Now with it all behind us, what is my take, what did I read between the lines, what not-so-humble summaries can be made?
Attitude to the world is first class. Self confidence is relaxed.
When discussing with the SAPpies sometimes you could hear, "let that be off record", no fuzz, no big rules, no preparation in what to do, say or not. And even board members (see the plural here) were straight shooters with no handlers being intrusive.
As in all companies, there was a distinct difference between "marketing"- and "engineering"-oriented folks, even as seen from the outside.
In one five minutes presentation I counted 14 "go to markets" between the "multichannel in each segment" and a mind blowing powerpoint point: "Identify a subset of account in each vertical will be proactively covered and controlled by us". Yep, definitely Dilbert that.
As in few companies, it seems that the "engineering" is still in the driver's seat.
After the (only one it was) distinctly marketing theory driven presentation I suggested that one should draw a parallel to the car industry - BMW and Porsche are engineer driven, GM is purely marketing DNA. Then you know the rest...
Yep, SAP seems to be an engineering and product (tangible) driven firm, while... you know who... seems to acquire and drive forward for more marketing oriented reasons.
Many products and initiatives over last few years now having been sorted out and focus now is to deliver and make it work.
Good or less, perfect or less, just get it done and do your best - a commendable attitude.
SME market is again in the crosshairs, three products has survived the effort internally that I suspect had more stuff in development that did not cut it.
Not an easy task, suddenly SAP will have to struggle with a large and diverse mass, perhaps that is the reason why "marketing" is a bit in the driver's seat in this area? Plan, target and push.
As can be expected, not what I would agree to as the best approach. At least for the S part of that market. Better would be to accept the power of the market, reread Cluetrain and throw it out there - the brand is well known, capability and quality not doubted, why not trust the new "smaller" products instead of making big plans for the exact numbers that will be delivered in x and y months? Design for flexibility and just do it I say.
At last "differentiation" (for the customers) has become important. Even Business Model Innovation was highlighted, that warmed my heart!
So I can stop bitching about "best practices" and how that often can result in copy of competitor's processes and thus no differentiation at all. But still the new attitude clashes a tad with A1S as that seems to be rather rigid for many good reasons.
When I see that dichotomy I cannot but conclude that A1S will be a stepping stone towards something more customisable - from SaaS to SaaCS would be a natural future step.
The theme of Sapphire was "Business At The Speed Of Change".
We bloggers might be too creative, or even quarrelsome, but that sentence was mangled and rearranged over and over again to much laughter without any of us really understanding what it means! Any suggestions out there?