A few months ago I outlined some of the Making Sense of the 2011 BusinessObjects Conference Landscape out there, and then recently I attended one — SAPPHIRE/ASUG Annual Conference — for Pre-Judgment: ASUG Annual Conference/SAPPHIRE 2011. I had planned to blog every day, but honestly the whole thing just sort of got away from me, so I’m gonna throw my high-level thoughts out there now and circle back to the big ideas with later blog posts. I’m going to break this down into the three major value propositions from ASUG to try and keep myself on track.
Probably the weakest option of the three for me, this particular facet of the conference is all about perspective. Because I am relatively technical (especially compared to most of attendees I ran into) I constantly found myself wanting when it came to gleaning really solid technical information. There just weren’t enough “facts” out there to do much with. As with all marketing efforts, SAPPHIRE is all about potential — what could I do if I bought some of this stuff, partnered with the right folks, and pulled out a big win. The “what” that could happen-type information was available in spades. The “how” do I do it was really lacking. There are lots of apps, especially in the BI space, being shown off on iPads, but there wasn’t much new for me to go download today, and with the general availability of BI4 still being somewhat nebulous (although, to SAPs credit they have really opened the door for those who want to play with it) it’s tough to come home from a conference without having anything significantly new to report to headquarters.
I recognize that SAP absolutely has to get out in front of their customers and promise things that aren’t quite ready for prime-time yet, but I feel they have been doing that for a while now in the broader Analytics category and not much has really materialized yet. HANA, the darling of the show last year, was also the darling of SAP TechEd, the Run Better Tour, and lots of other items. I’m not sure if this is due to difficulty in making things work, in properly packaging them, or just talking about stuff too early in the development cycle, but it feels very much like the stuff we talked about last week should have already been delivered.
The best way I think to describe the networking here is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” It was fantastic reacquainting with old friends, finally getting to shake hands with online acquaintances, and meeting altogether new people. The problem is that with all of those new faces I felt like I only had about 5 minutes to spend with each of them. I’m in sort of a unique situation (or at least I generally assume that I’m always special) straddling the BOBJ and SAP ecosystems, so it felt twice as bad.
I had three fantastic meetings — for three largely different groups of people — that I’d like to mention.
- SAP Mentor Initiative Meet Up – It was great getting back together with the top community engagers in the global SAP world. Some new faces, some old faces, and always a good excuse to talk code, community, and cocktails (which should maybe be our new slogan).
- DSLayer Tweet Up – Surprisingly we had like 15 people come and go throughout the evening. Whether we were eating or drinking, it was great talking BusinessObjects with some really dedicated technicians.
- ASUG Volunteer Meeting – Always a pleasure to meet with the other dedicated folks who put your community experience above their own. Honestly, the passion in those rooms makes me wonder how people get enough value out of ASUG if they aren’t volunteers. Also? I was included in a group tentatively branded as the “A-Team of Data Monkeys.” Can’t wait to see the t-shirts.
This is, to me, one of the strongest reasons to attend an event like this. Lots of opportunities to change the direction of SAP product development AND the community. Hanging out at the ASUG booth gives you great opportunity so see both sides. Formal influence channels happen throughout the conference, and so do informal influence sessions (those which can include everything from begging a product owner to getting compromising photos of them) give you a real opportunity to get some stuff done, and since everyone is here, it is easy for an SAP person to not only hear your ideas but to quickly vet them with their other customers.
ASUG Annual Conference/SAPPHIRE is a great event, but you really have to set your expectations the right way. If you think you are going to walk away knowing how to implement a system or to catching up on the newest development trends, you’d probably be better off Making Sense of the 2011 BusinessObjects Conference Landscape. If you need to look ahead to products on the way or the changes you want to see in existing products, this conference is probably a great fit.