Retail @ ASUG 2011, the Other Side of SAPPHIRE NOW

What a week it was as Orlando played host to the SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference!  From the dramatic keynote kickoff by the talented Irish actor/producer Gabriel Byrne on the first day through the talk show motif of Tuesday’s keynotes by the SAP co-CEOs, and the voices of the customer coming through Vishal Sikka’s Wednesday keynote and Hasso Plattner’s Q&A session (check here for online replay and access).  Retail and consumer goods companies received distinct mentions and emphases during these keynotes indicative of the centrality of the consumer in many industries and as a major catalyst of current and future innovations.  The #SAPPHIRENOW hashtag made Twitter light up over those three days!

In the midst of all these highly anticipated and experiential center-stage events there were impactful and timely hot topic sessions held at the Retail pod in the Industries Village on the SAPPHIRE NOW floor and more than a dozen retail educational sessions delivered over the three-day Retail ASUG2011 track.   Marking ASUG’s 20th anniversary, the retail track included customers such as Lowes, Target, Nike, Loblaw, Brookshire Grocery Company (BGC), Charming Shoppes, Tawa Supermarkets, and from partners such as Mantis Technology Group, Zensar Technologies, Capgemini,  as well as the highly anticipated (and attended) ASUG session updating the Retail Solution and Road Map.  Other retail-relevant ASUG sessions could also be found around integration of apparel and footwear solution and retail as presented by Fossil and Luxottica in this session.

Certainly the ubiquitous themes of mobility, the ‘real’ real-time of business with SAP HANA represented not only industry direction but also the actual solutions available now to help leading companies build or extend their advantage in the marketplace.   The ASUG educational track attracted record crowds by presenting their audience with customer experiences in many ‘smaller’ yet impactful and relevant innovations: reducing TCO and speeding up ROI (Target, BGC), building a platform to support future growth (Tawa, Zensar),  gaining efficiency and streamlining IT infrastructure/support (Loblaw), improving the planning process and outcomes (Charming Shoppes, BGC), getting closer to the customer (Lowe’s, BGC, Mantis), and sharing insights from implementations (Nike, Tawa, BGC, Target).  The sense of retail community came together during the town hall meeting with a good exchange by retailers big and small on their experiences, needs, and expectations of each other and of SAP.  All in all a terrific experience, time well spent in revisiting existing relationships and establishing new ones.  Definitely looking forward to next year’s SAPPHIRENOW and an even better retail ASUG track. We would love to have you participate, if you’re interested in sharing your experience with the retail community at ASUG, drop me a line or reach out to Denise Missonak at

In previous posts, I urged you to embrace the sea of change in retail and consumer industries and a return to a focus on growth.  With the numerous proof points at SAPPHIRENOW and shared specific customer experiences in ASUG2011, I’ll leave you with one more thought from Paula Rosenblum, RSR managing director, in a comment she made in her latest blog covering SAPPHIRE NOW and titled “Retail Rocks,” she noted how competition is driving innovations in retail and the available technology and business solutions, she emphasized that “retailers desperately need those innovations to keep up with their better-ever-informed consumers.”  Yes, the consumer is at the heart of the global economy and is pushing for greater levels of innovations (big and small) across all industries.  What types of innovations are you applying to your business to wow your customers and improve your top and bottom line?