by Thomas Wailgum

SAP Sapphire 2010: Observations, News and Tweets

May 20, 2010
Business IntelligenceCloud ComputingEnterprise Applications

Here are the tastiest bits of news, views and goings-on from SAP's big show in Orlando.

SAP’s annual Sapphire conference is over, and here’s a round-up of some of the important news, announcements and high-tech happenings that came out of the show.

Focus Pocus

Unlike at recent SAP gatherings, executives were “on message” at Sapphire 2010 with the new strategy: Customers can choose from “on premise, on demand, on device” deployment options. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

Cinderella Arrives!

Business ByDesign, SAP’s on-demand suite of ERP apps that’s been under wraps for years, was the belle of the ball. (BBD certainly had plenty of time to get itself ready for the debut.)

Sybase Shuffle

There was a mixed bag of reactions from attendees regarding the Sybase acquisition. From SAP people: Rah-Rah! From those who don’t take home a pay check from SAP: Wait and see.


Invariably, all conversations with good CIOs at events like these come back to conversations not about technology.

SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott
SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott

Media Training Posterboy

SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott (at right) is polished like an expensive Italian loafer. (That’s a compliment.)

Ins and Outs of In-Memory

In-memory database technology…feel the excitement? Conceptually, yes. Will customers? We shall see.

Take That, Oracle

One VP of IT (a big SAP shop) I was talking with said: “Best of breed is dead.”

Good Grooming

This was a coming out party for SAP CTO Vishal Sikka.

Mobility Ain’t New, Folks

Seems like we’ve been talking about enterprise mobility for decades…and yet it’s SAP’s new fountain of innovation.

“About Your Latest Dynamics AX Release…”

The relations between SAP and Microsoft (and their on-again, off-again strategic partnerships) make the dysfunction of the Lindsay Lohan family look like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Fond Memories

Chances of getting an SAPer to reminisce about Shai Agassi’s time at SAP: 74.3%

Chances of getting an SAPer to reminisce about Leo Apotheker’s time at SAP: .01% Combat Chatter

SAP is a demanding application suite—even for top IT shops. Talk to any CIO who’s gone through an implementation, and there are some awfully juicy war stories there. Most in attendance, however, appear generally satisfied with their apps. (I mean, they probably wouldn’t come if they weren’t.)

Keynote Overload

We have a new record for Sapphire! 3,177 keynotes during the three-day period. (I’m kidding, but, seriously, when every presentation is labeled a “Keynote,” it kinda loses its meaning.)

Taking a Cue from Internet Inventor Gore

From the Department of Great Moments in Rewriting of High-Tech History, this: @rwang0 Tweet: “Jim Hagemann Snabe, SAP invented the 3-tier client server architecture? POV: might have been others too here.” #SAPPHIRENOW #SAP

SAP on an iPad

iPads were everywhere—in the meeting rooms and on the show floor. I played around with an SAP BusinessObjects app on one during a meeting. I’ll just say this: If there’s more of that on the way, then SAP will be able to rid the “too complex and not intuitive” perception that has dogged its apps for decades. No instructions were necessary.

Yes, But Can the Wii Close Last Quarter’s Books?

@chriskanaracus Tweet: “Business ByDesign interface is more colorful than before, but still won’t be mistaken for a Wii game or anything.”

Homeland Security

I felt really safe at Sapphire because the security guard at the media checkpoint was roughly 97 years old and was sitting on a Rascal.

Top That

Top “keynote” of the event: By far, Colin Powell. (Coming in second: The non-alarm fire alarm and strobe lights that went off for an hour or so on Monday afternoon. “Keep moving folks. Nothing to see here.”)

SAP Sail Boat

Boat Belt-Tightening?

This is SAP’s “boat” located on the trade show floor. Gee, I know times were tough last year, but SAP’s “Sailfish” pales in comparison to Larry Ellison’s yachts.

Sleeper Demo

During a briefing with SAP’s Marge Breya (EVP and GM of the BI platform group at BusinessObjects), she demo’ed SAP’s Streamwork product (which tackles collaboration and workflow) as well as a skunkworks app that was very cool. Ease-of-use Web-based collaboration wrapped around the SAP aura of stability and seriousness is what will sell stuff like this to Fortune 500 CIOs.

Isn’t It Ironic

“Innovation without Disruption” is an SAP marketing slogan aimed at soothing customers disinterested in thorny and expensive upgrades. That’s ironic, since last fall SAP has had to do both to itself: Disrupt itself, blow everything up and chuck the “old SAP” out the window—that’s what several SAP execs told me. Now comes an even harder part: Innovate like crazy and wow customers and the market.

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