SAPTechEd: Irony and Contradictions

The annual SAPTechEd, being held in Berlin this week, is hosting over, 4500 attendees, record attendance, which is especially noteworthy given the global economic crisis. In our opinion, this is proof that difficult times create intense interest in business process improvement and efficiency. Of course, this creates a Catch-22 situation, when investment is most needed when free flowing cash is least available—hence, the recent news surrounding SAP finances, and the retreat of some key executives from the event.

Based on SAP Co-CEO Léo Apotheker’s comments, the irony of the situation is not lost on the company. While the company is instigating cost cutting measures such as a hiring freeze, the company appears to be committed to new product development. This is well and good, but a long term worldwide financial crisis might require SAP to revisit pricing structures, product offerings and market strategy.

Three themes define the conference: connection, collaboration, and co-innovation. Perhaps the most critical in this climate is co-innovation. Apotheker announced SAP® EcoHub, a community-powered solution marketplace, where makers SAP-compatible applications can readily match up with customers. Many of these solutions enhance the utility of SAP solutions. Another key announcement was made with Cisco, a launching of an application that will help organizations enforce data privacy across the business network. Both announcements acknowledge that SAP is reliant on value chain partners, especially in times of economic woe. Regardless of conditions, the need for this kind of partner collaboration will only continue, as boundaries between corporations will start to blur; SAP is certainly starting to eat the dog food by focusing on co-innovation at this conference.

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