SAP's annual Sapphire conference is over, and here's a round-up of some of the important news, announcements and high-tech happenings that came out of the show.
Unlike at recent SAP gatherings, executives were "on message" at Sapphire 2010 with the new strategy: Customers can choose from "on premise, on demand, on device" deployment options. Learn it. Know it. Live it.
Invariably, all conversations with good CIOs at events like these come back to conversations not about technology.
Media Training Posterboy
SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott is polished like an expensive Italian loafer. (That's a compliment.)
Ins and Outs of In-Memory
In-memory database technology...feel the excitement? Conceptually, yes. Will customers? We shall see.
Take That, Oracle
One VP of IT (a big SAP shop) I was talking with said: "Best of breed is dead."
This was a coming out party for SAP CTO Vishal Sikka.
Mobility Ain't New, Folks
Seems like we've been talking about enterprise mobility for decades...and yet it's SAP's new fountain of innovation.
"About Your Latest Dynamics AX Release..."
The relations between SAP and Microsoft (and their on-again, off-again strategic partnerships) make the dysfunction of the Lindsay Lohan family look like a Norman Rockwell painting.
Chances of getting an SAPer to reminisce about Shai Agassi's time at SAP: 74.3%
Chances of getting an SAPer to reminisce about Leo Apotheker's time at SAP: .01%
SAP is a demanding application suite--even for top IT shops. Talk to any CIO who's gone through an implementation, and there are some awfully juicy war stories there. Most in attendance, however, appear generally satisfied with their apps. (I mean, they probably wouldn't come if they weren't.)
We have a new record for Sapphire! 3,177 keynotes during the three-day period. (I'm kidding, but, seriously, when every presentation is labeled a "Keynote," it kinda loses its meaning.)
Taking a Cue from Internet Inventor Gore
From the Department of Great Moments in Rewriting of High-Tech History, this: @rwang0 Tweet: "Jim Hagemann Snabe, SAP invented the 3-tier client server architecture? POV: might have been others too here." #SAPPHIRENOW #SAP
SAP on an iPad
iPads were everywhere--in the meeting rooms and on the show floor. I played around with an SAP BusinessObjects app on one during a meeting. I'll just say this: If there's more of that on the way, then SAP will be able to rid the "too complex and not intuitive" perception that has dogged its apps for decades. No instructions were necessary.
Yes, But Can the Wii Close Last Quarter's Books?
@chriskanaracus Tweet: "Business ByDesign interface is more colorful than before, but still won't be mistaken for a Wii game or anything."
I felt really safe at Sapphire because the security guard at the media checkpoint was roughly 97 years old and was sitting on a Rascal.
Top "keynote" of the event: By far, Colin Powell. (Coming in second: The non-alarm fire alarm and strobe lights that went off for an hour or so on Monday afternoon. "Keep moving folks. Nothing to see here.")
This is SAP's "boat" located on the trade show floor. Gee, I know times were tough last year, but SAP's "Sailfish" pales in comparison to Larry Ellison's yachts.
During a briefing with SAP's Marge Breya (EVP and GM of the BI platform group at BusinessObjects), she demo'ed SAP's Streamwork product (which tackles collaboration and workflow) as well as a skunkworks app that was very cool. Ease-of-use Web-based collaboration wrapped around the SAP aura of stability and seriousness is what will sell stuff like this to Fortune 500 CIOs.
Isn't It Ironic
"Innovation without Disruption" is an SAP marketing slogan aimed at soothing customers disinterested in thorny and expensive upgrades. That's ironic, since last fall SAP has had to do both to itself: Disrupt itself, blow everything up and chuck the "old SAP" out the window--that's what several SAP execs told me. Now comes an even harder part: Innovate like crazy and wow customers and the market.