SAP Paris

In May 2015, I accompanied Eric Vallo to SAP’s offices in Paris.

In May 2015, I went to SAP’s office in Paris with Eric Vallo, EV Technologies’ Chief Architect. While our antics were pretty lame when compared to Harold and Kumar, Bill and Ted, or even Jamie and Clint, we had both a productive and poetic visit to one of the great European cities. SAP is a global software company, which I saw first hand. Paris is the original home of BusinessObjects prior to its acquisition by SAP in 2008. It’s presently the current home for the Web Intelligence and semantic layer teams but the BI platform, Crystal Reports, Design Studio, Lumira, and other BI tools are developed elsewhere.

Christian Ah-Soon was our gracious host and we got to see Saurabh Abhyankar, Olivier Duvelleroy, Timo Elliott, Ian Mayor, and so many other great SAP employees in their native habit. They had all just recently relocated from multiple locations around Paris into SAP’s new office building, the Tour SAP.

Tour SAP

EV Technologies’ core product, the Sherlock Inspector Suite for the BI platform, relies on many SDK’s including those for Web Intelligence and the semantic layer, so it’s great to have a face-to-face dialog about what is coming next. We learned about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Support Pack 6, which was released on June 15, 2015. And (shhh!) we learned about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 and its groundbreaking features like [censored] and [censored]. I’d like to share more about [censored] but most of the visit was covered by non-disclosure agreements.

Below is the view from the Tour SAP’s 19th floor. How can you not do your best work with a view like that?

The View

Here’s the Tour Eiffel up close and personal, although not nearly as breathtaking as the photos Timo Elliott takes for his Instagram feed.

Tour Eiffel

The highlight of the trip wasn’t Web Intelligence 4.2. Instead, it was getting to meet my Twitter mate Andrew Fox in person for the first time. In Paris. Below, you can see The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls along with the man himself, The Man Who Could Board a London Train for Paris.

Andrew Fox, the man who could walk through walls

We enjoyed some obligatory pâté and l’escargot before cutting into a fantastic Côte de Boeuf and pomme de terre Lyonnaise. And a nice bottle of Burgundy.

Bons Amis (Good Friends)


It was a great trip- my first to anywhere besides the United States or Canada. You can check out some of my other photos on Flickr.

The SAP team is excited about the new Web Intelligence and semantic layer features now available in BI 4.1 SP6 and coming soon in BI 4.2. And I am too.

2014 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2014 is now history. I worked with several customers on XI 3.1 to BI 4.1 upgrades, helped write the third edition of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide (see related article) and moved from Market Leader to Program Chair as a volunteer for the ASUG Kentucky chapter.

Thanks for reading my blog this year and I look forward writing more in the year ahead.

2014 Travel Destinations (courtesy TripIt)

  • Dallas, Texas (BI 4.1 upgrade)
  • Fort Worth, Texas (ASUG volunteer meeting and SABOUC conference)
  • Houston, Texas (XI 3.1 architecture assessment and Live Office consulting)
  • Los Angeles, California (Information Design Tool and Web Intelligence 4.1 training)
  • Orlando, Florida (BI 4.1 upgrade)

Most Popular Articles of 2014 (courtesy Google Analytics)

  1. Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1
  2. Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0
  3. Using Variable Functions in the Universe
  4. Sizing the Adaptive Processing Server in BI 4.1
  5. Sizing the Adaptive Processing Server in BI 4.0
  6. SAP BusinessObjects BI 4 is (Mostly) 64-bit
  7. Displaying Web Intelligence Date Prompts Using Built-In Functions
  8. Displaying Images on Web Intelligence Reports
  9. SAP BusinessObjects Query Builder 4.0
  10. Don’t Fluster the Cluster

Books Read and Reviewed

Top Visiting Countries (courtesy Google Analytics)

  1. United States
  2. India
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Germany
  5. France
  6. Canada
  7. Australia
  8. Netherlands
  9. Italy
  10. Brazil
  11. Turkey
  12. Spain
  13. Switzerland
  14. Belgium
  15. Singapore
  16. Mexico
  17. Russia
  18. Japan
  19. China
  20. Poland

Speaking Events

Analytic Storytelling with Web Intelligence
EV Technologies Webcast
February 26, 2014 US/March 5, 2014 ANZ

Agile Business Intelligence with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1
EV Technologies Webcast
May 21, 2014 US/May 28, 2014 ANZ

ASUG Kentucky Chapter Meeting
Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles, KY
August 8, 2014
Agile Business Intelligence with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1

ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference
Omni Hotel
Fort Worth, Texas
September 22-24, 2014a
Secrets from a Business Intelligence Barista
Taking SAP BusinessObjects from Stock to Custom
Agile Business Intelligence with SAP Lumira (panel discussion)
“Cost Saving” Cuts Your Project Can’t Afford (Diversified Semantic Layer panel discussion)

Other Significant Events

ASUG Volunteer Meeting
Fort Worth, Texas
January 25, 2014

Collaboration Leads to a ‘Comprehensive Guide’ on BusinessObjects Web Intelligence

Craig Powers from ASUG News talks about our new Web Intelligence book from SAP Press.

Gabe Orthous, Heather Sinkwitz, Jim Brogden and Dallas Marks, SAP Press authors

Craig Powers of ASUG News caught up with Jim Brogden, Heather Sinkwitz, and myself to discuss our new SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, Third Edition from SAP Press.

You can check out the interview here on the ASUG News site.

My 100th BusinessObjects Board Post

My small contribution to a great support site.

I started my first BusinessObjects project in February 2003 with “classic” version 5.1, prior to the acquisition of Crystal Reports (Crystal Decisions) and the acquisition by SAP. I became a member of the BusinessObjects Board, or BOB, shortly thereafter on April 16, 2003, at the suggestion of my friend Eileen King. At the time, the BusinessObjects support site wasn’t terribly useful. Just as important as the information one could read on BOB were the friends you could make by using it.


I recently made my 100th post, which earned me the designation of Principal Member instead of a Senior Member. An average of 9 posts a year isn’t much of a contribution, but I’ll sleep better knowing the principal’s icon includes the detail object’s green pyramid.


Times have changed. In 2003 I first turned to BOB looking for the way out of a problem. In 2014 I now turn to the SAP Support Portal. Either SAP’s support portal usability has improved, I have simply mastered its confusion, or a combination of both. The SAP Support Portal seemed daunting in the post-acquisition fog of 2008. And who can forget SAP’s abrupt unplugging of the old BusinessObjects support and ESD sites (see related articles, Got Support? and Business Objects ESD, R.I.P.)? Good times.

Business Intelligence has clearly left the niche for the mainstream. Now there’s an abundance of books, blogs, and alternative media outlets beyond just what the vendor offers.

Choice is good.

Diversified Semantic Layer Interview

My Unstructured Geek Analysis interview

SAP Mentor and Diversified Semantic Layer contributor Jamie Oswald interviews me as part of the Unstructured Geek Analysis series. We talk about how I got started with my career in business intelligence, how I started blogging, my new role as an ASUG Volunteer, and what I do in my spare time.

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Connecting the dots…

Image courtesy iStockphoto

image courtesy iStockphoto

Last month, as happens every January, was the SAP field kickoff meeting, or FKOM. I wistfully gazed at my Twitter feed, noting who was and who wasn’t at FKOM. You see, in 2008 I attended the last FKOM conducted by an independent BusinessObjects (see related article, Business Objects Partner Summit 2008). It was the first FKOM that combined its sales force and its partner network, which previously had its own, much smaller, partner summit. I’ll never forget former BusinessObjects executive Mark Doll announcing SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.0 with lights and explosions (see related article, BusinessObjects XI 3.0). Under SAP, FKOM is an even bigger deal, with multiple simultaneous events held around the globe.

The other event that happens every January is the flood of LinkedIn updates announcing new career changes. While reading everyone’s cheerful status updates, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that your own career is on the road to nowhere. Never mind that your LinkedIn contacts decided in December that their own careers were on the road to nowhere and are secretly crossing their fingers, hoping that their new career adventure corrects some of the undesirable qualities of the last one. It’s easy to forget that we were jealous of our friends’ previous career move- the one that they just tossed into the dustbin of history (don’t worry, a recruiter might be calling you soon to fill the open position).

I mention this because seven years ago, my own career seemed to be on the road to nowhere (see related article, Seven Years Ago Today). What I didn’t mention in that article was that I interviewed for a presales consulting position at BusinessObjects and lost it. The rejection was devastating. At the time, staying in business intelligence consulting was a fallback position. Over the years, I later interviewed with SAP for two other presales positions, also without success.

The trouble with presales (for me) is that most vendors could care less if you understood their product. That skill can be learned. What they’re hoping for is somebody with a track record of sales success selling other technology products. Unfortunately, my skills are reversed. I’ve “majored” in many years of deep SAP BusinessObjects experience but only have a “minor” in presales, helping various consulting organizations sell software, services, and education.

It’s easy to have a pity party reading LinkedIn updates, but most social media users only reveal the shiny, happy bits of their lives. Rarely the dark or disappointing ones. While what is divulged on social media may be accurate and truthful, it’s not a complete picture.

In my case, writing Seven Years Ago Today turned out to be therapeutic, as I’ve spent the past few weeks contemplating who I was seven years ago and who I think I am today. Connecting the dots, as Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford University commencement address.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Steve Jobs
2005 Stanford University commencement address

You see, when I sat in the presales interview chair seven years ago, this blog didn’t even exist (see related article, Welcome to My Blog!). I had only one year of experience as a trainer and only one user conference presentation under my belt. Only later would I be part of the team for SAP’s Education Partner of the Year (see related article, Thrilled to be Part of the Team). My experience would grow from a mere report writer and universe designer to include skills with Xcelsius/Dashboards, Explorer, and administering the SAP BI platform. I’d even help write a book (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide).

Maybe I would have hated presales… Maybe I wouldn’t have been any good at it… Maybe somebody who’s worked mostly in small organizations would feel lost in a large one…

Will I ever work at SAP? I don’t know. I’m currently at about “half time” in my working career, so there’s plenty of time for that.

What about you? Feel like your career is on the fast track to nowhere? All any of us can do is put our best foot forward, one step at a time. I’m grateful that every day I get to work with technology that has the potential to illuminate corporate data and brighten somebody’s day. I’m definitely setting goals for the next seven years.

But in the meantime, I’m setting goals for the next seven days. Happy Monday!

Seven Years Ago Today…

Seven years ago, everything changed.

Seven years ago today, Steve Jobs stood on stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and unveiled the iPhone.


An iPhone is a fairly common sight today, but the video of the event captures just how unusual iPhone was compared to smartphones from Motorola, Blackberry, Palm, and Nokia. I was carrying a Motorola Razr at the time and would later replace it and my Palm PDA with a Palm Treo 680.

The same week, a slightly less revolutionary development was taking place. At the lowest point in my career, my friend Eileen King had faith in me and introduced me to the team at Dataspace, a business intelligence consultancy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I can’t remember if I grasped the significance of it all at the time. But looking back, what seemed like a low point became a dramatic turning point.

SF 325 Eileen

Seven years later, Motorola has been acquired by Google, Palm by HP, Nokia by Microsoft, and Blackberry by… Well, let’s just say nobody wants to purchase Blackberry. And I now carry an iPhone 5.

Thanks, Eileen!