January 9, 2009

#5. Users Don't Know Where to Go now that Solutions is Dead

In the summer of 2007, Hyperion held it's last Solutions conference, may she rest in peace.  The final USA Solutions attracted around 4,500 people.  There was some Hyperion content at Oracle OpenWorld in the fall of 2007, and most estimates put the Hyperion attendance at around 1,000 people.

So where would those 4,500+ users go in 2008?  Well, they had 4 choices:
- Collaborate (put on by OAUG, IOUG, and Quest) in the late Spring of 2008.
- Kaleidoscope (put on by ODTUG) in the Summer of 20008.
- OpenWorld (put on by Oracle) in the Fall of 2008.
But none of the users knew which was the correct one to attend.  Some former Hyperion sales reps recommended OpenWorld, some partners recommended Collaborate, and word of mouth was definitely favoring Kaleidoscope.

Some users went to one of those, some went to all three (like me), but most... didn't go to anyone at all.  Rough estimates of total Hyperion attendees at the three 2008 conferences was ~2,200.  Note that this is less than half of the 4,500 who went to Solutions 2007.  Where did those other 2,300 users go?  Frankly, they stayed home.  Considering Solutions was one of the best software conferences around, this was sad and best and criminal at worst.

Since 2008 was a year of complete disarray in the conference community, most people stayed away, waiting to see which conference would win.  From everything none of the three will be emerging as the clear winner.  I see the user community going to all three conferences depending on the type of users.

I really didn't like this conference in 2008, and I've become less enamored with it as time's gone on (and no, it's not just because they had the worst food I've seen since the "please sir, may I have more gruel?" scene in Oliver Twist).  My fundamental disappointment stemmed from two issues: lack of presentations and their complete and total disorganization.  It was partly to help solve these two issues that I volunteered to be a part of the OAUG Hyperion SIG for this year.

It does look like Collaborate is going to be more organized this year (with dedicated rooms for Hyperion/Essbase/EPM/BI/DW that are hopefully not spread all over tarnation/Orlando); however, I think the content will actually be decreased.  Last year had around 100 presentations and this year I expect the number will definitely not be that large.  Since last year was a starter year for Hyperion content at Collaborate, I'm boggled as to why they wouldn't be tripling their Oracle EPM presentations in 2009.  Solutions 2007 had close to 300 presentations on Hyperion!  Could it be that now that the Hyperion user groups have gone under the OAUG umbrella that they no longer have to make a show of having caring about the Hyperion community?

Anyway, while I hate to admit it, if you are an end user of the Hyperion/EPM products, there's probably no better conference for you than Collaborate with it's focus on case studies and higher-level presentations.  And yes, I will doubtless be presenting at Collaborate (and interRel will have a booth), so I'll see you there.  And yes, I'll be bringing my own food and I advise you to do the same.

I loved Kaleidoscope in 2008 (and not just because their food was awesome).  I felt that the content was awesome and I personally learned more at Kaleidoscope 2008 than I've learned at any Solutions conference in forever.  Now this may be because as co-chair of the Hyperion track, I helped select the presentations that I thought would be interesting to see, but all of the attendees seemed to agree.

I've seen the current agenda for K'Scope 2009 (all the cool kids call it "K'Scope") and it's impressive.  Visit http://www.odtugkaleidoscope.com/Proposed%20Agenda%20no%20speakers.pdf and you'll see that there are multiple tracks this year that goes beyond just Essbase and includes Planning, HFM, OBIEE, and the reporting & analysis products too.  Some highlights of the conference include themed days (like "Essbase optimization day!") featuring ~70 hardcore training sessions, hands-on labs to get actual classes on pre-setup laptops during the conference, and a Sunday symposium where the Oracle/Hyperion developers are going to spend all-day talking about EPM products still under development (compare that to the normal 1-hour whirlwind, high-level "what's new" presentation).  I also just found out that John Kopcke, head of the BI/EPM business unit at Oracle, will be delivering the overall conference keynote on Monday morning, June 22, and it's obvious that this is the conference to be at in 2009.

OpenWorld, on the other hand, is not the place to be in 2009.  While it's much better organized that Collaborate (and the food's better too), in 2008, it had even less content on EPM than Collaborate 2008 or for that matter, OpenWorld 2007.  I'm still stunned that this was even possible.  Again, why would you decrease your Hyperion content when this segment of your market is actually growing?

The only reason I go to OpenWorld (other than to speak, of course) is to hear Oracle has to say about Oracle.  Since Oracle dominates the event, you'll get what's new, what's coming, and what's the current marketing message straight from the horse's mouth.  If you like Ellison keynotes, OpenWorld is also the only place to be.

I see people who are used to Solutions, though, fleeing OpenWorld.  Judging by the attendance in presentations I went to in OpenWorld 2007 vs. 2008, there were fewer Hyperion attendees year over year.  My recommendation would be either K'Scope or Collaborate for 2009.

Interestingly, I did a webcast last week to 100+ Hyperion companies and during the webcast, I gave a poll to determine whether users would be going to Collaborate, K'Scope, or OpenWorld in 2009.  67% of the people on the survey said they were planning to attend... Kaleidoscope.

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