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.

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!

2013 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2013 was the year I celebrated my first decade working with SAP BusinessObjects (see related article, A Decade of SAP BusinessObjects) and two decades as an IT professional. In my first full year with EV Technologies, I spent most of my time working at home with only a few short trips on the road. This year’s exotic destinations included:

  • Anaheim, California
  • Highland Heights, Kentucky
  • Houston, Texas
  • Hurst, Texas
  • St. Louis, Misery Missouri (just kidding, Eric)

To the over 50,000 people from 189 countries who visited my site this year, thank you for reading. I’m grateful for each one of you and wish you continued success in business intelligence and a prosperous new year!

Most Popular Articles of 2013 (courtesy Google Analytics)

  1. Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0
  2. Using Variable Functions in the Universe
  3. Sizing the Adaptive Processing Server in BI 4.0
  4. Displaying Web Intelligence Date Prompts Using Built-In Functions
  5. SAP BusinessObjects Support for Windows 8
  6. Query Builder 4.0
  7. Displaying Images on Web Intelligence Reports
  8. Don’t Fluster the Cluster
  9. A Glimpse of SAP BusinessObjects BI 5.0
  10. Universe Designer Refresh Structure

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. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  10. Italy
  11. Spain
  12. Switzerland
  13. Belgium
  14. Brazil
  15. Turkey
  16. Singapore
  17. Mexico
  18. China
  19. Russia
  20. South Africa

Most Popular Browsers (courtesy Google Analytics)

  1. Microsoft Internet Explorer (38%)
  2. Google Chrome (33%)
  3. Firefox (16%)
  4. Safari (5%)
  5. Android (3%)

Speaking Events

St. Louis BusinessObjects User Group
St. Louis, MO
March 7, 2013
Going Mobile with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0
State of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 Upgrade (panel discussion)

ASUG Kentucky Chapter Meeting
Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY
March 22, 2013
Going Mobile with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0

ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference
Anaheim Convention Center
Anaheim, California
September 9-11, 2013
Analytic Storytelling with Web Intelligence: Using the right visualization for your data
The Shift to the Network of Truth (panel discussion)

Business Intelligence Summit for Higher Education
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, Kentucky
October 1-2, 2013
Analytic Storytelling: Using the right visualization for your data

Other Significant Events

The Tableau 8 Road Show
Cincinnati, Ohio
April 17, 2013

A decade of SAP BusinessObjects

My first 10 years with BusinessObjects

BusinessObjects 5.1.4 CD

Today, February 10, 2013, is the 10th anniversary of my career in SAP BusinessObjects.  Of course, back in 2003, it was just “BusinessObjects”.  And the Crystal Decisions acquisition wouldn’t be announced until later that year.  It’s been an amazing decade and I’m looking forward to the next one.

2012 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

Mayan Apocalypse2012 was the year of SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 (BI 4.0).  After going through ramp-up and going into general availability last year, early adopters began using it in full force.  In contrast to prior years, I focused on two major BI 4.0 projects instead of a series of smaller projects. The first was a BI 4.0 upgrade from SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1. The second was a new initiative (no migration) using BI 4.0.  2012 was the year that SAP’s mobile BI strategy began to coalesce, with Feature Pack 3/Support Pack 4 shipping in June with Exploration Views and Support Pack 5 shipping in November with mobile support for Dashboards 4.0 and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio. Thankfully, the Mayan Apocalypse had no effect on the SAP BusinessObjects Maintenance Schedule Calendar and Forward Fit Plan.

Professionally, 2012 was a year of many firsts for me, including:

This blog had more than twice the number of readers it had in 2011- a 108% increase- from 181 different countries around the globe. Thank you for visiting. I wish you continued success in business intelligence and a prosperous new year!

Speaking Events

This year I was able to deliver several new presentations, but even the older ones required significant updates for the BI 4.0 platform.

ASUG Indiana Chapter Meeting
Indianapolis, Indiana (Fishers)
February 17, 2012
A comprehensive introduction to the Business Objects BI security model

SAP Insider/BusinessObjects Expert BI 2012
MGM Grand Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, NV
February 28 – March 2, 2012
Ensuring a successful Business Objects Explorer deployment — A systems perspective
A comprehensive introduction to the Business Objects BI security model
Guidelines to secure and personalize your BusinessObjects universes
E-learning, help desk, and more: Picking the right training and user adoption approach for your user base

ASUG Kentucky Chapter Meeting
Bellermine University
Louisville, Kentucky
June 22, 2012
Universe Design – Evolution, Intelligence Design, or Just a Big Mess?

Pittsburgh BusinessObjects User Group (PGHBOUG)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
July 19, 2012
Exploring the Universe with Explorer 4.0: What IT Needs to Know

ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort
Orlando, Florida
September 10-13, 2012
Secrets of a Business Intelligence Barista
Delivering Personalized and Secure Business Intelligence
SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0: How to Make the Magic Happen (panel discussion)

Business Intelligence Summit for Higher Education
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, Kentucky
October 9-10, 2012
Secrets of a Business Intelligence Barista

Other Significant Events

Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, Florida
October 9-10, 2012

The Tableau Experience
Louisville, Kentucky
December 6, 2012

ASUG Developer Tool Days
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, Kentucky
December 7, 2012


My personal acknowledgements from the new book.

It was a great feeling to hold the new SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.0 book for the first time at last week’s ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.  I had a great time participating in Developer Wars with my co-authors Jim Brogden, Gabe Orthous, and Heather Sinkwitz (Mac Holden was unavailable off the coast of Spain).  But my participation on this book didn’t just “happen”.  I’ve been blessed with a lot of help from my friends along the way.  Here are the acknowledgments that I included in the front of the book.

First I would like to thank my mom and dad for everything.  Special thanks are due to Jerry Bedilion, my tenth grade English teacher, who endured a lot of bad grammar and patiently taught me to enjoy writing. Thanks to Jim Brogden for inviting me to participate in this book-writing adventure.

I am grateful to Jeff Bartel and Tom Somerville, who gave me my start with SAP BusinessObjects and totally changed the trajectory of my professional career.  I am also grateful to Bob Dissinger and Sharon Peters for the years we organized the Southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky BusinessObjects User Group. I would also like to thank Penny Brewer, Deanna Glinka, Eileen King, Gary Kuertzel, and Alan Mayer for helping me become a better instructor and presenter.

Thanks to Diversified Semantic Layer hosts Greg Myers, Jamie Oswald, and Eric Vallo. I value your friendships as much as your professional advice.

Last, I’d like to thank my wife, Kristin, and my children, Emily, Catherine, and Benjamin, for their patient love and support during the development of this book.

My deepest thanks.

Dallas Marks joins EV Technologies

I have joined EV Technologies as a principal technical architect.

Today, I am pleased to announce that I have joined EV Technologies as a principal technical architect. EV Technologies is an SAP Partner founded in 2008 by chief architect and SAP Mentor Eric Vallo.