Introducing Ark Analytic Solutions

As many of you know, I went to work for Tableau in 2018, and loved working there. I learned much about the great products they produce, and developed a significant amount of expertise around Tableau Server. But ultimately, it was just not the right fit for me. So last year, I decided to form my own consulting company. My first client kept me for six months, during which time I established Ark Analytic Solutions, LLC, a BI consultancy based around exceptional service and expertise.

When the lockdowns started, the client I was working with had to release all outside help, as their business had been severely impacted by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. So I’ve been sheltering in place at home while honing my skills, and developing my business plan.

The good news is that we are now open for business. We are, for now, offering remote assistance in BI, Data and BI Governance, Big Data analytics, and data movement and management. I have more than twenty years’ experience in BI, and have developed relationships with the best people in the business, and am bringing all that experience together to benefit our clients. We stand by, ready to help for a few days, or a few years, or anything in between.

Our logo is currently in development, and I’m looking for assistance in building a web site.

This adventure has been a long time coming, and I’m really excited to make this announcement. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or need any assistance with any project you may have. I promise to offer you the best service possible. In the meantime, stay safe out there.

Hello, Tableau

Three days ago, I started a new job as a Solution Architect for Tableau Software. I’ve been working with Tableau for the past three years, but never expected that I would go to work for Tableau. Needless to say, I’m very excited about this new direction in my career. I’m also excited to be deepening my knowledge of Tableau. I’ve loved working with the product. Nearly all of my experience is with Tableau Desktop, but in this new job, I’ll be assisting Tableau customers with building an enterprise solution that meets their needs.

With this in mind, I can also say that, as I learn more and more about Tableau, I will start writing articles here about Tableau. I still love BusinessObjects, and will continue to keep up with new developments in BusinessObjects. But I don’t expect to be writing much, if anything, about BusinessObjects in the future.

I don’t see Tableau and BusinessObjects as competitors. I think they complement each other nicely. BusinessObjects is an outstanding, and very mature, reporting tool, with some data visualization capabilities. Tableau is an outstanding data visualization tool, with some reporting capabilities. So they work well together.

In fact, I recently worked on a project evaluating tools that allow Tableau to connect to BusinessObjects. Some tools connect to universes, others connect to Webi documents. And some tools do both. It was an interesting project, and may find its way into a future blog post.

Thank you to those who have followed this blog. I’m excited to keep it going, with a new direction.

New Beginnings

Some of you may already be aware of this. Not long ago, I was caught up in a lay-off at Teradata. This was a business decision on their part, and I hold no grudges against them. Teradata is a good company, with a great product line. I was working for the Think Big Analytics division, who decided that BusinessObjects is not a technology with which they wish to work. After all, BusinessObjects is a product of SAP, and SAP is a competitor of Teradata. So, that makes sense. I get that.

For the past 3 years or so, I’ve been working more with Tableau than with BusinessObjects. That’s why I haven’t written any new blog posts in a while. I considered myself a beginner for a long time. But I’ve been honored to be learning this new, and growing technology. In fact, I’ve fallen in love with Tableau. It’s a great product. It’s not perfect, but then, what tool is? But I’ve developed enough skill in Tableau that I have begun to work independently in Tableau. I’ve taken a few consulting and training jobs, and these have gone very well.

I see BusinessObjects as a declining technology, and Tableau as a growing technology. Do you use Tableau in your company? Do you need consulting help, or perhaps some training? I would be happy to help. If you have need of my service in Tableau, or, of course, BusinessObjects, feel free to contact me.

If you use Tableau, tell me what you think of it. What do you like about it? What areas need improvement? I have my own thoughts about this, and will probably share some of them in another post. But I would love to hear from you.

Returning After a Long Absence

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog, and for that, I apologize. For the last year, I’ve been involved in several projects that haven’t done much to inspire new posts here. This year, 2015, I promise to post more, as I learn new tips and techniques with BusinessObjects.

I’ve also been bad in approving comments over the past ten month, or so. And for that, I also apologize. I’ve now gotten caught up on approving comments, and have even replied to a few. I promise to be more attentive to comments. I appreciate all of them. Well, at least the ones that aren’t spam.

I’m planning some new posts, and should have some ready soon. But I’d also like to get some ideas from others. If you have any thoughts on topics that you would like to see covered here, feel free to comment to this post. I will give serious consideration to all ideas.

Thank you for sticking with me though this last year of silence. It’s time to break that silence, and start making some noise again. Who’s with me?

Sessions at SAP BusinessObjects User Conference

Will you be attending the SAP BusinessObjects User Conference in Orlando this year? If so, I’d love to meet you. I’ll be speaking at a couple of sessions. Please come and say hi to me. 🙂

Building a Data Warehouse: Building a Universe

In this session, we will look at the fundamentals of building a universe on a star schema data warehouse. Participants will watch as a universe is built, incorporating best practices in universe design. Topics will include basic concepts, SQL tricks, contexts, common mistakes, and documentation. Look at the best ways to make the universe user friendly and designer friendly.

Key Learning Points

  • Hear why good preparation is 80% of the work.
  • See why there’s more to building a universe than entering SQL.
  • Learn how to make sure that the users will understand this universe.

Note that this session is part of the Building a Data Warehouse series.

SAP BusinessObjects Security Made Easy

If you have worked with SAP BusinessObjects security, you probably have experienced a fair amount of pain trying to get it right. Yes, it can be confusing. However, there are some cool tricks that you can implement to make it much easier. This presentation will go over the basics of security, including some fundamental concepts. From there, you will explore some little-understood features of the Central Management Console (CMC) that can make security much easier. Some of the key concepts will include:

  • Setting security at the root folder
  • Using access levels
  • How to use the “Everyone” group
  • Dual security architecture
  • Best practices

ASUGNEWS Studio

In addition to my sessions, I’ll be joining Jamie Oswald and Dave Rathbun in the ASUGNews Studio for a live interview session on Tuesday morning at 9 AM. The studio will be located on the Show Floor. It should be fun, as the three of us in one place could mean non-stop laughter.

DSLayered Podcast

Eric Vallo is planning on recording a podcast from the conference, all about the early days of BOB. So, he’s pulled together a group of folks that have been there from the beginning, including Amy Miller and Susan Collins. They ran the List Serve that predated BOB. Of course, it will also include Dave Rathbun, Steve Krandel, myself, and perhaps a few special surprises. Note that this may be recorded after the conference, depending on everyone’s schedules, and a few technical details.

The Bottom Line

So, the bottom line is that I’d like to meet as many people as possible at the conference this year. So, look me up. I’ll also be attending the BI4 Launch Party, sponsored by Steven Lucas and Miko Yuk. See you there!

The Demise of Social Skills

My job takes me on the road quite a bit, and, over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to, and even started to enjoy, spending my evenings alone. I eat dinner in a restaurant alone, and sit in my hotel room alone, sometimes working, sometimes doing personal chores. I enjoy the time to catch up on reading, and writing.

But I also enjoy observing other people while I’m out for dinner. And I’ve noticed a trend that has sparked this article. It started a few months back while I was waiting for a table at a popular restaurant. There I was, in the waiting area of this restaurant, along with twenty or so other people waiting for tables. Most, if not all, of these people, where in groups ranging from two to five people. However, instead of chatting amongst themselves, the majority of these people where staring at their phones. Perhaps they were reading, or posting on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps they were texting other friends who weren’t with them. Perhaps they were surfing the net, or playing games.

While all of these things are fine, I was reminded of a scene in the movie Wall-e in which the residents of this space ship had learned to communicate with other people strictly through holographic screens which floated in front of them. They even used these screens to chat with people who, little did they know, where right next to them. They had lost all knowledge of the world around them.

Since that night, I have seen this same, or similar, scenarios being played out by people time and time again. In the most recent case, I was at another restaurant, and I was watching a nearby table containing a party of six people, four of whom where staring at their phones. On another occasion, I observed a couple, at dinner together, both of whom were using their phones extensively.

As a society, are we losing our ability to interact with people on a face to face basis? And, if we are, is that a bad thing? I look at our high school and college students today, and see a generation that is being defined by their devices. The next generation is not only learning to socialize through devices, but they are losing the ability so spell correctly, use correct grammar, or even use punctuation properly. Instant Message abbreviations have replaced complete words, not only in text messages, but throughout online forums, emails, and even articles.

Of course, some might argue that all languages evolve over time, and the most important thing is that the writer is understood by his or her audience. And, let’s face it, this younger generation has no problem reading each other’s poorly written communications. And, as long as the message is conveyed correctly, is it really that important that traditional writing skills are being abandoned? After all, hasn’t there always been a communication gap between generations? When I was young, my parents complained of the unintelligible language of my generation. But we understood each other.

I recently heard on KNX News radio that a study found the following increasing trend: Young people, after a job interview, would send a text message to the interviewer, often in abbreviated language, thanking them for the interview. The text might be something like this: “Thx 4 the chat”. The study found that managers who had received such text messages found them to be annoying. That doesn’t surprise me. Most managers are from a generation that values correct spelling and punctuation. Personally, I find it annoying to have to read a sentence several times trying to decipher the meaning. This is very common on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

I have to admit, I’d rather send an email, than pick up the phone and call someone. My wife is just the opposite. She hates typing an email. She would much rather have a phone conversation. I find that, in business, email is better, as you have documentation of what was said. In today’s business environment, we don’t need people denying what they said. We don’t have that issue with email.

However, at the same time, I miss the days when spelling, grammar, and punctuation were important. Even when I send a text message, I spell out full words, and include punctuation. I think that helps make the message clear. Am I showing my age? What do you think?

Starting a New Job

After 8.5 years as a Business Intelligence consultant with Westbay Solutions Group / Idhasoft, I decided to join the team at Claraview, which is a division of Teradata. The years that I spent with my team at Westbay, and then Idhasoft, are years that I will cherish. I couldn’t ask for a better team with which to work. Over those years, I had the honor and privilege of working with some of the most talented people in the BusinessObjects arena. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

As a Professional Services Consultant with Claraview, I will have the opportunity to take my expertise to a whole new level. Being a division of Teradata, I will have the opportunity to work on projects with folks from Teradata. I don’t have a lot of experience working with Teradata databases, and am really looking forward to getting my feet wet on this. However, Claraview isn’t tied to Teradata technologies. Claraview, as a Business Intelligence firm, is committed to working with any and all technologies that the client needs. So, I will continue working with all the technologies that I know so well, in addition to learning some new technologies. It’s the best of both worlds.

I also like that Claraview is a small company, with a big parent. So, I get to enjoy the intimacy of a small company, while getting the benefits of a large company. Again, it’s the best of both worlds.

So my first day with Claraview was on Monday, 3/14/2011. I spent most of that day doing paperwork, and new employee training, as well as getting my new laptop set up. The next morning, I was on a plane to Northern California, to go on-site with a client for my first assignment. That’s what I call hitting the bricks running! In this project, I am joining an existing team of consultants from Teradata, to help improve performance with their BusinessObjects system.

So far, what I’ve seen of Claraview, and Teradata, has impressed me. They treat their employees and customer very well. I could get used to this. 🙂