Readers know I prefer going to vendor analyst summits compared to user conferences. I feel like I am intruding on customer time and access to vendor execs at the latter. But in many ways, SapphireNow last week managed to bend laws of gravity and as a result I really enjoyed the conference. Here is a post-mortem:
Pre-briefings – A-
I offer vendors the opportunity to provide a sneak preview on the blog. In the past Oracle and Workday have availed of that. I offered SAP that opportunity but we could not make that post happen in time. In exchange, however, SAP had a series of pre-briefings under NDA. A full day in NYC, and several phone calls in prep for the Orlando event. Impressively, they actually listened and modified some of their presentations based on our feedback.
Customer Access - A
I was blown away by the number of customer meetings SAP set up either one on one, or in small groupings of analysts. The one negative is that filled up my agenda and I could not attend some customer sessions or meet folks on the show floor I would have liked
Vendor Executive Access – A+
Having time with vendor executives tends to be elusive for analysts and media at user conferences. Yet, I was with Hasso Plattner in the same room three different times for a total of 4 hours! That’s a new record for an event. Other executives were available for several sets of panels or small group meetings. And the SAP AR staff tried really hard to set up even last minute meetings we asked for. I hate to think how exhausted the poor executives were given the customer meetings and social activities they are also expected to grace at such events.
Hotel and conference logistics – B-
Even for a Floridian, Orlando this time of the year can be miserable so I really appreciated staying at the Hilton with a covered walkway to the Orange County Convention Center. I also appreciated being warned the wifi at the OCCC was poor and the keynote theater a bit cramped so I watched couple of the keynotes in my hotel room and took screen shots of slides. BTW Shame on the OCCC - SAP has been a loyal, highly visible patron for a decade now and to not have decent wifi is inexcusable. I hope the SAP events team have an SLA with the OCCC and get some credits for future events there. As a balance, the catering at the OCCC was surprisingly good. Well stocked coolers and coffee stands and the meal buffets had enjoyable diversity. The open floor layout which has become standard in most industry events these days hurt SapphireNow this year. We had too many meetings where people had to scream to be heard.
Social activities – A
The best evening by far was a small group dinner our AR coordinator, Stacey Fish organized. I skipped most parties but enjoyed some quiet time at one that Franck Cohen threw with some of his friends from Cirque du Soleil. I tend to avoid concert night – usually past my bed time to be terrorized by the strobe lights and throbbing subwoofers. But I went this time to humor my daughter who has grown up with Justin Timberlake. Stacey managed to get her a ticket. The logistics of ferrying the audience to the Amway Center were impressive. The show itself : I was pleased to see everyone having a good time, but yes I did miss my nap and I was terrorized by the strobe lights and booming subwoofers