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Ten Things I am most looking forward to at SAP TechEd in no particular order.

  • Reconnecting with old friends

I’ve already ended up at a lunch table with a dear old friend. It was so great catching up, reminiscing over old times, sharing info on shared acquaintances and talking shop. In the Keynote today they talked about SAP TechEd being SAP’s Family Reunion. For me it honestly feels like that at times. It’s an awesome feeling.

  • Meeting new people

For a mentoring junkie like me, sitting down at a table at lunch and joining in a conversation with new customers talking about their fears and challenges is an opportunity to share knowledge and offer some help. My wife accuses me of having “white knight syndrome”.  She’s not wrong. I get great enjoyment from being able to point folks in the right direction whenever possible. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy blogging so much. Helping folks in person is always gratifying. Since I’ve been doing SAP for almost 15 years (yikes! Where does the time go), I usually have some good pointers to share. Fun!

  • Hands on sessions

I’m very tactile. When I attend lectures, I have to take notes, even if I never intend to review them, because the tactile experience of recording the data helps me process it. Being able to work with products that are not in my current environment hands-on is an order of magnitude better for me than just reading or listening to lectures (although I’m not knocking those activities, hands on is just that much better).

  • Learning directly from developers/Product Manager

Having direct access to developers is one of the perks that I miss most from my time when I worked at SAP. I can handle 99% of the difficulties I come across via research or just working the problem until I figure it out. The remaining problems are often quite intractable without developer insight. Often a developer can help you clear a roadblock off the top of his/her head but I’ve never found an SAP developer who wouldn’t get back to you with an answer if you’ve clearly done all the preliminary groundwork and zeroed in on the root of a problem. It’s incredibly expensive for SAP to allow developers to leave their projects and come to Las Vegas, not to mention the time spent preparing presentations and such. It’s such a great opportunity to be able to listen and interact with these folks directly. It’s one of the big advantages of coming to SAP TechEd in person vs. watching online.

  • Learning from customers

As much as I love being able to learn from Developers and Product Managers, being able to talk to other customers is just as valuable. As great as talking to Developers can be when you have an identified problem and as great as it is talking to Product Managers when you want to know where a product is going, talking to other customers gives you the real world, in-the-trenches *implementation* experience that can make the difference between spending time spinning your wheels on an approach that will not work and zooming straight to a solution. The value of consultants is not that consultants are inherently smarter than someone who works directly for a customer (regardless of what consulting companies tell you). The value of consultants is derived from the fact that they’ve had contact with more customers and situations and have the opportunity to benefit from the institutional knowledge of all of their customers as they move from project to project. SAP TechEd (and ASUG meetings in general) gives everyone the same benefit that consultants get from doing work for multiple companies over their career.

  • Meeting folks from SCN

Rumor has it that a fair number of the SCN Mentors and regular bloggers will be here. I’m definitely looking forward to meeting folks in person!

  • Wandering the Exhibit Hall

When some folks go to the library, they look up the book they’re after, write down the code, go to the stacks, grab the book, and go. (OK, I’m a dinosaur, I still go to libraries.) I’ve always preferred going to the general section and just browsing all the books. Sometimes the book I was looking for was the right one, but more times than not, I found something better or something related to a totally different issue by wandering somewhat aimlessly through the stacks. I like doing that at SAP TechEd too. The exhibit hall is a smorgasbord of SAP related products and services. You never know what you’ll run across or what’s around the next corner. I’ve often ended up recommending a customer look at a solution that I only knew about because I ran across their booth at random at a conference. If you can make the time, I recommend wandering!

  • Solution Manager Info

We’re gearing up for a fresh Solution Manager 7.1 install (at my current customer) and I couldn’t be more excited. I feel like a kid in a candy store. I’m chomping at the bit to get all the latest information and hands on access. I’ve used every version of Solution Manager since it was first created and have always been a fan, but the things I’ve been hearing and seeing so far have me more excited than other concerning the potential to really streamline SAP implementations with Solution Manager. We have a unique opportunity on my current project to start with the baseline of our current solution and really take things to the next level. I plan on leveraging every bit of data I can to make this project one for the record books!

  • SAP Portal 7.3 Info

After a few years in the sun, SAP Portal seems to have lost some of it’s status in the SAP universe. The rise of Big Data and all things HANA have made creating a streamlined user experience somewhat secondary for the moment. Also, the large number of badly implemented Portals hasn’t provided the best business case for future implementations. Most companies use the Portal as an overly complicated SAP Logon Pad, merely providing links to the backend SAP systems rather than doing what a Portal is truly intended to do and creating a role based streamlined user experienced. Properly designed, an SAP Portal can provide key users with a streamlined interface that gathers *everything* they need to get their job done on a daily basis and up to the minute dashboards of information to keep them well informed so they can make good choices with respect to work priorities. Sadly, that kind of implementation is very hard  to do and doesn’t scale well due to the time and effort it takes to tailor the experience. I’ve been reading some very interesting things about SAP Portal 7.3. I don’t think it’ll rescue the Portal from being an afterthought in a typical implementation project, but for those that take the time to do it right, I see huge potential in the new system.

  • Solution Manager Documentation Functionality (was previously called Reverse Business Engineer)

As part of our new project, we’re going to need the most up to date information regarding our currently implemented solution. From my research so far, the new SolMan 7.1 Documentation Assistant is *exactly* what we need. There’s a session being presented by Verizon on their experience and I’m super excited about that particular session.

  • Best Kept Secrets of SAP TechEd

On the Exhibit floor, they have a space designated as a “Clubhouse”. It’s being billed as a place to connect, collaborate, and recharge. Hopefully they mean that literally since I’m perpetually low on juice. Blogging and tweeting is very energy intensive! Plus they say there’s games there: apparently regular games with which you might be familiar and games that quiz on SAP Solution Manager knowledge. I’m a gamer at heart and games are a big part of our family life and hobby time, so I’m totally in.  Either this area is new or it’s never been as centrally located before. Also, I’d love to sit in on some of the expert discussions as a fly on the wall in order to soak in the geekspeak. I’m also looking forward to spending some time in the Technology showcase. So much to see and do!

Ready, set, go!!!

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