Welcome to my first blog as a new member of the SAPinsider team! After spending more than 20 years as an author, presenter, consultant, and overall advocate for the SAP reporting and analytics toolset — always with the goal of helping to make the implementation of these tools something done FOR the business rather than TO the business — today, I’ve joined SAPinsider as Vice President and Research Director focusing on the SAP Analytics space. And while you will see much from me in the coming weeks, months, and years, my first task is to update you on the happenings at the SAPinsider #BIHANA2019, #Financials2019 and #HR2019 events co-located this week in Las Vegas. More than 2,000 attendees have come together, representing over 400 organizations across industries, sectors, and geographies. The combined exhibit hall is showcasing 70+ service and solution providers.
Jamie Bedard opened the Day 1 Keynote by welcoming the attendees to this 17th annual event — but his first as President and CEO of SAPinsider. His warm welcome and thank you to all was followed by a brief discussion of the changes and enhancements that he is bringing to the SAPinsider organization and to its more than 300,000 members … a new energy and focus on engagement, interactivity, research, and bringing together the business need and a case for action with the latest SAP technology.
Jamie handed the presentation to Rizal Ahmed, Chief Research Officer for SAPinsider, who talked about the current trends around the adoption of SAP HANA. This platform is at the heart of so many decision points for SAP customers and is obviously a huge focal point (and looming deadline) for the entire SAP customer base and ecosystem.
Riz introduced Alison Biggan, President of Corporate Marketing for SAP, to talk about the Intelligent Enterprise. As Alison so rightly pointed out — we all take for granted the ease of use of technology in our personal lives, but we don’t see that same level of usability and enablement in our enterprise technology. At least not yet. Alison showed an example of capabilities enabled by Co-Pilot for simple, intuitive, and powerful conversational capabilities that can be executed anywhere your phone is (poolside, Alison?).
Ivo Totev, President LPOB Marketing for SAP, next talked about SAP’s commitment to moving forward with a perspective of “Make a Promise; Keep a Promise.” This involves more than just making the technology faster; it’s about improving the user experience and enabling intelligent automation to remove the mundane and non-value-adding tasks and freeing up precious time.
Alison then moderated a panel discussion bringing together perspectives from SAP (Ivo), a key partner (Darwin Deano, CTO for Deloitte), and a key customer (Ryan Muller, Senior SAP Business Systems Analyst for MOD Pizza). While these three represent different aspects of the ecosystem, they had similarities in their messaging, lessons learned, and visions for the future:
- A shift in mindset is necessary for change — of processes AND technology.
- The SAP HANA platform should not be viewed in a technical vacuum. “Upgrading” to S/4HANA is not your good ole fashion “throw it in over a weekend” upgrade.
- Competitive advantage can be doing something your competitors cannot, or it can be understanding your customers and vendors better. Data, data, data.
- The future will bring more automation, better interaction capabilities, and better intelligence so your users gain actionable insights at the point of interaction.
- And we are entering the “age of with” (to borrow a phrase from Darwin Deano) … humans WITH machines, efficiencies WITH value. Echoed by the panel is that the advent of advanced machine learning and automation technology does not mean that we (the humans) are no longer a necessary part of the process. Quite the contrary — oversight and management by thinking, breathing HUMANS becomes more critical than ever.
A major takeaway from the keynote address … No one, no part of the SAP ecosystem, is safe from the disruption of S/4HANA. But remember folks, disruption is not distortion nor disaster. Disruption changes the paradigm (hello Uber and Airbnb) and breaks down what you think are the hard limits of what can be done.
Before releasing everyone to the exhibit hall and sessions, Jamie came back on stage for one last bit of business … giving away Final Four tickets (yes, I’m serious) to one lucky attendee. Cue the drumroll and anticipation as the name was called. And you won’t believe this (no, I didn’t win them L ) … the announced winner was not in the audience to come on stage and collect the prize! Never been a better time to win the consolation bracket, because the next name called WAS in the audience and SHE was thrilled!! And no, I’m not telling you who won because a) I don’t want you to call her to beg your way to Final Four weekend, b) she may not have told her boss yet LOL and c) if you want to get Final Four tickets for yourself COME TO THE CONFERENCE NEXT YEAR and maybe you will win!
The remainder of Day 1 was a whirlwind of dozens upon dozens of well-attended and highly informative sessions from partners, exhibitors, and most importantly, customers. All talking about these same topics: driving innovation — not just migrating technology — enabling and empowering the business. Some talked about what they ARE DOING or HAVE DONE (UnderArmour, Lockheed Martin, and the San Francisco 49ers, to name a few), and others talked about what add-on TOOLS or SOLUTIONS can be leveraged to their implementation of the HANA platform to make it better, faster, easier.
The day concluded with a welcome reception, complete with appetizers and adult beverages in the exhibit hall, where the attendees could meet, network, and connect with each other. Because in THAT is the true strength and benefit of being an SAPinsider.