Dallas Marks joins ThoughtSpot

I am pleased to announce that I have joined ThoughtSpot as a Customer Success Architect. The Customer Success team ensures that new ThoughtSpot customers get the assistance and mentoring they need for a successful deployment.

Is your organization eager to get faster insights from its cloud data warehouse? I hope you’ll sign up for a 30-day free trial of ThoughtSpot Cloud or request a 1:1 demo.

Support my blog with your holiday shopping!

One click can make a difference.

Hi, folks!

Just a quick reminder that you can do all of your holiday shopping at Amazon and support this blog at the same time. Just click here or on the banner ad below.

Now would also be a good time to line your bookshelf with some of the books I’ve reviewed.

Thanks for your support!
Dallas Marks

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.”

2017 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2017 passed quickly.


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

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

ASUG Volunteer Spotlight

Look mom, I’m in the ASUG Annual Report!

Sometimes the best things that happen to your career are serendipitous accidents, or at least they seem that way at the time. We find ourselves in an opportunity to push ourselves outside of our normal comfort zone. Due to a career change, a long-serving volunteer normally in charge of the annual ASUG Developer Tools Day was no longer able to be part of ASUG. Nature abhors a vacuum, so last year I was able to step into the role of event organizer with the help of my peers in the Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio leadership teams. In December 2016, we hosted what we learned would be the 10th annual ASUG Developer Tools Day. We’re all looking forward to continuing the tradition in 2017. Ina Felsheim introduces SAP Lumira 2.0 at ASUG Developer Tools Day 2016

Dallas Marks is a member of the Kentucky Chapter. Dallas has found his niche in the chapter by managing the social media accounts for the Kentucky Chapter, with a special emphasis on Twitter. Building on this, Dallas writes blogs in his spare time to help promote the meetings. In addition to his duties in the chapter, Dallas manages Developer Tools Day. His positive disposition allows him to be innovative, charismatic, and a pleasure to work with. From the 2016 ASUG Annual Report

Tom Jung shares HANA programming knowledge at ASUG Developer Tools Day 2016 I’ve been a part of the ASUG Kentucky Chapter since 2011 and have served in several volunteer roles since 2014. Being a member of a local ASUG chapter has provided me with a core group of trusted professionals. Some share my immediate interest area of analytics. But I benefit just as much from knowing people in other parts of the SAP ecosystem, broadening my understanding of what it takes to power an organization with SAP software. I’m proud to serve with the current chapter leadership of Eric Stephan-Neill, Vince Barber, Ashley Lowe, Theresa Westlund; previous chapter leadership Suresh AdhikariDamean Chen, and Darren Hites; and our ASUG community coordinator Paige Riegen. Storm Archer introduces SAP BW/4HANA at ASUG Developer Tools Day 2016 I won’t be able to join you this year at the 2017 ASUG Annual Meeting, but I’m extremely grateful for the recognition from the ASUG volunteer community as well as the continued opportunity to stretch my limits. Volunteer Spotlight in 2016 ASUG Annual Report Much thanks, Dallas Marks

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.

  • SAP Insider BI 2016 and HANA 2016 (February 14-20, 2016), Las Vegas, NV
  • ASUG Kentucky winter meeting (February 26, 2016), Lexington, Kentucky
  • Mike Weinberg sales coaching (April 2016), St. Louis, Missouri
  • SAP quarterly business review (April 7, 2016), Boston, Massachusetts
  • St. Louis Analytics User Group (April 28, 2016)
  • Information Design Tool mentoring for real estate industry (May 8-13, 2016), Miami, Florida
  • ASUG Annual Conference and SAP SAPPHIRE, Orlando, FL (May 15-22, 2016)
  • ASUG Kentucky summer meeting (June 10, 2016), Louisville, KY
  • SAP BusinessObjects Cloud presales training for SAP partners (June 13-17, 2016), SAP Vancouver, BC
  • Web Intelligence training for healthcare industry (August 29 – September 1, 2016), Wilmington, North Carolina
  • ASUG Kentucky fall meeting (September 15, 2016) at Northern Kentucky University
  • SAP Insider Reporting & Analytics 2016 (October 31, 2016 – November 4, 2016)
  • Pittsburgh BusinessObjects User Group (PGHBOUG)
  • ASUG Developer Tools Day (December 9, 2016), Highland Heights, KY

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.

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 Paris

In May 2015, I accompanied Eric Vallo to SAP’s offices in Paris.

In May 2015, I went to SAP’s office in Paris with Eric Vallo, EV Technologies’ Chief Architect. While our antics were pretty lame when compared to Harold and Kumar, Bill and Ted, or even Jamie and Clint, we had both a productive and poetic visit to one of the great European cities. SAP is a global software company, which I saw first hand. Paris is the original home of BusinessObjects prior to its acquisition by SAP in 2008. It’s presently the current home for the Web Intelligence and semantic layer teams but the BI platform, Crystal Reports, Design Studio, Lumira, and other BI tools are developed elsewhere.

Christian Ah-Soon was our gracious host and we got to see Saurabh Abhyankar, Olivier Duvelleroy, Timo Elliott, Ian Mayor, and so many other great SAP employees in their native habit. They had all just recently relocated from multiple locations around Paris into SAP’s new office building, the Tour SAP.

Tour SAP

EV Technologies’ core product, Sherlock for the BI platform, relies on many SDK’s including those for Web Intelligence and the semantic layer, so it’s great to have a face-to-face dialog about what is coming next. We learned about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Support Pack 6, which was released on June 15, 2015. And (shhh!) we learned about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 and its groundbreaking features like [censored] and [censored]. I’d like to share more about [censored] but most of the visit was covered by non-disclosure agreements.

Below is the view from the Tour SAP’s 19th floor. How can you not do your best work with a view like that?

The View

Here’s the Tour Eiffel up close and personal, although not nearly as breathtaking as the photos Timo Elliott takes for his Instagram feed.

Tour Eiffel

The highlight of the trip wasn’t Web Intelligence 4.2. Instead, it was getting to meet my social media mate Andrew Fox in person for the first time. In Paris. Below, you can see The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls along with the man himself, The Man Who Could Board a London Train for Paris.

Andrew Fox, the man who could walk through walls

We enjoyed some obligatory pâté and l’escargot before cutting into a fantastic Côte de Boeuf and pomme de terre Lyonnaise. And a nice bottle of Burgundy.

Bons Amis (Good Friends)

It was a great trip- my first to anywhere besides the United States or Canada. You can check out some of my other photos on Flickr.

The SAP team is excited about the new Web Intelligence and semantic layer features now available in BI 4.1 SP6 and coming soon in BI 4.2. And I am too.

I’m a SAP Mentor!

I’ve been accepted into the SAP Mentor program.

Then this happened…

Thanks for those who nominated me to be part of the SAP Community in a very special way! Very grateful and excited to see what the future holds.

2014 Year In Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2014 is now history. I worked with several customers on XI 3.1 to BI 4.1 upgrades, helped write the third edition of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide (see related article) and moved from Market Leader to Program Chair as a volunteer for the ASUG Kentucky chapter.

Thanks for reading my blog this year and I look forward writing more in the year ahead.

2014 Travel Destinations (courtesy TripIt)

  • Dallas, Texas (BI 4.1 upgrade)
  • Fort Worth, Texas (ASUG volunteer meeting and SABOUC conference)
  • Houston, Texas (XI 3.1 architecture assessment and Live Office consulting)
  • Los Angeles, California (Information Design Tool and Web Intelligence 4.1 training)
  • Orlando, Florida (BI 4.1 upgrade)

Most Popular Articles of 2014 (courtesy Google Analytics)

  1. Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1
  2. Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0
  3. Using Variable Functions in the Universe
  4. Sizing the Adaptive Processing Server in BI 4.1
  5. Sizing the Adaptive Processing Server in BI 4.0
  6. SAP BusinessObjects BI 4 is (Mostly) 64-bit
  7. Displaying Web Intelligence Date Prompts Using Built-In Functions
  8. Displaying Images on Web Intelligence Reports
  9. SAP BusinessObjects Query Builder 4.0
  10. Don’t Fluster the Cluster

Books Read and Reviewed

Top Visiting Countries (courtesy Google Analytics)

  1. United States
  2. India
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Germany
  5. France
  6. Canada
  7. Australia
  8. Netherlands
  9. Italy
  10. Brazil
  11. Turkey
  12. Spain
  13. Switzerland
  14. Belgium
  15. Singapore
  16. Mexico
  17. Russia
  18. Japan
  19. China
  20. Poland

Speaking Events

Analytic Storytelling with Web Intelligence
EV Technologies Webcast
February 26, 2014 US/March 5, 2014 ANZ

Agile Business Intelligence with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1
EV Technologies Webcast
May 21, 2014 US/May 28, 2014 ANZ

ASUG Kentucky Chapter Meeting
Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles, KY
August 8, 2014
Agile Business Intelligence with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1

ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference
Omni Hotel
Fort Worth, Texas
September 22-24, 2014a
Secrets from a Business Intelligence Barista
Taking SAP BusinessObjects from Stock to Custom
Agile Business Intelligence with SAP Lumira (panel discussion)
“Cost Saving” Cuts Your Project Can’t Afford (Diversified Semantic Layer panel discussion)

Other Significant Events

ASUG Volunteer Meeting
Fort Worth, Texas
January 25, 2014