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It’s springtime in Vegas….and also for SAP customers

by Graceanne Bowe

March 10, 2011

by Graceanne Bowe, Director of SAP Events, Wellesley Information Services

The Financials, HR, and GRC 2011 conferences are in full swing, and the mood and outlook of SAP customers is as sunny and bright as the gorgeous springtime weather here in Las Vegas. 

After a long economic winter of reduced revenues, layoffs, nonexistent training budgets, and indefinite project delays, previously frozen funds and resources are beginning to thaw. Little by little, companies that had hunkered down during the recession are coming out of hibernation, bringing new initiatives and projects to life.   Several customers who were restricted from attending training and educational events enthused that they were very happy to be back this year. 

As I spoke with customers, I was excited to hear about a lot of new projects.  For SAP Financials customers, the emphasis was on SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, integrating FI with SD and MM for improved order-to-cash and procure-to-pay, and new G/L migrations.  In many cases, the new G/L projects were directly tied to preparations for IFRS.  Although the SEC has been commitment-phobic about setting a date, IFRS compliance requires at least two years of preparation in order to become compliant.  Most customers do not want to be taken by surprise. 

For HR customers, the focus was squarely on talent management and succession planning.  In her keynote address, SAP HR VP Tracey Arnish observed that companies are waking up to the fact that employee engagement must be a strategic priority in order to retain their best talent .  The job market, while still very soft, is starting to show signs of recovery, and unhappy employees who stayed in unsatisfying jobs for the past few years are successfully landing new positions elsewhere.  SAP HR customers showed that they are taking this trend very seriously by showing up in droves at sessions on talent calibration, succession planning, and e-recruiting via social networking. Another area where HR projects are blooming is self-services.  Sessions on ESS and MSS have been filled to capacity with standing room only. 

GRC customers can’t seem to get enough information on SAP BusinessObjects GRC 10.0.   I spoke with several customers who are planning new SAP GRC Access Control or Process Control projects, and the general consensus is that if at all possible, they’d like to kick off those implementations on the GRC 10.0 platform.    There also seems to be an increasing number of global rollouts and expansions that have tremendous compliance implications for GRC teams.  Raymond Mastre from PwC delivered a session on multi-national compliance and building global rule sets that was filled to capacity. 

If the mood among the attendees was positive, it was absolutely buoyant in the exhibit hall.  Vendors were ecstatic over the increase in attendance, and those that I spoke with have all been very optimistic about the conversations they’ve had with customers this week.  Consultants all indicated that they were seeing a promising upswing in new business.   And the sponsor-led sessions designed to educate customers about new products were absolutely packed—one session had to be repeated later in the week to accommodate the demand. 

If you are an SAP customer who is already planting the seeds of business improvement, may your new projects and initiatives bear fruit in the form of better operations, greater profits, and higher employee satisfaction.  If your company is still digging out from under the weight of the economic downturn, take heart from your colleagues at Financials, HR, and GRC 2011 this week—springtime is coming, and it is almost here.

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