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Customers Share Their (Mostly SAP HANA) Stories at SAPPHIRE 2013

by Lauren Bonneau, Senior Editor, SAPinsider

May 17, 2013

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: 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: 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: 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.

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