SAP is not Apple
The first week of SAPPHIRE NOW is behind us. Besides a keynote SAP is bringing several topic focused keynotes and sessions to the different regions in the world. I’ll try to cover the keynote(s) and impressions in a later blog. To bridge the time until then, I decided to write down my impressions on what happened around SAPPHIRE NOW. Basic message is: SAP thinks they are professionals when it comes to marketing and execution. In reality, they deliver one failure after another.
I guess my readers know how big corporate events from market leaders in the Silicon Valley are. Highly professional organized and delivered keynotes that are avidly, if not religiously awaited and accompanied; not only by the press or analysts, but by many, many people in the tech and non-tech world. Companies like Apple, Google, FB, etc. are great in playing with these expectations and to deliver on these. Is Apple going to release a new MacBook? Is Google announcing a new service? They give hints, let people search for hidden messages, and so on. Not so SAP. If you find a hidden message, it’s not a hidden message. Some people at SAP just doesn’t know how to do their job.
To better understand the following mistakes, a short introduction to time. The SAPPHIRE NOW keynote with the CEO was officially announced to happen on June 2nd, at 16 CEST. CEST because in Europe we have in June summer time. Which is a different time than CET, which is standard time (winter time).
On the main SAPPHIRE NOW event page, content is loaded dynamically based on your browser language. If you accessed the site in German, you could see that the keynote from the CEO Mr. Klein was scheduled to happen at 10 am and 4 pm. Why? MESZ is CEST, just in German. (MESZ, CEST, CEDT, CET DST). So: 10:00 MESZ equals 10 am and 16:00 CEST is 4pm. Voilà: 2 Keynotes!
This looks like a hidden gem, an announcement, a keynote only for German speakers. Why not? Bring a special hidden keynote with some special information only for the German customers. Maybe some new DSAG collaboration? Do we get EHP9? Who knows? Well, nothing of that, it was just a mistake as I learned later. Now, for a very important conference like SAPPHIRE NOW, I’d expect that SAP assigns some smart marketing and event organizers to it to ensure it is delivered with 100% dedication. As do the big Silicon Valley corporations. Well, not SAP. The wrong time zone communication just continued. On Twitter you could see teaser images pop up on several accounts. While these images are professionally produced, all contained the wrong time zone for Europe: CET instead of CEST. Not just for one image, but all.
And not only for the main keynote, but for other important keynotes too.
It’s not like it was about some strange time zone or unknown small country. They messed up the time zone from Europe, from Germany, the home country of SAP. There are highly (and obviously overpaid) paid people involved and they do not even get the start time of the event right? Something like this at an Apple event and it would be a hidden event. SAP? People just don’t get time zones. And the best part? They did not care. The images were not fixed. They only fixed weeks after going live the more than obvious MESZ error on the event landing page.
This is not the fault of a single person and it is impossible to blame a single person. This went through many hands and approvals and checks. No one noticed the error? Hard to believe. It’s more likely that the corporate feedback culture is broken: it was noticed, but no nobody dared to say anything. Or worse: the process did not allow to fix a decision made from above. Looking at other cases where obvious errors were made: the culture to provide feedback and fix things is seriously broken.
If it would now only end here. But no. When Google or Apple announce at their conferences that a new service is coming, a new product is launched, they tell you the price and when it is available. If the date is unknown, they still give a good estimate like end of Q3. SAP? This is a lab preview, it may come sometimes later this year, or later, and we don’t know the price. And the feature you have seen? Maybe we will include it, or not, or just to a selected number of customers first. Or we fake it. SAP will deliver something, sometime, for someone, to unknown conditions. Welcome to the world of enterprise software.
Regarding the marketing emails you get when signing up for SAPPHIRE NOW: no, they do not contain any hidden message. For instance, a link you get points you to some server (HTTP!) and then redirects you to the target URL. Don’t waste time in looking at the server. No hidden message. Just an error message
Server used: http://url7828.mailsap.com/
I mean, at least put a nice error message there. For my readers: don’t try to access the server via HTTPS. The certificate is invalid.
What are the lessons learned here? SAP is not Apple. SAP wants to be cool. Yet, self perception does not fit reality. And when you find something that looks like a hidden message: No. Someone at SAP just doesn’t cares to deliver.
What makes the communication around SAPPHIRE NOW frustrating is that I know that SAP has employees that can deliver. That know how to play with the expectations from their audience and sometimes puts a hidden gem in the event site. The knowledge on how to deliver exists inside SAP. Unfortunately these people are not responsible for SAPPHIRE NOW. They know time zones. SAP managed to provide a SAP Note for Brexit that shows they know that Europe / UK do have different time zones. SAP knows that there is summer and standard time. There are literally hundreds of notes dealing with this. It is an IT company, they have to know time zones.
Thanks for reading my blog. Sorry for the rant, but it is so frustrating to see SAP fail every single time. Remember: the bar isn’t very high – specially after last years SAPPHIRE NOW – but still they always manage to undercut even the lowest expectations. And it’s not just the topics mentioned above. Or just about SAPPHIRE NOW. There are so many areas where SAP just delivers a sub par performance. Why? Quality doesn’t matter at SAP? No feedback culture? Impossible to understand a user’s point of view? As SAP is celebrating itself in public, praises its achievements, I fear they do not even understand that their performance is not the best in the world.
I’ll now stop being the grumpy commentator and will show myself out.