Of all years, the one in which the Spanish user group is celebrating its 15th anniversary is proving to be tough. According to AUSAPE President José Juan Novas, the crisis has hit Spain hard. He urged AUSAPE members to become active and exchange ideas and best practices, stressing that this was especially important in the current climate.
And the 450 Forum GT 2009 visitors did just that. The event was originally set up as a meeting of work groups. Now in its fifth year, it has since become a regular fixture in the calendar of Spanish IT experts. The forum enables them to gain first-hand information about the SAP platform and partner solutions. IT experts can also discuss upcoming projects with colleagues.
Soaking up information, networking
The two-day event (May 21-22) was crammed with information. In addition to the keynotes, there were around 30 partner presentations. Different work groups gathered to learn more about topics such as SOA, BI, and HR management. After an agreement with the Professional Association of Purchasing, Contracting and Procurement in Spain (AERCE), a new work group was formed for purchasing experts. Data protection in Spain was also on everybody’s lips, especially with regard to what companies need to do to comply with the Spanish data protection law LOPD (Ley Orgánica de Protección de Datos de Carácter Personal).
SAP took the opportunity to introduce SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. This new BI software easily filters and analyzes selected business data from IT systems. An intelligent search and analysis tool, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer combs through billions of data records in less than a second. Its intuitive interface, which looks similar to Google Earth, is a further advantage for users.
Entry using facial recognition
State-of-the-art technology was used for participant registration. Access to the individual sessions was regulated by a biometric face recognition system. That way, the SAP partners could be sure that “spies” from the competition did not make it inside their conference rooms. This enabled them to present more detailed information instead of limiting themselves to pure marketing.
The business network CIOnet, which introduced itself at the forum, also attached importance to exclusivity. This invitation-only platform, which operates in Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Belgium, empowers CIOs to swap ideas and network at special events.
To maximize its influence on SAP, AUSAPE collaborates closely with the SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN), an international network of 12 user group communities. Miguel Fernández from AUSAPE und Oliver Hid Arida from SAP reported on the results of the joint SUGEN-SAP task force that established the SUGEN Value Key Performance Index (SUGEN KPI Index). This index is designed to gauge the added value of SAP Enterprise Support services. Spanish companies are among the organizations participating in the benchmarking program, in which key performance indicators are measured and analyzed among a representative selection of customers.
And another program from SUGEN and SAP was presented: In it, a road map for developing software in the areas of finances, HR, supply chain management, and public sector will be developed in collaboration with companies from different industries. The program is designed to ensure that SAP always takes its customers’ needs into consideration when developing software.
Reaching a broad user base
To have some say in the future development of SAP solutions, president Novas is looking for ways to advance AUSAPE. “Only organizations that have many or important members can influence SAP,” says Novas. He explained that, as a relatively small user group, AUSAPE unfortunately does not have the same weight behind it as ASUG (the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group) or the German-speaking SAP user group DSAG.
“On the one hand, we want to move toward international collaboration in networks such as SUGEN,” he explained. “But at the same time, we want to make the most of our contacts in Latin America.” He revealed plans to set up an umbrella organization comprising Spanish-speaking user groups along the lines of the DSAG. With such a broad base of users, he believes more could be achieved.
Furthermore, virtual media could help intensify communication between members. Novas said that for many members – particularly in more remote areas – this is the only way to join in and ensure that they don’t get left behind in the fast-paced world of IT.
AUSAPE (Asociación de Usuarios de SAP España)
The Spanish SAP user group was founded in 1994. It has around 380 corporate members, including many large Spanish companies and public sector organizations. AUSAPE holds three events every year: the annual general meeting of the board of directors, the Forum GT, and the Jornadas AUSAPE on current topics.
Twelve work groups meet regularly to discuss topics such as business intelligence (BI), service-oriented architecture (SOA), human resources (HR), and industry-specific themes. In addition, AUSAPE is very active in the international organization SUGEN (SAP User-Group Executive Network).