SAPPHIRENOW 2014 – Impressions


Before leaving for the event , I had posted my wish list here https://andvijaysays.com/2014/06/02/an-ex-sap-dudes-wish-list-for-sapphirenow-2014/

It was like a family reunion for me – meeting hundreds of friends in 2 days and hanging out with the sap mentor gang. The event was well organized and I enjoyed the design of the break areas .

Now I am on my way back, and thought I will jot down my impressions after the event

1. Simplicity

Bill’s keynote was themed on simplicity . But 90 mins was a lot of time to explain simplicity . I seriously would urge SAP to consider 30 minute keynotes in future events . That will help sharpen the message a lot. Bill is probably the best speaker at SAP today – and it is an injustice to his talent and stature to lose audience attention because of the length of a keynote .

The length issue was even worse on day 2 – with most of the room empty by the time Bernd got into the meat of his presentation . I felt bad that he didn’t get a fair shot at delivering his message on his first keynote as head of development . And for an American audience , Bernd probably was a tad too formal – but I give him kudos for being his own person, and not trying to be Vishal 2.0 .

Despite the time running long – I did enjoy the customers explaining how their business problems got solved using technology . Maybe one day SAP might try a keynote driven by customers for customers

2. Are aggregates and hierarchies evil ?

Plattner/Christensen keynote spent a lot of time talking about the advantages of lowest level data granularity helping companies and aggregates and hierarchies hurting those companies . I tend to disagree a bit on some of that thinking .

No company including SAP can be run on line item level information . Aggregated information is the only way leaders can work day to day . What Is required on top is an exception alerting framework . If something is out of whack in accounts receivable – systems should smartly highlight the cause and not expect the user to drill down extensively searching for data . Otherwise – line item data is counter productive .

Same deal with hierarchies . Absence of hierarchies is chaos . Look at SAP itself – a well run company with 3 different levels of board , 4 levels of VPs and so on . Can some of it be cut ? You bet . Can it be eliminated ? No way . What might be closer to truth is that companies need to become more project oriented for innovation work – but anything that typically needs continuity and/or scale typically needs a defined structure – and that creates hierarchies.

So – in my view – hierarchies and aggregates are not fundamentally bad . What is bad is rigid IT and org systems that can’t deal with aggregates and hierarchies flexibly.

3. Impressive hana customer numbers

It was heartening to see hana momentum continuing . Steve Lucas and team are continuing to rock it . What is needed now seems to be a doubling down on adoption to close the gap between license sales and live implementations so that the business is long term sustainable .

4. PaaS gets much needed attention

I was thrilled to see how much the Hana cloud platform message was pushed this year at sapphirenow , especially by Steve Lucas . This was a topic very close to my heart when I worked there . I know many of my former colleagues are excited too . There are two things I would urge SAP to consider –

1. First , rename HCP to something else to avoid confusion with HEC. If I were king , I would call it Neo again . But I am sure there are other names that could work too

2. Invest in app deployment from marketplace . If customers can’t deploy apps from marketplace – it won’t get adoption . And this needs commitment to change how products are designed to begin with .

5. SAP should have put its key second line of leaders on spotlight

Rob Enslin , Steve Lucas , Michael Reh, Rodolpho etc are exceptionally talented leaders that customers should hear from – at least briefly . Given SAP is betting its business on Hana – at a minimum I expected Steve to get a small spot on keynote . I would urge SAP to consider something along those lines at Dcode if they can.

6. What about BI , mobility and big data ?

Many thanks to SAP for announcing the collaboration with MongoDB . I hope this is the beginning of a long term strategic partnership http://www.mongodb.com/blog/post/elegantly-visualize-big-data-mongodb-using-sap-lumira .

BI, big data and mobility barely got any keynote love . I understand the attention on Hana and cloud – but after a few years of Hana messaging, isn’t it time now to present a balanced portfolio again ?

SAP needs to leap frog it’s BI completion by some category defining move . The BI team under Michael Reh on engineering and Christian Rodatus under PSG are strong and talented . I am betting on them coming out with something that takes SAP back to the height of their glory days

I am sure I missed many topics – they are boarding the plane , so I need to run . Ciao !

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3 thoughts on “SAPPHIRENOW 2014 – Impressions

  1. Hi Vijay,
    I watched Hasso’s keynote two days later y’day because the replay was not made available sooner. On aggregates, Prof Christensen – I believe – suggested we calculate the aggregates on the fly(this gives more flexibility & freedom to think differently for different kind of customers. Timeline 1h:12m, he discusses Steel industry profitability). Don’t store aggregates. This is what Hasso also has been saying for years. I didn’t hear anything new(please feel free to correct me if you feel otherwise) in the keynote. And this is precisely the reason why I thought(still think) BW’s structures wouldn’t be useful in HANA environment.
    You point (6) on BI is interesting. Not sure how SAP could’ve discussed the importance of both BI & no aggregates/hierarchies in the same keynote!!
    Best regards,
    Bala

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  2. Hi Vijay,

    Thanks for your summary – although it makes me feel that I didn’t miss much by not going to Florida. Well, except waiting in line to catch up with you, of course 🙂

    I find your (2) about aggregates and hierarchies funny. While streaming the keynote, I had thoughts about that topic too, but from a completely different angle: I completely failed to see how “absence of aggregates” would be synonymous to “simplicity”. It may of course be one (important) aspect, but still just a tiny little piece in the SAP complexity puzzle. For my taste, Hasso made it sound a little too much like we’re simple now because we don’t have aggregates. Anyway, should probably write my own blog about it rather than rambling on yours 😉
    Thanks for offering the perspective that aggregates and hierarchies can serve a purpose beyond pure performance tricks.

    Glad you seem to be doing great!
    cheers
    –juergen

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