In 2006, two years after the convening of the O’Reilly Media folks at the first Web 2.0 conference, my boss Guido Schroeder loaned me a pass to the exclusive Web 2.0 Summit. I spent one day at the Summit and came back with my head spinning with all the latest ideas from the wild wild Web. I have not missed a Summit or Web 2.0 Expo since — I just spent last week at the 2009 Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco — and I’d like to offer a perspective on SAP and Web 2.0 through the ages.
In 2006, though Web 2.0 was two years old and the term Enterprise 2.0 was coming into play, SAP was hard to find at the conference. There were a few fellow SAP attendees, but most people seemed to wonder why SAP should have anything to do there — and likewise, my badge label “SAP” mostly made people think of trees. This doesn’t mean that SAP was not relevant content. When Don Tapscott came on stage to talk about open source, I remember writing down his quote (Twitter was yet on the verge of creation or else I would have tweeted it) “If you’re Oracle or SAP, you’re looking really hard at how this stuff was done.” We were also treated to Marc Benioff — SalesForce had been a top conference sponsor. Jeff Bezos was on the scene saying “The biggest cost of the infrastructure is lack of use” — but nobody yet was talking about The Cloud.
2007 was a catalyst year. Amazon S3 debuted (“Think what you’re good at — then package it,” Bezos said), everyone wanted to know about Facebook, Twitter was emerging, mobile was taking off, Microsoft dangled Popfly and mashups were the rage, but still: Where was SAP?
By the end of the year, SAP seemed to hit the scene big-time. Tim O’Reilly keynoted at SAP TechEd, and then sat on a plane with Denis Browne — which led to this hallmark post on the O’Reilly Radar: SAP as a Web 2.0 Company?
In 2008 the Web turned to Cloud Computing, sustainability and geopolitics, and by the end of the year, Obama had “Won the election because of the Internet” (Arianna Huffington) and Shai Agassi, who had left SAP for Better Place, dropped a few sage mentions of SAP while in conversation with Tim O’Reilly.
Finally, in 2009, SAP’s docupedia has launched, you can hear people talking about business collaboration using SAP and Google Wave almost as a matter of course (see Timo Elliott on the Gravity prototype), and I’m pleased to say that SAP sponsored the Web 2.0 Summit and was highly visible there. Check out the picture above of Marge Breya doing a tremendous job with her live demo of the emergent SAP interface at http://beta.12sprints.com.
“In the enterprise today,” said Breya, you know all kinds of information is there, but have to go through ‘sneakernet’ to get it… Now we can have conversations with the information. We’ve never had this before in enterprise software.” She went from the Web 2.0 Summit directly to TechEd Vienna where you might have seen her do the same demo there.
So it seems that SAP has finally arrived on-stage at Web 2.0.
Or hasn’t SAP has always been there, from the beginning? Before Web 2.0 was even a word (well, two words), in 2003, I put my first content up on the emergent SAP Developer Network. Back in those days, our good folks like Mark Finnern worked the blogging platform with the amazing foresight to make sure the platform was open to any blogger, and that anyone could comment. In some sense, this growing community of developers in fact paved the way for what we now know as Enterprise 2.0.
Perhaps the point is that Web 2.0 is in fact catching up at last.