I’m sat in the Qantas Lounge in Singapore and my flight doesn’t board for another 2 and a half hours so I thought I’d take some time to jot down my immediate thoughts and impressions from the Summit I’ve just attended.
Smart People generally means Smart Questions
First thoughts, what a lot of highly intelligent and eloquent people in one location. The analysts that attended (would be interesting to see if any of them ever reads this – if you’re one and you do – please ping me, I’d be interested if your research delves this deeply!) asked quite clever questions and the presenters certainly were trying their hardest to be on top form. It was like one of those exec Q&A’s that Vishal does, but went on for 2 days and didn’t just cover HANA. There was very high level representation from the SAP team in APJ and certainly they weren’t holding back info on purpose (except the obvious financial forecasts etc.) It was certainly refreshing that there were very little silly questions or people asking things that could be found out by doing a simple Google search. Likewise the presentations weren’t the sales pitches that one might often see for SAP product or platform, but rather arguments/discussions on what SAP was doing to improve, gain and retain more customers in the different area. A realistic understanding of where SAP was going and what they were delivering is what people were interested in, they weren’t going to buy the solution. So SAP changed much of their usual pitch to focus on this! This made for a very informative and certainly less “salesy” time.
Questions were generally less in-depth and technical than I might have liked to go at times, but that was cool, as it was interesting to hear a little more about the marketing aspect of the solutions. One wonderful difference to other sessions I might usually attend was that it seems you have to be able to clearly formulate your ideas and questions to be an Analyst (or at least it helps). So there weren’t so many any of the mangled, confused, what was the point that was just made? type questions from the floor that leave you cringing in embarrassment. I liked that.
It was rather fun however, to be the only person in the room in jeans 🙂 . I hope that my semi-intelligent questions went a little way to convincing people that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts. I certainly made friends with the HCM specialist analysts anyway.
Things I learnt
Even if you have a stupid looking pirate as your twitter pic, if you tweet enough relatively insightful comments, people will still follow you (having your twitter handle pasted across your back probably helps too.)
Bluefin Solutions are rocking in the HANA space – in two panel discussions, RDS and HANA, SAP seem to have a special place for this consulting firm!
Big one this! – an ISV can get into the Mobile Application Partner Program (MAPP) to allow them to build mobile apps for the SAP Store and get developers licences for ERP, CRM etc included in 2000 Euro annual fee! That is a pretty big discount on usual costing for non-productive access to those solutions. I may just sign my company up purely for that (apparently I’m not the first to think so!) http://www.sapmobileappspartnercenter.com/ for more info (although unfortunately not those specific details.)
Some people in SAP are so famous inside SAP that you don’t use their last names, but it’s funny watching the SAP execs remember that the analysts don’t actually know who they are talking about unless the last names are used 😀 (Vishal, Hasso, Lars)
Huge disappointment that sometime the simple things just got missed – i.e. if you’re going to talk about SAP and partner certified apps, have the latest figures to hand – it only takes 2 minutes to find out from the web site.
Tweeting lots (I think I was easily the most prolific during the summit), doesn’t win you the “golden tweet” award – went to:
I didn’t know – with SuccessFactors & Ariba SAP has 20M+ users and 20 SaaS solutions… It’s a big enterprise cloud provider. #sapapjsummit
— SteveHodgkinson (@SteveHodgkinson) November 21, 2012
That was my Nexus4 I didn’t win right there 😉 – well won Steve! However, it does work as a great way of keeping a record of all the important things that you noted.
SAP APJ’s definition of SME is under $1B revenue. That’s why they have approx 3/4 of customers in that space. To me that’s many that I would call large companies too… but not when you have the mining giants as customers I guess.
Things I learnt in the HCM space
I’m going to have to relabel all my slides to include SAP HANA Cloud even if there is no HANA involved. <sigh>.
The purchase of SuccessFactors meant a 10x increase in number of actual users touching an SAP HCM product. 1.5M ESS type users in SAP world before, 15M SuccessFactors users. Wow – no wonder SuccessFactors had a better user experience they had 10x as many of them giving feedback!
Enhancing SuccessFactors using SAP HANA Cloud, previously known as SAP NetWeaver Cloud, previously and to many still, known as Neo, is going to be the way forward (well I knew that already, from a private chat with Aaron Au, and then laughing myself silly at the miss-time synced interview Martin Gillet did with Aaron at SAPPHIRE Madrid.) But it was nice to hear this in the APJ context.
Boomi is not going away to be replaced by SAP HANA Cloud Integration. This one surprised me. I can’t understand how SAP can/will offer a solution that will cost customers more to use (additional costs for any non SAP integration product when using Cloud PaaS) when they have their own solution. It was said because SAP are committed to being open. But as I tweeted, I’ll ask the same question in a year’s time (or perhaps even after the solution is released next year). Why would SAP sell Dell’s product for them when they have a competing solution? Just doesn’t make sense to me!
Gord Zeilstra from SuccessFactors has big brass ones – I loved – and Paul Hawking almost fell off his chair in excitement to tweet – that he (Gord) used Oracle’s recruitment web site as an example of an anti-pattern for a successful recruitment site (well it is pretty bad, just have a look – jobs.oracle.com )
Apparently SAP Jam is going to make an appearance in some HCM functionality (guess it will replace the Streamwork integration that was released with HR Renewal 1.0 SP5 – but that’s my guess – going to follow that one up.)
Something that I think applies across both spaces – there is going to be a skills shortage of around 10K SAP consultants in APJ in the next 3 years if growth meets predictions. Yet especially in the SuccessFactors side, there is still not an opening up from the stance that partners only get training. These two views must clash! I hope that training and learning about ALL SAP solutions moves to the freely available model adopted by SAP HANA. Certification can still be a revenue raiser for SAP education – but the training needs to be free for all. Partnerships need to be about monetizing and bringing to market those skills, not about obtaining them. But that’s just a hope I have – it might be shared by a few others, but certainly not official SAP position.
Otherwise I share with Simon Dale some of the musings/thought he had about the difficulty of building a strategic long term view and how to support developers and partners achieve that verus the need to achieve revenue right now this quarter. Think this will forever be a problem, not sure what the solution is, but very appreciative of Simon’s openness in discussing this.
But well worth the trip
Even if I did have to remotely present my SAP Australia User Group session from an room that was being dismantled by the events crew – was a session on SAP in the Cloud – which I used a cloud presentation tool to run, and cloud based video conf (Google+ Hangouts) to chat to people – I had a great time. I feel very privileged to have been asked to attend the summit, and I can only hope that they invite me back again next year. I really enjoy being in the company of smart people and discussing the things I am interested in, this was great.
View from “cocktails” after the first day. Thanks to Clement Teo – @cteo_forrester for the pic – grabbed from his tweet.
So as per usual, all this represents my own views and thoughts and ramblings, and blatant mis-representations (actually if you find any of them, please let me know so I can correct them) You shouldn’t rely on this to make any purchase decisions, even if it is ice-cream which you are purchasing in which case I recommend Café Grande Connoisseur Ice Cream which sometime goes on sale at my local Safeway. Thanks for reading, please let me know if you have any thoughts or questions on the things I raised/didn’t raise.