Musings From the SAPPHIRE 2016 Show Floor: How Conversations Inspire Me to Create Better SAP Solutions

Does it sometimes seem as technologists we are searching for a proverbial needle in a technology haystack? Returning from SAPPHIRE 2016 on shaky legs and sore feet, I mentally took stock.

The SAPPHIRE show floor was packed with everything from tiny companies with focused point solutions to enterprises who promise to do everything for everyone.

I have attended many a SAPPHIRE throughout my 20+ years in the SAP ecosystem -- as  a participant, partner and exhibitor -- and I know how much of a marathon in terms of prep work the show is.

Still, I have to confess it’s also invigorating. Where else do you have hundreds of conversations with people from just about every industry, representing every region of the world, each bound by a single thread --  SAP.

While ‘working the floor', one of my favorite questions when meeting a walk-up is: “What brings you to SAPPHIRE?” I am forever amazed by the breadth of answers. Sure, there are the recurring themes. Some answers are fantastic use cases and innovative applications of technology that go beyond supporting the business to achieving business transformation and potentially changing a particular industry’s competitive landscape.

I also enjoy speaking with folks who are SAPPHIRE first-timers. One IT leader I talked with had a very interesting insight: He had been to many technology conferences and while initially SAPPHIRE looked much like the rest, what stood out was every vendor, attendee and speaker focuses on SAP. At the computer hardware vendor booths it was not just the latest architecture, but how their architecture supported HANA. At the consultancies, it was not just about IT capabilities, but about SAP capabilities. Even Oracle and Microsoft hone in on their SAP capabilities while at SAPPHIRE.

Leveraging HANA as an innovation engine

HANA was the focus of many of my conversations at SAPPHIRE this year. HANA is intriguing because of its ability to serve as an IoT stream processor, leveraging VORA as part of its Lambda architecture or, for example, as a predictive analytics platform integrating data types from weather, fuel prices, ocean currents and political instability to improve shipping. Thanks to innovations like HANA, technology has moved from being about the latest and greatest gizmo to being about business applications that simply weren't possible before.

Since HANA is so innovative, I was fielding questions that both gave me a glimpse into what people are doing -- and what their aspirations are -- with their SAP investments. These exchanges inspire me to think beyond my current boundaries and look for golden needles in the technology stack to help me stitch together innovative solutions for business needs, some of which may not yet exist, until technologists like me show leaders what the future may look like.

I look forward to being on the show floor at next year’s SAPPHIRE, showcasing new business solutions harnessing HANA and our Velocity Cloud Application Management Platform, among other offerings. As far as needles go, this one is quite adaptive.