SAP Sapphire ponderings.

Over the years at SAP I’ve attended a number of Sapphires.  In the late nineties I worked on the conference demo floor- a couple times I’ve presented on HR related topics and I’ve also looked after key accounts at the event.   My first Sapphire was in Vienna in 1996.   The event was mainly in German, with translators.  

Last year Jeff and Mike kicked off the blogger programme at Sapphire with then novel approach of inviting bloggers to Sapphire, giving them access to executives and so on.  It worked well, and the experiment has now grown into a sustained and probably market leading blogger relations programme. 

The technorati tag sapphire06 is worth a revisit.  I’ll  kick off my rambling this year’s with the sapphire07 tag in the absence of an alternative naming convention.

I’m going to both Sapphires this year as a blogger.  I’m really looking forward to it.  Craig Cmehil from SDN provides an intro into what we will be up to.  I get to meet the folks I’ve only ever met on their blogs and in the Google group torrent. Sure, I’ll be interested in the press conference, the exec briefings,  and hearing about new products and business models, but the best thing about Sapphire is talking with customers, partners  and colleagues.   I hope that my blogger compadres don’t just focus on the SAP executive centre of gravity, but also get out talk with the folks implementing, building but most importantly using the software.  It is a customer conference not a financial analyst conference.  As a very very very small shareholder I’m marginally interested in revenue projections and so on, but Sapphire is really about the customer.   

 Super though the SAP Colgate story undoubtedly is (and I don’t mean the Wii), there are many other customers doing fabulous stuff with SAP software.  The conference theme is co-innovation, and that will be the focus of my blogging efforts.   I hope to go on the Coca-Cola visit, as they were one of the first manager self service implementations.  I’d like to meet Dave Pendry, whose excellent slides have been a staple of mine for years.  I’d like get an update on  ADP-SAP global view successes, listen to Rio Tinto,  catch up on Duet, ERP upgrades, Muse, GRC,  and partner solutions like Ruleburst, and old partner friends like Arinso, Axon and Epi-use.  

 If , dear readers, there is anything you would like me to cover, please drop me a note or leave a comment here. Or even better, if you are there, let’s meet up. I plan to post on both my Vendorprisey blog here and over on SDN-BPX.  I might even manage a podcast or two. Watch out Scoble.!-) Craig will no doubt have me twittering, and I reckon the SDN guys will do some funky social media stuff to extend the conversation to the web.

Sapphire, though, makes me pause and remember a very dear friend. In 1995  Stephen Lamy and Debra Stracuzzi were developers on the early versions of the SAP HR product.  I met them when I was in Walldorf for first time.  I was helping to test 3.0A release of R/3.  We had dinner together a number of times, mainly at the fabulous Phoenix Chinese restaurant in Wiesloch, near Walldorf.  The mix of Paulaner heferweisen and crispy spring rolls rocks.

It was Stephen’s  and Debra’s  passion for SAP and their vision for what SAP HR could become that convinced me to uproot and move me and my then freshly minted good lady to Germany.  Stephen remains one of my best friends, even though he is now back in the US (at SAP America).

At Sapphire ’98 in Madrid, Debra was presenting on the developments she was working on, when she collapsed on stage and died. 

Sapphire is tinged with sadness for me and many of us in the SAP HR world.  We miss Debra’s intellect, passion, determination, friendship, and her laugh.

I’ll be thinking of you and your family, Debra.

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5 thoughts on “SAP Sapphire ponderings.”

  1. It’s my first SAPPHIRE, and I’m looking forward to the networking opportunities.

    I’m expecting similar conversations to HR2007, where customers have the traditional HR processes covered and are asking where they can get added value. A lot of organizations are looking to organizations such as Rio Tinto and ERP Solutions (shameless self promoting) to figure out where to get started with Talent Management.

    It would also be nice if I could meet somebody from SDN and talk about Widgets. 🙂

    Thanks for the interesting blog.

    Cheers, Mark

  2. Hi Thom,
    I’m a bit behind on my reading – I’ve just had a two week break after working for about 15 months on the Rio Tinto SAP implementation project. Drop me a line (i’ve attached my work email to this post) and I can pass on some contact names regarding both application (which i wasn’t really involved in) and BASIS work that they’ve done / had done for them.

  3. For some reason I happened to google her name today and found this…blessed my day…I’ll make sure her family sees it. My best to you and Stephen and your families. Deb’s friend, Renee

  4. Hi Martin,

    Could I contact you directly ? I’m interested in SAP HR projects in your area and looking for a mentor to guide me.

    Best Regards,
    Mike Peace

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