Feb 01 2011
Today I attended a Desktop to Web Intelligence Migration influence council hosted by ASUG. Clearly based on posts on BOB there is a lot of frustration and trauma being experienced by folks that are deeply invested in Desktop Intelligence. I do not anticipate being an active participant in this council myself, but I wanted to hear what SAP had to say. The first thing they mentioned was the final support dates for Desktop Intelligence, and they depend on your customer support agreement. If you are on standard (mainstream) maintenance then you can continue to get support through 2015. For those customers that pay for priority one support, you get an extra two years, all the way out to 2017.
The next item on the agenda was yet another listing of reasons from SAP as to why Desktop Intelligence will be discontinued. They claim that there is a decreasing interest in the product, which I expect to be true but you would not know based on the very vocal responses on BOB to the contrary. Web Intelligence does currently cover the majority of the features, but there are some significant holes at this time. From a coding perspective, I am definitely going to miss the VBA capabilities, at least until I can get more comfortable with writing / implementing Java code.
As a part of the influence council, SAP is looking for help in understanding what customers need in order to make the conversion. Do we need more service offerings (consulting or products) to aid in that conversion? Are there specific features that are “must haves” in order to make the leap? What about the report conversion tool, are there additional options required there? One item that I have heard requested (and turned down) many times is the ability to open a .REP file directly in the rich client. From a user convenience perspective, it makes sense. From a coding / architecture perspective, it’s a terrible idea. The report conversion tool is a complex bit of code. It makes sense that it’s a standalone product. If they decide to include all of that logic within the rich client, then that’s an awful lot of extra baggage to carry around for a temporary use. And that extra code would also be present for any new customers that perhaps never even had any .REP reports to deal with. So despite the requests, I would be surprised if the rich client ever got the ability to directly open a .REP file.
But perhaps if the influence council decides it’s important enough, then the technical issues will be overruled and that feature will become part of the tool. The SAP representatives did confirm that the top two missing features are custom groups and free hand SQL. I’m not sure which is number one versus number two, but those requests do match my experience as far as conversations I have had with other users.
Bud Stewart from AT&T is the customer chair for this influence council. He had one slide where he talked briefly about the agenda in place, including the process of identifying key issues that current customers are finding as they go through the conversion.
I believe that further participation in the council is covered under a non-disclosure agreement, but I wanted to share the initial high-level topics that were mentioned on the kickoff call. It will be interesting to see the final resolution. And no, I don’t expect SAP to bring back Desktop Intelligence.