I am sitting in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, where the Mastering SAP BI conference(organised by The Eventful Group) was held. Everyone is saying their goodbyes as we all head home. I’m hoping that the delegates will not forget the closing words of the Chairlady, Elsa Kriel from EOH where she urged us to keep the enthusiasm and continue with the culture of learning and sharing and make full use of the information we had consumed over the past three days.
Someone from the audience asked her “Were you ever scared that your life and your family would be threatened?” Mandy’s response,” No, I think as journalists we are more concerned about the information bill than threats from the under world”. To hear how passionately and strongly she speaks about the justice system in our country makes one want to stop being a by-stander and take action! In closing she urged us as civil society, to be aware and educate ourselves and do someone about the crime in our country!
When I was tweetcasting Mandy’s talk Tammy Powlas happened to mention that she’s been looking for a copy of her book for so long…so Clint Vosloo and I decided to make things happen, we got her a signed copy and it will be delivered to her by Eric Vallo! Talk about the benefits of social media and intelligence!!
Day2 was equally packed with presentations of great interest to me! The first session I attended was the SAP Strategy Management(SSM) Demo presented by Mark Rolle and Koos from Gijima as part of the Innovation Demo Track(which was a new addition this year). The track was included to provide the delegates with presentations and demos of the hottest new innovations from the Business Analytics space from various SAP Partners. I attended the SSM Demo because this was the first time I had attended any conference where SSM had two sessions! GIJIMA showcased the latest version of SSM taking us through how to create a model with Cube Builder to creating the KPIs and Contexts using the Administrator Interface and finally viewing the results with the User Interface. I was excited to see SSM getting some visibility as I believe that it is one of SAP’s tool that is extremely under marketed yet can add a tremendous amount of value to an organisation looking to communicate its strategy to the rest of the organisation! Let me not get started otherwise this blog post will end up being about SSM!
Presentations that I attended included:-
Keynote “SAP BO BI RoadMap”
Ingo Hilgefort, SAP
Five Easy Steps to Improved Work Mgmt
Chris Steyn, Engen Petroleum
Carlos Lopez, Accenture
Cementing SAP’s value within PPC
Herman Coetzee, PPC
The Nike BI Journey
Ingo Hilgefort started off the session by mentioning that SAP’s Strategic Focus on BI based on 5 pillars core, creative, mobile, extreme, social. Some functionality to look forward to in BI4.0:-
Visual Intelligence allows business user to receive,analyse,enrich info goes beyond reporting.
The future includes:-
He mentioned BW Workspaces on BW7.3 which allows a business user to upload data into BW. I will made a note to look into this as we have upgraded to BW7.3 but have not exploited the new functionality!!
This session left me feeling like there are so many tools that we are now exposed to but it is really up to us as the BI Team to decide which tools will best suit our users
and our organisation and stick to those. We can not blame SAP for launching new tools as they are a profit making entity but
we as the customers need to take stock and decide what is best for us! Decisions…Decisions!
Chris Steyn spoke about how the Engen BI Team has used the five steps below to improve their Work Management Process
He mentioned that process formalisation requires executive buy-in to work. It’s also critical to know up-front what one is trying to achieve! The one that made me laugh which is so true is the fact that people will be resistant
Carlos mentioned that Accenture assisted PUIG with SAP BW on HANA implementation benefits increased level of reporting and response times
The benefits included a 100x improvement in execution!!!reduced reports with more detail for users to analyse.
He left us with one Key Point to take home –
HANA IS A MATURE PLATFORM AND IT WORKS!
Herman’s presentation was extremely entertaining! I
telling us a joke:-
Good: Your wife’s not talking to you
He equated this to their previous ERP
Good: They had an ERP in place BUT it was extensively customized
Bad: They had hundreds of custom developed (users specific) reports in ERP – not really usable
Ugly: Excel became the standard for reporting; NO ONE VERSION OF THE TRUTH
They thus embarked on a SAP Implementation Project which they branded as “Phambili” as a business project(NOT IT). They ensured that they had a Change Management Partner and a Technical Implementation Partner(Britehouse). He mentioned that one critical lesson that they learnt is that they needed to keep interactions with the business on their level[don’t OVERCOMPLICATE but make sure that the business has insight into the roadmap!
Scott started off by giving us a glimpse of Nike’s history!
He then described how and when Nike’s love affair with SAP began! Their implementation was definately not simple(included 6 Regions globally)
For BW Reporting – they used Regional Data Cubes and
Multiproviders to begin with but users started asking for Global Reports! So the landscape had to be modified.
He stressed the fact that understanding business needs is peramount to IT successes!
They have used BWA and have seen great results – they will however be investigating HANA and upgrading to BI4.0(kind of where we are at the City of Cape Town – I made a note to touch base with him in a few months to see how far they are with their upgrade/investigation).
He ended off by reminding us that it is afterall a journey.
Another presentation that everyone was raving about was the “Reduce Cost and Effort of SAP BO Migration Projects and Daily Admin” by Alexandre Biegala, 360suite(France) – since I did not attend this session I am still not clear whether the audience was impressed about the content or the presenter or both! Those who gave me feedback on this session will know exactly what I meanThere were so many other presentations that I wanted to attend but couldn’t so if anyone wants to provide a write-up on those please feel free to add a comment. We did get a CD with all the sessions so I have my work cut out for the next couple of days.
I have however come to realise that I can no longer classify the Mastering BI Johannesburg BI as a conference – it has become more of a sanctuary! I think of people that I had the opportunity to connect with, my colleagues with whom I had loads of fun with and who supported me during my session. Mark Marais(the Kingpin of SAP BI in SA) who was instrumental in sparking my love for BI. Dorothy Cadle who has forever been so supportive! Delegates who attended some of the BW courses that I conducted at SAP it was great seeing! Reconnecting with those I met last year, i.e. Bheki Malinga from PETROSA, Lorato Ludo Kenosi from Debswana Diamond Mining Company. One of the biggest benefits of attending this year(which I can not put a price on) is meeting the twins from Ixia Consulting(jokes – they’re not really twins!) Mike Kraus and Dave Welensky! I have to explain why meeting them was a blessing! SAP acquired Pilot Software in 2007, although the frontend of the application changed, the backbone of SAP Strategy Management is still PAS(Pilot Application Server) – it uses specific scripting and syntax that we’ve been trying to understand. Unfortunately there are too few clients in South Africa for us to form any kind of community (hence spending a lot of time on the SCN forum) – but what we found out is that Mike and Dave are extremely well-versed in PAS and they have a few clients, i.e. Unilever who still utilise PAS (even though they are using a different front-end). To cut a long story short – I am extremely excited about the fact that we have found people with whom we can exchange ideas which in turn will hellp us in delivering an improved product to our users!
If your manager ever questions why you should attend Mastering BI or if he/she wants to send only one representative from your organisation forward her the link to this blog post! (She can cut the budget for the Christmas party) There is absolutely no way you can begin to explain the amount of inspiration, enthusiasm and renewed interest in BI that you feel after the conference. You can only experience it first hand!
To Steve Morris, Toni Crawley and the Eventful Group Family…your work certainly does not go unnoticed! You have revitalised the BI Community in South Africa yet again…personifying your tag line! “Where Communities Thrive”