SAP TechEd 2017 – for Nerdy Techs only or also for Bridget Jones’ Diary fans?
Having worked with SAPs products and solutions for close to 20 years, out of which for 12 years at the Swedish branch of the German mothership, it was finally time for me to attend the event of events – SAP TechEd. A yearly event hosted by SAP where you can learn about the latest and greatest by attending over hundreds of lectures, strategy talks, innovation forums, networking sessions and an exhibition where you can meet experts and ask questions.
An urge to learn
So – lately (sort of the last 15 years) I have felt a bit “outdated” in terms of my SAP-knowledge. And as a consequence, an urge to learn what is hot and new and be able to guide and share with customers, employees and peers in the business. And to be able to at least look like I understand what SAP REAL Experts are saying. But as you might recognize; there is always something in the way worth an excuse not to take the chance to develop. Too much work, too much family, too little time, not a good timing given the assignment at hand, perhaps not what I need the most right now, too tough for the family (for me…) as I travel regularly since 5,5 years every week. You know the drill. But this ‘urge’ I am talking about – it has grown stronger and stronger. And finally I decided that TechEd surely must be the place to catch up on the last 15 years and it must surely be the perfect occasion for me! Having encountered some raised eye-brows lately and some “Are UUUU going to TechEd” I was still fully confident and convinced. Until I started to browse the Session Calendar the night before. Then I actually started to question my choice of “get-updated-NOW” event.
I felt like reading the wrong version of Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Reading the Session Catalogue – I felt like reading the wrong version of Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Or how about some examples of session titles: “Road Map for SAP Mobile Platform SDK and SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS”, “SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server: Overview and Use Cases”, “SAP BW/4HANA: Roadmap, Simple Ways to Enable your Fiori Apps for UI Adaption”, “Machine Learning in Enterprise Applications” etc etc. So – naturally I started to (of course only silently) panic and immediately reverting back to old excuses “I do this session planning later. Really have promised a delivery to my dear customer of some v e r y important stuff when the flight lands”. And just to make sure I would be really wasted from sleep deprivation the first day; I also carried on working a couple of hours after midnight after coming to the hotel. At least it was easier than trying to find anything I felt I understood what it meant on the agenda.
With a background as Production Planning Application Consultant, where my career in this field started 1998 with 5 weeks of PP-academy at Heathrow in SAP R/3 3.0F (!), during the first ten years I worked my way through the traditional “modules” (those were the times when a module was more than a handful…) of SAP PP, SD, MM/IM, PM, Logistics as well as Archiving & Deletion – having different roles. And the latter 10 years with focus on more hi-fly topics related to all kinds of Project Management, Delivery Manager, Sales related stuff, Business Transformation and Change. And the last years being part of leading a Global Program for one of the major Manufacturing Industries in Sweden as well as being a Manager at Stretch. In other words, I have worked more in Excel and Power Point the last 10 years than in the system. However, I still enjoy also grasping the details of the solution – at least to some extent…
The first morning, I woke up from an SMS from my colleague Malin Anjou saying that, unfortunately, the taxi had to leave in 30 minutes as the Key Note would start 30 min earlier than we had planned for.
Also, the traffic would probably require another 30 minutes. So – sleep deprived and without breakfast and still no clue what Leonardo (Da Vinci???), IoT, UX, UI5 or other Cloudy S/4 HANA-session I would choose – I tumbled down to the taxi.
I decided to fake it until you make it
I decided to “fake it until you make it”, get a grip in front of my colleagues from Stretch Stockholm, Stretch Gothenburg, former SAP-colleagues, partner friends and not to mention the least – representatives from my customer since 5,5 years. And actually Stretch Group MD and SAP area responsible in Stretch Stockholm, Malin Anjou, she had fearlessly selected sessions with a high degree of energy and inspiration – without revealing any signs of doubt, so I thought: what the HEC(k) – get a grip and make the most of it”!
After this initial “get-a-f-ing-grip-of-yourself” notion – I started out with the Key Note.
Maybe they were just setting the scene for the next 3 days when they were vividly in Star Trek outfits coding their way on-stage
The setting of the Executive Keynote (by SAP CTO for SAP Cloud Platform), was “Star Trek”. 1,5 hours later I had already started to doubt that my “get-a-grip” attitude would really work. This very high-pitched opening session left me heavily disappointed. For me it was just a set of fancy technical stuff shown by 5 VERY EXCITED Captain Kirks on stage in a large room of “Not sure so many of them have seen any of the Bridget Jones’ movies”. Or maybe they were just setting the scene for the next 3 days when they were vividly in Star Trek outfits coding their way on-stage, online, live with thousands of eager-to-learn-the-latest in a large hall? Speaking of the latest and the future – I was a bit surprised when I noted that the world around me woke up hollering and clapping along when it was announced that it will now be possible to do ABAP Coding in the Cloud Platform (maybe they have seen the Bridget Jones movies after all???).
So; for 3 days I have been swimming around in a totally different (data) lake than usual…
The key words from this year’s TechEd are:
- Digital Transformation
- SAP Leonardo – innovation enabler consisting of Block Chain, Data Intelligence, Analytics, Machine Learning, Internet of Things
- S/4 HANA
- Cloud for X and Cloud for Y
- Big Data and Analytics and data lakes
- SAP Data Hub to collect different sources of structured and unstructured data
- How to migrate from customer’s on premise to S/4 HANA cloud
- SAP Co-Pilot as a fancy version of Siri
- Design Thinking as a methodology and Design as a key element to bridge IT and business
- User Experience.
OM – patience and concentration and focus are good things to have in these type of events! Malin and me concluded that we are clearly not used to listen lately (last 10 years?) but obviously need to talk and wave arms to be able to keep focus and stay focused. Not even having a 9 and 11 year old has led to the patience factor that everybody talks about!?
14 Key skills required to be successful with a Digital Transformation
And what are the take-aways?
- One reflection is that SAP has many techy super knowledgeable people that clearly have passed the “Why”-stage and where the “What” and “How” answers are much more in focus. Whereas customers and partners in roles similar to me need to first get passed the “Why” Q&A that in reality requires a lot of positioning and iteration. Also the “red-thread” is in many cases missing together with the ability to take the audience along such thread.
- The pace at which innovation happens right now is high – and there is an enormous challenge for companies to keep up. Investment in the right skills is crucial. University of Munchen has made a study showing which skills are necessary in order to succeed with the Digital Transformation in a company – there are 14 skills listed – and the top skills are:
- Digital Security
- Mobile Technologies
- Business Change Management
- Big Data Analytics
- Cloud Computing
- Internet of Things
- As a consulting company, or internally, it will be crucial to both be able to guide and orchestrate the customer through critical Business/IT decisions – and to be able to define, design and implement the visions in a way that makes IT support business the way it is supposed to be – rather than IT being the target in itself. It is a wood of tools and interfaces and features that sounds very easy but can turn into a nightmare in reality.
Being able to master a hybrid landscape with different types of clouds and on-premise solutions and the underlying data sources – with parallel and constantly ongoing innovations and implementations is what it is all about. Here also security and data protection are important parts. The time when we can do one thing at a time and slowly roll this out is history.
Barcelona SAP TechEd 2017 – for Nerdy Techs only or also for those having read Bridget Jones’ Diary?
My conclusion is that it is of course for both types and for the spectrum of personalities and skills in between. We just carry different take-aways with us, hear different things and learn on different levels. I am convinced that the REAL experts that my colleagues are, who has been in and out of Nirvana during these days meeting even greater experts in hands-on sessions – they have totally different take-aways. And they are the REAL heroes that I totally envy their patience, their skills, their ability to listen and grasp and do and go home and take it to the next level.
How are we otherwise going to understand each other and speak a similar language?
But also the rest of us needs this knowledge and insight – in order to manage and guide ourselves and our customer through the innovation journey we have already embarked upon. How are we otherwise going to understand each other, speak a similar language (and now I don’t mean ABAP!) and be able to both explain WHY, HOW and WHAT in the huge Change and Transformation journey this is?
Over and out, as Captain Kirk said…
/Chris concluding SAP TechEd, Barcelona 2017