Friday, May 17, 2013, 2:15 PM
I’ve just returned from Orlando for the SAPPHIRE 2013 event, mentally and physically exhausted, but what an unbelievable three days. My goal there was to discover this year’s hot topics and chat with SAP customers that are innovating (or planning to innovate) in those areas. I met with and had some great conversations with folks from companies that are already on their journeys with SAP HANA, mobile solutions, and the cloud. And often these customer stories were conveniently presented in the same place at the same time through a customer panel.
During the opening keynote with SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott, there was an amazing customer panel that sportscaster James Brown moderated, which highlighted the SAP journeys of Under Armour, the National Basketball Association, and the San Francisco 49ers. Each executive shared how the business is using SAP HANA to deliver better and smarter apparel, faster analytics for sports stats, and a richer fan experience, respectively. This panel got some flack from attendees for being too “sports-oriented”. However, the insights provided could easily be applied to any industry.
I attended another customer panel on Day 1 focused on SAP HANA that included four executives from the companies John Deere, Bayer MaterialScience, Mercedes AMG, and Eby-Brown. Each story was unique but again had a similar theme of “faster, stronger, better.” insiderPROFILES magazine recently highlighted Eby-Brown’s story on the cover of the Apr-May-Jun 2013 edition: insiderprofiles.wispubs.com/article.aspx.... Keep an eye out for future articles highlighting the other companies that participated in this panel.
Day 2 opened with a keynote presented by the other SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe. Lars Dalgaard was supposed to take the stage as well, but due to a death in the family, he was unable to attend the event this year. Instead, attendees got to watch a video with SuccessFactors customers Pepsico, Nespresso, and Timken sharing their stories of moving to the cloud. Later in the day, I was lucky enough to catch two more customer panel sessions focused on SAP HANA.
One of these panels highlighted companies that were running SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA. Executives from Medtronic, Synopsis, Adidas Group, and Marathon Oil participated. While the stories were all different – re-implementations, data migrations, and new roll outs – each had the common theme of amazing results. I had a chance to catch up with Medtronic’s Senior Director of IT, Steve Teichman before he took the stage. I worked with Steve years ago when insiderPROFILES published its very first customer profile of an early adopter of SAP HANA. Read about Medtronic’s experiences here: insiderprofiles.wispubs.com/article.aspx.... And don’t be surprised to see a follow-up story in an upcoming edition of the magazine.
The second HANA customer panel I caught that day highlighted VPs of Spirit Aerosystems and Unilever who provided advice for customers considering embarking on SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA journeys. Marc Bechet of Unilever says that the newly gained speed has allowed the company to finish its financial close days faster. And James Cocca of Spirit claims that reporting is now 7,000 times faster. insiderPROFILES will be highlighting Unilever’s story in its Jul-Aug-Sep 2013 edition so be sure to check back.
But quite possibly, out of the 20 or so customer-led sessions I attended, one of my favorites and most popular was Lockheed Martins’ HANA story. This session was presented in one of the microforum areas, which was clearly not big enough for the number of attendees who showed up. There were five or six rows of people crowded around the forum struggling to hear the story. Fortunately, I happened to find myself standing right next to Chris Church of Lockheed Martin (missiles) who I worked with years ago when the magazine published his insights regarding Lockheed’s SAP ERP upgrade: insiderprofiles.wispubs.com/article.aspx.... Chris gave me a first-hand account of some of the great things Lockheed is doing. So expect to see an update on Lockheed’s journey to adopt SAP HANA in an upcoming edition of the magazine.
Friday, May 17, 2013, 1:58 PM
By Dave Hannon
Another SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG in the rearview mirror ... and I have the blisters on my feet to prove it. This year's event had a good blend of high-level big-impact news and tactical user-level information that should keep everyone in the ecosystem satisfied. At least for now. Here's a few notes.
On the big-bang news side of things, SAP made a few major announcements at SAPPHIRE NOW. They include:
SAP Business Suite on HANA is now Generally Available to customers. As Hasso Plattner said in his keynote, "It's no longer about HANA, but the applications on top of HANA."
Release of SAP Fiori, a collection of 25 apps that are focused on renewing the user experience for the most common business functions, such as workflow approvals, information lookups and self-service tasks. They're device-agnostic-- meaning they can be used on mobile devices and desktops using browsers that support HTML5.
As CTO Vishal Sikka pointed out, Fiori means flower in Italian, and flowers are "the perfect blend of mathematics and design" in nature. (That imagery figured heavily in Sikka's portion of the keynote.)
Renaming of SAP Visual Intelligence as Lumira. (When the founder of your company calls it a "stupid name" it's time to switch).
Release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 (I didn't personally catch much new on this, but I'm sure our in-house BI guru Scott Wallask will have plenty to say soon over on BusinessObjects Expert. Heck, he was way out in front of it all in a post here.
Announcement that SAP HANA is "no longer a little girl" by Sikka. (Note to SAP communications: That "little girl" metaphor's getting a little...uncomfortable. Just sayin'.)
But in addition to the big-splash keynote news, there were demos galore on the show floor and SAP continues to do a great job of making its technology available to everyone interested, from customers to partners to analysts and media. (I think some folks in the ecosystem might be a bit spoiled by SAP's openness in this area -- not all companies do this).
And the ASUG sessions up on the South Concourse provided a plethora of customer experience presentations across a wide variety of topics. In addition to what I outlined here I caught sessions on super user programs, IT testing practices, experiences in the early adoption of SAP HANA, best practices in deploying RDS, and best practices in educating SAP user base, all led by real SAP customers who were very frank about their experiences.
And in addition to all of that, here's a few of my personal notes from the week:
SuccessFactors CEO Lars Dalgaard was not at the conference because his "superdad" passed away and he was back in Denmark with family sharing the LarsLuv where it was needed most this week. (I did like the video he provided that compared the "promises" he made on the SAPPHIRE NOW stage last year to the results today. Fact checking himself--nice touch.)
SAP is continuing to stick its toe in the B2C water, which will be interesting to watch in the future. Right now, it still feels like.. a toe in the water.
At the risk of sounding like a blue kool-aid addict, I really like the keynote progression at the event. Bill McDermott's sports-related keynote on Tuesday got things off to a fun start. Jim Hagemann Snabe's more product and strategy focused keynote on Wednesday gives the roadmap junkies what they're looking for. And Hasso Plattner's professorial presentation on Thursday transitioned to Vishal Sikka's always engaging talk has a really nice "flow" to it.
The annual press event Wednesday night at the Harley-Davidson factory had a great "vibe" to it as well, although the length of the bus ride out there did have more than a few of us paranoid press types wondering if we had got on the wrong bus and were heading to a bingo weekend in Boca or something.
Dark data is the new old buzzword. If you've been around a while, it's not new to you.
Twitter continues to grow in the ecosystem. If I'm going to continue to live tweet keynotes, I'm going to have to run my iPhone on HANA.
A couple years ago, the question in mobility was if the iPad was going to be an effective tool for business. Yeah, we have our answer now.
The Ariba crew gets the most “road warrior” points. Last week Ariba LIVE in DC. This week SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando. Next week, Ariba LIVE in Berlin. These folks understand to grow a network you gotta rack up some frequent flyer miles, that’s for sure.
Thursday, May 16, 2013, 3:00 PM
It’s Thursday afternoon and slowly but surely things are starting to quiet down at the annual Sapphire event in Orlando. It’s been a full week of keynotes, educational sessions, product announcements, and tons upon tons of product demonstrations.
One of my big priorities for attending the event this week is to find out more about SAP BPC, especially what other customers are doing with the tool and what successes and/or challenges have been encountered.
I’ve attended product demonstrations, SAP presentations, case studies, and microforums, but I think the most valuable session I attended was this past Monday during the pre-conference day.
David Dixon, who also happens to be presenting at our BPC Seminar starting in June, delivered a session titled, “Mars’ Big-Bet ROI Pay-Off using SAP BPC for real-time global integrated planning told by an IT Executive”.
David detailed Mars’ ROI case study, and how the company integrated the SAP BPC tool with its current SAP Trade and Promotion Management system, as well as its legacy SAP NetWeaver BW reporting environment. The goal of the project was to provide its sales community with quicker access to real-time planning data. He showed a great demo that details both!
Since implementing BPC Mars’ has been able to add real-time calculation and integration, process automation, more usability, and new analysis capabilities to both its annual and rolling plans. Mars has received such high ROI from its implementation; they now have plans to roll the tool out enterprise-wide.
David has definitely worked on his fair share of BPC projects, but from what I could tell, this one seemed more complex than most. It’s reassuring to know that even the most complex and intricate projects can have such outstanding results!
I’m looking forward to a couple more sessions today to wrap up a great week in Orlando!
If you were at Sapphire and happened to attend David's sessions, definitely check him out at our BPC Seminar in Washington DC in June. www.bpcseminar.com
Also for the latest updates on our events, follow me on twitter @AllisonMartin14
Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 9:48 PM
By Dave Hannon
Well if it was customer benchmarking you were looking for, you got your iPad full today. The morning keynote hosted by SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott and his surprise guest host featured three unique SAP customers. (For more on that, check out Ken Murphy's review of it here).
After the keynote, the trio of SAP customers -- Under Armour, NBA, and the 49ers -- joined McDermott for a press conference where the customers elaborated a bit on what they hoped to get from their SAP solutions. Sports fans, they said, are now consuming these sports through data, as much as by watching the games. Fantasy sports, gambling, even apparel purchases are all driven by data. So providing more of that data to sports fans will only increase fan loytalty. Whether it's draft data or biometric data direct from the players, these companies are looking into new ways of using this data to increase customer (aka fan) engagement.
But the keynote panel was only the start of the customer best practices. The ASUG sessions over on the South Concourse were packed with useful case studies on a variety of topics. Aerospace firm Rockwell Collins described its user training strategy which included establishing a change management office in the company.
Entegris' Helen Frericks outlined the proper care and feeding for a successful super user program, providing a six-point plan to rebuilding your super user program. "Super users are often the first to get hired by other companies," she said. "Some don't get used after go-live and get bored and don't volunteer the next time around."
Dutch brewing giant Heineken provided a detailed look at its SAP testing strategy in another session, providing seven testing principles it used to standardize its programs.
The ASUG keynote wrapped up the day and author Seth Godin provided his very unique take on...human behavior? It was an engaging and active presentation to end an engaging and active day.
Well that's it for me for now. More tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 1:30 PM
By Ken Murphy
San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York perfectly summed up SAP’s mobile, cloud, social, and analytics strategies during the SAPPHIRE NOW keynote Tuesday morning while discussing his experiences as a fan at a Notre Dame football game.
Joined onstage by SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, NBA deputy and future commissioner Adam Silver and moderator James Brown of the NFL Today on CBS for the longest segment of the 90-minute keynote, York discussed sitting in the front row at the 50-yard line during a game at Notre Dame and yet feeling like he wasn’t on top of the action because he couldn’t follow the conversation about a controversial on-field ruling.
Think about that for a second: Front row. 50-yard-line. Not a better seat in the house, and yet not feeling connected. Having a “front-row seat” always has meant metaphorically being part of the action, an eyewitness to history. Being there was more than just enough, it was everything. Now, that “front-row seat” means being connected with the world; listening, commenting, and understanding what is happening in real-time. York’s intent wasn’t to disparage the in-game experience; he is, after all, the CEO of an NFL team building a $1.2 billion stadium. Rather, he was pointing out that today’s fan expects more.
McDermott hammered this point home during his opening remarks before a conference hall audience of 20,000, with an additional 80,000, including this writer, watching on-line. For businesses and consumers alike, access to real-time, actionable insight is the future. And for SAP, that future will be realized by the potential of SAP HANA, which McDermott characterized as “the fastest growing software product in the world,” the “intellectual renewal of SAP,” and the “platform for everything that SAP does moving forward.”
It is no surprise, then, that McDermott discussed the influence of the Millennial Generation, those 2 billion consumers born between 1980 and 1995 who, McDermott said, were “born into the mobile device.” Like the sports fan who expects instant up-to-date statistics, those consumers look at technology as purpose-driven, not product-driven; software, not hardware.
Summoning his inner Millennial, McDermott said that for that influential segment “technology doesn’t make me who I am; it allows me to do what I want.”
And that, really, is at the heart of SAP’s game-plan moving forward, evidenced by McDermott’s closing remarks when he said that SAP now defines itself as a B2B2C market leader with “user experience now our top priority.” For SAP, he said, its most important consideration as it touches 75% of all worldwide transactions that are conducted on the SAP Business Suite is that “behind every business process is a real person.”
So for all the talk of how SAP HANA can help businesses run “smarter, faster, and simpler,” McDermott’s message during the keynote was SAP HANA’s real value being derived from helping people improve their everyday lives. From the car that can help its driver find parking, to personalized medicine, to biometric shirts, to real-time sports stats, to the application that gives brewers real-time statistics on beer pours, SAP HANA helps transform heretofore “dark data” into meaningful data by making sense of intent to predict future possibilities. (For more on beer industry insights, check out the article on WeissBerger on Page 27 of SAPinsider’s special SAP HANA issue.)
After wrapping up his opening remarks, McDermott introduced his all-star sports panel for more discussion of SAP HANA. York and the 49ers of course teamed with SAP to develop the SAP Scouting mobile app, and Silver pointed out that the NBA statistics page on NBA.com is powered by SAP HANA.
And that fan experience that York unintentionally disparaged? Well, look also for SAP HANA to be front and center for the “new” fan experience at the 49ers new home stadium, Levi’s Stadium, scheduled to open in Santa Clara, Calif., in time for the 2014 season. (SAP is a stadium partner and owns naming right to the team’s practice facility). York said that fans can expect a “ticketless and cashless” experience during game-day, where they can create their own individual experience without leaving their seat; everything from ordering food and drinks to following a fantasy team to having their own sideline reporter.
This experience, McDermott said, is part of SAP’s strategy to “connect the league to the team to the fan in one integrated value chain,” as it rushes headlong from scrimmage into the sports and entertainment industry – the 25th industry it’s now a part of.
No different, really, from SAP’s recognition of the importance of a business’s customers, the “real person” that McDermott said is at the heart of every transaction with the SAP Business Suite and the SAP HANA platform that intends to make that customer’s everyday existence “smarter, faster, and simpler.”
Front-row seat, indeed.