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In the second podcast of my SAP Community Network podcast “series reboot,” I talked with Christopher Kim and SAP Mentor Ingo Hilgefort of SAP about the pending BusinessObjects 4.0 release and how to upskill yourself or your project team on SCN to be on track with the new functionality.

With the BusinessObjects release event right around the corner on February 23 (Register for the SAP BO 4.0 February 23rd virtual release event here), now was a good time to ask Ingo what the hype is about with 4.0 and how the SAP BI skill set it changing. I also find it fascinating how online networking on SCN and elsewhere can lead to further offline adventures and collaborations, so that was another key point I wanted Ingo to touch on.  One of the highlights of the 20 minute podcast is Ingo’s explanation about why BI is shifting from an IT to a business focus. Clearly that discussion is critically important to anyone looking to stay relevant in the SAP BI space.

I’m not sure I can think of anyone who gives more to the SAP community than Ingo when it comes to original how-to content, so it was neat to have the chance to put him in the spotlight and get a better sense of his view of 4.0. I definitely plan to attend the 4.0 launch event, either virtually on in-person, and I still have a number of questions I want to get answered for myself about whether the new release is going to live up to the hype. But this podcast was a good start. Thanks to Christopher Kim for making it happen. As usual, I’ll include some podcast text highlights below if you’re in a rush to get to the key points.

SAP BOC podcast links: BO Solution Architecture, Official Product Tutorials – SAP BO BI Suite , Dear aBI: Scheduling Reports and Real World BI Stories: Upgrade or Else. Other podcast links: SAP Mentors Tammy Powlas, Jamie Oswald, and Greg Myers. (If for any reason the player doesn’t work, you can download the podcast using the “download media” link on the right hand side).

(Trouble downloading? if for some reason it’s not playing in its entirety for you, check out the version on JonERP.com in the meantime.

1:10 Jon to Chris: can you tell us about your vision for the Business Objects Community and what inspired you to ask Ingo in particular to join us for this podcast?

2:20 Jon to Ingo: we’ve all heard the hype about BusinessObjects 4.0 – is there substance to the hype? Ingo: 4.0 is the first complete suite release of BusinessObjects after SAP acquired the software – not just BI, but EIM and all the other parts. After SAP acquired BusinessObjects, there was a very careful decision to spell out a roadmap and not just incorporate features into an existing product. For example, we made a quick decision to combine Voyager from the BusinessObjects side with BEx Analyzer and BEx Web Reporting and combine into a new product called Analysis, which has now has been released, and there’s the Web and the Office versions.

When we showed the roadmap to customers at conferences, some of them wondered what would happen to the BEx tools after 2011. BEx is still there and we’ll support customers in BEx. Now the successor is there and customers can consolidate all BI tools onto the BusinessObjects stack.

7:40 Jon to Ingo: Just about all of us are looking to improve our SAP BI skills, for ourselves or our project teams. What kinds of resources on BOC can help us there? Ingo: SAP Education posted a lot of e-learnings on 4.0, so there’s a lot of step-by-step guides on SCN already. There are close to 100 videos on the new features, and then after the live launch event in February, you’ll see even more. And you’ll also see blogs from other SAP Mentors like Jamie Oswald, Greg Myers, and Tammy Powlas blogging about 4.0 as they are getting some preview access to it. Soon you’ll see more about BW, HANA, and BWA play together in BO 4.0 as part of solutions architecture environment.

9:05 Jon to Ingo: What do you see in terms of SAP BO/BI consulting trends? Ingo: As soon as SAP BO was acquired, a discussion broke out. A lot of folks thought BO replaced all the knowledge they had gained in BW over the years, and that was a mistaken assumption. BO does not replace BW, and much of that BW knowledge is very relevant to BusinessObjects. People are starting to slowly see that it’s more to BI than building nice chartsin Xcelsius. The consulting trend for the six months is around a complete understanding of BI strategically and how to approach it, so it’s not just about the technical angle of learning the actual product, but understanding the roadmap and strategy. It’s not just IT in the BI project now, the business users are actually important to BI projects as well now. The soft skills discussions you have had on your web site has become very important.

13:05 Jon to Ingo: You tend to work closely with SAP customers you meet in the community. Can you give us an example of how you have met and helped customers who have been a part of the activities on BOC?

15:10 Jon to Ingo: Can you tell us about how your connections at BOC have led you into other events as a Mentor and what you gained from those experiences? Ingo: the best example would be me getting to know Paul Hawking, who is part of the Australian SAP user group. He reached out to me to present around the integration, and a year later, he became a Mentor as well. He’s teaching BusinessObjects in the university and he’s part of the University Alliance program, and I might do an offline program with his class in Australia.

16:38 Jon to Chris: What are you taking away from this conversation? Chris: The point on how the BI conversation is shifting from strictly a technical one that’s more of a business focus or strategic conversation – we see that every day on BOC, especially as business analytics get more pervasive in organizations, and we’re going to get more involved in these issues on the community as well.

18:17: Jon to Chris: As we wrap up the podcast, what would you say to listeners who are interested in getting more involved in the BusinessObjects community, or who are looking for a way to get started? Chris: There are so many entry points in the community – if you’re new, just go towards the areas of your greatest interest and focus on solving problems or addressing pain points for your organization. Reach out to the experts posting – most of them are very accessible. One more comment: there’s a virtual launch on February 23, so feel free to register for that.

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