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Notes from SAPPHIRE 09

Yesterday at work was “catch-up day” from a week at SAPPHIRE 2009, the annual user conference for SAP. As with the JDA/Manugistics conference earlier this year, there were concerns that attendance was going to be low, because so many companies are limiting travel expense. At the conference, I did hear that attendance was only was 60% lower than last year.

Conferences like this are great opportunities for IT to do a ton of learning – about the specific technology, of course, but also about the state of mobile computing and collaboration, tools that we are apparently trying to get the rest of the business world to adopt. Experiential learning, real-world experience – always better to talk about something that you know works / doesn’t work in a practical setting. (No, I don’t suggest you replace Quicken with SAP at home, although that might be a growth area for BbD).

Twitter at a Conference

I wrote up my trip report / internal blog entry yesterday (Friday), but I was twittering a lot during some of the sessions, so it was an easy write up – I just cut-and-paste from my personal timeline. Using the Blackberry during the conference was a pretty good experience; I could take fairly detailed notes on what was being said – plus, I can throw out passing Tweets on the way. Near-real time knowledge sharing – very nice for folks in the Tweeterverse, watching the information go by.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit difficult to engage in a Tweet-versation with these client devices; the screen is too small, and you only see what you are typing. I did, however, latch on to the #sapphire09 hash tag to come up with a workable monitoring process. I found that presents a decent RSS feed, one that the Blackberry browser consumes quite nicely. I don’t know if this is a “native” RSS reader in the blackberry, but it worked amazingly well – I made a passing mention of one of the sessions I attended, and someone asked for more detail – so I ended up tweeting almost every slide.


The Tuesday morning address by Leo Apotheker started with some doom and gloom about the economy, but that was just a lead-in to SAP’s new branding message of promoting “clarity” for the enterprise; making pertinent business information easy to access, easy to see. Some of my tweets from the speech … I clearly (sic) have a different editorial style …

Apoetheker starting with the doom and gloom #sapphire09
7:38 AM May 12th

My inner cynic is subsiding - I actually like the appeal for
"clarity" #sapphire09
7:42 AM May 12th

Are "clear enterprises" like "glass houses"? (Sorry, cynic
is back) #sapphire09
7:44 AM May 12th

Is he about to say sap could have prevented the economic
collapse? #sapphire09
7:56 AM May 12th

Ah, just the story of how goldman sachs did ok because they
actively manage risk #sapphire09
7:57 AM May 12th

We need a simple example of how a manufacturer manages
risk #sapphire09
7:58 AM May 12th

SUGEN KPI Framework for enterprise support - nice focus
on transparency #sapphire09
7:59 AM May 12th

Props - a pretty effective live demo of a blackberry enabled
work process #sapphire09
8:03 AM May 12th

The carbon footprint app looks interesting - this is a recurring
theme for recent presentations for me #sapphire09
8:17 AM May 12th

I think its a harsh. retroactive self criticism when this "speedy
query" demo admits that a simple query would take 'weeks' #sapphire09
8:27 AM May 12th

SRO crowd at presentation for information "dashboards" - yet another
recurring topic, still unmet need #sapphire09
1:11 PM May 12th

Sap guy was apparently unable to say "eat our own dogfood", too
closely related to microsoft hhh #sapphire09
1:19 PM May 12th

The most interesting areas of Leo’s conversation had to do with the metrics being created by SUGEN (not), a collection of all the national user groups (like ASUG). SAP continues to get lots of pushback from the customer base about their increased support fees, and these metrics are going to allow us all to see how SAP is performing.


The Wednesday morning address by Hasso Plattner, one of the founders of SAP and a pretty interesting guy, started out like a technical lecture at engineering school about in-memory databases and columnar data. By the end, it had transitioned to a Business Objects demo and a tool “easy enough that a CEO can use it”.  Here are some tweets from that speech …

Hasso on speed [sic] - spotlighting the reams of data and
the need for decent access tools #sapphire09
7:44 AM May 13th

Hasso is very professorial - if it weren't for the subject matter,
methinks more would pass on the talk #sapphire09
7:53 AM May 13th

Ok, reading other #sapphire09  tweets now - is a shoe dropping right
now? Re sap and hardware ... #sapphire09
7:57 AM May 13th

Someone should register #sapphire09
7:59 AM May 13th

Maybe hasso's point is that clarity / speed yap from yesterday
is not smoke and mirrors - solid tech supporting this sales
stuff #sapphire09
8:16 AM May 13th

Insert only - like the old one-write accounting systems -
ledgers in pen. Make a mistake, back it out. Complete
auditability #sapphire09
8:19 AM May 13th

Is insert only / read only db stuff analogous to RISC chips?
Who needs elegance when you think Real Fast. #sapphire09
8:20 AM May 13th

Head-snapping shift from professor to jester #sapphire09
8:23 AM May 13th

Hasso rips on EIE processing (everything in excel) #sapphire09
8:24 AM May 13th

Oh, I think he just said he is talking about
t-rex #sapphire09
8:29 AM May 13th

Hasso is definitly tech at heart, rips into classic demo style
of demo on mini data set #sapphire09
8:30 AM May 13th

hasso's enthusiasm is honest, like the literate engineer given
a moment of exec management's attention #sapphire09
8:34 AM May 13th

Awesome animated pipeline #sapphire09
8:41 AM May 13th

Boy he started slow but has he hit stride in last
10 min #sapphire09
8:43 AM May 13th

Table scans not considered harmful #sapphire09
8:48 AM May 13th

This was pretty interesting technology – high-speed, insert only databases. Not sure what that means for the long term of our existing databases, data warehouses, and hardware. But hey, it’s only capital – right?

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