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Author's profile photo Jon Reed

ASUG/SAPPHIRE 2010 Video Grab Bag – SAP Certification and Other Conference Reflections

“SAPPHIRE Wow!” – A Nigel James original passed on to me from Mike Prosceno. That just about sums it up. In my video comments to date I have been more measured, but that’s only because for SAP to secure its future, a lot of nitty-gritty follow through must back up the wow.

But I have yet to run into a single analyst or influencer who didn’t tell me that SAPPHIRE exceeded their expectations. This includes some of the most notorious flame throwers and curmudgeons in the business (in my world both are compliments, as long as the views espoused are informed by deep research and an effort to overcome one’s own biases).

As for my own adventures, the highlights of the “Certification Five” exploits have SAP Mentors, Certification Five geek out with Bill McDermott. I am now in the process of compiling my own content from the conference. Let’s kick it off with this annotated video grab bag of I shot and/or appeared in from the SAPPHIRE Orlando show.

You probably know by now that SAP was crazy enough to Blue Shirt Brigade aka SAP Mentors at #SAPPHIRENOW #ASUG2010 to document their conference experiences. Amidst some hilarious stuff came some great customer interviews and other worthwhile views.

The first video in our grab bag is a shoot featuring 3/5 of the Certification Five and a special guest. During the shoot we share our take on the state of SAP certification. The “special guest” is Vijay Vijayasankar, a fellow SAP Mentor and one of the most important voices in the SAP community on SAP skills issues.

Vijay is also not a big fan of Agile development, creating a worthwhile debate on the relevance of Agile to SAP which continued during this live Enterprise Geeks podcast taping with Vijay on SAP and Agile in Orlando. The Enterprise Geeks also did a taping with 4/5 of the certification five on SAP certification, you can check that out here.



This video mashes up quick reactions from our SAP Mentor meeting with SAP Education leaders. The consensus view from the video is that SAP certification has a long way to go before it becomes highly relevant to hiring managers and embraced by top consultants.

This holds true with many of the informal talks I had at Sapphire, including heated debates with consulting partners in Orlando bars on “vendor party night.” Yes, this is how I roll in Orlando.

The next video features the same lineup, but this time we dig into our general conference reactions, likes and dislikes. Keep in mind we shot this video only halfway through he conference, so there was plenty we had not digested at this point, and I’m not talking about the food.



I have mixed feelings about the wifi grumbling – on the one hand, it seems silly to dwell on wifi access when SAP is facing so many daunting and infinitely more important challenges, but it is also frustrating to be at a show and struggle to post your views. My own Tweeting was significantly impacted by wifi access, especially on day one. Of course you could make the argument that the world was no worse off without my Tweets and you’d probably be right.

Another thing that stood out from the “likes” cited in this video is interaction with SAP customers. I know that talks with SAP users were amongst my own Orlando highlights. User experiences is where SAP is put to the best examination. It’s important not to underestimate ASUG’s impact – the pre-conference ASUG session I attended on Enterprise Architecture was one of the best days of the show for me.

The next two videos come by way of some informal hang time with Dennis Howlett after the conference ended on Thursday. Unbeknownst to me, Dennis did not consider our outtakes off limits for posting. I should note that Dennis was not part of the Mentor flipcam project – he has a far superior video rig and production process, and frankly is quite adept at putting people at ease during a shoot, or maybe too much at ease, you be the judge from this outtake:



Turns out Dennis did find a few worthy nuggets in my comments, either that or he had a lot of time on his hands, as he compiled some of the comments from that same shoot into a more polished view, combined with some pearls from my fellow “Certification Five” Mentor and “Belgian Broheem” Martin Gillet, who designed and printed our C5 hats. Martin’s comments were shot on the way to the airport with Dennis leaning over the front seat and yours truly providing the taxi service:



I think Dennis did a fine job sharing my most interesting comments but for the record I did have some things to say about what I liked about the conference, most importantly a vastly improved consistency of message across SAP’s keynotes, as well as a fruitful if sometimes contentious dialogue with Mentors, bloggers, and other influencers. If there’s a company that handles this better than SAP I have yet to hear about it.

Now, for the final video in the grab bag. Back at the hotel I was well and truly knackered. But I did sit down at the only outdoor chair I could find to shoot my own conference retrospective. Now, those of you who follow my JonERP SAP video YouTube channel know that I shoot many informal videos.

I prefer an informal and no-frills vibe. Having said that, there are many vides I never post because they don’t make my cut. I end up retaping them, trying to make them more concise. This time, I was too strung out to worry about it. When I got back and had a look at the video, I thought it probably deserved the cutting room floor. I like the Florida ambiance better than my own comments. However, being my only video I shot during that session, I decided to keep it.

But read the description for this six minute video before you view it, so you know what you’re getting into:

“During this rambling retrospective of ASUG-SAPPHIRE 2010 Orlando, Jon Reed of discusses his conference likes and dislikes, the strength of SAP’s new leadership and the emergence of on demand ERP skills via Business by Design. The chirping Florida birds and cheesy cafe music provide the ambiance.”

I should have mentioned that the natural lighting left a lot to be desired also.


Despite the distractions of the hollering birds and my own slow-pitch delivery, there are a few notable points in the video. One is how much I was impressed with SAP’s direct focus on the 4.x install base. For a few years, SAP’s message to that install base was “time to upgrade.”  Considering how expensive and all-consuming that process can be, it was not a good message to be hammering.

Now there are several actual products on the way that should offer better mobile connectivity, UI alternatives, and most importantly, the power of in-memory to many of those 4.x users – without upgrading to ERP 6.0. That’s a huge and important shift in SAP’s tone to 4.x customers and it could save them a heck of a lot of disillusioned customers ripe for the picking by NetSuite, Oracle, Workday, etc in the coming years – if SAP can deliver on this clearer 4.x message. 

The final key takeaway from this last video was the progress I am making getting a handle on the Business By Design skill set. There is a lot of interest in ByD from SAP consultants and consulting firms, but there are big questions marks. Consultants are interested, but they don’t want to get burned by moving into a market that isn’t a match with their backgrounds.

So far, it’s clear that ByD will involve a different skill set, more about training and methodology and industry knowledge and less about configuration. I’ll return to this topic in upcoming blogs and podcasts, including some interviews I hope to schedule with early By Design consulting partners I met at the event.

I hope you enjoyed the annotated video grab bag and if there are any topics you want me to return to in future coverage, please let me know.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Jon, as always an enjoyable recount of events.
      Glad the videos came out ok.
      I absolutely loved how Martin expressed his frustration on certification issues "They are hearing, but they are not listening". A pity indeed, but hey it is better than "not hearing".
      I am pretty sure that C5 work will get SAP's attention at some point, and that you guys won't give up till they both hear and listen !
      Author's profile photo Witalij Rudnicki
      Witalij Rudnicki
      ... could easily be a part of "The Late Late Show" 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Author's profile photo Dennis Howlett
      Dennis Howlett
      @jonERP has a second career awaiting him as my straight man in stand up comedy. He just doesn't know it...but to be serious, gr8 round up, well assembled.