Keith Elliott, Director of Content for TechEd
This coming November 12-15, New Orleans Morial Convention Center
will host SAPs largest technical education event for system managers,
programmers, and the like: SAP TechEd 02. In keeping with the citys
jazz-flavored heritage, the theme is Because
You Cant Improvise
the idea being that when it comes to implementing and managing
SAP system solutions, you really cant wing it, fake it, or just
make it up as you go along; you need solid, substantial knowledge, and
SAP TechEd 02 will be the best place to get it.
An annual event since 1996, the conference
was brought to life at SAP Labs in Palo Alto. Though in the beginning
lots of people thought that no one would be interested in TechEd, it has
continued as an annual conference, and with the exception of last year,
SAP has sold out every one. In fact, TechEd is now an international affair
theres a European version, an Australian TechEd, and there
have even been talks of doing one in India. But with an anticipated 4,000
attendees, the U.S. event is by far the largest.
When examining and comparing attendance
figures, Keith Elliott, Director of Content for TechEd, reports that last
years conference in Los Angeles was not an outstanding year: attendance
totals fell about one-third to around 3,000. Of course, says
Elliott, that was because SAP TechEd 01 in November came quite
soon after the upheaval of September 11. It didnt help that the
economy had been listless all year, either; a lot of people cancelled
because of travel budget restrictions. Actually we felt gratified that
3,000 people did show up under those difficult circumstances.
In comparison, this year Elliott expects
a strong turnout in the 4,000 range, partially because some time has passed
since September 11, and partially because New Orleans is an attractive
destination in its own right.
Four-Day Information Exchange
The conference itself is a mammoth four-day information exchange between
top SAP developers, consultants, customers, and partners, offering over
300 technical sessions. TechEd is not a mere trade show!
When we look at potential TechEd
venues, says Elliott, they typically show us huge exhibit
halls as big as eight football fields. And we reply, Thanks, but
what we really need is about 30-40 breakout rooms. And not all facilities
can handle that so were restricted as to where we can go.
According to Elliott, the conference typically
runs about 35 sessions in parallel from 8 AM to 7 PM. Half of those are
hands-on workshops, where SAP sets up a data center at the
conference facility with about 1,000 client machines (laptops), all networked
with dozens of servers and terabytes of disk space. Any given hands-on
room will have up to 50 PCs, and sessions in those rooms last from two
to four hours, depending on the content.
We start at 8:00 in the morning,
running four-hour hands-on workshops until noon, then after a break for
lunch, we go from 2 to 6 PM with another set of four-hour hands-on workshops
in the room, says Elliott. Thats a real value for the
content the attendees cant get enough of the hands-on stuff,
and in fact its so popular that we have to restrict the hands-on
sessions by ticketing them! We dont want 1,000 people waiting outside
the door with only 50 able to get in. So to keep Mr. Fire Marshal as our
friend, we pre-register all our hands-on sessions. Of course, the most
popular ones are filled in a flash. Thats a big feature of the show.
What really sets TechEd apart is the variety of timely, practical topics
that attendees can look forward to. Of course, this years conference
will focus on all the new mySAP Technology that provides the infrastructure
for the complete range of e-business solutions. Sessions will cover the
technical aspects of mySAP Enterprise Portals, mySAP Exchanges, the SAP
Web Application Server, mySAP CRM, and other hot new technologies in the
As in previous years, one of the big content
areas that will be covered is SAP system management, including performance
tuning. Sessions from this area are particularly attractive to customers
with installed SAP systems looking for ways to improve performance, implement
new e-business components in a system landscape, or manage users.
Another very popular content area has to
do with programming in SAPs native application programming language,
ABAP. You can expect to find sessions on the latest ABAP tools and functionalities,
and on optimizing ABAP code. In addition, Java-based programming and SAPs
Java-based e-business offerings are becoming increasingly important to
programmers, and there will be a host of sessions around that theme.
The Technology Source
Another unique aspect of the conference is that the speakers are not
professional lecturers, but experts from SAPs own development organization
the actual developers, managers, and product managers who know
the material inside and out because theyre the ones developing it.
That makes TechEd just about the only SAP event that allows customers
to get that close to the source of the technologies they use. Thats
why we say this is not a marketing show; its the real stuff,
Elliott proudly claims.
TechEd also features a modest exhibit area
that is unlike the SAPPHIRE exhibit area or, for that matter, any typical
huge trade show. At TechEd, exhibitors are given generic booths
the organizers dont allow them to bring in their own booths
and they are simply arranged alphabetically. Surprisingly enough,
the exhibitors really like our egalitarian approach, Elliott reports.
Its very cost-effective for them because they dont have
to haul in their expensive trade show castles. The smaller
partners benefit, too; it levels the playing field for all the exhibitors,
and in the end it makes it far easier for them, for us, and, we believe,
for the attendees as well.
Its likely that the exhibitors
are actually talking face-to-face with the troops. They know if you want
to sell a technical product for technologies, its important to have
technical allies in a company. Sooner or later the top management is going
to go ask these guys: What do you think of this? Thanks to
their exposure at TechEd, they are more likely to have the answer.
High Marks for TechEd
In the landscape of SAP technical events, TechEd is undoubtedly the premier
of its kind. Attendee satisfaction surveys register extremely high: according
to Elliott, at the past two U.S. shows, over 95 percent of the attendees
said they would recommend the conference to a colleague.
When we ask for an overall conference
rating on a scale of 1 to 5, we always get somewhere between 4 and 5 average.
It has a very high satisfaction rate, claims Elliott. We get
quotes from attendees like This is the best educational value in
SAP and other comments like that. (See sidebar.) Thats primarily
because we stick to the technical content and we deliver what our attendees
want. It may be intense and even tiring from an attendee point of view,
but everyone gets a lot to bring back to their workplaces afterward. And
that makes it all worthwhile.
Sometimes its best to let the attendees speak for themselves.
Here are some actual quotes drawn from the SAP TechEd 2001 Los Angeles
Very informational ... most sessions gave me a way to
test-drive functionality with an expert there to answer any questions.
Its my first and Im coming back for [the]
I think its a great conference. It not only gives
you the info on new products of development, it also gives the solution
to my daily job and problems. It helps me to do [a] better job in
I think it is an excellent opportunity to see the new
technology and is a great way to get as much education as you can
in one week.
Excellent conference I appreciate the access to
so many SAP resources.
Good intro to new SAP initiatives.
An excellent place to acquire knowledge on new technology,
as well as to learn about the existing technology.
Very good to learn about solutions for business issues.
Great place to see whats upcoming. Good place to
network with people in the same field.
Great learning experience.
I wanted to learn new technologies and actually I did.
Very well organized, I will be there at SAP TechEd 02.
Excellent lectures, informative and a friendly atmosphere.
Awesome!! Cant wait for New Orleans!!