Sapphire 2010 – A tale of two cities – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
The whirlwind of Sapphire is over and now it is time to get back to the reality of what we do every day as opposed to what we may be doing in the future. For businesses using SAP solutions to run their operations every day, the event had no immediate impact but for architects, operations managers and CIO’s hopefully there were enough insights into imaginative ways to improve business operations with technology that will make business leaders feel it was a good investment of time and money to attend the event.
Over the years I have been to a number of trade shows and conferences in the SAP space and Sapphire 2010 Orlando certainly came out close to the top in terms of energy, interest and enthusiasm on the part of attendees and exhibitors alike. Perhaps the event was particularly special given that we are once again emerging a recent state of global economic turmoil or perhaps it is because we see encouraging changes happening in the world of businesses using SAP solutions.
Certainly at the end of the three day event I came away with more than sore feet a gravelly voice and the complexion of a lobster (much to the amusement of my colleagues). Once again I was left in awe of the diversity of the industry sectors, the breadth of the operational challenges that business and IT are collectively trying to address and the number of new installations that are in progress and those who are looking to events like this to find interesting and compelling ways to get the work done effectively and efficiently.
As always I spoke to characters from all levels in the organization, CIO’s, VP’s , Directors, Project Managers, IT Managers, business analysts, operations managers and systems administrators. In the space of Microsoft Excel integration with SAP, which has long been a chasm that needed to be closed, the offerings in the market are now well established and demonstrate that easy integration can be achieved in a cost effective and efficient way; yet despite this established capability many organizations still are unaware that this capability exists without making changes to your SAP landscape and without compromising on security and the integrity of the system.
I didn’t get much of a chance to see all that the vendors and integrators had on offer but I did notice some names of companies that I hadn’t seen before and of course stalwarts. On the whole, the message seemed to be clearly that there are a great many options available in the market for existing and new SAP customers to automate business processes or improve operational efficiency with robust and proven technology solutions. My colleagues and I spent our precious Sunday resolving some technical issues with our IDES system, appeasing the venue WiFi police and familiarizing everyone with the specifics of what we planned to announce and share with Sapphire attendees. Monday through Wednesday in the Winshuttle booth was a blur with hundreds of visitors from across the globe learning about Excel to SAP integration with the products. To my mind it was relatively easy to demonstrate the value proposition to an existing customer of being able to remain in Microsoft Excel and complete the cycle of transaction processing in SAP in seconds as opposed to minutes but for those new to SAP the demonstrate involves a little more; you have to demonstrate the feature rich capability of the SAPGUI UI and how it accommodates so many different industry models and at the same time can prove problematical for an inexperienced or new user of SAP.
Discussions with my colleagues who attended Frankfurt were less complimentary; in general they felt that there was a less than satisfactory embrace of partners in the SAP Ecohub. It is difficult to know exactly what the issues were precisely but it seems that Orlando was better thought out; that the venue layout and foot traffic flow may have been better planned in Orlando and that a better job was done of ensuring that every participant in the show had an equal opportunity to get exposure to the attendees. Of particular statistical interest to us was the fact that the lead generation at Orlando was four fold to that of Frankfurt. Could it be that Frankfurt ultimately became an ill conceived after thought decided too late in the day to be as effective as Orlando?
The coming months will prove particularly interesting for us at Winshuttle as we prepare for the physical launch of the full blown new products with all the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted to meet the functional and technical needs of business and IT. For us at least, Sapphire 2010 at first blush seemed to be an overwhelming success.