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The below are my opinion/take-aways from this year’s ASUG2014 and SapphireNow.  I’ve attended many ASUG Annual Conferences/Sapphire Events.  I attend the conferences as an ASUG Volunteer-BI SIG, a SAP Mentor, a speaker and a SAP customer.  So I have certain expectations of the conferences and responsibilities during the conferences.  As we say in Texas – this is not my first rodeo.  All this makes for a lively multifaceted engaging week for me that I enjoy tremendously.

ASUG Education Sessions:

I list this first because I consider the educational sessions one of the most if not the most important reason to attend the conference.  I attended as many of the Business Intelligence/Analytics sessions as I could attended wandering over to the Finance side also.  I started the week off with a pre-con session – Hands-on:  SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 and SAP BW.  I would recommend looking at the pre-con sessions.  They are a great way to pick up specific tool/implementation information from very knowledgeable SAP resources.  For the rest of the conference I predominately followed the BI Track.  Ty Miller did a great roadmap session on the Future of BI with BusinessObjects Session 201.  The room overflowed unfortunately and a number of people were turned away.  Not good but more on this later.  Charles Gadalla’s session 202 spoke to the technical and landscape roadmap for Predictive Analytics.  Immediately following Charles was Peter Tanner with session 203.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing how predictive analysis (KXEN InfiniteInsight) was used in the presidential campaign.  A session on the roadmap followed by how the tools are being used in real life business scenarios provides added dimensions to the education sessions.  The planning committees need to continue this practice.  I stayed on the roadmap track with Lumira (still don’t like the name) and Design Studio.  On the show floor ASUG community lounge I enjoyed Eric Schemers’ Overview, Positioning and Recommendations for BEx customers.  Eliy Lilly, Marathon Petroleum and Norwegian Cruise Lines had noteworthy business insights on their SAP implementations.  I’m going to ASUG.com http://www.asug.com/discussions/community/events/2014-asug-annual-conference this week to view some of the other sessions I was not able to attend i.e. Coca Cola Mobile BI Experience session 301 and Jazz Aviation’s session 205.

Thumbs up:  very good content, very good speakers.  The SAP speakers who provided the roadmap sessions I attended are extremely knowledgeable of their products.  The Customer speakers are open and provide straight forward real life business issues/rewards concerning their implementations of SAP.

Thumbs down:  The number of available sessions decreased dramatically from last year.  We need more space/rooms.  I heard a number of people comment on the decrease in content.  The rooms were not all sized appropriately for some of the sessions.  Having to turn away attendees from a session they wanted to attend is terrible.  While repeats of a few sessions were offered we need the roadmap sessions in bigger size rooms.

Keynotes

Bill McDermott keynote emphasized simplicity  “SAP has chosen to fight complexity and to help companies run simple..”  He included statements that companies on average run 50 apps per $1billion in revenue and that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  I’m in IT but agree we have too many apps that we don’t need and can’t support.   But the biggest round of applause came with the Fiori is now FREE announcement.

Hasso Plattner’s keynote went long – no big surprise here – he always does.  But I have to say that the announcements on Simplified Financials thrilled me.  I have not been excited hearing a SAP announcement in a very long time.  This is a big step and I’m enthusiastic about the possibilities.

ASUG and Captain Sullenberger’s keynote was not to be missed.  If you want to see the replay go to http://events.sap.com/sapphirenow/en/session/9577.   Capt. Sully’s views on leadership and teamwork are motivating.

Thumbs up:  Hearing the Strategic announcements especially on Simplified Financials.  Capt. Sully.

Thumbs down:  Too many and too long.  The keynotes cut into the time allocated for the educational sessions an show floor activities.

SAP Mentor

The SAP Mentor meetings were wide-ranging.  Thank you Mark Finnern for setting up the schedule.  Participating in the discussions with the SAP executives is both insightful and stimulating (more on these meetings in separate blogs- follow your SAP mentors on twitter too).  I was so happy to meet Steve Rumsby @steverumsby and Bhanu Gupta @nubha and Tom Cenen @tomcenens finally.

Briefs:

For our BI Influence sessions we are fortunate to have great SAP points of contact.  We are struggling to get customer participation in the sessions.  More communication and coordination with SAP and ASUG is needed.   The influence council are great opportunities for the customers to direct SAP.

The Concert Celebration was just okay.

Due to other commitments I was not able to volunteer in the ASUG Hub.  But when you attend I would recommend that you make time to stop by the ASUG Hub.  You can’t miss the huge blue and yellow ASUG sign on the show floor.  The Staff is available to not only help you navigate the conference but also update your ASUG.com profiles so you have ASUG365 and to help you understand the many benefits of being ASUG members.

Don’t forget the networking opportunity on the show floor.  It is amazing who you can run into.

In closing the Annual Conference is a great place to meet up with 20,000 of your closest personal friends 😀 .  A special thank you to Gretchen and Tammy for the pep talks.  A BIG thank you to all our ASUG speakers.  You are awesome. I hope everyone had safe travels back home.  See you next year.  

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  1. Susan Keohan

    Hi Joyce,

    Thanks for your summary.  I too heard many attendees complain about the lack of time and space allocated to ASUG educational sessions.  On the other hand, I heard someone almost bragging how he spent all his time on the show floor (this was after the conference on a plane, and he was talking to an SAP employee – I was just an innocent bystander).  The Keynotes were many, and in part some were useful. 

    The concert?  I did enjoy the many cover songs that were played, but like many others, I wish that Jon Bon Jovi had played more… Jon Bon Jovi music!
    Cheers,
    Sue

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  2. Gretchen Lindquist

    Joyce,

    I agree completely that it was unacceptable to have to turn people away from sessions when the numbers were already so drastically reduced. We had a standing room only crowd crammed into the ASUG session on HANA security concepts and tools. I hope they all did their session feedback forms.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us all.

    Cheers,

    Gretchen

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