The SAP Mining & Metals Forum 2012, held in Mannheim, Germany, kicked off at the city’s Rosengarten conference center on September 11 amid a time of rapid expansion and change for the normally staid industries, which are facing the combined pressures of rapid globalization, squeezed commodity pricing, and fierce merger and acquisition activity.
For many participants, the SAP Mining and Metals Forum provided an opportunity gain fresh insight on new industry-specific technologies, meet with IT experts, and engage with industry peers who may be facing similar challenges regarding IT strategy at their companies.
Eckhard Siess, vice president IBU Mill Products and Mining at SAP, emphasized the importance of this meeting for the industries’ IT professionals: “The value of this event is bringing the people together. In the past we have brought together the Executive Advisory Committee and we clearly saw the need to bring people together on a broader level, so we are bringing together players from all over the regions who are new to SAP and of course players who have used SAP for many years. The learning they can take out of this from talking to each other is the biggest value of this event.”
Managing finite resources
As the event’s 350 participants listened to the morning’s keynotes, one theme clearly dominated the two-day event: seeking new innovations to manage finite resources amid change.
Chakib Bouhdary, SAP’s executive vice president for corporate strategy and industry solutions, framed the issue of effective resource management in his engaging keynote address, wherein he highlighted the topics of current interest to business leaders in the mining and metals industries: matching supply with demand, commodity price volatility, compliance and sustainability, globalization, and issues of an aging workforce and the lack of skilled labor.
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In his keynote, Bouhdary presented an insightful analysis of global trends, including population developments in key regions, and how these trends will affect the IT strategies of companies in these industries.
An opportunity to reach customer
Participants at the event included SAP customers and partners, as well as those eager to learn more about SAP industry-specific solutions for mining and metals. Following the keynote addresses, they had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions that focused on topics affecting the industries, such as supply chain management, mobility, and managing IT in remote work regions.
Topics that were of particular interest to participants included tackling the dual pressures of mergers and acquisitions activity upstream in parallel with the increasing compression of margins downstream. Another topic that drew significant interest was talent management for the mining and metals industries, which require highly skilled workers who often must operate in remote regions.
“We do see a lot of pressure on the mining and metals industries, especially on the metals side,” said Siess, citing a global over-capacity in the industry and pricing pressure as customer pain points. The open atmosphere of the event contributed to a constructive environment that encouraged dialog between SAP and its customers. “It is always good to talk about process improvements and how to do things better to optimize business processes,” explained Siess.
In between breakout sessions, participants took advantage of the opportunity to meet with a number of specialized SAP partners who were on hand to present their industry-specific solutions in the exhibition area and to watch demos of the latest SAP innovations. The evening of the first day concluded with a dinner reception at the Technoseum in Mannheim.