SapphireNOW 2010: Eight things seen & heard

ORLANDO—SAP AG held it’s annual conference this year where execs spoke on various topics including the Sybase acquisition, and the how mobile, in-memory analytics and on-demand plays into its vision of the future of computing. Here are just some other things seen and heard:

1.For the first time in Sapphire’s history, the annual event was simulcast in Frankfurt and Orlando via satellite for the 50,000 participants to “connect in reality and virtually.”

2.Execs re-iterated SAP’s three-pronged strategy that is mobile, on-demand and in-memory analytics. However, co-CEO Jim Hagemann-Snabe acknowledged SAP will have to learn to think differently in the software-as-a-service realm. “On-demand is a relatively new market for us,” said Hagemann-Snabe.

3.Co-CEO Bill McDermott said because “the new desktop is the mobile,” the company’s recent US$5.8 billion acquisition of Sybase is worth the money if SAP wants to be a leader in mobility. “Exceptional assets don’t come cheap,” said McDermott.

4.General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and currently a venture capitalist, made an appearance at the ASUG keynote. Admittedly an information geek, Powell said he’s trying to become digital. “I still have trouble because I was born analog,” he joked.

5.After an all-day downpour, the Orange County Convention centre where the conference is being held, sprang a leak.

6.McDermott took a malicious jab at rival Oracle Corp. as an example of how SAP will not manage an acquisition of a company. “Not like other acquisitions we’ve seen done in the California area where 21,000 jobs have been cut and people have been demoralized,” said McDermott.

7.Business ByDesign is “not a fantasy” for there are a number of businesses who currently use it, albeit just certain aspects of the offering, execs said. SAP is cautiously setting no target adoption because it wants “to get experience first,” said Hagemann-Snabe.

8.Sea, air and land adventurer, Sir Richard Branson, also made an appearance from Frankfurt to talk about business innovation. Why name his company Virgin? “Well, I was 16 when I started the company,” said Branson, cheekily. Branson’s vision for IT: “Try to get all equipment through on a simple environmentally friendly machine.”

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @kathleenlau

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