Diverse Reflections on SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2012
I was certain that the SAPTechEd marketing saturation was complete when I found myself explaining in the middle of the night that HANA was NOT the name of a woman I met in Las Vegas. OK, that is a joke, but the overriding theme of SAPTechEd Las Vegas could be summarized as all HANA, all the time; to the point I would not be surprised to discover myself talking about HANA in my sleep. My recollections fall into three categories: technology, community and careers. If you expect a detailed technical discussion, this blog will disappoint. Instead I have personal observations and comments gathered from show attendees like me, technical and functional folks facing a rapidly changing SAP environment.
On the technology side, I had my first opportunity to work with HANA at Innojam. I am quite impressed with HANA Design Studio. Using Design Studio, I found it quite easy to create table definitions, create new views, produce some visualization and administer HANA. Design studio shows that SAP is getting serious about improving user experience by providing tools that are intuitive and powerful.
My most interesting conversation was with an employee with Tamko in Joplin Missouri. He enthusiastically talked about the performance of the new HANA installation at his company. I have to tell you, if HANA has come to Joplin, Missouri, (population 50,000), there may be a future for this new this new platform. Actually, Tamko is the third-largest building material manufacturer in the United States. Big data comes to small town USA.
I would like to hear some “post-honeymoon” customer stories about HANA. I want to hear how the system performs after one year. How easy to maintain, how easy to upgrade, how has the support team adapted to the technology? What surprises, what new insights have been gained? How reliable has the hardware been? What high availability strategies have been applied and tested.
Cloud technology was also featured prominently at TechEd. The announcement that SAP Netweaver cloud is GA and that free, permanent developer licenses are provided should encourage people to kick the tires ( I hope to get some time in a few weeks). I got my hands on the Netweaver Cloud Portal development interface and I was quite impressed with the ease of use, robustness and great looking results. I will be interested to hear the customer stories and use cases that are developed in the next year for these platforms. For more information about the Netweaver Cloud program please see part 1 of Matthias Steiner’s excellent blog series on
My TechEd week began on Sunday at 10 AM with the beginning of Innojam. A link to the Innojam wiki is here. What an amazing start to the week. Five minutes after I sat down, Chris Kernaghan (@BoobBoo), SAP Mentor and Twitter connection, comes up and invites me to sit with his group. Even though I had never been on the same continent with Chris, the online connection made it feel like a reunion. This was the first of many such encounters through the week. Looking back, making so many “real” connections definitely made the difference in this TechEd experience.
Innojam is a 36 hour challenge to join with a group of mostly strangers to develop an application using numerous SAP technologies. The SCN and SDN Developer Experience staff did a fantastic job putting on the event and facilitating the Design thinking mini-training and application to the design of the application.Though access to the latest SAP technology was cool, far and away the best part was the interaction with the other participants, with the SAP Mentors, Innojam gurus and the DevEx team.
Bonus: The Innojam topic: “Applications for a Healthier World” seems relevant in light of this blog from Computerworld.
I undertook a non-scientific, very small sample survey as I talked to people over coffee, a meal or in a technical session. The question basically was: What impact do you think HANA or Cloud technology will have on your company and on your job? For the most part, people thought that there was far more hype than reality for HANA and Cloud technologies. When pressed about whether it will affect their careers most conceded they were not sure or they would not be affected at all. I am much less certain. What I do know is that the rate of technology change is accelerating and those who do not adapt will be at a severe disadvantage. If attendance at Jon Reed’s Expert Networking session on SAP Tech Skills and Career Strategies is an indicator, many of the attendees are also feel the tension of this uncertainty. Access to training and educational material increases monthly and in many cases the only cost is time. If you are in a job situation that is not investing in training for you, you have to invest in yourself.
As I see it addition to building technical knowledge today being active in a social community is vital to building a “brand”, for lack of a better word. Twitter can be used, but can also work against you. I follow a diverse group of people but 95% of my interaction is around SAP and other IT related topics. Personal and recreational topics rarely cross over. Having SCN as a community platform is a fantastic place to learn and to engage with people who are working with SAP and related technologies. In a tweet exchange with Jeanne Carboni earlier today, I joked that this post might end up sounding like an SCN marketing document. However, Greg Myers post “The Power of Mentors” does a far better job explaining the value of community and the rewards of participation than I could ever hope to. Go read it. NOW!
EXIT QUESTION: If you knew that your NEXT TechEd would be the last one you could attend (because you started working for Workday or Salesforce 😉 -nothing morbid); what would you do differently?
Very enjoyable blog and recap. It is neat to hear about the friendships you had already made via Twitter and the SCN Community with people you were meeting for the first time and that made your TechEd even more enjoyable and value added.
Thanks, Jarret. Hope to catchup with you at some point, even though we live, nominally, in the same city.
Thank you for joining InnoJam, and thank you for nice words about your experience. Obviously we look for constructive feedback, which includes "I wish next time..." statements as well!
I could not agree more with your statement "What I do know is that the rate of technology change is accelerating and those who do not adapt will be at a severe disadvantage." I know these kind of people, who "... thought that there was far more hype than reality for HANA and Cloud technologies" or any other technology for that matter, like in BI space, which is my turf. It happens less on the consulting side, where I spent quite few years; and happens more often with customers' employees. Unless change happens, and then I saw panic in some eyes.
Thanks for mentioning Developer Center, and I hope that more and more techies from within and outside of traditional SAP areas will find http://developers.sap.com helpful for improving their skills for today's and tomorrow's demand.
Thanks for the comments. Your help at InnoJam is also appreciated. Hopefully increased discussions around the Developer center, InnoJams, CodeJams and other events will encourage people -- even non-developers--to participate. It is not too late to sign up for the Madrid and Bangalore events!
As an 8 year, 3 continent participant and veteran of about 21 (gasp) SAP TechEds (really that many?) I have had many occasions to seriously consider what I would wish for as my TechEd Swan song. Since it is a privilege to attend and participate in even one, I actually treat each one as if it were my last. Those who know me, know that I don't like to "repeat stuff", so I'm continuously dreaming up little touchs to make a small difference. The goal is to delight and be delighted. I began seriously photo and video documenting the events back in 2006 but much of that amateur activity has been formalized and professionally mastered. I lobbied to create mural decorations, design slam egg drop fun, innovation mash-ups with business and technology, serious process design slams, design thinking workshops, drum circles, geek/suit shoot outs and a wild assortment of other capers including a chaotic taxi ride through the streets of Bangalore at 6am to present a top contributor award to a community member who had suffered a motorcycle accident and was housebound and then I still made it back from his house to the SAP Teched clubhouse before doors openned. Anyone knowing the traffic on M G road in Bangalore will appreciate the daring of this feat and why it could easily have been my last TechEd...yep...the morbid sense.
But I do have something I dream about and would love to accomplish before I say adieu. I would love to see the TechEd that showcases technology that is truly accessible for the masses. I would love to showcase the amazing work that SAP Research in Pretoria is doing with language agnostic moblile apps and I would love to have developer and business jams to enhance and spread the work of creating software for the techno and language illiterate enabling those who haven't the advantage of teched (literally technical education) to take their rightful place with dignity in the realm of the privledged (us) who are technology literate and educated.
Does that sound too ephemeral or idealistic? I hope not. I hope Tech education will create a more equal and just world. I see how proportionately high the numbers of technologists who engage in social responsiblity and "paying it forward". I'm very fortunate to work alongside people who aren't just passionate tech professionals but passionate humanists.
There, a whole blog in a comment stirred by your very provocative challenge Kevin. Will you and others take that forward?
Thank you for the response. I am not surprised that once again you manage to inspire, challenge and encourage with your vision and passion. I suggest that you republish this comment as a standalone blog posted under the SCN space. Your challenge and vision for the world deserves a larger audience.
There are some amazing stories of technology making huge differences in Africa. Cell phones are monitoring Malaria outbreaks and enabling micro financing in remote areas that may help people move beyond subsistence farming.
To answer your last question, I'm in, recommitting to pay it forward here at SCN and in my local community.
I have often said the SAP sessions are what we would / might use in the future. The ASUG sessions are what we can use NOW! There are exceptions to that rule, of couse.
This year, well, Hana was in a lot of SAP sessions. So many that I found myself with some time in between some sessions. NO! for me that never happens, It was a good thing as I was sick. It was bad as I went to some sessions that were not really relevent. Or was that good? I learned a lot from some of those sessions.
My reflections would be different. Although I would agree Hana was pushed hard. You just had to look for the exceptions and get to them. If you so choose to... Some people there were really looking at Hana.,
As always my highlight was meeting / networking with people.
Definitely glad to have met you last week. Your enthusiasm and encouragement to SCN members, especially newbies, is much appreciated.