Impressions from SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2011
It has become both a ritual as well as a tradition for me to wrap up my personal SAP TechEd experience in a blog post, so here we go. As I’m just one in a million of people writing about the event it’s rather hard to come up with a unique twist to differentiate from all the excellent coverage … and add value! Therefore I’ve tried to stay true to my previous posts on the subject and once again go for a mix of personal impressions and composition… so here it is: SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2011 – a guided tour!
InnoJam Weekend – Gamification
I arrived in Vegas around 9:30pm on Sunday with the original plan to take it more easy this time around (last year’s schedule had been completely overbooked.) Well, guess the usual rules for (new year’s) resolution apply to TechEd plans as well (but I’m not complaining!) As I walked into the Innovation Weekend campus, which was well under-way at that time, I saw all the people flocking around round tables busily working on their use-cases. All I was about was to give a few hugs, shake some hands and do some chatting before calling it a day. Mark Finnernhad other plans though and once he spotted me he immediately asked me to join their team to help build his use-case: the “Do I know you?” app. I’ve liked his idea from the beginning and the team he had gathered was outstanding, hence how could I have resisted his offer?!? 😉
At the end of the day, we came in 2nd place with our app, yet as I keep saying: InnoJam is like the Olympic Games – everybody who participates is a winner! This year was no exception and the InnoJam Team lead by Anne Hardy once again did an amazing job pulling it all together. Kudos to Mario Herger (he’s been the one pushing gamification at SAP for years now!), Gigi Read , Jürgen Schmerder and the rest of the team!
If you want the full scoop or the nitty-gritty details… please consult the following links:
Ladies first… so let’s start by talking about the highly anticipated guest-keynote by Dr. Jane McGonigal on Monday evening. Well, she certainly has a great presence on stage and knows how to captivate the audience (didn’t expect anything less from a TED speaker anyway!) I’ve been among those who had doubts about gamification of the enterprise beforehand (and I’m not yet fully converted either) however, she had some great arguments and I’d be happy to see some of the concepts of gamification being adopted by the enterprise. Fellow SCN member Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy wrote a great blog about her keynote and as I share most of his thoughts let me just refer to him and spare you my own recap on that topic.
- [Video] SAP TechEd live: Meet the speaker – Jane McGonical
- SAP TechED 2011 LV – Keynote by Dr. Jane Mcgonigal – My thoughts by Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy
Vishal’s keynote on Tuesday morning was all about HANA, HANA and HANA (see links below.) While personally I wasn’t really surprised about this fact, yet I heard others saying they were a bit disappointed about the (exclusive) focus on HANA and that they would have loved to hear more about mobility. Guess it’s hard to give all the new dimensions the attention they deserve within the keynote…
What I personally liked about Vishal’s keynote was the fact that Franz Färber (Lead Architect of the HANA team) got some face-time as he chatted with Vishal about the progress being made in the current development. I got to know him in person a while back and what stuck with me from our first encounter was how well he did answer all my critical questions I asked him about in-memory technologies back then, eliminating my concerns. His team certainly achieved a lot since then and seeing the results now (and the ambitious roadmap ahead) I sincerely wish him and his team the well-deserved continuation of the success story! Common guys, let’s continue to kick a… (please mind the language!)
- [Video] SAP TechEd live: Keynote by Vishal Sikka
- The specified item was not found. by Dick Hirsch
- SAP HANA – from Analytics Appliance to Vendor Consolidation by John Appleby
Well, what can I say – Demo Jam has been and still is a MUST-ATTEND part of the SAP TechEd experience. This year we got to see a revamped show as Ian Kimbell: The New Face of SAP TechEd Demo Jam! took over the job of being the master of ceremony. Well, if anyone can step in the shoes of Craig Cmehil than it’s probably Ian. He put up a very entertaining show and had the crowd laughing out loud more than once.
We saw very interesting demos again this year, no doubt about it. Yet, in my opinion the the most fascinating one ‘InnoBoard’ by Marek Kowalkiewicz (from SAP Research Australia) took the crown rightfully. To be fair, he certainly enjoyed a great group of loud(!) supporters to cheer for him, however, as he’s been a Demo Jam contender more than once and he certainly got the right spirit it’s just fair in my book! And… InnoBoard is definitely a very interesting piece of innovative technology (where can I place my order? ;))
There’s yet another Demo Jam entry I really would like to point out, which is the O2H Framework demo by Nenghong Fu. Now I may sound biased (your call!), but given all the hype about HANA this approach on how-to ‘leverage in-memory computing without upgrading SAP ECC and without introducing any additional server or Java stack to the customer landscape’ certainly is worth mentioning. His team came up with this idea during our very own Innovation Challenge (executed in SAP Custom Development at the beginning of the year) and in my opinion he deserved being a contender in this year’s Demo Jam event. He may have lacked the show elements to get a real chance to win, yet if you’re looking for substance and technical innovation you may want to give it a closer look!
- Watch all the Demo Jam demos: http://www.sapteched.com/usa/activities/demojam.htm
Before we continue to the next topic, I’d like to point you to Matt Harding‘s excellent blog about the spirit of DemoJam: The specified item was not found.
Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation/ Midnight Mobile Madness
There were two events taking place simultaneously on Wednesday Night. One was the ‘Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation – Design Thinking Workshop’ organized by Marilyn Pratt, the other ‘Mobile Midnight Madness.’ I attended the former and all-in-all I had a great time with plenty of interesting and thought-provoking discussions on the topic. As I wrote a rather lengthy About ‘Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation’ about it this week already, I don’t feel like writing another recap, but instead leave it up to you to check out one of the blogs below to get all the details about this event:
- Embracing Inclusion – Driving Innovation : An Introduction by Marilyn Pratt
- Spreading Design Thinking – a practice workshop by Heike van Geel
- Some difficulties of making inclusion work by Vijay Vijaysankar
- Why do we need a session on inclusion? What does it mean? by Michelle Crapo
- About ‘Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation’ by Matthias Steiner
- The Value Was in the Conversation ! Embracing Inclusion with Design Thinking – Driving Innovation by Gail Moody-Byrd
As I did not attend Mobile Midnight Madness I cannot tell you about the experience first-hand. Yet, what I heard from others it was a great event with plenty of learnings and lots of freebies and giveaways! (What else would one want?) Check out Amr El Meleegy ‘s blog post to find out more.
One Republic in Concert
Hm, what can I say about this one?!? Basically, I feel like referring to what I said about last year’s concert. I did enjoy it(!), BUT it’s not the band that gets me there, but the outlook of hanging out with friends around an open bar. As such I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better idea to spend less money on the band, but instead use that budget to extend the timeline – because it is a great opportunity to mingle with customers and partners and have discussions that matter!
I remember that two years ago in Munich we had a setup that played much better (in my POV) as it was more of a lounge-like atmosphere with a less-known band playing. Live music is great, yet I wonder if booking a good local cover band and having a more-spread lounge bar wouldn’t be an alternative way of getting everybody to spend a great night together. Guess, I’ll have to submit an idea on Idea Place to see if I’m alone in that matter or not? 😉
The Networking Lounge
Let me tell you upfront – the Networking Lounge is where it’s at, because that’s where the conversations are taking place! See, for me (and many others) TechEd is all about networking and bonding. And due to the fact that I get to know more people each year and I got the people I know already soo much better it’s a simple formula: TechEd just gets better each year!
So yes, it’s all about the discussions and the conversations that happened. This year, there have been more opportunities than ever to engage and get to know interesting people and topics!
I think this year it got obvious that the pods have outgrown themselves and have closed-up to the lectures and hands-on sessions in popularity and value-gain. Due to the fact that they are topic-centric and open all-day-long it’s easy to fetch them into your own personal schedule and make sure that you won’t miss the topics you’re the most interested in. Plus, due to their interactive nature, they greatly help in getting to talk to the experts and get tailor-fitted advice and insight. Given that upward trend we may need to think about how to scale the pods w/o them loosing their intimacy and interaction characteristics.
Alright, I admit it… I’m a big fan of this community insider competition! And I’m not saying that because I finally can call one of the much sought-after trophies my own (yeah!)… no, it’s because it just speaks for the spirit of the community to keep this going. The idea is said to have started by Craig Cmehil with his 30 seconds introduction videos he dared the community to post, and then it got formalized with the help of Jim Spath to make it what it is today: the one and only legendary SCNotty Awards! 😀
Well, if you ask me the whole thing is about making a fool of oneself in public. Now, that may sounds scary at first, but then that’s what it is all about – to dare to do something crazy in public! That sounds harder as it really is as you usually got great company 🙂 Hey, if everybody is making fun of themselves – why not join in and get to know some really nice people and kudos by doing so? Hm … I think Sue Keohan did a much better job in showing you good reasons: Why do a #SCNotty?
- SCN WIKI: THE 2011 “SCNotty” Awards – Las Vegas
Here’s a new addition to the line-up… and a good looking one indeed! Don’t let the misleading title confuse you… it’s not about knowledge, but yet another clever way (hint: “gamification!”) of getting the people to connect and interact. Let’s face it… the questions were, well, how to put it… only mildly challenging may I say 😉 But that was probably never the point…
The point is to get the people motivated to engage – ask questions, get into discussions and collecting points by doing so. While the individual prizes (the usual tablet) is nice, yet I got the impression that most people participated for the greater cause: a donation to KaBoom. Here’s the Helping KaBOOM help children with SAP Volunteers” by John Astill.
Well, they surely had a very nice and energetic team on site and as such it was simply fun to talk to them and participate. Maybe it was the fact that they have used a photo showing my good buddy Aslan and myself in the promotion campaign, yet for some reason I felt I should put some serious effort in this activity… so happy we reached our goal on time! Thanks to everyone who put in a last minute effort… the fact that points get tripled on the last day saved us! 🙂
The SAP Community Network Team
I mean… let’s just face it, passion is key to success! SCN is the living proof of that in the tech industry. If it’s one thing that SAP can indeed be proud of, then it’s having been able to get together such an extra-ordinary ecosystem (and yes, that’s probably preaching to the converted!) Still, I think it’s always appropriate to give the fine folks of the SCN team – who are at the heart of all of this – a serious shout-out!
So, far I have yet to get to know a member that is anything else but an amazingly smart and nice person…. and they rocked it again this year! Let me tell you…
They showed off the long anticipated new – completely replatformed – upcoming version of SCN 2.0! Ka-tsching!
For the community addicts out there it was probably the first time to get their hands on a sandbox system demoing the next generation of AWESOME 🙂 I heard (true!) stories about people tripling the designated time-frame (30min) to check out every little aspect of it. We are sure up for a treat at the end of November 🙂
So, but not only for that, but everything else that they do all year long and especially during TechEd they deserve some real kudos!
Oh and speaking of awesomeness… I tried to convince the team to ‘let us get hands-on an open API’ [without breaking the platform – hat tip to John Appleby!] They were all ears, yet given the sheer amount of features they got in their sleeves already we may would need some further persuasion to get it high on the wishlist. So, here’s an idea on Idea Place about that one – just to gauge interest for a developer program or the like.
Oh, and how could I continue w/o giving a special shout-out to my own Mentor Oliver Kohl?!? He’s the one making SCN 2.0 a reality from an implementation perspective. I’d say we are in good hands… 🙂
Well, what can I say about the sessions? As every year I didn’t get to attend as many as I would have hoped for. There’s simply too much stuff happening’ at the same time! So, let me keep this section kind of short and just high-light two special sessions I got to see:
- [CD114] Let’s Get Mobile with HTML5 and Business Server Pages (BSP) in Under 50 Minutes by Matt Harding and Alisdair Templeton
- [MOB107] REST: So What’s It All About? by Sascha Wenninger
The first one was – simply put – a 50 min Demo Jam-like live experience with Matt and Alisdair going head-to-head and coding the app in real-time. They showed how simply and efficiently HTML5 mobile apps can be developed, with nothing but a text editor and Dropbox. Guys, what a great show! Now, I hope that they will consider writing a recap and putting the code out there (hint, hint!) as otherwise it may be lost for the masses (why don’t get ASUG sessions recorded by the way?!?)
The later was also very special, as we got a private session during lunch time! It’s been for sure the most geekiest lunch I’ve had in a long time as Sascha gave Alisdair and myself a quick walk-through, which naturally evolved into a broader discussion on RESTful topics towards the end. 😉
Maybe one last word about my own session… well, it’s been very exciting indeed to reach out to the community and give them a preview on what we got in store with our upcoming OnDemand platform and more specifically its Java capabilities. If you are interested in that topic (how could you not be?) please check my SAP NetWeaver OnDemand at TechEd … I would be happy to see you in Madrid!
Well, what else is there to say? Ok, here is some finger food… oh, talking about food – it was excellent and plenty (here’s proof!) No, for real… it always amazes me how they manage to cater to 6,500 people at once. SAP Teched certainly sets a very high standard in regards to keeping the attendees happy on that front. 🙂
WiFi… the usual suspect! Hm, this year we solely depended on the Venetian Event network, which worked alright during the event, except of for the keynote, when it was a complete mess! I do know enough about these things though to understand that the technology was never meant to support for 6,500 people at a time, so I won’t complain about it too much. Would have loved to join the tweeting, but hey… not a show-stopper either! 🙂
The app – finally we got a mobile app to help us at the event! Surely, makes life much easier… tip: make sure to install and configure it up front!
Last, but not least – video coverage: Dennis Howlett and Jon Reed of JD-OD joined the official SAP TechEd live crew in broadcasting from and about the event. It’s hard to pick a few selected videos as they are all spot-on, so I suggest you pick your own favorites:
As you can probably tell: I surely had a blast this year! Too much KoolAid? Well, I got called a fool for lesser things and I sure got my fix in Vegas! And then… with all the people I get to know it’s hard not to be a fan boy!
Well, that’s it – that’s been my TechEd experience… what about yours? Do you feel I captured the event in a rightful manner (if not, please leave a comment or even better … write a blog!)
Or maybe you set your mind and would want to go, but you struggle with getting the necessary approval/budget? Well, again it’s Thorsten who got some Convince Your Boss to Send You to SAP TechEd.
If all should fail, well, then here’s at least some tips on how-to take part from a distance: What can you do to keep up with TechEd Las Vegas when you cannot be there by Chris Kernaghan
Before I call it a day…. and I know it may sound lame after having you read all this (hope it was worth the time invested!), but if you really want to know what SAP TechEd is all about in a nutshell: then check out this fabulous video by JD-OD -> SAP TechEd – One word. 🙂
See you at SAP TechEd!
Plenty of people share their unique views about the event. I tried to refer to some of the ones I liked best, yet with all these blog posts on SAP TechEd it’s almost impossible to read them all, hence please don’t hold it against me if I missed to include a specific blog post! (As it certainly wasn’t my intention to replace the RSS Feed I had to go for a hand-picked selection.)
I will however update this section with some more links as they pour in (and I am capable of catching up!) If you’d like to point out a specific one I should be aware of, please drop me a line… the more, the merrier! 🙂
For the people who prefer audio (amazed and flattered you made it all the way to the end of this blog!)
To all the people I met during Teched – thanks for all the great talks and making my experience! Wish I could have called all of you out individually in this post… you know who you are!