I’ve often said that folks who say “It’s a small world” have never been out to see it. Sydney, Australia is just about as far as you can get around the globe from Philadelphia, PA before you start coming back around the other side. But this little conference packed a powerful punch, and was well worth the long trip to attend.
The Eventful Group
This group puts on a first-class event. They really understand what it takes to make a great conference where Content is King. Like the best of them, they lined up not only some blockbuster names from SAP, but included very healthy doses of customer success stories where others could learn and put ideas immediately to work.
This conference is small when compared to some of the US events. About 300 were in attendance, but that atmosphere was surprisingly nice. It made it possible to really get to know many of the people in attendance. The big events are cool, too, but this one was really special.
SAP Mentor Ingo Hilgefort gave the opening keynote, and gave some great information on BI4 and BI4.1 (with the usual legal disclaimers preceeding). First off, it looks as if BI4 will be Generally Available by the end of June, 2011. BI4.1 should enter ramp-up in the September/October 2011 time range. Some cool features that may be included in BI4.1 are the Augmented Reality now in Labs, a “best practice” report template gallery similar to what Microsoft has for the Office suite, and social network sentiment analysis. We can also finally expect to see Xcelsius (or whatever it’s offical name is these days) be fully included inside the BI platform. I was also surprised to hear that they are working on having BI4 run on ABAP. (I can guess a few Mentors that will be excited by that news). Another interesting bit is that SAP is doing some preliminary work on a BOE virtual appliance.
George Mathew gave the second keynote and gave us some awesome live demos of Webi on his iPad. Looking forward to seeing that get released into the wild so we can start playing with it ourselves. George very gracioulsy gave us some of his time for a Diversified Semantic Layer interview.
I enjoyed the presentation by Simon Dorrat from Toyota Motor Corporation Australia. He gave a great case study of how BI was implemented successfully at his company and the road he traveled to get there. He gave some very practical advice for when the business wants to report everything by everything (without HANA).
My other favorite was by Josh Fletcher from CSG Limited and our Aussie conterpart on DSLayer. He gave an in-depth look at the new Semantic Layer in BI4 along with a live demo. His room was packed and he handled the rapid-fire questions very well.
Another benefit of being a smaller conference was the “Speaker’s Corner”. It was off on the showroom floor and was a lounge-type area where the speakers would go at the first main break after their presentation. This made the speakers available for conference delegates to come and ask more detailed questions from the sessions. It was nice to have some one-on-one time with the delegates, and I think a lot of very good information was passed on in this area.
Totally Worth It
The trip took me around 22 hours of flight time (even longer if you count the layovers), but was completely worth it. Kudos to the Eventful Group for a very professionally run and rich content-laden conference. I could not have asked for a more superb conference experience, and I was honored to be a part of it this year. Very many congratulations and thanks to Doug Hay, Sophie Sipsma, and the rest of the Eventful crew.