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SAPPHIRE NOW Day 2: C-Speak Takes Over

by Dave Hannon

May 15, 2012

By Dave Hannon
@Daveatwispubs

Where day one was the time for star power, the second day of SAPPHIRE NOW brought a lot more product talk from the big brass at SAP. And attendees I talked to couldn't get enough of it.

The keynote from co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe got rave reviews on Twitter for both its content and tone. It started off with a video nod to SAP's history (with some great comments from insiderPROFILES columnist Josh Greenbaum). "Professor Snabe" even brought in some visual aids for the history lesson, including an HP35 calculator and a musical greeting card. Snabe even joked that SAP bought Success Factors as a 40th birthday/midlife crisis present to itself (not sure what that makes Lars?).

Snabe made some bold predictions in the keynote: in five years, all computing will be mobile, all software will be cloud and all data will be in-memory.

The next portion of the keynote moved into a talk-show format (which I dubbed "Morning Jim") where he spoke with the executive director of McLaren Racing Ron Dennis. "We are blown away by SAP HANA," he said. And I'm not sure it's easy to blow away a guy whose business is racing cars.

Overall, Snabe did hit a nice mix of product messaging and customer-focused content. While most would agree, he's got a good handle on SAP's product strategy, his on-stage personality seems to be getting more engaging with each presentation I see.

And speaking of "personality," Snabe ended his keynote by giving the stage over to Lars Dalgaard, the CEO of Success Factors, to talk about cloud (I think?). For many SAP customers, this was the first in-person look at the much-talked-about cloud guru and the one word that comes to mind: en ergy. He's definitely passionate about his work and I don't think you could find a better "personality" to execute what he's tasked with: taking SAP into the cloud market in a big way. Dalgaard was energetic, seemed to work off-script and talked faster than I could tweet. He pointed out that 85% of Success Factor's revenue comes from products they didn't have five years ago and when it comes to usability, "We design for the janitor to the CEO." Dalgaard showed a sort of "time lapse" video to show how quickly SuccessFactors adopted SAP solutions across its business. "We threw all the other guys out."

Dalgaard was also at the post-keynote press conference with Snabe and co-CEO Bill McDermott. And there was, not surprisingly, a lot of talk about cloud. Snabe said of SuccessFactors' cloud-based DNA, it would be a "fundamental mistake to move on-premise solutions to the cloud. Lars created his business in the cloud from day one." "We didn't integrate Success Factors into SAP," Snabe said. "We 'extragated' SAP stuff to Success Factors." When asked about branding of cloud solutions going forward, Dalgaard said "Branding doesn't matter. We are in it for our customers; to make them successful."

When asked about integrating social aspects into software, Dalgaard said that's like asking how you integrate "technology." It should just be engrained in, not added. He did say his group is developing a "social engine" that used SAP StreamWork, elements of SuccessFactors functionality and other technology to bolster the social components across SAP solutions.

Snabe and McDermott were asked about the co-CEO model and both said it depends on trust. "We are making room on our management team for the right leaders to scale this strategy," said McDermott, pointing to Dalgaard as an example.

Other highlights of day 2 for me: Cat ching Reggie Jackson speak, some great customer case study sessions and conversations, and finally meeting Jon Reed face-to-face.

Of course there was much, much more going on, but that's what I got for now.

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