Data Warehousing, BI and Data Science

11 July 2012

Business Objects Voyager

Filed under: Business Intelligence — Vincent Rainardi @ 1:00 am

What is it?

BO Voyager is a tool for “browsing” cubes. It can read 3 OLAP cubes: SSAS, Hyperion Essbase, SAP BW (link, page 52). DB2 OLAP (8.2) uses the same provider as Essbase 7 hence Voyager can open DB2 OLAP. Oracle OLAP can only be accessed using Simba MDX provider (link), not native. SAP BW (or BIW) can only be accessed using BO Integration Kit for SAP.

The formal name of Voyager today (10/7/12) is “SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP” (link). The user guide is here, the admin guide is here, the product sheet is here.

There are 2 versions of “BO Analysis”, the other one is “edition for Microsoft Office”, which is an Excel plugin (link). This is the new name of Business Explorer Analyzer (link).

This is how Voyager looks like: (link, page 51)

What is for?

Voyager has been used for many years (probably more than 7 years) to browse SSAS cube. Now that Excel can browse SSAS cube, the use of Voyager for browsing SSAS cube is a question mark. Tableau and XLCubed have better capability than Voyager. We can’t even create a hyperlink in Voyager.

Unlike Tableau, Excel or XLCube however, Voyager can browse Hyperion/Essbase and SAP BW as well. Small companies usually only have 1 OLAP platform. But large corporation like global banks usually have multiple OLAP platforms and this is where Voyager kicks in.

Apart from “browsing”/querying the cube and creating charts from it, we can use Voyager to do the following:

  • Highlight exceptions e.g. make the cell red (or any colour) if the number is bigger or smaller than certain limit.
  • Sort a column or a row, i.e. ascending, descending or hierarchies.
  • Filter a column or a row, i.e. display only top 10, display only where revenue > certain threshold.
  • Do calculations, i.e. sum, sumproduct, +, -, /, x, % of total
  • Useful OLAP functions: Prior period, period to date, moving average, rank.
  • Link to BO report (but not to URL)

Is it good?

No. In my opinion, Voyager is a last generation product. It feels like ProClarity to me. It needs a lot of investment to beat modern BI products such as Tableau, XLCubed, Qlikview, Roambi and Spotfire.

It provides basic functionality to explore Essbase & SSAS cubes, but nothing more. If this was 2006, Voyager would have a chance. But in 2012 where the BI tools have grown strong in competition, there’s no chance.

Prominent areas for improvements:

  1. Port to true thin client i.e. HTML5/Javascript
  2. Visualisation e.g. chart, dashboard
  3. Interactive ability, i.e. dashboard, drilldown, map, alert
  4. More integration with SSAS & Essbase, e.g. displaying description of measures & attributes, drilldown, KPI
  5. Scripting to support queries
  6. Automation and scheduling
  7. Mobile platform i.e. iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, Android, BB
  8. Cloud interface (S/I/PaaS), stream data
  9. Big data integration, i.e. Hadoop

10. Silverlight integration

11. Data mashup integration, e.g. composite

SAP is a giant corporation with good R&D. I admire Hana, which is a modern (even future) platform, i.e. in-memory database & analytics. I wrote an article about Hana (link). I also admire BO Webi, which in my opinion is the best in its class i.e. dynamic reporting. BO functionality is a lot richer than SSRS Report Builder.

But I don’t admire Voyager. I believe SAP has the capacity to improve it, which is why I took the time to write the 11 points above. It needs good investment to match today’s standards. SAP is one of the top 4 giants in BI, along with Oracle, Microsoft, SAS and IBM (link). SAP has the financial & technical capability to refurbish Voyager to be one of the best analytic tools.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: