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About Me

This is the first blog I’ve written on SCN so I would love your feedback. Firstly, I should introduce myself – I am no technologist and I’m actually pretty poor with computers! I work at The Eventful Group in Sydney, Australia where my role is to research the SAP community’s current challenges and interests. Using that information, I create conference agendas that meet the needs of that community and inspire them to take their next step in transforming the way their business uses SAP. 

I am responsible for our Mastering SAP BusinessObjects event, our Mastering Supply Chain Management with SAP event and our Mastering SAP Technologies event. In this role, I have become very close with the fantastic SAP Mentors and a large number of SCN bloggers. I thought it was about time I shared some of my own insights!

My Latest Research

I’m currently putting together the conference agenda for our 2013 Mastering SAP Technologies event which will be taking place in March in Melbourne, Australia. I have spent the past two months running round table discussion groups in 6 major ANZ cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and Auckland. I invited CIOs, Business Systems Managers, IT Managers, SAP Managers, Developers, Solution Architects and Basis Administrators along.

Each session is an environment of complete openness and honesty – there are no solutions providers and no SAP representatives present. The groups are about SAP customers sharing the challenges they are facing with their SAP systems and imparting ideas on how to overcome them. They tell us what issues they’d like to see covered in next year’s conference and what projects they are currently embarking on, or are about to embark on.

In running these research groups I managed to meet with over 100 SAP techies and IT team leads. I love the opportunity to catch up, meet new people in the community and discover what companies are up to in the SAP technology space. Each session is expertly run by someone who knows what they’re talking about – Graham Robinson (Yelcho), John Moy (MMG), Brent Talbot (Soltius) and Steve Silver (Think180) all did fantastic jobs this year!

 

 

What I Discovered

You can find a full run down of the results on this webpage www.masteringsap.com/tech/hottopics , but here I’d like to discuss some of the most interesting issues that arose in the discussions this year.

The most popular topic by far was Mobile SAP. Most organisations are serious about making their SAP system mobile, but I feel that they’re not sure where to start. Firstly, nobody seems quite sure how Sybase, Syclo, Mobi and third party solutions fit together and what tool you should use for which use case. They want clarification on SAP’s roadmap for these tools. Moreover, they want to know what’s possible with them. Then there are considerations on building apps vs. buying apps, integration, branding and security. There’s so much for an organisation to consider before they start a mobility project and so much information that needs to be covered in the conference! But one thing’s for sure – mobility is THE top priority for SAP customers in Australia and New Zealand.

The second most popular topic is User Interfaces. This is a very broad issue but one that is a continuous consideration for SAP customers. They want to be able to develop interfaces easily and develop ones that are appealing and functional for their users. One comment I’ve heard many times is “Why can’t my SAP system look like and feel as intuitive as my iPhone?!”. Well I personally have no idea but I do know that SAP has a number of new(ish) tools in this area – UI5, NWBC and FPM. We are very lucky as we’ve been able to have the extremely talented Thomas Jung out to present at the Mastering SAP Technologies conference every year since I have been involved. Thomas always rates as one of the best speakers at the conference and is viewed as a rockstar in Australia and I’m sure all around the world. As well as bringing Thomas back, customers want to know how other organisations have leveraged tools like NWBC and FPM and what their thoughts are on their efficacy.

To HANA or not to HANA?? At the research groups I met a number of people who were already embarking on HANA implementations or indeed had already implemented. The feedback from those who had already implemented was generally very positive – they had achieved the aims they were hoping for. All of these cases were BW on HANA of course. The greatest interest from customers however, comes from the implications of ERP on HANA, a currently unchartered territory. When should a company move to HANA? Is it ready yet? And how should you prepare your organisation for HANA? It became clear to me that SAP customers no longer wanted to hear the SAP marketing spiel on HANA; they want to hear from their fellow customers with their first-hand experiences. What went well? And what went wrong? What should your organisation be watching out for? HANA came third on the list of organisation’s priorities. I would say that although there are companies embarking on a HANA project currently, most see it on their 2+ year roadmap.

Next on the list is my old favourite – SAP Solution Manager. The great thing with Solution Manager is that there’s no extra cost to implement it as it comes in your standard package. The bad thing about Solution Manager is that very few people seem to know how to leverage the full suite of tools. Another rockstar that I’m privileged to know is Tony de Thomasis, whose SolMan presentations are also always received brilliantly. Customers are this year interested to know how they can get a business case up and running to undertake a full program of SolMan work. How do you get the business to spend money on a tool that is not considered to reap financial savings or improve front end business? Many organisations utilise SolMan for testing and as a document repository, but there’s so much more to be leveraged. How have other customers successfully used SolMan for CHaRM and Business Process Modelling? These are the customers I’ll have to find to present at next year’s conference!

Cloud and on-demand solutions came 9th on the list. Personally, I’m a little surprised this topic didn’t come higher considering the push that SAP has on these products (and the move to cloud in general) at the moment. The feeling I got from customers here in ANZ was if they’ve just put a huge investment into an on-premise solution, why would they then go out and purchase the on-demand solution? In addition, security seems to be a huge concern when it comes to putting data in the cloud, especially for public sector organisations. I’m almost certain that SAP have answers to these questions, but it doesn’t seem that the message has been filtered down to the customers here yet. Organisations know that SAP’s roadmap seems to be leaning towards the cloud, especially with the acquisition of SuccessFactors and Ariba. Once again, they want to know from companies who already have cloud applications to understand what their experiences have been with the products.

Here’s the full list of the topics that arose and their ranking:

 

  1. Mobile SAP
  2. User-Interface Technologies
  3. In-Memory Solutions and SAP HANA
  4. SAP Solution Manager
  5. System Integration
  6. Security
  7. Outsourcing IT
  8. Project Management
  9. Cloud and On-Demand Solutions
  10. Building a Technical Roadmap
  11. Test Automation
  12. Reporting
  13. Enhancement Packages
  14. SAP NetWeaver Portal
  15. Performance Tuning
  16. SAP BRF Plus

                                

What’s Changed?

 

The Eventful Group has been running round table discussions for the Mastering SAP Technologies event every year since its inception in 2006. I’ve been involved personally in the research groups for the past 3 years. Some things have been consistently the same – Solution Manager is always in the top 5. I often ask myself, will SAP customers ever master SolMan?

This year I’m surprised (concerned) that organisations were not talking about people and training. In fact, as you will have seen, it didn’t make the Hotlist at all this year! Recruitment, training, business relationships and investing in people have always been top priorities for IT organisations. Is it a sign of the poor economic climate that it is invisible in this year’s discussions? Or is it merely a research anomaly?

For the most part, the topic of user interfaces has been consistently the most popular with SAP customers – but for this year it has been usurped by mobility. Mobility is a form of user interface and they are intrinsically linked, but there’s no doubt that mobile SAP seems to be seriously hot right now. It featured in the top 5 issues for the past few years, but is not until this year that it’s taken pride of place at the top.

Cloud and in-memory solutions were not even on customers’ radars back in 2010. In 2011 they certainly featured as areas of interest, but it has not been until this year that they have seriously dominated this research. Are we seeing a new era in IT where SAP transactions will take place 1000 times faster, in a system that is hosted in the cloud and consumed through a mobile device?

  

What Next?

I’m in no way an expert on this stuff, so if some of my technical details were wrong, please forgive me. The issues I’ve outlined are by no means the issues I think SAP customers are facing, they are what they’ve told me they’re facing. Consequently they aren’t necessarily my opinions either, just some insights from having the opportunity to speak to over 100 SAP customers recently.  I hope that you get some interest or value from what I’ve shared with you.

   

Now it’s my job to find global speaker experts who can address some of these issues and join us in Australia to present at the event in March!

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20 Comments

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  1. Tammy Powlas

    Sophie Sipsma

    Great first blog and thank you for sharing what you are hearing from the Australia / New Zealand area.

    I’d say the areas listed above are similar to what companies in the U.S. are interested in – mobility, user interfaces and Solution Manager.

    Tammy

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  2. Chris Paine

    Thanks Sophie, A very interesting blog 🙂

    I have to say I am/was conflicted a little! – Normally when I see a representative of any company (to be fair except SAP) blogging about a product or event that they will be holding, I start seeing a bit red, I don’t want SCN to be a place where info-mercials for products or events get placed. However, in this case I am thinking of making an exception 🙂 and this is why:

    Mastering SAP Tech in Australia (and the various other Mastering SAP conferences) fill a real gap that the SAP user community needs filling. They provide a means for AU companies to find out what is happening in the rest of the world and get some true expert advice. We don’t have SAPPHIRE or TechEd here in Australia, and having just paid for flights to LV I understand why it can’t be everyone’s option.

    I’ve not meet a person who went to one of the conferences and didn’t feel they got value. (See it’s OK if I do you advertising for you 😉 , I don’t feel bad about that. Just don’t want companies to think that they can start putting up blogs on SCN with really useful info and then link back to sales ops – as I don’t like where that will lead).

    And finally, it’s because the blog was really nicely put together, and really didn’t come across as advertising for the event at all. Indeed, it just looks like advertising for international speakers 😉 I hope you get some good ones!

    I hope that you continue to blog on SCN – I think you are in a unique position in the AU/NZ market to view what SAP customers really want and don’t understand and I think it would be helpful for us all to understand that.

    Thanks for taking the time to share this with us, and also for not abusing the platform to sell your product.

    Cheers,

    Chris

    PS in the one link that does direct to your website the link appears to be incorrect 😀 you might want to update that 😛

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  3. Michelle Crapo

    Excellent first blog.  I’m an instant fan.

    The ranking is interesting.   I’ll have to follow up and read the mastering sap blog. 

    I think the interest is there for mobile SAP.  Right now that it would be a secondary session of interest for me.   I tend to think in my technical mind.  What can I use for the projects that I am working on now?   Yes, I want to learn about the Mobile technology – and I will if time permits.   But if I have to choose one or the other, I pick what I can use first.   If I am on a limited budget – I am.  I think which would I got to first.   And so, I agree with Tammy.  Yes, I think the US list would be the same.   I agree company’s probably want answers.  But then I think, yes it is the same but what would the companies really send their people to a Mastering SAP conference for?   To learn about mobile solutions?  Maybe.   But I’m surprised that’s on the top.

    To master the SAP technologies –   What would I look at?   The list is different for an individual than a company.    Also the list is probably different for a consultant and someone who is a full time employee at a company.   

    Great job on getting the answers.   What a good way of getting people to attend.  Making sure that you are presenting what the company wants to have their employees learn.

    The time and effort for this boggles my mind!

    Michelle

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  4. Susan Keohan

    Hi Sophie,

    This is a great blog – so congrats on your first SCN Blog!  I hope we continue to hear more from you.

    I like the fact that you are sharing all your hard-won research with us.  I am not really surprised to see Mobile, UI, SolMan, and HANA on the list.  These are going to be Hot Topics at SAPTechEdLV as well.

    Hope to see you at SAPTechEdLV?

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  5. zimkhita buwa

    Hi Sophie

    FIrstly well done on taking the leap and writing your first blog.i am admire your honesty

    as well as your writing style!

    I had the pleasure of presenting at Mastering BI Melbourne & South Africa and I thus know how much effort you Put into researching the hottest topics so thank you for sharing this with us!

    Please continue to keep bring communities gather,continue to get people to learn and share with one another which is at I believe is what makes your conferences so popular!

    The hot topics as Tammy Powlas mentioned are really universal even in South Africa at mastering BI there is a lot of overlap interns of what people deem as

    pain points!

    Thanks again for sharing and now that you have started blogging I hope you will not stop!

    Well Done!

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  6. Sophie Sipsma Post author

    Hi Tammy, Chris, Michelle, Sue and Zim,

    Thanks so much for you comments and support of my first blog! It’s fascinating to hear that the issues coming out of Australia & New Zealand seem to be consistent all around the globe. It’ll be very interesting to see how mobility, cloud and HANA play out in practice for customer organisations….

    Sue – doesnt look like I’ll be able to make it to this year’s TechEd, very sad about it 🙁 . You wonderful people will have to keep me updated with everything that’s going on!

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    1. Gretchen Lindquist

      Sophie,

      Great post! Very informative, and your first time to blog on SCN? You must be a natural.

      I am so sorry to read that you will not be joining us in Las Vegas. We will miss you. Good luck lining up your speakers. I’m sure you will put together outstanding events as always.

      Cheers,

      Gretchen

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  7. Corey Adams

    Hey Sophie,

    So glad you took the plunge, it is so excellent to hear the views of us southern hemisphere people on occasion.

    It is also excellent to see you are going so directly to the source to ensure that we get the highest calibre speakers coming down under to present their learning’s to us, innovative, I like 😉 .

    Having attended the conferences, participated in your round tables, interest groups, advisory boards, and more recently as a speaker, I have no doubt on the validity of your research, which is why I’m very surprised.

    As you know, I am a BI Advocate, as such, it surprises me that Reporting is 12th on the list, but even more so that BI and Analytics don’t even rate a mention (I guess all the SAP customers really are satisfied with BW and Bex 😯 ).

    If we are to believe the hype, Analytics is the #1 technology priority for CIOs, well, perhaps not.

    Is the ANZ market different?   Do the Aussie’s and the Kiwi’s not get it?   Or is it Hype and in fact the whole world doesn’t get it?

    In any case, I’ve ventured a little off the topic, excellent start to blogging Sophie, congrats.   I would be very keen to see the findings of your industry research more widely publicized and what better way?

    See you in November for the Mastering SAP Mobility Roadshow!  (http://www.masteringsap.com/mobility).  As a customer, I can give it a plug too 😉

    Corey

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  8. Karin Tillotson

    Hi Sophie,

    Welcome to SCN Blogging!  Thank you for sharing the information you have gathered – it was a very interesting read.  And to echo previous comments, it does look like the ANZ SAP Customers have the same items on their topic list as US Customer. 

    So sad you will not be at SAP TechEd LV this year – we will miss you.  Hope to see you then in May at the ASUG/SAPPHIRE Conference.

    Best Regards,

    Karin Tillotson

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  9. Sanjiv Bansal

    Hi Spohie,

    Great blog, you have inspired me to get off the mark too and make an attempt to write my first blog. So watch the space! After reading many blogs, I have come to this conclusion that you need to write about something you feel passionate about and we all know how your team is dedicated to doing this pre-conference research and then putting on a great show!

    So Congratulations and Thanks for the inspiration.

    Cheers,

    Sanjiv

    Sanjiv Bansal

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  10. Chip Rodgers

    Excellent blog Sophie!  Well done and hopefully fruitful research for your upcoming events. 

    It was great to meet you earlier this year at the Mastering SAP Technology event.  I’ve known Doug Hay and been following the Eventful Group events for a number of years and it was great to get a chance to experience the event and meet the super team that runs these very professional events.   (And such amazing help from Doug, Debra, and Rey when I picked up a miserable bug on the last day of the show!)

    Sorry you won’t be in Las Vegas, but will look forward to seeing you and the Eventful team again in the near future!

    Chip

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  11. Swapnil Lakhe

    Good informative blog ! I am looking forward for next one with best wishes 🙂 . Your list is really interesting and matching observations on hot topics across APAC also. Pl do keep me posted about new observations !

    Cheers,

    Swapnil

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  12. Mark Chalfen

    Hi Sophie

    welcome to SCN.

    I like the concept of your work – it is a real eye opener.

    Trends across regions will vary.

    I agree that there is a lot of interest around mobile (however I am not sure SAP Mobile will be the answer for many clients)  dont shoot me !!

    I am also surprised planning has not made its way on to the list.

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  13. Luke Marson

    Hi Sophie,

    I’ve had this blog on my to-do list for sometime. It surely didn’t disappoint the wait it took to read it. Like everyone before me, I congratulate you on a great first blog. Like Chris Paine, I’m not a big fan of marketing blogs and so I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be a very informative blog about trends “down under”. This is very interesting and while I see similarities to Europe, I can also see a few differences – and it is fascinating to see the regional/continental trends that are happening down there.

    I did expect to see cloud higher up, but I guess this list genuinely reflective of activity in the marketplace and not just what’s “hot” right now (e.g. cloud!). I think SAP need to take note about the number 1 item on your list considering they have a fairly prohibitive licensing model around mobility. For 2 and 3 I can see SAP taking action and seeing these items here don’t really surprise me.

    What actually interests me are items 10, 11 and 15. I wouldn’t quite expect to see these, although they are all important topics and 15 should probably be much higher. Performance has a huge impact on the user experience and I’m surprised I don’t hear more about this topic.

    Anyway, I won’t ramble on much more, but I definitely look forward to your next blog.

    Best regards,

    Luke

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