Hello Madrid – Part 2

Readers of my previous blog will be pleased to know that yesterday finished with Andrew, Asad, Stephen, and myself managing to find a quality Tapas emporium that was willing to serve a group of Englishmen who knew approximately 5 words of Spanish between us.

Today started brightly with a 7am breakfast to ensure that we would be at the conference venue in plenty of time to get a decent seat for the keynotes. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that despite the challenges being experienced by the various economies represented, there were still approx. 16,000 attendees across Sapphire and TechEd. Hopefully this has in some small way helped the Spanish economy, although I am sure any positive effect will be cancelled out by the general strike which has been called for Wednesday.

The keynotes got off to a slightly sombre note with the announcement that co-CEO Bill McD would be presenting via video rather than in person as he had suffered a family tragedy that prevented him from traveling. It was a measure of the man that he managed to deliver a pretty seamless Q&A style keynote live from Utah at what must have been 2 or 3am local time on a particularly difficult occasion. During his keynote we heard from the CEO of Portugal Telecom who gave us an insight into his companies transition to offering cloud based SAP services. All good stuff but not exactly the innovation agenda that I was hoping for from SAP.

Next we got to some cool facts from Bill, leading off on the influential effects of social media, apparently customers are 40% more likely to to buy from an organisation that they have a social connection to. We had an obligatory Big Data segue focussed on the work that Burberry are doing to combine data from social channels with EPOS and product planning data to improve customer experience and of course profitability.

Then some big news… the public launch of the SAP 360 Customer Experience, a solution that combines CRM, HANA, Sales on Demand and Jam, and  has the potential to deliver real innovation to a diverse range of organisations. Looked very impressive.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a subject that comes up on a regular basis but with SAP it is for real. Bill introduced a video about the work being done in South Africa by the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, truly moving and a real example of how software can improve peoples quality of life  not just balance sheets.

Next up (and appearing in person) was the other half of the co-CEO double act Jim Hagemann Snabe who I always find to be a compelling speaker with the perfect balance of enthusiasm, humour and seriousness and he didn’t let us down. His keynote drew parallels between the disruptions to the music industry caused by the advent of the mp3 encoding standard, the napster p2p service and iPod hardware and the opportunities that the latest SAP sofware can drive within the business world. He backed this up with solid examples from the fashion and healthcare industries and left us with the a classic quote “the stone age didn’t end because they ran out of stones!“.

After the keynotes I headed over to say “Hi” to our itelligence colleagues who were working on our booth and then filled the rest of the day with a mixture of TechEd sessions and catch ups with colleagues and friends before finally coming up for air to enjoy dinner with Andrew Fox, Christian Schmidt and an SAP BI Product Manager who will remain unnamed to protect his expense account :-).

Tomorrow see’s the arrival of a number of UK itelligence Customers, perfectly timed to coincide with a Madrid wide general strike which should be fun!

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