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Welcome to the JonERP.com Podcast Directory

This podcast directory provides handy previews, in text format, of all the podcasts available for download at JonERP.com. There are also video podcasts in the SAP Blog section. Note: The JonERP iTunes feed is currently the most complete audio feed of all new audio content, as Jon posts audio of his video podcasts and hangouts in that feed also. If you're a video fan you'll want to track JD-OD.com also.
 
To gain access to the audio for all the podcasts listed in the directory below - 100 and counting - you will need to register with JonERP.com. Registration is currently free.
Podcast: SAP BI Trends - TechEd Las Vegas in Review Print E-mail

podcastlogo_jonerp.gif"Three SAP Mentors RoundUp the SAP BI Questions After SAP TechEd 2010, with Co-Host Vijay Vijayasankar and Special Guest Greg Myers" (ERP Lounge #14)
Podcast Interview Date: November 12, 2010
Podcast: Listen Now!

What went down with SAP BusinessObjects and BI at TechEd? What questions were answered from our last podcast? What is coming with BusinessObjects 4.0 - will it live up to the hype? What the heck is the new Semantic Layer anyway? And how did Vijay end up with 200 people at a BusinessObjects session? What feedback has SAP taken into account, and what burning questions still remain?

How confident is Vijay in HANA now that he has had a chance for more Q/A with SAP on the topic? And did the SAP Mentors succeed in their quest to be more accessible at TechEd? And what did we tell SAP about how to improve upon this year's event going forward? And last but not least, what on earth is this "I am not a nugget" thing anyway?

As we continue our "sporadic SAP BI podcast series," which is part of the ERP Lounge podcast editions, I dig into these questions with two fellow SAP Mentors: Vijay Vijayasankar of IBM and newly-named SAP Mentor Greg Myers, who is a Senior Business Intelligence Engineer at SEI Investments in Oaks, Pennsylvania, and who is also the Chair of the ASUG BusinessObjects Security & Administration SIG. 

Editor's note: This podcast references a number of relevant links: Greg's "I Am Not a Nugget" Video, shot live at TechEd Las Vegas. The Diversified Semantic Layer TechEd Wrap Up podcast. The Dear aBI project, where SAP Mentors answer BO/BI questions. Virtual SAP TechEd, Ingo Hilgefort's books and SCN resources. Other links: SAP Mentor Initiative, SAP TechEd Twitter ID, SAP TechEd Bangalore

Also recommended: Vijay's personal blog and his blog on SCN. During the podcast, we also refer to products that are undergoing name changes. Don't treat this podcast as the definitive record of the new names, rather, check out the SAP Business Objects Community for that info. Also check out Greg's blog on SCN.

Note: to comment on this podcast series, or send in a question for us to answer in the next one, be sure to join our ERP Lounge Group on Linkedin. If you want to subscribe to the series, get the The JonERP Master Blog and Podcast Feed. Or find Jon on his @jonerp Twitter feed. The ERP Lounge podcasts are also included in the JonERP iTunes podcast feed.   

Podcast Highlights

1:25 "I am not a nugget" - the inside story behind Greg's mysterious TechEd video shoot, in Greg's own words, and how Martin Gillet 's "I am not a nugget" hashtag has become a rallying cry for anyone in the SAP community who is having one of those days where you feel like a footnote in the history of enterprise software. Anyone who is feeling caught under the wheels of bureaucracy and looking for dignity in the world can now rally around "I am not a nugget," and the video riffs on that.

5:25 Jon to Vijay: You surprised me by offering a BO workshop at TechEd - how did that go? Vijay: It was a huge room - 200 people or so - probably my largest audience. This topic is close to the heart of many people, but I didn't except that kind of gathering. I've done many presentations so I wasn't all that worried. But I walked up, and I found this big gathering outside the room, and my first impression was that this must be a gathering that was standing room only from the previous session, but no, they were here to hear the BobJ story.

The session went well and was really interactive. Firsthand, I confirmed the confusion about the tools (SAP and non-SAP) as well as the strategy and BO product names - all those things we were telling SAP and also blogging about. I was not a BobJ manager trying to sell something to them - I came from the perspective of a consultant on how to make it work with a minimum of time and money.

7:55 Jon to Vijay: 200 folks - what where the takeways? Certain priorities with products? Roadmap? Tools? What was on people's minds? Vijay: Most did not have a BI strategy in place, I asked for a show of hands and maybe 15 people raised their hands saying they had a BI strategy. And when I asked how many thought they should have a BI strategy, every hand in the room went up. From a technical point of view, most people were keen to get started with Webi type analytics, which they perceived as having immediate value in the organization. From a practical viewpoint, almost everyone in the room wanted to check out the new "Pioneer," now called Analysis. EIM was a key topic as well, data integrity is still a big issue.

9:40 Jon to Greg: So does Vijay's take jive with the things you saw? Greg: It does. There was so much buzz around tall the new products, it was kind of hard to cut through. Everyone is really excited about the BI 4 platform coming up, and we got the teasers and previews. From 4.0, they were only the showing the polished stuff, and I got the sense a lot of it wasn't ready yet.

10:20 Jon to Greg: Was there any clarity on the 4.0 timeframe? When will we see GA? Greg: They are not getting specific about it so I don't think they are truly clear on GA timeframes yet. But they are ramping up this November, and I think based on how that goes, that will dictate the timing. They are talking about the next quarter sometime.

Jon to Greg: I've recently heard some skepticism about 4.0 hype - what is your take? Greg: I always wait for a .1 release, for a couple service packs. Especially for the BO suite, if you look at when we moved to 6.5 to XI, the gold standard was XI release 2, and later on, the gold standard became 3.1. I have a feeling the same thing may apply to 4.1. Vijay: I did hear the exact same comment from influential people - if you're on 3.1, it might even be a good idea to wait until a 4.1 type release, but I also heard that if you're not a BO customer, than 4.0 might work just as well. Greg: at my company, we can't consider 4.0 because they are not including the SDK, and we have to have the SDK, so we have to wait for 4.1. I have a strong feeling that 4.1 is going to blow us away, there is just so much in there that I think it will make our applications just sing.

13:40 Jon to Greg: Are there any aspects of 4.0 that you think are going to be especially empowering for organizations? Greg: It's a native 64 bit application so the performance should be excellent. Also, the multi-source Semantic layer should be huge for us. One issue we have is the time it takes to grab the data out o the transactional systems, perform ETL on them, load them into the warehouse, and get them indexed to the point they can be reported on. We work in financial services, and time is money. To be able to pull these disparate sources into one Universe without having to perform ETL, as long as the performance is there, that has serious promise.

14:50 Jon to the guys: I heard a lot about Event Insight at TechEd, and I was intrigued by the potential to beyond monthly or year end reporting and push real time BI alerts when there are issues pertaining to customer accounts or crucial business opportunities. Vijay: I don't know - that's the honest answer there. The reason I am struggling here - I see the business value, but people aren't necessarily running forward with it. Tools like Streamwork and Gravity get a lot of push, but they aren't coupled with strong analytics. We see it on the BusinessObjects side, but I don't see strong integration between these two areas. Combining the capabilities of these two teams could be important.

17:00 Jon to Greg: Is there a mobility tie-in as well? Greg: Yes. I did spend a lot of time on mobility this year - even at work I've been asked questions about mobile more and more, and it's something that we're getting asked to deliver to our customers, so I know that's coming soon. I won't be developing those reports but they'll be looking to me to make the whole thing work. The time for mobility is really coming now.

Corporate-wide, in the financial industry, people have BlackBerries and they are on them 24/7, and they are needing those reports on their phones. Or, more importantly, alerts, so they don't even have to look at the report - they are just contacted if there is something of value. Vijay: on a recent project, a prime requirement was that the company had issued on iPads and they wanted reports and alerts to show up on their iPads, and that was a key project requirement. That was a new one.

20:15 Jon to Vijay: We have to talk about one of your favorite TechEd topics - HANA - you had some burning questions - what did you learn and where are we now? Vijay: IBM is a big partner with SAP on HANA (as well as HP and Intel), and I got some info after TechEd too, so I'm better educated. One of my burning questions: we're all about making blade servers and powerful servers, but I keep wondering why are we not making use of advances on the client side.

There are better more powerful chips on that end as well. I don't see a strategy that makes use of where the client side is - why not go with where the computer power is? What if there is a bandwidth issue? Caching things on the client side could work well. The customers I talked to at TechEd were very interested in HANA - but I saw some hesitation about early adopters taking the first plunge. I heard Vishal say in his keynote that there are several ramp up customers signed up, so we'll see. The most logical place to start is ERP, and then maybe BW and other areas.

23:35: Jon: I'm still struggling with how to pronounce HANA. Jon to Vijay: going back to your rant about how analytics and alerts aren't combined, can HANA play a role here? Vijay: I think so. Several things have to happen. Eventually, all these things have to converge. There shouldn't be a separate mobility play, a separate analytics play, and a separate process orchestration play. If they are built with that in mind, it could work out very well. HANA can do the server-side processing very quickly and powerfully.

Nobody wants to be stuck on a desktop anymore, people are mobile, so all of these trends have to converge. Product vendors need to keep this in mind when they develop these point solutions. Greg: I agree, HANA will play a role in that. As we keep moving forward, the delivery methods will become increasingly transparent. No matter where you are, you will get your information anywhere. You'll need tools like HANA that can aggregate records very quickly and put it anywhere - even as smart phones evolve. The data sets aren't getting any smaller.

26:20 Jon to Greg: Can you do some buzzword translation for us? The "Semantic Layer" is something that is so often cited as a key feature of BusinessObjects 4.0. Yet the Semantic Layer or the "Semantic Web" is tossed around as a buzz phrase so much that it can be hard to understand what is real and what is hype. What is the value there? Greg: The value is that you can program in all of the logic for generating SQL, to be able to talk to the database in the database's language, which is a science in itself. Most people can't do that. The people who can handle the SQL are not the business people who typically need the reports. So the Semantic Layer empowers the business user to create a query on their own without knowing a lick of SQL. They don't have to go through a long IT process of opening a ticket or getting the programming done, they can just handle it on their own.

Jon to Vijay: Do you buy into this? Vijay: Yes - this is a good concept in BI. You can't expect business users to understand the inner workings of the systems underneath. But it's not enough to create a nice Semantic Layer - it's important to be able to adjust it with ease on the fly. The ad-hoc nature of processes - businesses care about this and the Semantic Layer has to be designed up front. So you have to good a bang up job designing the Semantic Layer, but what happens if you need to change it? Do you have to redo the queries? Is your platform smart enough to change your queries when the Semantic Layer is changed? We need flexibility, not just in ad-hoc processes, but in our approach to data.

30:10 Jon to Vijay: Any other TechEd lessons or things you wished you'd covered? Vijay: I missed a lot of sessions I wanted to attend due to lack of time. There was so much amazing content there. There's so many meetings and client visits and our own sessions - it's hard to hit all the sessions you want. Maybe next year I should go to more than on TechEd. Greg: I also think they announced something exciting this year: Virtual TechEd will now be free to the public and it can be accessed after the fact. The same with past TechEds as well. In the coming years, more and more will be recorded so you can catch events later. Vijay: Another note I got from one of my IBM colleagues - he mentioned the Bangalore TechEd is 1/10 of the cost of entry. So it might make sense to go to Bangalore, and work in a vacation around that, and get access to speakers you can't get in the U.S.

33:40 Jon to Vijay: So you had some confused folks at your 200 person session - what's your advice to those who are still confused about BI tools or roadmaps? Vijay: What I told folks form that session and afterwards, I said: drop your tool ideas for a second and concentrate on getting a plan. Talk to your stakeholders and find out what they need, you might be missing something. Do an internal survey of users, find out what is missing. The other important thing to do is to get a hold of Ingo Hilgefort's books - I can't think of a better source of information. Everybody in BusinessObjects should get a copy of his books. You don't select tools in a vacuum - consider all your options. Greg: Ingo also has a huge amount of webinars on SCN, and they are free to the public there. Jon: Tony D at TechEd: he always emphasizes how much of his exceptional Solution Manager expertise is self-learned. Tony would say, "no excuses," educate yourself.

39:00 Jon to the guys: We get good exposure to executives via SAP Mentors, the blogging program, and ASUG - give listeners a flavor for what you shared with executives. Vijay: I can give you a specific example: Sanjay Poonen and Keith Costello were at an SAP Mentor meeting. I told them the BobJ education has some gaps - it's one thing to evangelize the tools, but when a customer is ready, they need a roadmap, it has to be tailored to SAP shops. They both agreed, and Keith Costello sent me a follow up email right after the conference, letting me know he was talking to his team to make it happen, I was very impressed with that.

42:00 Greg: Marco ten Vaanholt, Jason Cao, and Kirby Leong of SAP pulled together a meeting of all the Mentors who are specialists in BusinessObjects, and we had some very candid conversations with them about the direction of the community. There are people who have been using BusinessObjects for years and years, and some who have been using the tools more recently, and their needs are very different.

Now we have a monthly meeting with them on the phone, and we just had our first follow up today, where we can start laying out a roadmap of where to take the community in the long run. The Dear aBI  initiative is one example of that - anyone can ask a question about BusinessObjects or BI in general, and the Mentors can pick up on those and answer those in a blog post. It's a neat avenue, no matter what your flavor of BusinessObjects user, you can engage and answer and get an answer quickly, and it came together fast.

44:30 Jon: One of the highlights for me was looking back on the week and our previous podcast of how accessible the Mentors were, that was an issue we wanted to change during the show - if I'm not connected to the community, then the feedback I'm giving doesn't make any sense. Greg: I took some of Vijay's advice from our last podcast where he said he spent time in the Community Clubhouse. I would walk around and people would walk up to me and ask questions.

Vijay: After TechEd, people would walk up to me after the show and recognize me as a Mentor, and it was gratifying to see that. The new Mentor shirts were awesome. Jon: Yes! We were sweltering in the rugby shirts. SAP does take the feedback on the events seriously, and we had some frank feedback with SAP. One of my goals is to bring that informal clubhouse vibe at SAPPHIRE as well, SAP needs to capture more of that.

49:00 Lightning round, Vijay: HANA is next for me - I took on a new Advanced Analytics practice supervision role at IBM, so HANA is part of my purview and I'm excited to see what happens. Also, the integration of IBM and SAP solutions will be something for me to watch in terms of an immediate focus.

50:20 Lightning round, Greg: In the next year, we'll be upgrading to XI 3.1. We're going to be doubling our client base over the next year, capacity and performance monitoring are huge for me. On the ASUG side, we're kicking off BO Enterprise Influence Council, and give them feedback on upcoming products right off the bat.

 

 

 

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