May 17 2010

SAPPHIRE / ASUG Annual Conference Day 1 Part 2

Categories: 2010 Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE Dave Rathbun @ 10:06 am

The keynotes have been quite interesting. The first part was a Q/A session with Sir Richard Branson. Some of the tweets were complaining about the Q/A format, but I still found it interesting. I finally gave up on watching the twitter stream and just watched him speak.

Former VP Al Gore is now speaking from Orlando. Whether you agree with his positions or not, I find him to be an excellent speaker. He started off talking about global warming but has segued into talking about how sustainability is good not just for the environment but for business. I believe he just used the phrase “functionally insane” to describe businesses who don’t recognize that sustainability is a critical requirement for business success. Higher efficiency + lower waste = win/win situation for all. Fascinating speech, I hope it’s being captured and will be available online to view again later.

May 17 2010

2010 ASUG Annual Conference BI Agenda

Categories: 2010 Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE Dave Rathbun @ 8:48 am

I was just given a link to the BI Agenda at the ASUG Annual Conference.

I printed this out prior to heading down to Orlando. If you’re here, it’s a great reference showing all of the ASUG BI sessions at a glance rather than having to plow through the entire SAPPHIRE agenda to find them.

SAP Mentorship has its privileges; I’m posting this from a wired connection in the reserved seating at the keynote. Wireless at the convention center is very much over subscribed…

May 17 2010

SAPPHIRE / ASUG Annual Conference Day 1 Part 1

Categories: 2010 Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE Dave Rathbun @ 8:05 am

I got to go to an ASUG reception last night where they introduced a new feature. They’re going to offer a demo platform for SAP online. If folks are interested in some specific SAP modules (for example HCM is one that is available) they can sign on and work with the tool right away. They don’t have to wait for their own internal IT folks to set up test server and install the software. Think but for SAP modules. The ASUG demonstration platform also includes Explorer, by the way.

This morning I’m listening in to the SAP press conference. The questions are not surprisingly related to the Sybase acquisition. The response from SAP is focused on the in-memory synergies between the existing technology from Sybase and the TREX engine from SAP. They’re also very bullish on the impact of the mobile expertise that Sybase has developed. They took a nice dig at Oracle in answering another question… where they say that the companies are merging to grow, not to merge and cut 21,000 jobs. ;)

As a side note, if the rumor I am hearing is correct, there will be something exciting to report from the ASUG side of the house this afternoon. Stay tuned for further updates…

May 15 2010

We Want You to Speak at Our Fall Conference

Categories: 2010 SBOUC, Conferences, General Dave Rathbun @ 8:15 pm

I know, I know… everybody is getting ready to fly out to Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE which starts tomorrow. But don’t forget that the call for papers for the fall Business Objects conference is open through the end of this month (May). What I would really like is to get my hands on XI 4.0 before submitting my abstracts this year. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is going to happen before the call for papers closes (on May 30th). SAP folks are going to have most of the fun this year since they’ll be able to present new stuff. :)

The tracks this year include:

  • Business Intelligence Strategy
  • BusinessObjects Data Management
  • Crystal Reports
  • Dashboarding
  • Enterprise Performance Management
  • Explorer
  • Governance, Risk & Compliance
  • Infrastructure
  • Universe
  • Xcelsius
  • WebI/DeskI

There are fewer tracks this year; last year there were two Xcelsius tracks which resulted in a lot of Xcelsius content. I think some folks thought there was too much, as it was not really possible to see everything. Hopefully this year will be more focused.

I have had the opportunity (and good fortune) to present at quite a few conferences over the years. It’s a little known fact that my very first presentation back in the 90’s was an unmitigated disaster. :lol: Despite that terrible beginning I have been allowed to inflict my horrible sense of humor and hopefully some bits of knowledge on conference attendees for over a decade. Because of the recent successes (certainly not for my first effort) I am often asked a couple of questions.

How do I get selected?
What if I don’t have anything to say, why should I consider presenting?
Any tips for a successful presentation?

In this post I would like to share a couple of tips for getting your abstract selected without resorting to slipping a $20 bill to everyone on the selection committee. ;) Continue reading “We Want You to Speak at Our Fall Conference”

May 14 2010

Facebook: It’s All About the Data

Categories: General, Rants Dave Rathbun @ 5:59 pm

Whether you’re a Facebook user or not (I am not) it has been hard to avoid the furor recently over some of the changes the service is making. One article at says:

The fear is that people are being lured into Facebook with the promise of a fun, free service, and don’t realize that they’re paying for it by giving up loads of personal information.

Why is Facebook in hot water now, when other Internet-based companies like Amazon have been collecting and using our personal data for years? Maybe it’s because Amazon doesn’t automatically add new apps to your profile if you browse other sites while logged into their service. (Facebook reportedly allows this, although some articles are now providing responses from Facebook that dispute exactly how this process is supposed to work.)

I’m not writing this post to bash Facebook (you can probably find plenty of that already). I’m writing this post because I wanted to share an interesting visualization that I found from an author named Matt McKeon. He shows how the privacy settings for Facebook have broadened over the years. He also admits that some of the data had to be “made up” because he does not have access to hard numbers from Facebook, so read the information with that in mind. Continue reading “Facebook: It’s All About the Data”

May 12 2010

SAP Buys Sybase

Categories: General Dave Rathbun @ 6:05 pm

You can find articles about this all over the Internet, so I won’t bother linking directly to any particular one. Here’s a search link from Google that will help you get started.

Executive summary

SAP is going to be paying $65 / share for Sybase. They’ll pay some of it out of cash, and they are financing the rest. Kind of like buying a house.

Why are they buying?

SAP says they like Sybase because of their “mobile presence” and their in-memory database technology. Sybase IQ has offered in-memory column-oriented database architecture for years, and SAP makes use of the same concepts with their accelerated version of Explorer. So I can see where that part is coming from. I will admit that I am not completely up to speed on the mobile offerings from Sybase. In fact, I wasn’t even aware they had any. So I guess I have some research to do.

I have to imagine that one of the biggest “woots!” going on at SAP headquarters is coming from the folks that no longer have to sell Oracle database packages along with the SAP ERP. It’s probably hard to put a value on that.

The market has initially had a negative reaction to the news with SAP stock trading down in after-hours trading. Sybase is, of course, way up. Oracle is also down as this impacts them in a couple of ways.

I’m only skimming the surface of this, as I only found out a bit ago. My final thought: what does this do to or for Microsoft?

May 12 2010

BI Fail…

Categories: General Dave Rathbun @ 3:35 pm

I got an email yesterday (May 11th, 2010) with the following information about a customer loyalty program coupon that I had earned:

BI Fail screen shot

Notice the date? The coupon is supposed to expire on April 12, 2010.

I got the email on May 11, 2010.

See the problem?

After a brief phone call with Best Buy, it turns out the coupon date is actually Dec 12th. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what the actual report failure was. A clue: there is nothing wrong with the data. ;)

May 10 2010

Exploring with Part II

Categories: Explorer Dave Rathbun @ 9:15 am

A few days ago I posted about my initial experiences with, the software-as-a-service offering from SAP BusinessObjects. One of my frustrations was I was not able to compare year-to-year performance with the data set that I uploaded. I made the assumption that I could upload two data sets (one from each year) and merge them to obtain the desired result. The answer, I am happy to say, is yes. I made a few stupid mistakes along the way, but the end result is much closer to what I was trying to accomplish with my first attempt. Not only that, but I found out that I can merge data in two different directions. Continue reading “Exploring with Part II”

May 04 2010

Exploring with

Categories: Explorer Dave Rathbun @ 11:23 am

Last week I signed up with an account at, a “software-as-a-service” offering from SAP BusinessObjects. I wanted to play around with Explorer for a bit, and we don’t yet have that product installed in house. It seemed like a good time to take advantage of their free demo account. I have no idea what is required to set up Explorer, or what sort of data issues I might encounter along the way. I am going into this experiment completely devoid of any knowledge of the product other than what I have seen in demonstrations. One of the selling points of the tool is that there are no training classes for this product; it’s supposed to be just that intuitive. It will be interesting to see how I do.

I first looked all over the site to find out what the restrictions are. Since I was going to be using a free trial account, I didn’t expect to be able to upload my entire two billion row fact table, nor would I want to. :) However, I did want to stretch the system to show of what Explorer can do. I could not find anything, anywhere, that detailed the specific limits of the free account. I even tried to find out what pricing would be in the event that I decided to host more data, and I could not find that anywhere either. If anyone finds that information online, please post a link.

Other than these site issues, how did my initial exploration go? Continue reading “Exploring with”

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