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18 May 2015

I don’t ordinarily write about conferences other than Kscope, but when I do…

…I write about the Rittman Mead BI Forum 2015

Tim German and I just spoke at Rittman Mead’s annual BI Forum.  Alas, we didn’t go to the one in Brighton (I attended the Comshare EMEA conference there in 1992 but I cannot find any links to it – I think it was in the hotel the IRA tried to assassinate Margaret Thatcher in although I note that RM’s conference was in a different hotel).  Instead we went to the one in Atlanta (come think of it, I believe I attended a Comshare conference there as well – maybe 1991?  1993?  I can’t remember for the life of me.) and it was absolutely brilliant.

Why?  I find technology just fascinating (erm, you would imagine that based on this blog) and the presented technology at this level is all new to me.  Fascinating.
NB – For those of you who think this is a sycophantic recounting of their conference, it isn’t.  I’m pretty hard to impress and I was just blown away by the conference.  Think of this post as enthusiasm and well deserved at that.

NB #2 – Mark went out of his way to let the two token Essbase guys feel at home.  Many thanks, Mark.

Day by day

Day 0

The conference started out with a master class on Oracle Big Data.  We’ve all heard a lot of hype and hyperbole about Big Data.  I have to say that after watching Jordan Meyer and Mark present on it, I think Big Data might just deserve it all.  I also have to admit this is the first time I’ve had a bird’s eye view of R, EDA, Oracle Big Data SQL, and I-don’t-know-how-many-other-techologies, but the kinds of data, the statistical analyses, and reporting just blew me away, as did the rest of the conference.

Day 1 & 2

Rather than try to give my impressions of each one of the sessions, which would be difficult ‘cos I was mostly completely at sea, the conference covered subjects and technologies that are not in the toolkit of at least this Essbase hacker.  I’ll list it and try to give you a feel of my overall impression of the conference.

The list


  • Brian MacDonald or Chris Lynskey, Oracle Corporation : “Looking Ahead to Oracle BI 12c and Visual Analyzer”
  • Robin Moffatt, Rittman Mead : “Smarter Regression Testing for OBIEE”
  • Bill Creekbaum and Gabby Rubin, Oracle Corporation : “Solid Standing for Analytics in the Cloud”
  • Hasso Schaap, Qualogy : “Developing strategic analytics applications on OBICS PaaS”
  • Tim German / Cameron Lackpour, Qubix / CLSolve : “Hybrid Mode – An Essbase Revolution”
  • Kevin McGinley, Red Pill Analytics, “Agile BI Applications: A Case Study”
  • Stewart Bryson, Red Pill Analytics, “Supercharge BI Delivery with Continuous Integration”
  • Ryan Stark or Chris Lynskey, Oracle Corporation : “Big Data Discovery”
  • Andy Rocha & Pete Tamisin, Rittman Mead : “OBIEE Can Help You Achieve Your GOOOOOOOOOALS!”
  • Christian Screen, Sierra-Cedar : “10 Tenants for Making Your Oracle BI Applications Project Succeed Like a Boss”
  • Sumit Sarkar, Progress Software : “Make sense of NoSQL data using OBIEE”

All of the sessions were good (somehow I think even the session Tim and I presented on Hybrid was at least adequate – sorry Tim), but the ones that I found most fascinating were the conceptual ones that could apply to EPM as well.  Robin’s presentation in particular really hit home as it captured the kind of structure and rigor that we should be bringing to testing in EPM projects.  Stewart also almost made me believe in Agile, which is really quite an accomplishment.  Even the more BI-specific technologies and approaches were absolutely fascinating.

A data visualization bake off allowed BI geeks to take a known dataset around public school classroom projects that need funding and presented their solution at the conference.  Sorry, I can’t tell you who won as I was continuing my OMG-this-is-so-f’ing-cool bit of shock and awe, but both of the solutions were really great.

There was also a debate on self-service BI vs. the traditional IT-oriented and controlled top down BI.  Oddly, there was quite a bit of discussion about buffets vs. Michelin three star restaurants (it was a metaphor for the different kinds of BI but it all left me a bit puckish).  I have to say that I was on the side of the former – this is where Essbase got its start and where my heart with the product still is.  Empowering people to take control of their data is one of the things that makes Essbase so great.  Self-service won.  :)

In action

If you want to download the presentations have a look here.

Want to see us in action?  Check us out on Flickr.

One other thing

This sounds kind of ridiculous, but the food at this conference was just fantastic.  Perhaps that’s down to the hotel, or perhaps the small size (60-ish) which allowed a different kind of buffet

Wrapping it all up

Will I go again?  If I can afford it (remember, yr. obt. svt. funds himself) yes, I will.  It was that good.

Thanks again to RM for inviting Tim and I to present and hopefully we didn’t let the Essbase side down.

Be seeing you.

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