Now in day three of SAP Sapphire Conference and events are becoming a blur.  Overall, this has been a good Sapphire, far better than the past two years.  Many of global based bloggers have been noting their observations and I invite Supply Chain Matters readers to take them all in.  You may especially enjoy comments from Vinnie Merchandani over on Deal Architect, whom I have come to get to know better from our interactions these past few days. I’m also looking forward to reading an advanced copy of his new book.

 Here are my summary thoughts as I wind down my activity here at SapphireNow.

 On a positive note:

  • I absolutely love the single global Sapphire format with simulcasts from each geographic region, and live broadcasts over the Internet.  It brings forward the power of SAP as a global based provider, as well as common business interests among global based companies. It also reinforces SAP’s commitment in sustainability since it would appear that air travel for consecutive events has been reduced, On the other hand, I must admit I have never witnessed such a demonstration of multiple broadcast technology as I have visually observed at this conference.  Three TV studios on the show floor, portable podcasts and webcasts are all happening, and it is impressive. Just behind me, there is a live podcast involving multiple bloggers being transmitted direct from our designated blogger area.
  • It was good to observe that SAP is back on-track.  This is the SAP that we all use to know, demonstrating sensitivity to customer business and technology needs. SAP is listening to customer feedback, and now needs to execute.
  • Contrary to what traditional product marketers may think, having company executives perform their own live demos on real data has enormous power.  In all the years I have attended Sapphire, I never imagined I would observe Hasso Plattner, Chairperson of the SAP Supervisory Board perform a live system demo, on-stage, utilizing an Apple iPad.  Really cool, and enormously powerful because it legitimizes the power of the technology
  • If SAP is able to really pull-off the in-memory analytics technology strategy articulated at this conference, it will be both a market game-changer, as well as a supply chain business intelligence game changer. Sorry Ian Kimbell, but your entertaining demonstrations have been outsourced to actual SAP executives.  How refreshing is that!
  • Having industry analyst, bloggers and media actually sit on the show floor does work effectively.  The SAP Global Communications team did a tremendous job in finding the right location, insuring computing and other resources were available, and going out of their way to make all of us feel welcomed.  I echo the notations from other bloggers on the special cudos to Mike Prosceno and Stacey Fish of SAP Global Communications for their extraordinary efforts and demeanor in accommodating all blogger and influencer needs.  Readers should be aware that there are few companies that match SAP in embracing all social media outlet in conference coverage.
  • I continue to be impressed with Vishal Sikka, SAP CTO and Board Member.  He has a pragmatic and down-to-earth perspective on technology capabilities and the realities of the SAP installed base.  I’m convinced that he also understands supply chains since he frequently refers to supply chain analogies.


In the needs work category:

  • I’ve already penned some comments noting that the SAP SCM area needs to help SAP customers take maximum advantage of this new era of more responsive supply chain related analytics and business intelligence.
  • If SAP is successful in pulling off this notion of in –memory analytics capability, there will be an enormous need in helping supply chain professionals to be comfortable in utilizing and leveraging this technology in their daily work.  That need transcends PowerPoint and information portals, and I believe will need to involve the broader SAP SCM ecosystem community.
  • Application release cycles need to meet customer business needs vs. SAP’s internal development priorities and calendars.  One example, after many years of patient waiting, SAP Transportation Management customers can finally anticipate the release of SAP Transportation Management 8.0.  The functionality looks really good, but why did it have to take so long to come to market?
  • More synergy among SAP SRM and SCM solution development teams.  SAP customers have already sensed that the global supply chain process umbrella has a very broad spectrum and now includes elements of new product introduction, strategic sourcing, quality and product traceability, contract manufacturing, logistics and customer service management.  Relationships with suppliers are ever more strategic, and require broader information and analysis needs. Procurement and supply chain teams have common information needs in managing risks, and SAP should lead the way for its customers by overcoming its own barriers.

I will be sharing additional comments and observations later when I get the opportunity to organize my various notes,

Bob Ferrari