Not Your Grandfather’s SAPPHIRE

May 17, 2011 by Heather McIlvaine

The opening keynote put the show back in trade show (photo: Voelkel)

Putting the show back in trade show: Gabriel Byrne opened the first keynote (photo: Voelkel)

The first keynote speech at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando started off with a bang. From the sound to the stage design to the lighting and video effects – SAP put the show back in trade show.

From the moment the first person stepped onto the stage and began to speak, the audience was held captive. The slow, emphatic voice belonged to Gabriel Byrne, the Irish actor best known for his role in the 1995 film, The Usual Suspects.

Risk-takers: Columbus, Einstein, Businesses

Byrne delivered the keynote introduction like a dramatic monologue. Businesses that take risks on new technologies became Christopher Columbus, navigating a new world with an incomplete map. If Albert Einstein were alive today, Byrne joked, he would have developed a new equation: e=mc(imc)² where “m” stands for mobility, “c” for cloud computing, and “imc” for in-memory computing. The introduction continued to revolve around these three topics.

Byrne asked the audience to imagine how mobility, cloud, and in-memory computing could create a world where doctors would be able to input patients’ medical histories in databases to search for treatments in real-time. Imagine a world where people could compare and choose a mortgage in minutes not weeks, and where people have digital records of their possessions in case their house is damaged by fire or other disaster.

Mobility, cloud, and in-memory computing will have dramatic effects on the lives of individuals, but it will also determine how business is conducted in 2015 and beyond.

On the following pages, we give you the most important highlights from SAPPHIRE NOW:

1. Calm Before the Storm
2. Smartphones more advanced than NASA
3. Markets will determine the future of business
4. SAP HANA Road map
5. ASUG turns 20
6. SAP.info live on the scene

Next page: Smartphones are more advanced than NASA was in 1969

Between Byrne's dramatic delivery and the cool stage effects, the audience didn't know where to look. (photo: Voelkel)

Between Byrne's dramatic delivery and the cool stage effects, the audience didn't know where to look (photo: Voelkel)

Smartphones are more advanced than NASA was in 1969

Byrne then turned the stage over to a panel of experts for further discussion of transformations in the business world. Michio Kaku, physicist and co-founder of the string field theory, Michael Schrage, research fellow at MIT, Isabel Aguilera, one of Fortune’s Top 50 Most Influential People, and Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation shared their views on innovations in technology and business.

Michio Kaku spoke about the enormous leaps in technology made in the past 50 years. Any smartphone, he said, is more technologically advanced than NASA was when they put a man on the moon in 1969. A fitting reference for today: about an hour earlier, at 8:56 EST, the shuttle Endeavor successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Center not far from the Orlando convention center.

These sorts of advances in innovation are explained by Moore’s Law, which says computing power doubles every 18 months. This will hold true for the next 10 years, before Moore’s Law begins to slow, explained Kaku.

In the meantime, the basic foundations of the law will change the world we live in, said Peter Diamandis. The price of solar energy is dropping 30 percent per year. As hard as it is to imagine, he said, there will be a time when we produce more energy than we consume.

Next page: Markets – not technologies – will determine the future

Panel of experts

A panel of experts discussed what the business world might look like in 2015 (photo: Voelkel)

Markets – not technologies – will determine the future

Michael Schrage took a different view of things. Schrage didn’t doubt some of the seemingly incredible technologies that Kaku described. After all, Schrage’s research is in the field of artificial intelligence. But he believes that markets and market mechanisms will play a much more decisive role in how business will look in 2015 and beyond.

To an extent, Isabel Aguilera agreed. The big innovations will not be the technologies themselves, but rather how we create business from those technologies, Aguilera stated.

If anything, the panel discussion demonstrated that while we might have some good ideas of what the business world could look like in 2015 and beyond, the future, in reality, is far from decided.

Next page: Road map SAP HANA

Deep in discussion in the midst of the conference: SAP Co-CEOs (photo: Voelkel)

Deep in discussion in the midst of the conference: SAP executives (photo: Voelkel)

SAP HANA up close and personal: People around the table posed questions (photo: Voelkel)

SAP HANA up close and personal: People around the table posed questions (photo: Voelkel)

Road map SAP HANA

Later on day one, in a business analytics microforum, Uddhav Gupta, senior solution manager for SAP Data Warehousing, led a 45-minute discussion on the road map for SAP HANA. Around 30 people crowded around a small table to pose questions, leaning in closely to hear Gupta’s answers above the constant hum of conversation from neighboring booths.

Gupta first briefly explained the development process and technical function of SAP HANA. The idea behind SAP HANA is both the compression of stored data and real-time analysis of that data in-memory. However, judging by the detailed questions later asked by many people in the group, most participants were already well-versed in the basics of this technology.

In response to one attendee who asked about the guiding principles of the road map, Gupta gave an overview of the most current planned release dates, some of which have changed even since SAP HANA road maps distributed in March 2011. At the moment, the SAP HANA 1.0 service pack 1 revision 4 is in ramp-up. This version is scheduled to end ramp-up in mid-June followed by a SAP HANA service pack 2 planned for release towards the end of June. The next release is SAP HANA 1.0 service pack 3 and is planned for release in Q4 2011. This version will allow users to run an application on top of SAP HANA for the first time. SAP HANA 2.0 is scheduled to appear in 2012 and with this version users can expect to run the entire Business Suite purely on SAP HANA.

Currently, five companies are equipped to deliver the SAP HANA appliance on their server hardware. They are HP, IBM, Dell, Fujitsu, and Cisco.

Next page: ASUG: 20 years old and still a fan of Disney

Strong showing on the first day: Business Analytics area (photo: Voelkel)

Strong showing on the first day: Business Analytics area (photo: Voelkel)

The road map for SAP HANA discussion drew a crowd on day one (photo: Voelkel)

The road map for SAP HANA discussion drew a crowd on day one (photo: Voelkel)

ASUG-Eröffnung am Nachmittag durch Rick Scott, Gouverneur von Florida

The afternoon keynote from ASUG was opened by Florida governor, Rick Scott (photo: Voelkel)

ASUG: 20 years old and still a fan of Disney

The second keynote on Monday commenced at 4:30 in the afternoon. After a day surrounded by product demos and vendor booths, it was finally time to hear from the customer as represented by the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG). Governor Rick Scott of Florida opened the keynote with special welcome to convention-goers. Governor Scott thanked the attendees for their help in stimulating Florida’s economy and informed the audience of his goal to make Florida the most business-friendly state in the US.

After the introduction, Michael Stoko, vice chairman of ASUG’s board of directors and CTO of DuPont, turned the topic of conversation back to ASUG. He introduced the four founding members – Rick Lloyd, Greg Horne, Shelley Hart, and Reid Andrews. In 1991, these four people saw the need for a sort of “support group” to advise each other and share knowledge about the implementation and use of SAP R/3. Now, twenty years later, ASUG is a 100,000-member strong organization.

Vorstellung der ASUG-Gründer: Rick Lloyd, Greg Horne, Shelley Harte, Reid Andrews

ASUG founders: Rick Lloyd, Greg Horne, Shelley Hart, Reid Andrews

Of course, even on the occasion of its 20-year anniversary, ASUG does not just dwell in the past. Anthony Bosco, chairman of ASUG’s board of directors and CIO at Day & Zimmerman, and Bridgette Chambers, CEO of ASUG, discussed the goals ASUG has set to guide the user group in the next years.

Anthony Bosco counts the ASUG volunteers, communication through advisory councils, content creation such as ASUG news, and community leadership as the core areas of focus since 2010. In addition, ASUG’s influence on the development process and implementation of SAP software is an essential function of the user group.

Bridgette Chambers emphasized three areas of focus for ASUG: innovation, operational excellence, and infinite return-on-investment. Chambers couldn’t help but compare the need for creativity and innovation to the magical Disney World resort in Orlando. You can’t think small, she said. You have to think big and dream big.

Next page: SAP.info HD video

Dream big like Disney, said ASUG CEO Bridgette Chambers (photo: Voelkel)

Dream big like Disney, said ASUG CEO Bridgette Chambers (photo: Voelkel)

Video: SAP.info live on the scene

Take a look at our impressions of SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando. We put together a few short video clips to give you a recap of day one.

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