On the way to…Microsoft Ignite 2017

This episode of ‘On the way to…’ is once again brought to you by my house. I tried to get a picture of Charlie on my easy chair, but that didn’t work out. I ended up finishing this blog on my back deck, so you’ll have to settle for a picture from there instead.

Yes, you read that right. Microsoft Ignite/Microsoft Envision. For the first time in 8 years, I won’t be at SAP TechEd. I am totally bummed out that I won’t be with my fellow SAP Mentors for our 10th Anniversary celebration, as well as the ASUG Volunteers and other nerds; but sometimes corporate funding priorities and additional job responsibilities make for changes in the direction of the winds.

After the impact of Hurricane Irma, I was unsure if the I-Drive corridor would be back in business for 20,000 attendees. But emails from Microsoft say that OCCC is ready and they’re going on with the show. They are doing a non-perishable item collection, so I’m hoping that there’s a lot of donations made.

For the first time in a while, I am going into a major technical conference as a ‘new’ attendee. I’ve done as much due diligence as I can: watched Microsoft’s videos, read the MS Tech Community and combed through a bit of Twitter. Here’s some of the tidbits I’ve gathered:

  • We’re at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. This makes me happy as a long-time ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire attendee. I’ve got a full understanding of the lay of the land and am surprised to see that Microsoft is only using the South Hall and not both.  But they are using the West Hall, which ASUG Annual Conference doesn’t use.  With my Envision pass, I will also have access to  sessions at the Hilton.  Microsoft is also using the Hyatt Regency for session rooms and auditorium space.  (Sidebar: I remember when it was The Peabody.  I wonder where the ducks went?)  All of that means one thing: comfortable shoes are a requirement. Sneakers are likely my standard shoe by Wednesday afternoon!
  • 20,000 people are expected.  Another good parallel to ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire.  At least I’m used to handling big conference crowds.
  • The swag is on point and I should get to the expo floor early to grab some.
  • There are plenty of BI & Analytics sessions, but they are definitely spread out amongst the campus.  I’ve been spending a lot of my time trying to come up with a good travel plan.

We’re at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. This makes me happy as a long-time ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire attendee. I’ve got a full understanding of the lay of the land and am surprised to see that Microsoft is only using the South Hall and not both. But they are using the West Hall, which ASUG Annual Conference doesn’t use. With my Envision pass, I will also have access to sessions at the Hilton. Microsoft is also using the Hyatt Regency for session rooms and auditorium space. (Sidebar: I remember when it was The Peabody. I wonder where the ducks went?) All of that means one thing: comfortable shoes are a requirement. Sneakers are likely my standard shoe by Wednesday afternoon!
20,000 people are expected. Another good parallel to ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire. At least I’m used to handling big conference crowds.
The swag is on point and I should get to the expo floor early to grab some.
There are plenty of BI & Analytics sessions, but they are definitely spread out amongst the campus. I’ve been spending a lot of my time trying to come up with a good travel plan.

Now, there are some questions that I don’t think I’ll be able to answer until my boots are on the ground:

  • What is the ‘actual’ dress code?  I am thinking by the speakers and topics on the Envision schedule, that their dress code will be more business casual and there won’t be much deviation. I’ll get the feel for that on Monday,  but will ‘dress up’ a bit more than usual on Monday.  The Ignite side seems a bit more casual, so I’ll just have to wait and see!
  • How does everyone interact?  Is it more like ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire or SAP TechED?  More techies that business users?  Equal mix?  More suits than sneakers?  I’m pretty good at figuring out these vibes and am looking forward to the challenge.
  • Sessions?  How are they run? How do the speakers interact with the attendees?  To be honest, I’m really interested to see the Microsoft format to compare to SAP.
  • Overall vibe. You can tell the difference between SAP TechEd and ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire.  There’s something innate in the air surrounding each event and if you’ve been to both, you know what I’m talking about.  I’m really interested in seeing what kind of vibe my ‘spider senses’ can hone in on.

What will be a new feeling is going to a major technical event without knowing a single person. My Microsoft BI contact? Nope. A good friend who is a Microsoft Account Executive? Can’t make it. The only person I have a meeting with is my corporate Account Executive. Which will be nice, since I’ve never met him before. But other than that, I have zero plans and no drinking buddies. Staci says that I’m always making friends, so I’ve got that going for me! But honestly, I may just lay low, take in the landscape and go where the winds take me. Or a car. I will have a rental, so I may just visit Disney Springs for some early Christmas shopping one night or drop in on my family.

I’ll be keeping an eye on all the SAP Mentors 10th Anniversary excitement, as well as trying to check out whatever ‘Big Data’ announcement SAP will be making from TechEd. If you see or hear anything from Las Vegas that you’d like to share, tweet me. I’m looking forward to posting a new kind of trip report in a few weeks, too. If you’re going to Orlando or Las Vegas, safe travels. See you in Orlando next week (and hopefully next June for ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire 2018)!

(This blog also posted on SCN and will do the same for the post-conference blog.)

SAP Inside Track NYC 2017: SIT returns to NYC!

Bright Lights, Big City

After a short hiatus, it’s great to announce the return of SAP Inside Track to the Big Apple. Thanks to some ‘gentle’ nudging from Tammy Powlas, John Astill and I are teaming up to bring SITNYC to the newest and coolest SAP space around- Hudson Yards! The SAP Leonardo Center has generously donated the use of their fantastic facility

We’re looking for a ‘few good presentations’ to bring your stories and lessons to the SAP community. Remember- Inside Tracks are COMMUNITY driven events, we want to hear from everyone: customers, partners and SAP employees. All that is required is the desire to share that story with folks in a supremely cool location. In the greatest city in the world, of course. WORK!

Hamilton references aside, we’re really looking forward to a day of great content, networking and learning. No SAP topic is off the table and the only thing we require is: NO sales pitches. HANA, ECC, Analytics Cloud, BusinessObjects, Leonardo? Cool! The only thing that matters is that you mash the ‘Submit a Session’ link here: http://j.mp/SAPITNYC_SP and register here!

Event Details

Date: November, 6th 2017

Time: 9:00am-5:00pm

Location:
SAP Hudson Yards
10 Hudson Yards
New York, NY 10001

Agenda:
Current agenda on SAP Community Network

Thanks for SAP Leonardo team and the SAP Mentor team for their financial support of the event!!

Please feel free to reach out to John or myself with any questions. See you at Inside Track NYC!

 

BI + Analytics Conference 2017: Picks from my agenda

Thanks for listening to the July 13th webcast ‘Meet Customer Speakers for BI + A Conference’ with myself and Jennifer Cofer! To get the session picks started, I’m going to start with some blatant self promotion with Jennifer and my sessions.

I will be adding picks from the webcast to this post several times before the conference starts and will announce the updates on Twitter. Feel free to subscribe to be automatically updated, too. See you at BI + Analytics 2017 in Nashville!

Day 1: Monday, August 7

  • 2:45pm: Pushing Web Intelligence to the Limit: Real World Implementation (Jeff Young, University of Utah Healthcare)
  • 3:40pm: Creating a COE the Efficient and Effective Way (Me)

Day 2: Tuesday, August 8

AM

  • 11:20am: Usable Tips for Making Your Web Intelligence Reports Sing (Bret Holmes, University of Washington)
  • 12:15pm: Beautiful & Usable Analytics for Better User Experiences (Eric Vallo, EV Technologies)

OR

  • 11:20am: SAP Predictive Analytics for the Analytics Power User (Debraj Roy, SAP; Dallas Marks & Greg Myers, EV Technologies) [2 Session Hands-on]

PM:

  • 2:10pm: Providing IoT Analytics with SAP BusinessObjects (Charles Reeves, Graphic Packaging International)
  • 3:30pm: DIY-BI: Data Analytics & Dashboarding with SAP Lumira at Mead Johnson Nutrition (Jai Prakash, Mead Johnson Nutrition)

Day 3: Wednesday, August 9

AM:

  • 10:45am: What’s Happening at the City of Mesa? Creating Interactive Dashboards in Web Intelligence (Jared Hansen & Melissa Jones, City of Mesa, AZ)
  • 11:40am: How to Become a Visualization Guru: Tips & Tricks on SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence Charts (Jennifer Cofer, Providence Health & Pascal Gualin, SAP)
  • BONUS 11:40am SESSION: Increasing Adoption & Engagement with Lumira & Design Studio SDK (Mike Howles, International Paper)

PM

  • 1:30pm: Driving User Adoption of Self-Serve BI+Analytics (Jim Cull, Zurich Insurance)
  • 2:25pm: Healthcare BI Management & Related EHR Upgrades: How Beaumont Health Prevails through the Highs and Lows (Jeffrey Morrison, Beaumont Health)

On the way to…ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire 2017

This installment of ‘On the way to…’ is brought to you by- my house! I’ve decided to get this entry out to my blog earlier than the usual ‘day of traveling’ edition. (But I will post the usual SCN version from the airport.)

Let’s get right to it…I think there’s a lot at stake for SAP Analytics with the ‘world premiere’ of Lumira 2.0 and I suspect that customer feedback will be immediate. They’ve had a lot of time and several attempts to get within striking distance of Tableau, Power BI and others in the marketplace. I don’t think customers are looking for a direct point by point competitor any more, but something that is going to make their lives easier working with their SAP data. If it doesn’t make things easier, I’m going to start pressing for SAP to make up with Microsoft and put back the UNX connector into Power BI Desktop. (I’m thinking that this topic may be a separate blog after the dust settles.)

That being said- here’s a few selections that are on my conference agenda. Some I’m presenting at and others I’m really just interested in listening to the material. If you do decide to attend any of these, try and save me a seat if the room gets crowded, OK? Just send a tweet to @golasalle or look for SAP Mentor jersey #212 and point me to where I’m sitting!!

Tuesday:

HS6529- Heal Thyself: Self-Service Analytics at Mercy (12:30-1:30pm, S310A)
I’m always down for a good healthcare analytics story and if it’s presented by my good friend and fellow Diversified Semantic Layer podcast teammate, then even better. I would highly recommend seeing Jamie when he presents, so feel free to join me.

Wednesday:

BIA9214: BI Community Networking (11:00am-12:00pm, ASUG Hub on the show floor)
Come and meet other ASUG BI volunteers and community members while networking with other analytics professionals. If an ASUG Volunteer doesn’t know the answer to your question, they should be able to point you in the direction of where to turn! Bring some business cards and get your networking game going!

BIA6466: World Premiere of SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 Including SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio (12:30-1:30pm, S310A)
Like I mentioned above, I think a lot rides on the successful rollout of Lumira 2.0. I’m guessing that I’m not the only one that thinks that, so this session may be one of those “can’t miss” sessions in Orlando.

Thursday:

BIA7625: Interactive Influence: SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence (3:30-4:30pm, Third Floor Influence 3)
Want to influence where WebI is headed? Want to hang out with me ONE more time (other than at the Hilton Lobby Bar)? Join SAP’s Gregory Botticchio as we lead a Design Thinking session around topics attendees would like to see covered by the ASUG Web Intelligence Influence Council.

(On a personal note- It’s been a while since I blogged and I apologize for that. But I’m going to try and be more productive in 2017, so hopefully this will be part of a good start.)

Community BI Learning at ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire 2017

One of the best things about heading to Orlando are the networking opportunities. The sessions and keynotes are great, and the show floor can really help you find the right product or partner to accelerate your business. But one constant at ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire is the strength of networking available. You can find like-minded individuals from companies big and small who are going through the same issues you are, or have faced that issue down and solved it in a way that may save you time or money!

ASUG gives you the chance to come and meet other attendees interested in the same technology or business area down in the ASUG Hub. If you’re interested in Business Intelligence or Analytics, the ASUG BI Community is hosting a Community Lounge on Wednesday, 5/17 from 11:00am to Noon in the ASUG Hub. Come and mingle with ASUG BI Volunteers, SAP Mentors and anyone with an interest in the BI community that I can drag into the lounge!!

We’ll be looking to engage anyone who wants to talk BI & Analytics, general networking and anything else. Please feel free to bring your questions, if the Volunteers, Mentors or attendees can’t answer them- someone will know who to direct your question to!

Here’s the link to add to your agenda: https://sessioncatalog.sapevents.com/go/agendabuilder.sessions/?l=153&sid=46851_468509&locale=en_US

I look forward to seeing everyone in the ASUG Hub!

MacBook Pro 13 w/Touch Bar: First Impressions

Noticeable things coming from using a MacBook Air 11:

  • Keep hitting the ESC key, as that’s where my pinky would normally sit.
  • I need to get used to the MUCH larger trackpad.  Definitely had to change typing position of my wrists.
  • Add getting used to Force Touch to the list.  Still trying to get used to moving things around without engaging Force Touch.
  • Add getting used to Force Touch to the list.  Still trying to get used to moving things around without engaging Force Touch.
  • Bigger screen makes a LOT of difference with seeing things a lot more clearly!
  • It’s taking me a bit more time to deal with the ‘butterfly’ keyboard than the standard MBA/silver MBP keyboard.
    • Definitely something that needs time to get used to, especially the reach between the palm rest and keys and the key travel times.
      • One month later: still getting used to it.  I don’t think it’s as easy for touch typists, in my opinion.  But I am getting used to it.  Hopefully I’ll be ready by ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire 2017.  I am definitely going to need to be on my ‘A’ game, typing-wise.

New things with the MacBook Pro that are leaving an impression:

  • All USB-C  ports requires dongles… and it’s just as annoying as you would think.
    • One month in and I have had to buy:
      • USB-C Cable ($10)
      • USB-C to USB 3.0 Adapters (3) ($30)
      • USB-C to Micro USB Adapter (2) ($7)
      • USB-C to HDMI Adapter ($15)
      • USB-C to VGA Adapter ($15)
    • Luckily I already had a USB-C  hub, so that’s money staying in my pocket. But I need to have it to use my CAT-5 network adapter or pay $20 for a USB-C version.
  • The 8 GB RAM/256 GB SSD is very snappy coming from 4 GB/128 GB SSD in the MBA 11.
  • Retina screen is definitely a nice upgrade from the MBA 11!
    • Still need to figure out the resolution vs text size settings to find the most comfortable viewing size.
    • I keep swapping back from full-size to zoomed-in since I’m trying trying to balance resolution and app sizes with comfortable text sizing.  Although to be fair, this only really seems to be an issue when I’m tired.  Maybe I’m just getting old!!

Touch Bar Impressions:

  • Where there is app support, it’s a ‘nice to have’.  Microsoft Office has really jumped out in front, especially Outlook.  OneNote is a bit lacking in Touch Bar support, though.
  • Still playing with the default setup.  I like the application specific icons (when available), but wish I could have a few more options in the ‘default’ expandable bar.
  • I really wish that instead of the Touch Bar, Apple would’ve gone with a Touch Screen.  I’ve used the one on the Dell XPS 13 and really appreciated the touch screen for my workflow, as opposed to the Touch Bar.

Portability Notes:

  • I really got used to the super-light MBA 11, but the MBP is only slightly taller and thicker than the MBA 11 when closed.  At the end of the day, I don’t mind the slightly heftier MBP 13 (3.48 lbs vs 2.38 lbs on the MNBA 11) to gain the screen real estate.
  • ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire is on the docket for May and will look to see how it compares to the MBA 11 in a real-world, ‘carry it around all day’ scenario.

Price thoughts:

  • I am still trying to decide on the cost-benefit ratio, to be honest. If I wasn’t already big into the Apple ecosystem, I was strongly considering the Dell XPS 13.  Comparing  Apple Refurb to Dell Outlet prices, the XPS 13 was a much better deal.
  • If you’re locked into a particular ecosystem, that’s one thing.  But if you’re a free agent and self-sufficient in not downloading random stuff or clicking squishy links in your email; Windows 10 and the Dell XPS 13 may have a better cost/benefit ratio for web-surfing and office documents.  You’ll need to weigh your personal preferences in applications and workflow versus cost and specifications.

Final conclusion to be submitted after May’s conference travels.

Chromebook: One Month Later

We’re one month+ of my last Chromebook blog and I’ve had a chance to use it in a variety of different situations, including:

  • Travelling Companion
  • Coffee Shop/Mobile Work
  • TV ‘second screen’

My verdict? Not bad! But I wouldn’t give up a full-blown laptop to use the C720 as my ‘daily driver’. For comparison purposes, here’s the computer the Chromebook was up against- a Dell Inspiron 11z (1121). The specs are:

  • 11.6″ Glossy WLCD screen w/ 1366×768 resolution
  • Intel Core i3-ULV processor
  • 120GB SSD
  • 6GB RAM
  • Windows 7 SP1

Here’s why:

Keyboard:

The C720’s keyboard is mushy and has a lot of play. I just don’t find myself using it as efficiently as the Dell’s keyboard. Even my work laptop (HP Elitebook 3650p) has a better keyboard.

Trackpad:

The C720’s trackpad is just OK. It’s responsive, but the clicks just don’t feel ‘natural’. The main issue is that my typing style/hand placement are forever moving the cursor to the middle of a sentence I’ve already written. That is quite frustrating.

Screen Clarity:

The C720 has a 11.6″ matte screen with the same 1366×768 resolution as the Dell 11z. Textlooks much brighter and crisper on the the Dell’s WLCD glossy panel than on the C720. Heck, the non-retina screen on my old iPad 2 looks nicer than the C720’s screen! The C720 just looks washed out and at times makes me think that I should have splurged on the HP 11 Chromebook with its nicer screen. But the performance and price difference of the C720 won that battle.

Performance:

I’ve only had a few minor instances of the C720 lagging and that’s only when I was pushing 10+ tabs on the Chromebook, with Crouton running Citrix in full screen. If I stick to just tabs in Chrome, it’s pretty darn snappy.

One Month Verdict:

I’m lucky that I have the ability to choose which machine to use based on what I need to get done! If I’m going to be typing for a while and really looking at the screen, I’ll grab the Dell. If I need to do some light Citrix with some typing and need other ‘apps’, I’ll grab the iPad 2 with keyboard. If I’m just browsing the web and need to do some emails, the Chromebook would win that one out.

But right now, the Chromebook has surplanted the iPad 2 as my ‘armchair’ tool of choice for now. But I waffle between that and my iPad. More importantly, I have no hesitations recommending the Chromebook for that task, as well as for those who really just need a web browsing machine.