It’s been a couple of years since I last attended SAP’s huge SAPPHIRE NOW conference, but this week I’m here with my 20,000 closest friends at the Orlando Convention Center (plus another 80,000 watching online) to get caught up. The conference kicked off with a keynote from Bill McDermott, SAP’s co-CEO, and it’s all about HANA and cloud: everything from SAP now runs on HANA, and combined with their cloud platforms realize the dream of realtime, predictive supply chains. HANA is also at the heart of how SAP is addressing social enterprise functionality, allowing a company to analyze a flood of consumer social data to find what’s relevant.
They highlighted some of their sports-related customers’ applications — which definitely allowed for some good lead-in video — with executives from Under Armour, the San Francisco 49’ers and the NBA. In part, sports applications are about helping teams play better and manage their talent through play/player data analysis (think Moneyball), but are also about customer engagement online and in the stadium. The most traditional usage of SAP on the panel is with Under Armour, which manufactures sportswear and sports-related biometrics devices, but their incredible growth means that they needed enterprise systems that they won’t outgrow. An interesting new industry vertical focus for SAP.
The keynote finished with Bob Calderoni, CEO of Ariba (recently acquired by SAP) talking about how cloud — in the form of private business networks, of course — drives productivity. Good focus, since too often the current technology buzzwords (social, mobile, cloud) are discussed purely as the end, not the means, and we can lose sight of how these can make us more productive and efficient, as well as fully buzzword-enabled.
As usual, wifi in the keynote area is impossible, and since I’m tablet-only, I couldn’t even plug into the hard-wired internet that they provided for we guests of Global Communications – I’m not the only one in this section with a tablet rather than a laptop, so imagine that they’ll have to do something in the future to allow the media to consume and publish during the keynote. T-Mobile’s iPhone coverage is resolutely stuck at EDGE in this area, so I can’t even reliably set up a hotspot, although that would just contribute to the wifi problems. The WordPress Android app works fine offline, however, so I was able to take notes and publish later.