“The world is changing, I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air…” – Lord of the Rings
Now that I’ve been home from SAPPHIRE Now & ASUG Annual Conference 2012 for several days and have had some time to reflect, the overarching theme of what I took away was a theme of change.
The first change I want to reflect on is the fact that this was my first ASUG Annual Conference and SAPPHIRE. In the past, I never made this event a priority to attend, because it was more business-focused (and less technical) and traditionally BusinessObjects folks were steered towards the SAP BusinessObjects User Conference in the fall. Those days are gone. There were 9 Influence Sessions, 49 Education Sessions, 3 Community Lounge Sessions, and an 8-hour Pre-Conference session, all focused on Business Intelligence and Analytics presented in Orlando last week by ASUG members and SAP. There were over 450 submissions competing for those 49 slots. What an overwhelming display of interest in Analytics content for this conference. And to the ASUG volunteers who spent months working on that content, my sincere gratitude for a job very well done. This is a major change from just a few years ago, and a welcome change to me.
The SAP Mentors had a singular honor for the second year in a row, and that was a private meeting with Prof. Hasso Plattner. I was humbled to have some time just to be in the room with him, and hero-worship discussions aside, the man is truly brilliant. While running the risk to the world kitten population, Hasso has really brought a vision to life that will fundamentally alter the way we perform analytics and that is SAP HANA. Throughout my career in Business Intelligence, so much effort has gone into data warehousing, data modeling, data aggregation, drilling in and out, up and down. Aggregates are a thing of the past. Disk is becoming a thing of the past, or at least relegated to a sidebar role instead of center stage. HANA has a lot of growing up to do, but it is growing up fast.
The last change on the wind that I’d like to reflect on is the concept of the BusinessObjects “Legacy” customer, or those customers who only run SAP BusinessObjects. For the past six years since the acquisition of BusinessObjects by SAP, there has been some strong resistance to change in the community. Many feared that we would lose our unique identity in the large sea of SAP, and change is understandably fear-inducing. There were numerous presentations at ASUG Annual Conference and SAPPHIRE with regards to managing change and human’s response to change, mine included. To me, the “Legacy” BusinessObjects customer is gone. It doesn’t exist anymore. I, instead, will focus going forward on being an SAP customer, and that feels just fine to me. It took some hard work, but I feel more at home now with SAP than I ever did with the BusinessObjects organization. I have local and online communities for Analytics people just like me with ASUG. I have the SAP Community Network, with forums and blogs tons of interaction on a daily basis for folks just like me. I was intimidated by the SAP acquisition, too, but I’ve come to realize that change has brought about some really special things. SAP is listening to me, as an SAP customer, and helping me run my Analytics applications better, faster, smarter. So as the BusinessObjects name continues to evaporate from the SAP branding, I’m not concerned. It was a good run, but what is coming ahead has me way more excited. I’m an SAP customer, I’m an ASUG volunteer, I’m an SAP Mentor and these are exciting times.