2017 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2017 passed quickly.

ASUG

I’m still proudly serving as the program chair for the ASUG Kentucky chapter, a role that I’ve held for three years. This was the second year that I helped organize the ASUG Developer Tools Day event in December. It was also the second year that I did not speak at the annual ASUG BI conference (now rebranded as the Eventful Group’s BI+A Conference); however, I did get to attend to assist my co-worker and fellow SAP Mentor Greg Myers for hands-on session with SAP Predictive Analysis .

Desktop Intelligence

If you would have told me in 2007 that ten years later I’d be helping customers retire Desktop Intelligence, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I worked with two organizations, one mid-sized and another a Fortune 200 public utility. In both cases I was not only surprised that Desktop Intelligence was still around but that the adoption of Web Intelligence was non-existent or anemic. It’s a good feeling to know that these two organizations are future-proof for the next few years.

Pre-sales with SAP

Although I transitioned from pre-sales back to managed services, I managed to do a lot more pre-sales work in 2017, helping SAP account executives and their customers better understand their BI environments with free BI-on-BI assessments powered by Sherlock from EV Technologies. Doug Turner and I worked with organizations of all different sizes and industries and got to know a lot of SAP account executives and sales engineers.

Web Intelligence

A big deal for 2017 was creating the fourth edition of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide for SAP Press, which was released on September 25th. When I worked on the second edition, I was a traveling consultant with nothing better to do than sit in a hotel room and work on a book. I’m grateful that my family tolerated me spending evenings working on this edition of the book. I continue to be amazed at how different writing a book is from blogging (at least for me). We added Christian Ah-Soon from SAP as a significant contributor to the book, based on SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 that went GA toward the end of our book deadline.

2017 Travels

courtesy of TripIt and Google Maps

I’m not traveling as much these days. I’m just an average passenger when I fly on Delta airlines and I miss my Platinum days very much. I still have TSA Pre-Check, so at least there’s that.

  • ASUG Volunteer Meeting (January 21 – 22, 2017)
    Chicago, Illinois
  • SAP Insider BI 2017 & HANA 2017 (February 25 – March 2, 2017)
    Las Vegas, Nevada
  • SAP Lumira 1.31 customer coaching (March 19 – 22, 2017)
    San Antonio, Texas
  • SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 and Desktop Intelligence migration (April 10 – 13, 2017)
    Charlotte, North Carolina
  • ASUG Kentucky Summer 2017 meeting (June 8, 2017)
    Louisville, Kentucky
  • ASUG/Eventful Group BI+A Conference (August 6-9, 2017)
    Nashville, Tennesee
  • ASUG Kentucky Fall 2017 meeting (September 14, 2017)
    Highland Heights, Kentucky
  • SAP Insider Reporting and Analytics INTERACTIVE 2017 (November 27 – December 2, 2017)
    Las Vegas, Nevada
  • ASUG Developer Tools Day 2017 (December 7, 2017)
    Highland Heights, Kentucky

Books Read and Reviewed

I must admit that with a busy schedule and now the need for reading glasses that I’m not reading as much as I should. I’ll try to do better in 2018.

Presenting Data Effectively, Second Edition, by Stephanie Evergreen

The Big Book of Dashboards by Steve Wexler, Jeffrey Shaffer, and Andy Cotgreave

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.

2016 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2016 is almost over. I began the new year moving my blog to a new web hosting service. A side benefit was finally moving my blog to the DallasMarks.com domain from the previous DallasMarks.org domain. You’ll definitely want to update any bookmarks that you have.

It’s taken ten years, but this year Eric Vallo asked me to transition from services into presales. I also visited the SAP Vancouver office for the first time to receive SAP BusinessObjects Cloud presales training for partners. Sometimes your dreams don’t come true how and when you expect them to. In 2006, I got my first passport on the hopes that I’d be accepting a presales job with BusinessObjects and traveling frequently to Vancouver, BC for training. That opportunity did not come to fruition, nor did two additional attempts after SAP’s acquisition.

This year was the first that I did not attend or speak at the annual ASUG BI conference (see related article, Watching #ASUGBIA from the sidelines). I’ve spoken at the national event each year starting with BusinessObjects Insight 2006 conference in San Francisco, California and was an attendee at Insight 2005 the year before at the Gaylord resort in Orlando, Florida. Missing the annual event and its networking opportunities was a big bummer and yet another reminder that not every career opportunity is under one’s own control. What I have learned this year is that many more people have seen my writing than seen me give a presentation. So I am endeavouring to write more frequently in 2017.

One of the things I’ll be writing in 2017 is the fourth edition of Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide from SAP Press with co-authors Jim Brogden and Christian Ah-Soon (see related SAP Community article, Is There Room On Your Bookshelf for Web Intelligence, Fourth Edition?)

Even though I missed both the 2016 ASUG volunteer meeting and ASUG Business Intelligence and Analytics conference, I remained an active ASUG volunteer as program chair for the Kentucky chapter. Due to some career transitions, I inherited planning the annual ASUG Developer Tools Day, co-sponsored by the Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky ASUG chapters. I’m looking forward to the 2017 ASUG volunteer meeting next month in Chicago, Illinois.

2016 Travels

courtesy of TripIt and Google Maps

It’s a challenge to beat last year’s trip to SAP’s Paris office, but my first visit to SAP’s Vancouver office was splendid. I ran into Blair Wheadon at Starbucks and Ty Miller at the SkyTrain station. It was good to see familiar faces like Jayne Landry kick off the partner event and Radim Bacinschi gave me a personalized tour of Vancouver.

2016 Webcasts

Books Read and Reviewed

I’ve noticed that I’m not reading as many books, due in part to three active children as well as eyes that now need reading glasses. I still read lots of shorter articles from my laptop or tablet, but book reading is an area of my life where I need to set higher goals in 2017.

SAP Lumira Essentials by Dmitry Anoshin

2016 Writing

In addition to the articles I’ve written here on my personal blog in 2016 (click here for complete list), you’ll want to check out the articles I wrote for the SAP Community (see my profile on SAP Community for a complete list).

Or the articles I wrote for EV Technologies (see my profile on EV Technologies for a complete list).

Thanks for your encouragement and support this year. 2017 should prove to be another interesting year. I’m already scheduled to present two sessions at SAP Insider BI 2017 about SAP BusinessObjects Lumira and SAP IQ (read related article here). I’ll also be attending the January 2017 ASUG volunteer meeting with my fellow Kentucky volunteers Eric-Stephan Neill, Vince Barber, Ashley Lowe, and Theresa Westlund. And no doubt SAP will provide a few interesting announcements to keep us on our toes.

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.

2015 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2015 was an amazing year for me. In addition to my volunteer work and conference presentations with ASUG, there were some exceptional events. In April, I was accepted into the SAP Mentor program. Then in May, I accompanied Eric Vallo to SAP Paris to learn more about the future of the BI platform and its SDK’s. 2015 marked my return to the SAP Insider BI conference, which I had not attended since 2012. I also got to participate in SAP Lumira testing for partners at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California. I also got to meet author Steven Johnson, who was the keynote at the 2015 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects and Analytics User Conference.

If there was a low point, it was this blog getting hacked. Twice. Unfortunately, the effort spent fixing my blog meant less time for writing new articles. I finally gave up and moved this blog to a new web hosting service. I’d like to apologize to all of my readers for the site outages and lack of new content.

Truly an exceptional year and I am grateful for EV Technologies and all of the SAP customers I met this year.

2015 Travel Destinations (courtesy TripIt)

  • Austin, Texas (ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference)
  • Cleveland, Ohio (SAP BI 4.1 Upgrade)
  • Detroit, Michigan (SAP BI 4.1 Upgrade)
  • Fort Worth, Texas (ASUG volunteer meeting)
  • Los Angeles, California (Web Intelligence and Information Design Tool training)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (SAP Insider BI 2015 and HANA 2015, SAP TechEd user conferences)
  • Orlando, Florida (ASUG Annual Meeting and SAP SAPPHIRE)
  • Palo Alto, California (SAP partner test for Lumira at SAP Labs)
  • Paris, France (Tour SAP, May 16-20, 2015)

Speaking Events

BI to Go! A Guide to Mobilizing SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence Reports
ASUG Kentucky Chapter Meeting
February 27, 2015

BI to Go! A Guide to Mobilizing SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence Reports
SAP Insider BI 2015
February 27, 2015

Analytic Storytelling with Web Intelligence
ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference
August 31, 2015

Taking SAP BusinessObjects from Stock to Custom
ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Using the Best Ingredients for the SAP BI Platform
ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Universe Design: Evolution, Intelligent Design, or Just a Big Mess?
ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Books Read and Reviewed

 

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?