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SAP Inside Track Melbourne #sitMEL – 2020 – What a blast!

When I first started thinking of the idea of a full day SAP Inside Track event here in Melbourne I did wonder whether or not anyone would turn up. 🙂 While I did have some form going into this via the SAP Tech Nights I organised in 2019, I was not sure how a full day event would go – especially when the day was a Saturday – part of the weekend. But, I have seen all over the world these events are run and successfully and have been for a number of years. So much so, that they are just part of the fabric of that country/city to run a SAP Inside Track event on a yearly basis. I then looked back to see if any had in fact been run in Melbourne and I did see that yes – the last one was run in 2015 by SAP mentor Graham Robinson  inline with one of the SAP conferences – Mastering I believe. So, what the hell – let’s give it a shot! What I do know is there is a riding wave of momentum around the world in the SAP Community and my fellow SAP Champions are smashing it and as such events like SAP Inside Track are must attend events which is fantastic.

So – every journey starts somewhere so I thought let’s start this event up again and make this a regular yearly SAP Community event. It took a while to lock in the location and was thankful to AGL energy for offering their great offices in the Docklands. Fellow SAP Community member Marco Machillanda  organised all things logistical related to AGL and overall the offices added to a fantastic day for all attendees.

So, before getting into the day, I want to just cover why I chose some of the topics. Over the past 3-5 months I was talking to those in the SAP Community I feel are leaders in their spaces and normally the conferences on offer are typically based on end customers views. So, this is a good chance for consultants such as myself to provide first hand experiences to the SAP Community, from the coalface so to speak. I have been reminded that I did not really take up one of the speaking roles – instead opting for a SAP Community update 15 minute session but will definitely take one slot next time.

Topics included C/4HANA, HANA DB, Agile, Commercial Escalations and how to handle difficult situations, SAP Cloud Platform Mobile Development Kit, SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory with Kyma and Varkes, SAP ERP Variant Configuration, and development challenges in 2020 – an open discussion. I do have a large network of friends within the SAP Community and everyone I asked jumped at the chance. The speakers were as follows.

Figure:1 – SAP Inside Track Melbourne 2020 Speakers

Choosing C/4HANA was easy as most customers still don’t know what it is, what it is made up of and the offerings. Going to Matthias Braeuer  to give us this knowledge was a no brainer – a leader in this space I knew this would be really appreciated and I was right – smashed it. Having David Till  go through Kyma and the SAP Extension Factory was really great – showing the possibilities with the absolutely bleeding edge technologies was an eye opener. The techies in the room were definitely salivating through this session. While not a techie I seriously respected David’s live demo – heaps of moving parts but he absolutely nailed it. His session I predict may have the most views once the videos drop on openSIT.net. Let’s see!

As always my friend Dr Nicholas Nicoloudis   presented on a day he was that busy he could barely fit us in but he is always available and we thank him big time for his amazing contributions to the SAP Community. Dr Nic covered iBPM (Intelligent Business Process Management) and if you don’t know much about this check out the replay!

On HANA DB, I worked with Lars Breddemann  on bits and pieces in 2019 and was always interested in his viewpoint on SAP Community as well as some of the ideas he had towards making improvements in code. This sounded interesting to me and knowing his background I knew he could offer a lot to SAP Community Developers interested in databases.  He did not disappoint.

A topic close to my heart is the SAP Cloud Platform Mobile Development Kit and I have seen Alisdair Templeton  sessions before so I really wanted him involved to showcase to other developers the art of the possible in a quick timeframe. This was a great session.

I have been working with Phil Martin on a project involving configurable materials and have been really amazed by how flexible SAP Variant Configuration is and so I asked Phil to present and showcase what SAP can do this in this space just to remind everyone that the core of SAP is pretty amazing – functionality offerings are extremely rich! Phil has also presented at CWG conferences around the world so it was good to have him present again in his home city :-).

To balance out the topics I wanted some lighter topics including a session on Agile delivery as well as a session on how to handle difficult situations – especially commercial escalations. So, I invited my friends Julia Multhoff and Ashley Saltzman to speak. The feedback on the non technical sessions has been fantastic so I was really happy with that.

For the last session I always wanted an interactive discussion about developing in 2020, covering the main challenges and what new topics should be invested in given roadmaps and future technology offerings. I was happy that Andrew Barnard and Ben Patterson offered their services and views in this space.

And so the day began!!

Figure:2 – The AGL Energy space – ready for action! 

The day started well although the weather was pretty ordinary – cool and small annoying showers so was really happy with the close to 50 attendees coming out to join us at #sitMEL. I started proceedings with an introduction followed by Marco Machillanda  updating everyone on Safety aspects for the day. I covered the speakers for the morning session and I then proceeded with my session on the SAP Community.

 

SAP Community Update

Out of the blocks quick with the Blog It Forward series. Really exciting that this was bought back from 2012 and with over 46 blogs so far it is taking off. If you have not come across the blogs as yet then please check them out. The SAP Community is about people and getting to know them is what will make the SAP Community even better so do yourself a favour, check them out and maybe even write one yourself – telling us all about you and don’t forget to use the hashtag – #BlogItForward!

The SAP Community run monthly calls to talk about all things SAP Community. The time zone is not ideal for Melbourne however there are occasional ones that you can attend. If you can check out the link you will see the following upcoming sessions. These sessions are free to attend so if you want to keep up to date with the latest news or technologies then sign up and attend.

Figure:3 – SAP Community calls

In 2019 I wrote a fair number of blogs and I always actively encourage others to write as well. This year – 2020 – I came up with a hashtag of #2020YearofSAPBlogs. While this hashtag has not really taken off as yet I encourage you to have a think about how you can inspire others via a blog post. This can be anything – from a technical article to personal insights on a particular topic.

Have you written a blog as yet in 2020? If not – help me out and write one and of course use the hashtag #2020YearofSAPBlogs. Lastly, don’t stop at one either 😉

The second last topic of discussion in my session was talking about the SAP Developer Advocates sessions – one of course is DJ Adams’s Hands-On SAP Dev with qmacro and one of the latest arrivals is Max’s Adventures in SAP Cloud Platform. I was lucky to meet both DJ and Max at SAP Teched Las Vegas last year and their passion for the SAP Community is contagious. I regularly tune into the DJ Adams session on a Friday at 7pm – really great learnings, some of which are a little over my head but interesting never the less. Do yourself a favour, and subscribe to their channels and attend their sessions, you won’t regret it.

Lastly, I covered openSIT.net – the central place for SAP Inside Track sessions from around the globe. There is already some great content loaded so bookmark this and come back to see what the new sessions are like. Perfect for playing on the daily commute! The sessions from this event will be loaded onto the site soon so stay tuned.

View my session on the sitMelbourne Youtube channel here.

The next presenter was Phil Martin (who was also responsible for the video session recording) talking about variant configuration.

One Million Variations from One Product – How does SAP do that?

Phil Martin is one of the best VC Consultants out there, his experience in variant configuration is second to none and for this session he shared the topic and specifically talked about what SAP Business Suite offers as well as what is happening in S/4HANA.

To start with Phil took us through a headphone example from a headphone manufacturer showing how many options would be in a set of headphones. The amount of configurable options were a staggering 5,153,632 combinations! Phil also talked about the headphone market and specifically talked about Bose. This was seriously interesting.

“How do you produce on mass yet target the individual’s customer experience!”

Figure:4 Bose snapshot to showcase number of configurable options

Phil then discussed his experiences at A&L Windows – covering all of the different window and door options. The amount of combinations is next level. A full example of how SAP configures particular options was walked through – you can see this on the video. The key point of all of this is that these offerings are standard SAP functionality – such is the richness of it.

With a room full of ABAP Developers I thought this was funny – but true.

Figure:5 Phil with a controversial slide 🙂 

It was ironic that in the next session Matthias wore an ABAP is not dead t-shirt! Serious gold there!!!

Phil provided the following quote on the overall day:

“What a great event.  Amazing effort by Phil Cooley to pull this together.  I knew it would be a different event to those I attend on Variant Configuration (my pet obsession) as the audience in many cases would not know what VC is.  So it was great to meet new people.

With all the sessions recorded, we have a great archive of material that we can go back to.  There are really bright and engaged presenters, and that was great to see.  But more importantly there was a wide range of attendees who gave up their Saturday to attend.  Thankyou.”

To watch Phil Martin’s full session check it out here.

What’s the Latest on C/4HANA

Matthias Braeuer was next in the line up of sessions with a hot topic – covering the latest on SAP C/4HANA. I have worked with Matt in the past and was really excited when he agreed to present at #sitMEL and I knew the audience would be totally engaged. I loved the start of his presentation – during this intro Matt stated

“This is not an SAP Product Marketing presentation”

and this was music to my ears. I was looking forward to a full review and critique of SAP C/4HANA and the audience and I were going to get one. Awesome!

Figure:6 Matthias talking about SAP C/4HANA 

Matt explained how C/4HANA was being marketed and broke down a blog that was written in the SAP Community last year. Matt also said a better analogy would be that

“C/4HANA is actually more like Lego”

and supplied this nice explanation of how SAP C/4HANA should work which was seriously compelling.

Figure:7 Matthias explaining how SAP C/4HANA should work

Overall a thoroughly researched and detailed critique of SAP C/4HANA – very enjoyable and of course everyone loved the t-shirt he was wearing as well. 🙂

Matt also offered the following quote summarising the day:

“I loved the variety of topics – from deep down technical talks to presentations focused on business and consulting. You could see that everyone was really passionate about their area of expertise. Great discussions and community spirit in the breaks as well. Looking forward to the next tech nights in Melbourne this year and hopefully another iteration of the full-day event in 2021.”

To watch Matt’s full session check it out here.

Commercials Escalations & How to Avoid Them

One of my favourite sessions from last year’s SAP Tech Nights was the discussion we had with Ashley Saltzman, Commercial Escalations Manager for SAP APJ. In the session Ashley talked about what we could do as individuals to contribute to better managed projects. It is not the project manager’s sole responsibility to make projects go well, it is all of our responsibilities and we can make a difference with the way we involve ourselves with clients and each other.

Ashley started with a joke –

“Together, we make it happen.”

Commercial escalations that is. 🙂

Figure:8 Ashley in full flight talking about Commercial Escalations and how to avoid them

Ideally this is a session that is interactive, with attendees offering their situations with possible discussion points on how things can be done better. There were a number of good questions and some good responses on how things can be improved. 

Ashley talked about 3 key areas that us as individuals can focus on and even though I did attend the last session I still learnt a heap out of this session. I particularly like the “Pickup the phone” option. Sometimes emails can bounce around, back and forth when really the best option is to pick up a phone and talk it through.

Figure:9 3 key areas to avoid Commercial Escalations

“If you don’t do all 3 you will find that your projects will fail.”

This was a really great session and to watch more of this please check it out here.

 

iBPM – Intelligent Business Process Management

I have seen alot of material on The Intelligent Enterprise however was looking forward to Dr Nic provided his take and also demo’ing an example use case. I was really appreciative of Dr Nic speaking and if you watch the video you will hear that he had a seriously busy day planned but took time out to inform the SAP Community about iBPM.

 

Figure:10 Dr Nic talking about the Intelligent Enterprise, specifically iBPM

This session covered a heap of areas including SAP Intelligent RPA, Conversational AI and Machine Learning and provided some details on the roadmap so far and what is on the roadmap into the future.

“Robotic Process Automation (RPA) accelerates digital transformation of business processes by automatically replicating tedious actions that have no added value.”
(SAP slide)

Dr Nic also covered the SAP Cloud Platform Workflow and Business Rules services of which I have had specific experience in for the past 12 months and both I feel are powerful tools to make sure business logic is not included in applications but instead decoupled and easily updateable.

One item I particularly noted was the introduction of a single SDK regardless of the system being extended, whether that be Successfactors, or C/4HANA so really looking forward to this as I am sure most developers are.

Figure:11 SAP Intelligent BPM 

Dr Nic finished off with a demo – for this you need to view the session on the SITMelbourne Youtube channel. The demo included a bot that misbehaved, very interesting!!!

You can view Dr Nic’s specific session here.

Humane DB Design & Programming

Lars started off telling us that in fact the session would not be about how to program your DB to be faster and more flexible but instead offered the following.

Figure:12 What Lars was actually going to speak about 🙂 

Now, this was going to be even more interesting than the audience thought! Lars used a blog post to work through how to refactor code to make it more readable, more efficient but mixed it up with some additional material to support this including quotes from Aristotle??

Figure:13 Lars sharing thoughts about writing, asking questions and getting answers

After the session a number of the attendees checked in with Lars and the conversations were lively and Lars was really happy to get some good feedback on this session.

Lars quoted the following regarding the day.

“Great example of what sheer will to make it happen can create a full-blown community event with interesting presentations and a great crowd.”

You can view Lar’s session here.

Lars has also shared the following for the SAP Community.

 

SAP C/4 Extensibility, Kyma, Varkes & Everything Else

One of the topics I was really interested in covering was SAP C/4HANA so it was really great having David Till talk about SAP C/4HANA but with a SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory / Varkes / Kyma flavour. I had checked out Kyma some time back but was definitely not 100% sure exactly what it was suffice to say I knew you could extend applications using it. But David went through a compelling presentation to tell and show the audience exactly how it could be used.

David started telling us about getting in trouble with his parents as he used to take apart old 486 machines that he had. 😊 His parents soon worked out not to buy new 486 machines?? Hehehehe.

Figure:14 David introducing himself before getting into his session

David proceeded to tell us about Kyma and what the SAP Cloud Extension factory was. This was really interesting. Especially that Kyma used serverless functions and microservices to deliver application extensions.

Figure:15 What is Kyma? 

David asked the audience to name the different projects included in Kyma. There were a few mentioned. Essentially Kyma is a group of open source projects such as Kubernetes, Istio, Grafana, Prometheus, Jaeger (Tracing), Loki, Kiali, Dex, Nats, KNative, Ory and Velero…and Angry Birds…what! 😊 Some input from the audience.

I myself need to go back over the session and watch it in detail – especially the demo.

David provided the following feedback on the overall day:

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to speak to this group of very knowledgeable people and I learned a lot from them and the other speakers, really interesting stuff.  Looking forward to future events”

You can check out David’s session here.

 

Hands On with the SAP Mobile Development Kit (MDK)

Up to this point we were worried about the continual flicker occurring for presenters presenting on a Mac so Phil Martin had to perform a few tricks to try and get around this issue. Looking at the video he has done a fantastic job.

OK, on to the point at hand. I have dabbled in the Native / Hybrid applications and the SAP Mobile Cards previously that utilises the SAP Cloud Platform Mobile Services however I’ve not looked into the Mobile Development Kit.

Alisdair proceeded to provide a nice overview of Mobile services talking about offline handling and presented a live demo covering the process of creating an app using SAP Web IDE, the MDK and actually went through lines of code.

Figure:16 Alisdair with a live demo of SAP Mobile Development Kit

Alisdair talked about coding and swapping between Swift, SAP Web IDE and VSCode which was interesting, especially when talking about how to debug applications to troubleshoot errors.

Alisdair provided the following feedback on the day:

“Having attended several #sitMEL events over last year, I was really looking forward to attending my first all day #sitMEL. The agenda that Phil had prepared was beyond excellent, with speakers covering areas I knew, as well as several that I’m yet to work in. The depth of expertise demonstrated by the speakers was real highlight – and this is why I love these events – having experts deep dive on areas they are passionate about always makes for a great session. If you missed this one, make sure you don’t miss the next one – it’s rare when you get access to this type of expertise in a setting where you can chat over coffee and pizza and fill in the blanks on new and emerging sap technology.”

You can check out Alisdair’s session here.

Relax – It’s Only Agile

I was really looking forward to this session – a non technical one and was hoping to get some learnings around agile and improvements I could make on my own activities in this space.

Figure:17 Julia presenting on her experiences in Agile methodologies

Julia progressed through to talk about Continuous Improvement and went on to describe the Incremental Delivery of Value. The main gold nugget was the Agile mindset – this is what I find most companies cannot do (and I asked this question at this very moment in the video :-)).

“You need a culture of trust”

Figure:18 “Trust, collaboration, adaptable, open, respect, freedom, listening etc”

Julia also talked about what Agile isn’t which was really good to get this viewpoint as well. I also found out that using JIRA is not Agile….c’mon!! 🙂

Julia’s quote on the day is as follows.

“Great day with a variety of very interesting sessions. Loved the engagement and passion of everybody in the room. Looking forward to the next one!”

You can check out Julia’s session here.

 

Developers in 2020

We then arrived at the last session of the day and I had to say that the audience were really still engaged for this session and it was good to see Andrew Barnard give a summary of his experience managing development teams and his take on what the future areas are likely to be. Ben did a great job of asking some key questions and the responses were fantastic. I first met Andrew at the first SAP Stammtisch in Melbourne last year and the discussions carried on from topics we had discussed then. Amazing!!

One of the key quotes I liked from this session was Andrew describing how SAP has changed over the years.

“SAP has changed from being an Application company that had technology (SAP Basis) to a Technology company with applications”

Figure:19 Andrew and Ben talking about what Developers need in 2020

Andrew also talked about how much information is now online for people to learn and how lucky we are. He talked about the DJ Adams and Max’s sessions via Youtube but also talked about how valued conversations are between SAP Community members. The value is in the discussion and viewpoints – this was seriously refreshing.

You can view this interactive session here.

Big Thankyou!

And so this finished a great day of learnings, engagement and a chance to network with other SAP Community members. There was alot to organise in getting this full event happening but it would never have happened without support from AGL Energy and from the sponsors. This slide summarises the thankyous!

Figure:20 BIG THANKS to all of the Organisers, AGL Energy for hosting, the Speakers and Sponsors!! 

Big Thanks to the following sponsors Radiant Think, Business Process Solutions, Fair Consulting Group, SAP Press and SAP Community.

Family Photo

A SAP Inside Track is not a SAP Inside Track without the family photo. I’ve looked at this photo a number of times and you can actually see how much the audience were engaged and how happy everyone one to genuinely be there at this amazing event.

Figure:21 SAP Inside Track Melbourne Family Photo

All up I was really overwhelmed with how the entire event played out (albeit alot to organise) and I am now really excited for the coming events – the SAP Stammtisch in Melbourne inline with the Master SAP Conference as well as the SAP Tech Nights we will be running in 2020! Stay tuned for the dates – blog post out soon.

Thanks for reading and please please please subscribe to the sitMelbourne Youtube channel and also follow the sitMelbourne twitter account to keep up with the latest news.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing it! 🙂

7 Comments
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  • Great wrap up of the event Phil Cooley, so thank you very much for sharing. I can feel you’ve been relieved that your first SAP Inside Track was so successful (instead of SAP TechNight). And honestly, being far away from Australia, it’s very good to see that the concept of having an SAP Inside Track on a Saturday, which works so well in Germany and Europe, works in Australia as well. Congratulations from my side, a big THANK YOU to all contributors, and I hope you continue your great contribution throughout the year and hopefully also next year… 😉

    • Thanks Svea Becker – definitely relieved that the event went so well and it was a bit of a risk however it proves if you have good topics and good speakers it goes along way to being successful. I am very happy with the way the day went.

      Thankyou for your support and assistance in getting these events up and running and communicated throughout the SAP Community. Now need to finish by blog post for the next event! 🙂