I was just attending SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual User Conference in Orlando as it is called now and I must say it was an amazing experience. There are many reasons why this event was such a great experience but I will come to that later…

Today, almost every IT provider is having a ‘Love Fest’ or User Conference as it is commonly known. There are super large user conferences such as Dreamforce or HPE Discover who compete with SAP events in size, inspiration and coolness. Then, there are others such as Unit4, Sage or Software AG who are more intimate, customer driven but not less innovative and fun as the big brothers and sisters.

These conferences are all about networking, learning, sharing experiences and did I say party real hard?

However, based on my experience attending many user conferences of various companies, there is no such event like SAPPHIRE. SAPPHIRE is indeed not the largest, not the most star-studded, not the most attended event in the industry; but it has something no other event has….something truly unique.

SAPPHIRE has history and standing power since almost 3 decades. Interesting fact: SAP invented the 1st truly global user conference in the IT industry in 1989.

Well 28 years ago, SAP held its first user conference (a novum at the time) in Lausanne, Switzerland for a group of a couple hundred attendees coming from all over the world.  The idea at the time was to get customers together and share what SAP was doing while collecting development needs from the customer base.  It was a customer driven initiative and SAP was listening. There were no customer user groups such as ASUG or DSAG existing yet.

This fundamental idea is still alive and I have not seen much change in the way these events are structured; except that SAP developed an ecosystem which is unprecedented. This year, there were more than 250 partners exhibiting their solutions to a Fortune 1000 customer base including companies such as Google and NVIDIA which I have not really seen in the past at SAPPHIRE.

Now what is it that makes SAPPHIRE so special? Why its long history is so relevant to many of us?

It’s the mix of people and it´s diversity. There are the attendees who have history of attending SAPPHIRE on a yearly basis and then there are the ones who attend the ‘Woodstock of IT’ for the first time. While walking the show floor, I often asked people how many SAPPHIREs they attended and I must say that there were quiet several people who told me that they attended 20 or more of these events. For me, it was amazing that there are so many people with over 2 decades of experience working with or for SAP and still come to SAPPHIRE. Some are customers, some are partners and some are SAP employees.  I think the mix of these people makes SAPPHIRE so attractive. Old-timers and Millennials, longtime users and new customers – all have the same dream; transform their business into a true digital business.

Here are my top 3 Reasons why I still love going to SAPPHIRE:

  1. Networking with old-timers and newcomers. You see 70-year-old entrepreneurs talking with 20 years old youngsters about how the digital transformation works or should work. Where can you get this enterprise experience better than at SAPPHIRE?
  2. Meeting start ups and established entrepreneurs who build or built solutions around SAP and other IT companies. The SAP Ecosystem makes the SAP world run like a well-oiled machine.
  3. Socializing new ideas, innovations and thoughts with people who used to work for SAP and are now angel investors, board members, CEO’s and executives in other companies. The SAP Alumni event at SAPPHIRE was an ideal place to achieve this

Interested to know more of SAPPHIRE NOW history? Check out our last article.