May 3, 2009

Collaborate - Day One

I'm sitting in the OAUG Hyperion SIG meeting. There were somewhere around 50 people in the room (and three-quarters of those appear to be vendors) at the start but more trickled in over the course of the meeting. Attendance is down more than 100 people from last year. This doesn't bode well for the conference as a whole (which I think will be down from 7,000+ last year to less than 5,000 this year). There are lots of reasons for the drop in attendance (Hyperion and otherwise) from 2008, but here are my top 4:
  • Scheduling. Someone at OAUG scheduled Collaborate during the first five working days of the month. To whomever this moron is: this is during month-end close. Over half of the Hyperion users who attend conferences (from the client base, at least) work in finance and accounting. They can't go to a conference during financial close! Yes, I know there's probably a really good reason for this (like this was the only time the conference center was available), but it's a fraking slap in the face to all the Hyperion attendees. OAUG, this one is your fault, so don't be shocked when your Hyperion users can't make it this year.
  • Economy. This one's obvious: it's hard for people to convince their bosses to let them go to Orlando for a week-long conference. OAUG did what they could to reduce costs (including a few different hotel discounts), so I give them credit for trying to get attendance up. One of interRel's clients sent 10 people to Collaborate 2008. This year? They're sending 1. I know of several of our clients who already had paid for their conference fees who have decided not
  • Last Year's Conference. At Collaborate 2008, people were expecting to see that Collab had replaced the old Hyperion Solutions conference. While Solutions 2007 had 4,500 attendees and 275+ presentations. Collaborate 2008 had fewer than 1,000 Hyperion attendees and less than 100 Hyperion presentations. People wanted more content and when the number of presentations actually decreased from 2008 to 2009, the word got out and attendance suffered. Also, as we've documented here before, the logistics last year were horrible and as I've mentioned at length, the food wasn't even good enough to torture prisoners with. Please, tell me OAUG has fixed the logistics and food issues this year, or it may end up being the death of Hyperion attendance at Collaborate.
  • Swine/H1N1 flu. Okay, this one is a little silly, but there are people afraid to fly (Joe Biden, for instance). I've already talked to four people from the UK who have decided not to come because of flu fears. This is just bad timing.
There were about 1,000 Hyperion attendees at Collaborate 2008, but I think they'll be getting less than 600 at this year's conference (with over half of those being vendors). My prediction is that attendance is so far down from last year, that they won't even announce attendance publicly for Hyperion or the conference as a whole. I could be wrong, so if anyone sees an actual attendance announcement, share it with us on this blog.

A lady (who's name I didn't catch) from OAUG gave a brief "welcome to the conference and you should become a paying member of OAUG" speech that listed less than 3 minutes. While the lady seemed nice enough, I saw Ray Payne, new President of OAUG, in the back of the room, and I really wish he had done the official OAUG portion, because it would have shown OAUG's commitment to the Hyperion SIG. While I know he was there (which did show me his commitment), most of the room didn't know who he was. I think he had a conflicting session right at the start, but I do like that he stopped by our room for a bit.

Ed Delise Opening
Ed Delise is the current president of OAUG Hyperion SIG (though he's stepping down to let someone else run as president). Ed gave a 20 minute discussion about what the Hyperion SIG has done over the last year and what their goals are for 2009. The membership is up to over 600 people, and they're looking for more people to join.

He talked about the elections briefly. I strongly encourage those interested in directing the future of OAUG Hyperion SIG to run for the board. I especially encourage people from the client base to run for board positions: the board right now is way, way, way too partner heavy. The board wants to be less than 50% vendors, and I wholly concur. Click here to find out the open positions (you have until May 6 to nominate yourself):

Hyperion Solutions Returns?
Kristin Newman from interRel announced that OAUG is working to develop an EPM/BI/Hyperion-specific conference separate from Collaborate, OpenWorld, and Kaleidoscope. The proposed logistics put this in November 2009 back in Orlando. I'm amazingly excited to hear this, and I anxiously await more information on this. I first mentioned to Ray Payne that there should be a stand-alone Hyperion conference around 2 years ago, and I'm thrilled as... something really thrilled that they're going to try to put one on.

I'm presuming that the unified conference will include the end user content from Collaborate, the technical training from ODTUG Kaleidoscope, and the Oracle high-level sessions from OpenWorld into one. UPDATE: I talked to Ray Payne at the Hyperion SIG reception, and he did agree that November of this year was a bit aggressive. Whenever it happens (as long as it's in the next 12 months), I'll be there. Follow this blog for further updates on "Solutions 2: Long Live Solutions."

EPM in Troubled Times
Mike Schrader from Oracle (BI & PM Strategic Architecture) gave a presentation on "EPM in Troubled Times." I don't have much to say about this presentation, because it was a bit high-level. If he sends me a copy of the PowerPoint, I'll link to it from here.

I do want to point out that Mike (and a few other guys from Oracle as well as a partner or two) has a book coming out hopefully by the end of the year called Oracle Essbase & Oracle OLAP (catchy name). It supposed to cover using Essbase as well as Oracle OLAP from, judging by the chapter names, a business use case standpoint. I know several of the authors and I respect their expertise. I don't know how good those authors are at writing, but technically, they're very competent, so I encourage you to consider buying the book when it comes out (after you've bought one of our Essbase books, of course ;-).

At the end of Mike's presentation there was a hilarious (to me) discussion of "what the heck does EPM really mean?" Someone asked Mike for his definition of EPM, and he said "It's going beyond operational excellence to management excellence" and the room went dead silent. I was cracking up on the inside. After Mike's presentation, there was a 15-minute break to let people stretch their legs, network, and drink. After the break, the room had dropped to 40 people. I'm not sure where the rest went?

Domain Leads
Each of the 5-6 domain leads for Hyperion SIG got to spend 5 minutes telling about new developments in their individual areas of expertise. Hearing long-winded people (myself definitely included) limit themselves to 5 minutes was high hilarity. Tim Tow from Applied OLAP was kind enough to give me his 5 minutes, so I got to talk for 10 minutes on Essbase 11x, and I finished with just 24 seconds to spare.

Roundtable Discussion
Ed Delise fielded roundtable questions from the audience for several minutes until the questions started getting pointless. I personally don't like these just because they can turn into "and here's this obscure bug I ran into: has anyone else heard of it?" sessions. Ed fielded the questions really well, but I didn't derive any value from it.

SIG Reception
After the SIG, I'm heading to a reception that interRel is co-sponsoring at BB King's next door to the conference. It lasts from 6:30-8:30 and then I'm headed back to the hotel, because I agreed to do a presentation on Essbase Studio at 8AM tomorrow morning (proving that I also am a moron).

I'll be here all week
I will, shockingly, be blogging all week about Collaborate. If you want to follow my Collaborate blogs this week:

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