Baan World Users conference in Orlando
October 15 to 18 was the date for this year's Baan World User's (bwu.org) conference held in Orlando, Florida. The site was the Hilton in the Walt Disney World resort. I've never been to a BWU conference before so I thought I'd share my impressions of what I saw, heard and learned from people like you and me - trying to know more about Baan.
I arrived a few days early to hit some popular Orlando attractions like the Disney Magic Kingdom and Sea World with my wife and two kids. Talking to some Hilton employees they noticed a decline in tourism since September 11th. It didn't seem that way at the attractions though. Coming from Michigan and leaving temps in the 40s it took a day or so to become adjusted to 90 degree days with 100% humidity again especially standing in lines over an hour at Disney World :-)
The conference officially started Monday afternoon with registration and an opening reception. I had been invited by a solutions provider and bronze level sponsor Open Systems Technologies (ostusa.com) to co-present a session entitled "Challenges in running a multi-site, multi-language organization from one site" so Jim from OST and I got together earlier in the day to review our presentation and tidy up some last minute changes. The reception held that night was great. It was held outside under a large tent and the cold beer went well with the hot weather. I heard the Baan employees were asked to wear sport coat attire during the whole conference and I'm sure they felt the heat more than I did. Maybe that means they drank more beer? They looked good though and represented their company well.
First thing Tuesday morning I visited the demo room set up by Baan. They had demos of iBaan in two separate rooms running for anybody wanting to see first hand how iBaan could help them out. IBM had a dozen or so laptops with Internet access for everyone to get email and such. I tried getting into the training course entitled "Baan IV to Baan 5 differences" but the room was too small to accomodate all of those interested. Aftewards they said another session was being put together for those who couldn't attend and to remember it was first come first serve. That was fine anyway, I had some business in the partner fair to attend to. First I went to see the OST booth. They were giving away a Sony PS2 and a remote controlled pickup truck. Of course I made sure I had enough business cards to drop in the fish tanks of everybody giving away prizes. I've already started to get phone calls too but it's for business not them telling me I've won something - too bad. I visited the booths of Seagate-Crystal, BSP, OneNeck, OST, Crowe Chizek, IBM, TriNet, Disus and of course Baan. I'm sure I'm missing a lot of others as well. We're implementing Crystal Enterprise, have worked with Cindy from BSP, OST implemented our high availability solution, Crowe has done some training for us, TriNet has provided some development for us and we use Disus' login/logout enhancements for Baan so I wanted to visit these guys. I'm still waiting for the pc, GPS, stereo and PS2 everyone promised I'd win :-)
For lunch we were greeted by the BWU board and were encouraged to learn as much as we could from the sessions and our fellow attendees. BWU has a new interface to their web site if you haven't seen it yet check it out. The lunches were excellent and was a good time to rub elbows with other Baan users. For example, I got into a lot of good dialogue with different Boeing employees both from Seattle and Salt Lake City while I was there. The key-note address was delivered by Laurens van der Tang, president of Baan. The room had three huge monitors highlighting Baan products and the sound system thumped. I had second row and thought Baan did a good job of welcoming everyone to the conference as well as showcasing their suite of products. They also said Baan World is being held in Rome next year.
Sessions started that afternoon. My background is in Baan administration with an emphasis on Oracle so I was ready to hit some technical sessions. Another employee from my company, Donnelly Corporation, was supposed to be at the conference and I hadn't seen him yet. He works with projects. I later found out he didn't attend and I wished he had as there was a lot he could have seen.
That night was the solution partner hospitality suites where companies reserve a suite at the hotel and provide drinks and entertainment. While I took the family to Pizzeria Uno that night and took a dunk in the pool afterwards, I didn't completely miss out on the activities. The OneNeck party was next door to our room and it was like being there but not if you know what I mean. If was fun putting a 1 and 3 year old to bed that night. I was hoping after the wife and kids drifted off I'd be able to slip out the door but it didn't work that way.
First thing Wednesday was a general session presented by Baan on their product offerings. iBaan was at center stage. Baan demonstrated iBaan and showed how three companies including Herman Miller just down the street from us, use iBaan with their supply base. Being used to just a Baan menu browser, I have to say I was impressed seeing their portal, scrolling captions, real time graphs, etc. Baan had timelines on rollouts of products such as iAutomotive that I wished I could have had a hard copy on but I'll be visiting the BWU web site where all the material should be.
The rest of that day I attended sessions. I went to a session on Performance Tuning and Tips presented by the Performance subcommittee, a User Management and Security session put on by OneNeck that was very informative, another Performance Management session by the Performance subcommittee that had a lot of tips and tricks followed by my presentation that I thought went well. Anybody wanting the Powerpoint for that let me know, I'd be happy so send it your way.
That night was the big special event dinner held at the MGM Studios at Disney World. We were on the first bus to get dropped off to a great reception held downtown on the MGM Studio grounds. Believe it or not, my son got sick all over my wife and we were on the first bus back as well. Everyone the next day was talking about the rides and amusements at MGM so I know it was a good time.
The following and last day, Thursday, was shortened to just a half day really. I went to an excellent session on patch management put on by Charles Cottrell of Baan support. He really knows his PMC. That was followed by the Tools subcommittee meeting where we got a glimpse of some new tools functionality coming out including a "Top Tool" that can be used to highlight top processes running that take over a certain number of seconds, etc, as well as the new iBaan Worktop that will be a navigation tool that can replace the menu, desktop and dem browsers all in one and can be installed centrally and not on each individual workstation. The final session fo the workshop was on Baan system performance tuning strategies put on by International Truck and Engine.
I walked away from the conference wishing I could have attended more of the sessions. I think during each session slot, there were at least three different sessions I would have wanted to attend. I think that speaks highly of the Baan World User's workshop committee and the quality of the content at this conference. I also felt very pumped up about Baan. I was ready to take back what I learned to my company and make Baan work better. They said the next conference is going to be in Los Angeles. I'm hoping I can put my name on this list to go and continue the friendships I started in Florida.
Last edited by chadwickh : 25th October 2001 at 23:54.