BI+A 2018 Wrap-up: Smaller is better

With a new location (Huntington Beach, CA) and calendar shift for the event (February), Eventful Conferences only had six months to plan the 2018 BI+A Conference. In its second year, has the event transformed from the conference formerly known as the SAP BusinessObjects User Conference? If it continues with the vibe from this year, then it may just have succeeded.

I could imagine that the six month turnaround between conference occurrences had an attendance effect. With employees working harder and harder to justify travel funding to conferences, going to the ‘same conference’ only six months later may have stifled repeat attendance. But I think that the smaller attendance completely changed the feel and vibe of the event in a good way.  I never felt hurried, while the venue was compact enough to allow folks quick transit between sessions. Those hallway conversations that happened between sessions and want to continue later? You were able to pick that person out of the ‘crowd’ at the next break and pick up where you left off. Session rooms were comfortably full and folks tended to stick around and chat amongst themselves and the presenter.

While there were a lot of jokes about liking the location (especially those from Northern climates), winter decided to show up in time for BI+A. The temperature in Philadelphia was warmer than Huntington Beach that week! The venue was great: enough space for sessions, not terribly spread out but with a big hall for keynotes (and a Healthcare panel). I appreciated coffee being available all the time and the menu made me eat healthy. The wifi was pretty steady. The ‘show floor’ was small, but inviting and I thought that the ‘expert help’ offering seemed to go underutilized. Which is a shame, because the SAP experts there to offer assistance were some of SAP’s best technical resources. Take note for next time: sign up and bring your questions!

The sessions that I attended were current, well-prepared and engaging. I didn’t feel like I was being lectured or the speaker was droning on. Questions asked were usually relevant and audience members adding their experiences seem to be encouraged by the speakers. I think that this became the event’s vibe: Share and Learn. For me, when I talked about my BI roadmap and rollout experiences, I quickly discovered that I was not alone and some folks even had some ‘creative’ solutions to my same questions.

Of course, things weren’t all candy and roses. The discussions around the updated SAP Analytics roadmap and the sunsetting of SAP Lumira Discovery were prominent. Some folks were definitely taking the news a bit harder than others.  Perhaps they had sweat equity in their company’s rollout or maybe they were just trying to impress others with their sweet, sweet Lumira knowledge. Either way, attendees were discussing the future of their analytics roadmap and where SAP Analytics Cloud would (or would not) fit.

I think that this conference might have hit it’s mark in 2018, even if it meant to do so unintentionally. With another SAP BI conference scheduled for the following week, I feel BI+A took a different tack in the wind and rewarded it’s attendees with a fresh breath of air. I think the 2019 SAP conference ecosystem would be well-served keeping this conference at the size, location and schedule build of 2018. We have enough big BI conferences that a smaller one like BI+A is a welcome respite.

On the way to…BI+A 2018

This episode of ‘On the way to…’ is brought to you by…my house! I thought I would get this blog out before I actually travelled this time around.

So, I’m off to the 2018 installment of ASUG/Eventful’s BI+A Conference. I have really come around to this conference because it *feels* different. And different is a good thing, to be honest. There are plenty of conference that have tons of detailed sessions, others that have a few high-level overview sessions and yet others that can be analytics industry focused. I would like to describe BI+A as ‘all of the above’. I like that I have a few good sessions in each of those categories: when I want to go high-level overview, I can. Deep dive into a product? Analytics industry discussions? Check.

And then there’s location. Nashville in 2017 was pretty cool. But as Philly is forecasting for snow on Saturday night, I will gladly wake up in California. (Huntington Beach seems to be a very nice place for a February conference.) I know it’s a bit of a ‘humble brag’, but I am definitely ready for a winter break!! And BI+A has a keynote from Pixar…if you know me, you know I’m a Disney nerd and am excited for this keynote. °O°

By now, most folks who have an ear to the SAP BI ground have heard about the updates SAP has made to their data discovery tool roadmap, specifically around SAP Lumira Discovery. (If you haven’t, please check out the ‘SAP 2018 Strategy and Roadmap for Business Intelligence’ on I suspect that the sessions around the Roadmap, the Ask the Expert booth and the overall conference will be buzzing with this news. If you are interested in following the conversation, I would keep an eye out for news articles, blog posts and tweets during and post-conference. There should be some good content coming out.

For those on-premise (ha,ha), my ‘3 Sessions on Derek’s Agenda (+1)’ are below. If you’re looking for a list of recommended sessions delivered in GIF form via a Twitter thread (and if you’re not, you are missing out) then Jamie Oswald has you covered:

3 Sessions on Derek’s Agenda (+1)

One- Monday, 11am
SAP Analytics Cloud Hybrid Use Cases (Adrian Westmoreland – Product Manager, SAP)

Hybrid is the way of the future according to the latest SAP BI Roadmap analysis. Adrian is a longtime SAP Product Manager and hails from the old BusinessObjects side of the house. And i trust him, so if you want real information and opinions- then I would definitely put this session on your agenda.

Two- Monday, 2:55pm
Leaner Staff, Deeper Analytics: Driving Greater Accountability with Fewer Resources Using BusinessObjects (Chris Josefy – Manager, Business Solutions, EP Energy)

Another reason I like ASUG/Eventful conferences are the customer stories. As a BI professional with limited resources in my team, this seems to call to me!

Three- Tuesday, 2:15pm

Interactive Session: Come with Your Analysis for Office Migration Concerns and Leave with an Action Plan (Mustafa Mustafa – Senior Director – IT, Ferrara Candy Company)

Folks always look for a reason to attend conferences, right? If you are thinking about migrating Analysis for Office, then you may just come home with some information to justify sending you to a conference!

+1- Monday, 2:00pm

Panel Discussion: BI + Analytics in Healthcare (Derek Loranca – SAP Mentor & Lead, BI COE, Aetna | Jamie Oswald – SAP Mentor & Manager, Data Analytics & Engineering, Mercy | Jennifer Cofer – ASUG Volunteer)

As always, my +1 is my session. Jamie, Jennifer and I will be hosting a panel discussion to talk about how some folks in healthcare utilize BI and analytics. A few things you can expect: jokes, knowledge and a special guest moderator!

There are a few conferences covering SAP Analytics in the next few weeks, so I expect that there’s going to be a lot of news and analysis coming out. And then there’s ASUG Annual Conference/SAPPHIRE in June, where I’m sure there will be more information to cover. Should be interesting, so buckle in!

SAP Community Network…rebooting…

There’s been a some traction in SAP-land regarding the SAP Community Network this month. And for once, it’s not necessarily negative or even ‘meh’. What happened? SAP CEO Bill McDermott re-iterated his support to strengthening the struggling SAP Community Network; announcing new leadership and focus based on his comments on Michele Crapo’s LinkedIn blog in late 2017. As a SAP Mentor and long-time SCN contributor, I was heartened to see Bill publicly put his word on the line. And frankly, I was pretty happy to see SCN moved under Bjoern Goerke’s organization and then thrilled to read that Thomas Grassl would be involved, as well. I consider Thomas a friend and know that he is truly passionate about building up a strong SAP developer ecosystem.

For those who may worry about the whole ‘development’ focus, I would take the ‘developer’ title and loosely apply it. Thomas and I have had many discussions over the years around what we each think constitutes a developer and I believe that he doesn’t really limit that distinction to just those who code ABAP, UI5, or may know what Git is. There are many, many Community members who aren’t developers in the ‘push/pull/commit’ category. Are users who write SQL to place in a Crystal Report Command Object not developing? What about folks who write BEx queries?

Those who think themselves as only ‘end users’: you should benefit from a re-invigorated SCN, too. To me, it always seemed that as when the developers were engaging, the ‘end users’ were more comfortable to speak up. At this point, you now had users helping users directly, talking about issues and how to make their lives easier. When the entire community is engaged, you now have an effective and non-trivial feedback loop to SAP.

I look forward to a re-energized and engaged SAP Mentor Program, too. While I’m honored to be a SAP Mentor and thrilled to have the Mentors recognized directly by Bill, there’s work for us to do, too. The entire community will be watching the Mentors, seeing if we lead the way. If we do not, then I feel that then it may be time to retire the initiative and start fresh. As my career progresses and I add other vendor tools to my SAP wheelhouse, I have yet to be introduced to a program as dynamic and influential as the Mentors. It would be a shame to lose the Community’s spokespeople, but if there was something new to take its place in a reborn SCN that continued the same traditions; then it should be considered. But if the Mentors lead the way and are successful, then long live the SAP Mentors!

There are a LOT of good comments on Bill’s blog- partly reminiscences of a time gone by, others requests of what a rebooted SCN portal should have. My opinion is simply this: information needs to be easier to find, relevant and TOGETHER! Long-time SCN users remember the days of ‘Spaces’ and a central ‘Start’ page that tied them together. SCN needs to feel relevant again, but without the marketing fluff and ‘Asking for a client’ nonsense. How do we get there and what does it look like? This should make for some FUN discussions, both internal and external to SAP.

I will also admit that my contributions to SCN have greatly diminished. I am one of those who have become disillusioned by the changes and had the same response as a lot of others: stop participating. I am excited by the possibility of ‘coming home’ to a revitalized and reenergized SAP Community. I would hope that others share my excitement and can use this as a call to action to bring others. Communities like SCN only grow organically. And like a garden, growth will take time and some fertilizer. But I have not been this excited about anything SCN-related in a long time…and that’s a good thing.

BI+A 2018 Session Announcement

So…2018 has arrived and you’re thinking about what conferences you may want to attend. You’ve got the ASUG/Eventful BI+A 2018 Conference on your radar and are interested in how different folks are using BI in the Healthcare system, right? Then I commend your choice in attending the conference and heading to this session:

BI + Analytics in Healthcare: Panel Discussion (Monday, 2/19 at 2:00pm)

Join a panel of BI practitioners as they discuss how Business Intelligence is used throughout the healthcare system. Ranging from payors to providers, the panel is using technology in exciting ways. With both moderated and questions from the audience, this panel promises to both entertain and educate.

A panel of SAP BI professionals, who happen to be long-time ASUG Volunteers (and a couple of SAP Mentors) chatting? What could possibly go wrong with this formula? Join me and my good friends, Jamie Oswald (Mercy) and Jennifer Cofer (Providence Health) as we try and educate in a light-hearted manner around a big subject.

Do you have questions you’d like the panel to answer? Leave a comment and we’ll see what happens! Look for my ‘On the way to…’ blog entry right before the event in February. The agenda looks great and it may be trouble only limiting myself to three recommendations!!

Happy New Year!!

SAP Inside Track NYC 2017: Event Overview

Thank you to everyone who registered for and attended SAP Inside Track 2017. The SAP Next-Gen spaces at 10 Hudson Yards was a great location and we had a really nice sized turnout. Not too big, not too small. We were able to use the space appropriately, even with some last minute restrictions because of an event with the Governor of New York taking place after SITNYC. We also had a chance to take in SAP’s ‘Immersive Video’ experience first hand. Usually reserved for SAP customers and visiting executives, SITNYC attendees were able to view the 4k 3-D experience specially designed for New York City.

We had a fantastic lineup of speakers covering topics all over the SAP ecosystem, as well as attendees that matched that broad coverage. It was really great to see folks from different backgrounds chatting about all different kinds of technology. With the perfect audience size, we were able to have some great pizza delivered from Joe’s, too!

A hearty thanks to the following folks for their assistance in making SITNYC 2017 a success:

  • John Astill for being the best co-coordinator around.
  • Ann Rosenberg for allowing us to use the SAP Leonardo Center
  • Sandra Moerch-Petersen for on-site logistics assistance
  • George Yu for arranging a trip for attendees to SAP’s ‘Immersive Video’ experience in the Executive Briefing Center
  • Jason Cao and the SAP Mentor program team for lunch and SCN support
  • All of the speakers
  • The community for rallying back to support Inside Track in the ‘Greatest City in the World’

Both John and myself look forward to planning SITNYC 2018 and are already thinking about kickstarting SAP Inside Track Newtown Square for Q1 2018. Stay tuned to our Twitter pages (@golasalle and @JohnA69) for announcements!

As for SITNYC 2017- here’s some shots of the space and presenters. Like them? Then make sure to register and come next year!!  Want to look at the session materials you missed, check them out on Github.

The ‘Makers Space’ setup for SITNYC!
Henrique Pinto holding court on SAP Data Hub
Christoph Rein educating attendees on Neural networks
Greg Misiorek closed the morning out with a discussion on Open Source Bitcoin vs Hyperledger Blockchains
Dhaval Desai talks about SAP Leonardo and the Digital Supply Chain
Caetano Almeida speaking about running MRP Live in S/4HANA
Asim Mian closes the day presenting about SAP running their business via Cloud and Mobile

SAP Inside Track NYC 2017: Before You Go

Thanks for registering for SAP Inside Track NYC! We look forward to seeing you on Monday at the SAP Leonardo Innovation Center. Here are some last-minute reminders before you go:

  • Kick-off will begin at 9am. Grab your coffee and buttered roll and join us as we review the day’s agenda and go over some ‘housekeeping’.
  • Your bag will be screened and put through an X-Ray machine by Hudson Yards building security.
  • Depending on crowd size, lunch may be provided or we will break in time for folks to grab and return for the afternoon sessions.
  • The SAP Leonardo Innovation Center is on the 48th Floor. We will be in the ‘Maker’ Space.
  • We’ve updated the agenda with a new session and added a tour of the Innovation Center during the lunch break. Check out the current agenda here.
  • You will get an automated reminder email from Eventbrite with your ticket info.

10 Hudson Yards
New York, NY 10001

We look forward to an exciting Inside Track event at a great space. See you on Monday!

Derek Loranca
John Astill


SAP Inside Track 2017: Last Call

Last call for SAP Inside Track NYC registrations is happening now. Tickets are almost sold out and we’re expecting a great crowd for the return of SAP Inside Track to New York City! We’ve also added a session on Neural Networks to the agenda and made lunch ‘interactive’ by moving the SAP Leonardo Center tour and demo to happen during lunch.

Check out the new agenda below and click on the SCN Wiki for more details or head to Eventbrite to snag one of the last available tickets!