TechEd: New Ideas for SAP HANA

Clay Shirky held the opening keynote at TechEd 2012 in Las Vegas. Photo: SAP AG

SAP TechEd in Las Vegas is the first and largest of four events targeted at SAP’s ecosystem in 2012, others being held in the coming weeks in Madrid, Bangalore, and Shanghai. The event kicked off with a guest keynote by author Clay Shirky, who talked about the social and economic impact of the Internet.

What do SAP HANA, spreadsheets, and accountants have in common?

Shirky drew an intriguing parallel between the introduction of the spreadsheet and SAP HANA, the company’s platform for real-time business, which plays a key role in this year’s event. Once accountants discovered that they could get spreadsheet results more than once per day by using PCs, the spreadsheet became a speculative tool for modeling potential futures. It allowed companies to move from accounting to monitoring to planning. “SAP is doing this with HANA,” said Shirky, “taking the idea of an increase in speed and doing simple process improvement, providing an organization with ways not just to keep better track as it goes along but also to think what various possible futures there are.”

“This scenario can be extended to all business innovation,” he emphasized.

Keeping the SCN community alive 

“It’s an exciting time for SAP,” said Chip Rodgers, responsible for the TechEd programs globally as well as for operations of the SAP Community Network (SCN). According to Rodgers, TechEd can be viewed as the “physical representation of the SCN community.” “It is like a family reunion […] TechEd enables the members of SAP’s ecosystem, who are engaging regularly online, to meet and connect  in a much more meaningful way in person – it is therefore an important part of keeping a community going and vibrant.”

Next page: Watch SAP TechEd online – see up to 60 sessions live

Photo: SAP AG

Those who attend in person have to pay, but anyone can join online and see up to 60 sessions live or as a replay. Over 300,000 views were registered in 2011, a record-breaking number. “As people get used to consuming content this way, we expect the numbers to keep going up,” said Rodgers. Physical attendees have the advantage of more content (over 1,500 hours) and direct contact with SAP product experts at the live sessions. They also are able to network and exchange best practices on the implementation and maintenance of their SAP applications.

SAP InnoJam: Ironman for geeks

InnoJam, the ultimate two-day product development marathon, is where enthusiastic technologists come together and build applications to specific requirements. The topic for this year’s TechEd was “Build Applications for a Healthier World.”  Over 40 participants – customers, partners, employees, and independent consultants – participated in seven teams. This year, design thinking methodology was applied, and many of SAP’s latest products, including SAP HANA, were tried and tested.

TechEd organizers are also following and filming four participants at the event to see what they are up to. Ryan Rader from SAP customer Babcock and Wilcox was the first to be filmed. You can watch the video here. Up next are two SAP employees: Lori Vanourek from Technology and Innovation Platform, and SAP Mentor Jon Astill.

With a new look and more players on the team, the SAP mentors brought over 80 enthusiastic evangelists for SAP technology to Las Vegas. “We are dissolving the boundaries between SAP customers and partners, and opening up the door for more access and input about our products,” said Mark Finnern, who coordinates the mentors.

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