As a SAP BusinessObjects “legacy customer” why should I pay to join ASUG, a predominantly SAP organization? This is perhaps the million dollar question and one that many SAP BusinessObjects folks have been asking themselves for the last 2 years, post the SAP acquisition. I was also in the same boat, but instead of speculating, I was blessed enough to connect to some key folks who changed my entire perspective and I want to share my experience with you. (Note: Anything that I state here is not for the purpose of advertising or discrediting ASUG. It is simply based on my actual experiences and personal thoughts.)
So you can easily follow my journey through ASUG, I am going to summarize what I call ‘the how ASUG won me over timeline’, one person at a time.
- (May 2010) ASUG Dashboarding SIG Volunteer – I was invited to join earlier this year by the SIG’s chair, my former client and colleague, Gabe Orthous, from McKesson. While the progress with this SIG has been fairly slow, considering the group has only met about twice to date so far, I was surprised to find tenured members, such as Paul Grill of Infosol, whose outspoken persona always shines light on the “real issues”. The joint webinar I conducted with Ryan Goodman in August is an example of the SIG’s effort to provide quality content to its few hundred members (most of which are from the SAP side).
- (July 2010) ASUG Atlanta Chapter – While having lunch with Gabe and another fellow ASUG Dashboard SIG volunteer, Durgesh Das, I then met Rajeev Kapur (a very friendly, but influential BI leader from Newell Rubbermaid). Tasked with managing both the SAP and BusinessObjects suite in his own environment, Rajeev happened to also be the head of the ASUG Atlanta chapter. He is responsible for organizing the local Atlanta ASUG Chapter events that are attended by almost 300 customers and partners. Expressing the need to get more BOE folks to these events, though skeptical, I attended the first on Sept 17th at the COKE Enterprise with my buddy Durgesh (I documented my entire experience via twitter with photos). In a nutshell, there were 4 segments of sessions from 9-5pm and each segment contained a BusinessObjects session that was not only well attended, but quite informative. I learned about RoamBI, Crystal Reports integration with Xcelsius, and the BusinessObjects Roadmap. Did I forget to mention, that as a BOE vendor, there was not a shortage of SAP customers who needed help with their BOE implementations? So honestly, I left there wondering, how can I possibly get more BOE folks to see what I saw? The best was yet to come!
- (Sept 2010) Conversation with ASUG CEO Bridgette Chambers – Triggered by some feedback from the webinar I conducted with Ryan Goodman, (which I will not discuss here due to its irrelevance) I was then contacted by ASUG’s very own CEO, Bridgette Chambers. Like many of you, I had read about her new role as the CEO of ASUG last year, but when her secretary called to set up a call with me, I thought, “OK, maybe these guys are serious about getting BOE folks on board!” Without going into full details of the entire conversation, what stood out to me the most was her absolute focus and determination to win over the BOE community. It honestly left me wondering, “With this type of leadership at the top, why does it seem that ASUG has failed to capture the attention of the BOE community?” Simple answer. They did not choose a BIG ENOUGH SHOVEL to penetrate the heap known as the BOE legacy customers.
Conclusion – At this point, however, I am convinced that there is tremendous value in ASUG, but just unsure how to relay this to our BOE community. I think most will agree, that ASUG did a poor job of transitioning the GBN members when they took over which left the BusinessObjects folks wandering out there, turned off by member fees, a bad ASUG website, a confusing strategy to bring them board, and no visibility into the true value of joining this ‘seemingly’ SAP vested organization.
So my take? If you are a customer the membership is free until the end of the year. Please check it out. I’ve not only gained great friendships and associates, but also new customers and lots of new friends to network with and to exchange knowledge. And because the BOE community is so small, there is a lot of room to really influence what ASUG does. Not to mention, the SAP folks I met have such a deep interest in BusinessObjects. There is no excuse that one will hear about SAP modules all day. I sure did not! I did however, learn a lot about how BusinessObjects work on top of SAP. So I definitely encourage you to join me on this journey folks. See you next week in Orlando!