I am fairly new to this world and have attended big SAP events only since 2012. Coming from a non-technical background, massive events like TechEd and SAPPHIRE can be quite intimidating. This year’s SAPPHIRE was my first one, and I learned very fast that SAPPHIRE is a whole different ‘dimension’, literally. I am glad that the Mentors are such a welcoming pack; three years ago they embraced me and welcomed me to a new community, which turned each event ever since into a big reunion. (At this SAPPHIRE I finally go to meet Tammy in person, even though I could have sworn I had met her before because I see her face online all the time :-).) Tom Cenens was one of the first Mentors I met at TechEd Madrid 2012, he is one of those highly engaged and inclusive Mentors who has grown a lot with this program, his blog Empathy + Serendipity = #likeneverbefore, summing up his TechEd experience in 2012, got more than 27000 clicks up to today! A year ago I was nominated to become a Mentor myself and felt truly humbled, and it was not until receiving my first Mentor shirt in the mailbox, that I realized I was now officially part (at least as a rookie) of this group. A group, which I have always perceived as highly knowledgeable, top community influencers sharing their expertise on SCN and running the SAP events’ show floors, challenging executives with their questions and valuable feedback. There is no better group one can learn from!
My SAPPHIRE journey began with the Mentor reception on Monday evening, where the new Mentor leadership team introduced their mission and the new Mentors and student Mentors were welcomed. New Mentors Matt, Raquel, and Maximilian have described their first Mentor experience (including certain singing rituals at newbie receptions ;-)) in their blog posts (A First-Timer’s Impressions, Sapphire Recap, & You always meet twice), great reads!
Apart from being very happy to meet the Mentor family again, I think it needs mention that it felt strange not having the former “Mentor herder” Mark around. I feel this way only having met Mark 1.5 years ago, at TechEd Amsterdam (where I was introduced to the infamous werewolf game ;-)). I cannot imagine how those Mentors, who have spent years evolving the program together with Mark, must be feeling. Quoting from Matthias‘ conclusion about the current changes in the Mentor program – “the world is not standing still, and hence it’s the most natural thing that the program evolved and is undergoing transformation to adapt to a changing environment.” (Matthias is an outstanding person, his blog announcing his decision to leave the Mentor program is summing the whole Mentor experience up in a very honest and touching way and definitely worth reading.) As Gretchen stated in her blog A look back on Orlando, the new Mentor leadership team was “enthusiastic & welcoming”, and during the course of SAPPHIRE, the executive meetings and conversations we had during breakfast, dinner or in between, we were all able to get to know each other better. It is in all our interest to work together and show the value of this program! And before I will start with the SAPPHIRE recap, again, I would like to quote from Matthias’ blog: “The Mentor program is bigger than a single individual and while I won’t even try to decompose its magic, it’s about chemistry and like-minded individuals. It’s hard to measure and impossible to put into metrics…”. I can only say I think he is completely right!
Day 1 started at 07:30 am with a CISCO-hosted breakfast, thanks to the jetlag getting up early is not a problem. New Mentor lead Jeanne Carboni collected feedback on the Mentors- this is a re-quote from her summary Transformation in Action: SAP Mentors at SAPPHIRE NOW 2015:
“The time we spent with the SAP Mentors this morning exceeded our expectations. Their knowledge about what is happening in the SAP market and cloud activities helps us maintain a responsive Cisco roadmap that delivers valuable products and services to our customers. They truly are a voice of the customers, based on their wealth of real life SAP experience.”– Erik Lillestolen, SAP Solution Product Manager, Cisco Systems, Inc.
Bill McDermott began his keynote speaking about the leading dogma “Run simple” and promising that this year SAP will deliver the “Roadmap to simple.” (Seamless is definitely his favorite adjective in this keynote.) In his conclusion, Bill speaks about how “SAP’s co-innovation methodology needs to change” and states that “the strategy is now done through designthinking and an innovation mindset.” Further, he asks the audience: “What are the biggest problems that you are trying to solve for your customer, and also the biggest opportunities for your business?” He answers his questions with the three dimensions applied in DT: desirability – What is the big idea? (I hope he means to say – What does the user really want?), feasibility – Do we have the plan to execute?, and finally viability- We have to start talking to each other about how much we’re going to get out of it. “Empathy” is the watchword in his concluding sentence. Of course I am very fond of DT popping up at SAPPHIRE’s first keynote! (For those who don’t know, I am a passionate DT coach ). Concluding the opening keynote summary, I would like to quote from Jelena‘s blog post SAPPHIRE/ASUG – Hugged by a Mentor at this point, because I completely agree with her observation: “(…) there was a lot of talk about ‘data’, ‘digital economy’ and ‘things’ but the biggest part, in my opinion, is still people.” +1!, well said, Jelena!
Running back- and forth between showfloor and the Hilton, where our “temporary Mentor headquarters” were set up, became our daily workout. If anyone tracked their steps, would you mind sharing? This is a quick snapshot summary of our highly interesting and thought provoking meetings with SAP’s thought leaders:
(1) Meeting Marc Thier the SAP Mentors had the opportunity to talk about SAP Solution Manager 7.2. and mobile applications.
(2) Meeting the SAP Startup Focus with Manju Bansal, the SAP Mentors had the opportunity to meet some of the the startup founders, learn about their innovative solutions and provide their expert feedback to these startups.
(4) Denise Broady demoing SAP’s “The Perfect Meeting” app build for SAP’s Cloud for Customer (C4C) solution.
(5) Sven Denecken took the time to speak to the SAP Mentors about S/4 HANA ~ architecture & the roadmap for S/4HANA, and didn’t get around taking one of the Twitter frame pics :-).
Rise and shine!! 7 am Mentor breakfast hosted by Rick Costanzo talking about what’s new in SAP Mobile, where things are headed and what’s new at and beyond SAPPHIRE.
Keynote Bernd Leukert:
I enjoyed Bernd Leukert’s keynote, and since I don’t know much of the technical side of S/4 HANA and HANA Cloud Platform, it was nice to have customers engage and speak about their projects, which gave me a good idea of theory (tech) in practice. Speed and innovation were the watchwords, and my favorite moment of the keynote was when Karenann Terrell, CIO of Walmart, challenged Bernd Leukert directly by concluding: “I want my SAP (S/4 HANA) implementation to be within my lifetime at Walmart.” …and she added “that is on my bucket list.”
Twitter snapshots of Mentor meetings:
(1) SAP Mentors speaking to Ingrid VanDenHoogen and Thomas Grassl about developer engagement, new challenges, transformation, and what new things are coming up for the SAP InnoJam. And last but not least- the obligatory twitter frame picture .
(3) Chris getting a quick pic with Jonathan after a thought provoking meeting. [unfortunately can’t upload at this moment, will hopefully solve the problem soon.]
(4) Delightful meeting with Steve Lucas – showing a glimpse of the HCP and S/4 HANA roadmap.
Tanja Rückert was punctual and started the meeting. Bernd Leukert was quite delayed- but found a great excuse: apparently he had forgotten his Mentor shirt in his hotel room and had to go back to get it. Fair enough, apology accepted 😉 (he was actually delayed due to a meeting with Bill McDermott). SAP Mentors Oliver Schreiber and Richard Hirsch aka ‘Dick’ let the discussion which turned out to be a mix of serious tech talk about products & innovation featuring S/4 HANA Velocity and a cheerful meet-up with SAP Mentors. Also, Tanja mentioned designthinking sometime in the discussion. I will listen into the replays as soon as I have time to add information here.
Hasso’s Keynote: “Speed drives innovation”
This was the first time I saw Hasso speak in a keynote and it was very much worthwhile! There are many recaps of his keynote already, so I will only point out the part especially interesting to me. Hasso highlights “Design Thinking as a Co-Innovation Enabler” (also title of sub-chapter 6.4 in Plattner’s & Leukert’s new book “The In-Memory Revolution”) and, in my opinion, makes a crucial point to pave the way for successful products: “We have to understand the needs of the user; we have to ask them (…).”
In their book, they also demo how SAP uses their co-innovation model and DT techniques to gain important medical research insights, which was one of the best parts of Hasso’s keynote: Prof. Dr. Christof von Kalle, director of Translation Oncology at the National Center for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg, Germany was invited on stage to demo how new technologies help research by understanding insights about defects of genomes, and at the end of the day, allow analytics help cancer patients. I believe almost everyone can, unfortunately, relate to at least one case of cancer within their circle of family and friends. The impact information technology could have on healthcare in the next years will hopefully change the way cancer can be detected in an early state and hence, treated accordingly.
Quote Hasso: “I am very pleased that the speed and DT help innovate far outside of ERP.”
The afternoon was sparked with meeting great personalities like Sam Yen, the following snapshots are captions of the Mentor meetings in tweets:
(1) Aiaz Kazi – speaking about the SAP Startup focus realignment, the next steps and about where is the program going in the future.
(2) Quentin Clark – discussing S/4 HANA adoption, HCP development and cloud delivery.
(3) Sam Yen – having a conversation about UI/UX, SAP Fiori, and SAP Personas 3.0.
(4) Irfan Khan – Discuss technology direction for 2015/2016.
Here is another re-quote about the Mentors from Jeanne’s summary –
“You guys are the true practitioners in the field, who are really using and experiencing our products. It is important that you be equally invested in the transformation that SAP is undergoing. S/4 HANA is a revolutionary approach and we need your expertise and support to help make the change.” – Irfan Khan, CTO, SAP Global Customer Operations
To sum it up: it was a couple of very long days where SAP Mentors engaged with many different people, shared their expertise, feedback, and challenged execs in meetings, discussing the future of SAP innovation with them, committed to represent the community! Big thank you to the topic leads, note takers and steering committee! Together we ‚ran #SAPPHIRE’ as much as we could and ‘bonds’ were made … Personally, I was glad to hear designthinking being mentioned several times in the keynotes and executive meetings. Thanks everyone who has already shared their impressions and experiences in their blogs about SAPPHIRE; so interesting to read from the different perspectives!
Last but not least: Yes, hashtags are useful- but meeting real people is worth gold!
(4) ….no need to comment 🙂