The audience gave a warm reception to SAP co-CEO Léo Apotheker and Hervé Couturier, Executive Vice President of the Product Group for Business Objects and head of SAP NetWeaver development at SAP. Customers and partners were especially pleased to see Apotheker, the former CEO of SAP France, back on home territory and applauded him enthusiastically. Two representatives from Quebec also came to Tours, including Sylvie Gauthier from the French-speaking contingent of the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG).
SAP Enterprise Support on the agenda
The anticipated – and announced – controversy surrounding SAP Enterprise Support was barely perceptible, although a combative Léo Apotheker challenged the participants to discuss the topic. The prevailing attitude at the USF annual conference was one of wait-and-see, partly due to the fact that the detailed SAP Enterprise Support survey by the SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN), which represents all SAP user groups, has not yet been fully evaluated.
Nevertheless, discussions between the USF representatives and the head of the Business Objects user group made one thing clear: The fees for SAP Enterprise Support are – and will be – less of an issue than the services actually offered. In France, there are also calls for French-speaking support.
Business intelligence takes center stage
The central topic at this year’s USF annual conference was business intelligence (BI). The fusion of product offerings from SAP and Business Objects, an SAP company, was much talked about, and – happily for SAP and all those present – triggered no controversy. The users welcomed the clear decisions made by the SAP management and expect them to be followed up in the promised road map.
The BI work group presented a hot-off-the-press white paper on BI and the new joint product range from SAP and Business Objects. Its subtitle: “Possible ways to increase the value of business intelligence and applications for decision support.”
Two of the keynote speakers addressed the topic of decision making from an economic and philosophical perspective. Daniel Cohen, professor at the elite Parisian university École Normale Supérieure (ENS), examined economic decisions in the light of the current financial crisis. In his presentation, Bruno Jarosson, who teaches philosophy of science at SUPELEC, the “grande école” of engineering, investigated the irrational aspects of decision making.
In 70 afternoon sessions on two afternoons, the 900 participants concentrated on gathering specific experience from customer projects and exchanging pragmatic recommendations with colleagues.
Cooperation with the Business Objects user group
Olivier Le Moing, head of the French Business Objects user group, discussed cooperation between the two user groups and their possible merger. He and USF president Jean Leroux want to ensure that both groups get to know each other better. They plan to cooperate particularly in areas where members will benefit. In a few years and based on the experience acquired, the two user groups will decide whether or not to join forces.
Mutual support and measurable benefits characterize the cooperation between SAP and USF. Thanks to this cooperation SAP is now much more familiar with what French customers want and what makes France and the French markets different. For example, SAP solutions for financials and human resources are now aligned with standard practice in France and French legal requirements.
Le Club des Utilisateurs SAP Francophones (USF)
Headquartered in Paris, the French-speaking SAP user group USF represents more than 350 companies in the French-speaking world. The organization was founded in 1989 and has over 1,800 members. USF comprises 17 committees that address topics such as logistics, financials, and human resources, structured according to industry. The most important objectives of USF are to exchange knowledge and experience, promote a general understanding of specific SAP solutions, and ensure that information flows smoothly.