On the way to…Microsoft Ignite 2018

This installment of ‘On the way to…’ is brought to you courtesy of my house.  Once again, I wanted to get a pre-event blog up and just didn’t feel like rushing it out.

This is now my second year attending Microsoft Ignite.  As a long time ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire Now and SAP TechEd attendee, I get a lot of comparison questions.  My first description would be: Ignite is like both of the above conferences put together. You get a techie/user vibe, with some detailed developer sessions alongside user case study and roadmap presentations.  The Envision side of the event (invite-only from Microsoft) is for the management ‘types’ and has the feel (and dress code) of Sapphire Now.  I attended Envision last year- Michelle Obama was a speaker, as well as a Walter Isaacson interview of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

One of the biggest complaints from last year was that things were too spread out.  Looks like Microsoft has taken the feedback seriously and have located most of the educational and theaters into the West building, leaving only the South building for keynotes.  This is definitely different that ASUG Annual Conference, so I’m interested to see if it really works out.

Some stuff I’ve been thinking about:

Packing light- I’m usually more of a ‘pack rat’, so I am consciously trying to lighten my conference carry.  I am going to rely on the conference backpack, only using a light sling bag to get my stuff down to Orlando.

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Coffee- OCCC has some of the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted.  I am going to bring some Starbucks Via ‘instant’ coffee.  Tried it at home and it definitely tastes better than the OCCC gut rot.

Snacks- The food last year was underwhelming, so I’m going to plan to stop and pick up some food to keep in my backpack.

Sessions- If run like last year, a large majority of the content is posted online and even recorded.  This gives me a lot more security in spending time in the Theater Sessions, as well as at the networking and hands-on events.  I do have some sessions that I think are ‘must attend’, but I may try to take advantage of the materials/recording to review afterwards.

 

At the end of the week, I expect my step count to be high, my swag bag to be full and have some answers to my questions as well as new things to plan for.  And this time, I will seriously try to do a post-event recap.

BI Community Meet and Greet at ASUG Annual Conference – Sapphire 2018

Are you heading to Orlando for ASUG Annual Conference 2018/SAPPHIRE NOW and have an interested in Analytics and Business Intelligence? Then the ASUG BI Community has the perfect session for you on Thursday at 12:30pm: ASUG BI Community Networking

Join ASUG BI Community Volunteers, any SAP Analytics experts we can find and bribe to attend and anyone else with a pulse that can spell ‘B.I.’ (like maybe this guy) as we network and discuss whatever analytics news happened during the event. With the ‘Statement of Direction’ from this winter still dominating discussions in some circles, there should be lots of analytics to talk about. You also get the chance to talk to ASUG BI Volunteers and voice your opinion on what the ASUG BI Community should try to cover for the rest of the year.

As an additional bonus, we are going to have some special giveaways to folks who make the trek to the ASUG Hub. Check out these sweet pins:

Yep…it’s Crystal Reports 25th birthday and we’re going to help SAP celebrate! Our intrepid BI Community Facilitator, Tammy Powlas, has secured a good number of these cool items and we’re going to hand them out at the session. I know that the volunteers are looking forward to event and hope you can make it!

Details:

Session Title: ASUG BI Community Networking
Session ID: ASUG12137
Session Type: Networking/Meetup
Day/Time: Thursday, 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Location: ASUG Hub: Meet-Up 2 Theater (Show Floor)

Agenda Builder URL: https://sessioncatalog.sapevents.com/go/agendabuilder.sessions/?l=169&sid=62056_480302&locale=en_US

Planning on taking in some analytics in Orlando? The 2018 ASUG BI Community Brochure is your guide!

The ASUG BI Community has a great slate of BI and Analytics sessions ready for you to add to your ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire now agenda! Our intrepid Community Facilitator, Tammy Powlas, has put together a great addition to your information arsenal. Remember, these sessions have been picked by the ASUG BI Volunteer team to try and cover the questions that attendees have been asking about.

This great document has some awesome content, including:

A List of all the sessions selected by the ASUG BI Community, sorted by session number so you can easily search and add to your online agenda:

And a “who’s who” of the Volunteers…please feel free to stop any of us and ask questions. We are your voice to SAP and are always looking for feedback and discussion!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug for my personal session, too!! Fellow ASUG Volunteer and SAP Mentor Jamie Oswald and I will be hosting a panel discussion on a very serious topic. Come to hopefully be entertained AND educated!

If you like the above content and want to chat with other like minded BI folks, make sure to add the ASUG BI Community Roundtable to your agenda:

BI Community Meet and Greet: Thursday, June 7 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm at the ASUG Hub/Roundtable Section.

Session Abstract:

As attendees of the 2018 ASUG Annual Conference, you are invited to network with the ASUG business intelligence (BI) volunteers and other SAP BI community members. Spend an hour networking and forging new relationships within your community. Take advantage of this timely opportunity to learn more about ASUG and to find out how to leverage the user group along your journey utilizing SAP solutions and services.

As always, feel free to drop me a note on Twitter or a comment here. I look forward to seeing everyone in Orlando!

Announcing SAP Inside Track Newtown Square 2018

SAP Inside Track Newtown Square is back for 2018 and happening during Philly Tech Week! The ‘East Coast’ SAP Mentors and Alumni are excited to bring Inside Track back to Newtown Square and are looking for speakers and attendees. If you have a story that you’d like to share, then we’d like for you to submit it right here. You like your technical content enterprise flavored, with a large side of community? Then you need to register for SITNSQ right here.

As speakers are selected, we’ll be updating our SAP Community Network Wiki with the latest agenda. Keep an eye out as we announce a keynote speaker and try to tie our excitement around enterprise tech with the larger Philadelphia technology scene during Philly Tech Week 2018.

I think it’s important enough to mention twice: Call for Speakers is LIVE! Events like Inside Track are only as successful as the content they provide. I’m sure we’re going to have a great slate of awesome sessions, but I would love to have a session or two that came directly from the woodwork of the vast SAP community out there. Remember: come for the excellent content, leave with a new sense of community and feeling that you’re not alone out there!

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 www.sap.com/asksap) 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.