For a humble BusinessObjects follower used to attending conferences where 3,000 attendees was considered big, stepping into my first SAP Sapphire event was somewhat like the small town guy going to the city for the first time. With some 15,000 attendees, an exhibit and keynote area the size of half a dozen football fields and “no expense spared” technology on display everywhere, it was quite an experience. At times it felt like being at a baseball game with line ups for food, bathrooms and big projection screens showing live events in progress everywhere.
The incredible number of sessions , demos , exhibits and collaboration meetings means you can only participate in a fraction of what is available and you need to be quite discriminating – it’s a bit like going to Disneyworld and, in fact, I think by the second day a lot of people did wander off there!
The keynotes on the first day were impressive starting with an interview style session with Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Empire. He provided some excellent insights into the success of Virgin explaining how employees who are proud of the company they work for will more likely be passionate about their jobs. Branson also stressed the importance of reducing carbon emissions and talked about the new “carbon currency” and how they were working on new “clean” fuels projects producing fuels that will not harm the environment.
This aptly led into the second keynote from Al Gore who talked eloquently and intelligently about the importance of the sustainability initiative that is becoming an integral component of companies and institutions around the world. Gore emphasized the need to build consensus and the brand enhancement that many companies are gaining by going green and implementing sustainability initiatives. SAP has made a commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% over the coming years while still substantially growing the company.
SAP had set up a whole segment in the exhibit area dedicated to its Sustainability offerings. I sat in on one of the presentations and was impressed at how comprehensive and integrated it appeared to be.
With so much to see in the Exhibit area, I tended to gravitate at first to the booths that had the most traffic. Since everyone appeared to be raffling off an iPad (no shortage here!), there had to be something more appealing to draw people in. That was certainly the case at the Mellmo booth with their giant-sized iPhone and iPad displaying its Roambi solution with some amazingly visual Business Intelligence analytics. Since SAP has identified one of its three major initiatives for this year as being mobile integration and delivery, this was a hot topic at Sapphire and RoamBi was white hot.
The best presentations I attended were the customer case studies and there was a great one in the Small and Medium Enterprise track where 3 customers were interviewed about the business benefits realized after implementing SAP Business Intelligence solutions. One of the customers was an on-line supermarket chain and he explained how implementing BusinessObjects with a Data Mart allowed them to see that they were receiving a large number of complaints about their egg deliveries – mainly that some of the eggs were cracked or damaged. Their BusinessObjects solution allowed them to drill down on this data on a daily basis and analyze further what might be the potential causes. They subsequently discovered that there were a much larger number of complaints with eggs delivered in cardboard cartons compared to plastic cartons so they switched to plastic cartons only. In addition they implemented a simple new procedure for the packer to quickly visually check the eggs in the carton prior to packaging. The result of these two actions was a 75% reduction in complaints of egg deliveries.
I love these type of stories because it so clearly shows that Business Intelligence is a combination of analyzing data and human interpretation and action on the results.
All in all, it was a “cracking” first day at Sapphire!