publish it. And then you can put it right out there on t he portal for everybody in your enterprise to see what you just built.

DH: What level of programmer is this book aimed at? Is it more of an "intro to Web Intelligence" book, or is it something that's more for advanced programmers?

Jim Brogden:  A little more than half of the book is aimed towards a beginner audience, someone new, not necessarily to BI reporting in general, but more to the BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reporting tool itself.

So it tells specific pieces of information about what a universe is, how to function within the universe, how to create a query, how to format a report, all the different types of filtering that you can do, formulas, variables.

Then we get into some more advanced topics, like bringing in multiple data sources, allowing you to connect to a number of different universes, all within a single report, embedding hyperlinks into a report.

So the majority of the book is basic information, but then there are about 8-10 chapters that go into this more advanced material: connecting to Live Office, creating BI widgets, and then, of course, the SDK chapters. Those are geared more towards a more experienced user.

DH:  Is there any specific functionality in Web Intelligence that you think gets overlooked, a piece of it that people aren't using or a benefit that they aren't realizing?

Jim Brogden: I think what often gets overlooked is the strength of using multiple data sources in a single report.

If you're at a client that's got quite a bit of information and it's in disparate sources, a variety of universes, you have the ability to connect to two, three universes and bring in data that doesn't match.

If you can play it all on a single report in different blocks, different pivots, different charts, you could get a lot of mileage out of Web Intelligence. I think that's somewhat overlooked.

And also, customization with the SDK -- that's very overlooked as well.

DH:  Lastly, Jim, do you have any specific advice for a company that's considering implementing Web Intelligence (other than buying your book)?

Jim Brogden:  I would say definitely do it, because just the ability to connect to a universe and pull in a large amount of data right into a single report -- and filter it, format it, shape it up and get it just the way you want it, and then publish it right to your InfoView portal -- just that ability alone is really powerful.

And most of all, it's not difficult to learn. I would highly recommend clients, customers, all around, to use BusinessObjects -- and especially Web Intelligence.


Jim Brogden is a software engineer, data analyst, award-winning technical author, business intelligence consultant, and co-author of the book "SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence."

First off, I wanted to get some background on your book. What made you decide to write a book about Web Intelligence?

Jim Brogden: I started working with BusinessObjects around 2005, and one of the first things I did was ask "Where's the book?"

I wanted to go out and get a book on Web Intelligence -- and found out there wasn't one. Luckily I was at a good organization and I learned quite a bit about BusinessObjects right there on the job, and I knew quite a bit about business intelligence reporting in general.

I finally started to put together the idea that maybe I could write the book. There was some material that I just didn't have the experience with, so, luckily, I found two very experienced co-authors: Heather Sinkwitz and Mac Holden. Heather has been a certified instructor of BusinessObjects for a number of years and has several years of BusinessObjects reporting experience. And Mac has quite a few years of experience with SDK.

DH:  Jim, I read that you were one of the first 40 people in the world to become a BusinessObjects-certified professional as well as a migration specialist. What is it about BusinessObjects that interests you so much?

Jim Brogden:  I really like the ease of use in Web Intelligence reporting, the filtering, the access to data through the universe, pulling the data into the cube.

You've got access to quite a bit of information right there within a report -- and you can shape it and pivot it and filter it and publish it. And then you can put it right out there on t he portal for everybody in your enterprise to see what you just built.

DH: What level of programmer is this book aimed at? Is it more of an "intro to Web Intelligence" book, or is it something that's more for advanced programmers?

Jim Brogden:  A little more than half of the book is aimed towards a beginner audience, someone new, not necessarily to BI reporting in general, but more to the BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reporting tool itself.

So it tells specific pieces of information about what a universe is, how to function within the universe, how to create a query, how to format a report, all the different types of filtering that you can do, formulas, variables.

Then we get into some more advanced topics, like bringing in multiple data sources, allowing you to connect to a number of different universes, all within a single report, embedding hyperlinks into a report.

So the majority of the book is basic information, but then there are about 8-10 chapters that go into this more advanced material: connecting to Live Office, creating BI widgets, and then, of course, the SDK chapters. Those are geared more towards a more experienced user.

DH:  Is there any specific functionality in Web Intelligence that you think gets overlooked, a piece of it that people aren't using or a benefit that they aren't realizing?

Jim Brogden: I think what often gets overlooked is the strength of using multiple data sources in a single report.

If you're at a client that's got quite a bit of information and it's in disparate sources, a variety of universes, you have the ability to connect to two, three universes and bring in data that doesn't match.

If you can play it all on a single report in different blocks, different pivots, different charts, you could get a lot of mileage out of Web Intelligence. I think that's somewhat overlooked.

And also, customization with the SDK -- that's very overlooked as well.

DH:  Lastly, Jim, do you have any specific advice for a company that's considering implementing Web Intelligence (other than buying your book)?

Jim Brogden:  I would say definitely do it, because just the ability to connect to a universe and pull in a large amount of data right into a single report -- and filter it, format it, shape it up and get it just the way you want it, and then publish it right to your InfoView portal -- just that ability alone is really powerful.

And most of all, it's not difficult to learn. I would highly recommend clients, customers, all around, to use BusinessObjects -- and especially Web Intelligence.


Jim Brogden is a software engineer, data analyst, award-winning technical author, business intelligence consultant, and co-author of the book "SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence."

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