Podcast: SAP BI Burning Questions – TechEd Pre-Flight Discussion
The last of my pre-TechEd blogging binge is this three-man-BI special. I had the idea that it would be fun to tape our burning BI questions heading into SAP TechEd and then do another taping after the show, where we see which questions got answered and which ones didn’t.
In this new edition of the ERP Lounge podcast series, I dig into these BI questions with two fellow SAP Mentors: Vijay Vijayasankar of IBM and newly-named SAP Mentor Greg Myers, who is a Senior Business Intelligence Engineer at SEI Investments in Oaks, Pennsylvania. Greg is also the Chair of the ASUG BusinessObjects Security & Administration SIG.
During this 50 minute podcast, we kick around a number of questions, including:
– Vijay’s own BusinessObjects presentation
– getting the most out of TechEd
– tips for justifying your attendance to your employer
– burning SAP BI questions
– our feedback to SAP on improving BO/BI.
– SAP Mentors being approachable at TechEd
This last point comes up because Mentors have gotten some feedback that we “run in packs” at shows like TechEd and aren’t accessible to others. That’s not what Mentorship is supposed to be about, so we’re making a point of encouraging all to come up to us at TechEd and join in the conversation. So look for us, and Tweet us if you have trouble finding us in person!
Relevant Links: This podcast makes reference to the presentation Greg did at SAP Inside Track Newtown Square. Other links: SAP TechEd (link to all four TechEds), Vijay’s SAP TechEd Las Vegas BusinessObjects presentation, Expert Networking Lounge sessions, SAP BI conference track in Las Vegas, SAP Mentor Initiative, SAP TechEd Twitter ID. Link to more on Jon’s TechEd Expert Lounge sessions, including his SAP career and social networking discussion with Vijay.
Note: you may also want to check out the piece I did on SAP BusinessObjects name changes for ERP Executive.
(If for any reason the embedded player doesn’t work, you can download the podcast using the “download media” link on the right hand side).
:40 Greg about finding out he was an SAP Mentor Initiative.
6:15 Vijay is doing a BusinessObjects presentation at TechEd, which is Greg’s bread and butter. Vijay: I have very few slides in my TechEd sessions – it’s really a dialogue with the crowd. I learn as much from the audience as they do from me.
9:15 Vijay to Greg: one of the cases I’m going to discuss is the newfound interest in accelerated financial close. Users need to report real-time, especially at month end, like in any ERP system. What do you think?
Greg: I see this requirement too, I work for a financial services company and we’re in the same boat. We have to do a lot of reporting from our operational databases as we don’t have time to wait for the ETL to take place.
13:00 Jon to Greg: As a BusinessObjects admin, do you have any burning questions for TechEd? Greg: Yes, there’s a lot of talk about in-memory analytics, accelerated BusinessObjects Explorer – these are the kinds of tools I’m eager to get my hands on and see how many data records that can be crunched and how these new tools work. Jon: there’s also Hana, in-memory analytics.
Vijay: I can’t wait to hear about Hana – I could see it was a game-changer in the SAP world, a huge change in how SAP handles information, almost like the transition from R/2 to R/3. We heard about this at Sapphire, but it’s not a real technical forum. TechEd is the right technical forum for this, and I’m betting Vishal’s keynote will have a lot of information on Hana and Accelerated BWA and how they will merge into new products. That should give us insight on how this market is changing.
16:00 Greg: I’m also looking forward to looking into the Advanced Analysis product, which is their OLAP data reporting tool.
Vijay: ever since SAP said that BEx was not the place they were going to invest in, there have been questions.
19:00 Jon: They aren’t changing the name of Webi, which I was glad to learn. And SAP BO “Advanced Analysis” is now simply called “Analysis.” Greg: This was an encouraging outcome. Through ASUG, I was part of a small focus group where SAP marketing ran the name changes by us, and we all said: don’t change Webi!
Vijay: All BI vendors should move to a “one tool does everything” model. Greg: With the new analytics packages they are releasing for different industries, I think we’re starting to see the beginning of that.
23:40 SAP TechEd in focus: we’re going to Vegas, but a lot of this applies to all TechEds. In terms of getting the most out of TechEd from a BI/BO perspective, what would you recommend? Vijay: What I try to do is I make an agenda and put it on my phone, but I try to do it so that I spend 50 percent in sessions and 50 percent in the Community Clubhouse. In the Clubhouse, you can talk in more detail to those who presented in those sessions. I don’t try to take on too many sessions and miss out on networking.
Greg: This will be my first time at TechEd, so I’m a newbie at it, so we’ll see. As far as recommendations, I want to see the hands-on sessions, which you don’t get in other conferences where you can get your hands on new technology right away. I also want to take advantage of the ASUG sessions that are there, because ASUG tends to be the real world application of these technologies.
31:40 Jon: Don’t hesitate to approach the Mentors in our garb. We’ll often have our Twitter handles in the back of our shirts, which will be short sleeve shirts this year. Mentors have taken some criticism for being too clubby, and that’s not what we’re trying to do. So don’t hesitate to come up to us and break the ice so we can get everyone introduced. Vijay: Agreed – Mentors are trying to be accessible and not stick together. Come up to us and start talking and you’ll see the difference. No Mentor that I know will shy away from a good conversation.
34:15 Jon: So guys, how do you justify attendance to your employers?
39:30 Greg and Vijay go into the chair – you may have a chance at TechEd to relay to SAP how to improve their BI strategy and approach – what will you say? Vijay: There’s no simple thing to say there, except to say, “listen more.” Listening is one thing, but then the follow up to that feedback is important. You have to follow through and continue to engage.
Greg: That to me is a single-most powerful benefit of being an ASUG member is the influence program – it’s a direct channel to SAP product managers for products in development. I’ve been a member of the BusinessObjects Enterprise Influence Council for the last year, and that’s been an amazing experience.
46:10 Closing comments.