Sep 29 2011

Booked For Orlando SBOUC 2011

Categories: 2011 SBOUC Dave Rathbun @ 8:15 pm

2011 has flown by, and before I realize it I’ll be heading down to Orlando for the SAP Business Objects User Conference (#SBOUC hash tag). This year I have two sessions, both on Monday. For the first session I have the honor of opening up the “Building a Data Warehouse” series that was suggested by Werner Daehn. When he first mentioned the concept to me my first thought was, “what a great idea!” I’m really glad it came to fruition. What is it, exactly? I am participating in the first ever “group topic” at SBOUC. Werner wanted to show the complete development cycle, from database design all the way through to report delivery. He came up with the initial concept and outline and posted it on BOB, and then various folks submitted talks to fill in the various slots. Werner has as couple of slots, Michael Welter did the universe design, Dell Stinnett will bring Crystal into the mix, and Simon To will be presenting the Web Intelligence session. Here’s the full schedule as I have it today:

  • Monday 9:30 AM – 10:30 PM Dave Building a Data Warehouse: Data Modeling
  • Monday 10:45 AM – 11:45 AM Werner Building a Data Warehouse: Getting the data into the DWH database
  • Monday 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Michael Building a Data Warehouse: Building a Universe
  • Tuesday 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Dell 0106 Building a Data Warehouse: Intro to SAP Crystal Reports
  • Tuesday 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Simon 2008 Building a Data Warehouse: Report Development in SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence
  • Wednesday 9:15 AM – 10:15 AM Werner 8012 Building a Data Warehouse: Data Quality is key for BI
  • Wednesday 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM Werner 8013 Building a Data Warehouse: Enhance the DWH with external data

I won’t get to attend all of the sessions in this series, because immediately after I open with the data modeling talk I will have to jog over to another room to present my second talk titled “Universe Designer Essentials.” I’m all done with my presentations after Monday.

It’s hard to believe that I attended my first Business Objects conference in 1995 (spoke for the first time in 1996) and here we are 17 years later. I must have been 17 when I attended my first one. ;)

Sep 27 2011

HANA Like An iPod? More Like A Digital Camera…

Categories: General, HANA Dave Rathbun @ 9:51 am

Timo Elliott published a great blog post this morning:

Why In-Memory Analytics is Like Digital Photography: An Industry Transformation

Timo is an avid photographer as well as a BI evangelist, and in this post he combines his knowledge of both, making some excellent points along the way. It’s well worth hopping over to his blog to check it out.

Sep 23 2011

Social Media – I Don’t Get It, But Spammers Do

Categories: General, Rants Dave Rathbun @ 9:27 am

SAP had some fun on the BI 4.0 launch in New York last February. For years SAP along with other vendors have been touting their ability to import and analyze external data from various social media sources. Two SAP presenters at the launch event took a vote via Twitter as to which tie would meet the “Scissors of Destiny” at the end of the session. (Steve Lucas made an impassioned plea to save his tie, which he said was a gift from his wife, versus Dave’s tie which he “… just bought last night.” Steve won, and his blue tie survived.) It was a fun display of technology, but is it really that important? How impressive would it have been if the “fail whale” had picked that moment to make an appearance?

I don’t usually spend a lot of time here on my blog talking about philosophical aspects of BI as I am personally more interested in technical issues and solving problems. But the apparent consensus as to the importance of social media bugs me. Continue reading “Social Media – I Don’t Get It, But Spammers Do”

Sep 21 2011

ASUG Wants to know: What is your Passion?

Categories: 2011 SBOUC Dave Rathbun @ 1:41 pm

Can’t raise the budget to get to the SAP BusinessObjects user conference next month? Or maybe you’re already booked, but think your finance department would love it if you got a rebate for your conference costs? All you have to do is mention a few hash tags in a tweet, and you could get your expenses covered (read the fine print for details). Contest void where prohibited. Batteries not included. Your mileage may vary.

Sep 19 2011

Online Gamers Model AIDs Retrovirus Protein

Categories: 2011 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 3:38 pm

As a follow-up from the SAP TechEd opening keynote on gamification and the power of online gamers:

Gamers solve molecular puzzle that stumped scientists

Scientists had long been puzzled by the molecular structure of a protein-cutting enzyme classified as a “retroviral proteases” and found in an AIDS-like virus afflicting rhesus monkeys. The enzyme helps the virus spread, and it could hold a secret about how AIDS and other diseases are transmitted.

The scientists uploaded the viral structures to an online game called “Foldit” which allows game players to collaborate on solving various three dimensional problems. The results?

Sure, that might not sound like much fun to the average Joe. But gamers on Foldit solved the puzzle in less than 10 days.

More detailed article at

Sep 15 2011

SAP TechEd Keynote – Final Review

Categories: 2011 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 4:48 pm

I published an abridged version of my keynote review already. This post will contain more details on a number of different subjects, but still almost in one-liner format.

In no particular order… Continue reading “SAP TechEd Keynote – Final Review”

Sep 15 2011

SAP TechEd 2011 – Gamification Keynote

Categories: 2011 SAP TechEd, Rants Dave Rathbun @ 11:58 am

We had a great start to the conference! Dr. Jane McGonigal took the stage to tell us how we can do so much more if only everything were like a game. That’s perhaps an over-simplification, but I’m going to run with it for a moment. The concept of gamification is basically this: if you put an obstacle in front of someone and tell them they have to do it, they’re likely to whine and complain. Trust me on this one, I have two boys (ages 8 and 10) and I can vouch for the whining and complaining part. ;) On the other hand, if you give them the same obstacle but frame it as a game, they’ll willingly go along with actions that they would not normally do… and have fun doing it. As one example she mentioned the “dance pad” games. Many people do not like to dance, and would rather do almost anything else when out in public. But turn it into a game that starts out simple and builds in complexity and they’ll willingly give it a try.

Golf was another example she used. Golf really is quite an unusual way to spend time. Suppose that golf didn’t exist today, and someone came up with the idea of putting a little ball into a small hole. Weird idea, right? The most obvious solution is to pick up the ball, walk over, and drop it in the hole. Of course that’s not how golf works. They make it far harder by starting from a long way away, and using various different sticks to hit the ball towards the hole. Pretty ridiculous, right? I can only imagine what the first conversation was like as folks were inventing golf… it probably did not go as Robin Williams imagines. (Warning: includes strong language, definitely not safe for work without headphones.)

Here’s a quote from one of her slides:

Games are unnecessary obstacles we volunteer to tackle

Golf certainly fits that description. With apologies to golf fans everywhere, it’s certainly not a necessary obstacle. The same could be said for many sports. Yet today golf is a multi-billion dollar industry. Folks spend hundreds or thousands of dollars buying equipment, spend hours out of their day, just trying to get better at putting a little ball into a little hole. What are they getting out of it? Continue reading “SAP TechEd 2011 – Gamification Keynote”

Sep 14 2011

DSLayer Podcast Interview

Categories: General Dave Rathbun @ 4:39 pm

Eric Vallo and I sat down for a quick conversation here at TechEd, and the results will be up on their unstructured geeks page after he gets a chance to upload it. Fun stuff!

Edit: Post is up! Eric and I sure sound a lot alike, at least to me…

Sep 14 2011

Dagira Universe Compare Tool 2.0.0 Released

Categories: VBA Tools Dave Rathbun @ 3:57 pm

The long-awaited release of my universe compare tool has finally happened. :)

Get it here.

Please post any support questions on the release page, and not on this blog post. The page will remain a permanent link on the top of my blog, while this post will eventually roll off of the front page. I hope that the utility proves to be useful, and that the wait was worth it. 8-)

Sep 13 2011

Does This Application Need To Be Mobile?

Categories: 2011 SAP TechEd, Rants Dave Rathbun @ 6:30 pm

As mentioned earlier, one of the key themes mentioned in the morning keynote was (once again) mobile applications. Later on I saw a brief marketing video from SAP that showed off some of their mobile apps, and I started to wonder: were some of those apps mobile because they needed to be? Or because they were simply re-positioned from a desktop? And if so, where is the value? For example, one of the sample apps shown appeared to be an HR app used to approve expense reports. I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a request from our HR department saying they needed to do that via a mobile device. The same could be said for many of the other applications shown (however briefly) in the video.

Years ago I had a friend who started a company that was going to be based on the Internet. His idea would have been a very early front-runner in the social media space, although we didn’t know that at the time. Like many, his company disappeared during the “dot bomb” collapse. What really intrigued me about his idea, though, was that it was not a company that could be built on the Internet, it was a company that required the Internet in order to function. (The same could be said about most social media companies today which is why I said he was a front-runner in the space.) During the same time he was launching his idea, many other companies were trying to simply re-platform their brick-and-mortar offerings on the web, with various degrees of success. They didn’t require the Internet to function, they were just using it as a delivery device.

Today I’m starting to feel like I am seeing the same thing with mobile. Everybody seems to want to show off their mobile apps, but what they’re showing (at least a large percentage of the time) is a desktop app or common function that has been repositioned as a mobile app. It’s something that could be done equally well on either type of hardware. I don’t think anyone with a smart phone is going to be interested in giving up mobile access to their email, and that’s clearly a desktop app that has been re-platformed very successfully. Blackberry probably would not exist as a company today if not for the success of their mobile email devices. When I go out shopping, I frequently use Amazon or eBay as a price guide to see if a locally available item is priced competitively. That’s not a mobile app, though, that’s simply mobile access to data. I could do my comparison shopping at home, but it’s certainly convenient to have it on a mobile device.

I can get sports scores on my phone. I can get the same thing at home. Again, it’s convenient to have mobile access but it’s not mandatory.

Today I can deliver Web Intelligence documents over the Internet with the mobile platform in BI 4.0. That’s not really a mobile application, it’s an alternate delivery path for desktop content. The same thing could be said for the mobile version of Explorer.

In fact, I personally can’t think of a single thing that I currently do with my Blackberry that requires mobility. I just have a bunch of desktop applications in my pocket. There is value in that, but it’s not a very compelling (at least to me) mobility story.

How about you? Do you have any true mobile apps? Something that would not be possible any other way? Or are they simply desktop apps on a different device? Spreadsheets were the “killer app” for desktop computers. Email may have been an early force behind the growth of smart phones, but what’s the true mobile killer app that we can’t live without?

Next Page »