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

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10:25 For the sweet tooths out there (like me): 65 percent of all chocolate in this world is produced using SAP, Jim H.S. says. (SAP software makes chocolate?! Wow.) SAP systems process 2.5 billion utility bills per day. Guess what? My Diet Coke has also been "touched" by SAP systems!

10:27 In looking at Jim H.S.'s PowerPoint slides: Who are all those people in the stock-photography images: Average-looking models? Out of work actors? Friends of photographers?

I love the way Europeans rhetorically say, "no?" at the end of their statements, like it is impossible disagree with what they're saying. It works on me every time.

10:32 Ian Kimbell, from SAP's office of CEO, assists Jim H.S. with the new features demo. (What does that title specifically mean? Does Ian sit in the CEO's office, on a comfortable leather couch, just waiting for the next assignment?) Ian's a very happy guy. He alludes to Twitter functionality inside the new application. (SAP is quite Web 2.0, no?)

10:34 My Webcast connection just crashed! Attempting to reconnect....

10:35 I'm back. Ian's still going strong with the demo. He's talking and moving his part of the presentation along at a brisk pace: Can anyone really keep pace with the demo, as the demo screen shots keep flying by? Maybe it's better if you're in the audience.

10:38 "So, ladies and gentlemen, what have we seen here?" Ian asks. I'm not quite sure because my head is spinning.

10:42 Jim H.S. talks about SAP's "enhancement packages." (Wait a minute, isn't that Viagra's ad campaign?) The big message here is this: With B.S. 7, you can get all these "enhancements" to software without the pain of an upgrade and with reductions in TCO for customers. This all feels like an admonition of just how expensive and demanding SAP installs have been in the past and present, no?

10:45 This is all you need to know now: "Turn crisis into opportunity." "It's all about differentiation in tough times." "Crisis often gives you a lot of opportunity." (In case you're not getting the theme.) Back to the demo. Ian is now showing how the SAP system can unite mapping and demographics data that can help retailers make decisions on opening new stores and getting customers into those stores via targeted marketing programs.

Cool stuff. But I'm thinking that in this climate, many retailers will be using this software to best determine which stores to close.

10:51 Jim H.S.'s wife (who's not technically inclined) had asked him how he could sum up the B.S. 7 in a few words. "The Business Suite is a library of processes. It's built on a consistent and modern IT architecture..." (and she probably stopped listening right about there).

10:53 Three of SAP's Fortune 500 customers, those who have experience on the "front lines," will now talk about their SAP usages. They are: Ed Toben, SVP of GIT & Business Services for Colgate-Palmolive; Jennifer Allerton, CIO of Roche (pharmaceuticals); and Jeanette Horan, VP of enterprise business transformation at IBM.

10:56 Watch the beginning of a theme here. Allerton says regarding upgrades: "The upgrades, themselves, tend to be not adding value to the business." Ladies and gentlemen, enterprise software in 2009!

11:00 One hour and counting. Do CIOs get anything from participating in these chummy vendor panels? A fruit basket? Gift certificate to Best Buy? Discount on SAP maintenance fees?

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