2013 Conference – selling very well!

Get in quick to get your tickets. If your supplier or SAP partner is exhibiting or an affiliate member contact them to see if they have a discount code arranged before booking.

Apart from the excellent conference sessions (especially looking forward to Jim Snabe and Mandy Hickson), the Gala Dinner and Evening will be the best we have ever run to celebrate 25 years of success and growth as a User Group.

NOTE: The main conference hotel – the Birmingham Crowne Plaza has sold out already – still spaces in other affiliate hotels.

conf 2013

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The new User Group blog

As you may know my tenure as chairman of the UK & Ireland User Group recently ended with the ‘baton’ now in the capable hands of Philip Adams.  While I will remain heavily involved with the User Group and will continue to blog here on the Sapusers blog (when time allows!), I heartily recommend you check out the new User Group blog.

The new blog will be the place to find all the latest User Group news and updates about the 2013 User Conference, which promises to be our best yet!

Fighting Fraud with SAP

SAP recently announced its new Fraud Management tool, an analytics application designed to help users improve fraud scenario analysis and adapt to changing fraud patterns. By using this to execute complex analytics on big data sets, using in-memory computing and other advanced processing techniques, the tool is designed to help SAP users better prevent fraud .

Currently in “controlled” (limited) release, the final version is expected to come in three initial flavours of Fraud Management: an insurance claims fraud offering, another designed for use in the public sector and a cross-industry application (for use in, for instance, the purchasing function). It’s certainly true that fraud is a pervasive risk in businesses:  according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the typical organisation is at risk of losing up to five per cent of its revenues to fraud. If that figure sounds surprising, it’s even more so to hear that that this translated to a total global fraud loss of more than $3.5 trillion in 2011. While not all of this fraud may be addressable, it’s clear that the cost of fraud can add up for businesses in many sectors.

Here at the User Group we await to hear more about the product ahead of its final release later in the year.  If you are an SAP user wanting to find out about the latest product updates network with your peers, please check out our current calendar of webinars and SIGS taking place throughout 2013.

Going Mobile

At Mobile World Congress last month in Barcelona, SAP made a number of announcements concerning mobility.  Here is a roundup of some of the notable ones:

SAP announced the launch of its new Mobile Documents app, an enterprise-level app which gives users a single point of access to files and file-sharing capability from any mobile device. When combined with SAP Afaria for mobile device management, it promises to provide businesses with a complete system for securing mobile devices, apps and content.

In addition, SAP also announced a new partnership with Ericsson, which aims to jointly market and sell their cloud-based, Machine to Machine (M2M) solutions and services to enterprises through operators. The aim is to help enhance enterprise efficiency in business processes such as maintenance, remote service, inventory, logistics and road transport management, vending and customer experience management. Clare McCarthy at Ovum noted that, “The solution already has endorsements from Telenor and 3UK, so it is clearly fulfilling a market need.”

SAP even went as far integrating its take on Near Field Communications (NFC) technology into a vending machine to show how users can purchase soft drinks with NFC-compliant devices. Indeed it seems like we have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes what we can do with mobile applications!

Mobility will again be a big topic at this year’s User Group Conference, so make sure you sign up to take advantage of the current early bird offers.

No need to be disappointed that Sapphire Now is cancelled

We recently heard the news that Sapphire Now 2013 is being cancelled in Europe. It’s a shame that SAP has decided not to host its annual event, as many users have found it a good forum to hear the latest from SAP senior management. However SAP did instead announce a ‘renewed focus on dedicated customer-centric events’ for its 2013 strategy, alongside plans to expand its SAP Forum events in order to compensate for the loss of Sapphire. Hopefully we’ll hear more about these soon.  However, the good news for UK&I User Group members is that we have SAP’s co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe confirmed as a keynote speaker at our User Conference in Birmingham this November.  

It looks like this is going to be the biggest year yet for the conference as we move to the ICC for the first time. We’ll be providing users in the UK and Ireland with the opportunity to hear from SAP’s experts and its partners on the latest innovations, with over 70 breakout sessions on a wide range of topics. At the same time, users will have the chance to network with peers and speak to them regarding how they are using SAP technology. Remember there are some cracking early bird deals at the moment, only available if you book early, saving up to £300 per person.

For more information about the SAP User Group conference, click here.

It’s cold out there

Happy New year everyone!

As I sit here preparing for falling temperatures and the associated winter weather across the UK and Ireland, I’m reflecting on how this weather reflects our current challenges. It is definitely frosty out there – some massive economic challenges that show little sign of thawing at the moment. It’s going to be a year of further value chasing and value creation for everyone, irrespective of the nature of your organisations.

SAP last week have announced that Business Suite is available on HANA opening up some areas that are worthy of chasing. SAP have been offering Databases for some time, but in my view, never before one that has the potential to change the landscape so markedly. It changes the structure of your solution by offering embedded analytics, throwing into question things like how you use BI functionality and the future of batch jobs – now it is feasible to process the full end to end as it happens – repeatedly. Then there is the question of your database – it’s not the one that you have been using for years, but it is so much quicker and also so much smaller. This brings you to the question of your hardware – which will now different and working in a different way. Oh, and you could also do this in the cloud if you wished. So literally SAP solutions are all change with this announcement, and as a consequence your forward landscape could be all change as well. More importantly your business could be all change as well. Doings things you simply couldn’t before. Don’t underestimate the impact that this could have. Investigate it. And understand.

But change like this needs time and effort, which as we all know is focused on the business at hand, so the real question is likely to be who is brave enough and bold enough to see what these winds of change can bring to the party? My answer to that is people who are close to SAP’s vision of the future. Working with the User Group gives you that advantage – don’t waste it.

I also have a message to SAP – life is very frosty at the moment – you only have to read the press at the moment, and businesses need space to reinvent themselves. With the pricing formula that has been suggested for HANA it goes some of the way to helping – so thank you for listening to the combined User Groups of SUGEN, and those involved in the charters. But it doesn’t stop there – we have talked about some other of the licencing challenges – SAP’s estate is so complicated, with the devil in the detail which leads so often to ill-informed commercial decisions standing in the way of value creation. And value creation is what everyone needs at the moment to allow all of us to break the cycle of contraction, and use that value creation to create a growth cycle. So to contraction. Many of our user group member organisations know only too well about this at the moment, and it has a negative impact on their value creation capabilities when the millstone of unused licences and associated maintenance costs hangs heavy around them. This positioning is driving organisations in a direction that will not help to promote growth, other than in areas that will ultimately remove the possibility of growth through taking advantage of things like Business Suite on HANA off the agenda. SAP, think very carefully about this conundrum, just as many of our User Group member organisations are.

2013 is a significant year for everyone – I believe it is a year that will mark a turning point for many of us, if the levers are correctly activated by all the value partners in our delivery chains. It also marks 25 years as an organisation for us – and I don’t believe we have ever been so well positioned to add and champion value for all our members but…….it is down to our membership how well we all exploit this. Taking part in UG events is critical to both the User Groups well-being and also you and your organisations well-being. Make sure you take advantage of the outstanding value that membership brings. What we do and how we represent the membership is driven by you, and with that in mind we will shortly be sending out our annual survey. This makes it possible for us to reflect what you want and want you need, and also allows us to validate what other sources are saying about the SAP ecosphere. Please don’t consign it to the junk bin, and spend a few minutes answering it for the good of all the membership.

A couple of final thoughts – firstly we always welcome volunteers to help your organisation. If you can help run SIGs, if you can add value at SIGs by sharing, if you can offer venues, if you would like to share something by talking at our conference in November then please either contact the User group office or make yourself known at a SIG. I’ve been volunteering for 10 years and it gives me a real buzz to help others – the first time I stuck my head above the parapet was very challenging, but I’ve never looked back since and I never ever thought I would get an opportunity to Chair an organisation like this. Just do it! Philip Adams our new Chair to be in 2013 – has done just the same.

Secondly our conference – in our 25th Anniversary year I want this to be our best ever conference and all the board, employees and current SIG chairs have their hearts set on doing that. It’s at a wonderful new venue for us at the ICC in Birmingham, and it will be great! So think about this as an opportunity to share in that celebration, an opportunity to share something important to you and others, an opportunity to learn from others, and as so many seem to be doing, an opportunity to reward your teams for their efforts across the year, whilst enhancing their value to you. And book it now, whilst it’s a lower price. You can always change the names later if you need to. Grab the opportunity!

So 2013 is all about you and how you can all work together to secure value. Chase the value. Share. Take part.

My final conference as Chairman

This last three days is my last as Chairman of the User Group for the Annual Conference – for me personally a sad and also a happy occasion……..which sounds strange. Sad because I will weirdly miss the tension and adrenalin as you get announced on stage, but happy because it marks the beginning of some change at the User Group. I’ve been in this role for nearly 6 years and had the privilege of working with some great people, and now it is time for a change – a new Chairman in Philip Adams who is based in Ireland demonstrating that whilst we are named UK & Ireland that Ireland is not a second fiddle in this organisation. In my time I’ve been lucky enough to have witnessed the User Group growing in size and influence, along with the staff growing and developing. There is one area that I haven’t seen though which I feel bad about – the fact that we haven’t (as yet) got any women as directors on the UG board; IT and it’s associated industries are still too far dominated by men, we need to change that.

So to the conference – we had a great one! The largest number of attendees we have ever had. We introduced more workshops, and SAP also agreed to work with us on their Innovation session which was really well received.

Our team pictured above worked the stand and managed the 60+ sessions incredibly well. Volunteers and employees working together to deliver an event that has become the premier SAP related event in the UK & Ireland today.

As I’ve said the event was well attended and above you can see the crowds as they entered the auditorium for the keynotes, and demo-jams. Positive feedback this year on the messaging we gave of our members concerns on the cloud, licensing and migration issues around BI/BW and business objects.

A great audience for just past 9am on a Monday in Manchester. They were very responsive and got a lot out of both the session from Ray Wang (who was his normal energetic and informed self), and Dr John Knell (who gave everybody everything that they need to know in Business – an MBA in 80 minutes). For me, something that was very close to home was his comment about electronic devices being a godsend because they mean you can do something useful in meetings. Anyone else willing to own up about this?

So to the evening and our well renowned gala dinner – a well attended event with a fleet of luxury coaches carrying the nearly 700 attendees to the Point at Lancashire County Cricket Ground.

A suitably transformed UG Staff and volunteers were part of the attendees and enjoyed entertainment from Jemma Kyrsa, Tenors Incognito, Davis Arman, Fantastic Fireworks and the everloved and everlasting Bogus Brothers.  Formalities of the day turned to informalities as the team deservedly let their hair down.

A great event that appears to have been enjoyed by all – keep watching as we intend to post video and photographs shortly and I will let you know when they are available.