Monday morning and it’s the first keynote address at ASUG, the Americas’ SAP User Group conference in Orlando, and the theme is business transformation.
And according to outgoing chairman, Anthony Bosco, the real trick SAP users (and to be equal handed about it, users of just about everything else as well) will need to get used to is that transformation is on-going and not going to stop.
“The past already includes Facebook and Twitter, yet for me, it does not seem so long ago that no one had PCs, cell phones or the Internet. But the pace of technology change will continue, and continue to drive the pace of everyone’s lives, particularly in business.”
He sensibly ducked the opportunity to speculate too much about the future, though did identify big data developments, in SAP’s case in the form of HANA, as the next innovation businesses will need to adapt to. This would mean adapting to both new ways of handling data so it can be exploited, and identifying ways of actually exploiting the data that have not been possible before.
“HANA will be especially important for businesses. It will help businesses run faster, better, and cheaper. But to do that takes not only the technology but also people with the knowledge and experience of how to use it. So transformation for those people is going to happen again, and again. With its 100,000-plus membership, ASUG is a good repository of such experience.”
According to ASUG CEO, Bridget Chambers, the growth of the mobile phone and social media, coupled with the move to working with Zetabytes of data means businesses now face massive transformation. She pointed to how more and more people are using social to keep up with their favourite brands in many areas, and how a growing number of companies now use social media to communicate with their markets.
“Working with social media is now rapidly becoming a high priority for many businesses,” she said. “So corporate survival is now about keeping up with the transformations technology continues to bring, What you are doing today may be great, but it won’t get the job done tomorrow.”
This, of course, suggests that ASUG needs to transform itself to match the needs of the SAP user community. She pointed to developments in serving the Sybase and SuccessFactors communities as obvious steps to take.
She pointed to three main areas where the Group aims to develop new services.
The first is called Innovation in Core Programs, and here the target is to both expand and develop its education resources, and grow its benchmarking capabilities. One important step she cited was the launch of ASUG News as an online site. It also also launched the Leadership 2.0 initiative to help users develop the leadership skills needed to implement innovations in a transforming world.
“Our objective is create `Facebook meets Amazon’,” she said.” ASUG aims to make information sources more ubiquitous and easy to use. As part of this there will be a new, vastly improved www.asug.com website with a new search tool that integrates information from other related sources.”
The ASUG Integrated Enterprise is the group’s answer to the fact-come-folklore that implementing SAP was difficult. She sees this development changing this by offering a support and education environment that can help users develop innovation strategies.
The third area is known as Infinite Return on Investment, which sets out to provides roadmaps, benchmarks that can help users drive innovation forward.
“It will also help guide users to measure innovation as a portfolio rather than a technology stack. It will, for example, help them to communicate more effectively with all stakeholders in a business for they can, for example, express the value of innovations in terms of shareholder value, which is something they cannot do at present.”