Despite missing demojam – I was in good spirits on Wednesday morning. Switched from mentor rugby shirt to the teched speaker shirt – since I had my session that morning. I didn’t know at the time that Mark Finnern already had an agreement that Mentors can present in Mentor shirts itself. I had a fair amount of good natured ribbing on that from the mentor gang on this.
EIM roadmap was the first session of the day for me. Ina, the product manager from SAP for some of the EIM suite, was very good in getting the audience to interact. I am very impressed with the suite and the integration that they are bringing in to it. It is all the more impressive given that few of these products were acquired by business objects just before SAP bought them. I did not get much information on how SAP’s products in EIM suite compare with other products in the market.
My own session was next : a case study on a past project – things we did and did not do well on SOA, BI and CRM. I think I managed to keep people awake and most of them politely applauded when I finished. I won’t know their true intentions till the feedback gets consolidated and sent back to me 🙂
We had an excellent lunch meeting with Sue Martin and fellow mentors on SAP certification. Jon Reed and Certification Five team deserves a lot of credit for their good work, and I will let them blog about it when things solidify. Sue is one of the most pragmatic people I have met from SAP – she knows where things stand now, how others percieve it, and where she wants to take it next. I am a big fan after spending a few minutes with her.
I had an excellent session with Michael Koch and Owen Pettiford on their ‘composites in a day’ offering. To say that it is impressive and innovative is an understement. These guys rock – I wish them the very best. I also got to sit in Gretchen’s security session in networking area and it was great hearing how different companies approach a given security issue. On the topic of SOA, and where we face challenges in implementation – I had some very good conversation with Dan Gravensen and Krishna Murthy too. I also got to talk to Ingo H in more detail on business objects, and where they intend to take their products. He was also candid about comparison to other
Finally, I also got my long awaited audience with Marilyn Pratt. I have been a big fan of Marilyn and after seeing her in action in Phoenix, I am an even bigger fan. Same goes for Mark Finnern – SAP is extremely fortunate to have two such employees with great passion and ability to execute.
Wednesday evening was a bit hectic. IBM had a client reception from where I had to run to the process design slam. Hacker night and Insight were also next door. I spent 90% of time in process slam, and rest checking out what is happening next door.
Process design slam had a great group of people attending. We had domain experts, business rules experts, methodology experts and so on. 6 teams were formed, and leaders/ judges announced and teams started working on it. I got the greatest education possible in 2 hours on how the utilities industry works. It was the first attempt to do something of this nature and scale, and I think the results were awesome considering that. However, there are a few areas we could have done a bit better.
1. Lack of a defined process/methodology was evident. 6 teams went their own way for the most part, and it took a few energetic individuals to run back and forth to keep things integrated the best they could.
2. Scope could have been better managed. Process team had a story board with 7 processes or so – and there was no way we were going to finish it all in 3-4 hours, especially at night. Of course the idea was to solve this across Phoenix, Vienna and Bangalore events. I think it would have made more sense to choose couple of processes, and then we could have had a more complete delivery of scope to the team that follows us in Vienna.
3. Wiki was a pain to manage. I don’t know who manages this at SAP – but whoever it is should talk to Marilyn and rest of us and make an effort to get it better.
Special mention needs to be made about the UI team, and particularly about Owen P. They were very focussed on their solution, and in my eyes, they stood a few steps ahead of the pack.
I am at a loss to understand why hacker night, process design slam and insight are kept as three separate events without any serious interaction. Each group has its individuality, and it is probably important to keep it that way. But why can’t we have these diverse groups to also come together at some point and gain from the synergy? Example : Community decides on a project, and then these three groups come together to solve it. They decide on the parts they want to solve – and can go their individual ways for their pieces of the puzzle, but then come back again to put all pieces together. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Then came Thursday. Switching shirts – back to the mentor rugby outfit – I went back to the convention center. My aim was to get into the BPM hands on session. Ginger G was one of the teachers, and she is one of the very best in the business. Every event I have attended so far, I have gotten into at least one session where she presented. I wanted to say hi and get introduced, but couldn’t do that yesterday. I thought I had signed up for it – but maybe I did not. The lady at the door put me on waiting list. Thankfuly, I got into the session since some people had dropped out. Their loss was my gain :). This is an important topic that needs a blog of its own, so let me not get into details here. I will try to post one soon.
Going back to club house, I was asked to pose for photos – smiling, holding the ball, not holding the ball, and so on. I am waiting to see the snaps. We also had a couple of interesting networking sessions to round off the day – about insider track events, about the mentor program etc. And a big thanks to marilyn for giving me headache medicine. Note to self : Do not take BPM hands on work on an empty stomach.
Mark Finnern had arranged more mentor sessions – on business objects,open source and UI productivity. They were all excellent, and since mentor gang never shies away from letting know their opinion, it was a lot of fun too. I was very pleased to note that product managers were very eager to hear what the community representatives had to say about their product plans. I have a feeling that SAP will bring this into mainstream product management one day soon – and if they do that, Mark Finnern should get an award for it.
I had dinner with the IBM leadership team that runs our COE for SAP. As always we had a few clients too. I am always interested in finding out what our clients think of SAP related topics, and I asked them for highlights. Without missing a beat, one of the guys from a big healhcare company said something like “After watching the keynote from SAP’s CTO, and attending a few sessions – I just realized that we are living in stone age at my shop, when in fact we should be doing space travel with all these options SAP gives us. I am very keen to go talk to my colleagues about all of this”. I could see his eyes twinkle with excitement. And I couldn’t have summed it up better – and in my business, the customer is ALWAYS right.