As a full time blogger specializing in enterprisey stuff, I am constantly writing and looking for stories that will inform and hopefully entertain. Events like SAPPHIRE are always interesting because you don’t know what you’re going to find.
I’m privileged because SAP has a well established influencer program that includes a number of the Enterprise Irregulars of which I am one of the early members. That means I usually (but not always) get a seat at the Big Man’s Table – ie we get to meet with the CEO and other members of the executive board along with what I term C-level types.
If you’ve never met Henning Kagermann, Leo Apotheker, Hasso Plattner or Peter Zencke, you’re really missing a treat. Although each is very different in personality, they each try to do something that’s quite rare in the tech industry. Give straight answers. This year was particularly poignant because the delay in going to GA with Business ByDesign was announced very close to the first SAPPHIRE so was very much top of agenda.
Several of us were keen to ensure we had a full understanding behind the decision because we need to communicate as accurately as possible to our differernt consitituencies. We add our own spin – as you’d expect – and in something that’s sort of a tradition, I always sit right next to the exec to make sure I get the first question in.
I like that we can always have a healthy debate with the execs because it fosters two things that are essential: trust and respect. This year was no different, despite that fact the Business ByDesign ‘news’ could not have been easy for them to manage. If anything, Henning, Leo and Peter seemed relaxed.
This year, Marilyn Pratt roped me into chairing a panel as part of the ASUG BPM day. Dick Hirsch joiuned me and Jim Spath acted as room monitor, running around with the microphone. Marilyn kept us in order. We made the whole session a Q&A rather than blah from the top table. This was very much in the nature of demonstrating the concepts around community to an audience that isn’t very comfortable with the idea of blogging or commenting. I think the session went well especially as we fielded excellent questions about the value of blogs (learning), the fear of looking foolish (there are not dumb questions!) and the difficulty of finding time in otherwise hectic schedules to engage with blogs.
The other biggie for me was getting a quick inside look at the way SAP is developing Plexus as a framework for offering online community capability back to the partner ecosystem. A few weeks back I’d been part of a team that used Plexus to deliver a series of blog entries in support of a global marketing event. If you’ve not had the chance to look at Plexus, I’d recommend it – especially if you have marketing projects in mind. It’s drop dead easy to use, is visually attractive and makes content creation a breeze. You can think of it as a super blog environment with the ability to readily drop any kind of content into the framework.
I’m fortunate that I’ll also be attending Berlin SAPPHIRE and I’ve asked for a deep dive on Plexus as it is something I think can add genuine value across a number of dimensions. I’ll also be doing a bit of tidying up in my understanding of Business ByDesign. Finally, I hope to spend time with the CSR team and some of the NGOs with which SAP is engaged.
CSR is one of the most important business topics I am currently focusing upon as it has huge profit, reputation and risk implications. I’m thinking for instance about how SAP might leverage tools like Plexus to help drive value between partners and customers while informing the business process development effort.
I’m sure there will be surprises, but above everything, I am looking forward to meeting members of this community with whom I’ve only had contact via the community environment. Blogs are great and I’m an avid fan but sometimes real life is that bit better.
Onwards to Berlin and I’ll report back how we get along.