Yesterday (2/15/2011), I attended the SAP Run Better Tour in Dallas, along with about 400 people. It was at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson. The location is very convenient. You do not want to go anywhere South of LBJ Freeway during morning rush hours for sure. It is because people are coming from their home and NOT from their office in the morning to attend the event, and 99% of the techies in this area live North of LBJ Freeway. The hotel facility is good. But the parking fees are expensive…about $23 for 8 hours. Fortunately, SAP came to the rescue and validated the parking for merely $5.
I was the only SAP Mentor attending this event in Dallas. But I felt right at home with so many familiar faces there. 🙂
John Schweitzer, the new SVP of Business Analytics North America, delivered the keynote. He reiterated what we had heard in the user conferences last October (both at TechEd and SBOUC) that Analytics and Mobility are the main focus of SAP. SAP is transforming from an ERP giant to analytics and mobility because analytics make up about 50% of SAP business now. As a matter of fact, our department has changed the name from “Business Intelligence” department to “Analytics and Reporting” department. It illustrates how significant analytics are and how BI is actually a subset of analytics.
I attended a live blogging session with John Schweitzer and I brought to his attention that many legacy BusinessObjects customers feel they are lost and forgotten in the big picture. I told John that SAP needs to do a better job communicating to the customers. They need to get the message across that BusinessObjects will continue to be a big part of the SAP strategic plan.
There is also a common misconception that the new BI 4.0 is all about integrating with SAP ERP products. This is not entirely true. Of course, SAP has to take care of their customers from the ERP side. If you are their old customers, you expect them to do that to you, right? But there are many enhancement on BI 4.x that are really platform agnostic. Take the new Semantic Layer for example. It is really long overdue to completely redesign the Semantic Layer such that we can share objects without resorting to the awful Linked Universes. And being able to use Web Intelligence to report off any MDX cube is huge.
Most of the event tracks at the Tour are by industries because traditionally, SAP product lines are aligned vertically by industries. But I am so glad to see there was a BI track which was horizontally aligned. This is a good start but in the future Tour, I hope that SAP will include more in-depth BI contents. One of the attendees has commented that the presentation on the BI 4.0 was a great overview, but she would like to see more detailed information. Naturally, I seized that opportunity to introduce her to our Dallas Fort-Worth ASUG Chapter meeting this Friday. Susan Guess, the Director of Solution Management at SAP, will be presenting the SAP BusinessObjects BI Roadmap at our meeting.
Due to budget constraint of many SAP customers, their employees do not have the chance to attend Sapphire or TechEd. This Run Better Tour presents tremendous value to these people and THIS IS THEIR SAPPHIRE! I hope SAP will continue to host this event on an annual basis.