SAPPHIRE 2010: SAP's last chance?

What does SAPPHIRE hold? That's a big question following last week's Sybase acquisition by SAP and the much anticipated Business ByDesign launch
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

It's hard to believe but SAPPHIRE hasn't started yet and already the hashtag #SAPPHIRENow is generating a fair amount of traffic. Everything from transportation woes to lost badge warnings (all useful stuff) and on to staffers scurrying around with what they think will be last minute changes. But what can we expect?

Being a fan of conspiracy theories I'm starting to think that last week's Sybase acquisition is a clever ruse to deflect talk away from what many of us thought was going to be the 'front and center' mega launch of Business ByDesign. BYD seems to have been relegated to a luncheon engagement towards the end of the conference. At least on my agenda. Duh?

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Opinions on the Sybase deal have been much more diverse than is usually the case when a large acquisition is made.

Dennis Byron thinks it's a waste of time. In the process he resurrects the apps software equivalent of the ghost of Christmas Future, our mutual friend Bruce Richardson. Dang - didn't he get enough attention when he was at AMR? Vinnie Mirchandani wishes SAP hadn't done the deal. I have my own thoughts. Merv Adrian, who counts both SAP and Sybase as clients sees long and short term issues but settles on mobile as the Big Play.

What else? Josh Greenbaum thinks SAPPHIRE represents a second chance for SAP to redeem itself of its recent sins. Josh stakes out three areas:

  • Innovation
  • Solution Manager
  • Leadership

Each is worthy of the reading and made more poignant by the fact Josh will be on a panel about co-innovation - that awful SAPpy term to describe stuff SAP likes to do with its partners only to either appropriate it as its own or squish it. I hope Josh uses his many years experience to skewer SAP on this one.

Josh describes this SAPPHIRE as SAP's second chance. I see them as being in the last chance saloon. After the last few years' difficulties, most analysts and commenters have given SAP a breather while it rallies the troops and irons out its biggest issues. That all ends tomorrow when the various CEO's stand up and pitch.

If they get it wrong, I can guarantee the naysayers and curmudgeons (cough) will be all over them like a cheap suit. Get it right and SAP get's its reprieve. Right now I'm not hopeful but prepared to be surprised. I'm already juggling three (or is it four?) calendars in what looks like a chaotic set of sessions. It worries me that SAP Mentors are being encouraged to run around filming anything that moves with SAP provided Flip cameras. Such a blatant PR pitch (don't forget to get the non-SAP employee releases signed) is an affront to my sensibilities.

Managing two conferences running (more or less) concurrently across multiple timezones is clearly creating challenges. Where will the news emerge? In the middle of the night Pacific Time? Where will the execs be on any particular day? It's already starting to feel a little surreal.

Updated for Six Questions video. Those questions still stand.

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