Sapphire 2023 outlook
Sapphire 2023 is already happening next week, May 16-17. It is again an on-site event at Orlando, but is also offered as a virtual event. Registration for the virtual event is free. SAP is again bringing the on-site event to several locations.
You shall not pass
SAP opted once more for the sealed off version, shielding their employees from any customer that is not praising SAP 24/7. Understandable, given that Sapphire is a sales event and SAP wants to convince old and new customer that it is a good decision to buy one of the presented offerings. Good for SAP, not so sure about this when it comes to one of the most important aspects of on-site events: direct exchange. SAP executives have the reputation to (of course, rarely) surround themselves with yes-sayers (rumors, nothing else). If now also the customers they talk to fit that scheme, perfect.
It’s an SAP event, they decide the rules, we must accept this. Good news: Sapphire virtual already is live. You can watch the on-demand sessions. 149 sessions are already available. What I have seen so far are short talks or demos about a topic or product, sometimes a customer showcase. Nothing worth investing your time. At least many videos are short, just a few minutes. But actual content that goes beyond the marketing content you can find at SAP’s homepage? Not really. The ASUG content is not part of the Sapphire virtual offering. Seems the sessions that offer real value are only available for on-site participants. Are these recorded and made available later to the virtual edition? Seems this is not the case. Virtual and on-site Sapphire are two different events with different content, only connected by name and the keynotes. I did not find typical SAP content like roadmap presentations. At least that kind of information is easily accessible via other SAP channels. In that regard: thanks SAP for being honest and admitting that virtual events are no priority, that there is no content worth shareable and saving valuable lifetime. I am going to invest the saved time to attend (again) Microsoft Build, May 22 – 25.
Invest your time wisely: Microsoft Build
Just a week after Sapphire, Microsoft runs a real event and a real virtual event, at 0 costs. Microsoft even offers not only a calendar that automatically adjusts to my time zone, but also a mobile app (via PWA).
A session schedule that knows my timezone!
A PWA app for the event!
At least for Sapphire virtual, the keynotes are streamed. I thought about organizing a watch party. But why? First, the session schedule makes it hard to know when the keynote starts. 8:45 AM PDT is what in my time zone? The keynote is scheduled to run for how long?
Over 3 hours for a keynote. OK, that would have been an epic watch party. The content can be interesting. But I guess it will make more sense to catch a replay with the option to skip forward. Until yesterday (11. May) I was optimistic that the keynote will show some interesting things related to AI and OpenAI with Microsoft. Until I watched the DSAG session about OpenAI. The possible benefits of AI with SAP are endless: from how to approach business, to processes, coding and running. It is not HANA that changes how to work with SAP like NetWeaver or Fiori did, it will be AI.
SAP and Microsoft are partnering when it comes to AI, or more precisely, when it comes to integrate ChatGPT. At the DSAG session Microsoft presented what is already possible: integration into Teams, let the AI write proposals and presentations, do calculations in Excel. All demo, even with the price tag. That was possible because Microsoft already has an offering.
Then it was time for SAP to shine. AI with SAP? Already available since years, integrated into S/4HANA since years, huge list of customers using it successfully. As next week SAP is going to announce some news regarding the very same topic the DSAG session was about, nothing was shared in that regard. Free advice to DSAG and SAP: that Sapphire will happen the week after was known before. Offer these kinds of sessions after such a blocker event. It is not fair for the presenters and audience to hear: we are talking about something super exciting, super new, but nothing can be shared now, only after next week.
At least SAP could shine with their already existing groundbreaking, innovative and game changing intelligent ERP, powered by years of AI knowledge. But: nothing. In fact, the SAP part was a waste of time. Not even one existing AI supported process was shown. Don’t get me wrong. This is not about what SAP will announce at Sapphire. This is about the exiting intelligent ERP processes. It was talked about for roughly 10 (?) or more minutes. That’s it: talked about. High level. But not being able to show how an existing, and sold to customers, process works with AI? SAP talks about intelligent ERP for years, and still: nothing? Not even a video of how e.g. AI is used to recommend trainings in SuccessFactors?
There was a demo / video about what kind of solution to expect after Sapphire. Again, nothing tangible. Only the idea of what kind of value could the OpenAI integration offer. Unfortunately, the demo was so abstract / high level, that this level of value reminded me of SAP Copilot: check for Product ID, then an IF, select output, done. Three IFs and it’s AI.
So, why am I now not very excited when it comes to SAP’s keynote announcements? If after all these years SAP selling the intelligent Enterprise, all they can come up with is 4 use cases that cannot be shown, not demonstrated, only talking? Just talking that it exists and helps some customers. That’s all after how many years pushing AI? Not enough.
Last years keynotes were not filled with groundbreaking announcements are great visions. Maybe this time this is going to change. SAP Build enhanced with AI to create highly individual apps? Besides adding some chat demos I doubt that any visions are shared in the keynote. If you have the time, watch the keynote live. The time slot looks exhausting. Watching the replay should be sufficient.
Microsoft Build or Sapphire? I take Microsoft Build. The agenda is filled with session about Copilot and AI topics with top speakers from Microsoft and OpenAI.
When it comes to applied AI: look what is possible. The videos are offered with AI generated captioning. Microsoft even offers sign language.
I do not know what SAP is going to offer in that regards for their videos, but … I guess nothing. OK, English subtitles. Wow. I hope that is not an example of what SAP’s vision with AI is.