Thoughts on SapphireNOW ’14!

I watched Bill McDermott’s first keynote as CEO of SAP. His decision to begin the keynote with 3 students presenting their thoughts was a bold move . Unheard of in SAP history. I loved it. I loved it not because it was a bold move but because I’ve a story to share.

Lean & Hungry Look (LHL)

In July 2011, my son & I attended SAP InnoJam at Palo Alto, Ca. My son then was rising sophomore in an US University. We had a great experience. Lovely memories. The SAP team(headed by Anne Hardy, Juergen Schmerder & others) who organized was fabulous. That event provided my son with an opportunity to experience the corporate environment for 24+ hours. Soon after we landed in San Francisco from Atlanta, my son fell in love with Silicon Valley. He wanted to move there after graduation. Early next morning we attended InnoJam. Met lovely people. His love for Silicon Valley rose exponentially with InnoJam experience.

He was planning to specialize in Bio-Medical Engineering in freshman year. He spent his summer interning at an IT company in North Carolina. He attended InnoJam while interning there. After completing the internship & InnoJam, he decided to specialize in Computer Science.

He finished next two summer internships in Silicon Valley. He would be beginning his career as an APM(Associate Product Manager) in San Francisco, CA this August.

When I began my career in ’80’s, the CEO used to tell one of Shakespeare quotes to us employees: You all should look lean & hungry. 3 kids Bill McDermott/Hannah Datz presented to us in SapphireNOW looked lean & hungry. With that look comes impatience, not little but a lot of impatience – a quality which is suicidal in big corporations such as SAP. That CEO also used to hate “*ing” as in trying. This continuous tense will not take us anywhere, ing provides people with a platform to procrastinate, he used to say. My son unfortunately didn’t show an interest with SAP technologies even though 3 years ago we had a great time with SAP. I can only speculate the reasons why he was not interested: SAP didn’t make their presence felt in college campuses. Plus it took several months – SAP used *ing liberally – to get trial version of SAPSUP(Sybase Unwired Platform). We used this product in InnoJam but couldn’t continue our work. Had we continued our work, my son probably wouldn’t have forgotten SAP. I know Bill McDermott has a desire to make a difference & fix this issue.  This is catch-22 situation. SAP needs people who’re impatient. SAP’s culture require people to be patient. Good luck.

Mission Driven

Hannah Datz mentioned her generation is mission driven meaning they’re interested in giving back & help society than getting a big paycheck. SAP needs them, needs lot of them. Mr McDermott has taken initiative to influence the younger generation to join SAP. Not just by words but by actions, presenting them to SapphireNOW audience. Please continue. As dad of 22 year old son, I can tell this: SAP didn’t focus in hiring LHL & mission driven people in the past. Change that please. I hope he would get all support he needs within SAP to promote that practice.


The message I heard in SapphireNOW was not simple. I know nothing changes overnight but at the same time, we’ve heard “*ing” thing several times in the past – fixing issues around certification, education & training, trial versions to name a few. Marketing two polar opposites products SFIN & BW don’t make our(independent consultants, customers etc) job easier & fun. The SFIN message last week was not simple. I heard – from people who attended – 3 different versions of what SFIN is in relation to SoH. Finally I read this blog: It provides some details on SAP’s direction. I’m still not clear on roadmap to implement HANA. We’ve a lot of options but not with a lot of details or pros & cons for each. Hope we’ll start seeing more clarity in days/weeks/months to come.

My best wishes to SAP.