Sundays are the reserved for church and big family dinners in Jamaica, so to get over 70% of registered persons to attend a business event to discuss software and products not only sounds impossible but many organisers would never dare to try. As if the day of week wasn’t bad enough, add to that the end of Thanksgiving weekend in the US and trying to get speakers to leave their turkey dinner to come to Jamaica. While the lure of sunshine, food and the beach may seem impossible to resist, there were some challenges and having three keynote speakers travelling from the US and Canada was a tall order.
The reality was that after much weighing and contemplating, Sunday November 29th was the best compromise for both attendees and speakers and it was all systems go with a sold out event and months spent planning and marketing. The event kicked off with an introduction by yours truly presenting on the SAP community in the Caribbean. It was important to highlight how diverse Caribbean customers are and how they are supported should be different than their Latin American counterparts.
The event went up to 6pm with three keynote speakers covering Predictive Analytics, Data Visualization and Cloud for analytics topics and two other speakers delivering presentations on customer stories and SAP partnerships.
At the end of the event, there were giveaways for social media interaction and attendees with top posts on Instagram and twitter using #SITCarib tagline won autographed Data Visualisation for Dummies books from Mico Yuk.
Presentations & Keynotes
Charles Gadalla the Director for Predictive Analytics at SAP did the morning keynote and engaged the audience with how the Barack Obama campaign used Predictive Analytics to help win their 2012 elections. The attendees were treated to a live demo of SAP’S Predictive Analytics software and saw how in a few minutes they could use real live data to build models, make predictions and even export the underlying logic to any database platform.
The agenda progressed with Suzette Blake Group MIS Manager from Digicel taking the stage to talk about the lessons learnt from Digicel’s SAP BI implementation. Suzette’s honest and engaging delivery had the attendees’ full attention and painted a clear picture of the journey Digicel had with implementing Business Objects, Lumira and Xcelsius. It also highlighted a major pain point with how international vendors handle support in the Caribbean and they lack the understanding of the cultural idiosyncrasies that exist between Latin Americans and Caribbean people.
Mico Yuk, CEO of BI Brainz did the afternoon keynote and was down to earth and packed with energy when she spoke about how in 2016, it is projected that BI spend will be US $90 billion, but user adoption is a measly 27%. Mico noted that there should be a key focus on the people component and not just software and systems.
Alvaro Bonilla from GBM Consulting who sponsored the event presented on SAP partner relationships and emphasised the value of partners with the SAP ecosystem. He also spoke briefly on how business intelligence and Predictive Analytics can add value to an organisation.
Todd Hanna closed the event with his evening keynote on Cloud for analytics and did a live demonstration of the new offering from SAP that had the attendees glued to the screen and asked the most questions during his presentation. This was a clear indication that Cloud for Analytics is an exciting product and customers can’t wait to get their hands on it.
Measuring event Impact
Some of the underlying goals for the event were to raise awareness of the SAP community in the Caribbean, build partnerships and also change the outlook that SAP is legacy ERPs and expensive. Now that I am doing the post-mortem of the event, I can say that persons are more aware of the SAP community within the Caribbean and are interested in being more active. Partners and vendors were in attendance and the event was sponsored by a SAP Partner – GBM Consulting.
Attendees were also excited about Cloud for Analytics and are looking for more on the product, especially at the price point that is being touted. They loved Predictive analytics and they had a renewed energy towards SAP product offerings. Measuring social media impact, #SITCarib had a reach of almost 500k on Twitter with over 400 tweets and Instagram reach over 2k with 49 posts. Tammy Powlas has a nice blog with analysis on #SITCarib twitter activity.
- Never underestimate the post-SIT fatigue (You were right Christian Braukmueller )
- Have contingency plans and document risk analysis with actions plans, for example what if your sponsor cannot pay funds prior to the event or what if last minute a speaker cancels?
- Ensure you follow up with attendees and send reminders even if they have registered (mailchimp and eventbrite are fantastic tools for this)
- Have a team of volunteers to help plan and execute the event
- Prizes and giveaways focused around social media is a great way to get attendees to spread the word and interact
Overall, the first staging of SAP Inside Track Caribbean was an overwhelming success and some persons were surprised that the SAP community in the Caribbean existed, much less being so vocal and engaged. The attendees are already asking how soon for the next staging and we have handwritten testimonials that give the event an average rating of 5/5. Not bad for the first event and we look forward to 2016 and making that an even greater success. Thanks to everyone who supported the event, your support was invaluable.
#SITCarib signing off, see you in 2016!