It’s the Last SBOUC as we Know It

On my way to the SAP BusinessObjects User Group (SBOUC) 2013 meeting I pause for reflection. It’s not because this year we return to my native Southern California, nor is it for the friends and colleagues that we will see this week.  In particular it is because, well, this may be the last SBOUC as we know it.

Long since SAP acquired analytic and decision-making solution company BusinessObjects (aka “BOBJ”) years ago, in prescient SAP fashion the solutions, brand and yes even user groups have been mainstreamed into the hearts and minds of the SAP ecosystem.  This first became evident with the integration of the risk management and BI elements to the former BOBJ Business Planning and Consolidation (no longer “BPC” but for those of us from early days we will forever call it this) and Strategy Management solutions.  In its own right, BusinessObjects had begun to collect these and other solutions to flesh out its own solution portfolio and SAP took notice.  It was a kinder, gentler approach to analytics.  When combined with BI tools, BusinessObjects was an environment to be reckoned with competing with even IBM’s Cognos toolset.

It could be the last Business Objects conference as we know it now that SAP has mainstreamed the branding of former BOBJ solutions as SAP Analytics.

Branding is always a confusing thing when it comes to solution-based acquisitions.  SAP, though, developed a migration approach – both technically and culturally – which deviated from “hard” acquisition approaches it used in the past when it purchased BOBJ.  The co-branding approach worked well, most BOBJ solution management and solution marketing teams remained reasonably stable, and SAP benefited from BOBJ field sales teams educating core-ERP sales folks on the upside benefits of selling and implementing analytics solutions.  But as most good things do come to an end, the BOBJ prefix (or suffix depending how you look at it) went away like the company and the solutions became identified with SAP Analytics.  (Note: Malcolm Faulkner and I are in the process of writing a new SAP Press update to the EPM book published back in 2010.  I never realized how much of a kicker in word count I had by having to include BusinessObjects in every solution reference!)  So similar to Sybase and other SAP brands purchased over the years, the expression “BusinessObjects” will fade into brand memory.

User groups also undergo transitions, and SBOUC as an event and as part of the former Global BusinessObjects Network (GBN) is no exception.  GBN was a great organization and this greatness was pulled into the SAP user group realm, most notably in the US market when the GBN Annual Conference became the incarnation of SBOUC as we know it today, sponsored by the Americas SAP User Group (ASUG).  The focus remained on development and analytics, with broader discussions around the full SAP ecosystem and how analytics and BI can accentuate decision making and performance.  Recently, topics including mobile BI (“mobi” or “MBO”) have translated once on-premises analytics into the world of mobile and cloud computing.  ASUG adopted a similar migration approach as SAP did to brands with its user groups and GBN members have found a welcome home with this community over the past several years.  (Sybase and SuccessFactors communities are also undergoing a migration approach both a bit differently in terms of scope, themes and timing.)

Which brings us to now, as in DVR-speak.  This week in Anaheim will likely be the last conference to contain the “BOBJ” title as branding transitions complete.  Even during last year’s program, speculation around whether an SBOUC 2013 event would actually be scheduled or whether it would be combined with the SAP TechED event later in the year was openly discussed.  In lock-step with the brand transition plans, a perhaps final SBOUC was scheduled and here we are.

Moving forward there  is – at least in my mind – room for an event like SBOUC but clearly it will take on different form.  Perhaps an “SAP Analytics” event will have the momentum to continue in much the current form, with DevWars continuing as a popular tradition. Certainly for decision solution makers, there is room for a second platform beyond TechED in the fall SAP conference schedule in the US.  Whatever the way forward, SBOUC participants and attendees can enjoy the last SBOUC as we know it and reflect with nostalgia during Wednesday’s concert finale by REO Speedwagen all of the years gone by and those still yet to come.

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