SAP explores new event concepts to put the customer in the driver seat

Most companies in the ICT space stage large global or regional user conferences such as HP Discover or SAPPHIRE NOW to reach their customers and drive demand. These large scale events are often augmented by World Tours and Virtual Events to extend the reach and talk to customers in a city near them. These are proven concepts over the last decade, no doubt. The challenge however in today’s world is how to be more intimate, customer centric and driven to meet the needs of individuals buyer personas. Attending conferences costs money, time and often it’s not meeting the needs of customers and prospects. The approach “one size fits all” is becoming more and more challenging while customers and prospects demand a more individual and relevant experience fitting their needs.

SAP decided to change this last November. The idea was to replace SAPPHIRE NOW EMEA with a more simple and exclusive Meeting Platform where the focus should stay on networking and personalized agendas. It was a radical approach to build a new platform for customers who were used to attend SAPPHIREs in EMEA for more than 25 years. In fact the first SAPPHIRE called initially R/2 User in Lausanne, Switzerland was built on exactly that approach (read more about how SAPPHIRE was born here).

Communicating with customers not to customers. Too often this fine difference is not taken into account when building events for a true and relevant customer experience. SAP made a bold move. They built a new event brand. They did not just call it ‘SAPPHIRE Light’ or ‘SAPPHIRE Simple’ to leverage their strong existing event brand known around the world to millions of SAP Fans. SAP called the New SAPPHIRE NOW EMEA ‘SAP Select’. The name was certainly intended to reflect the way the content was built. So instead of building an agenda, post it on a website and let people register, SAP took this approach upside down. The first thing SAP did was inviting their Account Executives to take the lead and build together with their individual accounts an agenda. A collaborative venture which resulted in an agenda that met the needs of a given customer. How much more customer oriented can you be? An event without standard registration open to the world but by a personal invitation delivered by SAP’s account executives to not more then 500 IT and LOB Executives. An exclusive Meeting Platform with a strong focus on networking. No show floor, no aggressive prospecting and no power points. The key was Customer Centricity. Key components were short TED Style presentation such as:

– Thought leadership Sessions

– Interactive Panels

– Executive Connect Sessions

– Fireside Talks

– Design Thinking Talks

SAP was keen to drive demand, accelerate its pipeline and close deals. After all it’s all about business. However with this new concept SAP piloted in Berlin, it made sure it will be able to strengthen customer relationship & retention and communicate its “Run Simple” Strategy to key audiences in EMEA. This event concept is a true winner and surely will be adopted by many companies moving forward.