Today’s posting comes from Orlando as I attend the combined SAP Sapphire and ASUG Conferences.  The conference attendance was announced as 10,000 here in Orlando, which is surprisingly large when you consider these current economic times.  With an additional 8000 tuning-in via live webcast, SAP was not bashful in announcing its highest attendance Sapphire event ever.

This morning’s Sapphire session got underway with the SAP keynote delivered by SAP Co-CEO Leo Apotheker, and a follow-on press conference.  The theme of the keynote was Seeing Your Way Clear in the New Reality, which appears to be SAP’s new positioning for helping businesses both navigate through the challenging economic times, and be positioned to deal with new realities in the recovery. SAP’s messaging is now shifting toward insight and faster decision-making.

I had three takeaways from this morning’s events:

The era of Henning Kagermann as CEO has come to an end, and the reign of leadership has been passed to Mr. Apotheker.

A renewed emphasis on SAP Business Suite, which includes SCM, for supporting both industry-specific and end-to-end business process integration, along with SAP Business Objects to support business analytics, risk management, and quicker decision-making. Most of the press conference was focused on SAP BusinessObjects and the newly announced SAP BusinessObjects Explorer product announcement.  Uncharacteristically, other than John Schwarz, there were no other SAP Board members actively participating in the press conference, including Mr. Apotheker.  As a previous student of SAP Sapphire press events, this was for me quite interesting to not observe a visible Waldorf executive presence.

An SAP that is more sensitized to a fundamental change in customer expectations regarding time-to-value, ease-of-use for all levels of users, and performance-driven maintenance and support.

My later dispatches will focus on other observations, and specifically what global supply chain professionals can expect from SAP over the coming year.  Stay tuned.

Bob Ferrari