Three months of shows ahead of us here in the Americas.
Which one is the one for me, you may ask?
Here are your options:
The first one starts on Monday – the SAP BW & Portals 2004 event at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida, which will run March 15-17, 2004 and is a collaboration between SAP Insider and SAP.
The next in our time sequence is the ASUG Annual Conference, which is held at the Atlanta Convention Center in Atlanta, Georgia, from April 18-21, 2004.
And finally, concluding the big events for the first half of 2004, is SAP’s own SAPPHIRE, which this year is being hosted at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, from May 11-13, 2004.
Since there are very few people I know – with the possible exception of me 😉 – that get to go to all of the above events (especially all within the first half of the year), I want to give you some insights on these events that may make it easier to decide which one to attend if you haven’t been to any or only to one or the other.
Let’s start with the SAP BW & Portals conference. This is the second year of this show. It is the joint work of SAP Insider and SAP, starting out with a focus on SAP Business Information Warehouse and SAP Enterprise Portal, but now showcasing all of SAP NetWeaver.
Last year’s show, from my perspective, was a tremendous success with great attendees and great sessions.
You can find some recommendations on who the attendees targeted are on this page.
From my own experience, the presentations at this event fall under the tightest possible scrutiny before they are ever submitted to be presented and then put on a CD. The review cycles here ensure that listeners walk away with a tight alignment to the description of the sessions, which during last year’s event produced some phenomenal audience satisfaction numbers. Presenters are SAP employees, partners and customers.
From a show floor view, the SAP product experts from Product Management are there to discuss one-on-one with attendees the individual SAP NetWeaver components at “pods” (SAP lingo for demo areas), where you can see feature-function close-ups. The show floor hours are somewhat limited, so plan accordingly if you have specific questions.
For more in-depth discussions, utilize the Meet the Experts times that are offered. On the show floor, you may have other customers listening while you talk to the SAP person – Meet the Experts gives you private time with them.
Finally, partners and their presentations and exhibits round out the show.
All in all, you will be most happy at this show if you are actively involved in either business planning or project work for any SAP NetWeaver components and in general have an aptitude for technology. While there are some introductory sessions on Sunday and in the individual tracks, this show brings the greatest value to those who want to deepen their component know-how. This is certainly also a show where you will find presentations that allow you a look forward in the SAP world.
Let’s talk about the ASUG Annual Conference next.
ASUG, of course, is the Americas’ SAP User Group.
ASUG’s main conference cycles, by and large, are the main spring conference, covering all of SAP’s solution offering, and the fall Forums, which were started in this form last year, but are really a consolidated form and continuation of the SIG meetings of years prior. There are smaller meetings by chapter or SIG throughout the year and throughout the country.
ASUG’s spring conference can be described by one word: BIG! Since all of the SAP solutions are showcased in both tracks and on the large show floor, it is a lot to take in. There are so many people walking the halls, but, from my view, it is always like a gigantic family reunion as you run into customers (well, by now pretty darn close to friends) that you have worked with for a long time. It’s nice to spend time catching up on their company, their projects and their families.
What is great about this conference is that you can take in all you wanted to find out about SAP solutions in a lot of detail. The presenters at this conference hold a good balance between customers and SAP employees. Customers share their implementation magic, and you certainly walk away with many great ideas for your own work. SAP sends a lot of their product managers from SAP headquarters in Walldorf to this event, but also usability experts and product definition folks that will engage you one-on-one or in roundtable discussions.
There are Sunday sessions to educate you and Wednesday afternoon influence sessions that will challenge you to put into precise words what you want to see in the solutions moving forward since it is important to your organization. There is a huge show floor with a special SAP area, which includes theaters with separate SAP presentations, as well as a huge partner area.
Traditionally, the attendees at ASUG have been mostly the hands-on “doers” in customer projects. They know their components and solutions extremely well – a lot of them have done some pretty amazing things to extend them and gain maximum benefit for their organizations. You will learn a lot from these folks!
ASUG’s motto has three facets: To educate, to network and to influence. Trust me, you will do all three of those successfully!
Finally in May, you have SAPPHIRE on the calendar.
SAPPHIRE is very different in its approach. It is certainly more geared towards an organization’s decision makers. The information is more high level, both in presentations and on the show floor.
What you will find at SAPPHIRE is the latest and greatest of everything – SAP’s vision for the road ahead. You will see visionary keynotes and extremely cool demos showcasing technology that is highly exciting and brand new. This is by far the largest SAP event, so like at the ASUG Annual Conference, you will be joining lots of people in the hallways and on the show floor.
Speaking of show floor, this is also the largest SAP show floor at any event. You will be able to speak to SAP personnel about the individual solutions, and they will be able to demo some of the latest product releases.
The partners are very active at SAPPHIRE as well – there is a huge partner show floor. Many of them show their expertise with extensions of the SAP solutions or add-on products.
Finally, SAPPHIRE also features an opportunity to meet SAP experts one-on-one.
As the content of this show is much more on the overall SAP solution side and showcases vision, I would highly recommend attendance to any level executives, IT team leads and all others who want to see what the SAP solutions can do for them and where the SAP road is going to take them over the next few years. While you will also see a lot of demos, they tend to be more high-level. If you need more specific feature-function looks, I would suggest one of the other two shows. Having said this, SAPPHIRE is truly a great show, and I certainly would encourage all to attend if you can get the travel budget.
You will find SDN presence at all of these events, if you have questions, suggestions or want to meet the team.
One final recommendation – if you are a true technology geek, start your planning for SAP TechEd!
Hope to see you at one of these fantastic shows soon!!!