The Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG) is forming a new global community for customers of Business Objects, the business intelligence vendor that SAP bought earlier this year, the organization announced this week.
Membership in the Global BusinessObjects Network will be free until 2010. The organization is hoping to get existing user groups to join and serve as local chapters, while the GBN provides marketing and operational support.
The GBN will officially launch at the Business Objects User Conference in Dallas in October. Starting on Oct. 20, users can sign up at the conference or through the Web site www.gogbn.org.
ASUG officials were not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Dave Rathbun, a member of the group's initial steering committee, said in a recent blog post that the new group is a rebranding of the Business Objects Community Alliance.
"There are various reasons for the change, some of which have to do with naming conflicts but mostly having to do with the desire to emphasize the independence from anything run by SAP," said Rathbun, who works for Integra Solutions, a Dallas consulting firm.
Rathbun expects the group to sponsor user conferences in Europe and Asia-Pacific next year, as well as one in the US.
He added that because GBN wishes to emphasize its independence from SAP, he expects shows won't be held in conjunction with the vendor's SAPPHIRE events.
In an interview Thursday, steering committee member Jamie Oswald also emphasized the need for user groups to have independence from vendors.
Years ago, Oswald said, he couldn't get endorsement from his employer to attend local user group events because they contained too much input from Business Objects' marketing department and not enough educational content.
"The groups were run typically by people who cared a lot, but a lot of their support ... came from Business Objects," said Oswald, who now works as a senior business intelligence developer with Sisters of Mercy Health System in Chesterfield, Missouri. "That's how [Business Objects] got a lot of their content pushed in."
"I think it's gotten better over time, but now that this new independent group is in charge, it's going to shift even further into the educational side" at both local events and user conferences, he added.