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jonerpdemojam.jpg Jon has been tackling key SAP issues (like SAP certification and HANA) since 1995. Get the latest from his blogs, YouTube channel, and iTunes feed.

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SAP Business Objects 4.0 Preview and How to Upskill - with Ingo Hilgefort - A BOC Podcast Print E-mail

podcastlogo_jonerp.gifPodcast: Listen Now!
Vendor Podcast - Previews of BO 4.0 and Getting the Most of the SAP Business Objects Community - A BOC Community Podcast
Hosted by Jon Reed of JonERP.com
Podcast Interview Date: January 26, 2011

It will be an eventful spring for BusinessObjects with the release of BusinessObjects 4.0 and continued talk about analytics, in-memory and mobility trends. To get a better understanding of what's new in BO 4.0 and how the SAP BusinessObjects Community can help with understanding the new tools, Jon Reed talks with SAP's Christopher Kim and SAP Mentor Ingo Hilgefort. Ingo talks about the advances in 4.0, how SAP users have improved their BO know-how on SCN, and how the online community can build into in-person networking and collaboration. During the 20 minute podcast, Ingo also explains why BI is shifting from an IT to a business focus and what skills SAP BO professionals need to stay in track.

Relevant SAP BOC links: BO Solution Architecture, BusinessObjects 4.0 tutorials, Dear aBI and Real World BI Stories. Other podcast links: SAP Mentors Tammy Powlas, Jamie Oswald, and Greg Myers. Register for the SAP BO 4.0 February 23rd virtual release event here.

Podcast Highlights

1:10 Jon to Chris: can you tell us about your vision for the Business Objects Community and what inspired you to ask Ingo in particular to join us for this podcast?

Chris: A main goal is to make sure our community evolves to keep pace with the evolution of the BusinessObjects and analytics categories - while maintaining a high caliber of content and community. It's an exciting time right now with business analytics as a general category, so we thought this would be a good time to have a podcast discussion. We also have a BusinessObjects 4 launch event coming up February 23rd in New York City that we're looking forward to. We could think of no better person than Ingo to have that discussion with.

2:20 Jon to Ingo: we've all heard the hype about BusinessObjects 4.0 - is there substance to the hype? What can you tell us about what's really new and improved in BO 4.0? Ingo: 4.0 is the first complete suite release of BusinessObjects after SAP acquired the software - not just BI, but EIM and all the other parts. After SAP acquired BusinessObjects, there was a very careful decision to spell out a roadmap and not just incorporate features into an existing product. For example, we made a quick decision to combine Voyager from the BusinessObjects side with BEx Analyzer and BEx Web Reporting and combine into a new product called Analysis, which has now has been released, and there's the Web and the Office versions.

A couple more key elements: BusinessObjects now integrates with Solution Manager, for all the companies using BusinessObjects as well as SAP, they can now integrate it into SolMan environment, so you have one monitoring environment for support. This is a huge step forward for support. BusinessObjects in the past didn't have a remote support option, but now we have the same technology for support for the BusinessObjects stack. We can also integrate and see configuration changes as part of the BusinessObjects landscape. Another big area is lifecycle management, we have learned from SAP's own sophisticated lifecycle management, so we are integrating BO tools into lifecycle management from SAP.

From an SAP customer standpoint, the biggest thing from the release of 4.0 is the successor to the BEx tools, Analysis, is now in place, with versions for the web and Microsoft Office. When we showed the roadmap to customers at conferences, some of them wondered what would happen to the BEx tools after 2011. BEx is still there and we'll support customers in BEx. Now the successor is there and customers can consolidate all BI tools onto the BusinessObjects stack. Another interesting thing for 4.0 for those customers who want to do a slow migration, they can host the existing BEx apps inside the BusinessObjects environment, which saves time in monitoring. Then there's the close integration to the Business Suite, which we call embedded analytics. It's really about making BI part of the overall process and it's right now in ramp up as part of Business Suite Innovations 2010.

4.0 has made a huge step forward to becoming a complete environment for not just reporting but analytics and multi-lingual translation of content. It's all a native 64 bit environment. There's also a lot of HANA hype in the SAP world right now - 4.0 on the BO side integrates with HANA as a data source.

7:40 Jon to Ingo: Just about all of us are looking to improve our SAP BI skills, for ourselves or our project teams. What kinds of resources on BOC can help us there? Ingo: yes. SAP Education posted a lot of e-learnings on 4.0, so there's a lot of step-by-step guides on SCN already. There are close to 100 videos on the new features, and then after the live launch event in February, you'll see even more. And you'll also see blogs from other SAP Mentors like Jamie Oswald, Greg Myers, and Tammy Powlas blogging about 4.0 as they are getting some preview access to it. Soon you'll see more about BW, HANA, and BWA play together in BO 4.0 as part of solutions architecture environment.

9:05 Jon to Ingo: What do you see in terms of SAP BO/BI consulting trends? Ingo: As soon as SAP BO was acquired, a discussion broke out. A lot of folks thought BO replaced all the knowledge they had gained in BW over the years, and that was a mistaken assumption. BO does not replace BW, and much of that BW knowledge is very relevant to BusinessObjects. People are starting to slowly see that it's more to BI than building nice chartsin Xcelsius. The consulting trend for the six months is around a complete understanding of BI strategically and how to approach it, so it's not just about the technical angle of learning the actual product, but understanding the roadmap and strategy. It's not just IT in the BI project now, the business users are actually important to BI projects as well now. The soft skills discussions you have had on your web site has become very important.

Jon to Ingo: So I'm hearing you emphasize an evolving BI skills set that included BO and the roadmap, but also soft skills and project management and trying to round yourself into a holistic BI consultant. Ingo: That summarizes it nicely, it's not just the technical requirements anymore - its about being able to sit down with the business and understand what the business is trying to achieve with implementing BI and what the benefits are going to be. And then going back and figuring out how BI can help drive those goals. That's becoming more and more important.

13:05 Jon to Ingo: You tend to work closely with SAP customers you meet in the community. Can you give us an example of how you have met and helped customers who have been a part of the activities on BOC? Ingo: Two examples: the first would be Harley Davidson, they were using BO in what we could call a classic BO environment and not using SAP applications. They starting using BO on relationship databases, but they decided to implement SAP BW. They were using SCN to learn more about how Webi or BO Enterprise maps into the SAP world. They reached out to me and asked questions in the forums, and went to a webinars, and we talked further, and the relationship became successful. They are using the product today, and we did a presentation together. Another example is Coke, where they lots of people in the Coke environment were using the community to find out information, including the forums. There were a lot of people asking about the integration with SAP and learning more about the options there.

15:10 Jon to Ingo: One of the most powerful parts of SAP's online communities is how they foster relationships that extend into the offline world at trade shows and other meetups. Can you tell us about how your connections at BOC have led you into other events as a Mentor and what you gained from those experiences? Ingo: the best example would be me getting to know Paul Hawking, who is part of the Australian SAP user group. He reached out to me to present around the integration, and a year later, he became a Mentor as well. He's teaching BusinessObjects in the university and he's part of the University Alliance program, and I might do an offline program with his class in Australia.

16:38 Jon to Chris: as you listen in on the conversation with Ingo, what are your reactions? Chris:
One reaction listening to Ingo is the integration between BusinessObjects in 4.0 with a number of different technologies, including HANA and in-memory, and you can talk about mobile and BI. When you talk abut the BusinessObjects suite, it crosses over into a number of integration categories, and speaks to a larger BI analytics category. The point on how the BI conversation is shifting from strictly a technical one that's more of a business focus or strategic conversation - we see that every day on BOC, especially as business analytics get more pervasive in organizations, and we're going to get more involved in these issues on the community as well.

18:17: Jon to Chris: As we wrap up the podcast, what would you say to listeners who are interested in getting more involved in the BusinessObjects community, or who are looking for a way to get started? Chris: There are so many entry points in the community - if you're new, just go towards the areas of your greatest interest and focus on solving problems or addressing pain points for your organization. That could span from asking forum questions (which usually generate a very fast response) to writing a blog post. Blogging can be intimidating, but you can start with simple topics, like links, trends, or a feature you have used. Or just engage folks - if you read one of the many bloggers like Ingo and see something interesting, you'll find these folks are very engaging, if you follow them on Twitter or send them a note, you'll almost always get a response and strike up a relationship that way. One more comment: there's a virtual launch on February 23, so feel free to register for that.

 

 

 

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