Vendorprisey has been a tad quiet of late. (Unlike Jeff, this is not a precursor to heading off to pastures new!)
I got a call to head down to South Africa and do a talk at a major public sector HR event. This meant that the blog took a back seat, as I had a great chance catch up with friends and family too. (I need to brush up on teched and all the other goings on in starship enterprisey, but that can wait)
I spoke to an audience of about 600 people on how technology can help deliver better HR services. I think the audience found the talk useful, and I wasn’t too salesy, no one left, and I got lots of questions. Check out the City of Cape Town project for an example of ERP stuff in the public sector.
One of the challenges when presenting SAP to a South African audience is that when you say SAP, people immediately think you mean The South African Police. I work for SAPthegermansoftwarecompany doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so well as it ought to, well neither does mySAPERP2005HCMpoweredbynetweaverandenterpriseSOA, I guess.
(UPDATE. I had lunch with an SAP South Africa sales guy today back here in Walldorf and he said the SAP name has its advantages. It is a great way of getting through the secretary barrier when trying to get meeting. See example here)
“This is Greg from SAP, could you put me through to your CFO, please?”
Secretary, “May I ask what it is in connection with?”
Greg: “Certainly, I’d like to discuss your compliance issues “
Secretary: “Hold on, Let me see if he is available..”
Secretary “I’ve got the police on the other line, they want to talk to you about compliance!!!!”
CFO “Sh*t, of course, put them through and hold all calls for the next 40 minutes!!!”
It is easy to assume that when you work for a big elephant that everyone knows who you are. I need to remember to keep that SAP arrogant thing firmly under control. We might be big in software, but that isn’t really the centre of the universe outside of our little enterprisey world.
The transformation in the SA public services is very impressive. The audience reflected the ethnic make up of the nation, and to have done this in 10 years is simply awesome. Two things that struck me immediately were.
1. How little “blaming” of the past took place. All the speakers where talking about the future, rather than the past.
2. The focus on making the South African government more effective and efficient. I sensed a real drive to be world-class, to do things right, and an openness to learn from both what the private sector does and what other public sector organisations elsewhere in the world do.
I was also invited to the evening event, simply, wow. I had forgotten how South Africans can really party. Most Germans only hit the dance floor when ninety-nine red balloons plays, and then only reluctantly. There was no chance of anyone remaining in their seats at the 10th Annual Public Service trainier’s gala banquet.
Go out and buy two CDs. one, for a mellow listen. Zamajobe. She was on while we ate, but you could see lots of foot tapping and shoulder moving going on. After speeches Mafikzolo really rocked the place, everyone was on the dancefloor. I had a fabulous time, despite my distinct lack of rhythm. I will be disturbing my neighbours with the sounds of Kwaito for sometime to come. (BTW Mafikizolo’s record company need to get the website sorted out, this band should be world famous!!!!)
I’d like to thank Irene Mpolweni, the organiser, for the opportunity to present and for the fabulous hospitality. Hopefully they will invite me back next year. Thanks also to Gail Walters from SAP South Africa.