Sunday, May 10, 2009

Collaborate Follow-up

Now that Collaborate is over and I have had a couple of days to recover, I finally have the energy and the time to write down my thoughts.

My trip started out a bit late last Saturday. I headed out to the airport just as a big blob of rain was heading our way. By the time I had the plane loaded and was ready to go, it was an utter deluge. My wife was urging me not to fly off into that stuff and, of course not. There is an old saying about aviation that goes like this: “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” I am quite conservative when it comes to flying my airplane and so we waited it out and watched the Kentucky Derby on the TV in the terminal. My decision was wise as there was a tornado warning with a tornado on the radar just 15 miles into my intended flight path. Within 30 minutes, it was gone and my 3 hour flight to Orlando was smooth; I didn’t even go into the clouds until I was over Ocala on my descent into Orlando Executive Airport.

I got to the hotel about 11 pm and immediately ran into some of my fellow ODTUG board members. We got a late bite to eat at the B-Line Diner at my hotel, the Peabody. The Peabody was the best hotel for conference attendees as it was directly across the street from the site of the conference, the Orange County Convention Center, and was an easy 3 minute walk to the conference. I know some attendees tried to save some pennies by staying at ‘non-conference’ hotels that were located further from the conference, but they ended up renting cars, driving, parking, etc which, in my opinion, is a pain.

Sunday started with the Hyperion SIG meeting. The crowd at the SIG meeting was down from last year and was an indicator of the Hyperion attendance at Collaborate this year. It was significantly down this year. I believe that was due to several reasons:
  • The economy and travel freezes at companies;
  • The swine-flu scare; and
  • Continued confusion on the part of the Hyperion community as to which conference to attend.

The most significant announcement at the Hyperion SIG meeting was that OAUG was planning a standalone Hyperion conference back in Orlando in November. There are several reasons that I believe this conference will not happen including in November. First, it is too soon to put together a standalone conference, plan the agenda, get speakers and get attendees. Nobody has budgeted for it this year and I believe the attendance would be even worse than at Collaborate. Second, it is too close to Oracle Open World and, with all of Oracle focused on Open World, Oracle will not have time to help OAUG by providing speakers or any other help. Personally, I like the idea of a single Hyperion conference and will be working with my ODTUG, OAUG and Oracle colleagues to foster the idea.

Sunday ended with an invitation-only Hyperion SIG meeting co-sponsored by a number of vendors in the Hyperion SIG and BI/DW SIG; we were one of the co-sponsors. The party was at B.B. Kings club just down the street from conference and it was good food, good music and good Hyperion conversation for a few hours.

Monday was the day the conference sessions started and the day the exhibit hall opened. I attend John Kopcke’s EPM vision session that day and it was indicative of the poor attendance at the conference. In the old Hyperion days, John normally did this talk during the keynote in front of thousands of people; at Collaborate 2009, there were just over 100 people in an auditorium designed for 300 plus people.

The Hyperion traffic at the booth was similarly dismal. I think we talked to less than 50 Hyperion users at our booth during the whole conference; that works out to costing us over $200 per contact. I did, however, talk to a number of people who were at Collaborate for the ERP products: E-Business Suite (Oracle Financials), Peoplesoft and J.D. Edwards, and did start the education process on how Hyperion and Essbase can help them. There are a huge number of customers out there that don’t yet know what Essbase is but, when they find out how it can help them, those of us in the Hyperion world will have a career working with them.

My sessions were on Wednesday and, as fellow blogger Edward Roske noted, the attendance seemed to wane during the week. I had 3 people in my 8:30 am session which is simply pathetic; my 11 am session was up to 25 or 30 which was better but no less pathetic. One of the problems with attendance is that one of my sessions was IOUG and one was OAUG; I don’t believe either was tagged as ‘Hyperion’ and you had to search the conference agenda with the keyword ‘Essbase’ to even find them. The two sessions were also in different parts of the conference center. In my opinion, the root problem with scheduling at this conference is that OAUG and IOUG seem to see their own brands as more important than the attendees needs. For the most part, attendees could care less which group is sponsoring a presentation but rather cares about the content; I have stressed this point in my work with the ODTUG board and I plan to provide some constructive comments to help Collaborate easier to navigate next year.

Wednesday ended with the conference party at the Islands of Adventure theme park. I started out the night on the Incredible Hulk roller coaster with fellow Oracle ACE Director, Debra Lilley, Duncan Mills, Sr. Director of Product Management for Oracle JDeveloper, and Stanley, the famed Oracle ACE vest. Duncan and I had the honor of serving as the guide for Stanley on the Incredible Hulk coaster. After that, I grabbed something to eat and rode the Hulk again before meeting up with D.J. Hoelscher and Larry Jack from Applied OLAP partner Harbinger Consulting Group. D.J. and I hit the Incredible Hulk hard and rode it 4 more times including 3 times in the front row and 1 time in the back row.

By the way, the front row of the coaster is a much better place to be; the back does whip you around more if you are into that. For those of you who have never been on it, here is the deal. It starts out like a normal rollercoaster in that it is slowly pulled up a steep grade (inside a tunnel) to begin the fun. About halfway up the incline, horns start blaring and lights start flashing; the cars then get catapulted to 40 mph in about a second, emerge from the tunnel and roll inverted 110 feet off the ground and dive straight down. Way too much fun! For those of you who would like to see it, here is a video from the front-seat perspective.

After the official party, there were a number of unofficial events at the Orlando CityWalk at Universal. I went to Margaritaville with my friends from interRel and later had a Margarita with my friend Andy Jorgensen from Titan (formerly known as Pinnacle and K2 Analytics).

Thursday morning came too early but I wanted to see a presentation on Smart View and Planning, so I was up early and out the door. The presentation was quite good but, as we saw during most of the conference, lightly attended with maybe 30 people in the room. Early in the week, I promised Debra Lilley that I would give Stanley (the ACE vest) an aerial tour of Orlando in my plane. Andy Jorgensen joined us as we took a quick tour of the Conference Center and Lake Apopka at 1,500’. My landing on that flight was perfect; a ‘greaser’ as they say, and thank goodness because, unbeknownst to me, Debra had filmed it on her cell phone and later blogged about it!

After visiting my daughter, a teacher in Port St Lucie, on Thursday night, I flew home uneventfully on Friday morning. Despite the fact that Collaborate was lightly attended, and especially so on the Hyperion side, it was still a fun time and I plan to be back there next year in Las Vegas. Hopefully we can work with the OAUG/IOUG/Quest user group people to make it better.


Debra Lilley said...

and his flying was great, which I good as I am a coward, thanks Tim

Tim Tow said...


I did try to take it easy on you and did none of those 'Incredible Hulk' type of turns in the 210.

I am glad you, Stanley and Andy enjoyed the 'Flight of the ACE Vest!