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Great Expectations

It is that time of the year, when I get to go from hot and dry Phoenix to hot and humid Orlando. Unlike Teched, where I have a more relaxed time attending sessions I want, and catching up with old friends and making new – SAPPHIRE is always a whirlwind experience. It is non-stop action – booth duty, panel discussions, many meetings with SAP and Client executives, and the obligatory evening social events. Usually it starts on Sunday morning, but this year – I am skipping the sunday part completely, to spend some more time with my family.


What am I looking for this time? 


To begin with – the primary reason I go there is to meet several clients, all in one place. This helps me get a macro picture of what works and what does not work for them in the SAP space. It does not matter what SAP or SIs or consultants think – the only thing that matters is what Clients think. And most of them are not shy to tell us on our faces if they are unhappy with a product or service.  SAP and other vendors there will be very keen to showcase their innovations, and this gives me a great opportunity to see the customer reactions first hand. By the way – here is my own take on innovation.


I am very keen to hear the rationale behind SAP’s Sybase acquisition. I get the advantage of mobile – but I want to know if it will go beyond CRM and get some ERP and BI components in as well. I am also keen to see how far SAP will push In memory data bases within its suite. When SAP acquired BusinessObjects, I had to (well, still do) spend a lot of time discussing the issues and roadmap with my clients. So I am hoping SAP explains a clear roadmap for this, and the integration possibilities.


Then there are a bunch of mentor meetings that Mark Finnern has arranged. I had a terrific experience at Teched with these meetings, and I am sure these are going to be highlights this year for me in Orlando. It is not just the meetings – Mentors are a great group of people to hang out with, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in that company at Teched. There are several I have not met in person before – and I am especially keen to see Abesh. He is the 4th SAP mentor in IBM, and is a very talented guy. Today morning, I was pretty disappointed to see that IBM did not make it to the list of finalists in Pinnacle awards for the Communities leadership category. Apparently having 4 active mentors, with published books, blogs, Teched papers etc  are not enough to qualify for finals. We have to try harder, and I am all for that. I will totally root for the finalists though – it is an important award in my eyes, and they all did well in reaching the final.


On the BOBJ side – I am eagerly waiting to meet and catch up with my buddy Ingo Hilgefort. I am very keen to see SAP revitalize Explorer. It is an amazing tool, which I think has terrific potential in enterprise customers. I don’t think SAP did a good job educating customers on Explorer. And SAP definitely needs to talk more about the EIM suite. Very few people I have met are even aware that SAP has a full suite there. What better opportunity than SAPPHIRE to shout out from the rooftop on all these? Of course I have a vested interest in this, since I am the Western Region Lead for Business User products for IBM.


That leads me to the Enterprise geeks podcast on Agile vs Waterfall that I am doing with Ed Herman and company. This was the result of a very spirited debate on my blog South beach diet didn’t work for me, and neither did Agile development. .  If schedule permits, Jon Reed and I might do a SAP skills podcast too. Schedule is a huge challenge at SAPPHIRE every year – it takes an act of god to make sure you don’t have to be at six places at any given moment.


I will be at the IBM booth from time to time, and walking around the halls most of the time in my blue mentor Rugby shirt with “Vijay” and number “44” on my back. If you are there – please say hello. Same with my fellow mentors – we are always there to chat and please feel free to bounce ideas off us when you meet us. See you there.

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