Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SAPPHIRE reloaded ... What do you want to experience?

2009 will mark the death of events .. events as we know it, I mean. 

A lot of people/companies will not spend the money to travel to some random location, just to consume the content they can download afterwards, or see keynote speakers from 100 yards out. And with the advent of social media, telepresence, and many other ways to engage with vendors in a relevant and specific way, the whole business of events as we know it will change. Has to change. I think it's about time, and the economic downturn is only accellerating the inevitable. Or so lots of people say.


Yet, there is still a lot of a value to taking the annual pilgrimage to the BIG event, watch the keynotes "live", see the big acts on stage at the post-show party, meet a lot of your peers and the experts etc. However, the question remains, now more than ever, are our customers really getting the most out of these happenings, with hundreds and hundreds of booths competing for attention, with speech after speech, and with meeting after meeting, until you are so tired you really really want that party and the free drinks. Is there another way? Yes there is. 

This years SAPPHIRE needed to be different, and will be different.  

SAP like every other company in this business is rethinking the whole concept of "events", and is taking a step back to look at how people want to consume information, and to make a trip to this event even more worth while. As one of the content strategy leads for the CIO village at this years SAPPHIRE, I have decided to try to tap into the wisom of the crowds to make this part of the show the best it can be.

So. The listening has started. What would you like to see at SAPPHIRE '09? And how do you want to consume this information moving forward? 




  1. How about using Sapphire as a way to listen to customers. We can allow customers to quickly record short 5 minute videos of their experiences with SAP. Pose questions like "What is the coolest thing you wish you could do with SAP?" and see what people say

  2. I think the most important thing about SAPPHIRE is giving customers a chance to speak with experts to answers all the nitty-gritty detail questions they have but can never get answered on a webcast in front of 20 other people from a competitor company or their own SI vendor. The pods and the one-on-one consultations are surely the big attraction for SAPPHIRE. The keynotes and the glitz just add to the overall effect.

  3. Hi,

    i don't know how much of our ideas could be reused at SAPPHIRE but for the SAP Virtualization Week 2009 we plan with a smaller onsite audience and run a live (really live!, not recorded live) broadcast for online guests, including collaboration tools, chat mode, Twitter, blogging features, etc. Of course SAPPHIRE is a much bigger event, but i am sure that it will face the same problems (travel restricitions etc.), so we invest a lot of time in making the online experience as close as possible to the online experiemce (including video into the webinar sessions and other features).

    Best regards,


  4. Yes, events will change and evolve. No, they will not go extinct.

    I have family geographically dispersed, and we keep in touch in various ways: phone, email, facebook, etc. But nothing is as sweet as seeing my son after months apart, or catching-up with my sister during a shared meal.

    There's a human need for physical presence, and although I'm completely bought-in to the efficiencies and benefits of collaboration tools, social media, video, and virtual community more generally, they all lack something important.

    SAP events like Sapphire and TechEd are our annual family reunions. Thousands of us get together in the same physical space, share a common experience, and all sorts of negativity (unclear communications, tensions, conflict, mistaken intentions) are washed away, and all sorts of positive things (personal connections, chance meetings...) are built up.

    Just as a music concert experience is not as good on TV as it is in person, and email isn't as good as a live face-to-face conversation, physical events provide an immersive experience that touches all the senses -- sight, sound, smells, etc. -- and I believe they have enough "incremental value" and unique benefit to continue long into the future.

    I, for one, am looking forward to attending and participating in SAP Sapphire and multiple SAP TechEd events this year ... where I can shake the hands of our customers, partners, and community members, look them in eyes, express my appreciation for their past business and interactions, hear their needs and interests, and feel the passion with which they communicate what we're doing well and how we can do better.

    Mark Yolton

  5. One of the things that I found hard, at least in the US version, was the marginalization of the vendor. For ASUG/SAPPHIRE they charge a vendor to bits and then shove them into corners sort of as the 'dirty little reason' of why Erik Clapton is performing or everyone gets to frolick around MGM late at night.

    Most of us have fought hard to get partnerships, and honestly most of us have wanted to go in and see some of the talks. It's one of the very few times we all get to interact in a space together. Rather than pushing better brand elevation through sponsorship, why not flip it and see what a vendor can do to bring more elevation to SAPPHIRE? At least then you might get even more creative solutions then hosting streaming webinars.

    I am all about pushing ideas back on people. Thanks for the blog, good stuff!