It’s Time to Move on from Flash and Xcelsius (SAP Dashboards)

You probably noticed that Adobe’s Flash technology, which has been going through a slow death for several years, has finally been killed off.

The decline started several years ago: In January 2015, YouTube dropped Flash in favor of HTML5 for its default video player. In July 2015, Mozilla Firefox announced it would be blocking Flash due to bugs in the technology that was being targeted by hackers, and in September of that year, the UK national broadcaster BBC started migrating all of its on-demand content from Flash. In October 2015, Apple actively started blocking older versions of Flash on its MacOS. Several other high-profile companies, including Facebook, joined the call to kill Flash.

In August 2016, Google announced that it was dropping its support for the software platform. Starting September 2016 with its new Chrome 53, Google switched to HTML5 for a faster loading time, more efficient power consumption, and reduced page loads.

In July 2017, Adobe bowed to the inevitable and announced that Flash will be phased out by the end of 2020.

As we’ve said before, this is bad news for Xcelsius users, as this also signals the end for SAP Dashboards.

SAP has said that although there is going to be no further development of Xcelsius/SAP Dashboards, they are committed to supporting its output for the foreseeable future. However, with the call to kill Flash now reaching the mainstream media, the end of Xcelsius could be out of SAP’s hands.

The Security Issue

Adobe has released its 170th Flash update since 2008 to fix security vulnerabilities, setting off alarms bells in corporate IT security teams about the continued use of this technology.

A few months ago, we were approached by a BI team who had been informed by their IT folks that due to security concerns, Flash was going to be disabled on their corporate network the following Monday.

This left 200 users who relied on an Xcelsius dashboard rather high and dry, and left the BI team furiously searching for something that could replicate what they had done in Xcelsius but did not depend on Flash. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in.

Dashboards on the Go

In addition to security concerns, delivery to mobile devices should be an essential part of any BI project, not a luxury or an afterthought, which means Flash is now the wrong technology for delivering new dashboard projects.

You can argue that not all BI users need to view their dashboards on mobile devices, and that’s true. Some people never leave the office and have constant access to a desktop. However, most people will at some point need to view their dashboards when they’re on the road, working out of the office, or meeting with a customer.

For most organizations who are selecting a BI tool today, the ability to deliver to mobile is expected as the norm. As Howard Dresner from Dresner Advisory Services says:

It’s amazing to see how quickly mobile BI has gone from a niche segment to expected functionality. […] Another significant finding about the growth of mobile BI is that its use has now spread beyond executives to middle managers and line managers. That’s great news for the industry, as it shows mobile BI is filtering down in organizations and should result in broader BI provisioning.”

So when you are planning dashboard projects, if you want to maximize user adoption and ensure the success of your project, it is clear that you need to consider the needs of mobile users too. That means HTML5 is your best technology choice. It’s time to say goodbye to Flash.

David Mendels, EVP Products, Macromedia/Adobe 1992-2005, recently said to the BBC: “Flash was built for another time and technologies have a lifecycle. Flash never made the transition to non-PC devices, and so I think it’s time for Flash to have a peaceful afterlife.”

Xcelsius has had a great run too, but to avoid serious Flash security vulnerabilities and having to jump through hoops to deliver on mobile, it’s time to start thinking about an exit strategy.

See why DecisionPoint is the natural successor to Xcelsius.