Sapphire 2017

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Last week I had the pleasure of representing the UK and Ireland SAP User Group at the ASUG Annual Conference and SAP SapphireNow. It is only weeks until I ‘celebrate’ 18 years since my first SAP implementation back in the heady days of SAP R/3 3.1i, but this was my first Sapphire!

My conference kicked off with an inspirational start at the ‘Call to Lead Summit – The Future of Leadership and the Power of Diversity Across Every Generation’. The speakers called upon powerful reflections of their family and career backgrounds to show how they had managed to reach their leadership roles and how the power of authenticity and diversity at work were driving the success of their organisations. Oh and there was some fascinating insights on leadership from Former First Lady Michelle Obama and President George W Bush but I can’t risk saying anything about that!

Personal highlights of the main event

The scale, it is enormous with more than 20,000 participants, SAP exhibits, the ASUG hub and a plethora of partners anyone with a Fitbit must have hit their daily step target. The visual centrepiece of the exhibition hall was the SAP Leonardo Experience, a hint of what was to come in the Keynotes.

The keynotes, Bill McDermott started by revisiting his theme from last year – empathy and listening to the customer he related this to the SAP proposals on ‘indirect licensing’ published that day by Hala Zeine (SAP Corporate Development Officer). (As a User Group we are pleased that SAP is finally taking action and we are working with SUGEN to influence the next steps on this journey for our members and SAP.) Bill finished by discussing trust - “Trust is the ultimate human currency” and the opportunities ahead to run better and improve people’s lives

Hasso Plattner used humour and self-deprecation to discuss machine learning, usability, intelligence and collaboration. One of the main points of his presentation being the enhancement of SAP Leonardo – not another product but a suite of tools for building intelligent applications.

Watch out for, amongst the hundreds of potential sessions you can attend I made time to look at a few things that caught my eye from mentions in the main keynotes.

  • SAP Leonardo driving digital transformation with scale at which Tanja Rueckert from SAP discussed the similarities of Yoda, ‘The Force’ and Leonardo, where SAP is connecting the People, Business Processes and Things. A Leonardo session had probably my favourite statement of the event ‘…this is your moment to be epic…’ a reference to the scale of opportunities that SAP see for this suite of tools?
  • SAP CoPilot your Digital Personal Assistant, here SAP demonstrated what it is learning from consumer intelligent software with conversational UIs like Siri and alexa. By introducing its own ‘digital assistant and bot integration hub for the intelligent enterprise’. The Demo Video shows how voice recognition and intelligence come together in CoPilot and will change your journey to work for ever, hopefully its better at understanding me than my SatNav is!.
  • SAP Transformation Navigator which Hasso Platnner had mentioned under the guise of “Give me guidance, not options” a great source of services, value, roadmaps etc. specific to your solution, a self-service tool for the S/4 HANA journey.
  • SAP Solution Manager 7.2 and the Pathfinder service, Solution Manager continues to develop its footprint and the latest additional service here – Pathfinder sees the opportunity to get a custom set of recommendations for Fiori, enhancement pack functionality and business scenarios.

Collaboration and networking, its always great at events like this to be able to catch up with people, and discuss the latest innovations and exchange SAP anecdotes. There were a contingent of SUGEN members, colleagues old and new, plus myself and Craig Dale (UKISUG CEO) took the opportunity to speak to the Keynote speakers who will be at this year’s UKISUG Connect. Of course, the evenings also present the opportunity to relax and get together, including SAP and the User Group hosting a reception for the UK and Ireland visitors to the conference.

Many of the Keynotes and presentations are now available online if you want to learn more from SAPPHIRENOW. I hope that I will not wait another 18 years before taking in my next SAPPHIRE / ASUG Conference!


Paul Cooper


UK & Ireland SAP User Group

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