I just saw Rod Stewart in concert last week and he was truly awesome. The musicians and singers supporting him were just fantastic and the whole set was so tight and so professional. It felt as though they had been playing together for years but they actually had only started rehearsing a couple of months ago.
Of course, Rod Stewart is now in his late sixties and has been performing professionally for more than 40 years. He has always been a great entertainer and he knows his art to near perfection. He knows what to look and listen for in the people who support him and he knows what the audience likes and how to woo them. His choice of songs from his incredible repertoire was spot on incorporating well known hits like “Maggie May”, “Do you think I’m Sexy”, and “Have I told you Lately” with some of his best songs like “Reason to Believe” , “The First Cut is the Deepest” and “Hot Legs”. His showmanship was in fine form too from kicking and heading soccer balls into the audience to getting down on all fours and worshipping the stunning stilettos of the very attractive female mandolin player!
The set lasted well over two hours but it was one of those concerts where you just did not want to end. I left with a sense of euphoria and a desire to tell everyone about what I had just experienced (hence this blog).
I both attend and deliver a lot of Business Intelligence “shows”. To find that perfect combination of presentation, demonstration and connecting with your audience is not always easy. It takes practice, experience and, like Rod Stewart, a certain amount of showmanship.
Recently I had to deliver a presentation and demonstration of the complete SAP BusinessObjects product suite in one hour. It is simply not possible to include everything in a meaningful way in that time so I focused on the “well known hits” of Web Intelligence for reporting , ad-hoc query and analysis and Xcelsius for dashboards and “what if” scenarios. I had to explain the tools, demonstrate their usage as an end user and as a developer.
The customer was in the insurance business so I had one of my band members create fictitious data and scenarios for their specific industry. I also rehearsed the demo many times to make sure I could fit everything in the time allotted. I actually ran through it three times just before arriving at the customer site.
In the presentation room, everything was set up and just 5 minutes before the start, I plugged in a network cable and my Virtual Machine with the server software on it froze up!
Never happens – right?
Actually, it happens all too often. I quickly rebooted the Virtual Machine knowing it would take 10 to 15 minutes to fully reload and started the presentation on time showing my first PowerPoint slides while the server was rebooting in the background. I managed to complete all the demonstrations within the hour and covered the Business Intelligence portal, Data Quality, Metadata Management and the semantic layer abstraction for good measure.
There were about 25 people present and I played to my audience making sure I had their attention and responding to their reactions as their eyes lit up with the data visualization in Xcelsius and the drag-and-drop magic in Web Intelligence.
They actually applauded at the end. I did not get the wild standing ovation that Rod Stewart got at the end of his set but then again, I did not have soccer balls to kick and stunning stilettos to worship!