Posts Tagged ‘User Conference’

New Ideas Spark Hydro One Into Action

May 16th, 2012 No comments

The second day of Sapphire has seen many fabulous testimonials from customers.  Companies are changing the way they do business by leveraging the latest SAP technologies including: HANA, BusinessObjects and Mobility.

Hydro One was one of those customers and I wanted to highlight what they’ve done.

Mike Winters and Laura Formusa represented Hydro One in the session, Transforming the Hydro One Customer Experience with SAP Solutions.  It was clear.  SAP is making a serious difference.

The more information you can put in the hands of
the people on the ground, the faster they can restore
power.  Mike Winters

Delivering The Goods

Utilities have a large number of competing priorities and limited dollars by which to execute on those priorities.  Aging infrastructure, economic downturn, regulations, aging workforce are just a few of the challenges faced at Hydro One.  In fact, Laura reminded us that some of their infrastructure is more than 100 yrs old and much of their infrastructure was added after WWII.

In 2007 Hydro One purchased SAP ERP and Supply Chain to run their core business.  They then added HR, Finance, Payroll and BI and achieved a number of important business benefits around business process management and standardizations.  SAP was not an IT Solution but rather a stimulus for changing the culture of the company.

One example Laura highlighted was strategic sourcing, which is now enabling Hydro One to streamline it’s procurement process and deliver something for less.  In fact, they have see over $100M is savings since their SAP implementation.

The more we can control costs, the better off we are.
Laura Formusa

Smart Meters

Technology has not only changed the back office at Hydro One.  Thanks to SAP, Hydro One was able to successfully deploy 1.3M smart meters with virtually no issues and uses SAP for Asset Management.

It wasn’t that long ago that Hydro One was managing outages by sticking a pin in the map every time a customer called.  Now with data from smart meters, they are able to pin point outages and map this data to systems that can do instant triangularization.  This means that crews are deployed faster to the right, prioritized locations so they can restore power more quickly and ultimately increase customer satisfaction… but that’s not all.

More precise Outage data also helps Hydro One increase safety as Laura pointed out.  During bad winter storms in Ontario, it’s not uncommon for roads to be closed and for conditions to be hazardous.  By pulling together more granular outage information, field service workers will know precisely where to go.  This saves them unnecessary trips down potentially unsafe roads looking for downed lines.

Outage Data Goes Mobile

Mike demonstrated a iPhone app that Hydro One is currently working on which customers will be able to download.  This application will tell the customer of all the existing outages, how many customers are affected and how soon the service will be restored.  This means that customers can proactively check from their cell phones and avoid calls into the operations center.  (Avoiding the opportunity to listen to 30 minutes of Vivaldi).

Outage Information on the iPhone

Field Service Enablement

Mike also demonstrated a concept iPad app which would transform how their field service teams receive work order assignments, perform preventative maintenance and log their time.

Technicians will be able to:

  • See the equipment via the iPad camera overlayed with status icons
  • View assigned work orders and associated work instructions
  • Identify historical issues with the equipment (temperature, oil pressure)
  • Access Schematics of the equipment
  • Enter Time Tracking Information
  • Complete and close Work Orders

View Transformer with Augmented Reality

Technical sees historical trends of Oil Pressure

It was amazing.  You had to see it to believe it.

Hydro One is mashing together GIS information, BusinessObjects Augmented Reality, Grid Analytics, Asset Management, Work Management.

Everything is there.  Just a finger swipe away.

Cost Justification

Cost is probably the only reason why these concepts haven’t yet been put into reality.  Hydro One is working to determine the true value of everything they are doing.  Cost pressures remain.  Mike Winters said that so far all their projects have shown a positive return on investment.

Fact Not Fiction

Much of what Hydro One demonstrated looked like something you see in the movies – but it’s not fiction.  Given the right business challenge, customers are looking to SAP to over come difficult obstacles.

Hydro One is an early adopter, but it’s exciting to see this type of eye popping innovation in the Utilities segment.

SapphireNow has been a great event to see some of the solutions that customers have come up with — much of it leveraging out of the box analytics technology that comes with BusinessObjects.

Enjoy the rest of the show.

UPDATE: Session Replay

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Peabody Energy Fuels BI Innovation

May 14th, 2012 No comments

As usual SapphireNow delivered some amazing presentations today.  None better than the session called, See the Future Now with the Latest Mobile Analytics Solutions.  The good news, bad news was if you thought it was going to be all about Mobility, you were wrong.  It was much more.

This standout session was a 20 minute information-fest on how to get the most out of analytics through the strategic deployment of business intelligence.

Deliver BI Programs

Keith Bowles is helping change the way Peabody Energy leverages analytics.  They are an $8 billion dollar utility with 8,000 employees and they have developed a BI program that is leveraging ever ounce of value out of the SAP Analytics Suite.  Peabody runs core SAP technologies and is very focused on leveraging standard tools and content — and it is paying huge dividends.

Stop BI projects and start delivering BI programs.  Keith Bowles

Peabody Energy is a BusinessObjects v4.0 FP3 ramp-up customer and Keith pulled back the kimono and let us see BusinessObjects running against their live environment.  They are leverage both legacy SAP BI technologies such as web application designer and well as deploying BusinessObjects centric technologies such as Xcelsius.

Your company doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, so it’s up to you to educate them about your BI capabilities.  In Peabody’s case they leverage a BI portal and provides monthly updates on topics like:  training, tips and tricks and technology innovations.

I particularly loved the idea of their program, Rent a BI Expert.  It’s a consultative training opportunity where the business can ask questions and focus on a specific “real world” reporting problem.  This helps them build momentum in the business as well as getting the business to take ownership of their analytic needs.

Information Without Context is Useless

Peabody delivers all their reports through the employee portal.  Instead of using the BI Launchpad, they simply use their SAP Portal technology to provide links to all their BI content.

When delivering reports Keith reiterated the critical importance of providing business data within context.  If you are producing 13 metric tons that doesn’t tell you anything, but if you say you are producing 13 metrics tons on a budget of 15, then that’s an entirely different story, which is why they always focus on context.

Peabody Uses Context to Deliver Insight

Red, Yellow and Green are three of the most important colors at Peabody.  There is so much information and the business is changing so rapidly, you have to manage by exception.

CIO Spend Dashboard Tracks Costs

In this CIO dashboard, Keith explained how the CIO tracks critical KPIs.  After clicking on a measure and seeing the high level details update, he can then link to other reports to see the financial spend details.  It’s like a web, focus on the central themes in the dashboard and allow the users to spin out from there.  Peabody’s spend dashboards provide one level of drill-down together with additional analytics showing time-series trends including monthly spend, YTD spend, historical spend (context), budget and headcount.

BI Widgets

Keith reminded me that sometimes older products can be easily overlooked.  BI Widgets is a great example.  I rarely talk about this solution anymore and yet this was the perfect solution for a use case for their executives.  Their Executive VP doesn’t want to have to log in or go to a portal, he simply wants to have the latest BI information on his computer desktop.

Enter BI Widgets.

Peabody created a Widgets bar, which allows them to easily swap back and forth between different dashboards and report visualizations.  It’s an elegant solution and perfect for their users.

Here’s the resulting desktop:

BI Widgets Deliver Real-time Insight on the Desktop

BI Mobile

With 177 iPads, Peabody has begun to deliver mobile analytics using standard SAP tools.  The hardest thing about rolling out mobile applications was getting their IT organization beyond the idea of VPN.  After some key discussions between both SAP and Peabody IT teams, they got the green light.  Getting Mobile BI up and running at Peabody took 8 days – 7 days for security and 1 day to deliver the application.  (Peabody is looking to deploy Afaria later this year.)

Peabody delivers key content to 177 iPads

Keith reiterated the speed of delivery of new analytic content.  Although most of your reports may have cool charts and graphics, continue to think out of the box. Within a few taps of the screen, Keith showed show the CIO is able to get the latest summary detail around IT projects and since Peabody is in the ramp-up program and running BusinessObjects v40 FP3 in production, they are able to use the latest collaboration features to allow for annotation direction onto the report.

Latest BusinessObjects Mobile delivers on screen annotations

SAP Experience

Peabody is also using the latest SAP Experience mobile application as well.  They are leveraging the new Exploration Views capabilities which have been added to BusinessObjects Explorer.  This means Peabody BI team can provide more self-service interactive dashboarding to business leaders.

New Exploration Views deliver self service dashboards

If you’ve not taken the time to download SAP Experience to your iPad, I recommend you do it today.

What Better BI?

Don’t have dashboards today?  I smiled when Keith suggested that you find out what your organization is bonused on and then put that information into a dashboard.  “Guaranteed you will have users using dashboards now.”

He’s right.  And he’s talking about alignment.  Alignment is critical.

Review board goals, strategic plans and LOB goals when identifying KPIs to track and report.  Understand the long and short term goals of your organization.  If you do that it should be much easier to get that essential foundation of any successful BI project, executive sponsorship.

Companies need to embrace BI more holistically.  Stop doing BI projects and run BI programs.  This will allow your organization to increase standardization and reuse.  It will also allow you to reallocate your time to take on other challenges such as governance, information management, mobility and develop your strategic BI vision.

UPDATE:  Link to the recorded session:

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Take Advantage of Conference Replays!

May 11th, 2012 No comments

With everyone gearing up for SapphireNow in Orlando I’d like to remind everyone to take advantage of the many conference replays that are available on varying SAP Websites.

Influencer Summit

Simply login using your login.

This event wasn’t that long ago, December 13-14, 2011.  There is some great content here.  I especially liked the customer testimonials given in Analytics: Systems of Engagement & Customer Showcase.  Steve ribs Howard Dresner about coining the term Business Intelligence.

Keynote from BI 2012

Signing up for a login to the Insider Learning Network is free, so enjoy!

BusinessObjects User Group 2011

Click on the 2011 Ondemand Videos and you’ll find about 92 videos from the conference, unfortunately a lot of the ASUG News slots are mini-advertisements for the sessions.  They do however provide some of the highlights of what was discussed which is still valuable.  You can also access SESSION PROCEEDINGS and download the powerpoint presentations that were provided by the speakers.  Note that there are a lot of sessions listed here, so use the left hand navigation to select the correct BOUC session.

Although this website has an amazing look and the video quality is spectacular, the navigation is a little less obvious.  To search the recorded sessions, open the SEARCH on the left hand side.

SapphireNow 2010/2011

There are nearly 600 recorded sessions on offer for you!  If you can’t remember what was talked about last year or if you simply want to review what you heard, this is a great resource.  This website combines sessions from 2010 and 2011 and I’m sure will soon host all the sessions from 2012.  Using the Year filter on the left, you can select only the sessions from a specific year.

Note that SapphireNow Madrid should also be available:, but the website appears to be down at the minute.


For all the technical content you want, check out this TechEd Website.  Note that some of the content in the Archive is dated, so you’ll probably want to stay with the videos under the Content and Lectures sections.

You may also find some additional TechEd content on SCN:

TechEd Beijing

The teched website above didn’t include content from Beijing, so you can find that separately.  The video highlights from Beijing only include the following ‘english’ keynotes from:  Vishal Sikka, Bill McDermott, Hasso Plattner.

SAP for Utilities

Unfortunately here you’re only able to see a sample of 6 videos.  I also provided a link to the keynote session by Steve Lucas here, which is excellent.  If you are a Utility I recommend you check it out:

Bottom Line

SAP hosts some great events, but budgets are tight and you can’t always attend all the events that you’d like in order to keep up with ongoing education.  Do yourself a favor and take advantage of these free resources.

Learning never exhausts the mind.   Leonardo da Vinci

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Best of 2011: Lucas Articulates Value of Analytics for Utilities

December 16th, 2011 2 comments

Back in September, Steve Lucas, Global Senior Executive for Business Analytics, stole the show with a hugely entertaining and well articulated discussion of innovation for Utilities.


From beginning to end, Steve Lucas entertains as he communicates why better information is the key to creating real change.

If you are interested in:

  • Seeing Why BI is a Strategic Enabler for Utilities
  • Moving from a System of Record to a System of Engagement
  • Following a path to flawless information execution

This is a great 30 minute keynote for helping communicate what SAP is doing in the Utilities industry.

SAP helps utilities run better.

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2009 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference

August 24th, 2009 1 comment

SAP BusinessObjects Wants Your Input!

The SAP BusinessObjects Product team is looking for your input!  In less than two months, SAP BusinessObjects Users from around the world will be decending on Dallas Texas for the annual SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.  This year, the SAP BusinessObjects is introducing the concept of a product council, where you can provide feedback into the product.  You will get a chance to see how other companies are leveraging SAP BusinessObjects products.  Now is your opportunity to tell them what you love and what you hate…  knowing that feedback will make it’s way back to the product team.

This is a Start

Personally I think this is a great start, but I wish that SAP would send all the product managers and program managers to the conference so that they can speak face-to-face with customers.  Back in the 90’s when I was working with Lotus products, they had a huge annual conference in Orlando and their entire product development team was onsite and had lots of informal one-on-one time with customers.  As an end-user, I loved that.  Even if they weren’t able to address my problems at least I felt I had been heard.

Influence Sessions

SAP is taking a slightly different tact.  They are creating a “council” that will work to gather all the feedback that SAP BusinessObjects users give.  They will consolidate and prioritize the issues and work with the SAP BusinessObjects Product Development team to improve future product releases.  The Influence sessions will include:

Business Objects Enterprise Council – to discuss administration, security, platform features and versioning/change management within the Business Objects Enterprise solution.

Xcelsius Council – to discuss  issues surrounding the new integration with Excel, document areas for improvement, identify issues that are occurring with the system.

WebI Council -was formed last year and will be presenting an update of their work and where their recommendations fit into future SAP BusinessObjects product releases. A portion of the presentation will also include a discussion of migration from Deski to WebI.

Designer Council –  with no major changes in Designer since 1999 (yep, that’s 10 years!), the semanic layer is an area of upcoming innovation and redesign.  Make sure your voice is heard!

Data Management Council – will provide customers with the means for constructive dialog with SAP BusinessObjects regarding their use and implementation of the Data Services product. The Influence Council will provide SAP BusinessObjects with feedback from its users about proposed changes, integrations, or new features in future Data Services releases.

So Let Your Voice Be Heard

Plato said:  Necessity is the mother of invention.  I can tell you through my many years of experience that the best product features and innovations come from solving real-world customer problems. Therefore I strongly encourage you to attend the 2009 SAP BusinessObjects user conference and take full advantage of these Influence Council sessions.  You may be the reason behind the next major innovation at SAP BusinessObjects!

Click here for more information…

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