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Sapphire Now was for myself, a “first” in many senses of the word. I had never been on a flight on my own, nor had I ever been on a business trip either, not to mention I had no idea what to expect from.

My Dad, followed me through the airport until we reached areas that only those with boarding passes were permitted and once I found my way through security and to my gate and while I sat waiting for the boarding call I slowly began to make a connection with what all the people around me had in common.

Every once in while I would hear mention of “SAP” or “Sapphire” excited tones of employees discovering they were in the same hotel room or would be running booths in close proximity at the Convention Centre. The nervousness of the flight alone has other roots in my personal life but to know I was also surrounded by established, knowledgeable and communicative individuals. As I sank into my seat fumbling with my luggage trying to find an outlet to plug in my computer (because that’s what everyone else did and I wanted to fit in) I thought to myself How do I even start a conversation? I don’t know anyone here! What if I say something stupid?


I was overwhelmed and I was not even on the plane yet.

Sometimes though, part of taking a risk is being put right in the thick of a situation that is not within our comfort zones. In minutes of boarding my flight from Toronto to Orlando I was smack dab in between two SAP employees by the names Robert Noce and Terry Orsborn. I could not have been luckier. Between the two of them, literally and conversationally I was presented with a heads up on what kind of events and things to expect at Sapphire Now and I learned their roles within the company and how excited they were to again be involved in the conference.  What was most evident from my plane ride was the passion these two have for the their work. Robert and I had a conversation that spanned many topics some personal and mostly professional. Halfway through our chat I felt I had a new friend.

What I learned from Robert was that his job could easily be any kid’s dream. Robert is a Developmental Architect and if you’re fortunate enough to meet him or have one of his business cards handy then you will see “Emerging Technologies” printed just below his occupation. There could not be a more accurate description of the kinds of tasks that Robert gets up to. At Sapphire Now, Robert demonstrated and allowed myself and others to operate his crane anti-collision software simulation.

Robert put it quite nicely when he told those of us who were keenly looking on as he elaborated on the device that while designing it he “was a kid again”. Essentially to put a tactile and tangible presence to all the tech lingo a kid’s mechanics set was retro-fitted with high precision control motors. These motors called stepper motors, execute 5600 steps to give one full rotation, two decimal precision on a degree. The more amusing and seemingly mouth-watering aspect is the “Raspberry pie” the system in which the data is worked and run like a well-oiled machine. While we cannot eat this kind of pie, it certainly provides some food for thought.

We might as ourselves, what does all that mean? And how does it prevent collisions? Naturally these were questions anyone would be wondering and the joy of learning from Robert was his own anticipation of those inquiries; much like his creation his answers were precise!

Robert informed us that there are sensors determining proximity to a structure via programed a wall made possible by anti-collision software. The safety distance of  the system is eight metres and within 8 metres it will stop and cut off the motor on the side posing risk to the structure).  This demonstrates the real system and institutes breaks and the virtual as it could be described allows for a lack of intervention from the operator to be put in harm’s way or the crane and surrounding areas to be vulnerable.

I am by no means a techno-buff but my personal experience of Robert’s contribution to Sapphire Now was not so much about the bare bones of his anti-collision software but the efforts being put forth to make accessibility to my generation of workers on a level we understand the best, originality, new gizmos and fun; not to mention the respect that reverberates at all corners and patches of partners and SAP affiliates throughout the massive convention centre.

We’ve all utilized the phrase “Google it” and when I consider that adverb if you will, it reminds me of another aspect of Sapphire Now which was “The Internet of things”. Robert Noce’s crane software is essentially an embodiment of that in which people are enabled to connect to processes which in turn relay remote data and all sorts of things in between, where they’re brought together in one central location. In essence all the googling translates to the “things” we’re attempting to consolidate. If we’re learning that this notion of a one stop shop and inter-connectivity is the guiding light of what businesses are developing into, we can safely assume our needs and interests as the next generation of workers are being met and anticipated.

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