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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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 Adhikari, Damean Chen, and Darren Hites; and our ASUG community coordinator Paige Riegen. 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. Much thanks, Dallas Marks
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.
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?
Here’s the Tour Eiffel up close and personal, although not nearly as breathtaking as the photos Timo Elliott takes for his Instagram feed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Top Visiting Countries (courtesy Google Analytics)
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
Just over a year ago, I wrote that there would not be a 4.1 edition of the SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence book from SAP Press (see related article, SAP Press Book for Web Intelligence 4.1?). But earlier this year, the inventory of second edition books dipped to a critical level. It didn’t make sense to reprint a two-year-old book based on Web Intelligence 4.0, so Jim Brogden, Heather Sinkwitz, Gabriel Orthous and I began the process of updating the book using Web Intelligence 4.1 Support Pack 3. The book has been refreshed from cover-to-cover. We have thoroughly updated the book to include the new features in Web Intelligence 4.1, but we’ve written quite a bit of new material as well. The book is currently in pre-production and should be in print for the upcoming ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects Conference in September 2014 (and be sure to read this related ASUG News article, ASUG Partners with Galileo Press to Offer Member Discounts).
I started my first BusinessObjects project in February 2003 with “classic” version 5.1, prior to the acquisition of Crystal Reports (Crystal Decisions) and the acquisition by SAP. I became a member of the BusinessObjects Board, or BOB, shortly thereafter on April 16, 2003, at the suggestion of my friend Eileen King. At the time, the BusinessObjects support site wasn’t terribly useful. Just as important as the information one could read on BOB were the friends you could make by using it.
I recently made my 100th post, which earned me the designation of Principal Member instead of a Senior Member. An average of 9 posts a year isn’t much of a contribution, but I’ll sleep better knowing the principal’s icon includes the detail object’s green pyramid.
Times have changed. In 2003 I first turned to BOB looking for the way out of a problem. In 2014 I now turn to the SAP Support Portal. Either SAP’s support portal usability has improved, I have simply mastered its confusion, or a combination of both. The SAP Support Portal seemed daunting in the post-acquisition fog of 2008. And who can forget SAP’s abrupt unplugging of the old BusinessObjects support and ESD sites (see related articles, Got Support? and Business Objects ESD, R.I.P.)? Good times.
Business Intelligence has clearly left the niche for the mainstream. Now there’s an abundance of books, blogs, and alternative media outlets beyond just what the vendor offers.
SAP Mentor and Diversified Semantic Layer contributor Jamie Oswald interviews me as part of the Unstructured Geek Analysis series. We talk about how I got started with my career in business intelligence, how I started blogging, my new role as an ASUG Volunteer, and what I do in my spare time.
Last month, as happens every January, was the SAP field kickoff meeting, or FKOM. I wistfully gazed at my Twitter feed, noting who was and who wasn’t at FKOM. You see, in 2008 I attended the last FKOM conducted by an independent BusinessObjects (see related article, Business Objects Partner Summit 2008). It was the first FKOM that combined its sales force and its partner network, which previously had its own, much smaller, partner summit. I’ll never forget former BusinessObjects executive Mark Doll announcing SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.0 with lights and explosions (see related article, BusinessObjects XI 3.0). Under SAP, FKOM is an even bigger deal, with multiple simultaneous events held around the globe.
The other event that happens every January is the flood of LinkedIn updates announcing new career changes. While reading everyone’s cheerful status updates, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that your own career is on the road to nowhere. Never mind that your LinkedIn contacts decided in December that their own careers were on the road to nowhere and are secretly crossing their fingers, hoping that their new career adventure corrects some of the undesirable qualities of the last one. It’s easy to forget that we were jealous of our friends’ previous career move- the one that they just tossed into the dustbin of history (don’t worry, a recruiter might be calling you soon to fill the open position).
I mention this because seven years ago, my own career seemed to be on the road to nowhere (see related article, Seven Years Ago Today). What I didn’t mention in that article was that I interviewed for a presales consulting position at BusinessObjects and lost it. The rejection was devastating. At the time, staying in business intelligence consulting was a fallback position. Over the years, I later interviewed with SAP for two other presales positions, also without success.
The trouble with presales (for me) is that most vendors could care less if you understood their product. That skill can be learned. What they’re hoping for is somebody with a track record of sales success selling other technology products. Unfortunately, my skills are reversed. I’ve “majored” in many years of deep SAP BusinessObjects experience but only have a “minor” in presales, helping various consulting organizations sell software, services, and education.
It’s easy to have a pity party reading LinkedIn updates, but most social media users only reveal the shiny, happy bits of their lives. Rarely the dark or disappointing ones. While what is divulged on social media may be accurate and truthful, it’s not a complete picture.
In my case, writing Seven Years Ago Today turned out to be therapeutic, as I’ve spent the past few weeks contemplating who I was seven years ago and who I think I am today. Connecting the dots, as Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford University commencement address.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
You see, when I sat in the presales interview chair seven years ago, this blog didn’t even exist (see related article, Welcome to My Blog!). I had only one year of experience as a trainer and only one user conference presentation under my belt. Only later would I be part of the team for SAP’s Education Partner of the Year (see related article, Thrilled to be Part of the Team). My experience would grow from a mere report writer and universe designer to include skills with Xcelsius/Dashboards, Explorer, and administering the SAP BI platform. I’d even help write a book (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide).
Maybe I would have hated presales… Maybe I wouldn’t have been any good at it… Maybe somebody who’s worked mostly in small organizations would feel lost in a large one…
Will I ever work at SAP? I don’t know. I’m currently at about “half time” in my working career, so there’s plenty of time for that.
What about you? Feel like your career is on the fast track to nowhere? All any of us can do is put our best foot forward, one step at a time. I’m grateful that every day I get to work with technology that has the potential to illuminate corporate data and brighten somebody’s day. I’m definitely setting goals for the next seven years.
But in the meantime, I’m setting goals for the next seven days. Happy Monday!
Seven years ago today, Steve Jobs stood on stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and unveiled the iPhone.
Breaking! Apple Introduces Innovative Cellphone: http://t.co/SWfx5uKixJ (Well, not really breaking, but fun to read 7 years later.)
— Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) January 10, 2014
An iPhone is a fairly common sight today, but the video of the event captures just how unusual iPhone was compared to smartphones from Motorola, Blackberry, Palm, and Nokia. I was carrying a Motorola Razr at the time and would later replace it and my Palm PDA with a Palm Treo 680.
The same week, a slightly less revolutionary development was taking place. At the lowest point in my career, my friend Eileen King had faith in me and introduced me to the team at Dataspace, a business intelligence consultancy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I can’t remember if I grasped the significance of it all at the time. But looking back, what seemed like a low point became a dramatic turning point.
Seven years later, Motorola has been acquired by Google, Palm by HP, Nokia by Microsoft, and Blackberry by… Well, let’s just say nobody wants to purchase Blackberry. And I now carry an iPhone 5.