November 12, 2007

OpenWorld - Day Two

I skipped the morning keynote to put the final touches on my presentation at 3:15. I arrived at the San Francisco Marriott and had a horrible time finding the location of the Hyperion presentations. They're kinda spread out over two subbasement floors (though lunch is served above the ground floor). In short, nothing is on the ground floor. I found out that there are around 1,000 people registered for the Hyperion program at OpenWorld. Considering there are only 79 Hyperion-specific presentations (of which it seems that Oracle is the primary speaker - or sole speaker - on 70 of them), that's pretty impressive.

Speaking of impressive, it's truly difficult to convey just how massive Oracle OpenWorld is especially when I'm used to Hyperion's Solutions conference. Hyperion had ~287 presentations at Solutions 2007: Oracle has over 1,600 presentations. Hyperion had 4,000+ attendees: Oracle has 43,000+ attendees. Hyperion could fill up part of a convention center: Oracle needs 3 convention centers and then 5 more hotels just to hold the breakout sessions.

Back to the Hyperion program. While I have previously railed to anyone who would listen about the minuscule quantity of Hyperion presentations, I had no idea that the quality would be so miserable. I don't want to single anyone out (on the other hand, there was lots of blame to go around) but every presentation I've attended was far more focused on marketing than conveying information. Say what you will about the professionalism of Hyperion's conferences, but at least one out of three of their presentations had information that helped me do my job better. At OpenWorld (at least in the Hyperion program), the presentations seem focused on convincing me to buy more software. While I understand that Oracle is trying to sell me more software, at least they could disguise it better. I haven't been to a presentation here yet where I've learned anything.

Speaking of selling something to Oracle Hyperion clients, the Hyperion Partner Pavilion is really pitiful. Only 9 partners bothered to pay the money to show up and Oracle rewarded them for it by giving them each a single kiosk with a single screen at the far end of all the breakout rooms on the second subbasement floor. The first time I tried to find it, I gave up and turned back, because I figured there was no way it was that far down the hall. To my fellow partners who spent the money on your two-person kiosks in the middle of nowhere, next time just burn the money: it's prettier.

All I'll say about lunch is that it came in a box and it was cold. If cold boxes of food are to your liking, OpenWorld should be your restaurant of choice. My dinner at Greens (the premiere vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco with prices to prove it) more than made up for it, though. I had vegetarian enchiladas, and they were to die for. I think the Hyperion folks and clients that I talked into going with the interRel contingent to Greens were skeptical of a meat-less restaurant, but they went, and I think they're the better for it.

Enough about food, and on to my presentation, "The Role of Hyperion Essbase - System 9 in Your BI Implementation Strategy: Customer Case Studies." I presented this mouthful of a title with Fred Richards, a senior director at Oracle. I appreciate Fred asking me to join him, because I was lamenting that this was going to be my first Hyperion conference where I didn't speak in 10+ years. Attendance was okay at around 55 people. Only two walked out during the presentation, so that's a good sign. You have to assume that 2-4 people will always walk out of your presentation because they have an appointment to go to or they thought based on the abstract that the session was going to be about something different than it was. Our two walkouts were very early on (while I was speaking, not while Fred was, for what it's worth) so I think it was the latter.

We opened with a story about Southwest Airlines' Essbase activities during September 11th, and the seminar just got happier from there! I covered the technical/theory side of the hour including a brief old-school Essbase demo ("Excel on Steroids" we used to call it) and a review of Codd's 12-18 rules for OLAP. Fred covered the real-world examples. I had fun giving the presentation, and except for the two that walked out, I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We got good reviews from everyone including the lady running the sound board who said she actually found us entertaining. When you've taught the sound girl something, you know you've succeeded.

I brought a box of "Essbase for Mere Mortals" books with me to the conference just in case anyone wanted to buy one and have me autograph it (or "deface it with my signature" as I like to say). I sold all but 8 at the end of the presentation. It's hard for me to believe that we've sold out almost all of the first print run of the book. The second print run will be under the new title "Look Smarter Than You Are with Essbase." We're #25 on the all-time bestseller list on I wonder if we lose our place when the title changes? Probably. Okay, now I'm sad.

I have tickets tonight to the screening of the new Battlestar Galactica movie "Razor" at the Century 9 San Francisco Centre. It starts at 10, so I guess I'd better figure out how to cab it over there. More to come tomorrow!

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