In my previous post I promised a follow-up on how well the ASUG 2014 and SAPPHIRE Now conferences met my expectations going in. Of course, I am not the average attendee; my first ASUG Annual Conference was in 1999, and ever since then, I have attended every year but one, as a speaker, an ASUG volunteer, and also in recent years, as an SAP Mentor. I remember this conference going way back, so here are my thoughts on how this year’s experiences compared to my expectations going in- Yea, Nay. or Meh.
Keynotes score = Meh
My enthusiasm for keynotes waned as the week went on. I do like to hear about SAP’s strategic direction from Bill McDermott, Was it being hit over the head with 60+ mentions of simple, along with runners-up simpler, simplify, simplicity, and simplest? Maybe. I liked the Leonardo DaVinci quote: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, I’m just not convinced that my CIO is hearing enough pain yet from our business users to justify the spend to move to Simple Finance and the other s-apps. I made it through most of Hasso Plattner’s professorial keynote; it just went on way too long, and I had a community meeting to lead. For my taste, too many keynotes, and too much time carved out for them that could have gone to the main purpose of the event for me, education.
Celebration Night = Meh
The Jon Bon Jovi concert was fine; I just would have preferred more of his own stuff and fewer covers. Somehow wrapping up the set with Twist and Shout instead of Bad Medicine was more than a little disappointing. To be sure, any live concert is a good time, I could have used more the main guy, as in, a whole lot more.
ASUG education sessions = Yea
I found a few more ASUG sessions to add to my agenda and managed to come away with a decent education program to show for the time and money spent. All of the ASUG speakers were well-prepared on their topics, and I especially enjoyed hearing from customers about their various experiences with GRC 10;even though several of the use cases are unlikely at my current organization, I can still bring back the lessons learned. From the Internal Controls SIG program I got a good overview of auditing SAP for fraud and use cases for SAP’s Fraud Management solution. Both of the SAP HANA sessions I attended were informative: I particularly enjoyed getting a good grounding in HANA security concepts and tools, as well as hearing about how SAP HANA is not only for large enterprises. On the whole, despite the reduction in the number of sessions, it was better than I had feared, mostly because I had so many other things to do. I did hear some attendees saying they wished there had been more, and they wished they had left Orlando sooner, since there was so little for them on the last day. Ah well, they had to get that last keynote in.
SAP Mentor and ASUG Volunteer activities = Yea
I was fortunate to be able to attend several SAP Mentor meetings;they are a highlight of my time at any SAP conference and this year was no exception. I enjoyed meeting some of our new Mentors, and was fortunate to participate in discussions and hear insights shared by several SAP executives. It was especially great to reconnect with so many Mentors who traveled long distances to Orlando from overseas, including (but not limited to) Abesh Bhattacharjee , Graham Robinson, Steve Rumsby , Aviad Rivlin, Martin Gillet, Owen Pettiford Aschmann Paul , as well as numerous Mentor alumni from near and far.
As for ASUG volunteering, I enjoyed my time volunteering in the ASUG Hub very much. I hope all my readers made it there; ASUG volunteers and staffers were assisting conference attendees to update their ASUG.com profiles, register for Influence activities, fill out applications to volunteer, and much more.
ASUG Community Meetings = Yea
The Security and Internal Controls SIGs joint community meeting was, as expected, a highlight of the week. I was very pleased that we got a good turnout even though we were competing with lunch right after that super-long keynote. The discussion was lively, both about future plans for the SIGs and potential new Influence initiatives. If you did not attend a community meeting, you really missed out.
Best of all, I get to make good on my pledge to Doctors without Borders based the attendance at the meeting. Have you made a pledge or sponsored anyone yet? Feel free to sponsor me here!
It was great to see everyone who made it to Orlando; thank you to all the ASUG speakers, volunteers, and staffers who worked for so many months, and especially the SAP Mentor wrangler Mark Finnern who single-handedly kept us in line and made it all happen so smoothly for the Mentors.