SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform Review

Using Xcelsius dashboard instead of Qlikview

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 ( 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.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: OEM Partner of SAP
More SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform reviews from users
...who work at a Energy/Utilities Company
...who compared it with Tableau
Learn what your peers think about SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2021.
464,594 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Add a Comment

author avatarit_user163092 (Senior Reporting Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees)

Please help! Xcelsius gave me Xtreme headaches, not Xtreme Xcitement. I created a universe in SAP BOE, created a simple dashboard in Web Intelligence. Then, I tried to the same thing in Xcelsius/Dashboards. I successfully connected to the BOE universe, but it still wanted me to setup the excel spreadsheet instead of reading the data straight from the universe.

What's the point? Why do I have to do extra steps just to get prettier components? At least the Webi was able to use data directly from the universe to create table and charts (pie, bar, etc). Then, there comes the data limitations of Xcelsius? You have to specify the number of rows or columns in the excel spreadsheet??? Does nobody's data change over time? Does a company’s number of employees or departments always stay the same?

I don't get the Xcitement of recreating the wheel every time your dataset changes or the additional steps you have to do to develop a dashboard in comparison to Webi or QlikView.

author avatarPaul Grill
Top 5LeaderboardReal User

Happy to help you. It is not necessary to use an Excel spreadsheet with Xcelsius. You can use the Query Browser connector to connect directly to a BOE universe. You can also use the Web services connector, QaaWS and XML connectors to connect to almost any data source.

author avatarH.Emre Arıkan
Real User

My excitement abaut Xcelsius is within limits, if only because of missing aggregate engine. "Dragging in and out of dimensions on the dashboard" should be a standard feature.

author avatarit_user255801 (User)

I have been using Xcelsius for over 10 years when it was still Business Objects and Engage 2008 After SAP bought BO.

SAP has made a great mess with the naming of different versions (I wonder if their Marketing Director still has a job...) which has created plenty of confusion. In any event, i am still using the Xcelsius Engage 2008 and it is of course amazing. It needs some updating, especially in the MAP component as some country subdivisions are outdated and some countries are not available.

I have been seeking an update, and this is also become a total confusing mess (SAP are you listening?) because it is very much unclear what these "updates" offer over Xcelsius Engage 2008 (or whatever it is called today).

I was told that the update is: SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, personal edition 2013
Now the "update" cost $1,745 and the full product: $2,450. This "upgrade" discussed costs almost 4 times the original cost of what i paid for my Xcelsius and really don't see much valuable improvement. I have contacted SAP CS and I regret to say, don't have a clue....They promised to send me the details of the differences... (never did).

Additionally, there are Xcelsius dashboard presentation versions costing under $500 (!)

In short:

- Xelsius is likely the best interactive dashboard builder around.

- Be very careful as to which version you buy; you don't want to spend more money than you have to and don't expect the crowd at CS to very helpful, as they are literally clueless about the product. I am simply telling my experience.

author avatarPaul Grill
Top 5LeaderboardReal User

It is true that the constant renaming of the Xcelsius products by SAP has caused much confusion along with what each package includes. I would be happy to explain upgrade options for you if you wish to contact me. There are quite a few differences between Xcelsius Engage 2008 and the current version. The look and feel of the designer is quite different, there are more components, more connection options and now the ability to generate HTML5 outputs - just to name a few.

author avatarit_user255801 (User)

I absolutely would like to hear your point of view and anything you wish to share about the app.
I would like to know things like:

1) Is SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, personal edition 2013 really the upgrade to Engage 2008?

2) How is it possible that they are asking such an outrageous amount of money for it?

3) How is it so different to the Xcelsius dashboard presentation apps they offer for under $500?. Am I missing something?

4) What justifies the kind of money they are asking? I am interested in things like, a fully updated MAP component, brand new dashboards, the possibility of a video component to insert videos, and the like. I guess it is possible that they are including some arcane stuff I don't care about, but I am ready to be surprised by you.