This is our initial Supply Chain Matters commentary regarding attendance at this year’s SAP Sapphire Now and ASUG conference being held this week in Orlando.

Today was a jam-packed agenda of activities and meetings. some of which we will touch upon in this initial posting, and others in subsequent commentary.

The conference kicked-off with a panel discussion titled: Imagining Business in 2015.  SAP hit a semi-home run with a highly theatrical opening of moving cubes and lights akin to the movie: 2001 the Space Odyssey, and on the cool and calm narration of actor Gabriel Byrne. The Twitter posting stream lit-up during the opening with lots of excitement.  For us, the panel discussion itself turned out to be a bit disappointing, reflecting some outright disagreements among bright academics, and some difficult and conflicting messages among other panelists.  In the end, it was not clear if there was any consensus on what business would entail in 2015, other than significantly different than today.

However, some takeaways of mention for our readers are statements that:

  • Brand loyalty will be put to the ultimate test in the coming period.
  • No industry is safe anymore.
  • The search for real innovation is coming-up with a different, market changing business model (examples being Apple and Google)
  • A statement by Dr, Michio Kaku that a clear speed bump coming our way are the issues of privacy concerns,  While certain panelists did not agree, we at Supply Chain Matters have often raised this issue in previous conference commentaries.  This is an area that cannot be assumed as trivial or generational, which some tend to do.

One other highlight from today was a session held with George Matthew, GM of SAP’s Business Intelligence initiatives.  This area has grown to be a $600 million product suite for SAP and George noted in our session that products are being received well by SAP customers.  He attributed this surge to renewed interest and investment by companies post economic downturn, and the current explosion of mobile devices being amassed in corporate environments today. He also elaborated on SAP’s observation that customers are seeking a combination of offline and online data analysis tools,

Regarding our specific question as to what business process applications are leading the interest curve, George noted front office sales and marketing as primary, but also observed that operational scenarios are of current interest among customers and prospects. Examples cited was a rather large teaching hospital that has constant concerns for resource loading, and a major railroad needing to balance day-to-day resource needs.

What should be of interest to supply chain management teams was that  George declared the coming year as one more focused on operational business intelligence enablement.  With that stated, we would quickly add that SAP BI still comprises a lot of simultaneous working parts, including the forthcoming HANA applications, which will be exposed to more transactional data.  Another statement was that SAP is not going to jeopardize or blow-up the multitudes of SAP Business Warehouse (BW) applications that current exist in the SAP universe.

Supply Chain Matters will provide additional commentaries over the course of this week, so stay tuned.

Bob Ferrari