When I first started presenting Xcelsius dashboards back in 2006, I said that it should carry a warning sign stating “May Cause Xtreme Xcitement”!
Despite all the advances in technology and tools over the last decade that statement not only remains true today, but maybe should be changed to “Will Cause Xtreme Xcitement”.
In the last month, I have both seen and heard stories from companies singing the praises of Xcelsius and hailing it as the savior of BI user adoption in their organizations.
A company specializing in reporting and analysis of employee business travel was looking for a client facing BI application that would help sell their solution. The client showed me their current solution running in Qlikview bemoaning how rigid, limiting and unexciting it was to use. They then showed me an example of something they found on the web that was an animated PowerPoint dashboard much closer to what they were looking for. Of course, I recognized it as an Xcelsius dashboard embedded in PowerPoint immediately. It had been developed over seven years ago, but it still sizzled. So, we mocked up a new prototype in Xcelsius for the client and to say they loved it would be an understatement. The VP of Marketing came up with the best quote of the day when he said, “It’s alive!”
A multi-national vehicle leasing company developed a super cool Xcelsius dashboard for improving their vendor management with built-in location intelligence using the GMaps plug-in and the InfoBurst XML Data Caching for high data volume performance. They presented it at their annual sales meeting last month and it stole the show. The excitement generated was so contagious, the VP and Director responsible spent the evening at the bar designing the next dashboard together! (I can’t wait to see that one!).
A new finance director of a global software company needed a way to provide better visibility to their financial statements and reports. She remembered using Xcelsius many years ago and said it really helped then. We put a prototype together for her in a day and everyone loved it, so they are buying it next week.
So why is Xcelsius so amazing and still slaying the BI data visualization competition everywhere? There are dozens of reasons from its ease of use, animations, ability to embed in everything, fast prototyping to its “what if” scenarios and cool components. But it goes deeper than all these features which you can also find in other BI visualization tools. The real secret to the success of Xcelsius is that it was initially designed and developed by computer gamers. To develop a winning computer game, you need to engage your audience visually, make it cool and fun to use and have limitless possibilities. You can find all these elements in Xcelsius dashboards allowing you to create killer BI applications.
That is why Xcelsius dashboards is still the best show in town. Xcelsius lives!
Update Nov 2015 : Lots of activity around Xcelsius HTML5 for deployment on mobile and on desktop with dCode add-on (www.getdcode.com). Now that Xcelsius generates HTML5 output, I see it being around for many, many more years
Update April 2016 : Xcelsius continues to thrive with many organizations using and deploying it for the first time in 2016. SAP provided updates to it with latest BI 4.2 release including full support for Excel 2013
Update Sept. 2016 : Xcelsius HTML5 definitely seems to be the dashboard solution of choice and many new add-on HTML5 components are becoming available including D3 charts, flat components and query drag and drop discover.
Update Sept 2018 : Adobe announced end of life for Flash for Dec 31, 2020 and SAP announced it would no longer support Xcelsius after this date since the development client uses Flash. While some Xcelsius users are looking for a viable alternative solution, others vow to continue to use the tool regardless. There are some new Xcelsius compatible solutions in development so let's see what materializes in the coming months.
Update Feb 2019 : Xcelsius still heavily in use. Some companies looking to replace with Tableau or PowerBI but just not the same. Web Intelligence dashboards may be a viable alternative for simple dashboards .
Update July 2019 : SAP has announced it will no longer support Xcelsius after Dec. 31, 2020 to coincide with Adobe no longer supporting Flash in the browser. However, most Xcelsius users have been generating HTML5 dashboards for a number of years now and are continuing to do so and their Xcelsius HTML5 dashboards should not be affected. SAP has no equivalent follow-on product and is recommending customers move to SAC (cloud only) and rewrite their dashboards - this will require programming skills . An alternative to Xcelsius, called Squirrel, that requires no training for an existing Xcelsius developer and has a built-in XLF migration utility is due for beta release by InfoSol in October and will be GA in December.
Update Dec 2019 : Squirrel has been in beta for the last few weeks with multiple organizations and is scheduled for general release on Dec 31. Initial feedback is very positive with Xcelsius users who require no re-training to use it. They have been able to both migrate or recreate existing Xcelsius dashboards. This is great news for the Xcelsius community who now have another option when Flash goes away and SAP stops supporting Xcelsius in 2021.
Update May 2020 : Squirrel is now at version 1.3 with multiple Xcelsius customers having converted their dashboards and running with the Squirrel HTML5 versions in production. This appears to be a very viable path forward for those customers left with Xcelsius Flash dashboards that will probably no longer work starting in 2021.
Update Nov 2020 : Squirrel 1.6 which has a cloud based version and allows you to embed dashboards in PPT was just released last week. More and more Xcelsius customers have now successfully moved to Squirrel and companies like Salesforce are using it too. Xcelsius has about a month to go before Adobe and SAP stop all support.
Disclaimer: My company is partners with several vendors including SAP BO.