I missed SAP's Sapphire conference this week, attending to the Future in Review, Gartner Symposium, JavaOne and a root canal, but there is plenty of coverage. Some good, although sparse, coverage is coming from the bloggers Jeff Nolan coralled into attending the event in Orlando.
I struggled with finding the big picture amidst a plethora of announcements, strategic and tactical, that have spanned the gamut from acquisition (Frictionless), to ecosystem (a new $125 milliion venture fund), to a new interface (Muse), to updated versions of their ERP, CRM, and other products. Lots of great little pieces of news, but the meta-story was still lacking.
But he found a meta-story in what he called "the ubiquitous defense of the need for customers to upgrade their SAP environments" and at the same time a defense of ABAP, SAP's proprietary development language. He concluded that SAP is "comfortable sitting on the edge between providing highly innovative products and technology to its customers, while at the same time promising stability and support for existing investments."
SAP's executive branch: Henning Kagermann, CEO; Shai Agassi, President, Product and Technology Group; Léo Apotheker, President, Customer Solutions and Operations; Bill McDermott, President & CEO, SAP Americas--Photo courtesy of SAP
Thanks to Vinnie Mirechandani for the list. Also, here is Vinnie's take on blogger reception at Sapphire:
At Sapphire, it has been fun to literally have a Blogger's corner - a whole section of tables in the large press room assigned to bloggers. We have special badges, we have been specifically recognized at general sessions and we have had one-on-one sessions with several executives and social hours with others. In fact, we have had to work to free up time on the schedules to go visit the expo hall. Some curious media types and analysts have walked over to our corner and pinched us to see if we are normal and asked us if we have all-tofu diets. We are treated as part curiosity, part celebrity.
The respect that the bloggers earned on the first day reverberated throughout the company, with some of our most senior executives saying that bringing bloggers to sapphire was the most innovative thing we have done at this event in years. You also have to read this hilarious account from Niel Robertson about meeting Henning Kagermann at the press reception last night.
It's great that SAP executives acknowledge the role of bloggers and the expanding mediasphere, and kudos for Jeff for making it happen. SAP also paid expenses for bloggers who don't have a publication affiliation that would pay.
Jeff also commented: "Don’t expect bloggers to show up and start pumping out posts right away, there is a process of distillation before writing and that is reflected in a low posting rate on day 1." I would like to see more of the immediate, unvarnished, opinionated, you are there postings to go along with the usual reportage that come out of events such as Sapphire...in addition to the more after the fact distillations.