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In my new role at SAP, I am part of the team that puts together the amazing SAP TechEd events. This past week I had the great pleasure of kicking off TechEd Las Vegas (next week it will be TechEd Amsterdam, and early December we’ll be in India for TechEd Bangalore…) I can’t possibly do this tremendous event justice in one short blog post (hundreds of hours of educational content, 6500 live attendees, over 20,000 online, the events reach a total of over 200,000) and many others have posted their own thoughts (Susan Keohan) and personal highlights (@Jelena_Perflijeva). However, I would like to share a couple of small, but very interesting “Ah-HA!” moments I experienced over the course of the event – one of the things that makes attending great conferences and speaking with smart people such a joy. (think the Serendipity Economy).

Have the iPhone/iPad trained us to customize UIs (user interfaces)?

I remember reading a study in 2007 that talked about how Napster had shown many millions of Internet users that the web was not only cool, but useful. That the music-sharing site had, in fact, trained us to perform transactions online, creating comfort with behaviours that would support the rapid growth of online shopping as well as social media. In the context of a discussion around SAP’s  co-development of Fiori, an apps-based user interface technology, Sam Yen (SAP’s global head of design and user experience) pointed out that, similarly, the iPhone/iPad has trained us to expect the ability to customize UIs. This is, of course, a relatively new space with an enormous amount of potential, not only to make the user experience better/more intuitive, but also to gather an additional layer of data (not only what you did, but how you set things up to best do it).

The “digital layer” is a given at conferences – but now attendees want to take their content home

This was a really interesting one. It’s been a given for a while now that conferences must have robust digital layers to meet attendee (and online lurker) audience expectations. No surprises there. But what happens when attendees have an amazing augmented experience via a highly useful mobile app? When they share pictures, make comments and connect with others – and then want to take that content home, or into another platform? During a lunch with the SAP TechEd app leaderboard winners (those who had used the event app the most) we had a lively discussion about how the content these folks had created could be exported from the mobile into a desktop (“If I could even get a Word document…”) or online experience (“What about if we could bring the content into an SCN forum thread?”). It was a great question that I had never heard asked before – and I expect it to come up again as the lines between online, offline and IRL continue to blur.  Finally, this is my favourite picture of all from the event, and I would like to know just how one comes to own their own personal SAP t-shirt cannon?? Sign me up!

Picture from “SCN is 10!” celebrations at DemoJam #SAPTechEd, courtesy Martin Gillet

So, two small (but interesting) discussion points from a rich, lively event thaPicture from "SCN is 10!" celebrations at DemoJam #SAPTechEdt had thousands of attendees. If you attended or watched online, what did you come away with from #SAPTechEd? I’d love to hear in the comments below.        

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  1. Susan Keohan

    First off, Maggie, the photo of you with the T-shirt cannon is outstanding, as is the photographer, Martin Gillet.

    For the ‘digital layer’, SAP has partly addressed this with the virtual laptops that attendees can reserve to attend or re-attend hands-on workshops after the event.  This  is huge!  My only quibble is that you can reserve a virtual laptop for 24 hours, and I doubt anyone can really absorb 24 hours of content.  If SAP could make those same virtual laptops available for 2 x 12, I bet attendees would be very very happy campers.

    I suspect we could turn many lurkers into full on attendees and contributors if we recognize more openly that our attendee base is constantly being renewed.  There are always n00bs, and having things like Craig Cmehil‘s mini CodeJams are one way to welcome the n00bs to the event.  Boosting the user group (ASUG, in my case) input on session selection, and increasing the hours allocated for customer ‘how-to’ sessions will also provide a less intimidating (yet still highly beneficial!) potential agenda.

    Thanks for the shout-out, and I am so happy I got to meet you – even briefly – IRL.  I look forward to working with you on a certain special project. #evilplans

    Regards,
    Sue

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    1. Maggie Fox Post author

      Thanks for your thoughts, Sue – great feedback! Another thing to think about is how we evolve TechEd to embrace developers who are not SAP-specific… would love thoughts on that too! I’ll look for your email #evilplans 😉

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  2. Graham Robinson

    Hi Maggie,

    thanks for your insights.

    I wanted to pick up on your observation that “attendees want to take their content home“.

    I think I want more than that. I want my content to be available for reference next year as well. For example if I use the TechEd app to find and rate sessions I want to also rate speakers and maybe put them in a favourites list that I can reference next year, and the year after that, etc.

    Even better, as the app starts to recognise the topics and speakers I favour it can proactively help me manage the difficult task of formulating my agenda for me at future events.

    That would be cool! 😎 …and useful.

    Cheers

    Graham Robbo

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    1. Maggie Fox Post author

      Graham, excellent point. How do we make conferences more pervasive, since we build such strong community while we are together? Obviously places like SCN can host, but how do we break down the barrier between event-specific and ongoing content?

      Lots to think about…

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  3. Mark Richardson

    Maggie :

    Great comments, and welcome to the SAP & ASUG Community

    Thanks for joining in the #CanuckHunt at SAP TechEd – and you arealways welcome at any of the #ASUGCanada Chapter events any time.

    Love the T-Shirt Cannon pic, and tweaked it a little for you…

    SAP Analytics + Maggie Fox -VS- SAP Analytics on HANA

    Good luck on the rest of the world-tour, and let us know if you spot any Canadians.

    Cheers,

    Mark J. Richardson

    (Communication Chair – @ASUG_Ontario)

    ________________

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