OBIBB – Interviews (Kurt Wolff)

It has been quite some time since the last interview in the series on this blog, but I think it has been worth the wait.  I have been able to ask Kurt Wolff some questions. He has taken his time to give some very interesting answers.

1. You are a well respected member of the Oracle BI community. Where could we know you from?

>:I was a member of the original core group that created nQuire, the BI product that eventually became “Siebel Analytics” then “OBIEE”. I worked with the dev team on defining product features, wrote and delivered training, supervised doc, and was the PM for the admin tool. Along with Ed Suen and others from the nQuire and Siebel teams, I helped develop the metadata and original web applications for the Siebel CRM analytic apps, then worked on the team that built that other ERP analytic apps using the data models and ETL licensed from Informatica. I have presented several times at Siebel and Oracle user meetings (Oracle Open World, ODTUG), with the focus on solving analytic problems with OBIEE and showing various tips and tricks. I’ve trained a lot of people on the product in various locations around the world, using training materials I created and which became more or less the standard Oracle curriculum. I’ve also had two blogs on OBIEE topics: while with Oracle I wrote the “Dr. Metadata” blog, and then after leaving Oracle, the KPI Partners blog. I recently gave a Masterclass on OBIEE at the Rittman Mead BI Forum in Brighton, England. I’ve also written an Advanced Metadata course that is given by the BI Consulting Group.

2. You are one of the founders of Oracle BI (EE) as we know the product now. What is your opinion about the new 11g release?

>:I don’t have an opinion yet as I actually haven’t seen or worked with it. I’m hopeful but also nervous and perhaps a bit skeptical about it, frankly. I don’t really know if there are any new features that are important to me in my current work or not. There may be features that help Oracle sell more product, but that’s different.

Over two years ago I submitted a list of 20 “little” enhancements that, as someone who on a daily basis worked developing analytic apps with OBIEE, I thought would be really beneficial. They were “little” in the sense that I thought the dev team could knock them all out in less than three weeks’ time. Seriously big impact with seriously little work.

Instead, we’re getting what appears to be a major re-write of the product, which raises questions in my mind about compatibility, unlearning, and new bugs. What I know about new features – well, they’re not so compelling. Sure, if you have a need to integrate Essbase with your other data, that’s good. But in my present situation, it’s irrelevant, and I’m planning on taking a lot of time to evaluate the new release before moving ahead with it. It strikes me that this is the obvious time to at least look at what alternatives exist. If the upgrade and re-learning are at all painful, or if knowledge gained working with previous versions is now irrelevant, switching now could make sense. No doubt there are many Oracle customers who are thinking the same thing, although it’s probably heresy to say it out loud. There are so many people who make a living being part of the Oracle ecosystem I think it’s going to be hard to find people who are willing to be outspoken and forthright in stating their true opinions about the 11g release.

 3. What’s your favorite topic, you share your knowledge about?

>:Over the years, I’ve developed my own approach to working with the product that I think simplifies working with it and makes it more understandable. The product has always suffered a bit, in my opinion, from being too much of a “black box” – the connection between the metadata objects, their properties, and the SQL generated by the BI server were often unclear in people’s minds. That’s where I like to shine some light.

I’ve written and presented on data modeling – ways to construct the Business Model layer to handle various analytical situations, such as parent-child dimensions or skip-level dimensions. I’ve also become very interested in ways to display data effectively. One technique I’ve been using in the past year has been to integrate OBIEE with easy to use visualization technologies outside the OBIEE stack, such as Google charts and maps. So I’ve also written quite a bit about that recently.

4. In my opinion, you did a very valuable Masterclass in Brighton last may. How did you experience this session yourself?

>:I was pleased with it, actually. From what I could tell, it seemed to be well received – at least I got quite a bit of positive feedback about it. On the other hand, maybe people who thought it was sub-par were just being polite and didn’t say anything. It was a challenge to prepare because I wasn’t sure what the appropriate level of content should be and what the OBIEE skill level of the audience was. There’s the fear that people will feel they didn’t learn anything new. There’s also the fear that no one will understand what you were talking about. I think I landed somewhere in the middle of these extremes, which is where I wanted to be. I also wasn’t sure, even, whether I had the right amount of content for a six hour class. But in the end, as I say, it seemed to connect with the audience and the amount of content was about right.

5. What part of the Oracle BI stack could get more attention form the Oracle BI Community?

>:If you take the “stack” all the way to the database, I’ve become a big fan of materialized views in Oracle as the way to create aggregate tables. MVs offer several methods to control when they are refreshed. We refresh daily, in most cases, and MV refreshes basically run on autopilot. I turn query re-write off and include the MVs in metadata as normal aggregate tables. (Parenthetically, will say that I never use the “aggregate persistence wizard” that is included in the admin tool…)

In OBIEE itself, session variables (and “report variables”, the technique for temporarily overwriting session variable values) are also important tools that can help you accomplish all kinds of things in the physical layer of the repository.

The third thing that pops into my head is to not forget that you can hand-craft some queries using logical SQL that the Answers UI won’t produce. Unfortunately, in later versions of OBIEE, some things you could do with logical SQL in earlier versions no longer work. Maybe those bugs are fixed in 11g. One can hope. The fact that the BI server could execute logical SQL was one of its features that really set OBIEE apart from the other BI technologies out there. I don’t think it’s been given the importance and support that it should have been given.

For creating flexible applications, don’t overlook the column selector, view selector, and narrative views. You can perform all kinds of magic with these.

 6. You have some great opinions on RPD design. What are the do’s and don’ts ?

 >:This is a pretty broad question! One of the considerations is whether you are trying to design something that will support ad hoc queries by users in Answers or whether you are designing for users who will only interact with the metadata via what queries and prompts are in dashboards. In the former situation, you have to be careful that all combinations of columns in a query produce something that doesn’t look like an error and result sets that are valid. In the second case, you can create metadata that supports only certain pre-defined queries. You don’t have to worry about all the “loose ends”. In either case, you have to be sure that the underlying data model supports the queries. For example, will an inner join always work, or will it cause you to lose rows? If outer joins are needed, you have to construct the metadata so that they will only come into play when columns requiring the outer join are included in the query.

But here are some fundamental rules I follow. Start with a logical fact table. As a general rule, don’t include columns in the logical fact table that are not aggregatable. Avoid a design that will produce dimension table to dimension table joins in the physical SQL. Don’t be afraid to create new aliases in the physical layer when multiple join rules exist. I use the time series functions, but they can be slow to execute. Oftentimes, it’s better to create aliases and joins to support custom time aggregations (e.g. a 13 week total). Those people who remember the old time series wizard will understand what I mean.

I sometimes see questions posted asking how to do such and such in the metadata to solve a particular analytical problem. It seems to me that many people would benefit by asking, first, how you would solve the problem with SQL. If you can do that, then you can usually construct the metadata to produce the right SQL. If you have no idea what the correct SQL would be, then you’re probably not going to solve the metadata problem.

7 .You must have done a great deal of projects in the past. What are the key elements to run a successful Oracle BI EE projects?

>:I’m sure everyone who was asked this question would say things like get executive support for the project, define requirements carefully, and set expectations carefully. I agree, but would add a few things. 

First, get access to all the data! You cannot build anything without data, and in real life people often don’t seem to understand that. (Ever had a request for a “demo” without having any data?) Get the connection information (tnsnames, odbc dsns, etc.) and userids (with passwords) that will allow you to read the data as well as to create tables and materialized views (and to update, delete from, drop, and insert into tables).

When gathering requirements, focus on measures first. What are the key measures and what are their definitions? It’s amazing, but sometimes organizations have sets of measures that are used (they show up in reports in tables and graphs) but no one knows how to define them! So get the base measures defined and mapped. (This fits with my approach in building metadata: start with the logical fact table.)

Dimensions are usually easier to understand, but there can be missing dimension tables. By this I mean that words that appear in reports as row headers, which look like dimension attributes, are actually supplied by the reporting logic. It may take effort to get someone to explain what the report logic actually is. Build dimension tables when needed. (Materialized views, here too, are a great strategy for getting a set of distinct values for a dimension table). The essential dimension table is the period table. Create a period table at the proper periodicity. I have yet to see any project that did not require a period table. Having a period tables is good; not creating one is bad. Yet having a period table is sometimes controversial. It shouldn’t be. It should be automatic. 

When you have dimensions, attributes, and measures defined and know how to map them to their sources, make sure everyone agrees on the column names that will be used. This is a “say it now or forever hold your peace” moment, as far as I’m concerned. 

Before giving access to the data, you’ll need to understand the security requirements. If certain users can see only data with certain values, it usually boils down to creating and populating session variables that will filter result set queries, then applying the filters to the appropriate dimension and fact tables by group.

Implied in what I’ve just been saying is this: you need to create a dimensional model of the information. This is something quite different from focusing on generating a set of reports. You will be shown reports as part of the requirements. What you want to do is translate the reports into their dimensional components, then include those components in the dimensional metadata model. If you have all the dimensional components in the metadata model, you can reconstruct all the reports (or come close enough). By the way, if you are given reports as part of the requirements, set the expectation that users won’t get the exact same thing from OBIEE, but that all the essential information will be there. In fact, if you take the time to understand how users actually use the reports, the essential information can often be made more accessible to them.

While on the topic of requirements, here’s another thing I’ve found: requirements are usually sketchy, and the people producing them often don’t know much about OBIEE, BI in general, dimensional modeling, good data visualization practices, good dashboard page design, or even what information can matter most to their organization. Ask questions, but don’t be surprised if you get really bad answers. Document the answers, though, because 9 times out of 10, those giving you the answers will come to know that their answers were wrong and, strangely, they may get amnesia at that same moment.

Remind yourself frequently that the whole process is highly iterative.

8. I know one of your passions is Oracle BI EE. What are your other passions, if any?

>:Lots of passions! Like many others in this field, I’m drawn to topics that go beyond BI tools and mechanics into questions about how people actually make decisions. This includes data visualization, but it goes beyond that. It includes how you get people to re-think strategies when the data is clearly telling them that the strategies aren’t working. The human capacity for self-deception is amazing. Look at other aspects of human behavior to see dramatic examples of this. After all, there are people who believe that the Grand Canyon was the result of only a few thousand years of erosion. Talk about the human capacity to ignore data! In personal life, I’m someone who likes to move (run, cycle, sail, canoe, or ski), cook, play acoustic guitar. I love baseball (the Minnesota Twins, especially) and being in the outdoors and my family, first and foremost. I’m a certifiable “tree hugger” (environmentalist), too, I guess.

9. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

>:I currently work at a company based in Minneapolis called SPS Commerce. SPS is at its core an EDI out-sourcing service that a few years ago decided to add value to its offerings via BI and committed to OBIEE as its BI technology. So I’ve been spending the last two years building analytic apps based on EDI documents (purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, and point of sale reports). From what I can tell, these projects are nearly “done”. I may be looking for other interesting projects in the not too distant future, and at this stage, with the kids grown, I’d like to find ways to incorporate work with longer-term travel.

10. Who would you like to be next in this series and why? What would you like to ask him/her? 

>:I’d really be curious to know what some of the original nQuire team is doing and if they have thoughts about where BI is headed. Larry Barbetta and Ed Suen were visionary and brilliant. But maybe they’re on to other things.

Beyond them, once someone has had a chance to do some serious work with 11g, I’d be interested to hear what he/she has found out. That person, ideally, would have previously developed some serious analytic applications with Oracle BIEE and gone through the process of migrating them to 11g. I’d like to know what that migration was like and why doing the migration was worth it, other than to be “current”. Hopefully, also, that person can offer true independent judgment. It’s a tall order. The people who will really dig into 11g will probably be making a living by being a part of the Oracle ecosystem and won’t want to risk being critical. Or at least will be very careful about what they say.

One question I’d ask is whether the product has drifted too far in the direction of supporting mainly Oracle-owned technologies. One of the product’s original strengths was the fact that it was “database neutral” and supported a large number of commercial and open source relational databases. I’m hoping that continues, but I wonder. Some BI gurus originally thought Oracle would eventually end up killing the product when it bought Siebel (its previous record in BI wasn’t so great). Maybe they were right; maybe they couldn’t have been more mistaken. It would be interesting to know what the opinion on that is now.

There’s some language being used around this product that strikes me as having come from previous products that were desperately seeking ways to differentiate themselves in the BI marketplace. So when I hear “enterprise performance management” (“EPM”) or “balanced scorecards”, I react the same way as when I hear, on Mad Men (a hit US television show), the creative advertising executive Don Draper come up with “It’s toasted” as a slogan for a cigarette brand (when all brands toasted their tobacco). Maybe someone can set me straight.

I would like to thank Kurt for the time he has take to share his thoughts. Although the atmosphere around the new release of Oracle BI 11g seems to be somewhat euphoric, it’s a good thing to stay critical.

I hope I will be able to get the answers from one of the other members of the original nQuire team.

Stay in touch with Oracle BI EE

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my colleagues about 3 of the biggest Business Intelligence tools around. Next to IBM Cognos and SAP Business Objects, we were of course talking about the Oracle BI Suite.

The success of the Oracle BI Suite is for a great deal influenced by the active Oracle BI community. That’s one of the reasons I started the Interview series on this blog, to get a picture of this community. Next to that Oracle itself is very open, when it comes to downloading and trying their software. Oracle OTN and Oracle eDelivery belong to my favorite sites.

With the coming release of Oracle BI 11g, there will be a lot of knowledge to gain and to share. I am confident that the Oracle BI Community will become very active when then next Oracle BI 11g is generally available.

If you want to get information about the Oracle BI products, where will you start looking? Alex has done a great effort to get all active Oracle BI bloggers in one central place; In his blogroll. He has one condition: You have to be active. So my advise will be: Keep on sharing!

For those of you who want to make a fresh start with Oracle BI EE, please check John’s blog. He has an up-to-date page with all the details on; How to start with Oracle BI EE.

Let us all keep the Oracle BI Community alive and kickin’.

OBIBB – Interviews (Mark Rittman)

When I first started reading Oracle BI Blogs, Mark’s blog was one of the first I added to my bloglist. Although he has a very busy schedule, I was able to get a few anwers out of  Mark Rittman. I am sure Mark has some opinions, we could benefit from.

1. You are a well respected member of the Oracle BI community. Where could we know you from? 

>: I’ve been involved with Oracle BI and data warehousing for around 12 years now, and with OBIEE since Oracle bought Siebel back in 2006. I’ve been blogging since 2004 and am just about to start writing the Oracle Press book on OBIEE, which has been on hold for a few years whilst we waited for the 11g release. I’m also an Oracle ACE Director, a member of the ODTUG board and a regular writer on BI for Oracle Magazine. 

2. You use various different platforms to share your knowledge. Which one do you prefer?  

 >: I like writing for our blog (at http://www.rittmanmead.com/blog), as I can get thoughts down quickly and also obtain feedback from others using OBIEE. Writing for Oracle Magazine is professionally quite satisfying, as the editing process is very rigorous and a lot of effort goes into making sure the content is technically correct, and it reads well. I also enjoy answering questions and moderating postings on the Oracle BIEE Enterprise Methodology Group forum (http://groups.google.com/group/obiee-enterprise-methodology), as the conversation there is very focused on OBIEE architecture and best practices. 

 3. What’s your favorite topic, you share your knowledge about?

 >: My favorite topic is the data architecture layer for OBIEE – RPD data modeling, use of Essbase and Oracle OLAP, performance tuning, and leveraging the various layers of the Oracle technology stack to better improve the performance and throughput of queries. Another area I’m interested in, particularly with the coming of OBIEE 11g, is integrating the BI layer into applications, and so I’m interested in the ability for 11g to interface with Oracle ADF and the whole SOA stack. 

 4. You organized another successful Rittman Mead BI Forum this year. What can we expect for the next year?

 >: Well next year the big news will be OBIEE 11g, and by the time of the event, hopefully most of us should have worked on a few 11g projects and have some experiences and best practices to share. We’re also looking to run the BI Forum on consecutive weeks in Brighton, and in the USA, with hopefully some of the presenters traveling across the Atlantic and presenting with us at both events! 

 5. What part of the Oracle BI stack could get more attention form the Oracle BI Community?

 >: We’re all interesting in new features, and certainly OBIEE 11g is bringing lots of them. But for me, the area that could do with more attention is the technology behind the semantic layer and the BI Server, and I’ve certainly noticed that most OBIEE don’t really understand the process and meaning behind logical table sources, in-memory joins, when to have one or more LTSs and best practices for the design of the mappings between the business model and the physical layer in the semantic model. Whilst most people are focused on developing reports and getting the numbers to add up, an area I think should get more focus is on the principals behind the BI Server and best practices for setting up the semantic model. 

 6. How much of technology innovation have you seen in the Oracle BI stack over the years? Which feature/technology in your opinion was the most ground breaking one?

 >: Well most of the innovation I’ve seen over past few years has been around integration with the rest of the Fusion Middleware, and Fusion Application, stack. To answer the question directly, I’d say the best innovation since the launch of OBIEE 10g and the Siebel acquisition has been the continuing integration of Essbase into the Oracle BI stack; going forward, I’d like to see more innovation in the front-end, and also a move towards putting the whole analysis layer into memory, so that Essbase, OBIEE and potentially even ODI/OWB ran in RAM.

 7. You and Jon are running a successful business for a few years now. So it is possible; two captains on one ship. What makes you guys complementary? 

 >: Something we learnt early on is that we needed to focus on separate, but complementary areas, rather than both of us try and cover the same ground. Jon looks after the commercial side of the business, defining the strategy and brining on board new customers, projects and team members. I look after the technical side, setting the technical direction, discussing and communicating technical strategy with our clients, and working together with our delivery team to make sure we’re the best in the industry.

8. I know one of your passions is Oracle BI (EE). What are your other passions, if any?

 >: A couple of things. I’m a big Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) fan, and this year is an important one for us as it’s our first in the Champions League. I’m also into dance music, and in fact a common link between myself and Jon is that we were both dance music DJs back our student days in the 1990’s. So if the market for Oracle BI goes down in the future, we’ll have to get our decks out and go back on the road…!

9. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

>: Only that I’d encourage anyone with an interest in the methodology behind Oracle BI EE to visit, and contribute, to the OBIEE Enterprise Methodology Group at http://groups.google.com/group/obiee-enterprise-methodology . It’s free to join, moderated by some of the most well-known names in the OBIEE industry, and with the launch of OBIEE 11g behind us it’ll be a great place to discuss new features and techniques.

 10. Who would you like to be next in this series and why? What would you like to ask him/her?

>: I’d suggest Kurt Wolff. Kurt gave a very successful masterclass at our BI Forum this year, and was the original designer behind the BI Administrator tool. Kurt has some great opinions on RPD design and the approach to OBIEE projects, and it’d be great to get his opinion on what works and what doesn’t.

Thanks to Mark Rittman for sharing his thoughts on Oracle BI. I guess we wil need to focus some more attention on the principals of the Oracle BI Server. We should think and act like the Oracle BI Server to get the optimal results out of the Oracle BI Server. Hopefully Kurt Wolff could give his vision on this subject.

To be continued.

OBIBB – Interviews (Venkatakrishnan Janakiraman)

 Next in line is Venkatakrishnan Janakiraman. He probably has the most impressive name in the Oracle BI Community, so to make my life easier, I will call him Venkat from now on. Venkat doesn’t need any introduction because any well respected OBIEE consultant must have read any of his blogposts once. Let’s see what Venkat has to tell us.

1. You are a well respected member of the Oracle BI community. Where could we know you from? 

>: Primarily through my blog at http://oraclebizint.wordpress.com and now at http://rittmanmead.com/author/venkat . I also present at some Oracle BI related conferences like Oracle Open World, Rittman Mead BI Forum, AIOUG, ODTUG etc. I have been conferred Oracle ACE award recently. So, I would be part of any Oracle ACE related events in some of the conferences.

2. As John said, you’re the grandfather of all Oracle BI EE bloggers. Why did you start blogging?

>: John has been kind, I would say. Yes, when I started out blogging there were only a couple of people who were blogging on BI EE (Mark Rittman and Adrian Ward). But it is really heartening to see so many blogs now on BI EE, which basically goes to show the widespread adoption of BI EE as an enterprise BI tool.

I started out blogging immediately after the acquisition of Hyperion by Oracle. The primary motive behind starting the blog was the documentation state of BI EE in general. Though the docs are good, they still have quite a few errors/bugs, which haven’t been corrected in a while.  Initially the blog was a means for myself to document how the tool actually worked especially capturing those features that were either not documented or were wrong.

3. What’s your favorite topic, you write about?

>: There are 2 topics that I like writing and talking about. My most favorite one is the Metadata Modeling or Repository Modeling. And my second favorite topic is the integration of the BI EE in general as a tool with external applications. For example, calling Hyperion Financial Reports from BI EE, Web Service calls to update report metadata, Go URL etc.

4. I know for a fact that blogging takes a lot of time, next to other day-to-day activities. How do you manage?

>: When I started, it used to take a couple of hours to do the research and then create a blog post for it. I started out doing this after my work hours. But there were times when I did one or two blog posts a day, everyday for a month or two. I know this might sound crazy but on such occasions, I used to even write a blog post while driving especially while waiting for a traffic signal to change (Bangalore is notorious for its traffic jams). When I look back the thing that I think stands out is, the only way to achieve any sort of tool related mastery is by constantly working with the tool (everyday) and then of course by trying to answer the questions that people have (like OTN Forums that I used to frequent a lot before).

5. What part of the Oracle BI stack could get more attention form the Oracle BI Community?

>: Honestly, there are quite a few. Some of them are Hyperion DRM, Hyperion EPMA, Hyperion Planning and Financial Management. Hyperion Essbase has a good community adoption. But the other Hyperion tools still do not get a lot of coverage in the Oracle BI community in general.

6. You and RittmanMead have joined forces. What made you leave Oracle?

>: I was with Oracle for almost 6 years. I would say Oracle is probably one of the best places out there to work for. But as with any big firm, you get embroiled in lots of other non-technology related things that you do not want to.  It came to a point wherein I thought I was doing something that I wasn’t enjoying anymore.  I had been following Mark’s blog right from my non-Oracle BI related days. At that time I was working on Cognos BI but I used to follow what was happening in the Oracle BI area. Mark and Jon are also the most respected people in the Oracle BI community. So when the opportunity came up for us to join hands, I immediately took that up.

7. Is there really a difference between BI in Asia and BI in the Western world?

>: I would say there is not much difference apart from the extent of BI adoption in general. In Europe/US, as a consultant when we do an implementation of Oracle BI, we would generally stick to project plans with client driving the requirements in most cases. In majority of the cases, the client would be well aware of what BI in general can do for them. The decision to buy Oracle BI or any BI tool in general would have been made after some rounds of technical analysis/discussions/evaluations.

But here, a consultant will not only have to lead the implementation but also will have to work towards making users understand what BI in general can do for them. The purchasing decisions generally come from executives. People who might be driving the requirements might not be aware of what the tool can do for them. So, an implementation generally requires an initial phase of evaluation and then identifying gaps. Also since users are new to such technologies, significant training effort is required as well.

8. I know one of your passions is Oracle BI EE. What are your other passions, if any?

>: Well, though I blog more about Oracle BI EE, my passion is generally on OLAP tools like Essbase, Cognos Powerplay in general. I also like exploring other tools like QlikView, Cognos, Business Objects etc.

Outside of BI technology, I was a national Table Tennis player. I used to play Violin in local orchestras (long time back). But my wife says, I produce more sound than Music in my violin these days.

9. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

>: Change is the only constant as far as Oracle BI is concerned. What we write today in our blogs might become outdated or outright wrong one or 2 years down the line. I would recommend everyone to use blogs as a source of information. Always test everything in your instance before recommending any solution.

10. Who would you like to be next in this series and why? What would you like to ask him/her? 

>: I would like the next person in this series to be Mark Rittman. Mark is probably the only one person who has seen Oracle BI evolving right from Discoverer 4i days. My question to him will be “How much of technology innovation have you seen in Oracle BI stack over the years? Which feature/technology in your opinion was the most ground breaking one?”

Thanks to Venkat for sharing his thoughts. One of his motivations is that these interviews will bring more sense of community to “Oracle BI”. I hope he is right. With a little bit of luck, I am able to present Mark Rittman in the next episode.

To be continued.

OBIBB – Interviews (John Minkjan)

I seem to have one small addiction; Oracle BI (EE). Lucky enough for me there is a large Oracle BI community out there to fulfill my needs. Last May, at the RittmanMead BI Forum, I had a chance to meet a few guys of this community. I was able to shake hands and learn more about the persons who are blogging and logging or in any way are sharing their knowledge.

I benefit a lot of the knowledge which is spread all around the world wide web. That’s why I tought it would be nice to start a series of interviews with part of the Oracle BI community.

I will start the series with someone I know for a few years now. Although he shouldn’t need to much of an introduction, I let him introduce himself; John Minkjan

1. You are a well respected member of the Oracle BI community. Where could we know you from?

>: First of all my blog http://obiee101.blogspot.com and my posting on the OTN forum. Besides that I did several presentations eg.; RitmannMead BI conference, OBI-forumlive, Oracle Netherlands, CIber.

2. We all know your http://obiee101.blogspot.com weblog. You own a lot more of these weblogs. Could you name a few? Why so many? 

>: At moment I own 36 blog titles most of them are ….101 (eg. MSSQL101, SSIS101, COGNOS101.). I will reserve a blog title every time I’m working on something where I need a “scratchpad” to keep my tips and tricks. The main one OBIEE101 became sort of a hobby…..

 3. What’s your favorite topic, you write about?

>: The usage of graphs.

 4. You use various platforms to share your knowledge. Where do you get your own?

>: Basically I start with common sense… Next I like to RTFM. If I can’t find it there I use Google…..

 5. What part of the Oracle BI stack could get more attention form the Oracle BI Community?

>: We need a lot more information and training on WHY we should or shouldn’t use something, instead of HOW we should use it.

 6. Do you also work with tools from other software vendors like SAP BO, IBM Cognos, etc? If so, what makes Oracle BI tooling so special for you?

>: …Tough one: I just happen to like it a lot because I use it a lot, still most functionalities are available in other BI tools.

 7. Next month on the 7th of July, the next version of Oracle BI EE will be launched. What are your expectations regarding the new 11g release?

>: The changes are so big that it will take a least a year for the BI community to get a good “common knowledge”. There will be a great risk for overkill if you give everything at once to your users.

 8. I know one of your passions is Oracle BI EE. What are your other passions, if any?

>: I’m also a ham operator (PH9Z) and a member of the Dutch Emergency Communications community.

 9. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

>: Don’t keep knowledge to yourself, share and you will receive even greater knowledge.

 10. Who would you like to be next in this series and why? What would you like to ask him/her?

>: Of course the grandfather of all OBIEE blogs Venkat and my question is; Is there really a difference between BI in Asia and BI in the Western world?

First of all I would like to thank John for his time to answer these questions. Secondly I hope the readers of this blog will follow John’s advise; Share your knowledge! I couldn’t agree with him more. Last but not least, I hope I am able to share the thoughts of Venkat with you.

To be continued.