Presenting Data Effectively, Second Edition, by Stephanie Evergreen

Stephanie Evergreen’s new book can help you create persuasive, data-driven documents that present your analysis in the best possible light.

Presenting Data Effectively by Stephanie Evergreen is now available in a full-color second edition. The 226-page book is organized into four main topics- graphics, text, color, and arrangement- and includes downloadable resources from the publisher, SAGE Publications. While many of the concepts are applicable to creating content with BI tools, the focus is packaging results using Microsoft Office tools like PowerPoint and Word. By presenting data “effectively”, Ms. Evergreen provides best practices to make our data engaging and persuasive, whether our audience is upper management or a prospective client.

I did not read the first edition of this book, but the addition of color makes the second edition very useful. My favorite feature of the book is the illustrations, as Ms. Evergreen explains several “not so great” solutions to a problem followed by a best practice, making it easy to see how her suggestions make life better for the reader.

While some attention is given specifically to data visualization and charting, readers interested that topic will want to check out Stephanie Evergreen’s other book, Effective Data Visualization: The Right Chart for the Right Data.

As somebody who frequently creates proposals, data-filled customer documentation, and presentations for webinars and user conferences, I found the book to be loaded with tips, including several new tricks I plan to incorporate into my work as a consultant and an analyst. If your role in the organization is to be persuasive with data, quality and readability of the final deliverables are important and you’ll find a lot of good advice and practical tips here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Silicon Cowboys

Compaq may no longer be in business but their impact is still felt in today’s PC marketplace.

Silicon Cowboys tells the tale of Compaq Computer and how three former Texas Instruments employees founded the Houston-based startup that would create an industry that we take for granted – the PC market. The lively documentary is only 77-minutes long and definitely worth putting into your Netflix queue.

Based on the book Open: How Compaq Ended IBM’s PC Domination and Helped Invent Modern Computing by Compaq founder Rod Canion, Silicon Cowbows contains a lot of historical footage and vintage computer advertisements (I had forgotten that William Shatner was a pitchman for the Commodore Vic-20, for example). Compaq bested IBM by creating the Compaq Portable, an IBM-compatible PC that weighed 28 lbs. and had a handle. Because the IBM PC was made from off-the-shelf components like Intel microprocessors, Compaq and others were able to create the PC clone market. The biggest challenge was IBM’s proprietary and copyrighted BIOS, which had to be reverse engineered.

IBM later exited the PC market, selling assets to Lenovo. And Compaq was later acquired by Hewlett-Packard. Watching Silicon Cowboys brought back memories of the Intel 286 PC clone that I used in college.

Silicon Cowboys is currently streaming on Netflix.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI 6.6

SAP Mobile takes one giant leap forward for Lumira 2.0 but Web Intelligence support is still a few steps behind.

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI 6.6 is now available for download in the Apple iTunes app store. This means that we’re one step closer to the general availability of SAP Lumira 2.0.

What’s New in Version 6.6.3

  • SAP Lumira 2.0 support (for both the discovery and designer components of SAP Lumira)
  • Additional charts and functionalities for the discovery component of SAP Lumira
  • Good containerization support
  • AirWatch SDK support

SAP Lumira has been the star of the iOS Mobile BI app since version 6.3 was released in December 2015. There’s been a feature gap in mobile Web Intelligence chart rendering since SAP BI 4.0 was released over five years ago. And with the Web Intelligence team delivering new functionality like shared components and new charts like geocharts, gauges and tiles, the gap has only widened.

If history is a guide, we can expect a few months of minor point releases containing “technical improvements” to version 6.6 hopefully followed by version 6.7 around December 2017. Hopefully version 6.7 will make some progress closing the Web Intelligence mobile feature gap. But I imagine that by then the Mobile BI team will be hard at work getting ready to support the Fiorified (and Java-less!) version of Web Intelligence that will hopefully arrive in 2018.

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI for Android remains at version 6.2 in the Google Play store. Android users will have to wait just a bit longer for Lumira 2.0 support in their app.

What I learned from Lightning McQueen about being an SAP Mentor

Sometimes inspiration comes from an unlikely source. Last week, it came when I took my 7-year-old son to see Cars 3, the latest Disney/Pixar movie. As its title indicates, Cars 3 is the third installment in a series that began in 2006 with the original Cars. Maligned by many computer animation fans as the worst movies created by the usually innovative Pixar, I could tell from its movie trailer that Cars 3 was going to be different from the previous two movies and deal with some adult themes.

Even if you don’t have a 7-year-old child as I do, I recommend taking in Cars 3 while it’s still in theaters. Appreciate how Pixar has taken realistic scenery beyond what we’ve seen in previous Pixar films. And see if you can find even more leadership lessons (author Joseph LaLonde found twenty-nine), celebrity voices, and the infamous Pizza Planet truck.

Check out my article on the SAP Community Network.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Where Can I Find the Sizing Companion for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2?

After a three-year hiatus, the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Sizing Guide receives some much-needed updates.

For those of you living with the previous edition of the sizing guide, last updated on February 20, 2014, you’ll be pleased to know that an update is now available.

The new version of the sizing guide is dated “June 2017” and has been updated with information about the latest release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 support pack 4. The old Xcelsius-based BI4 Resource Usage Estimator, also known as the BI4 Sizing Estimator, has been retired in favor of the standard SAP Quick Sizer. The document also includes updated sizing guidance for Web Intelligence.

For more information on sizing SAP analytics products, visit Sizing SAP Solutions at http://www.service.sap.com/sizing on the SAP Service Marketplace (S-ID required). Go to Sizing -> Sizing Guidelines -> Analytics, as shown below.

SAP Sizing Site

But you won’t find the updated SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Sizing Guide there. At least not yet. But you can find it at a new wiki, on the Sizing and Deploying SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.x Platform and Add-Ons page.

SAP Sizing Wiki for SAP BusinessObjects

This sizing document is extremely important to SAP BI professionals and we’re grateful to see it continue to receive updates. Much thanks to Sathish Rajagopal and everyone at SAP who had a hand in creating the latest iteration of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Sizing Guide!

SAP Insider Reporting & Analytics 2017 INTERACTIVE

Join me in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino!

Join me at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 29 – December 1, 2017 for Reporting & Analytics 2017 INTERACTIVE, just one of the four events SAP Insider has organized. The event is co-located with Managing your SAP Projects 2017, Cybersecurity for SAP Customers 2017, and SAP Cloud Platform Seminar. Your registration will allow you access sessions across all 4 events at no additional cost.

Best Practices for Managing Universe Design Projects

Date and time tbd / Location tbd

A well-designed universe is the foundation for a successful business intelligence project and satisfied users, but many universe design projects are doomed before a developer opens the Information Design Tool. A successful universe relies on effective project management as much as technical skill. This session is designed for non-technical BI managers and analysts as well as seasoned universe designers and will share best practices for each stage of the universe lifecycle. You will:

  • Gain a detailed understanding of project objectives for each stage of the universe design lifecycle — Prepare, analyze, plan, implement, test, deploy, and maintain
  • Learn key questions that project managers should be asking at each of the 7 lifecycle stages
  • Apply lessons from agile methodology such as breaking a large universe project into multiple smaller sprints and paired programming

Secrets of a Business Intelligence Barista

Date and time tbd / Location tbd

Attend this session to learn how you can build a team that is both business-savvy and tech-savvy while looking to the neighborhood coffee shop for inspiration. You’ll be better prepared to build better BI solutions “from the grounds up” by putting the right BI tools on the menu, providing both instant (self-service) and barista (IT-supported) offerings, rewarding your best customers, and giving passionate customer support. By attending, you learn:

  • How to create a “third place” between a business user’s cubicle and the IT department
  • Methods to map business requirements to their appropriate “quadrant”
  • Why the “self-service BI” quadrant isn’t necessarily the “magic” quadrant
  • How to teach these principles in your organization

Take home a sample quadrant diagram to map existing users and applications.

Can SAP Innovate Like Tesla?

SAP needs a Falcon rocket that can land on the barge of its BI platform.

SAP innovation evangelist Timo Elliott tweeted a reply to my article “Can SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 Move Out of Fourth Place?

The Tesla analogy has been used before, back when SAP briefly described Lumira Server as a Tesla and its BI platform as a Porsche 911 (see related article, The Future of the SAP BI Platform, Again). But Timo is making an excellent point.

Tesla did not achieved success by trying to copy a competitor and build a better Cadillac. Although entire books have been written about Tesla and its charismatic founder Elon Musk, I believe we can distill Tesla’s success down to two reasons. First, there’s unwavering commitment to a goal that seems crazy at first glance. And second, there’s a charismatic, unorthodox leader that rallies bright talent toward achieving that goal.

Whether it’s luxury cars with “insanity mode” or reusable rocket boosters that land on barges, Elon Musk has a knack for obtaining the unobtainable.

I still believe that Lumira has a firm place in SAP’s analytics arsenal. But can SAP’s BI platform support a crazy, radical idea that (most likely) will come via acquisition? And can SAP’s culture handle the charismatic- and possibly volatile- leader that will come with that radical idea?

SAP needs a Falcon rocket that can land on the barge of its BI platform.

A company that I’ve started watching with keen interest is ThoughtSpot. ThoughtSpot appears to be what SAP BusinessObjects Explorer would be if SAP had continued to innovate with it rather than abandon it to a yet-unrealized bullet point on the Lumira product roadmap (see related article, The Road Unexplored: Alternatives to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer). But there are certainly other startups out there tinkering with crazy ideas on the fringes of the analytics marketplace.

Yes, Timo, I believe SAP can be the Tesla of analytics. But not on Lumira’s merits alone.

What crazy idea do you think SAP needs to bring to its analytics platform?