2008 Year in Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

December has been a busy month, but I’ll be getting some much-needed downtime plus working from home before heading out to clients again in January. Christmas came early this year in the form of my Business Objects Certified Professional (BOCP) certificate for Business Objects Enterprise XI 3.0. I’m looking forward to framing it and hanging it in my home office.  As the year winds down, it seems good to reflect on our achievements for the past year and set some goals for 2009.

2008 was the first year that I began consulting and training with Xcelsius 2008. And armed with my upgraded BOCP I’ve already taught Business Objects Enterprise administration (SA210 Administration and Security and SA310 Administrating Servers) and Business Objects XI 3.0 Universe Design (DM310).

2008 is the first year I’ve had a project that’s let me work from home, which to be honest can be a blessing AND a curse. For example, I never knew a hurricane from Texas would blow through Ohio and knock out my electricity and high-speed internet. Working from home in IT consulting certainly takes some adjustment, but my family appreciates it.

I’ve traveled to a lot of interesting places this year, spending 88 nights in Holiday Inn hotels alone.

2008 was the third year of being selected for the annual Business Objects user conference, held this past October in Dallas, Texas. It’s always an honor to be selected and to share what I’ve learned.

Business Objects engagements have taken me to:

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Houston, Texas
  • Kansas City, Kansas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Lufkin, Texas
  • Moline, Illinois
  • New York City, New York
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

And summer vacation took me and my family to Ann Arbor, Michigan; Point Pelee National Park, Ontario; Toronto, Ontario; and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

But it’s always good to be home!

To all my family, friends, coworkers, clients and blog readers, a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2009!

BusinessObjects Certified Professional – Here It Goes Again!

My experience certifying for SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1

Keeping up with Business Objects products can make a person feel like they’re on an eternal treadmill of learning. Yesterday, I passed the BusinessObjects Certified Professional – Enterprise (BOCP-BOE) upgrade exam, which brought my BusinessObjects XI R2 certification up to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1.

For those of you who have never certified, it requires passage of 3 exams that loosely follow the three SA210, SA310, and SA410 public education classes (which are also available as e-Learning – but you want to come to our training centers in Dallas & Houston, don’t you?). I attended a BOCP “fast track” in the summer of 2005 and took the XI R2 exams shortly thereafter. It was the first time in my life certifying on anything and was quite surprised that I passed each exam on the first attempt. Exams are offered worldwide at Pearson Vue test centers.

BusinessObjects Certification at Pearson VUE

The XI 3.0/XI 3.1 platform has LOTS of new features, with the primary burden on the administrator. Oh sure, there are some new features in Crystal Reports 2008, Web Intelligence and Universe Designer. But SAP BusinessObjects administrators have to deal with a redesigned Central Management Console (CMC), new security rules, and federation. Not to mention new architecture details like the Server Intelligence Agent (SIA), Adaptive Job Server and Adaptive Processing Server. Re-certification has been distilled down to just 40 randomly chosen questions, of which the test taker must get at least 67% correct.

As a part-time SAP BusinessObjects instructor, passing the BOCP upgrade exam entitles me to teach the XI 3.0/XI 3.1 administration classes, which I’ll be doing for the first time in December 2008. I should mention that any SAP BusinessObjects class can be taught on-site at your location. Especially for those of you in warm locales – I’d love to come train you or your staff during the upcoming winter months – please give me a call!

Dallas Marks joins Integra Solutions

Follow Your Heart – A reminder from CareerBuilder.com (from their 2008 Super Bowl ad) that life is short and to find something that you can pursue with great passion.

For the past five and one half years, my passion has been helping individuals and organizations harness the power of business intelligence to create and share intelligent information, primarily with solutions from Business Objects, an SAP company. And so today, I am taking my next career step as a Senior Consultant and Trainer with Integra Solutions, a business unit of Quorum Business Solutions.  I’ll be reporting to Alan Mayer and David Byrd, plus working alongside great colleagues like David Rathbun, Deanna Glinka, and Penny Brewer.

No job is perfect. I certainly am not. But we all have potential and passion that can be used to benefit humanity, not just our wallets. May we have the courage to believe it and not wallow in cynicism.

Dallas Marks on MySpace?

One would think that a name like “Dallas Marks” would be unique. Maybe even Google-able. Sigh – not so. In addition to being my dad’s name (although we have different middle names), it is also the name of a country western singer in Pennsylvania. You can check out his MySpace page. He’s not me. Just in case you were wondering…

My Important Moments with Business Objects

Key events at the start of my SAP BusinessObjects career

I’ve been cleaning up my home office as part of getting ready for the new year. I stumbled across some of my old planners. Some nostalgia…

February 13, 2003: After nearly 10 years working with Unix, C & C++, and Oracle, began first Business Objects consulting engagement
September 24-26, 2003: Attended Universe Design training

December 1-3, 2004:
Taught my first Business Objects classes (v6.5 Core, Intermediate, and Advanced Reporting)

May 24-27, 2005: Business Objects XI R1 Fast Track Training, Atlanta, Georgia
June 8, 2005: Passed SAE201 Certification Exam
June 13, 2005: Passed SAE301 Certification Exam
June 20, 2005: Passed SAE401 Certification Exam – I’m a Business Objects Certified Professional!
July 14, 2005: Passed Accredited Report Designer v6.5 Exam
July 28, 2005: Organized steering committee and relaunched SONKBOUG (Southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky Business Objects User Group). Presented Getting To Know Business Objects XI
November 6-9, 2005: Business Objects Insight Americas 2005, Orlando, Florida
December 1-2, 2005: Train-the-Trainer training at Xavier University
December 12, 2005: Taught my first Web Intelligence XI R1 class

February 26-28, 2006: Business Objects Partner Summit 2006, Austin, Texas
July 28, 2006: Accepted as breakout speaker for Business Objects Insight Americas 2006
October 26, 2006: Presented my Insight 2006 presentation, Getting Personal with Publications and Profiles, at SONKBOUG (Southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky BusinessObjects User Group)
November 5-8, 2006: Breakout speaker at Business Objects Insight Americas 2006, San Francisco, California

February 13, 2007: Speaker at Northern Ohio BusinessObjects User Group (NOBOUG) in Cleveland, Ohio
May 14-16, 2007: Customer Centric Selling training for Business Objects partners
July 28, 2007: Accepted as breakout speaker for Business Objects Insight Americas 2007
September 2007: Business Objects Accredited Specialist: Crystal Decisions/Edge Series
September 2007: Business Objects 6.5 Accredited System Administrator
October 7, 2007: SAP AG and Business Objects S.A. announced that the companies reached an agreement that has brought together two of the information technology industry leaders.
October 15-28, 2007: Breakout speaker at Business Objects Insight Americas 2007, Orlando, Florida – presented Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets
December 7, 2007: Business Objects XI R2 Migration Specialist

And in 2008, the adventure continues…
January 13-15, 2008: Business Objects Partner Summit 2008, Las Vegas, Nevada

Business Objects Migration Specialist

I finally completed the steps to be a Business Objects Migration Specialist. The last step was nearly 30 hours of e-learning, which has come in handy on my current project, a migration from Business Objects 6.5 to Business Objects XI R2 SP3.  By earning this credential, my employer earns the designation of Migration Specialist Partner.

2007 Year in Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

 

What a long strange trip it’s been!

I began 2007 with a career move to a business intelligence professional services firm that wanted to extend their existing Business Objects Solution Partner relationship and join the Authorized Education Partner program. I knew at the onset that there would be travel, mostly to Ann Arbor, Michigan where the public training facility was located. But I looked forward to the opportunity to build something, a training program, from the ground up. This year, I have stayed 100 nights Holiday Inn hotels alone, earning nearly 273,000 Priority Club points.

In February, I was a speaker at the Northern Ohio Business Objects User Group, giving my Insight 2006 presentation, Getting Personal with Publications and Profiles. The presentation details how to use single-pass report bursting on the Business Objects XI Release 2 platform.

From February through May, I worked with a European automobile manufacturer in Auburn Hills, Michigan, developing requirements for a master data management system for their product data.

In April, my wife and I enjoyed a weekend in Chicago, Illinois for an off-site company meeting with my employer.

In May, I traveled to Newark, New Jersey for 3 days of Customer Centric Selling training for Partners, provided by Business Objects. The training was directly applicable. I’ve also greatly appreciated the book, which has changed how I approach consulting probably more than how I approach selling.

In June, I made two trips to St. Louis, Missouri to help another Business Objects AEP teach SA210R2 and SA310R2 (Business Objects Enterprise XI Release 2 Administration). Two of my students were administrators for one of Business Objects’ largest customers. They were taking the classes in preparation of their migration, although they were going to wait for BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.0 (code name Titan).

In late July and early August, I spent two weeks in Scotts Valley, California teaching users how to use, of all things, Crystal Reports Explorer. This was my first experience delivering training via WebEx, to users in North America, Asia, and Europe. The schedule was demanding, as the training was offered at times convenient to the end users. North American training was delivered during Pacific Standard Time business hours, Asia beginning at 7:00 PM PST, and Europe at 4 AM PST. While I was in California, I took full advantage of my Ford Mustang rental to visit Carmel By The Sea, Monterrey, Santa Cruz, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, and Big Basin State Park. Driving a Ford Mustang rental through the redwoods (esp. Highway 9 through Henry Cowell) was simply amazing.

In August, I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to do a pre-sales call doing my first demo of Dashboard Manager. Let’s just say that there’s a first time for everything…

October was a very busy month. I spent a few days at a Michigan health insurance provider, auditing their Business Objects XI R2 security model. They were gracious enough to let me preview my Insight 2007 presentation, Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets, which I presented the following week in Orlando, Florida. The week after Insight 2007, I taught my first class subcontracting to Business Objects for a nationally-known fashion retailer in Cincinnati.

And now, things are mostly quiet. In November, I began a local assignment, helping a Cincinnati-area customer migrate from Business Objects 6.5 to Business Objects XI R2 SP3. This assignment should keep me occupied into 2008. I’ll be posting some of my activities and lessons learned to this blog.