I am writing this as I sit waiting for my plane in Madrid. My mind is numb and my limbs are tired but my heart is enthused after attending my first Sapphirenow/ Teched event. The memories will last long and it was good to finally meet some of my peers from the SAP world. The conversation all around me is focused on the event too, and with a reported 8000 people attending it was a worthwhile event for more than just me.
My three tips are pretty simple, but I will make sure I follow these rules when I attend the next Sapphire in 2012.
1 – Bring lots of energy
2 – Plan your sessions and plan your breaks
3 – Bring a battery pack to re-charge your mobile devices
Before I left to go to Madrid I had had a couple of full on days resolving client issues and planning for my two day break. As I left Bluefin HQ I was greeted with a couple of remarks that insinuated that the trip was a jolly and I was taking a break. They could not have been further from the truth. The sessions that you can attend are amazing and there is a lot of information to take in. You can find yourself sitting in the same windowless room for maybe 4 hours at a time. The sessions start early, and event run into the night. When you are prioritising your day, sleep seems to be the last concern and most people seem to survive on little sleep for up to 5 days. The sessions at night can be really enjoyable, and if you are not attending one of those, there will be meals and events arranged by SAP, or SAP Partners and so on. I am lucky I only have a two hour flight back – but I am already dreaming of my bed.
By having a joint Teched and Sapphirenow event the attendees are spoilt for choice. There are keynote events which are a must see, but then you have tutorial sessions, meet the expert sessions, breakout sessions – the list goes on. Everyone will have different requirements for what they want to takeaway from an event like this so to ensure you maximise your return you need to carefully plan your sessions. Further to this, you need to plan you breaks as well. Having a wall to wall calendar of events, from 08:00 until 19:00 is not enjoyable, and you will not enjoy some of the later sessions as you are tired from the previous ones. Taking a break is also a good way of ensuring you have a good walk around as you are sure to bump into some guys that you know, and interesting people that you did not know before. I spent a fair amount of time walking between the sites and bumping into people and having random conversations. Before I left I had planned the “must see” sessions and I was lucky to attend all of those, but having one on one sessions with industry experts are just as rewarding. For my next event, I am going to limit myself to attend a maximum of 4 sessions per day.
My last tip might seem slightly bizarre and silly but in reality it is essential. As I have mentioned the days are long on site, and your mobile device will be working overtime. You will be looking at your phone to check your itinerary from the event app, and as you move about your device will be searching for wifi which at times was a bit hit and miss. Just before I left the event I bumped into a few colleges. One was complaining about lack of battery on their iphone and the other brought out a USB battery charger. The conversation flowed for another 30 minutes or so by which time the iphone was charged up and the USB battery charger had enough juice to service 4 or 5 more iphones. I know that when I get back home, I will be going online and purchasing one.
So if you are at the next Sapphire come and say hi, I might even let you borrow my new battery charger.