May 31 2010

Mastering BusinessObjects 2010 Day 1

Categories: 2010 Mastering ... Melbourne Dave Rathbun @ 5:09 pm

Yesterday was the first full day of the conference, and it went very well. Timo Elliott did his typical excellent job of opening the conference with a keynote full of possibilities. He remains very enthusiastic about the social aspects of BI, which is something that I think I agree is coming even if I’m not exactly sure when or how it is coming.

The second keynote was from Rubbermaid. They have done some interesting stuff with dashboards (which was fun to see) but one of the most impressive things to me was the statement that their company has at least one product in 90% of American households. That’s some serious market penetration.

I thought my talk went well. I had some great conversations afterwards about working with recursive data, including one interesting challenge related to investment funds. No, not a ponzi scheme, it’s a legitimate question. :)

The evening keynote was from Glenn Singleman. I had never heard of him, but he was an excellent story teller. He started out his career as a doctor in the emergency room. One day a co-worker asked him to go “canyoning” on the weekend, and when he asked what it was (and found out it involved hiking through deep canyons and the occasional descent over a waterfall) he was inclined to pass. A different co-worker then asked him to take his weekend shift so he could go, and Dr. Singleman decided that he would rather go hiking in wet canyons than work yet another night shift. The decision changed his life. He’s now an adventure documentary film maker along with being a doctor, and the adventures he has had…

He and his wife recently set a number of records by base jumping off of the highest cliff they could find, something over 6,000m (23,000 ft). From their web site:

On May 23rd, 2006 that strength and persistence prevailed, and they achieved their dream. Glenn and Heather successfully climbed Mt Meru in the Indian Himalaya and BASEjumped in wingsuits from a ledge at 6604 metres. It was a new world record, a world first for a woman and a husband and wife team.

And here I thought remodeling a house was the scariest thing a husband and wife could do together… :lol:

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May 29 2010

Arrived in Rainy Melbourne

Categories: 2010 Mastering ... Melbourne Dave Rathbun @ 8:12 pm

I had a (long) flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne; the flight went very well. By that I mean I slept through most of it. :) They also had a “tail cam” which was really fun once the sun came up. They had a camera mounted in the tail so you could see the view from behind the plane. It was especially fun to watch the landing from that perspective.

The folks at Eventful Management have once again done an outstanding job. I took a quick tour of the facilities, and everything is quite nice. We have over 200 folks attending the conference this year which is up from last year. I like smaller conferences because it’s much easier to connect with folks. I’ve already met Josh in the lobby, and Tom and his lovely family in the lounge area. I will be going with Tom on a tour of the city later today, then tonight there is a speaker orientation meeting. The opening keynote and reception follow.

Maybe they’ll have more of this:


May 28 2010

I Did Mine, Did You Do Yours?

Categories: 2010 SBOUC Dave Rathbun @ 1:48 am

I initially had some difficulty coming up with ideas to submit for the fall BusinessObjects conference, but I did eventually come up with a few. I was really hoping to get a pre-release copy of XI 4.0 to play with so I could talk about some of the really cool new universe stuff, but that didn’t happen. Once I got over that disappointment I decided there were still some interesting things to say about our current technology. Besides, I imagine that quite a few companies will not upgrade to XI 4.0 for quite a few years anyway.

I submitted to the Universe track as well as the Webi/Deski track this year. Those are my primary areas of interest and therefore the subjects I most enjoy speaking about.

If you haven’t submitted any ideas yet, there are still a few days left! Take an hour out of your weekend and see what you can come up with. If you get accepted to speak you don’t have to pay to attend the conference. As Jamie said:

Did you know that speakers at #SBOUC get free admission. That’s like making $1,000/hr. Go submit an abstract. #ASUG #BOBJ
10:40 AM May 19th

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May 27 2010

Everything About Shortcut Joins

Categories: Join Techniques, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 6:30 am

There have been a number of posts recently in the Semantic Layer forum on BOB about shortcut joins. When will they be used? How many can be used? Why won’t this particular shortcut get used? Do I have to add shortcuts to contexts? Lots of questions.

I am going to try to clear up a couple of those questions now. First here is a summary of everything I need to know about shortcuts:

  • Shortcut joins do not provide an alternate path.
  • Shortcut joins do provide a shorter path.

By the end of this post I hope that the reader will understand the difference between those two statements. There are two rules for how and when a shortcut will be applied:

  • A shortcut join will only be used if it eliminates tables from the query.
  • A shortcut join is applied after the SQL has been generated (meaning after a context selection has been made, if required).

I will talk about these two items as well. But first, how do I create a shortcut join in my universe? Continue reading “Everything About Shortcut Joins”

May 24 2010

Delivery Versus Discovery

Categories: General, Products Dave Rathbun @ 7:16 am

Not too long ago I got (yet another) flowchart from SAP that attempts to help me decide when to use a particular tool. SAP has the rather unenviable position of having to complete the integration process started a few years back when BusinessObjects purchased Crystal, and then to also figure out how to integrate / update all of the legacy SAP tools as well. For customers the situation can be even worse, as they may or may not have access to all of these options based on what they’ve purchased over the years. Fellow SAP Mentor Ingo Hilgefort delivered a presentation to ASUG members last month that covered this same subject. Ingo’s presentation – like many I have seen – started by covering each of the primary products, discussing their major features, and talked about how they were suited for various business cases. It’s a good presentation, and if you’re an ASUG member I’ve included a link so you can download it. (He’s also doing it at the 2010 Annual Conference coming up in a few weeks.)

What I liked about slide I got was that it was based more on use rather than function. In other words, it didn’t focus on the features of the products but instead asked what was going to be done with the products. The first decision point in the flowchart was simple: is the user request for delivery or discovery?

What does that mean, and what products ended up on either side? Continue reading “Delivery Versus Discovery”

May 20 2010

SAPPHIRE / ASUG Annual Conference Wrap Up

Categories: 2010 Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE Dave Rathbun @ 9:54 pm

I’m home after an uneventful flight. (I assume it was uneventful, I slept most of the way.) The last bit of fun was a concert from Carlos Santana. During the concert he started talking about “consciousness” and he really extended the sound of the “s” at the end of the word. Then he paused, said “A”, paused, and wound up with a “P” at the end. Ssssss…. A…. P…. you can see what he did there. :P

Oh, and I got a tweet displayed on the jumbotron during the pre-concert activities! :-D

As with last year the in-memory technology was getting a lot of mentions. This time they’re taking it beyond reporting and starting to talk about embedding it within the application itself. One example given was for the planning applications. Instead of having to plan at a weekly level and wait for the application to crunch numbers, go ahead and load everything into memory and run your planning app at the daily level. Instant response. From a forecast / planning perspective I can see where this would be attractive, as planners always seem to want as much data as they can possibly get.

Last word: Desktop Intelligence wasn’t showing up anywhere, and everyone I talked to that would have reason to know was saying that it’s gone as of XI 4.0.

Time to start making plans for our own (BusinessObjects) conference this fall. Have you submitted your abstracts yet? I have a post coming up early next week with some ideas on how to improve your chances of being selected to speak.

May 19 2010

SAPPHIRE / ASUG Annual Conference Day 3 Part 1

Categories: 2010 Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE Dave Rathbun @ 9:33 am

Yesterday afternoon I attended some SAP Mentor sessions, which unfortunately I can’t talk about because of NDA. Suffice it to say there are some very creative and enthusiastic folks that work for the company. After the conference ended yesterday I attended the ASUG Volunteer reception where they handed out awards for the past year.

This morning I participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the ASUG BI SIG. Fellow mentors Ingo and Ken were there, along with SAP representative Dan Kiernan. Lots of good questions were asked, some about specific technical issues (page numbering in PDF files created from Web Intelligence) and others about the broader roadmap (when will the products work together better).

Hasso is the keynote for this morning. As with last year he is talking about in-memory databases, a subject that he is obviously quite passionate about. He covered some of the same concepts in his keynote last year. Shortly I will be heading out to see new SAP Mentor and founder of Everything Xcelsius Mico Yuk do her presentation, followed by a BOB lunch gathering. This afternoon is filled with more SAP Mentor sessions, so I’m not sure how much I will be able to share from those.

May 18 2010

SAPPHIRE / ASUG Annual Conference Day 2 Part 1

Categories: 2010 Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE Dave Rathbun @ 11:58 am

This morning I got up bright and early. That is to say, the sun was bright and I was early. I made my way down to the ASUG lounge area in order to participate in a “meet the experts” session with fellow SAP Mentor Ken Hartman. We had a small but enthusiastic (meaning awake) group of folks at our session, so that went well. After the session I visited with a gentleman from Australia, talking about the Mastering BusinessObjects conference that’s coming up in a few weeks. He told me not to expect to go surfing this time. Apparently Melbourne gets ocean currents delivering water from the southern ocean extremes… Antarctica in other words. :shock:

I skipped the keynotes this morning in order to catch up on some work email and other items. After the keynotes I had a meeting with Laure, one of the folks responsible for the configuration and operation of the community software used by the SAP Community Network (SCN). It was great to talk to her and share thoughts and ideas about working with online communities. That’s not exactly breaking news on the BusinessObjects front, but I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. It also helps explain why I don’t have much to report this morning.

Oh, I did stop by the booth for RoamBI. They’re giving away an iPad, and I didn’t bring any business cards. I didn’t bring any because I didn’t print any when I joined my new company, so that’s my fault. I checked in with a few reporting ideas and they said they should be able to get something put together. Anything is better than concatenated text emailed to a Blackberry, right?

There is a funny video they were playing on a loop last night that featured Hasso Plattner interviewing himself, asking questions about in-memory column databases. I watched the entire thing before I realized that he was on both sides of the picture. :lol: He was dressed differently and had different hair styles and everything. I didn’t care about the interviewer, I just wanted to see his responses. When it looped and started again I realized what was going on as I paid more attention to the interviewer. Funny.

No keynotes this afternoon, but a few Mentor sessions and then the ASUG Volunteer reception.

Not looking like I’m going to hit any roller coasters this year…

May 17 2010

SAPPHIRE / ASUG Annual Conference Day 1 Wrap Up

Categories: 2010 Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE Dave Rathbun @ 8:02 pm

The big news for BusinessObjects customers was from Bridgette’s keynote, and I’ve already posted about that. They keynote ended with a very interesting and highly entertaining speech from General Colin Powell. Turns out he has a Corvette. And he gets speeding tickets. :lol:

Tomorrow morning Ken Hartman and I will deliver an interactive session in the ASUG lounge where we will talk to customers about the various tools. Since most of the customers here are likely to be SAP ERP customers that are still looking for insight on BusinessObjects products we will try to provide that. We may film parts of it, and if so, I’ll post it here. :)

Altogether it was a good day today. Tomorrow I will be meeting with some different folks, including one of the people responsible for managing the community for SCN. It will be interesting to share stories about managing a large and active online community. 8-)

May 17 2010

ASUG Membership Free for Business Objects Members Through 2011

Categories: 2010 Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE, GBN Dave Rathbun @ 4:09 pm

ASUG CEO Bridgette Chambers just announced (in her keynote) that BusinessObjects users who are not SAP ERP users can receive a complimentary membership through 2011. 5,000 members can join under the Valueship program. We played with this idea for a while during the GBN days, but the GBN folks never really got to see the full breadth of services offered at By opening the site up for the next year and a half BusinessObjects only customers (the target for GBN) will now be able to see the real flavor and benefits from membership.

That membership will include full access to the online community at, the ability to attend all regional chapter meetings throughout the U.S. and Canada, and access to education and Influence activities specific to the non-ERP BusinessObjects customer. These are the primary services available via paid memberships, and the test drive through the end of 2011 should help prove what the true value is. I am guessing the reason they went to the end of 2011 was to show a full cycle of Influence Council meetings. The free membership is only for legacy BusinessObjects customers; it will not be offered to SAP ERP customers. That makes sense.

What happens for existing BusinessObjects customers that have already joined and paid for their membership? Bridgette covered that too. Those members will be recognized as “founding members” and will receive special benefits, including credit towards the upcoming BusinessObjects User Conference. There will be more details later, but I am very encouraged by this development. This is what we (the former GBN steering committee) and others were asking for. Obviously ASUG listened.

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