‘Raring to go’ best describes Oliver Schilling’s mood when he talks of the upcoming SAP BIT partner info-days in India. He’s well aware of the enormous responsibility that comes with managing partner relations for SAP Business Information and Technology (BIT), a team that considers itself the engine room of SAP innovations through development of mobile, business analytics, and portal solutions. And now that SAP is embracing a strategy refresh focused on easier consumption through cloud solutions, a radically simplified user experience with the Fiori paradigm, and an open platform for legions of developers to leverage SAP HANA and create their very own extensions, it’s safe to say Oliver might just require his very own army to cope with the thirst for knowledge from ecosystem partners.
Weighing up the options, Oliver decides to hit the road. He’s persuaded his team to behave like a startup, going on tour and visiting partners right at their offices so that said partners can, as he puts it, “benefit their customer situations immediately.” It’s not the type of behavior you expect from a blue chip. But the spirit of faster-smarter-simpler now grips SAP and breeds the kind of gusto that compels the likes of Oliver and his BIT comrades to show the verve of a two-year-old from the valley.
“There’s no mystery about this trip and no dross”, he explains. “We demonstrate our very latest products. We talk real customer situations, describe the most pertinent customer success stories in great detail, and we show our partners how to complete their customer solutions using tools like SAP BI, Fiori, Cloud, Mobile, et al, through our partner extension build program…and all powered by HANA.”
Essentially, India Info-Days 2014 comprises a five-city, whistle-stop, tour of the subcontinent – taking in Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune – over a two-and-a-half week stretch from April 23 to May 7. It involves around 1200 participants, all focused on how to radically reduce their customers’ cost of ownership by building their very own product extensions on the HANA platform.
“We’re dividing the target groups broadly into two categories: technical experts and programmers; and executives, consultants, presales, and sales. This enables us to run two separate enablement tracks during the info-days. Within the more technical track involving architects and developers, we’re planning a hands-on workshop for senior experts to create a new app – where its IP remains with the partners involved. Naturally, we’re prepping the partners well ahead of time. They’re going to be working with our experts on an SAP HANA machine…they will create Lumira visualizations…they will build a mobile app using SAPUI5 and Fiori. And they will deploy the mobile app securely using SAP Mobile Platform and SAP Afaria.”
As Oliver explains, the workshops are designed to be challenging; those involved are chucked in at the deep end to fully immerse them in SAP’s latest Business Information Technology. Lifeguards will be at the ready though in the guise of SAP product management experts, on alert to keep everyone afloat.
So why India? Why bring developers and architects from the US and Europe thousands of clicks from home especially seeing as they’re all slap bang in the middle of pretty aggressive product development cycles? Here’s where Oliver smiles and gestures like a teacher waiting for me to volunteer some patently obvious answer myself. He punctures the silence…“India is teeming with talent. It’s the ideal location because we can tap into an incomparably vast concentration of experts in one country. We ran a similar exercise for the first time last year. Again, we embarked on a multicity expedition…not as big as this year’s tour…but pretty demanding nonetheless. The response was phenomenal, so much so that we decided to expand the concept, take advantage of the HANA platform, SAP’s openUI5, and the latest tranche of market-shaping releases like Lumira, and rev the info-days model up to a scale and speed that could create a kind of seismic wave in BIT partner enablement.”
“There’s all that”, says Oliver, “plus the fact that I’m utterly biased toward India anyway. This is the country where the astronomer Brahmagupta actually introduced the concept of nothing (i.e. zero) as a tangible number around the 7th century AD. This then enabled mathematics to take shape and flourish with both positive and negative numbers, and ultimately of course paved the way for binary. Vishal alluded to this story during a TechEd keynote last yearprompting me to explore a little more. Now of course this all nicely sets up an ancient and prescient backdrop to any discussion about ‘Why choose India?’ for any technology convention. India is the source, the spring that introduced the zero, that made the concept of nothing relevant in mathematics. This is irresistibly resonant if you’re a logician or a developer.”
“And that’s where I take my cues”, he enthuses. “Now if you add to that the fact that India the ancient cradle of myticism and science, or Bharat Ganrajya as it’s known locally, now has a massive population of gifted, young – soon to have a fifth of the world’s working-age population – and dynamic technophiles and skilled developers, coupled with my stated predisposition to the country and its culture plus the preponderance of tier 1 and tier 2 eco partners, then you’ve got the winning formula for our SAP BIT partner info-days 2014.” Oliver’s enthusiasm is infectious. He’s throwing all his energy into this tour with a singularly straightforward aim: “helping these guys to be far more effective for their customers”.