Oct 26 2010

Updates on SAP TechEd Posts

Categories: 2010 SAP TechEd, 2010 SBOUC Dave Rathbun @ 9:13 am

I received comments in private related to posts (one in particular) I published last week regarding SAP TechEd. Since the comments were made in private I will not reveal the sources, but I do feel like I should address them in public since the posts are, of course, public. Others may have the same questions and will benefit from seeing my responses.

First, I need to make a correction. I provided incorrect information in a post last week where I said that SAP was hosting the SAP Insider “Reporting 2010″ conference. That is not true. While I did reach out via Twitter and a few emails, I did not get any clarification on what the conference was until after the post was already published. I now understand that SAP Insider is not a part of SAP; they are an independent organization that publishes newsletters and provides specific and targeted conferences throughout the year. They may do other things as well, but I now understand that while SAP does participate by providing speakers, they are not the host of those events. I do apologize for my error and any confusion that may have provided.

Second, I had some folks take what I wrote as a criticism of ASUG. I was not criticizing either ASUG or SAP or their respective processes. What I was trying to point out was that despite some claims to the contrary we cannot simply drop the SBOUC conference and send folks to TechEd without changing what is delivered at TechEd. It was pointed out to me that the content for SBOUC was designed to not overlap with TechEd. I understand that, and perhaps I should have pointed that out in my earlier post. I am sure that the folks that went to those sessions appreciated them. But there is not enough content at TechEd as it stands today to simply drop SBOUC. With my post last week I was not trying to imply that the content at TechEd was bad or poorly planned by either ASUG or SAP. But several folks have been quite adamant in their opinions that there is plenty of content already at TechEd. My post was an attempt to point out that in my opinion there is not, currently, enough BI content at TechEd to simply drop SBOUC.

To recap: I believe there is a market and a need for a BI-specific event. However, if discussions are held regarding merging SBOUC and TechEd, then in my opinion it must be a merge. Dropping SBOUC without migrating the content to TechEd would not be a good idea.

Let me now talk about some positive outcomes of such a decision, were it to be made. If the content from SBOUC were added to TechEd, how would the community benefit?

First and foremost, there would not be any confusion on the part of the potential conference attendee or speaker. Which conference should I submit to? Do I have to alter my topic abstract to make it more appealing to TechEd than to SBOUC? How can I convince my manager to budget for two separate SAP conferences? Which one is most appropriate for my role in my company? All of these questions go away if the two conferences were combined.

Next, the TechEd conference is huge. It’s not as big as SAPPHIRE but it’s about three times the size even of the largest BusinessObjects conference that we had. For some folks that would be attractive; more people equals more networking opportunities, and higher probabilities that I might run into someone experiencing the same issues that I have. The old “Insight” conferences we used to go to had between 2,000 and 2,500 attendees at most. TechEd last week had well over 5,000 and SBOUC had over 1,000. Add those two together and we would have a single conference with about triple the number of attendees.

Finally, does anybody remember what one of the top complaints was about the SBOUC conference when it was first reborn as a GBN conference? No party. :) I suspect because it has been larger (and therefore has a bigger budget) TechEd throws great parties. I did not write about Demo Jam this year, but I have previously. In fact, I had hoped to bring something like that to SBOUC. Score one for TechEd. GBN/SBOUC has dropped their conference parties for various reasons, but mostly related to budget. Since I have been attending, TechEd has had concerts by the Black Crowes (2008, Las Vegas), Train (2009, Phoenix), and this year Lifehouse performed live.

To those who were confused (as I was) about the hosting process for the SAP Insider conferences, I apologize. I hope this post helps clarify the points I was trying to make. As always, feel free to use the comment form to provide feedback or ask questions.

Oct 20 2010

SAP TechEd Day 2

Categories: 2010 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 12:52 pm

Here is a list of session from the BI track at SAP TechEd for today:

  • Drive Insight to Action with Superior Extension Capability
  • Building a Statistics Cockpit Using SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer to Proactively Monitor SAP NetWeaver BW Usage and Performance
  • ASUG Influence: Introducing SAP BusinessObjects Advanced Analysis
  • Best Practices and Tips for Best Performance of SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.1 on SAP NetWeaver BW
  • Integrating SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius and Web Intelligence reporting with SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP NetWeaver Portal
  • Kraft’s SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator Usage Decision Tree and Capacity Planning
  • How to Design and Deploy High Performing SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard Design (Xcelsius)
  • Embed and Integrate SAP BusinessObjects into Your Applications – Discover How To Save Time and Cost by Partnering with SAP
  • How to Deploy SAP BusinessObjects Mobile
  • SAP Business Objects BI Solutions Overview and Roadmap
  • Low-Power Memory: Enhancing TCO for Today’s Server Environments
  • Leveraging Live Office, Where Your Users Live
  • What’s New in SAP BusinessObjects XI 4.0 for SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise
  • Measuring Daily Health of Your Business Using SAP BusinessObjects Mobile
  • SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise Performance Management Roadmap
  • Newell Rubbermaid SAP BusinessObjects Explorer Implementation Success and Lesson Learned

Sessions start at 8:00AM and run until 6:45PM, and there are generally at most two BI sessions in any given time slot. There are dozens of sessions going on at any given time, but from a pure BI perspective there are some hours where the choices are a bit weak. For example, two of today’s sessions are roadmaps, four are related to NetWeaver, and one sounds suspiciously like a sales pitch for SAP consulting. :) Seven of today’s BI sessions are offered by ASUG, one is from a partner, and the remainder are from SAP.

TechEd also offers two-hour sessions that offer a hands-on look at the products. Here are the BI sessions scheduled for today:

  • Learn and Practice the New Multi-source Semantic Layer Modeling
  • Learn and Practice the New Multidimensional Semantic Layer for SAP NetWeaver BW and OLAP Sources
  • Technical Deep-Dive into SAP BusinessObjects Advanced Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office
  • Two Hour, Hands-On Tour of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Solutions
  • Extending the Value of SAP BusinessObjects Spend Performance Management
  • Building Dashboards that Rock with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard Design (Xcelsius)
  • Best Practices for Using SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence with SAP NetWeaver BW, Today and Tomorrow

And finally there is one extended (four-hour) session as well.

  • An Introduction to SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver

There continue to be discussions about whether there is a market or need for the SBOUC conference. I have often said that I favor the continuation of the separate conference, but basically what I am most concerned about is a continuation of the type and style of content delivered there. If the SBOUC conference were simply to disappear and nothing were done to enhance the offerings at TechEd I think that would be very disappointing. ASUG currently manages the SBOUC conference, and of course then already have a relationship with TechEd. As I mentioned above, they are providing a number of different sessions across different tracks including BI. If the content from SBOUC were moved to TechEd, would that be a benefit? Would it make it easier for folks to budget and decide which conference to go to if there was only one?

And given that, what is the point of the “Reporting 2010″ conference later this month, which I just found out about this morning? If SAP is so much in favor of combining SBOUC with TechEd, why are they hosting their own “reporting” conference as well? Apparently there are several different conferences that SAP hosts throughout the year that focus on a particular topic. Is it so hard to understand why BI deserves a separate conference?

A clarification: This is not an SAP-hosted event. It is hosted by a third party conference group. So while there are SAP speakers presenting at this conference, this is not an SAP event. My apologies for any confusion caused by my original post.

Related Links

Oct 20 2010

SAP TechEd Day 1

Categories: 2010 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 12:05 am

It’s a bit weird. I can fly all the way across the globe to attend a BusinessObjects conference in Australia and not feel as bad as a two hour time difference in Las Vegas. Not sure how to explain that, but there it is.

SAP TechEd Opening Keynote

The keynote this morning was from one of the top technical folks at SAP: Vishal Sikka. There were three main points he talked about: HANA, the in-memory engine that will soon drive application code and not just analytics, mobility, driven by the Sybase acquisition, and cloud computing. All of these are interesting, but there were not a lot of big take-aways from a BusinessObjects perspective. It’s not that the tools were not present. The talk included a number of interesting demonstrations that included dashboards and Explorer content. The talk was (at least to me) aimed at a broader SAP-style of audience. Vishal also talked quite a bit about the NetWeaver platform. Again, interesting stuff but not as important to BusinessObjects customers. If you want more in-depth coverage of Vishal’s keynote I have included a link at the end of this post.

Day In Review

Unfortunately for anyone looking for additional “scoops” from TechEd, I then spent the next few hours talking to various contacts, both inside and outside of SAP. After lunch I went back up to my room to rework my demonstrations for my talk this evening. And take a nap. (See above note about time zones.)

Semantic Layer Design For Non-ERP Data

My session was from 5:45 to 6:45 and I really was not sure how many folks would show up, given the late time slot. The room held 170 people and it was more than half full (by my estimate) so I considered that a good crowd. I introduced myself and told folks what I would cover (relational universe design) and would not cover (cubes) to make sure everyone was in the right place. Nobody left, so I considered that a positive step. I also asked how many folks knew about BOB, and less than 10% of the room raised their hands. It was like the old days again! :lol:

My talk was designed to share some of the power and flexibility offered by the current semantic layer. I suggested to folks in the room that since they were all running SAP, I could almost guarantee that they also had other databases within their enterprise, and BusinessObjects provided all the tools the needed to access that information. From there I jumped into my presentation, which was about one and a half days of the standard Designer training course condensed down to a single hour. :shock: I covered aliases, contexts, fan traps, chasm traps, and aggregate awareness. Yes, all in one hour.

At the end, I still had time for a few questions, and the first question I got was related to building a universe on top of cubes! :lol: I guess it goes with the territory.

I felt like the session went well. I even got the audience to sing the “super hero theme song” every time I saved the universe, so that was fun. :)

As a footnote, I had complained about the wireless earlier. This came out in the daily email summary:

We know it’s tempting, but please do not use devices like MIFI’s, personal access points, hubs, switches, etc. while at SAP TechEd. On Tuesday, the network team found multiple personal devices that were jamming the airwaves for SAP TechEd attendees, demos, and sessions. We are supporting over 2,000 concurrent devices on the network and can only provide the best possible service if everyone refrains from adding other devices to the airwaves. Thanks for your cooperation.

Liked the subject line for the paragraph. :)

Evening Activities

Tonight is the Demo Jam, and I am sure other folks will write about it in some detail. Folks get six minutes to go through a demonstration of a product or idea that they have, and the top demos (measured by applause) get the prize. Beer is served, so I assume there is an advantage to going on stage later in the evening…

I had a brief visit with some of the folks from the Mastering BusinessObjects conference while at Demo Jam. Early rumor is that the conference will be back in Sydney again this year (it was there two years ago) but I’m not sure that’s absolutely confirmed. I just wanted to report the rumor. :)

I did not stay long as (again, see first note in this post) I decided I needed some rest. And since the wireless was so bad this morning (I could not stay connected at all) I wanted to write up this first day post before it faded. Since I am done with my talk, I hope to spend more time visiting folks and seeing some sessions. By the end of the week I hope to be able to share some opinions and facts about how well BusinessObjects content is covered here, and what I think about the often repeated rumors that SBOUC and TechEd may be merging at some point.

If you’re planning for next year, TechEd is going to be in September.

Related Links

Oct 12 2010

2010 SBOUC Presentation Files Posted For Downloading

Categories: 2010 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 7:33 am

I have uploaded the PDF files for my two presentations from the 2010 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference. These are just the PDF files, the supporting materials (video clips and sample reports for the client tools session, and the VBA code for the designer session) are not yet available. I am working on reformatting the supporting materials for Internet presentation and will post them shortly.

As with previous conferences, I have posted these files for downloading on my conference download page.

Sep 23 2010

SBOUC Pre-Conference Podcast

Categories: 2010 SAP TechEd, General Dave Rathbun @ 3:17 pm

I’m not participating in this podcast, but Jamie Oswald gives me a nice (and appreciated) shout-out. Along the way Jamie, Eric, and the rest of the crew talk about “must see” presentations and other plans for the BusinessObjects user conference coming up in a few weeks. It’s worth a listen.

SBOUC Pre-Conference Podcast

Jun 23 2010

Accepted to Present at SAP TechEd 2010

Categories: 2010 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 9:14 am

I got an email yesterday saying that one of my abstracts has been accepted for the 2010 edition of SAP TechEd. I will be talking about universe design over non-ERP data, showing the SAP folks that you can build universes on more than just cubes. :)

The selection process for the fall BusinessObjects conference in Orlando is continuing through July 2nd. I submitted several abstracts for that conference as well, including one on universe change management that will feature a (hopefully) completed version of a script to compare universes that I started writing years ago. I am using the script today (thus the abstract) but it’s far from completed, and certainly not ready for public consumption.

As a side note, the “Conferences” category on the right menu for my blog has continued to grow. I experimented with a couple of Wordpress plugins that would allow blog readers to expand / collapse the categories as needed, but so far neither of them have worked to my satisfaction. Either they didn’t work in all of the browsers I tested, or they looked bad, or they were not as functional as I would like. But hopefully I will get something there soon in order to avoid having that category take over the entire side of the screen.