SAPPHIRE NOW Day 2 Keynote Keeps Things Up-Tempo

by Dave Hannon

May 17, 2011

By Dave Hannon


It was hard not to feel upbeat during the Day 2 keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW when drummer extraordinaire Max Weinberg and his band were introduced for the Day 2 keynote, which featured a talk show set format for the one-on-one interviews. But a bit of flash and a very good jazz band only gets you so far. It was up to the SAP co-CEOs to get SAP customers feeling upbeat and they didn’t disappoint, using new product demos, customer examples, and even a few light moments to get SAP customers focused on the future.

SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott took the stage first and said that between in-person and online, there were as many as 100,000 people participating in SAPPHIRE NOW, the most ever. McDermott took a customer focus, emphasizing the importance of monitoring and improving customer relationships in the online/social media world. Because today, when a customer is not happy, the word spreads quickly, he said, while a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits 90%.

But face-to-face meetings with customers are not frequent enough to keep up with the trends. In fact, McDermott pointed out that in most companies, 70% of employees never meet a customer. Today, monitoring customer relationships means analyzing customer data—and there’s a LOT of it out there. “There are millions of data points being created and your challenge is keeping up with it all,” he said.

McDermott pointed to SAP’s development of in-memory computing (HANA) as a way to help analyze all of that customer data in “real real-time” (McDermott’s favorite term) and make faster decisions based on it. In-memory will allow businesses to simulate new business models and change their manufacturing mix or revise their customer segmentation strategy. “What you used to do in weeks now takes seconds,” he said, adding in no uncertain terms: “This technology will enable you to make better decisions.”

McDermott also highlighted the need for a mobile strategy in most businesses (“mobile is the new desktop”) and connect business processes from end-to-end. SAP customer Avon was highlighted during a demo showing how mobility dramatically improved the Avon business model. Today, when the Avon lady rings your bell, she’s going to be holding a tablet computer to show you the vivid colors of their products on screen and placing orders and showing you delivery dates. It really is an effective business case. Or, in McDermott’s words, “It blows your mind.”

Videos from SAP customers Under Armour and Procter & Gamble also added flavor. But it was McDermott’s closing thoughts that really drove the point home. “Let’s change the status quo and get back to growing these businesses,” he said. “We share a common cause to make your business run better.”

And true to his reputation as a “product guy,” co-CEO Jim Hagemann-Snabe’s portion of the keynote focused on new product innovations. Instead of doing the usual handoff to a product director for a live demo, Hagemann-Snabe took out his RIM Playbook and participated in a demo of the new Sales On-Demand app.

Hagemann-Snabe touched on some of the same themes as McDermott, but kept it “fresh” by taking a more product-focused approach. For example he talked about SAP’s in-memory computing saying when it was announced at SAPPHIRE NOW a year ago, “our competitors were sure we were on drugs. Today they are looking for the pharmacy.”

He said in early customer use, in-memory computing has shown a 20x improvement in processing power on less expensive hardware. “Imagine what you can do if you can predict future changes faster and simulate possible changes to those trends faster,” he said.

“This is not just about saving IT costs but changing business fundamentals, industry by industry.” He also profiled SAP customer Fresh Direct, saying its use of SAP ERP and analytics have reduced late deliveries by 80% and brought its on-time delivery to 98%.

Hagemann-Snabe said tomorrow’s keynote with CTO Vishal Sikka and SAP founder Hasso Plattner promises to provide more insight into in-memory.

“This is not a time for consolidation, but a time for innovation,” he said, as the Max Weinberg Seven took it out with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”  

McDermott’s Three-Step Program to SAP Customer Success

At the end of today’s SAPPHIRE NOW keynote, Bill McDermott provided customers three things to do in light of the intersecting technology and business trends taking place today. 

  1. Rethink your business and IT strategy. Look at the IT budget and how you can free up cash flow to focus on growth again instead of cost reduction.
  2. Take steps to consolidate disparate applications on a common platform.
  3. Harn ess the new innovations coming out for your business.

“This is your time to get after that growth,” he said. “Give us your toughest business scenarios to solve.”

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