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Last night I got a lesson in the local service industry mindset at an SAP partner networking event. The event was in full swing when a group of my colleagues and I arrived from an earlier event, and we joined the growing group of customers who were chatting and enjoying the food and beverages. I promptly hopped up onto the stage where the dueling pianists were performing, and I slapped one of their request slips on a piano with a tip. The young pianist picked it up, scowled at it, and passed it to the other pianist. “The End of the Innocence??”  He somehow managed to attempt to smile while still curling his lip at me, quite a look I must assure you. I told him that we (waving to the party group) would be hearing Don Henley perform the next evening, and I had hoped to sing along with them playing this huge hit of his to get us in the mood. He promptly waved me off, no Don Henley numbers apparently in their repertoire, and I went back to the networking event.


The word amateur come from the same Latin root as the Italian amore and the French amour; an amateur does what he or she does for the love of it. On the other hand, a professional is in it for the money, and if he or she wants to be in it very long, the money only continues if the customers are getting what they want and need. Clearly, these guys were of the amateur mindset, up there pounding on the pianos the tunes that they and their millennial peers wanted to hear. It was very good, but would have been even better had they considered being prepared to meet their needs of more customers. It’s not exactly a secret that Don Henley would be performing for the attendees of this week’s conferences. As some of you know, I too am a singer, and I consider myself a professional even though I do it only part time. It is my job to sing what the paying customers want to hear. Whether the rector wants the choir to sing an anthem we are all bored with, or a child at a Christmas party wants to hear Jingle Bells for the hundredth time that month, if I curled up my lip and sang only what I wanted, my agents would soon be booking someone else.


What does all of this have to do with this week in Orlando? The great thing about the co-location of the ASUG and SAPPHIRE Conferences is that attendees can get the best of both events. The show floor and SAP Theatres are great for learning about the current SAP functionality, complementary products and services now on the market, and product roadmap, and I am glad to see them well attended, but an oft overlooked place to take the pulse of SAP customers and our concerns is at the ASUG sessions. Yesterday I was very happy to see some consultants and representatives from several SAP Partner products in attendance at ASUG sessions. Frankly it amazes me that more consultants, bloggers and other media have not figured it out yet; if you are in the business of meeting the needs of SAP customers, ASUG sessions are an excellent place to hear us customers asking questions and expressing our needs and concerns. If you have not yet done so, today would be a good day to check the schedule and sit in on some ASUG education and Community Lounge sessions; if you are a true professional in the business of knowing and delivering what SAP customers want and need, and want to stay in that business a while longer in these challenging times, the lessons will be right there for you.

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