Marco Musings 2006

Another round of random ramblings on the Marco Island Conference. This time around, it’s the October 16-18, 2006 coverage.

Copyright © by Steve Schneider



Oh darn..Had to drive all the way from Michigan to Marco Island again. The sacrifices we all make for our employers.As you can see from this shot, it can be a really rough life..




All is not sunsets and beer though..Speaking of beer, this year’s Marco find was the strange Irish pub and sushi bar right across the street from the Hilton. Too bad I can’t remember the name of the place.. They had an interesting arrangement of English and Irish beers along with sushi and steak..Overall, an eclectic mix, but I’d still prefer a good brewpub. Oh yeah, last years find (Nacho Mama’s) is gone..As in torn down, left the building..OK, if you want food, and LOT’s of it, go to Porky’s BarBQue on Bald Eagle Drive and ask for the Hawg’s dinner for 2.

This year’s brewpub tip is the Backcountry Brewery in Frisco, Colorado..Not much to do with Marco Island, but since the ASUG Data Governance conference was the week before in Colorado, I just had to go check it out..Tasty beer, fantastic scenery and not to bad a shepards pie…


I really wasn’t even going to bother you with all this trivial information, until certain comments were made by some of the audience members on Day 1. In essence, the comments were that we needed more “stuff” written on the portal…

Begin rant

Now, in general, I will agree with those comments. As I might possibly be the most prolific of the current crop of writers in the CWG, I will admit, the comments got under my skin a little…I will agree that I could write more. I will certainly state that my interest in writing has dropped in recent months. There is a reason..

See, I’ve asked (more than once) for ideas on what you wanted to read about, comments on any articles you’ve read or would like to read, and various other things. Based on the voluminous lack of responses I’ve received, I sometimes wonder if there’s anybody out there reading this stuff!! However, here’s the deal from my misguided point of view.

I’m sitting at home writing this. No, my wife isn’t happy that I’m writing instead of paying attention to her. Yeah, I put in a full day at the office as well, then came home, did a little yardwork, washed the dishes and contemplated kicking the cat..Instead, I started writing..OK, the wife is happier that I’m writing instead of kicking the cat, but that ain’t saying much..Granted, I have a decent microbrew (Ommegang’s Rare Vos) sitting in a pint glass next to me, but the point is, everything that is done for the CWG is on a volunteer basis. Nobody gets paid for doing this, and we all still have our real jobs to do. You know, the stuff that actually pay the bills…I know, I should get some cheese to go with my whine, but the fact is, out of 1800 CWG members, only about 20 actually DO anything for the CWG..Pretty sad if you ask me..That fact really makes it hard when we get told we aren’t “doing enough”, regardless of the context.

So, it’s not that I mind writing this stuff, it’s that I don’t see the point of spending my family time doing something that, quite frankly, nobody out there seems to care about..Obviously, if you cared about reading “more stuff”, the absolute, very least you could do is tell us what kind of stuff you want, and tell us how good or bad what we do write is..Maybe even take a wild chance and write some of it??

What about those poor people on the Board of Directors??

See, those folks (the Board members) make my paltry contributions seem like, well, paltry contributions. Board members spend, literally, hundreds of hours to bring you these conferences, the web site, etc. I spoke with one Board member who told me he spent the 2 weeks prior to the conference doing nothing but CWG work…

Now, that’s the rare one..Someone whose Company actually ALLOWS them to spend company time putting these conferences together.. Believe me when I say that’s rare…

What about the presenters?? I can tell you that, based on my discussions, it’s about 50/50. Some of them do it on Company time, some of us don’t..

But the complaint was with the content of the portal..Not the content of the conference..So, for the last part of this rant, I’ll ask you one more, at least from me, final time:

  • What specifically do you want to see for content in feature articles? Hint, browse the forums for my prior suggestions and tell me what you think about them.
  • Are you, or a colleague, willing to write a feature article?
  • What comments do you have regarding the nature of the articles that have been posted? Are you even willing to offer some constructive criticism?
  • Send your comments to me at or simply post them in the forums. Good, bad, ugly, I really don’t care. I’ve been in some pretty brutal flamewars on Usenet in my time, so a little toasting from you folks isn’t going to bother me..Go for it..I promise, my armor is on and my flamethrower is out of napalm. I won’t refill it either.

Don't wait for "someone else" to send comments. If you do that, I'll get the typical one response..Fill up my inbasket. Make a fool out of me in the forums..The more comments and constructive criticism, the better the CWG will be..

No comments? That’s cool..No comments means I spend more time with my family and less time writing for you..I’ll let YOU get off your butts, put your professional reputation out there for all the world to see and let others take their best shots at it..As I said at the conference, “CWG, heal thyself”..

End of rant…

Overall Conference Rating is a solid 8. Way better than the ASUG Data Governance conference, much more relevant than a ASUG general or chapter conference, better than a Tech Ed conference, but could still use a little improvement (among other things, close brewpubs help the ratings)…At least we had power and a somewhat available wireless connection.. It isn’t the Board’s fault that I didn’t see the extension cord until the second day..

Day 1 was a breath of fresh air for me. Got revamped presentations, plus some new presentations that helped pass the time…I really missed the topic dinner though..

As always, Don Cochran’s Market Watch was the highlight of this particular day for me. I really enjoy seeing Don’t perspective on the market, even if he always ends up with the same conclusion..

It was nice to hear that Schneider Electric got their Customer Development Project done, but I couldn’t help wondering how John felt when he listened to Michael’s presentation on Day 2 on Packages and Bundling..

Day 2 started with the Keynote speaker, David Glessner from SAP. Bernhard’s dream sequence and subsequent saxophone solo (at Salzburg) was hard to top…Sad to say, David wasn’t able to top either in my book…I’m glad he came and it was interesting to hear, but you gotta give it to Bernhard..He tells a pretty good story and brings some interesting props.

As always, day 2 is where the meat is. Marcus and Michael stand up and tell us the neat stuff that SAP is doing. Nice to hear Marcus state, very unequivocally, that the IPC is, in fact, the go forward direction for at least the next 5 years. As he stated, no more enhancements to VC, if you want enhancements, move to the IPC. How refreshing it is to hear it plainly stated, even if I don’t like it. More to come on that topic..As I understood Marcus, 2007 holds a lot of work on allowing partner applications easier access to the IPC data. If this happens, it could really open the door for applications such as visualization and\or solution configuration..Cool stuff!!

Michael told us about Product Packages\Bundles and the “Solution Configurator”. This is functionality that was originally developed for the Telecommunications industry and sounded suspiciously like the beginning of an “Advanced mode” solution that doesn’t use “Advanced Mode” functionality. Vigorously denied by the SAP folks in the know, but those of you that know me understand that I’m a tea leaf reader..Not always a correct tea leaf reader (some would even claim I’m actually a barley and hops reader)…

Trust me, if you don’t look at anything else, go look at Marcus’s and Michael’s presentations from Day 2. It’ll be worth the time you spend as these folks always give us good information.

Day 2 did bring the topic dinners back. I went to Robert Eramo’s dinner on ECM this year. I figured that Daniel had enough of my whining last year and that Robert needed some this year..Stupid me, I’m the only one that brought a laptop..So, I took some lousy notes..Seems like I had my mouth open more than my fingers typed.. Of course, since we (Steelcase) use ECM very, very heavily, hopefully some of the drivel I spouted will actually help someone.. Maybe Robert will post the notes, maybe not..Wasn’t a lot of meat in the notes, certainly not compared to what was discussed.. Overall, a highlite as far as I was concerned. Good conversation, great company..I always enjoy buying Markus beer, even if it is “the worst German beer made”..

Day 3…More tea leaves, that’s for sure. Check out Albert’s presentation. Another informative example of how SAP provides us with direction and seeks input. I guarantee, you won’t have this kind of interaction with SAP at any other venue. These folks really do give us direction on where their company is going.. Better yet, they ask for input on how they should get there.. That other big software vendor (you know, the “O” guys) certainly doesn’t do that.

Another prime example of the CWG influence is the Proposal Generation Influence group. This group put together a very good document and SAP is working hard on determining how the requirements will be met..Expect good things coming from this endeavor!!

Tips and Tricks got a good turnout. Lots of blank looks as well as some good discussion. We could really use some other companies presenting here..I know you have some tips and tricks to share!!

Last, but not least, tough questions..Maybe we need to record these sessions and then transcribe them? Real good discussion here, especially when Marcus made the comment about needing more representation from SAP PLM and ERP type developers at the CWG…Yes!!! Bring’em on..

We had an excellent turnout of first time attendees. More than I can remember in my 7 years in CWG. I like to think that this conference was beneficial for them and that they will return. Whether or not I go back is up in the air..Not for lack of interest, just that the guy paying the bills has “other stuff” for me to do..Seems like he wants standards and governance on all of our product data..The exact Master Data that the ASUG Data Governance group doesn’t want to talk about..So, maybe next year, I’ll have an interesting story for you. Time will tell.

I’ll leave you with another unrelated shot I found on the way home. Cumberland Falls in Kentucky, which is on the way to get the good Rebecca Ruth bourbon balls. Remind me to tell you about them sometime.


Thanks for listening.