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I’ve now attended TWO SAP Inside Track events in less than a week. Last weekend I was in London, this past Friday I attended Newtown Square virtually, courtesy of Adobe Connect and the four camera setup people self organized. Though both events took slightly different forms, both were excellent.

This time around, I tuned into Jon Reed and Leonardo de Araujo’s SAP Certification: The Certification 5 Report session, Jim Spath’s Working the Crowd, Tammy Powlas’s ASUG Workflow survey debrief, Bhavesh Bhagat’s audit feature session and a part of Marilyn Pratt, Trevor Carlow and Christine Merten’s Introduction to Knowledge Exploitation. I also jumped into one of Thomas Jung’s sessions for 10 minutes. 

It is clear to me that SAP Inside Track is starting to achieve a balance between uber geek stuff and more business focused topics. This is goodness. Much of what we see around SAP events are geek related. Not that’s a bad thing but SAP as a company is moving towards providing more business focused solutions where the tech is something of a given. Sure there is much to learn and anywhere Thomas Jung tips up you just know there’s going to be an eager audience. The same goes for anyone talking about bleeding edge stuff like mobile technology or alternative ways to layer new applications.

Bhavesh’s session for instance is topical in the context of business failures, the need for improved transparency, sustainability and the role of audit in that change. It made a nice counterpoint to James Farrar’s session on sustainability, opening up questions for me about how SAP will manage the combined sustainability and financial audit needs given that SAP audit functions are most likely to be delivered by the BOBJ people. 

Jon and Leo’s session made a good follow up to Michael Koch’s presentation in London, while Tammy and friends might want to take something away from my marketing presentation

Apart from the obvious tie between Michael and Jon/Leo’s sessions, it is interesting to see that without a lot of trying there seems to be the development of topics that can cross pollinate between disciplines.Marilyn et al’s discussion which had a good focus on search has relevance across multiple topics including the embedding of social computing inside SAP apps plus the obvious one of improving SDN/SCN.

What’s especially heartening to me is the fact these events are rapidly becoming something to which SAP ecosystem partners can easily attend/contribute alongside ASUG (and other SUG), assorted people who have topic interest plus SAP Mentors. In fact anyone with a broadband connection can get in on the action now that we’ve seen what is possible using Adobe Connect. It is an evolution of the SAP Community that should be welcomed by everyone. The ability to pick’n’mix makes it especially valuable for those who are pressed for time.

For a bit of fun, I quickly ‘stole from Craig Cmehil and Marilyn Pratt’s Flickrstreams to assemble an Animoto which is at the top of this post. It gives you something of a flavor of what the event was like.

Suggestions for the future? Having seen Adobe Connect working so well out of Newtown Square, it would be really good if SAP and Adobe between them could offer Adobe Connect as a form of ‘sponsorship’ to all Inside Track events. It isn’t perfect but it provides at least two channels htrough which attendees can consume and participate. First, the video and sound links keep virtual attendees in the action. Second, the chat allows virtual attendees to pose questions. Virtual attendees could be hooked into the live action via video in the future. 

Another suggestion is to have a category for SAP Inside Tracks under ‘points development’ and SCN posting ‘category.’ The fact these events are springing up all over the world and are only likely to grow in popularity tells me there is a genuine need and usefulness. 

Final words: Congratulations to Rich Heilman and others who put #sapitnsq together and drew such a vibrant crowd. Even from this view from the cheap seats 4,000 miles away I could see people enjoying themselves. Like London last week, they are showing that it is not TOO difficult. The thing they’re demonstrating that is possibly lost in much public debate around SAP is that engaging on SAP topics can be FUN. How often do you hear that?

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  1. Tammy Powlas
    Thank you too for all of the insightful chat comments you made.

    I like the combination too of business/tech focus; it will draw in a bigger crowd for the future.

    I watched your marketing plan video and yes, we’re going to do need to do that.  Thank you for the suggestion.

    Tammy

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    1. Dennis Howlett Post author
      Great seeing the ASUG presentation and the challenges it puts out to both SAP and the SUGs. As always – anything that our experience can offer feel free to take. Any help we can offer, we’re here…
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  2. Greg Myers
    Dennis,
    It was great to have you in the cheap seats! Thanks for attending, participating, and tweeting the day with us.
    I love your idea for an SAP/Adobe sponsorship for these types of on the ground events. It would be nice if those could be extended to the chapter meetings of the various SUGs as well. At ASUG, we do use older WebEx technology, but that doesn’t allow for the webcam feed which I feel adds a great deal to the online experience. Perhaps all of our events would be better ‘attended’ if they were easier to attend. While online is a poor substitute for attending in person, it is better than not attending at all.
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    1. Dennis Howlett Post author
      @greg – thanks – WebEx is teh sux IMO. As I said, Adobe Connect isn’t perfect but we can always work around its imperfections. It’s the richness of interaction that AC allows that makes it a winner for me.

      As an aside – you’ve made me think. More Adobe Connect, the easier it is to market to a broader audience. Ex: “Heh – for those around the world that can’t attend, check out the Adobe Connect streams….” or some such.

      SAP People – you listening???? (cough, ahem)

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      1. Mark Finnern
        Hi Dennis,

        > SAP People – you listening???? (cough, ahem)
        Of course we are.

        It is possible today as long as there is one SAP employee in attendance. That employee can use his SAP Connect session details and set up the web streaming accordingly, including recording.

        Some knowledge transfer needs to happen regarding best practices on how to set it up, record, connect the web camera, …

        Otherwise no problem, Mark.

        P.S. Let’s see if we find a solution for events without SAP employee participation.

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      2. Marilyn Pratt
        That is a great idea Dennis.  We just discussed this in our NSQ “post mortem” and Aslan (who was amazing at helping finesse the connect capability in Palo Alto as well as mentoring those of us in NSQ) kindly offered to continue to help world wide.  So folks in Bangalore, Israel, Holland, St.Louis 🙂 , Vancouver,  can also enjoy the capability as well as share with others.
        Rich Heilman will soon post the links in the wiki to the sessions of NSQ.
        Other suggestions of how to make the remote experience even more engaging are really welcome.  Again thanks for making our pictures come to life!
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  3. Marilyn Pratt
    And also for the awesome Video gift of mashing up Craig and my pictures of the event (although I think Martin Gillet is a really hard act to follow for picture taking).
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