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I went to Orlando and came back with…

It doesn’t roll tripingly off the tongue (or the keyboard), but the official name of last week’s shindig in Orlando is: SAPPHIRE NOW and the ASUG Annual Conference.  That’s a little long to repeat each time, so I’ll abbreviate it to SAPPHIRE/ASUG in this post.

I was invited to attend SAPPHIRE/ASUG by SAP as a blogger.  It was an honor and a priviledge to attend and be treated so well by SAP’s Global Communications group.  I had access to SAP executives, SAP customers, representatives of the media, other bloggers, and the SAP mentors. 

It was definitely a good feeling to meet many of the people I knew previously through phone calls, Twitter, and exchanging ideas via email.

As many of you know, I am active in the Oracle space, having had a long career as a JD Edwards employee in the 90s, and then starting JDEtips in 2000.  The contrast between the production values and excitement surrounding SAPPHIRE/ASUG and Oracle’s recent Collaborate 10 conference (for Oracle application customers) was pretty dramatic. 

SAPPHIRE/ASUG was SHOWTIME compared to a low key Oracle conference.  To be fair, Oracle’s revenue is 80% driven by database sales, and their OpenWorld event in San Franscisco every September, is much bigger than the SAPPHIRE/ASUG event, with over 40,000 attendees.

But, just comparing apps to apps (hey, I like that one!), the SAPPHIRE/ASUG event was much more professionally done.  (And the food was waaayy better than the food at Oracle’s Collaborate event.)

So, you are probably wondering what I was doing at the conference besides noshing and wandering around somewhat star-struck.

As my forte is education and training, that was my focus throughout the event.  I attended many of the breakout sessions on education related topics (mostly about end user training), and interviewed three of the top SAP Education executives.

Four major training themes emerged from the conversations and workshops:

1. Implementing SAP is not an IT project–it’s a business transformation project.  This drives every aspect of an SAP implementation, including training.

2. ERP training is changing rapidly.  Customers are not budgeting the time and money to travel to week-long public classes.  As a result, a near total re-thinking of configuration-level training is happening now.  Customers want more flexibility (think choice) in how they consume training. 

3. Sustainability is key.  I don’t mean sustainability in the environmental sense.  Rather, I mean it in the sense that: “We learned enough about SAP to go-live, but how do we sustain that knowledge, and build on it in the future?”

4. mLearning is coming.  With SAP’s push into mobile apps (starting with the Sybase acquisition), over the next few years we’ll see more SAP training occuring on mobile platforms.

I’ll be researching and writing detailed blogs/articles on these topics in the coming weeks. 

If you would like to share your thoughts about SAP training with the SCN community, I invite you to contact me directly at

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