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Former Member

Last week, I had the pleasure and honor of chairing the Special Interest Group(SIG) Meetings held in Cape Town on 20th February and Johannesburg on 21st February. The events turned out to be more of a reunion between the members of the BI Community in South Africa. I really liked seeing so many familiar faces! 

I kicked off the meeting by explaining to the first time attendees that the SIG Meeting is a space that we come to where we not only gain insights into the world of analytics but where we network, share experiences with like minded people and most importantly its a place where we come to and leave feeling inspired from the stories that we hear from our peers. In order to break the ice, I asked the SIG Members to introduce themselves by sharing with their neighbor who they are, what organisation they're from, what they love the most about analytics and most importantly what topic they're interested in hearing more about. This created a vibe and this managed to make everyone comfortable.

I also explained that the Steering Committee had come up with principles that are critical to the success of the Special Interest Group;-

  • Communication - Better communication between the Steercom and the members.
  • Promoting a Spirit of "Ubuntu"/Community where members are comfortable with sharing and assisting each other wherever possible.
  • Need for a high level of commitment
  • At the end of the day it's really about everyone doing their bit and getting involved!

"In-Memory - Beyond the Technology" Dr Barry Devlin, 9-sight Consulting"Data Analytics and Performance Management", Avish Sooful, Deloitte"Social Media 101", Umesh Sita,Britehouse

Although Dr Devlin does not necessarily come from an SAP Background, what I really appreciated about his presentation is that he made sure that it was very much in line with what is going on in the SAP world. He firstly reiterated the importance of IT working together with business and said that even a study amongst CIOs shows the increased importance of this ecosystem. He also touched on the decisions that businesses running SAP will now have to make...whether they go SAP HANA, if they already have BW does one go BW on SAP HANA? What about Business Suite on HANA?Is the migration as easy as described in some of the documents? He mentioned that there are interesting times ahead.

The presentation served to illustrate the challenges of attaining insight into organisational goals, its alignment and it’s enablement via technology. Avish showed a real passion for performance management, taking us through the 3 level hierarchal triangle, of measurement and accountability:




and how Analytics has a

role to play in highlighting

anomalies in process.

I was really looking forward to Umesh's presentation. It was literally a quick overview of some of the essential aspects of twitter in order to find your social voice. He explained what some of the terminology means, i.e. #FF, hashtags,etc. He emphasised the value of social media, i.e. building a community,having direct access to other tweets and real time conversations.

"Cementing SAP's Value within PPC by Implementing Usable Reporting Solutions" , Herman Coetzee,PPC

"Demo of SAP VISI, Predictive Analytics, Design Studio" Paul Vermaak, SAP

Herman’s presentation was entertaining! He mentioned from the beginning that it was a repeat from the Eventful's presentation last year. He told a joke about the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Good: Your wife’s not talking to you
Bad: She wants a divorce
Ugly: She’s a lawyer

He equated this to their previous ERP

Good: They had an ERP in place BUT it was extensively customized

Bad: They had hundreds of custom developed (users specific) reports in ERP – not really usable

Ugly: Excel became the standard for reporting; NO ONE VERSION OF THE TRUTH

PPC embarked on a SAP Implementation Project which they branded as "Phambili" as a business project(NOT IT Project). They ensured that they had a Change Management Partner and a Technical Implementation Partner. He mentioned that one critical lesson that they learnt is that they needed to keep interactions with the business on their level[don't OVERCOMPLICATE but make sure that the business has insight into the roadmap!

This was a real eye opener for a lot of the SIG Members. This was the first time some of them got to see SAP VISI & Predictive Analysis in action. There was quite a lot of interest around Design Studio. This will tie in with the Lunchtime Webinar Series we're launching, wheretammy.powlas, SAP Mentor and ASUG Volunteer will be sharing some insight on SAP Design Studio on April 15th.

I must admit Paul was a rockstar in Cape Town! His flight was delayed by 2 hours and although he arrived late for his session, he showcased the three products like a pro!

If you want to find out more information on the three products, you can read an earlier blog that I wrote an an AllAccess Webinar hosted by

mico.yuk2  that featured the product managers, Ian Mayor(Design Studio&Dashboards), Chris Gadella(Predictive Analysis), and

Mani Srinivas(Visual Intelligence / Explorer).

There were yummy goodies that were given away in between the presentations - these were given to members who could answer questions relating to the presentations correctly. This created a great vibe and made people listen(I was a bit lenient and gave away prizes to people who answered incorrectly!). There were prizes given to members for tweetcasting the event itumeleng.storom and @LouisdeGouveia (See the tweetdoc for the event).

The networking at the end of the event facilitated an environment where people could let their hair down and mingle! I got to meet a few new members which was really great!

One of the issues that we often talk about and not act on is ensuring that we create opportunities for new blood to enter the market. In South Africa, and perhaps this is the case in other countries too, there are many graduates who are not finding employment upon completing their studies. The reasons for this warrant a blog post of its own! As a Steercom, we took this issue seriously and decided to put out the invite to any graduates who have an interest in Analytics. The feedback in Cape Town  was amazing with 10 graduates attending. Johannesburg however needs to catch on as we had no graduates attending! We urged the members to network with the graduates. The picture below shows me with one of the graduates (a version of me after a long day!!)

Overall feedback on the event was positive, there are one one or two things that as a Steercom we want to pick up on, i.e. a suggestion that the SIG Meeting should be in the late afternoon/early evening to allow contractors based at client sites who can not get away during the day to attend.  Another very good suggestion(which we struggle with) is getting customers to present. Please if you are a customer and you have a story(it DOESN'T have to be a story about the latest and greatest tools! It can be about what you have found to work or NOT work for your organisation) please put your hand up and volunteer to present at the next SIG Meeting/webinar.

I would still like to know from other User Groups how they are able to get customers to present? What innovative ways are you using or is it something you do not struggle with?

Overall, I'm really proud to say that I am part of such a dynamic Special Interest Group, let's keep the momentum and let's keep the conversations going beyond the SIG Meetings. This is the only way we will all benefit!