Ah February…I have already fallen off the New Year resolution wagon and dipped right back into frosting, cake mix and candy. I won’t ever give up Diet Mountain Dew or my love for reviewing business intelligence and predictive analytics tools. Though I do need to reign in my volunteer work in 2014 a bit to keep my husband happy and keep feeding the pups. Priorities… BUT when I was contacted about looking at a small, off-the-radar self-service business intelligence dashboard solution used by SAP business intelligence customers, I could not resist temptation yet again. The little company is called Antivia. They have a young offering called XWIS DecisionPoint that has some maturing to do but is off to a promising start. Here is a quick peek at it and my balanced, honest feedback of where it is today.
According to Antivia’s overview, they have been in the information delivery business for over 10 years. They have roots in Seagate Crystal and Business Objects, as well as some other lesser known industry players. They began focusing on business user, self-service business intelligence five years ago. Antivia’s XWIS DecisionPoint is a 4th generation offering. Antivia was founded in 2007 and has 2 offices in London and Boston. Even though they were a small, unknown player, their customer list does include a few of the world’s biggest name accounts that are most likely using the SAP Xcelsius and WebIntelligence.
I got the standard overview by the product management team and told them I won’t blog about any product unless I get to play with it hands-on. I am a firm believer that anyone can make a demo look dreamboats but it is the hands-on experience that makes all the difference in understanding a product, breadth of true capabilities versus marketing-speak, learning curve and overall user experience. They provided me a link to download and install XWIS DecisionPoint onto my Windows 8 laptop.
Although I did have a rough start, things not working quite right and missing documentation, their YouTube videos really helped get me functional. The nice technical rep was also super helpful and attentive to supporting my inquiries and troubleshooting bugs encountered – even over the busy holidays. I give them A+ on technical support.
Once I was finally up and running, it was fun to use. I liked their default gorgeous blue theme and array of widgets, charts and pixel-perfect layouts that I rarely see in self-service business intelligence dashboard tools. The development experience was drag/drop, filter, customize object settings, click to publish and pretty straight-forward once you got the hang of it. They do have an interesting Alert syntax concept that I did not fully understand but could infer that it was a nice, proactive dashboard feature. I also noted dashboard Actions/Behaviors on views and a button feature that was also intriguing. I struggled a bit with navigating published reports. Once I deployed a dashboard, I could easily drill-down but I was not able to drill back up. I also felt the calendar control took up way too much space and should be redesigned as a pop-up to leave precious dashboard space for valuable, actionable content. I shared a few more nit picks with them around usability but I was pleased with where they are at this early in the product lifecycle. Having been a developer most of my life, I truly appreciate the engineering behind the solution.
Overall they have a good running start and the pixel-perfect, gorgeous dashboards have a lot of future promise. Their web site and demos look great. The SAP connectors are fantastic. The HTML5 and mobile was also lovely. It feels like they need a few more feature releases to address usability issues, develop reviewer guides and needed documentation to get better market traction. I am not deep into the SAP world to know if they are already widely seeded in that market but I can see why SAP users may like this little-known, self-service business intelligence offering.