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In my pre-conference blog post, I shared the top ten reasons I was looking forward to the ASUG 2013 Annual Conference and SAPPHIRE Now.  After my return to the office, I’ve had time to reflect on my week in Orlando and assess if the things I was so eagerly anticipating lived up to my expectations.

The keynotes were 10th on my list, and that was a reasonable expectation. I really enjoyed the SAP keynote with co-CEO Bill McDermott and his sports-themed panel discussion hosted by James Brown of CBS network’s “NFL Today.” I could relate to the use cases discussed and it made sense to me how the SAP solutions could enhance the customer experience. I also enjoyed the ASUG keynote with ASUG CEO Bridgette Chambers and guest speaker, author Seth Godin. Godin was highly entertaining and made his points about the wisdom of communities in a lively, memorable fashion.  The other keynotes I must confess that I listened to with only half an ear; as soon as I hear that the leading edge functionality requires  HTML5 and a NetWeaver version my organization will not be on any time soon, I lose focus. I am more interested in practical, here-and-now learnings for my organization.

For me, the Celebration Night concert was definitely a “Good Time.” If you did not attend, you missed an excellent concert. Each of the three artists put on a good show.

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ASUG volunteer activities definitely added value to my week. I enjoyed helping conference attendees find the Community Lounge session they were seeking or the information about ASUG they needed.  I also had a great time leading the Security and Internal Controls SIGs Community Meeting; customers shared their current challenges and pain points, and together we created a list of topics for future web casts and presentations.

ASUG presentations about SAP security and SAP GRC Access Control were next up on my list. The case study on using HCM security to drive your BI security was very interesting. This wasn’t some pie-in-the-sky, several-upgrades-later possibility; this is something that the customer uses today and could be extended to more real world use cases. The ASUG presentations on SAP GRC Access Control were likewise very much real life for me and for anyone with a migration to GRC 10.x underway or planned. The key takeaways for me were that everyone seems to have challenges of one sort or another with this migration; managing expectations back home is going to be key.

My ASUG volunteer and speaker commitments kept me so busy, I did not have as much time for SAP Mentor activities as I had hoped, but I did enjoy meeting new Mentor cubs at the welcome event, reconnecting with Mentors I hadn’t seen since TechEd, and attending a few other Mentor activities.

The Security Roundtable and Influence Update went very well. My Security SIG (and fellow SAP Mentor) colleague Greg Cappsand I shared recent SIG activities, and we had a lively Q&A session between attendees and speakers. We are hoping to ramp up our Influence Council activities to bring some enhancement requests for the SAP Portal; if you are an SAP customer and ASUG member, consider joining us for this effort.

I had the opportunity to hear from SAP solution managers and partners who were speakers at several sessions, so I was able to bring back a lot of expert insights, including the answer to specific question about security design for GRC Access Control 10.0.

Networking and the community service event were tied at the top of the list, and I am happy to say that both met my expectations. Networking opportunities were nearly everywhere- the SAP Mentors gatherings, the ASUG speaker meeting, volunteer reception and after-conference meeting, the ASUG Lounge and Community Meetings –opportunities to reconnect and make new connections were everywhere- well, just about everywhere. Lunch was the one time and place where I had no time for chit-chat; it was a mad gallop from the ASUG side of the convention center to the lunch area to queue up, grab a plate, inhale the food, and race back over yonder for the start of the next session.  But the Corporate Social Responsibility service event more than made up for any lack of networking at lunch. I had a great time chatting with other conference attendees while we packed meals for orphans around the world.  Some folks may take a dim view of one-time events like that; I like to think that many of the participants also volunteer and/or donate to local food banks, soup kitchens, Meals on Wheels, or similar activities, and if they had not done so previously, perhaps this event will result in new ongoing volunteering. In any case, I had a great time and everyone I spoke with there did, too. Thanks to the sponsoring organizations and SAP CSR; I hope CSR becomes an annual tradition at the ASUG and SAPPHIRE conferences

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