September 6, 2010

Kaleidoscope 2010 - Wrap Up

I'd like to dedicate this Labor Day blog post to Glenn Schwartzberg. He's been pining for a posting for 3 months now and after his Chinese-water-torture-esque never-ending requests to see something other than John Heffron's face at the top of my blog, Glenn buddy, this one's for you.

Yes, I know it's a bit weird to see some highlights 2 months after conference end, but it's been a busy two months.

Attendance was amazing. They improved the paid attendance more than 50% from the year before. Considering Kaleidoscope 2009 was one of only two Oracle conferences I know of that grew from 2008 already, 50+% growth in 2010 was pleasantly shocking. The largest growth seemed to be in the EPM/Hyperion and Application Express areas. Those two areas alone accounted for easily over half the conference.

No question about it, this was definitely the largest gathering of Oracle EPM, Hyperion, and Essbase folks I saw at any national conference this year. Hyperion attendance easily surpassed Collaborate and it beat OpenWorld too. As for the regional EPM Connection Point conferences, there were around 3 times as many Hyperion types at Kaleidoscope as at the last NJ Connection Point conference. It's clear that this is the place to be if you live and breathe Hyperion (and I'm saying that from an unbiased standpoint though I am going to be biased in the future which you'll see a little later in this post).

They expanded all the content this year (around 200 presentations total) and the EPM/BI content was over 75 sessions plus hands-on labs and a day-long symposium on the future of Hyperion by the developers at Oracle. There was even a new track devoted to MySQL now that Oracle owns them too.

Overall, I think the breadth of content increased, but there were some definitely areas for improvement in 2011. On the EPM side of the house, there was a need for more sessions geared to financial users. Now that finance users have given up on Collaborate as a possible source of Hyperion content, they're gravitating to Kscope. As such, Kscope has to expand to give more educational presentations to those users.

To that end, next year's conference is retooling around specific product focuses such as Financial Solutions and Budgeting & Planning. There will still be the sessions that the intermediate and advanced Essbase and Hyperion users want to see, but they'll be adding tracks to continue to fill the needs of the non-technical users. Go here for a complete listing of the tracks and type of content they're looking for at Kscope11:

On that note, submissions are already being accepted to present at Kscope11. Deadline is October 26, and I have it on really good authority that they won't extend the deadline for papers like all the other conferences do. If you want a free pass to the conference so you can be part of over 250 sessions, click on that abstract link above and submit something (or multiple somethings) now. Seriously, do it while you're thinking about before you forget that really good idea. They don't come around that often.

Washington, DC has a number of good things going for it: it's easy to get to from anywhere on the East Coast by train or commuter flight, anywhere else in the USA from a jet through Reagan National, and anywhere else in the world from a jumbojet through Dulles. There's a wealth of things to do there when the conference gets boring and they're all easy to get to due to the cleanest subway system in the USA (that I've seen, at least).

Therein lies a problem, though. Because there's so much to do and it's only a subway ride away, people kept disappearing to the National Mall as soon as the sessions were over each night. This led to a busy conference during the day but a feeling of being in a partially full hotel at night. For example, attendance at the Hyperion Monday Madness event was flat from last year even with 50% more people at the conference.

Speaking of Monday Madness, we did an EPM Jeopardy game this year. Glenn Schwartzberg played the role of Don Pardo and Cameron Lackpour helped out as a judge. We did multiple rounds and while we had many great champions along the way, the final Jeopardy winner by a long shot was Australian Hyperion Savant, Ben White. He was impressive with his neverending stream of mostly useless Hyperion trivia that he could recall at the press of a buzzer.

We started the week off with Rock Band during an opening reception in the exhibit hall. We had non-stop participation from the opening band (made up of some ODTUG Board members) through to the end when they finally kicked us out of the room. Eduardo Quiroz and I hosted the Battle of the Rock Bands and everyone seemed to be having a great time either playing instruments or mocking the people playing instruments.

As the evening went on and people had lots of tasty beverages in them, more and more participants started braving harder and harder songs to wildly varying levels of success. On an interesting note, the evaluations of the event were all over the place as it relates to the volume of the music. A large number said that the music wasn't loud enough while many said it was too loud for conversing. I guess it depends on if you were looking for a rock concert or a wine&cheese reception.

Werewolf was on the schedule every single night. There were some nights where so many people wanted to play that they ended up running simultaneous games. We'll definitely be playing Werewolf again next year. There's just something about offing your fellow conference-goers at 3AM that makes for a rollicking good time. On the last night, John Heffron (comedian extraordinaire) came and joined in for some Werewolf and even gave a couple of his new DVD's to the winners of a couple of games.

Speaking of John Heffron, the Wednesday night event was amazing. For the 600+ people who didn't leave for the monuments around town, they laughed constantly through his entire set. I've seen him before on Last Comic Standing, but he's even funnier in person as his jokes build on themselves throughout his act. It was definitely money well spent. Danielle White was the one who really insisted on John for the comedy portion of the night, and I while I normally try to disagree with her on just about everything, I have to grudgingly admit she was 110% correct in this case.

After John Heffron finished up, there was a major rush for the exits. Considering that the 80-90's cover band was tone deaf, this was the smart strategy. I'm not quite sure what went wrong with the band that night. I had actually gone out to Right Food Red's website ahead of time to listen to them, and they're much better in studio. It wasn't so much the fault of the guys playing the instruments as it was the vocalist. He truly was horrendous, and my advice to him in the future is to sing with the auto-tune turned on or the reverb turned way, way up. Next year, we'll make sure we screen the people in-person before booking them.

Next Year: June 26-30, 2011
In case anyone didn't read the note on any other blogs out there, the conference chair for Kaleidoscope is me, Edward Roske. I'm extremely honored to be selected and I'm going to focus next year on improving and growing the conference to make it not only the home for Hyperion but the other Oracle Developer products as well. My content chair is former ODTUG Volunteer Award Winner, Monty Latiolais, and my co-chair is the eternally awesome Danielle White.

The first thing I changed was to shorten the conference name to Kscope11 simply because no one could never remember how to spell Kaleidoscope and people also kept confusing it with Collaborate. So if you're looking for information on next year's conference, just visit

When I was announced as conference chair, I jokingly threw out some proposed conference slogans for Kscope11 and asked the attendees at the General Session to vote on them via text message. My personal favorite not-very-serious suggestion was "Where all the cool kids would be if they understood what the hell we were talking about" but it turned out to be too long to print on all the marketing material so it was shortened to "Where the cool kids are." Much easier to fit on a business card, that's for sure.

The conference next year will be June 26-30, 2011 in Long Beach, California. There are two advantages to these dates versus some conferences in the past: it's the week after Father's Day in the USA so no families get upset by daddy being gone and it's over before month end close so no companies get upset by finance being gone. It will start bright and early Sunday morning, so I'd advise everyone to fly in Saturday night and not plan to fly out until later in the afternoon on Thursday.
The presentations will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center. The host hotels will be the Hyatt Regency and the Renaissance. The Hyperion Midnight Madness event (and many sessions of Werewolf) is most likely going to be held at the Renaissance, so I'm guessing that will turn the Renaissance into the default host hotel for the Hyperion attendees (Kscope rate is the same at both).

Both hotels are less than 2 minutes walk from the Convention Center. Attendees can also easily stay at the Westin or the Courtyard, but they're more like a 5 minute walk, and if you're like me, exercise is something best left to those already in shape. My advice would be to book the Renaissance (especially if you're a Hyperion attendee) and the Hyatt soon before they fill up, but I've seen the Westin and Courtyard and they're both very nice hotels too. I'm also excited to announce that if you're staying under the Kscope code, internet is included in the room rate. Hurray for free high-speed downloading of totally not inappropriate things at 3AM!

The Wednesday night closing event will be held on the Queen Mary. What we'll be doing on the boat is a surprise, but I'll definitely let you know as we get closer to the conference. I'm particularly excited about having our event on the Queen Mary, since it fulfills my life-long dream of having a party on a big boat for more than 1,200 of my closest friends. As this will take one more item off my bucket list, Kscope11 will mean I'm one step closer to dying (and a cheer goes up from the crowd).

Submit a Paper Now
So the cheapest way to join us at Kscope11 is by submitting a presentation since speakers get in for the low, low price of free. As I mentioned above, the deadline to submit an abstract is October 26, and speaking as conference chair, it will not be extended. If you want the possibility of a free pass, start by visiting the abstract page to get an idea of what we're looking for and then go the submission page to put in your title, abstract, and so forth. With budgets ever tighter these days, it makes a much more convincing conference pitch to your boss when you point out that the biggest cost, the conference admission, is already paid for.

Even if you don't want to speak at Kscope11, make sure you put money into your 2011 budget now for attending the conference. I look forward to seeing every one of you and several (both?) of your friends at Kscope11. It'll be the most fun and educational thing you do in 2011 while remaining completely clothed. You can quote me on that (although it's not legally binding, of course, since I actually know very little about your personal life and what you consider to be both fun and educational).

1 comment:

GlennS said...

I'm truly honored to be the cause of you actually doing something to your blog. KScope sounds awesome. It really does sound like the place for the cool kids and for us nerds and geeks.