I am at the SAP BI and Portals conference in Orlando this week.  I usually attend this conference every year but missed last year for various reasons.  The thing that struck me most this year was how much the conference has shrunk.  There seems to be a lot fewer people attending than 2007 when I last attended.  This seems odd because now that SAP has acquired Business Objects, I thought there would be more people as there are more customers and more products.  My guess is the economy is affecting attendance and I would think the fact that there is now also a Reporting and Analytics conference is an additional factor.

The keynote yesterday was done by Marge Breya who is the Executive Vice President and GM of the BI Platform and NetWeaver.  Marge's promotion to this role is a really good thing because this now brings the Business Objects BI and NetWeaver BI portfolios together.  This hopefully means there will be a very unified vision going forward which is very good for SAP and Business Objects customers.

One point that Marge made was that there is a tonne of new information (or information that is now accessible to users within the organization).  Marge said that today only about 15% of employees have access to the proper information and tools and the other 85% of employees don't feel they have sufficient information to do their jobs.  Well, it seems that SAP's BI mission is to help all people get access to their data and allow them to better analyze it.  More and more people will have aggregated data that will give them more insight to make better decisions.  Marge also pointed out that SAP's products will give people access to both structured and unstructured data.  This is good because most data in an organization is not in structured format.

There were a lot of demos (18 actually) and there was the standard Polestar on BWA (formerly called BIA) demo.  It seems there can't be an SAP BI conference without someone doing this demo.  One other interesting comment from Marge was that a combination of Polestar and BWA will come to market within the next 90 days.  My guess is this will be "officially" announced at Sapphire around the middle of May this year.

By the way, SAP BW which was called NetWeaver BI is now officially called NetWeaver BW (as of January 1 year) and BIA is now called BWA – Business Warehouse Accelerator.  It seems the term BI is more appropriate for the former Business Objects portfolio.

Marge also talked about Polestar in the clouds.  This is something I think will be worth looking into…