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Author's profile photo Peter Langner

SAP TechEd: A lost conference that misses more

Anyone searching for this year’s conference dates in Europe or the USA (Barcelona and Las Vegas) will be looking for a long time. The only dates to be found are in Bangalore, India, on the second and third of November 2023. The word is that European and American dates have been cancelled without replacement.

The conference in Bangalore will take place as a virtual event, with “follow-the-sun availability” – which means that interested parties are able to access the virtual workshops and sessions round the clock.

During the pandemic era, we all learned that it’s possible to hold conferences, workshops and seminars as online events rather than in conference centers or seminar rooms. We know the advantages of unrestricted schedule management, as well as saving on travel time. But we learned something else too: There is no substitute for the direct contact, face-to-face encounters and the adrenaline rush that happens when we share moments with other people.

The power of moments

Not for no reason do marketing experts like Chip and Dan Heath talk about the “power of moments”: “Our lives are measured in moments, and defining moments are the ones that endure in our memories.” Many visitors will have previously taken home with them very personal SAP TechEd moments which will not be forgotten any time soon. Those will not only include the keynote speeches by SAP Board Members, such as Jürgen Müller who last year introduced the SAP Business Technology Platform as the foundation for the intelligent company; attendees also experienced a wide selection of presentations, workshops and hands-on sessions. Where else do developers have the opportunity to expand their knowledge on subjects such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), data analysis and much more – as well as to make new friendships and motivate themselves to leave the comfort zone of their own thinking and engage with new ideas?

A prime example for successful live events: OMR in Hamburg

SAP Board Member Christian Klein himself experienced just how impressive, powerful and effective the “power of moments” can be in May this year. He sat on the stage of the Online Marketing Rockstar Festival (OMR) in Hamburg to speak with OMR founder Philipp Westermeyer about “Leading in times of transformation: How SAP is shaping a new way of doing business.” The company was also represented with a stand there for the first time. The trade fair stand, which spanned around 370 square meters, presented SAP innovations on the topics of customer experience and GROW with SAP – the cloud ERP offering from SAP for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The OMR Festival was unprecedented: The event organizer recorded more than 70,000 visitors, and the trade fair halls were almost bursting at the seams. It was an absolute visitor record – and for an industry where professional stakeholders are used to working, learning and consulting one another “online”, “virtually” and “remotely”. There must be something in the “magic of a moment”. Evidently it’s a whole other experience to listen to Boris Becker, Serena Williams, Luisa Neubauer or even Christian Klein speak when you’re sitting in the same space with them – or even in the same hall. Christian Klein will have felt that himself in Hamburg. The SAP AGM took place in Mannheim two days later. For the first time following a three-year break due to coronavirus, that event was again held in the SAP Arena, in front of thousands of spectators.

The wrong signal

2023 is the year in which the WHO declared the end of the global health emergency due to coronavirus. There is pent-up need among people – and that includes programmers and techies – for encounters, for closeness, for events, for experiences, and for contact. These elements form the basis for connections; connections that SAP urgently needs to facilitate if the company wants to achieve its goals and inspire people for the adventure of business transformation into the cloud – a journey that many find pretty exciting.

If SAP removes two established popular and live conferences from the program this year, that’s two lost opportunities for closeness to customers, more customer contact and customer engagement. Above all, it sends the wrong signal. This kind of non-communication does not fit in 2023; nor does it fit with people’s pent-up need, nor the company’s communication challenges. There are certainly good arguments for not holding events: Costs, organizational effort and coordination difficulties; but those are problems we should be glad to encounter. And it is by no means clear that they offer convincing justification for canceling the unmatchable magic of live moments.

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      Author's profile photo Tamas Szirtes
      Tamas Szirtes

      Indeed, Peter, very disappointing decision from SAP.



      Author's profile photo Volker Buzek
      Volker Buzek

      TechEd is where it was and should be - no better place for SAP tech talk and education.

      Fortunately there's the SAP community (!) organizing the mega dev summer with CAP Cosmos DB Hackathon, UI5con, re>≡CAP and CAP CodeJam from July 5 - 8 this year, where like-minded techs from all over the world can meet, greet and be merry together.

      No substitute for TechEd, but a very viable consolation - from the community, for the community 🫡

      Author's profile photo Murali Shanmugham
      Murali Shanmugham

      Its a good time for SAP to revisit how to run technology conferences.

      Author's profile photo Peter Langner
      Peter Langner
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Murali,

      and what is your personal opinion? Do you think in-person events like SAP TechEd are needed or not?



      Author's profile photo Murali Shanmugham
      Murali Shanmugham

      In my opinion, We need to have in-person events. However, instead of having a big event in 1-2 cities, I would prefer each region host such events more frequently giving opportunities to more people to get closer to the technology. We also need to be inclusive of those who are unable to travel (may be due to budgets etc) and have a path for them to also participate.

      Author's profile photo Jayson Parker
      Jayson Parker

      TechEd as a virtual event delivers zero value.  I have no desire to watch marketing videos or download an endless number of slide decks.  The in-person event provides the ability to communicate with SAP technology and product owners/experts in a way that email or a call just doesn't match.  It also provides great networking opportunities to meet others that work in a similar role or industry.

      This is really disappointing from SAP as many of their other events and conferences have gone forward with in-person.

      Author's profile photo Cleiton Freire
      Cleiton Freire

      Thanks for writing this article Peter. It is truly disappointing that SAP is killing the hallmark conference for the SAP technical community.

      It is discouraging to see that after several weeks after your post, the engagement is low!

      Author's profile photo Andrew Oussoren
      Andrew Oussoren

      Thanks Peter and yes this is very disappointing that SAP have decided to run this as an online event, it was good to go to TechEd and meet college from all over the world.

      Author's profile photo Soeren Friis Pedersen
      Soeren Friis Pedersen

      Excellent write-up Peter. Thank you! I think you expressed what a lot of us are thinking.

      I miss SAP TechED, been regular attending since 2011. It was excellent to get out there and geek around a bit, gain experience, hear the news from SAP in person. -And have a chance for s chat with the SAP developers and area experts, former colleagues in the SAP sphere etc. The online TechED is not in any way or form a replacement for that.

      I hope that they will bring back the EMEA and US (physical) TechED's in 2024.

      Author's profile photo Roar Kloppenborg-Skrumsager
      Roar Kloppenborg-Skrumsager

      Nice perspectives Peter, and thank you for putting this topic on the table !

      Virtual events are good and cost effective - but can hardly replace physical events like TechEd's.

      Joining physical TechEd event we often came back more aligned about goals and IT strategies. At physical events like TechEd you can work dedicated on searching  information, clarifying topics, kill concerns, get questions answered, discuss & clarify dependencies/RISKs.

      Work can on all kind of critical topics at TechEd with own colleagues, networks, partners and definitely also in collaboration with always responsive and competent SAP experts. You hardly attend a physical TechEd event with questions not answered or having no next step planned with SAP experts in order to get questions discussed and answered after TechEd.

      I have not yet left a virtual TechEd with that same feeling. It is not the same rush and wow effect of virtual TechEd than once going back from a physical TechEd.

      From a cost & travelling time perspective Virtual events have come to stay. We all know that. Wonder if an event strategy can be developed in order to have both virtual and physical events in a combination - if not every year both then bi-yearly ?

      Looking forward to see how Teched events will be planned going forward.



      Author's profile photo Michelle Crapo
      Michelle Crapo

      I'm trying to be a mouse.  Quiet and listening.  I am the ultimate Teched enthusiast.  I used to love it.  Go to it.   Take vacation days if needed when I needed in order to attend.

      I'm reading blogs and comments this year about TechEd to hear what people are saying.

      For me - Lets just say - I'm not excited anymore.   I might attend a couple of sessions - I might not listen in on any.

      But on the plus side - I see a lot of technical content here and there is ABAPCONF.  I just wrote a fun blog about our space.  The developers spot here on the SAP Community.