Sep 17 2008

Share An Idea, Win A Cup

Categories: GBN Dave Rathbun @ 10:41 pm

GBN Logo

Not too long ago I was selected to be on the steering committee for the newly forming global user group now known as GBN (short for Global Business Objects Network). While I was busy preparing for and attending TechEd 2008 GBN launched our new web site (in the related links for this post), provided a PDF for the press release, and gave me a logo to add to my posts. Of course having the logo is the most important, right? :lol:

The steering committee had our first face-to-face meeting in Chicago last month. I thought the meeting was very productive, but there was one important part that was not entirely present. I am just one of several steering committee members. Each of us has our own ideas and our own concerns. I want to be more… I want to carry your ideas and your concerns too. The most important part of a global user group is the middle word “user” as without it, the group has no purpose. That’s where you come in.

At the meeting we were each given an early look at some of the “swag” branded with the GBN logo. As you can see from the picture below, it’s a nice insulated travel coffee cup.

GBN cup image

People that know me personally will probably remember that I don’t drink coffee. Therefore this snazzy insulated travel coffee cup is really of no use to me, and I want to give it to you. Really, I do… no strings attached. I’ll even cover the shipping anywhere in the world. So what do you have to do to win this precious one-of-a-kind (okay I made that up) item?

Tell me how to make the GBN work for you. What services do you want to see? What can we provide that will make your Business Objects life easier, more productive, or just more fun? What should our focus be? Frankly, it can be any or all of the above… just use the comment form at the bottom of this page and enter your suggestion / comment / idea / concept or anything else that comes to mind. Share your concerns and your hopes for this new organization. I will read each and every one of them, and I can promise that I will take them all – even the silly ones :-P – to the next committee meeting and share them.

What do you get for your efforts? Other than the self-satisfaction of knowing that you’ve provided input into a very important process, in roughly one month (Friday, October 17th) at midnight, central time, I will take everyone who has posted a comment and drop their names in a hat. The name that is then drawn from the hat will win this prestigious GBN Cup (okay, now I’m really over the top). If the winner will be attending the conference in Dallas later that month I will hand deliver it. Otherwise I will contact you for shipping information and send you your cup.

So, how about it? What can we (the GBN) do for you? Tell me. :)

Related Links

28 Responses to “Share An Idea, Win A Cup”

  1. Comment by Marek

    One suggestion:
    At the moment the only way hot to get to know a new BO product or an application or an old product that has not been used in my company is to call a BO sales rep to do a presentation/demo. And you know the hassle that usually follows – calls, emails, calls and emails again with the proposals, additional meetings, additional demos, … Very often I want to avoid that. So my idea is that short videos with demos of BO products on GBN site would be available. I could download those that I would be interested in and watch them in my free time and see what the products that I don’t use/know are capable of. Something simple but useful. I am wondering why something like this is not available on BO official website :-(

  2. Comment by Sandor

    There are videos like that out there. Either on the partner site, diamond or PEP. Meaning that quite a lot of the time they’re not easy to find, have to pay for them or not available to just anyone.

  3. Comment by Simon To


    Thank you very much for the suggestion. The video is already in our plan. We are going to produce some how-to and training videos on Business Objects products.

    With the being said, the videos are probably not downloadable. It is because we want to encourage people to visit our web site and not to distribute the videos among themselves.

    Again, thank you very much for the suggestion. Please keep them coming.

  4. Comment by Marek

    Thanks. But this will not help me/us (BO users). If the videos are hidden somewhere or you even have to pay for them then it’s the same as if they don’t exist. Useless. Why would I want to pay for a video with the demo of a BO product if I realized at the end that I would not need such product?

    I understand you are talking about GBN site, right?

  5. Comment by Nick

    I’d like to see the GBN champion an issue that is hurting people with investments in BO, say once a quarter. So you develop some kind of mechanism on your website to solicit this kind of feedback. The biggest pain point, or the point that GBN feels they can champion, is then researched and taken to BO – preferably high up. I am thinking of the farce with the support transition as a prime example. A bit vague but I think its a winner!

  6. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Thanks for the ideas so far, keep them coming. :)

  7. Comment by Marek

    What is the relation between BO (an SAP company) and GBN? Will BO support in any way GBN or will they not care at all?

    Will BO listen to what GBN (after some investigation/poll between BO users) suggests or asks for?

    Will there be any official regular discussions between BO and GBN and will the results be posted on the GBN site? Will BO users’ opinion and ideas taken into account for such discussions?

    I am sorry if this is already described on the GBN site. If yes please post the link.


  8. Comment by Mark Anscomb

    Hi Dave,

    How about listing the enhancements we would like to see, just like on BOB.
    Then actually allowing Business Objects to vote on what they would most like in a new release.
    I know some elements of a wish list would not always be technically possible, but I wonder whether BO actually listen to their user community at times.

    We could also, maybe, do the same for the top n bugs…;).

    All the Best,


  9. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Marek, I can only answer your question based on my knowledge of the current relationship between SAP and ASUG. SAP takes the input from the user community very seriously. There were several sessions at TechEd about something called an “Influence Council” which I hope to post about more in a few weeks. GBN is being launched by the same folks that run ASUG and so they are well familiar with how to interface / interact with SAP. It will be a learning process for us (GBN) and for them (Business Objects corporate) at the same time. :) But historically speaking SAP has certainly been very active in their relationship with the various SUGs.

  10. Comment by Jansi

    I just wonder why some features in Desktop Intelligence are not available in Web Intelligence as such. Sometimes it is very hectic to achieve them by playing some tricks in Web Intelligence. I don’t know what hinders BO (SAP) to bring these features as well in Web-I.

  11. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Jansi, some are hindered simply by the platform. The original Webi was written with very basic “web” functionality. Now with AJAX and other tools some more features can be brought to life. For example, folding is a very popular choice. :)

    But having customer input into priorities of feature implementation is a good suggestion. I heard one scenario related to SAP where the company asked that a customer panel be set up to help prioritize new feature development, so I assume that even this is fair game as a request.

  12. Comment by Jansi

    Okay Dave. It seems they are going to develop Web-I further, leaving Desk-I aside in spite of these things. :(

  13. Comment by Michael Welter

    Perhaps GBN can assist SAP in improving the usability of their tech support website. Currently, it is extremely difficult to find useful information there. And finding documentation is nearly impossible. Along the same lines, it would be helpful if GBN had links from their website to useful portions of the SAP website, such as documentation.

  14. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Hi, Michael, welcome to my blog. Nice to see you here. :)

    Believe it or not, the GBN steering committee has already had some conversations with SAP regarding the structure of their web site. I believe you can expect to see something from that soon.

  15. Comment by Fred Peters

    Who is paying for GBN – currently ASUG charge their members $3.5M a year in membership and turnover $15M. ASUG are running GBN and they hold joint conferences with SAP. They used to be just ASUG conferences with SAP attending but last year it was Sapphire with ASUG. Also why a Global User group – why not regional ones?

  16. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Hi, Fred, and thank you for your comment. I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.

    The reason for a global group is that the organization carries more weight with more members. The SAP user groups are based in countries; Steve Strout (the CEO of ASUG) wanted to change that for the Business Objects group and have one global organization instead of groups per each country. So I guess you could say it’s a “lesson learned” from how ASUG has run in the past, and something that he wanted to change.

    As you mentioned, ASUG charges for membership. The fees are per company. At this point in time the SUGs are very mature. They have a known track record and specific product and service offerings. GBN is going to try to work to the same state but it will take some time. That’s why the latest press release confirmed that GBN will be free of charge for at least the next year (until 2010). To be honest, that isn’t meant to imply that GBN will start charging for membership in 2010 either. :) The “open period” is designed to allow the GBN steering committee time to review and evaluate what has been working for ASUG and figure out what – if any – of the same techniques will work in a Business Objects environment.

    If you are familiar with ASUG (or any of the SUGs) and are aware of something that they do that is particularly valuable or useful, please post it here. Thanks.

  17. Comment by Luis

    Hi Dave, thanks for the opportunity to transmit our opinions. I think it would be priceless to have an organization that assists BO professionals on their development. There are several places to look for technical solutions, but not many that provides inputs on continuous learning. It would be helpful for example to be aware of next releases and be prepared to support the sustainability of BO. To develop experts a priori. That is what I suggest. A mentoring platform.

  18. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    So either there are only four or five people reading, or nobody has any great ideas to share. Seems the few of you will have a really good chance at winning the cup. :) Not to be too negative, but I really hope your chances go down because of my great comments on this post before the deadline…

  19. Comment by Debbie

    I’d just like to know what SAP are planning down the line. I know crystal balls are expensive and break easily, but for example, I doubt we’d have invested so much time and money in the current XI dashboard setup, had we known that it was going to be phased out into whatever SAP are developing.

    And I’d like a decent set of error-free userguides with indexes, instead of manuals, on-line helps, set-up guides and god-knows what else I have to trawl through every time something doesn’t work. Possibly with links to all the ADAPT (or whatever SAP call them now) bugs & fixes.

    Neither of which is probably anything to do with GBN’s purpose, but hey, you said to write anything …

  20. Comment by Laura

    Hi Dave
    As a small company with only a few Business Objects users, we struggle to get our voice heard although I am sure we must have similar issues as larger companies. Any thoughts on how the GBN may benefit the wee user?

  21. Comment by MKostura

    Dave, I’m very new to the BO world and I haven’t been able to find a comprehensive enhancement chart. We’re currently running XI R2 and it would be extremely helpful if there was a version comparison for each upgrade and patch including the release date. Thanks.

  22. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Debbie said:

    Neither of which is probably anything to do with GBN’s purpose, but hey, you said to write anything …

    That’s exactly correct. :) It’s all new, so who says that we can’t do what you suggest? Thanks for the input.

    Laura said:

    Any thoughts on how the GBN may benefit the wee user?

    One of the things that pleased me was how the selection process for the steering committee went. They got people from different industries, different geographical areas, and different product usage patterns. I don’t see any reason why we can’t work towards making sure the smaller companies aren’t heard as well as the larger ones. Crystal clearly has an entrenched base in companies of all sizes. Business Objects appeared to be working more towards larger companies, but I know quite a few smaller companies (such as yours) that are using the products very effectively. I think your point is very appropriate, thanks.

    MKostura: while I don’t read them from top to bottom, there are generally “what’s new” documents that are distributed with each release. The challenge with those documents is they can be quite long, especially the part where they list all of the cases (tickets) that have been addressed as a result of the patch. Having something presented in a more concise and usable fashion would be useful.

    Thank you all for your comments.

  23. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    I was recently reminded that I had not delivered my cup yet. I am pleased to announce that Jansi is the winner of the cup based on a completely random selection sequence. Or at least as random as the random number generator in Excel can be. :lol:

    Jansi, I will contact you at the email address used when you left your comment to arrange shipping. Thanks for your comment.

  24. Comment by Jansi

    Oh that is great Dave. Thanks a lot. I’m so happy :)

  25. Comment by Marek

    And who finally won the cup? :-)

  26. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Marek, look a few comments above yours. :)

  27. Comment by Marek

    oh ;-( my bad or better said, my blindness ;-(

  28. Comment by Rajesh S

    Why simple formatting like merging cell are not available in Business Objects. I am using 6.5, Is that available in XI. You can add some of the tips for formatting to this website, which will help BO learners. On the hole all the discussions and presentations are Good…Happy to walk thru this website..

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