Updated: I’ve added another conference or two below based on feedback and comments to really try to make this a more thorough overview.
Ever since BusinessObjects became SAP BusinessObjects, conferences have been a bit of a sticky issue, particularly for those of us who don’t use other SAP solutions. For the last couple of years it seems no one is sure which (if any) SAP Business Intelligence conferences to attend, so I’m going to try to give my thoughts.
A few things to note.
- I’m sure that I will miss some and misrepresent others, so feel free to hash it out in the comments below.
- Please note that I’m going to use the terms BusinessObjects, Business Intelligence, BI4, Business Analytics and probably some others interchangeably below.
- I’m going to focus on the US version of an event (if there are more than one) since I’m not getting paid to do this and you can’t reasonably have any expectation of thoroughness. I think that the outlines below are still largely applicable wherever you are (and if they aren’t, just come to the US).
- SAUG and DSAG (and presumably other user groups) also host conferences every year. Please check with the user group in your region to determine if that is a good fit for you.
- I’m not mentioning extended, deep-dive training opportunities like this Xcelsius Bootcamp or IBIS because I’m focusing on broader events.
- I’m also leaving out SAP Inside Tracks because their scale is too small. I do recommend attending, though, if one is in your area.
- These views are all mine and mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of… anyone really. But I get asked about this a lot and I wanted to put something out there to start the conversation for those who may still be a little unsure where to go.
Please note: I’ve never attended this conference
The biggest conference on the SAP calendar, the ASUG Annual Conference and SAPPHIRE conferences (colocated in the US, no ASUG involvement in Europe) have, as I understand it, two major purposes. The first is for SAP Marketing (as this is SAP’s premier prospect event for companies looking to start or expand an investment in SAP), and the second portion is more business user focused (with a heavy emphasis on use cases and best practice type sessions). As I understand it, the amount of BusinessObjects content at this conference has ramped up considerably the last few years and there should be plenty of stuff here for those of you who can make it. This is also the biggest ASUG event of the year and will give you unbelievable access for Influence Activities, catching up with your SIGs, and maybe even buying a beer for volunteers like me (although admittedly that can happen anywhere).
This conference is a great place for you to go if you are trying to find out product information on ANYTHING in SAP (including Business Analytics) to help you make a buy decision OR if you are a business user looking for ways to improve your company’s performance using business intelligence tools but not necessarily the technical skills to implement those changes. I am going to this event in May 2011 in Orlando and will be sure to report back just how right I am when I get back.
I attended SAP TechEd last year for the first time and was VERY pleasantly surprised by how much BI content there was. TechEd is a developer’s tech dream, chock full of hands on sessions with the newest tech, keynotes that talk about the stuff developers care about, and great opportunities to network. Last year, there was a lot of BI content in the sense that you could attend a BI session during every time slot, but you didn’t always have a lot of choices for each time slot. Another heads up about this event is that — at least as currently constructed — the content at TechEd is largely SAP driven, so there are fewer customer and partner speaking slots than at ASUG Annual Conference/SAPPHIRE and the SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.
Coming up in September 211 to Las Vegas, TechEd is the other half of the official SAP conference calendar. The traditional split has been that business users go to SAPPHIRE and techies go to TechEd. TechEd is don’t miss if you mostly develop for SAP but are interested in learning enough about BusinessObjects to be dangerous.
Coming October 2011 to Orlando, the SAP BusinessObjects User Conference (or SBOUC) is a one stop shop for BOBJ content. You can get use cases, best practices, and tips and tricks all in one place, and all of the things you get at any ASUG/SAP event in terms of Influence and networking.
There has been much talk about whether this conference is going away. To be perfectly frank I don’t know whether it is or not, but I think it most likely will and probably should (largely because much of this content is also of interest to ASUG Annual Conference/SAPPHIRE and TechEd audiences, and because it is tough to get the very best speakers to do two conferences in two months). This does create problems for those BOBJ Users who are both technical and business-y and only have budget for one conference, so tough choices will be made. In any event, this could be your very last opportunity to get an SBOUC t-shirt. Just something to think about.
For as long as this conference exists in its current state I will continue to recommend it to any BusinessObjects user who is only planning on one conference per year. It’s your best chance to get the broadest education, networking, and Influence opportunities from a BOBJ perspective all in one place.
Please note: I’ve never attended this conference, either.
This conference, unfortunately has already passed in the US for 2011 (it will be in Amsterdam in June for those who can find their way), but I know it had a murderer’s row of fantastic speakers. Not hosted by SAP, but with a heavy SAP presence, BI 2011 is colocated with several other SAP Insider events in Las Vegas. Since I haven’t been, I can’t really give you much more than that, but I do get the sense this is a lot more valuable to those with an SAP ERP investment than those with just a BusinessObjects investment.
Please note: this is yet another conference I haven’t made it to. I’ve got to try to get on the stick.
Reporting 2011 is put on by the same people as BI 2011. As I’ve never been to either, I’m assuming everything I’ve said above applies to this conference as well: great speakers, SAP presence but not oversight, and probably more geared towards those running other SAP solutions. Tough timing for it being right after SAP TechEd and SBOUC, but if your calendar wouldn’t allow you to make it to either of those, this should make a great catch up.
I love this conference. I got to go a few years ago as a speaker and loved every minute of it. It’s a bit of a small crowd (intimate one could say), but the content is top-notch and the networking even better. Of course, it is in Australia every year, so you’ll want to go ahead and build this into your budget sooner rather than later. Eventful Management (who puts on Mastering BO) also puts on several other SAP-centric conferences per year and they all have various levels of BI content.
Basically, if you can only go to one conference, and you are a BusinessObjects customer and don’t employ any other SAP solutions, I’d recommend the SBOUC. If you can, I recommend hitting TechEd or ASUG Annual Conference/ SAPPHIRE additionally, and which one will depend on your schedule and your level of technical-ness.
If you can possibly justify the trip to Australia, I heartily recommend Mastering BO. I hope this was helpful. Please let me know below if I’ve made some egregious error and I’ll try to correct it.