SAP London Forum – first report

(This has all been somewhat overtaken by the news of the Ariba  acquisition, but never mind, still interesting I hope!)

I was at the SAP Forum yesterday at Old Billingsate Market in London, now an impressive conference venue.

It's a funny world in competitive terms. The SAP Forum was sponsored by HP and IBM. But aren't IBM competitors to SAP, getting even more so in the procurement world with the acquisition of Emptoris and the development of the Smarter Business concept? Anyway... here's our first report, based on my real-time note-taking during the first two sessions!

The Forum was launched with Natasha Kaplinsky, news reader and Strictly Come Dancing star, interviewing Robert Enslin, SAP's top global sales honcho.

“It's very exciting”! They say, as they bounce on stage. We'll be the judge of that, Natasha.”It's a really exciting time to be at SAP,” Enslin tells us. I'm trying to work out his accent. South African I think? But there's a touch of something else...

The new wave is mobile, the cloud – the latest revolution, after client server, Internet, etc. Bit of a monologue there from Enslin, let Natasha get a word in..

More mobile phones than toothbrushes in the world... so much information flowing around. Big data – the ability to understand that the key data and information for your organisation doesn't all reside within your organisation. (That's quite a deep point). HANA – new SAP innovation, in memory technology, process huge amounts of data.

Kaplinsky doing a good job of sounding like she's fascinated by big data and business connectivity... Enslin says there will be fewer point to point based transactions, more communication through the connected “intelligent business web”. Doesn't explain that very clearly.

The key to the future seems to be a combination of mobile with the huge processing power of HANA. Everyone wants to be things faster, people cannot wait for information, no time for reading manuals, personalisation, simplicity and speed are key.

There were 5000 people working on cloud apps in SAP, but accelerated by acquiring SuccessFactors – connect with 15.5 million users. One of very biggest cloud providers. Cloud getting more relevant for HR, sourcing, finance...

Burberry – spoke at Sapphire last week - great example of using data to understand consumer behaviour and buying patterns, link that with supply chain management to ensure availability.

Its very exciting. Again.

Firms have to become serial innovators to stay ahead of the pack – speed, simplicity, personalisation again. “Innovation without disruption” is the phrase SAP use. Sounds good. That's all from Kaplinsky and Enslin.

Now IBM guy, Todd Kirtley. Tells us he's from the US. I'd never have guessed. Lived in same hotel as Enslin in Japan in 2005.That's nice. General Manager of IBM/SAP Alliance. Largest corporate link in technology. Fit well with each other – 40 years. Both focus on business value, share similar beliefs about the future – that technology can change things. SAP call it “Run Better” - IBM call it “Smarter Planet”. (Cue video...)

Working on healthcare, traffic management – stuff that solves big problems. Water and electricity management for the island of Malta. Severn Trent Water now used as an example. Worked with IBM, SAP for a single integrated system for ERP, HR management, maintenance etc. Hard benefits – lower costs, better service.

IBM do a lot of executive surveys – 16 in last 5 years. CEO, CFO etc. Only one for the CSCO (supply chain officer) in 2008/09. We can look at the results on line. Today is the launch of the CEO 2012 survey. Will tell us more later. (This presentation has some good stuff but isn't flowing particularly logically).

Businesses are under increasing pressures – economic, regulatory and technology. Explosion in the amount of data available. 90% of the world's data was created in the last 2 years. 80% is unstructured (e.g. video).

Now the punchlines from the CEO survey. Huge economic risks. CEOs have no clue which way global economy is going. Technology now tops the list of the external forces impacting organisation.. 71% see this as top of list – that is a pretty amazing number. Social computing is big priority – CEOs see opportunities. Individuals get their cues and opinions from other individuals, via social media.

Is he pushing the closeness between SAP and IBM just a little too much? Just starts to sound like they feel they need to go on about it...I believe you!

A pretty good start to the event anyway, that's enough for now – we'll have more from the event over the next few days.

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