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

For the Love of Spock

A fascinating look at the actor that made an extra-terrestrial from a cancelled 1960’s TV series into a cultural icon.

For the Love of Spock is a documentary released in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. It’s directed by Adam Nimoy, the son of the late Leonard Nimoy, who died on February 27, 2015. Because of the actor’s death, the focus of the documentary shifted from being a documentary purely about the Star Trek character Spock and his influence on society to a documentary about the actor himself and his often difficult relationship with his son.

Star Trek was cancelled shortly after I was born, so my first memories of it was it running in syndication when I got home from school. Later, I was able to see the feature films, starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.

I find it fascinating that both Leonard Nimoy and Harrison Ford both wanted to kill off the characters that made them household names, Spock and Han Solo, respectively. Spock originally died at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982 only to be brought back to life in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in 1984. Leonard Nimoy continued to portray the character while directing both Star Trek’s III and IV. He portrayed a much-older Spock both on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as on the big screen with JJ Abrams reboot of Star Trek. It seems that Leonard Nimoy came to terms with his signature character, or at least appreciated its financial success.

Regardless of whether you love or hate Star Trek, Spock’s influence on popular culture is undeniable. The half-human, half Vulcan character inspired many well-known scientists, interviewed for this documentary, to pursue their careers. I hope you’ll check it out either on Netflix, Amazon Video, or DVD and Blu Ray.

Live long and prosper.

All the Web Intelligence That’s Fit to Print

Printing a Web Intelligence document isn’t a necessary evil- it’s simply necessary. And SAP should graciously support users who work in industries where a printer is required equipment.

Back in 2011 when I wrote All the Desktop Intelligence That’s Fit to Print, I was working on what I hoped would be my last project migrating Desktop Intelligence documents to Web Intelligence. Fast forward six years to 2017 and I’m still helping several customers retire Desktop Intelligence. And in 2017, the Web Intelligence Job Server still doesn’t have the schedule-to-printer functionality that existed for Desktop Intelligence and is still available for Crystal Reports users.

This year, the SAP Idea Place moved to a new home- the SAP Customer Influence portal. The idea to Schedule Webi documents to a Printer– submitted by Brian Thomas on January 10, 2011- was reviewed by SAP and set to “not planned”, despite the idea currently having 64 votes- many more than the ten votes SAP required for consideration. The idea has comments from Web Intelligence users across multiple industries making their case for schedule-to-print.

Instead, Samuel Polichouk, an SAP product expert in Paris where Web Intelligence is developed, wrote:

In our world which become more and more “mobile”, printing is not something we would like to invest in scheduling webi documents. Therefore I prefer to set expectation saying that we will not include this in our backlog for coming releases.

While I appreciate Samuel’s perspective, the world still needs printers. I’m still baffled why I hear a dot matrix printer grinding away at the gate agent’s desk whenever I board a commercial airline flight, but there it is- some kind of compliance requirement that won’t go away.

Please continue to vote for this necessary idea and hope that SAP will review its position on the matter, bringing much-needed printing capabilities enjoyed by Desktop Intelligence and Crystal Reports users to the legions of Web Intelligence fans.

UPDATE: Voting is closed for this particular idea; however, I’d be grateful if you’d leave a comment on this article describing a use case for Webi printing or why you support adding this feature to the platform.

Securely Speaking

I’ve made this blog more secure with SSL.

In the interest of safety and privacy, I’ve added SSL to the web site. Hopefully this change is transparent. If you type http://www.dallasmarks.com into your browser, you should be automatically redirected to https://www.dallasmarks.com/. If you encounter any problems with the new configuration, would you take a moment to either submit a comment on this post or send me a tweet?

Ten Years of Business Intelligence Blogging

A decade of daring and mundane adventures in business intelligence.

Ten years ago today, on October 29, 2007, I wrote my first blog post. I didn’t have lofty goals back then. At the time, I read an article (that I wish I had bookmarked) that advised that a blog was a good resume booster. I started a free blog with Google Blogger. Some of the articles I wrote were pretty lame. But I started documenting issues that I struggled with, assuming that others in the field were having the same struggles. And as I kept writing, I discovered my own voice.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend
Come inside, come inside!

A few months later, I started receiving comments. The second comment on my blog was from somebody in Australia. Through the power of Google search, somebody blogging quietly in the midwest United States had connected with the other side of the planet.

Hi Dallas,

Great to see a blog about Business Objects, there isn’t too many around. I watch the feed from your site and a few others, but I stumbled across it again today trying to figure out where to get my Migration training done in Australia.

I’ve just started a BO blog too if you’re interested (igeek2live.blogspot.com).

Kind regards,
Josh Fletcher

Josh became a good friend- one I still haven’t met in person. I kept writing. Over time, the blog would move from Google Blogger to WordPress, from dallasmarks.org to dallasmarks.com.

We would like it to be known the exhibits that were shown
Were exclusively our own, all our own, all our own.

But the most important thing isn’t that this blog has a writer- it’s that it has readers. I’m grateful to each and every one of you. I’ve been able to meet many of you at a conference. Some of you I consider dear friends even though we’ve only met through social media. And many of you I have yet to meet.

I hope this blog inspires each of you. Being qualified to write a blog isn’t about knowing everything. It is instead about being willing to share everything that you know. There’s a big difference between the two. We’re all better off when knowledge is shared, not hoarded, whether that’s with our immediate co-workers or a global audience.

This blog has opened many doors over a decade, for which I am grateful. I’m looking forward to seeing which doors will open during the next decade.

Kind Regards,
Dallas Marks

The Last Man on the Moon

Gene Cernan lived an extraordinary life that’s captured in a beautiful documentary.

The Last Man on the Moon is a documentary, currently streaming on Netflix, about the life of Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 17 mission. Although Cernan died earlier this year, the documentary was released in 2014 and contains a lot of first-person interview combined with awesome historical footage from NASA.

Gene Cernan was a naval aviator who became part of the Gemini program. Originally part of the backup crew, he became the pilot of the Gemini 9 mission when the original crew was killed in a plane crash. Later, he was part of the Apollo 10 and Apollo 17 missions, leaving his daughter’s initials written on the lunar surface.

Gene Cernan certainly lived an extraordinary life that’s captured in a beautiful documentary. He died on January 16, 2017 at the age of 82.

Mission Control, also on Netflix, makes a fine sequel to this documentary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

SAP Insider BI & HANA 2018

Come to Las Vegas to learn the latest and greatest about SAP solutions for analytics and HANA.

Join me this February 26 – March 1, 2018 at SAP Insider BI & HANA 2018, hosted by The Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. BI & HANA 2018 is co-located with Basis & SAP Administration 2018. Registration permits you to attend both events.

This year I will be presenting a single session about universe design.

The fate of the (SAP BusinessObjects) universe depends on you:
Moving your classic universes and reports to the Information Design Tool

Thursday, March 01, 2018 / 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM / Raphael 3

Starting with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 in 2011, SAP introduced a new universe format (UNX) and design tool (Information Design Tool). In the years since its introduction, the Information Design Tool has become more robust and newer BI tools such as SAP Lumira 2.0 and SAP Analytics Cloud prefer its format over the legacy format. Starting with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4, SAP provides the Web Intelligence Change Source Utility to assist organizations in accelerating UNX adoption by converting their inventory of existing reports from the legacy UNV format. In this session, you’ll learn how to install and use this new utility to its maximum effectiveness. Specifically you’ll:

  • Learn how to install and configure the new Automation Framework in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP5
  • Create scenarios to convert batches of legacy reports to the new UNX universe format
  • Tune and monitor the BI platform for maximum UNX support

The full conference agenda is available on the conference web site. Follow the conference activity on Twitter using the hashtag #BIHANA2018.

SAP Press will also be at the conference. Stop at their booth and ask for the special #BIHANA2018 discount on SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, Fourth Edition!

UPDATE (03/16/2018): I’ve summarized some of the key points of my presentation on the SAP Community site. Read The Fate of the Universe Depends on You, Part 3.