SAPPHIRE Press Conference – Day 1

I’ve had a pretty crazy schedule the last couple of days and as it happens this is the first time I’ve been connected to a network, which coincidentally is also a press conference with Leo Apotheker, Henning Kagermann, Shai Agassi, Bill McDermott, and Bill Wohl.

The press conference starts out with a preview of a new advertisement we’re running, which is good because I was really getting tired of hearing that “32% more profitable” commercial droning on endlessly the last couple of months. This new ad is really good if you are into such things, I’m going to try to get a copy that I can stick up on YouTube.

Bill Wohl does the intros and introduces some of the other board members, and then gives some background on why the annual ASUG event has been combined with SAPPHIRE (which isn’t that it’s been subsumed but rather scheduled to run into SAPPHIRE). Sweet, Bill also made a point of referencing the blogger crew that is here!

Kagermann is up now. Says the Americas is not only the growth engine of SAP but also represents the highest customer satisfaction globally. I can see that given that the Americas operating unit has hired some really solid people under McDermott’s leadership, which has translated into sales momentum and that success has energized the entire organization.

There’s a slide up that covers SAP promises that have been delivered on, I find that last bullet to be very interesting, which is 300+ customers in the ESA Adoption program. That ESA platform is what the entire NetWeaver investment will be realized in so it’s good that there is some customer adoption ramping up for a product that is fundamentally rearchitected and not just a new version of our old stuff.

It would appear from Kagermann’s remarks, along with his keynote address this AM, that enterprise services architecture (ESA) is a major theme for us right now. I don’t disagree with this but I would appreciate a little Web 2.0 thrown in there… however, from where I’m sitting (figuratively) there is ideological tension between what SAP is doing with ESA and what Web 2.0 is shaping up to be. What SAP is selling is security and comfort for IT and C-level execs by giving them a platform that gives them a lot of control over their business processes, however in the Web 2.0 world it’s all about decentralization and loosening of control. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Shai Agassi is up now and immediately starts talking about how processes are being redesigned around what we are being asked to do for our customers. Compliance and consolidation are the core, optimization and managing networks around that, and measuring performance is the outer ring.

Next up is an overview of ERP simplification, which is basically a UI rewrite (also called SAPGUI, which is the UI client inside the browser). The new UI is pretty nice, I wish we had done it a few years ago. This is an important topic because the user experience options for SAP customers are increasing, from portal software to dedicated clients, feeds (RSS), integration with other applications (not just Microsoft with Duet but also a lot of work with Adobe).

Shai also mentioned the NetWeaver Fund, a $125m fund that he will be leading. I’ll post more on this later.

Leo Apotheker is up. Critical success factors, the effectiveness of people, processes that respond in a timely fashion, and lastly an infrastructure that leads to sustained cost reduction. Great way of looking at it.

Historically, companies implementing SAP have consolidated their IT strategy, stabilized it through implementation of existing process control, and lastly they transformed processes as a result of having SAP. Our current generation ERP is available in 28 industry versions and provides an unparalleled level of process control for companies adopting it.

More talk about ESA and MySAP ERP being a stepping stone to ESA.

Bill McDermott is up and simply says he’s going to talk about customers. We hear from our customers that we have to be more innovative because IT is a strategic weapon for them to be innovative in their respective industries. The execution gap is a result of great strategy not being able to be implemented because of technology reality. 85% of current IT budgets are consumed in maintaining existing stuff.

Duet is something that is getting customers excited. CRM OnDemand is also something that enables customers to sidestep IT reality and get a 360 degree view of the customer today. These are 2 topics that I am interested in getting more details on as the conference proceeds.

Q&A:
Bruce Richardson: is SAP funding the entire netweaver fund, will it be early stage, and what’s the average investment look like
Shai: SAP funded the entire fund, but we’re looking for syndicate partners on a deal-by-deal basis. 7 year return horizon… handoff to Werner.
Werner: investment size is below $5m

There were other Q&A, but none of the answers were particularly revealing so I’m not going to blog about them.

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