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This episode of 'On the way to...' is brought to you by the US Airways Lounge (PHL B/C Terminal).  I'm not enough of a frequent flier to rate this place, but I had a day pass and my ride put me at the airport early enough to actually use it!


Like most folks, I'm looking to see what course Bill McDermott is going to plot SAP towards under his sole leadership.  We've read countless articles and analyst notes about the change in management at SAP (IMO, Jon Reed's Cloud piece at Diginomica was one of the better ones).  This conference will give Bill the opportunity to really make his vision clear.  Let's see where we're heading.


Since I've already put out my list of interesting sessions, I wanted to point out a few that made it on my schedule, too.  Remember- there's just so much interesting content that some are bound to conflict!!


Tue 6/1- 0403: Successfully Migrate from SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.x to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.x]

  • A session about upgrade planning?  My inner server nerd says yes, this looks pretty good!!

Wed 6/4- 1108: SAP Lumira Influence Council

  • Any session that has Christina Obry in it has my vote!!  It seems that tools like Lumira are where we're heading in the BI world, this session looks to drop some good information on attendees and get your opinion on the new features they may be adding.

Wed 6/4- 12:30-1:30 BI IRL Hangout at ASUG Hub

  • Grab your lunch and head over the ASUG Hub- I'll be hanging out if you'd like to chat about anything ASUG and the BI Community.  If you're 'on the job', I'm also open to swapping firehouse stories too!!
If you're lucky enough to be in Orlando, awesome!!  If not, check out sapandasug.com for some live streaming during the conference.  



Another SAP BusinessObjects User Conference is in the books and the community is gearing up towards the next big conference: SAP TechEd.  Maybe you couldn't make SBOUC due to commitments or maybe you decided that you wanted to check out what the buzz is all about in Las Vegas.  Or maybe you're lucky enough and you're going to attend TechEd after hitting the books in Anaheim.  (Lucky!)

Either way, if you're a 'platform agnostic' SAP BusinessObjects user: I invite you to come mingle and debrief at SAP TechED!  Join me and others at an Expert Networking Lounge session on Thursday, October 24th at 4:30pm.  EXP9900 "SAP BusinessObjects 'Platform Agnostic' TechEd Debrief and Networking" is a first time event.  I'd like to try and take the opportunity to bring together BOBJ users to network and debrief about the conference.


PS- In case you missed it, here's a list of the BI sessions tailored for Platform Agnostic customers being offered at SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2013: Stay Ahead: Attend TechEd for these SAP BI BusinessObjects Roadmaps, Lectures & Hands-on (Platform Agnostic)


Check this session list out and attend!  Then plan come to the Debrief on Thursday afternoon and chat about how they were!  And who knows, I may have stickers or some other kind of giveaways!!

In this conference's episode of 'On the way to', your regular programming (PHL) has been blacked out due to local market regulations (EWR).  This year, ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire 2012 has the unfortunate timing of being Mother's Day weekend.  While bummed out that I was unable to assist Ingo Higefort, Tammy Powlas and Joyce Butler with this year's sold-out BI4 FP3 Hands-on Pre-Conference session, Mother's Day breakfast with my mother and wife was the easy choice!  To try and do it all, I'm departing from Newark, rather than Philly to come down to Orlando. 


Since I really have no funny airport anecdotes today, I think it's time to get right down to business!  As folks are double checking their agendas, I'd like to add some suggestions if you're a BusinessObjects oriented attendee:


This first group are ones that I'm speaking or facilitating-


Monday 5/14:

1030am-1200pm, S312

Session #3901: SAP BusinessObjects Semantic Layer (Universe) Influence Council

Notes: Join Pierpaolo Vezzosi and I as we give an update on the Semantic Layer Influence Council.  Pierpaolo will also be using most of the session to talk about what's new in the Semantic Layer for BI4 FP3, as well as update to the Semantic Layer roadmap.  If you're interested in cloud, one of SAP's 'Cloud Evangelists', Matthias Steiner may be in the audience to answer questions not-related to the universe, but related to SAP NetWeaver Neo.


12:30-1:30pm, S311

Session #3802: Influence Update Plus What’s New for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 in Feature Pack 3

Notes: This looks to be a great session surrounding dashboards!  First up, we'll have an in-person kickoff of the re-launched ASUG Dashboarding and Visualization Influence Council.  Customer Chair Sandy Brotje of the Cleveland Clinic and myself will be here to answer your questions on how to put your name in the ring for the council.  And Francois Imberton from SAP will spend most of the session covering what's new in SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards in FP3!

Francois Imberton, Matt Lloyd, Sandy Brotje


Tuesday 5/15:

4:15p-5:15p, S312

Session #3908: BusinessObjects BI Platform Influence Council Members Only

Radim Bacinschi will be holding an on-site meeting of the SAP BusinessObject BI Platform Influence Council.  This will be a rare opportunity for council members who have only heard each other on the phone to sit in a room and participate.


This second group are sessions that I'm attending/looking forward to/seem cool/or can't attend and want to mark a place to get the materials:


0401- Dow Corning's Story of Improving Your Company's Business Intelligence with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer Accelerated Version

Mon., 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.


Jeff Duly


7456- Hear How Customers Realize Value from Business Intelligence

30-Minute Panel Discussion

Mon., 02:00 p.m. - 02:30 p.m.

Analytics Theater

Tammy Powlas


0304- The Future of Business Intelligence at SAP BusinessObjects

Mon., 03:00 p.m. - 04:00 p.m.


Ty Miller


CL25- Ask An SAP Mentor, Ingo Hilgefort, Your SAP BI/BusinessObjects/BW SAP Integration Questions

Tue., 04:00 p.m. - 05:00 p.m.

Show Floor

Ingo Hilgefort


1409- The Politics of Upgrades

Tue., 04:15 p.m. - 05:15 p.m.


Greg Myers


0411- Dashboard Design at Coca-Cola Enterprises

Wed., 12:30 p.m. - 01:30 p.m.


Jon Brasher, Susan Keegan


0511- Dell Story: Migration Considerations Going to Crystal for Enterprise or the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 Platform

Wed., 12:30 p.m. - 01:30 p.m.


Brian Durning


0311- Lockheed Martin's Tips for Implementation and Growth of the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 Environment

Wed., 12:30 p.m. - 01:30 p.m.


Eric Barfield


As you can see- there's a LOT of good BI content scheduled at ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire.  If you like your BI served with a side of community goodness, check out the BI Community ASUG Annual Conference Brochure here.  It has the listing of ALL the ASUG BI sessions, as well as upcoming webcasts and pictures of the ASUG Volunteers (minus one, Sarang Deshpande! Sorry!!) who worked on the program.  Take a look and feel free to come and talk with any of us about the selections or content you'd like to see at future conferences.  We're always listening!

The ASUG Business Intelligence Community is looking for YOUR stories to be featured at the 2012 ASUG Annual Conference.  A lot of folks seem to have some misconceptions about public speaking, especially at ASUG conferences. There are two main ones that I'd like to get out of the way, right now: 

  1. It's hard to speak at a conference
    • Sure, I will admit that there might be some initial nervousness when you get up to the podium.  But to be honest, that will quickly fade as you start to go through your material and see that the audience is listening to you!  Try not to read from your slides too much and just present them.  Remember, the audience is in that room to hear your story.
  2. I have nothing to speak about
    • BULL! Here are some things that people in the community love to hear about:
      • Upgrades. Have you upgraded to BI4 yet? Then there are lots of people who are trying to get their upgrade planned. If you've done it already, the community would love to hear how it went for you. 
      • Project Successes. Did you recently roll out WebIntelligence to a large user community? Build a universe on a new datasource and overcame some 'challenges'? Use Crystal Reports to setup some really neat month end financial reports?  These kinds of success story is a GREAT candidate for ASUG Annual Conference
      • Lessons Learned/Business Challenges.  No one really likes to admit that their organization had some difficulties adopting new technology. It take a brave individual to speak up and say that they had to try a different approach.  But did that approach bring success and a happy ending?  Then that's a story worthy of consideration at ASUG Annual Conference.

That's the thing I love about ASUG Annual Conference: finding the customer stories that will help my company implement faster or overcome a challenge.  Sure, there are Partner and SAP presentation in the mix.  Heck, sometimes a Partner or SAP 'pairs up' with a customer to deliver a session.  If you worked with SAP or a Partner to help deliver your solution, it makes sense to work with them in the presentation, too!

So, think about your story and head to http://callforpresentations.asug.com/ and sign up. Submissions are open until 12/21/2011. Remember, if your abstract is accepted you get FREE admission to ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire. And who doesn't have an employer that would appreciate you saving them money! I hope to see you in Orlando in May- and hopefully on the 'other side' of the podium with a Yellow speaker badge.

Do you like FREE STUFF? Are you in the Washington, DC Metro Area? Then hurry up and sign up for Inside Track DC- it's THIS FRIDAY! 


Will I STOP USING CAPS?  Sure…but otherwise, how else can you tell if I'm excited. 


Seriously though, I was just informed that there are still seats available for this Friday's Inside Track in Washington, DC.  If you like free stuff, then you can't beat an Inside Track.  A free conference, with expert speakers from all over the SAP community is happening this week.  Take a look at the agenda right here, but here's a sample:

  • Tammy Powlas (talking about SAP BusinessObjects and SAP data)
  • Rich Heilman (BPC 10.0)
  • David Chambers (SAP Carbon Impact application)
  • Greg Myers (SAP BusinessObjects)
  • Garauv Salkar (HTML 5 and Enterprise mobility)
  • Tridip Chakraborthy & Rebecca Hughes (SAP Procurement Expert Networking Session)

And don't forget, DemoJam winner John Astill will be creating an iPhone app in 45 minutes with OData, Gateway and the Sybase Unleashed Platform.  And yes, I am scheduled to speak, too.  You can join Tammy Powlas and I as we talk about how people want to learn BI tools and some current trends in BI4 learning. Plus, if you come to our session, we'll have a business card drawing to win a copy of Ingo Hilgefort's latest book: Integrating SAP BusinessObjects 4.x BI Platform with SAP NetWeaver.  MORE FREE STUFF!  (sorry, had to abuse CAPS one last time)


One last link to the Wiki and signup link.  Hope to see you in DC this Friday!  

Well, yes- I did get a cup of coffee before boarding.  So that much is true.  And I AM on the way (or here already, depending on posting time) to Orlando for this year's 2011 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.  While I might not share the same unbridled enthusiasm of fellow SAP Mentor Jaime Oswald, I am looking forward to some things at this year's SBOUC:

1- Customer Stories

Like ASUG Annual Conference, there is something to benefit from hearing from other SAP customers in how they've implemented the same software that I'm using.  I don't think that hearing from SAP Employees or SAP Partners is a bad thing, sometime customer stories just bring things closer to home.

2- Co-workers

Since I am a 'part time teleworker' and working in a different site from most of my coworkers, I don't get to travel to the home office much to see them.  This year, I am fortunate that Aetna has been able to send several folks from our Business Intelligence Competency Center, my Informatics BI Team Lead and even some business owners.  I am definitely excited to see some folks I haven't in a while and meet a few who have only ever been voices on a conference call.

3- Networking

This is something that people don't seem to talk about enough.  In this respect, I get to catch up with fellow ASUG Volunteers, SAP Mentors, ASUG HQ folks and lots of others.  I think that the networking and social aspects of conferences like SBOUC and TechEd are not talked about enough.  You would be surprised to know how much you can learn by talking to other attendees, in addition to the lecture portions of conferences.  Seriously- spend some time talking to folks at the ASUG Lounge or on the show floor.  Strike up conversation with someone who's got a badge on!  Speakers have yellow bands, ASUG Volunteers have red badge ribbons and SAP Mentors have gold ribbons.  Most of these folks would love to chat and answer questions.  If they don't have the answers

Since I already wrote a blog on what sessions I'm giving at SBOUC, I thought it would be only fair to highlight some of the sessions that looked interesting to me.  No guarantee that I can actually make them, given everything else that's going on!  But if you're undecided on some, maybe taking a second look at these might be worth a shot:

  • 3003: SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and      Walt Disney Theme Parks- This one merges two of my favorite things into one session!
  • 6001: Best Practice Use of Business      Analytics in Financial Services- Chris Pohl from BNY Mellon is on a few ASUG Influence      Councils with me and given the press Financial Services has lately, sounds      pretty interesting.
  • 1006: Impact of In-Memory Technology      and SAP HANA on Your Business, IT, and Career- fellow SAP Mentor Vitaliy Rudnytskiy      and Dave Carlisle from HP will be talking about two of the hottest      topics in the SAP Ecosystem today: HANA and BOBJ!
  • 3010: Bridging the Gap: Linking SAP      BusinessObjects Dashboards to SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence- I have seen Sandy Brotje from the      Cleveland Clinic present at past conferences and love hearing a good      customer story.  Because isn't that what these conferences are      supposed to be about?  Fellow customers giving you stories on how      they're running things?

Last but not least, let me welcome fellow Aetna employees Eric Westman and Eliel Carvalho on their conference presentation debut.  They will be presenting session 9009, Deploying Business Intelligence (BI) to a Shared Reporting Environment on Monday at 2:45pm. While I won't be able to attend, since I am presenting session 5009, (What Kind of Deity Are You? How Can You Best Work with All the Right People to Build the Best Universe Possible) at the same time- if you are interested in BOE Administration topics, I would suggest that you try and catch their session.

Monday, 10/10: 1045-1145 

ASUG Dashboarding and Visualization Influence Council (Session 1202) 

I'll be co-presenting with the 'man' behind Xcelsius at SAP, Scott Leaver.  Scott is the SAP Point of Contact for the DAVIC and is looking for customer input on feature requests for future versions of SAP Dashboard Design.  See, I can use the 'new' name.  Even after I made of fun of it during this years' InnoJam!   Do you have things that you'd like to see in future versions of SAP Dashboard Design?  (I mean, besides 'iOS functionality'.  I think we've got that one on the list.)   Then you should plan on attending this session to tell SAP and the Influence Council.

Monday, 10/10: 1600-1700 

The BusinessObjects Universe: An Update from the SAP BusinessObjects Semantic Layer Influence Council (Session 1205) 

Pierpaolo Vezzosi (SAP) and I will be on hand to give an update on how the SLIC (Universe) is progressing.  And yes, we'll be asking for your feedback.  Do you use the universe?  Are there enhancements or changes you'd like to see?  Then this is YOUR session!  We'll be on hand to take down your feedback.  I suspect that there will be other Mentors, experts and others in the room that if you have a question- rather than an enhancement, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Tuesday 10/11: 1045-1145 

ASUG Influence: SAP BusinessObject Enterprise (BI Platform) Influence Council (Session 1207) 

OK, by now I'm sure that you're seeing a definite pattern.  But this session isn't going to be your ordinary IC session.  Well, it is- at least in the beginning and at the end.  I'll take the first 5 minutes or so to give an update on the recent re-chartering and launch of the BOE Council.  After that, I'll be turning the session over to Charles Gadalla and Ashish Morzaria from SAP, who plan on covering and asking for your feedback on these topics:

  • “SAP, Clouds and Microsoft”: Charles would      like to get your feedback on LiveOffice and its connection the MS Office      suite.  As well, he's looking for your opinions on how SAP and      Microsoft are working together in BI.
  • "Virtualization and Hybrid Cloud      Deployments": Ashish is looking for feedback on how customers are      implementing virtualization and thinking about leveraging cloud      implementations for BI.

Now, this isn't a one-way street.  Even though Charles and Ashish are looking for feedback, they're going to have material to present to the attendees on the above topics.  Come and learn about SAP and Microsoft, cloud BI and virutalization from them and then give them your opinions.  This looks like a session you may NOT want to miss!

Tuesday 10/11: 1445-1545 

What Kind of Deity Are You? How Can You Best Work with All the Right People to Build the Best Universe Possible (Session 5009)

Surprise...this is NOT an Influence Council session! This session will be a lecture/roundtable/panel discussion on what you can do to make your universe projects go a little bit easier. We'll talk a bit about different methodologies, all the people who are impacted by a universe project and hopefully you'll be able to take away some good information to make your next universe project a bit easier.  So, who's on the panel?  YOU ARE!  You've got 2 1/2 days of being talked to and lectured...I'll give you the chance to tell your universe project 'horror stories'.  Do you have a great idea of how YOU would make a universe design better?  Then come to my session and BRING IT ON! 

And yes...there will be prizes involved for participation!

Wednesday 10/12: 1030-1130 

ASUG Influence: SAP BusinessObjects Online and In-Product Education Influence Council 

Remember the movie posters from 'Jaws'? "Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water"  It's an Influence Council update...but we're ending on a great note.  Megan Mittler from SAP will be sharing the results from the public survey we announced last week.  Come find out what your colleagues thinks is important to them as they learn a new BI tool.  We'll also be taking any suggestions from the audience on the new BI4 tutorials, too.  I've said it before about this council- 'Did you ever want a say on what HELP tells you? Then this is the council (and session) for you!'

My good friend and fellow BI Community Facilitator, Tammy Powlas tweeted this just the other day:

Well, at least I was able to answer her question!  She also told me a funny fact that I had to go and look for myself.  We have 195 hours of content on tap for Orlando and with 5 hours on the schedule, it ends up that I'm speaking for 3% of SBOUC.  I don't know whether to be nervous or happy that I'm in demand! If just one person gets something out of any of the above sessions- then my job here is done!  See you down at the 'World!  °O°

Did you suffer from:

- WAY too many emails in your inbox?
- A longing for rapid fire tweeting and social media interation?
- 'Jones-ing' for networking lounges or speaker pods?

Then you probably suffered from PSTW, Las Vegas strain.  My prescription?  The following InnoJam recap blog.  It even has pictures! Or links to pictures!

Sunday: InnoJam Starts
This was my first TechEd as a SAP Mentor and accordingly, my first InnoJam.  The first part of the day included some lectures on Gamification, product roadmap updates and lots of techie talk.  After that was over, the fun part begins: pick a 'case', form a team and get coding.  I thought that none of the presented cases really had a need for BusinessObjects folks, so I started packing up to head out.  But then fellow Mentor (and all around 'Good Guy') Vijay Vinjaysankar stopped me and asked if I was on a team.  I replied simply 'nope'.  He looked relieved, as he had a 'case' that wasn't really in the list and needed a BOBJ guy.  I told him that if that was true, then we should pick up the other BOBJ Mentors who were milling around- Greg Myers, Jaime Oswald and new 'Mentor Cub' Eric Vallo.  He agreed and we joined the Team 13 table: a true cast of characters: Vitaly Rudynski, Jon Reed, Gretchen Lindquist and Karin Tillotson.  Vijay's idea was pretty neat: how do we game the 'game'.  Make the idea about choosing the game you're playing, as opposed to being told what the game is.   Vitaly and Vijay did the hard lifting with the HANA infrastructure, while I mocked up the data using old-school tools, mainly Excel (and some RAND functions).  Eric was our BOBJ admin guru, working with Vitaly on getting the connection from the HANA DB to BI4 up and running.  Jaime created our game dashboard using Xcelsius.  We called it a night after midnight.  Other teams were burning the midnight oil when I checked out for the night, though.

Monday: InnoJam Finale/ASUG Pre-Conference hands-on
I had volunteered to assist Ingo Hilgefort with his all day BI4 hands-on session, so I would only be able to come and help Team 13 at breaks and at lunch.   While we had some technical difficulties (not speaker or material related, but machine builds), the pre-con continued on.  I'm sure the attendees came away with lots of good information, because I know that I sure did!  I popped up to Team 13 at lunchtime, only to find that we have been renamed Team PUKR.  P.U.K.R, as in PuppiesUnicornsKittensandRainbows. We even have a Facebook page http://j.mp/psQWMt (which you should totally like!).  Greg Myers had a chance to join while I was assisting Ingo and helped Eric and Jaime out with the BOE stuff.  Karin, Gretchen and Jon were the forces behind Team PUKR's burgeoning online and social media presence.  At InnoJam- everyone gets to work their tails off!  I got to do some more work at lunch and then headed back down to help assist Ingo, whose pre-con did NOT slow down- even with 'technical difficulties'.

After the pre-con was done, I joined my team in time for Jane McGonigal's keynote presentation.  While I'm going to leave the whole notion of gamification for enterprise reporting for another time, I will say that it does have its merits in specific applications.  Her keynote was fun and even included the throwing of Angry Birds to an enthusiastic crowd- and since I caught one to take home to my daughter, it was even better!  Following the keynote, it was time for the InnoJam judging.  Taking some of the advice from the InnoJam coaches, our primary speaker (Vijay) got on stage to explain Team PUKR! Not being ones for outright pandering to the judges, Gretchen only took 1 copy of Jane McGonigal's book up, while I only mentioned that we linked to her book's Amazon.com page a few times.  You can find the link to all of the recorded InnoJam's right here (Team PUKR starts about 46 minutes in): http://www.sapvirtualevents.com/teched/sessiondetails.aspx?sId=72 


We might not have won- but we likely had the most fun out of any team.  I appreciated the 'likes' from Jane McGonigal on our entry: she liked that we had 'character' and that we allowed for the option for people to choose the game!  A highlight for me was getting the chance to speak in front of the InnoJam crowd and have it streamed over TechEd Live Online (which I did NOT know at the time)!  When I took a look around the stage and saw 7 other SAP Mentors on stage with a HANA based, BusinessObjects Explorer Mobile and Xcelsius-fronted idea that started on a napkin and ended up on that screen in less than 24 hours- I realized that life is pretty good!!


I came into InnoJam with a preconceived notion, mainly around the fact that my particular skill-set might not be useful, only to be proven wrong.  Our team wasn't the only team who utilized BusinessObjects, mainly Explorer Mobile.  I also believe that other teams would've used BusinessObjects products, had more BOBJ folks been present.  For those who have been on the fence about the whole 'platform-agnostic' vs 'ERP' BOBJ side of the fight, I believe that InnoJam allows ANY BusinessObjects developer a chance to interact with new technology and leverage your expertise.  If you have a chance to sign-on for Madrid, Bangalore or Shanghai- take it!

I'll update the blog as soon as I get a chance to remember where and how I can post Team PUKR's SWF file for the community to 'game'!

In the interim, please accept this screencap:

Gaming the Game


Here's a picture of Team PUKR (minus one) from up on the InnoJam stage:


And finally, here's my gallery of assorted TechEd 2011 shots- courtesy of SAP, Aslan Noghre-Kar and my lousy BlackBerry Tour's camera:


The ASUG BI4 Online and In-Product Education Influence Council is looking for your help.  We've launched a survey (online, naturally) asking 10 quick questions on how you learn new software. And I'm hoping that the SCN/BOBJ community will take 2 quick minutes to pitch in and lend thier voice!  The survey is asking your opinion on how you would like to learn new software and your preferences on 'consuming' that education.

Act quickly, though.  The survey will only be live until Friday, September 30th.  Why so short? Because the Council will announce the findings at our SAP BusinessObjects User Conference session.  If you're in Orlando, come join Megan Mittler (SAP), Jim Cull (Zurich North America) and myself on Wednesday, 10/12 from 1030-1130am.  We'll announce the survey results, talk about the Influence Council status and give an opportunity for you to voice your opinion on the 'help' that the BI4 products supply.

Once again, here's an opportunity to make help more helpful.  Pass the link onto your colleagues and have them chime in, too!

Here's the link, one more time! Survey

Are you a BusinessObjects Universe developer?  
Power User? 
Technologically Curious? 
Yes?  Good.

Are you coming to SAP TechEd Las Vegas?
Even Better.

Then I would suggest adding BI150 to your TechEd agenda!  Join me as I host ASUG Influence: Semantic Layer Influence Council on Tuesday, from 11:30 to 12:30 in Lido 3005.  What will I be covering at this session?  Yet another good question!!  


On the agenda, so far:

1- An update of the Semantic Layer Influence Council.  Come and listen to some of the progress that we've made over the past few months.  For those who aren't sure what an Influence Council is, I'll cover those details, too.
2- Information on BI4's new semantic layer.  Sadly, my SAP Influence Council point of contact (or as I call him my 'partner in crime'), Pierpaolo Vezzosi is unable to make TechEd Las Vegas.  But he was generous enough to provide some slides and information for me to share on BI4 and even a couple of slides on what we may see in BI4.1.  
3- Last but not least- an open forum for YOUR comments about the universe!


We'll document all of your ideas and comments about the universe and bring them back to the Influence Council.  The best part of these Influence sessions is hearing your input.  Although sometimes your question may not really even be a feature or product enhancement.  Perhaps another attendee in the room has solved the thing that's been perplexing you and will be able to answer your question.  This will get you back in business faster than waiting for your idea to make it's way through the council!


Here's what I'm thinking will happen- we'll have a chance to put together a really good dialog between the folks in the room.  I really don't like sitting at the front and just lecturing people for 45 minutes- and I'm sure you don't like be lectured at either.  You've come to TechEd to LEARN!  And learning isn't just passive listening and watching PowerPoint slideshows.  If you're in the audience and have the answer to someone's question- then raise your hand and answer it.  Become part 'teacher' yourself!  You will be surprised how much you learn by teaching someone else.  I might not have all the answers, but with the skill sets of the people at TechEd (and maybe even in BI150) an answer can't be too far away.


All of the ideas/comments/issues/bugs that are documented in this session will be brought back to the full ASUG Semantic Layer Influence Council at the next meeting after the SAP BusinessObjects User Conference next month.  The council will tally the ideas aloungside the ideas that are already in play and will rank all of them with SAP.  Who knows, the creative idea you bring to this session may appear in the next version of the universe!  At the least we'll have a good time talking about how we use the universe and maybe make it a bit better.

If you're heading to Las Vegas for TechEd, you're probably starting to get a bit excited.  I know that I am!  For some (including myself), TechEd is like a geek's paradise!  There's Twitter hashtags aplenty, 30 hour coding marathons and even live demo competitions.  It's a chance to catch up with friends, influencers, executives, educators and Mentors.  I've started to get my schedule together and thought I would highlight some of the sessions that I thought looked pretty interesting.  Your mileage may vary, but as a non-ERP BusinessObjects person- here's a handful of what I'm looking forward to:


BI150: ASUG Influence: Semantic Layer Influence Council

My first TechEd as a presenter. If you use the BusinessObjects semantic layer, AKA 'the universe' and would like to have your voice heard for product improvement and new features- then this is the session for you! I'll be giving an update on the current ASUG Semantic Layer Influence Council, as well as presenting some information from SAP on the tools in BI4 and 4.1.  After the updates and information, it's audience participation time! Bring all of your ideas and air them out- I'll take them all back to the council and SAP to be considered in future releases.  


BI204: Upgrading to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0

I'm hoping that this session will contain some good information to get my BI4 upgrade planning a kick in the pants.


EXP92: Diversified Semantic Layer Podcast- Live Q&A

Join me and 'most' of the cast of the Diversified Semantic Layer Podcast (Greg Myers, Jaime Oswald and Eric Vallo) as we talk about TechEd and take audience and Twitter questions about BusinessObjects.  These guys always have a fun time and I'm honored to be talking with these guys in Las Vegas!


EXP16: Cover Your Basis

I enjoyed SAP Mentor David Hull's inaugural episode of his new podcast.  Including Courtney Bjorlin of ASUG News and fellow SAP Mentor and industry analyst extraordinaire Jon Reed, it was a pretty entertaining.  I'm looking forward to the TechEd episode!


Now that's just a handful of some of the BusinessObjects content that's available in Las Vegas.  I think the other really cool thing about TechEd is the hands-on sessions.  With your registration, you get the ability to register for 2 hands-on sessions.  I've managed to snag reservations to BI261: How to Access Multi-Source Data in Your SAP BusinessObjects BI Client Tools.  As this is something I do in my day to day job, it's really appealing to have a session that will directly impact me. The second one on my agenda is BI260:  SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 and 4.1: Return on Experience From an Internal Customer.  As part of a BICC, I hope that I will be able to take some valuable information back to my employer about how others have leveraged the new features in BI4.


Last, but certainly not least: BI160: SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 and SAP Landscapes in a Single Session, led by SAP Mentor Ingo Hilgefort- if there's room and you're interested in some hands-on with the most popular BOBJ tools against SAP data, then I highly recommend this session.  Following the success of the session at ASUG Annual Conference/SAPPHIRE; SAP's Eric Yew and SAP Mentors Tammy Powlas and I return to assist Ingo here at TechEd.  Joining the supporting cast this time around are Balaji Krisna from SAP, ASUG Volunteer Joyce Butler and SAP Mentor Greg Myers.  With this supporting cast, hopefully everyone will be able to get their questions answered!

Even if you can't make it to Las Vegas, make sure to take advantage of Virtual TechEd or TechEd Live.  If you are in Las Vegas, I look forward to seeing you!  Look for Mentor Jersey number 212.  If you do find me- make sure to ask why 212.  Although if you're on the US East Coast, you may have an idea!

In a break from the summer heat, I met SAP Mentor Greg Myers to carpool and headed down to Newtown Square.  We made decent time and made it early enough to catch up with a bunch of people I haven't seen in a while!  Fellow Mentors Marilyn Pratt and Tammy Powlas all came in bright in early after long drives,  as well as #SAPITNSQ organizer Rich Heilman.  Jay Riddle was there prepping his presentation after flying in from Atlanta, GA the night before.  But the award for furthest distance traveled was set by SAP Mentor John Appleby from the UK's Bluefin Solutions.  A light breakfast was ready and we were off and running!


'SAP Runs SAP' (Chip Rodgers & Mike Golz)
This was a great session opened by Chip, who had a chance to show everyone the latest SCN Jive update and video posted on YouTube. It was great to see that the 'new' SCN is coming along nicely!  Chip always gives a great presentation surrounding social media and specifically the juggernaut that is SCN.  He turned the stage over to Mike Golz, Chief Information Officer, SAP Americas.  Mike's presentation definitely captured my attention.  Nice to hear that a vendor is using their own product and are aggressively ramping up internally to use the newer versions.  The discussion surrounding SAP's rollout of support for personal devices was truly interesting to me.  I think that this is a particularly simple way of increasing employee productivity and happiness, with little expense or risk for the employee.  The employer is on the hook for no physical hardware or monthly connection fees.  The only cost for the employee is for the connectivity piece to the internal network (and any support they want to offer).    Employees can bring their own devices, agree to the terms presented by the company and then attach them to the network.  What the company gets is a mobile-enabled workforce with the majority of the cost borne by the employee.  If an employee is truly a 'mobile worker', then the company should provide them with the equipment they're going to need.  But if the employee is only mobile 'part-time' or wants to be able to be productive off-hours or off-site, then the personal device strategy seems to make a lot of sense.  Sounds like a separate blog topic, to me!!  After Mike and Chip's session, it was time to move out to the breakout sessions!


Chip Rodgers talking about SCN: (link)


The #SAPITNSQ room:  (link)


IT201: SAP Query- Expand Your Use with Enhancement Package 5 and BusinessObjects (Tammy Powlas)
I got into the session room a bit late, but Tammy was well on her way holding court about how to tie in BOBJ with SAP Query, using the features Enhancement Package 5 brought to the table.  She had some great video captures of the examples she was talking about.  This was a fun session, especially for someone like me with only a little ERP 'side of the house' practical experience!


Tammy talking about SAP datasources: (link)


IT202: Planning for Peak Performance with SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform (Greg Myers)
For everyone who loves to be a 'beta tester', this was the session for you.  Greg was kind enough to give us a sneak preview of his 8/17 SCN-SAP EcoHub presentation on setting up and monitoring your BOE environment for peak performance.  Some of the more memorable quotes that came out included things like 'Math is your friend' and '100% CPU utilization isn't a bad thing, unless it's all the time'!  This was a fun session and if you're a BOE server admin, I highly recommend checking out the replay!  You will get tips on how to use auditor data and Microsoft Excel to do some basic server performance forecasting.


Greg holding court: (link)



IT203: ASUG Influence: Is SAP listening? Make your voice heard! (Tammy Powlas & Derek Loranca)
As Community Facilitators for the ASUG Business Intelligence Community, Tammy and I have been thinking about doing a session to give the public an opportunity to hear about ASUG Influence and the Business Intelligence products.  We put together the slides and for a session and tried to have a lot of fun.  Since we didn't really do a dry run, there was a lot of 'your turn', but in my opinion- that just made it a bit more lighthearted!  Both of us believe very strongly that ASUG Influence is one of the most powerful customer channels back to the vendor and SAP seems to agree with us.  We gave an update of the BI Influence Councils that are chartered or kicking off and invite anyone who is at TechEd or SBOUC, to come to an Influence session.  The councils will take the feedback from these sessions directly back to SAP.


Having fun presenting: (link)


Mentor Jersey lineup: (link)



And a big thanks for SCN's own Sylvia Santelli who was our Adobe Connect/Room Moderator!! (link)



What can you say...it's the cafeteria at SAP's North American headquarters   


IT104: HANA (John Appleby)
John spent some time this morning 'polishing' his presentation, but it didn't show!  Seriously, this was a great informative session on HANA.   Starting off with good 'what it is' and 'how can you use it' information, leading to detailed discussions regarding implementation, hardware vendors and even *gasp* pricing estimates.  John was even gracious enough to withstand some good natured barbs from the folks on the webcast.  And to be honest, I kind of helped out from the audience, too.  But Jon Reed said it best about this session via Twitter: 'Brilliant...@applebyj just set the standard for a HANA presentation.'  I would have to agree and urge anyone interested in HANA to check it out.  Especially if you have a sense of humor!


John (probably ignoring a comment from Dennis Howlett or Jon Reed): (link)



IT305: Preparing for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 – Insights into New Features, SAP Integration, and Sizing Guidelines (Jay Riddle)
A caffeinated Jay Riddle gave a funny and informative presentation covering BI4 including some of the integration and sizing pitfalls he's come across.  Jay's always entertaining to watch and was definitely a perfect fit for the mid-afternoon session.  If you were tired or sleepy before his session, he sure woke you up!  


Jay getting 'all riled up' (according to Greg Myers): (link)


IT306: Meet an SCN Blog Moderator (Marilyn Pratt & Tammy Powlas)
Based on an idea from Stephen Johannes 'Meet an SCN Forum Moderator' at TechEd, Tammy and Marilyn teamed up to present a light-hearted look at what an SCN Moderator does.  They also covered why they do things the way they do, as well as what a new blogger can expect.  Some of the more in-depth discussions in the room centered on cross-posting blogs from other sites, as well as those blog entries that can be considered 'sales pitches.  I had a really good time listening to what it takes to be a mod, as well as some of the stuff that new bloggers try to get through on them!!


Great caption by Greg 'SCN Blog Goddesses'! (link)


IT107: Creating Mobile Applications with SAP Gateway Odata Channel (John Astill)
Since we had a cancellation in schedule, John offered up to repeat his prior session, mainly to accommodate the people who were in Marilyn's session it seemed!  Joining John in the room were an engaged posse of SAP Mentors (Tammy, Greg, Marilyn, Rich, John Appleby and myself), as well as Jay Riddle, Sylvia Santelli and Greg Misiorek.  I had a great time listening and interacting with John and he coded an iOs application right in front of us.  While not a GUI programmer, John made it easy to follow along and answered all of my stupid questions with real answers!  There's nothing quite like watching someone talk about the code and then show you the output right there.


Picture courtesy of Jay Riddle: (link)


Rich led a wrap-up session with those attendees brave enough to stay to the end.  We got some great feedback, especially regarding the timing.  That is definitely something we'll remedy for next year, but given only 3 weeks to organize and publicize- I think we had great attendance.  Some of the other comments, including how to make it so the presenters talk to the audience and not the camera were taken to heart.  Definitely something to keep in mind.  I've got some ideas already working up around that for next years #SAPITNSQ.


A hearty thanks to SAP for sponsoring a post Inside track networking reception!  I know that I had a blast catching up with everyone who stayed around.  I got home much later than I thought I would!


Last Word
Given the shortened time crunch, I think the turnout was great.  One wrap-up suggestion that I really liked was a suggestion that on the new SCN, maybe a placeholder can be put on the front page highlighting Inside Tracks worldwide.  This would be a great feature to drive attendance and publicize all of the Inside Tracks.
Last year, my first SCN blog post was called 'Inside Track Made me Do It'.  And to think that a year later, I would be helping in planning that same Inside Track.  To those who are on the fence about helping to organize or even attend an Inside Track: JUST DO IT!

Guess what?  After 2010's successful SAP Inside Track mini-conference, there's a sequel in the works!!  On August 12th, SAP Inside Track will return to SAP's North American headquarters in Newtown Square, PA.  Inside Tracks are community sponsored mini-conferences that are free to attend and present at.  That's right…free to attend AND present!


Have you always thought about speaking on a topic, but could never find the right 'home' for it?  Then Inside Track might be the place for your debut!  The beauty of an Inside Track is that the community IS the content.  Did you have a project that went really smooth and would like to share your steps for success?  Then submit it as a candidate when you register! 


OK…so you don't want to speak.  That's cool, too.  Then register as an attendee- it's free!  You read that correctly: there is NO cost to you.  For a day full of education from experts, your peers and Me.  I usually pay people to hear me talk, so you get the pleasure for free!  Please also remember the ability to network with folks, too!  Do you 'tweet'? You would be surprised how many new followers and people you choose to follow can come out of an Inside Track.


To be honest, my first Inside Track was the 2010 Newtown Square and I had a GREAT time.  I met so many new people.  Users, techies, managers, consultants- all there.  Want to meet SAP Mentors, ASUG Volunteers, SCN gurus and maybe even some SAP management?  These folks were all in attendance last year and I bet some will be back this year!


If this sounds like it's too good to be true, then you're WRONG!  August 12th is the date and the link to experience it for yourself is right here: http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/events/SAP+Inside+Track+Newtown+Square+2011


Now, for ASUG Members- you can also come and support fellow ASUG'ers Tammy Powlas and I as we present on the importance of ASUG Influence Councils. Or come support ASUG'er Greg Myers as he goes all BusinessObjects techie in his session. 


Also on the schedule: John Appleby discussing HANA, Jocken Hager talking about Managing SAP Document and Data Archiving in the cloud and Jay Riddle covering how to prepare for BusinessObjects BI 4.0 w/insights about New Features and more! 


Registration is approaching the magic number of 100.  Come and join us for this awesome day of learning and community spirit!

I recently attended an excellent SAP Mentor webinar regarding the impact and usage of social media.  We heard about SAP's thoughts and strategies on social media and the Mentors were able to share theirs.  Then by chance,  this  morning I was part of an email discussion at work about which social media sites people have joined and what kind of value they saw each bring to them.  I can't help but how subjective these things really are.  Every individual is going to have their own thoughts on what they get out of each.  And that's exactly is what is at the heart of the matter!  Each social media avenue can be used for a different purpose, depending on what you're looking to get out of it.   For me, this is how I break it down:


This seems to have become my main information hub.  I follow trends, look for news, track blogs and pretty much see what's going on through Twitter.  But to be honest, I usually keep it limited to 'work' on here.  While I do find myself sharing personal 'check-ins', the occasional pithy comment or family news item; when I look at my followers/follows I see SAP Mentors, bloggers, influencers, ASUG-ers, techies and other SAP/BOBJ folks on here.  I realized that I've done this on purpose because of...


I hate to say it, but Facebook is for family and friends.  Pictures, stories and the relationships on here have been cultivated around the premise that my Facebook account is where I can connect with my Uncles in Florida and Washington State, cousins in Mexico and close friends spread amoungst the wind.  But there is a bit of overlap, though.  I have some people who are on both Twitter AND Facebook because not only are they colleagues, they're friends.  That reminds me, I really do need to do some more reaching out in Facebook to friends from Twitter.  I am REALLY bad at searching for people and sending friend requests!  

Here's the thing about Facebook, I won't engage in a conversation about BI4's GA date on it.  I'll rarely like a company page, unless it's on a whim or having to do with something outside of work.  For example, one page I liked was Seagrave Fire Apparatus.  They have ZERO to do with BI4, but since I rely on their ladder truck to get me home safe to my family (a non-work activity),  I like their page.  BI4 comments will go to Twitter or...


For me, the main blogging and news information portal for SAP-related news.  I blog on here and read blogs on here.  I am not as active on the Forums as I probably should be.  I consider SCN one of the main hubs for SAP/BOBJ information.  The SAP Mentors tend to centralize content on here (or link out to it) and even before I was a Mentor, I looked for their unvarnished views on products and technologies.  But I don't think SCN is for...


Personal Blogs:
If I want to blog about my latest family vacation, post some birthday party pictures or review the newest gadget that my wife got mad at me for buying, I'll post it here.  I would like to think that my personal blog kinda straddles the line between Facebook and Twitter.  Since it's public, anyone can read it if they choose.  I am not limited to just SAP/BOBJ posts like on SCN or to only a selected list of people like Facebook.  Which bring us to...


Right now, G+ is limited to early adopters and has shown some promise.  I really do like the 'Circles' approach to life.  I can put people in my 'SAP' circle and when I want to make that comment about BI4, I can just limit the post to those folks who would be interested.  Or if I posted some birthday party pictures, I can limit that post to just my Family.  I think that this is a powerful feature and I suspect that others will likely roll out this kind of functionality at some point.  I do see promise in Google+.


Now you've noticed no pithy 'linking' to LinkedIn in the blog.  That's mainly because I don't really use it as 'social media'.  For me, it's mainly a form of online resume and professional network documentation.  I have connected to folks that I want to stay in touch with professionally,  figuring out who works where and making sure that I have a professional appearance online.  Some folks really use the groups and other features of LinkedIn, but I find that they don't really work for me too well.  So for now, I consider LinkedIn to be more of a placeholder than active social media experiment.

These are the main forms of social media that I utilize on a daily basis.  The moral of this story is that you should take the time to find the strategy that works best for YOU!  The amount of value that you will derive from these networks really depends on what you put into them.  If you want to just consume the information, good.  There's plenty out there for you to find and read.  Want to start producing?  Go for it...but remember it takes time, effort and quality to start being heard.  Don't be discouraged.  In today's world, it seems that you are your own brand.  How you present your brand is up to you! 

Wish that help could be more helpful?  Do you have an opinion on what's presented when you press 'ALT-HELP' in SAP BusinessObjects?  You've got ideas of what in-product education should include?  Good!  Then you should plan on attending the kick-off of ASUG's SAP BusinessObjects Online and In-Product Education Influence Council. SAP wants to hear from you on how to make the in product (and some out of product) education of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4 better!  

This is your opportunity to give your opinion on BI4's eLearning modules.  What?  You don't happen to have BI4 installed yet?  Don't let that dissuade you from attending the kick-off webcast and filling out an interest survey.  If selected for the council, you will have the opportunity to see those training materials for yourself!  And then (in my humble opinion) comes the best part of being part of an Influence Council: telling SAP what you think.  Did you like something?  Was a topic not covered in enough detail to make a user comfortable?  Do you think that there was too much detail paid to a certain feature at the expense of another?  This is your chance to be completely honest and help shape these education offerings. 

Of course, for every good deal there's some fine print:

  1. You must be a member of ASUG to participate in the council.  Sorry about that, folks.
  2. You must register to attend the webcast or fill out the survey form (available after the kickoff) to be considered. 
  3. You must listen to my guest appearance on the Diversified Semantic Layer podcast to hear more details.
Well, number 3 isn't really required, but if you made it this far you should just go ahead and listen.  On a parting note, this Influence Council is one of the first achievements of the ASUG BusinessObjects Strategic SIG.  They're listening to voice of SAP BusinessObjects customers and are working directly with SAP to keep an open line of communication going.  As for me?  I am definitely looking forward to this influence council!  Hope to see you on August 8th.


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