SAP TechEd 2012 Las Vegas has been widely hailed as one of the most successful in SAP history. Bill Kozel recently spoke with Gary about his role in that success.
Bill: Gary, what was most notable about this year’s event?
Gary: We’ve been running SAP TechEd for a long time now, and globally we’ve been streamlining the process year after year after year.
One of our global IT Event Services goals for 2012 was to reduce the time it took to refresh the images that are used in the classroom sessions. You never know what’s going to happen, but the Global TechEd Image WorkStream team, led by Michael Reiser, worked so hard and got everything going so that there really weren’t any major issues once we were onsite. Their preparation really came through and worked perfectly.
I’d have to say that this was the best TechEd I’ve ever been part of, and it all came down to the team that was there.
Bill: How big is your team?
Gary: There were about 48 people on the Las Vegas team this year, not including the local 3rd party contractors that we use locally to help with some of the hands-on stuff – laying cables and moving things. Of course, there are many, many more people who helped us behind the scenes for months prior to the event.
Bill: Can you take us through a typical day?
Gary: There really aren’t any typical days, because there’s always something new. And you never know what that new issue is going to be, because it’s hard to replicate all areas of the event in a non-event environment.
For example, one of the things we often deal with is public Wi-Fi. You can prepare and do everything you possibly can to make sure that the Wi-Fi is going to work. But when you get there and have 6,000 people logging on, you just can’t predict how the system is going to react to the demand.
Bill: Did you have a full house?
Gary: I believe it was the biggest paid attendance in the US ever – somewhere around 6,200 people. As soon as people could start booking their time in sessions, they were gone. There were wait lists, and there were people standing outside the rooms, waiting to get in.
Bill: What kind of feedback have you heard?
Gary: The whole show got a lot of really good, positive feedback. In addition to hearing great responses from the attendees, we enjoy getting the thank you’s from people like Oliver Bussmann, the CIO of the company. Oliver has worked very closely with us and is always very accessible. He’s a true techie, and he really and enjoys discussing all the technical issues. So when he approves, it really means a lot to us.
Bill: Are you now moving on to Madrid and Bangalore?
Gary: I am in a supporting role, but a lot of what I do is knowledge transfer of the Las Vegas program and assisting the regional Project Leads at their events. The best part of my job is to watch the event get better and better as it moves around the world.