SAP's Most Recent "Big News" Teleconference, Translated for Mere Mortals

The highly personalized e-mail appeared in my inbox on Tuesday: "SAP's Co-CEO Leo Apotheker formally invites you to attend—via Webcast—a Press Conference on Wednesday, February 4th, at 10 a.m. (EST)."

It continued: "SAP considers this announcement to be one of the most significant it will make this year, and we believe you will find the event extremely valuable." What could this possibly be? A splashy acquisition? A new ERP version? A Microsoft merger? A settlement in the Oracle-TomorrowNow lawsuit?

All I knew was that Leo, Jim Hagemann Snabe (a member of SAP's executive board with the Business Solutions & Technology group) and "prominent executives" from major Fortune 500 companies would be speaking. (Goosebumps.)

I don't typically cover these types of vendor announcements, but Leo had me at "formally invites you." How could I say no? And it also got me thinking: Just how interesting or boring are these events, especially when viewed via a Webcast? Is there value for SAP customers, IT managers as well as media types to attend and listen in? And would they be serving any food?

So I decided to keep a running diary, just like one noted sportswriter does for big-time events like the Super Bowl. Here we go:

9:55 a.m. EST: Got my Diet Coke and dry-roasted peanuts. Sugar and salt—you can't beat it. Plus, Coke is a huge SAP customer, so I figured I'd get the SAP karma going.

9:57 "Ladies and gentlemen, if you could please make your way to your seats, our program will begin momentarily," says an ominous voice over the Webcast. Uh, I'm seated.

9:58 The conference call music is pretty good: Kind of a driving, techno beat that makes you want to swing your shoulders. I'm rocking out. I wonder if Leo is too?

9:59 A photo of some really happy people in a conference room with the title "SAP Business Suite 7" appears on my Windows Media Player. Ah-ha! SAP PR's Saswato Das welcomes everyone—especially those of us on the Webcast—to SAP's NYC offices. And please silence your cellphones, everyone!

10:02 We are treated to a short film about a couple of SAP customers who couldn't be in attendance today but presumably are really psyched about Business Suite 7 software: alcoholic beverage-maker Diageo and bed-maker Hastens. (No commentary is shared on the obvious synergy between those two customers.)

The movie's message is eerily similar to the one I wrote about in previous blog posts: "SAP Tells Employees: 'Do Not Order Any New IT Equipment at This Time'" and "Surprise, Surprise: SAP Promotes Enterprise Software Investment." And here comes SAP's hard sell again: "Economic turbulences are often good times for companies to think about how they can invest to gain market share ... The key is to invest in IT solutions that help identify efficiencies and make use of them."

I thought the key was to cut operational costs like it was the end of the world?

10:04 The Diageo CEO (Paul Walsh) says: "For me, SAP is kind of the glue around all our reporting systems, our operating methodologies...." Now that SAP is pushing this notion of "flexible" systems, glue isn't the first word that comes to mind.

10:06 The Hastens CEO (Jan Ryde) just leapt (backwards) onto a bed and is now doing the SAP "interview" while lying down on a pillow. That was weird. He adds: "I get to sleep much more better with SAP."

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