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The KScope 13 Aftermath

KScope ’13 was a fabulous time down in NOLA! I met up with friends from last year’s KScope and learned about some great new product features at the sessions. This was the largest KScope to date!

The Mardi Gras World, although not as spectacular as last year’s rodeo roundup, was a nice finale to the conference. I enjoyed the NOLA-themed food, costumes, and music.

At this year’s ODTUG conference, Oracle cracked down on the public sharing of information about their roadmap and future product direction. Therefore, I will skip over those details (although I’m still salivating from a few new items discussed).

Here are the personal observations I made about the event:

  • The question about whether to upgrade to 11.1.2.2 vs. 11.1.2.3 was a prominent theme in a good number of the sessions that I attended. And the expert opinion on which to migrate to was split. It was clear that although customers were interested in the great features available in 11.1.2.3, many have chosen 11.1.2.2 due to the lack of an available patch for 11.1.2.3. However, that patch will be out soon…
  • There was quite a bit of buzz surrounding the new feature in Planning to support ASO. Customers and consultants both seem to be very interested in using this, yet industry experience is still rather limited.
  • There was a lot of vendor discussion related to Planning in the cloud. The features and supported technologies continues to increase. This seems to be a strategic direction for Oracle.
  • Now that OBIEE and Essbase are integrated (well), there are more sessions devoted to this topic and how to leverage both technologies to elevate analysis and reporting. The mixture of EPM and BI is starting to become a standard.
  • I saw a huge leap forward in reporting and ad hoc capabilities for SmartView. The enhancements made to integration (OBIEE as a source in SmartView, etc.), charts and graphs, free form ad hoc, and more intuitive functionality are starting to stir the dust that has clouded this tool for the past few years. It was as if Oracle decided to do a reboot and become more feature focused instead of playing catch-up to the Essbase Excel Add-In.
  • Last year, Oracle promised to bring their product version numbers more in line for EPM and BI. Although this hasn’t happened yet, there was some discussion on how that numbering system will be managed moving forward. It was also mentioned that the version number increments will be more meaningful and reflective of major vs. minor releases.
  • Predictive Planning still seems to be a relatively untouched area in EPM. Although there are a few use cases for this technology, it is not widely used. It offers some interesting capabilities, but I’m not sure how this fits into the general EPM space.
  • As the Oracle EPM suite of products becomes more complex, the customers are becoming very confused about what the products do and what they need. This year I got a sense that customers were less knowledgeable about the EPM products in general, based on the types of questions that were asked in the expert panels. Perhaps this means that the number of new EPM customers has grown at this conference. And perhaps it means that less existing customer attended.
  • There were a few sessions that focused on simplicity, which surprised me. For instance, one session suggested to use report scripts and MDX to generate reports instead of using OBIEE or FR. Given the prior observation, I’m wondering if customers are feeling that less is more and that a shift “back to basics” is better (and cheaper).
  • In case you haven’t gotten the memo, the legacy Essbase Excel Add-In is dead. It no longer ships out with Essbase. That was stated several times during this conference and yet there are still many customers who haven’t made the switch.
  • Another memo: Premier support for EPM 11.1.1.x *ends* next month. Customers on 11.1.1.3 or 11.1.1.4 really need to start thinking of a migration plan to 11.1.2.x. This information seemed to be downplayed at the conference.
  • The consulting firms in the EPM space continue to proliferate and grow. There were several new companies that I have never heard of before with either booths or sponsorship. This industry is ever changing.
  • Although the KScope audience continues to grow and evolve each year, there is a sense that this conference still does not measure up to the old Hyperion Solutions, which many partners and customers miss. Several of my peers brought this up this week. Yet, KScope’s content is better than ever – it’s a puzzle.

Three large industry announcements were made during KScope week:

  1. Oracle partnered with Salesforce.com
  2. Oracle Database 12c was released
  3. Oracle has also strategically partnered with Microsoft

It definitely feels like industry eyes are curiously watching the Oracle-Microsoft alignment.

If you want additional information, Jason’s Hyperion blog has some great “deep thoughts” on the conference.

Next year’s conference will be in Seattle! I look forward to visiting the NW during summer. Pike’s Place, the EMP museum, the space needle, the original Starbucks and so much more will be at our fingertips! The site is up and ready – you can register here now!

Cheers,
-TTC