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NetWeaver Congress in Germany: Panem et Circenses

These days, on Wednesday, June 23th, and on Thursday, I attended the NetWeaver Congress in Frankfurt, Germany. Lucky about having get paid the conference fee by my employer, it was easy for me reaching the place of hell’s action, living in the vicinity of Frankfurt. It is the ideal time for such an event because the need for gaining information on the complex matter NetWeaver is rising constantly. One reason is the modus vivendi of the Ramp-up process, in which my company unluckily is not involved (read The Ramp-Up Process: Bird’s Eye View for some thoughts on this).
This report contains some impressions of the two conference days. The link at the top of my article gives you access to many conference papers for free.

Basic setup and Openness
Having arrived at the Congress Center, one building belonging to a big complex of the fair grounds, the atmosphere was very relaxed in general. Everywhere could you find those snack and refreshment establishments with very friendly personnel and a huge variety of offerings. The whole congress took part in a monumental hall, no walls at all (synonym for: open integration and application platform, see next paragraph, too).
In the middle, there was a round platform open to every side, surrounded with many chairs. This was the place for the key note and the moderator introducing the event. For all presentations except the key notes one needed a headphone with receiver. On the receiver you were able to chose a channel which corresponded to a single ongoing presentation. The idea was quite OK for the open environment given by the Congress Center’s architecture.

Key Notes and Master Media
The key note on the first day was held by Shai Agassi, prominent member of the executive board of SAP. My alignment was not to listen mainly on the contents delivered by SAP’s master medium but to learn from him how to present something in front of some hundred people. Shai, you are a cool guy and know how to live the American way of plausible speaking! The key note for Thursday was held by Prof. Jürgen Hubbert from Daimler Chrysler. He first told us he does not know why he should speak there at the congress, but he assumes that it is because DaimlerChrysler is a big customer of SAP. I liked this one.

Tracks and Harems
As the key note presentations were somehow inspiring, the other main presentations had different targets. They were held in the middle of the hall, too. For that the round platform was divided into several areas by letting down cloth curtains like in a harem. In these presentations some SAP people referred about several tracks, each track divided into four sessions. Every next session was based on the previous one in the same track. The message was kind of abstract as the audience was told something which could not be proven.
I won’t go into further detail of the presentations contents.

Exhibitors and Spying
For a *small* (lol) payment, a company could book a tiny exhibition area to present their products to the visitors. Here you were asked to open a discussion, otherwise there was no contact possible. So you needed to have a certain interest or aligment to the individual exhibitor. This was sort of absorbing as one could spy out some few details about what really is going on with NetWeaver.

Meet the experts and other people
In two separated rooms (there were walls and a ceiling) so called Meet-the-experts-sessions were held. Here, the presentor showed some slides until questions were asked. Then he followed the direction determined by the audience, gave useful tips and did some practical work on a demo system. This in some cases was illuminative, I even could reconstruct a trail the next day at home on an EP6 system.

Live theatre and Gladiators
Partly similar to the previous type of session, the live theatre implied some practical presentation. A guy showed how to do stuff X with component Y (Developer Studio, EP, XI etc.). With that, the audience was not planned to be involved, which seemed OK.

Upshot and Marketing par Excellence
Having not looked from every perspective on the NetWeaver Congress, let me conclude the following:
From SAPs view the main goal of the event seemed to be creating a certain – overwhelming – atmosphere about and image of the product. Information was not the goal, definitively. Some workshops supplied you with concrete information, OK. But these information mostly were that concrete that one had to be involved into the subject rather deeply. The key notes were on the marketing agenda although being quite impressive thru their speakers. Food and beverages were excellent.
Some people gained advantage of the congress by meeting customers and business partners. For this the entrance fee was quite high. Nevertheless the evening celebration outside the city was worth it supplying several goodies to the attendants.
My personal impression was that most people being at the congress have never ever seen or used the NetWeaver products (WebAS for Java, EP, XI etc.) in their whole life. But no one talked about this.

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