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At every large SAP conference there´s so much to see and do that a person would need years to consume it all. Since that is not possible, I love spending the end of each conference day with a group of well-connected influencers from across the SAP ecosystem to find out what their key takeaways were. At TechEd Las Vegas I was fortunate to have an amazing line up of female influencers join me to share their highlights, opinions and personal recommendations.

The Keynote: It´s all about the intelligent enterprise

Day one of any large event is always packed with announcements from the main keynote, so our first influencer recap session starts with reflecting on those news. This year openness was a big topic in the keynote by SAP Board member bernd.leukert, and we had sindhu.gangadharan, VP and Head of Integration at SAP, from his organization with us to add context. She called the fact that SAP is opening up the APIs of its applications, publishing them on the API business hub, “a massive opportunity for customers and partners, who can now extend apps and innovate for the specific needs of their businesses.”

Another one of our panelists, jana.richter, was on stage with Bernd during the keynote, visualizing the new technology in impactful demos. Jana, who leads product management for SAP Cloud Platform Core at SAP, showed what it looks like when the best of what technology can offer today comes together, making enterprises intelligent. The audience experienced how someone tweeted about a cool car they saw, which was picked up by intelligent systems, resulting in the customer getting an offer to buy a customized version of the car that was produced with full transparency along the entire production process. We also saw how Data Hub makes it possible to bring together different data such as IoT sensor data, S/4HANA data (for example stock inventory data) and asset intelligence network data, combining it with machine learning algorithms to predict the likelihood of successful upselling opportunities.

What we see is technology being able to streamline even very complex processes like Lead to Cash or Total Workforce and Jana pointed out that while these processes are applicable to all industries, the magic comes with the ability to adjust. We know that there will always be a point where customers need to deviate from the standard to differentiate for a competitive advantage. With SAP Cloud Platform customers can react to events from the systems, write extensions and plug in their own code in an efficient way. The latest innovation in this space is SAP Cloud Platform Functions that showcased how to develop a function-as-a-service triggered by an S/4HANA event.

For Cheryl Parsons, CMO of ASUG, the intelligent enterprise is technology helping us serve our customers with a better experience, giving them the right content at the right time in the right context.

Conference gems picked up by the influencers

What were other TechEd highlights from the influencers perspective? Here are a few of my favorite nuggets:

  • Alison Biggan, Head of Product and Field Marketing at SAP talked about Data Hub as a game changer, giving customers the opportunity to orchestrate and govern their data without having to move it. And it´s not just SAP data, it can come from any source, even from social channels and platforms. hsinkwitz1, BI Manager at Mobile Mini Solutions added that it is now much easier to bridge semantical gaps when we use data from these different sources for complex processes like Lead to Cash.

  • A powerful statement from a TechEd Live interview with Michael Flannagan, SVP SAP Analytics, was that today, every decision can be data driven! I asked our analytics experts if they see companies being ready to embrace this opportunity. CEO of BI Brainz Caribbean, raquel.seville, stressed the importance of a shift towards a data centric culture in companies and Heather added that the opportunity lies in the ability to tell stories with our data. People, process and technology must come together for organizations to get there.

  • Speaking of culture, Sindhu referred to Digital Transformation as a “journey without a concrete destination”, meaning that you also need to give people the capacity to explore new business models, new ways of making use of the processes and data. So, it is also about a cultural change which is sometimes overlooked. In general, it is a different culture and a different mindset that a company needs to embrace to be able to identify these kinds of journeys.

  • SAP Development manager Katharina Schell referred to a rental car demo from the show floor to illustrate the intelligent enterprise. Here, SAP technology collects information on driver profile and incidents to assess risk and customize offers for customers.

  • SAP Mentor karin.tillotson3 shared news from conversations she had with SAP executives about next generation support, surfacing new opportunities for customers to schedule live chats directly from the support portal, getting connected with the right experts to solve their issues. With 15-20% of incidents being solved this way, this is an increasingly popular option for users.

  • Talking about the importance of people and culture when it comes to digital transformation, Alison focused on the digital mindset that is required in today’s environment, where so much of a buying cycle happens without online without any interaction with a vendor. She stressed that everyone, not just in marketing, will need to learn how to focus on that virtual point of engagement with customers, knowing how to serve an audience well in a digital, low touch fashion.

  • Camilla Dahlen, Head of ISV, Cloud and Platform Partnerships at SAP North America represented the SAP ecosystem view on the influencer panel. She saw an increased importance of partners manifested in the keynote where the CEO of tax technology provider Vertex Inc. talked about how the company uses SAP HANA advanced in-memory technology to reduce investments in additional databases, minimize data footprints and improve performance. Deloitte, also mentioned in the keynote, is launching subscription-based solutions on SAP Cloud Platform to help customers accelerate digital enterprise transformation. This is an important aspect of SAP’s ecosystem as more organizations look to leverage cloud innovations. Camilla also shared feedback from partners she met on the show floor, who were particularly excited about the new consumption model in the cloud that helps them monetize innovation.

  • SAP CEO Bill McDermott has often said that trust is the ultimate human currency and the Thursday panel discussed the responsibility that comes with developing leading edge technology. SAP Developer Experience Product Manager meredith.hassett Meredith Hassett talked about the opportunities with machine learning, but also the importance of avoiding bias when we build the algorithms and train these systems. “You need to ensure you have both a diverse data set but also a diverse set of experts and data scientists to make sure you are intelligent in every aspect of your machine learning plan”. SAP Developer Advocate lsubatin added that SAP is implementing core values around artificial intelligence as a way to ensure high standards.

The daily recaps are all available here (Day one, Day two, Day three) and I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed spending time with these female influencers. I am convinced that shining the light on them will encourage more women to choose a career in technology! Speaking of careers, don´t miss the best career development tips from our influencers, towards the end of the last session.

Join us in Barcelona!

I always find it interesting to see how people react when they hear about this female influencer format. The first question is often “Is this a diversity panel?”. When I say “no, it is a tech influencer panel” they look puzzled and ask why there are only women on the panel. The obvious answer to that is “Because people like you are asking that question!” So, we´ll be back again in Barcelona in a few weeks, join us there or catch the replays!