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Author's profile photo Heather Matthews

SAPPHIRE NOW from Orlando … Run Like Never Before

Professors and Students,

Welcome to SAPPHIRE NOW!  More than 20,000 people are attending this event in Orlando or virtually at  This event brings together content from SAP, our partners and customers.  Learn about innovative solutions across applications, analytics, mobile, cloud and in-memory computing.  Keynotes, theater presentations, educational sessions and many, many other sessions are streamed live or available on demand.  We encourage you to take advantage of this outstanding event!

We have a handful of University Alliances professors onsite in Orlando this week to hear first hand about innovations across SAP, and to share their observations and perspectives with our group.  Via this blog, I invite professors to post here.  What do you think about the keynotes?  What theater presentations did you attend?  How will what you learn impact your teaching and curriculum development?  If you are participating online, join the conversation too!


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      Author's profile photo Richard Blumberg
      Richard Blumberg

      Hi! Thanks for sharing a University Alliances update from Sapphire NOW in Orlando!  It will be fun and informative to hear from professors and students who are attending!

      My questions:

      * What thought leadership, solutions, &/or knowledge shared at Sapphire can be applied to classrooms?

      * What opportunities are you seeing that can translated into jobs or careers?

      * Who has the best exhibit ("booth")?

      Also, I know there are alot of ways to stay in touch including:

      Virtual Platform

      Social Media

      Join the conversation about SAPPHIRE NOW:

      Follow University Alliances

      .....Please share a few photos!:-)

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Greetings from Chico, CA!  I've made a quick transition back to wrapping up final grading and attending graduation events but wanted to post some reflections.  I've never attended this event and found it to be incredibly invigorating and filled with ideas for the classroom.  I attended presentations and discussions with SAP customers and technical specialists in small sessions.  The following summarizes main impressions from my experience.

      Business Case for SAP HANA:  I was struck by the clear business cases that SAP customers presented for the use of HANA.  The companies I heard discussing their present and anticipated HANA projects include Burberry, ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods, Inc. and Redbox.  Each company clearly articulated the benefits and new opportunities that HANA offers.

      Market Segment of One:  In his keynote, Co-CEO Bill McDermott described "market segments of one" as the degree of customer focus that many companies are striving to achieve with HANA based on leveraging past history and predictive analytics.  The theme of personalization via analytics was echoed by SAP customers in other sessions.

      Predictive Analytics:  I've wondered for some time about SAP's plans for predictive analytics, given these models' importance in deriving value from big data.  A discussion at the Big Data demo area clarified the near-future possibilities.  Predictive analysis capabilities have been added to both SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 and HANA.  The existing capabilities can be supplemented with the open-source R Library.

      SAP BusinessObjects Applications:  I attended several sessions that focused on which BusinessObjects applications fit particular use cases.  The applications most often cited as useful in the SAP customer sessions and discussions I attended were BusinessObjects Explorer and Web Intelligence, frequently deployed on mobile devices.  Reasons for the popularity of these applications include increased user adoption and rapid development.

      Lorraine Gardiner; California State University, Chico

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hello from Orlando, SAPPHIRENOW AND ASUG ANNUAL CONFERENCE!  Day 1 was awesome!   15,000+ attendees from at least 72 countries, and 18,000 online participants can't be wrong.   The SAP ecosystem is vibrant because of the company's mission and vision.   Lance Armstrong was a great morning keynote speaker.  Everyone knows of his battle with cancer, but to see him survive it and continues to be a contributor to the society is personally very humbling.  He is definitely a great choice as a motivational speaker, because he is an excellent example of what SAP stands for....running better and winning.  Bill McDermott, co-CEO of SAP, points how SAP is helping companies run better by addressing the consumers need for speed, simplicity, and personalization.  Networking is one of my best experiences at this conference.  I have networked with key people of SAP Philippines and SAP Peru, and also with the president of ASUG Brazil.     Heather and John are doing a great job of coordinating all of us.  Thanks!  Will post more later,  Maria The University of Findlay

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Greetings.  Sapphire has been pretty inspiring so far.  Given that I was tasked with "rebranding" our whole MIS program last week, I've been thinking about cloud, mobile, and analytics topics much more lately. Voila Sapphire!   Sapphire is dominated by companies talking and working on cloud computing, mobile, and of course, HANA.  I've had the chance to talk with executives from companies such as Amazon, Lexmark, etc about these topics, and all have been more than helpful.  They definitely want our students and have been receptive to research and curricular support.  Tonight, at dinner, the UA faculty got together and it was good to share with them what works and doesn't work.  Thanks again to the whole UA crew for hosting us.  Bill Wagner, Villanova U.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hello from Orlando,SAPPHIRENOW AND ASUG ANNUAL CONFERENCE! Presentations by the Co-CEOs of SAP, Bill McDermott and Jim Snabe were excellent.  Mixed into the presentations were a number technology tidbits that will be good for including in the classroom.   One of my favorites--being a bit of a car nut--was Ron Dennis of McLaren.  The student dash-board competiton finals were very interesting

      I have had the chance to attend a number of valuable sessions and visit with company representatives.  Wednesday will be a full day--Van Halen tonight.  avidThanks to UA and everyone that allows the faculty to attend.  David Dougas--University of Arkansas

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      This is really a great event.  Other than the informative keynotes, I spent most of my time playing the demo systems on the mobile, cloud and analytics campuses.  I think behind those hot topics, we can tell the trend of the development of business solutions - better user experience (portal and speed), quick implementation and lower cost of ownership, and intelligence to support decision making.  Probably the next generation of business solutions will follow these too.

      I guess that another reason for companies to provide cloud service is that this way explores much much more small and mid-size customers and brings them additional revenue earned from those small and mid-size businesses who may not plan to implement business solutions if the costs of ownership are as high as before.

      Plus, based on the demo I tried, the applications of mobile tech in business solutions are two-fold: 1) standard mobile apps for mass market, which can be downloaded from SAP app stores; 2) tailored mobile applications for niche (high-end customers).

      BTW, curious to know why SAP uses HANA as the name for its in-memory computing solution.  I love this name anyway, since my daughter's name is Hanna.  🙂   She was born several years before HANA.  Lian Qi @ Rutgers Univ.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Day 2, May 15, was another productive event.  I attended some micro forums and I particularly enjoyed the one on treasury and commodity financial risk management.   The ASUG university session was good in the sense that UA coordinators shared their desire to partner more closely with their local ASUG.   I particularly asked if UA members can also use the ASUG logo, and the answer is YES.  An equally important connection I made this day is with Sodexo.  Dinner at Timpano was a great way to end day 2.

      Day 3, May 17, is now starting with Hasso Plattner as keynote talking about HANA and cloud.  To see the SAP HANA machine with 100 TB on steamed video put HANA in reality, and that, of course, is from my perspective. I am attending more micro forums and will chat with John on the future of SAP at my university. 

      Maria--The University of Findlay.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Greetings from Orlando. It was a very rewarding three days. I enjoyed all keynote speeches especially the motivational talk of Lance Armstrong the first day. Although most of us heard his personal story in bits and pieces from other sources, it was very movig the way he narrated it.  As academicians, we always wonder how much of brand technology that we should teach in our classes without sacrificing the "IS concepts" of an academic program. When you actually the see the business users in a conference directed toward the industry, it confirms our belief that we are doing the right thing by offering some SAP focused instruction.

      I also enjoyed Vishal Sikka's demos today. The billion record retrieval speed was mind boggling even after making allowance for how a "demo" environment could be contrived. No indices needed - is somewhat hard to take for someone who has been teaching databases for a long time! 😯   But, this particular demo makes us stop and take a look at what is happening around us.  I am planning to take deeper look into HANA.

      Author's profile photo Susan Pfeifer
      Susan Pfeifer

      Hello from Orlando!  This has been a great event.  It is jammed pack full of keynotes, speakers, demos, ASUG presentations and SIG meetings.  This was my first SAPPHIRENOW and it was extremely valuable.  I could have spent another few days trying to take it all in.  🙂   Admittedly, the first day was a bit overwhelming and I was very thankful to Heather and John for the faculty meeting and GREAT tips on how to plan which events to attend.  The second and third days were much easier.  As they suggested, I attended Micro Forums, ASUG SIG meetings, a few ASUG presentations, and visited some of the demo booths.  I was able to meet many wonderful installation members and partners who took time to visit with me about their business models and various topics.  For example, I had the opportunity to sit next to a Chief Operating Officer of a business and visit about his business model and how SAP solutions fit into the picture.  Great information to take back to the classroom.

      Lance Armstrong was very inspiring, and the SAP executives and speakers were excellent.  It's great to hear first hand what the plans for HANA and other technologies will be.

      During the conference, another professor mentioned her desire to work on a program in her university to bring more women into IT.  I've had similar thoughts on this over the past several years and have participated in a few mentor programs...we have lots of women professors in this area, but very few female students.  I saw firsthand the difference in the number of men and women in this field last night after the Van Halen Concert (which was amazing) - there was a VERY long line in front of the men's bathroom, and NO line for the women!  While it was very humorous to note that few events I attend have this occur, it also created a strong realization that we need to find a way to attract more women into the technology related field.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Back at home and tired from all the information flow. Orlando and SAPHIRE were great. I was really interested in learning how HANA works and had the opportunity to do so at the Hasso Plattner Institute booth. I also learned more about the Sybase Mobile platform. There is also another tool that could be useful in training. It is a software provided by KNOA that allows you to track what users are actually doing in SAP. So you could use that to reflect on what the students did during SAP exercises.

      Some of the keynotes were very interesting, but maybe a bit long.

      On a final note, UA members should get more involved with their local ASUG chapter to increase awareness of the UA and seek help in advertising careers in IT.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I must add that I attended a couple of ASUG sessions on Center of Excellence. That was very interesting, indeed.

      Author's profile photo Simha R. Magal
      Simha R. Magal

      My first SapphireNow event as an SAP Mentor! 

      As always, it was a very informative event.  Way too much information to digest in a short 3 days.  I had an opportunity to meet a lot of people, from senior executives to customers, partners, and people in the trenches that make the technology work. 

      Some takeaways / observations mostly from keynotes by Hasso Plattner, Vishal Sikka, Bill McDermott, and Jim Snabe.

      1. SAP business one is the first ERP (transactional) system totally running on HANA.
      2. New applications will use big data
      3. There will be a big paradigm shift in the near future due to emerging technologies.  In 5 years, everything will be mobile, in the cloud, and in-memory.
      4. People buy fast cars and motorbikes due to midlife crisis.  SAP bought SuccessFactors (SAP is 40 years old this year > midlife! Crisis?
      5. Great applications will focus on simplicity, speed, and personalization.
      6. Advice for companies:  consolidate core, enable business networks, and add predictive intelligence

      Of course, there were many cool product demos.  Specially the HANAfied applications.  (is that a word?). 

      I also observed the student dashboard competition.  The three teams were outstanding.  Too bad there had to be a winner.  Congratulations to all.  Be sure to get a team from your school to enter the competition next year (I need to heed this advice). Finalists get an all expense paid trip to Sapphire - how cool is that.  My students who attended Sapphire in the past said that it felt like a kid in Disney World. 

      I know I speak for all the faculty who attended when I say thank you to Heather, John, and Alex for making this possible.  It is a remarkable experience.  I felt like a kid in Disney World!  For those unable to attend in person, all the keynotes are broadcast live and available for viewing later.  Many of the sessions are recorded and available for viewing later.  So take advantage of these recordings (the UA team can let us know how and were these are accessible).

      Finally, a plug for the SAP Mentors - a great bunch of people; a very under utilized resource for faculty. They are subject matter experts willing and eager to share their knowledge with faculty and students.  Engage with them!  I will be glad to facilitate - get in touch.  Follow them on twitter @SapMentors. Visit with them during SAP Mentor Mondays.

      Of course, SAP is not all work. In keeping with the theme of the conference, the Van Halen concert was a party like never before! 

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      This was my first time attending SAPPHIRE. I concur with all the
      comments made above and would add a couple:


      1. The key notes, session, panels, vendor presentations, and
        micro forums all provided opportunities to not just learn more about SAP and
        the eco-system surrounding it, but also a chance to pick up stories that can be
        carried back to class to engage the students. I don't know about other faculty
        in the Academic Alliance, but I don't have any direct work experience with SAP.
        As a result, I don't have any stories of my own to tell, I made note of several
        at this event.
      2. I had a couple of conversations that could lead to new
        companies thinking about recruiting at my university and/or visiting and
        providing presentations to our students. Of course, following up on these
        requires careful navigation to make sure 1) we have students who would be
        interested and who the companies would find interesting, and 2) any
        presentations add classroom value.
      3. Finally, I attended a couple of customer presentations that
        could be interesting research projects (should the companies I spoke with be
        interested). This was not an outcome I had any expectations about when I
        accepted the invitation to attend SAPPHIRE -- but about which I am pretty

      I would definitely recommend this event to all members of the UA.