SAP to Unveil Immersive Golfing Experience at its Annual Conference

Another groundbreaking innovation brought to life by the SAP Cloud Platform.

Just in time for its annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference, SAP is putting the finishing touches on what promises to be a unique add-on to its groundbreaking SAP Digital Boardroom.

SAP Digital Golf Course is built on the same SAP Cloud Platform (formerly known as the SAP HANA Cloud Platform) as SAP BusinessObjects Cloud and SAP Digital Boardroom. “We were in the middle of a design thinking session for SAP Digital Boardroom, brainstorming new ways to get our customers engaged with the product,” recalled SAP Digital Golf Course product manager Ty Webb. “Somebody suggested- in jest- that customers would spend more time with SAP Digital Boardroom if they could use its three giant touchscreens to improve their golf swing. Putting an immersive golf course experience on those touchscreens was a given. But then we realized that some of the technology being developed for SAP Leonardo- SAP’s Internet of Things initiative- could be leveraged in the design of an electronic golf club. Then things just kind of took off from there,” he continued.

“We originally thought of SAP Digital Golf Course as more of a technology showcase than a product,” added April Erste, an SAP spokesperson for SAP’s analytics portfolio. “But as word spread inside of SAP, we realized that we could have a winning product on our hands.”

To improve the realism of the solution, the SAP development team in Vancouver, BC spent time at the nearby Wildstone Golf Course and brought its designer, golf legend Gary Player, onto the project as a consultant. The initial version of SAP Digital Golf Course will include recreations of three Gary Player-designed courses:  the Wildstone course in Canada along with the Bushman Sands course in South Africa and Hidden Tiger course in China.

SAP Digital Golf Course Bill McDermott and Gary Player

The project also benefited from the expertise of professional golfer Ernie Els, who has been sponsored by SAP for many years. Ernie’s feedback helped guide the design team in creating a comfortable grip for the specialized electronic golf club designed for the product.

Ernie Els, professional golfer

Product manager Ty Webb continued, “There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball. That’s what our customers are going to be able to do with SAP Digital Golf Course.”

Pricing and availability for SAP Digital Golf Course were unavailable at press time but should be finalized by the time SAP customers arrive in Florida for the annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference. And expect to see SAP Digital Golf Course demonstrated during the keynote speeches and on the exhibition floor.

Follow Bill McDermott on Twitter

Follow Ernie Els on Twitter

Follow Gary Player on Twitter

Unsociable Media

It’s time to stop ranting and get back to work.

Yesterday, Facebook declared that it was “Facebook Friends Day”. Facebook has been part of our lives for thirteen years and its moody adolescence is showing.

Facebook Friends Day

Facebook used to be the home of grumpy cat and cute kid videos. But last year it became a vast wasteland of political punditry as its seems everybody had something to say about the US presidential election. My Facebook feed became an incessant deluge of rants and shared articles from my collection of Democratic, Republican and even Libertarian friends.

I was hoping that the madness would stop after the election. Or at least after inauguration day. Wishful thinking, no?

unsociable – un·so·cia·ble – \ˌən-ˈsō-shə-bəl\

adjective

having or showing a disinclination for social activity
or
not conducive to sociability

definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster dictionary

Dealing with annoying people on Facebook is simple. You can “unfollow” them while still being their “friend”. Convenient. But unfortunately the problem has spread to other social media venues like LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t have “friends” on those social media channels. I have professional business contacts. And people who I assumed were respected thought leaders in their field, not political pundits.

I’m perfectly capable of finding my own news, be it real or “fake news”, liberal or conservative news, or even clickbait masquerading as news. I don’t need to understand your political views nor do you need me to endorse them.

But I need your expertise.

Desperately.

And I miss it.

Have we reached the point of no return? We may never be able to “Make Facebook Fun Again”. But I hope that we can get back to business on LinkedIn and Twitter.

And soon.

Data Visualization Humor

Hopefully none of the “featured” visualizations belong to you.

There’s enough bad data visualizations out there to mock publically. Here are some sites that do just that.

  • Junk Charts – examples with commentary on how to make improvements. You can also follow @JunkCharts on Twitter.
  • WTF Visualizations – a Tumblr blog of “visualizations that make no sense”. You can also follow @WTFViz on Twitter.

Are there other sites that I should list here?

Will SAP’s Bill McDermott Enter US Presidential Race?

“It doesn’t hurt that he would have the best hair of all of the current candidates.”

With the leading candidates of both US presidential parties out of favor with a majority of the electorate, there is renewed speculation that SAP CEO Bill McDermott may enter the US presidential race as either an independent or third-party candidate.

Clearly one of the most unusual primary seasons ever experienced by the American electorate, large numbers of voters are expressing their discontent with the status quo in Washington, casting votes for “outsider” candidates like Democrat Bernie Sanders or Republican Donald Trump.

According to Reuters, Bill McDermott “received compensation for 2015 including salary, benefits and short- and long-term incentives of 9.28 million euros ($10.40 million), up nearly 15 percent over 2014”. Although the chief executive of the United States earns a mere fraction of what a tech CEO makes, business-minded candidates from Ross Perot to Mitt Romney to Carly Fiorina have sought the office for more altruistic reasons than just compensation. In this election cycle, other high-profile business leaders from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to former New York mayor and businessman Michael Bloomberg have given the idea some consideration.

Should McDermott choose to enter the race, there would be a renewed emphasis on the use of technology in US elections. A secret team of elite data scientists and the world’s largest SAP HANA system- code named Event Horizon– are already at work analyzing voter demographics in an unassuming office building just minutes from SAP’s technology labs in Palo Alto, California.

An unnamed spokesperson who wasn’t authorized to speak publically about the matter said “Should he chose to run, we have a candidate who is a true leader on a global stage. He has a track record of bringing a positive approach to difficult problems and would do so for the problems currently facing the United States. His campaign style would be a sharp contrast to what Americans have seen so far in the primaries. And it doesn’t hurt that he would have the best hair of all of the current candidates.”

SAP just extended contracts for its executive team until 2021, but it’s unclear if that’s enough to keep Mr. McDermott out of the race. SAP spokesperson April Erste would only offer a terse “It is our policy not to comment on rumors or speculation,” when asked about the potential candidacy.

SAP to Rebrand Lumira as Desktop Intelligence at SAPPHIRE

Desktop Intelligence is back!

In its continuing effort to gain traction in the crowded data discovery market, SAP is enlisting the help of a trusted brand name: Desktop Intelligence. The change is expected to be announced next month at its annual SAPPHIRE NOW user conference in Orlando, Florida. SAP analytics users have been down the rebranding road before. “Project Hilo” was launched at SAPPHIRE NOW 2012 as SAP Visual Intelligence (see related SCN article) then rebranded as SAP Lumira just one year later at SAPPHIRE NOW 2013 (see related SCN article).

According to SAP spokesperson April Erste, yet another re-brand was warranted because “highly-respected industry analysts made fun of Lumira’s seemingly pharmaceutical-inspired name.”

In addition, SAP’s corporate clientele mistakenly believed that increasing the number of “Lumira users” in their organizations would lead to skyrocketing prescription drug costs, often resulting in a buying decision for rival data discovery tools such as Tableau or Qlik.

The new branding will be applied to what was previously known internally as SAP Lumira version 1.26 and will introduce bold new features like a redesigned “slice-and-dice” panel, the ability to import queries from “classic” Desktop Intelligence (see related article, True Desktop Intelligence with SAP Lumira) and a new splash screen that incorporates nostalgic cues from the original BusinessObjects product SAP acquired in 2007. Continuing to integrate technology from SAP’s KXEN acquisition, the new release includes an automated (and animated) assistant to help casual users who are not trained statisticians add predictive capabilities to their visualizations. The animated Deski the Dachshund™ provides a light-hearted interface to business users who fondly remember Clippy, the animated assistant from Microsoft Office. “It’s like Apple Siri for analytics,” says Ms. Erste, clearly beaming with pride.

This isn’t the first time SAP has tried to resurrect the Desktop Intelligence brand name, but SAP is hopeful their second attempt will have better success. “We introduced a brand-new Desktop Intelligence product in 2012,” continues Ms. Erste, “but initial reaction from ramp-up customers was chilly and we ended up scrapping the effort” (see related article, Hell Freezes Over). The upcoming Desktop Intelligence rebrand will be supported with a global multimedia campaign featuring Jennifer Lopez, who co-wrote the campaign song, “Don’t Diss Deski,” with long-time collaborator Cory Rooney and Alan Wilkis (Big Data). Ms. Lopez will first perform “Don’t Diss Deski” publicly during her concert appearance at the SAP SAPPHIRE event. Its accompanying music video, directed by James Frost (OK GO, Radiohead), will be promoted on SAP’s social media channels with a special #DontDissDeski hashtag.

Unfortunately, I won’t be attending SAPPHIRE this year but it’s shaping up to be a great event. What are your thoughts on SAP’s plans for Lumira?

It’s O.K. to Never Tweet

Dick Costolo gives us all permission to NOT tweet.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

In a recent New York Times interview with technology writer Farhad Manjoo, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo made what was considered to be a controversial statement.

I meet people who say, “Oh, I don’t tweet.” I think there’s still a misconception that the reason they’d sign up is to tweet. When I meet them, I tell them, “No, you don’t have to.” [emphasis mine]

As somebody who is an active blogger, I like to stay active professionally on Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook. But I talk to many business intelligence professionals who either don’t have a Twitter account or have one but seldom use it. I usually hear objections to Twitter like “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have anything to say”. But read how Twitter’s own CEO describes Twitter. From the same interview, Dick Costolo says:

Everyone wants to know and stay up-to-date on what’s happening in their world and be connected and know what’s going on. That’s what Twitter provides. So I think that irrespective of whether you want to tweet, everyone can get value out of Twitter right away.

Twitter is like a 24-hour news channel where you get to pick the news. You don’t have to be a CNN anchor head, a revolutionary in Egypt, or a mommy blogger to appreciate the news ticker scrolling at the bottom of the screen. Think of how many times you’ve read a news ticker while watching TV at the airport, at the gym on a treadmill, or watching sports while munching wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. Twitter is currently the fastest way to get news about SAP analytics. Or any topic, for that matter.

Nearly Everybody is on Twitter

Your favorite analytics expert is probably on Twitter.

Your favorite musician is probably on Twitter.

Your favorite book author is probably on Twitter.

Your favorite restaurant is probably on Twitter.


Your favorite sports figure is probably on Twitter.

Even Ashton Kutcher and Kim Kardashian are on Twitter.

But back to analytics. Twitter is currently the fastest way to get news about SAP analytics. From news that a new support pack of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 has dropped, a new must-read blog post has been published, or the date and location of a new conference has been announced, it’s all happening first on Twitter.

Getting the Most Out of Twitter, for non-Tweeters

Here are five additional suggestions, if you follow my first suggestion to sign up for Twitter.

Find a Twitter Client that Suits your Style

There are many apps for Twitter besides the official Twitter app. And most mobile apps and even desktop operating systems like Apple’s Mac OS X allow you to receive notifications from social media channels. So you can stay in-the-know wherever you are. Be sure to find a Twitter client (I prefer Hootsuite) that makes it easy to follow #hashtags, because you should…

Follow #Conversations, not People

It’s OK to follow people via their Twitter account. I currently follow 905 accounts. But the chatter can get a bit noisy. It’s more efficient to follow conversations via their #hashtags. Every day, I’m watching conversations about the SAP BI platform #BI4/#BI41, celebrity BI tools (#SAPLumira, #SAPDesignStudio, #SAPHANA), and conferences (#SABOUC, #BI2015, #HANA2015, #SAPPHIRENOW).

Keep an eye on your vendors

You should definitely follow the Twitter accounts of software companies whose products you use everyday. Keep in mind that a large company like SAP will have multiple Twitter accounts, some of which will be more valuable than their main feed. For example, following @SAPAnalytics is probably more useful to a BI professional than following SAP. Follow the major database vendors that you use, like Oracle or Teradata. It’s a great way to learn that critical patches have been released. And it never hurts to keep an eye on the BI landscape by following Tableau, Qlik, or analysts like Gartner and Forrester.

Identify Yourself

You may not tweet often or ever, but take a few moments to write a short biography about yourself. And replace that silly egg picture with a selfie, ideally the same photo you use on other professional social media outlets like LinkedIn. I’m grateful that there’s not too many Dallas Marks’ in the world (but there is more than one- see here). But if lots of other Twitter users have a similar name to yours, the photo and biography will help others know that they’ve found the right “you”. Be sure to include your Twitter handle on your LinkedIn profile.

Consider Retweeting

Even if you never compose an original tweet, you should periodically re-tweet messages that you personally find useful. It’s not only helpful feedback to the original tweeter, but you may find yourself attracting your own following by other like-minded people on Twitter who don’t like to tweet. And that’s not a bad thing.

Do you love or hate Twitter? Has it made you a better business intelligence professional? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Changing Your Windows Password from a Remote Desktop

Password changes from remote desktops need not involve a ritual goat sacrifice.

I use a Apple MacBook Pro for work and do most of my client work using Microsoft Remote Desktop, either natively on my Mac or via a VMware Fusion VM running Windows 7. It works great, other than you have to remember that Remote Desktop keyboard shortcuts are slightly different than regular ones. And of course the Mac keyboard adds its own spin to shortcuts. Probably the most challenging thing I have to do is periodically change my password on customer systems. After a bit of research I discovered that changing passwords is easier if you use the Microsoft Windows on-screen keyboard.

To launch the on-screen keyboard in Windows Server, go to Start -> Run and type osk into the dialog box.

Remote Desktop Password Reset 01

The on-screen keyboard will appear on the Remote Desktop.

Remote Desktop Password Reset 02-400When the on-screen keyboard appears, press <CTRL> and <ALT> (illustrated as steps 1 & 2) from your physical keyboard. For a Mac keyboard, use <OPTION> for the <ALT> key. While holding down the physical <CTRL> and <ALT> keys, click the <DELETE> key using the on-screen keyboard (illustrated as step 3).

Remote Desktop Password Reset 03-400

The standard Windows lock screen will appear. Choose Change a passwordand change password according to your organization’s security policies.

Remote Desktop Password Reset 04

Mission accomplished, whether on a Mac or a PC. Thanks to Bill Schultz for explaining how to do this procedure on Microsoft TechNet.

What kinds of tricks do you use with Microsoft Windows and Remote Desktop?

Remembering IBM CEO John Akers

John Akers is most often remembered as presiding over the decline of IBM’s personal computer business.

John Akers, IBM’s 6th chief executive, died August 22, 2014 in Boston at age 79. The media coverage of his death was scant compared to the death of Steve Jobs. John Akers was IBM’s CEO from 1985 until 1993, meaning that his tenure isn’t well-documented on the world wide web for easy cutting and pasting by technology journalists. His main “accomplishment” according to many is watching over the demise of IBM’s leadership in the PC market.

During his tenure, IBM posted its first operating loss and recorded more than $15 billion in charges.
Don Clark, Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2014

I was enrolled in college from 1986 until 1993, so John Akers was a key figure in my life. What IBM did was typically both news on the front page and gossip on the back page of the weekly (printed) trade publications of the time like PC Week (now ZD Net) and InfoWorld. I read these magazines voraciously each week in the engineering college library. There were a lot of interesting developments and shady plot twists during the Akers era. 1985 was also the year Steve Jobs left Apple and founded NeXT, which would make hardware until 1993- the year John Akers retired- before ultimately getting acquired by Apple in 1996.

IBM had created something special with its IBM PC, XT, and AT models. The IBM PC and the clones it spawned became the de facto PC of the office, leaving various Apple, Atari, and Commodore models relegated as “home” PCs. But IBM was losing the PC war against the cloners. It planned to return to PC leadership by forcing users into proprietary technology- Microchannel architecture as the hardware bus for its PCs and OS/2 (and not DOS or Windows) as its operating system. Neither technology succeeded in gaining traction. Microsoft abandoned its role in OS/2 development, releasing Windows 95 in 1995. The rest of the PC industry ignored Microchannel and created the EISA bus, which unlike Microchannel was backward compatible with the older AT bus. IBM would later exit the PC business entirely, selling out to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo in 2005.

My PC throughout college was a Intel 80286 IBM AT clone running MS-DOS. I’d later borrow my parent’s IBM PS/ValuePoint, a 486-SX running Windows 3.1, to write my master’s thesis using Lotus Ami Pro. This development did not please my thesis advisor, who wanted her students to use vi and LaTeX.

The news of Mr. Akers’ death brought back a lot of memories for me. What about you?

For Further Reading

Twenty Five Years of the World Wide Web

Celebrating the 25th birthday of the world wide web.

Twenty five years ago I was studying Electrical Engineering Technology at the University of Cincinnati. Although we would later have Sun Sparcstations, in 1989 we had DEC terminals wired to a PDP-11 tucked away in some university broom closet that I used to learn Fortran and SAS. I vaguely remember one IBM RT workstation in a dusty corner. But in a distant CERN laboratory, Tim Berners-Lee was creating the World Wide Web on a NeXT computer.

I asked on Twitter what everyone else was doing 25 years ago.

 

Here are the responses I received.

 

 

 

And my friend Dr. Jerry Gannod weighed in on LinkedIn-

25 years ago I was working at IBM Rochester, building a prototype for an IDE running on AIX, for code that deployed to an AS/400. We were using C++ (before standardization) and X-Windows (before window-based GUIs became popular).

JerryGannodWWWAnniversary

Thanks everyone for sharing your memories.

Where do our electronics go at the end of their life?

Where do our discarded electronics end up?

Did you get a new Apple iPad for Christmas? A new mobile phone? Perhaps a new Windows 8.1 laptop? Congratulations.

You may now be thinking of getting rid of the older model that the new Christmas gift replaces. But have you ever wondered where your discarded electronics end up? Filmmaker David Fedele decided to answer the question in the documentary E-wasteland – Where do our electronics go at the end of their life? The answer may surprise you.

Check in your area to see if there’s a responsible way to discard electronic equipment such as old computers and monitors. This month, I’ll be donating some old computer equipment to the Cincinnati Computer Cooperative. The Cincinnati Computer Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides secure, environmentally responsible computer recycling services to business and individuals, and refurbished computers to low-income families, schools, and other non-profit organizations.