Make the most of the SAP Sapphire NOW + ASUG Annual Conference
Next month, over 20,000 SAP users and partners will descend upon the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for the SAP Sapphire NOW + ASUG Annual Conference. With thousands of exhibitors and a full schedule of seminars, break-out sessions, keynote addresses, and social events, the conference can be a bit overwhelming for both first-time visitors and experienced pros alike. The conference has been a part of Abreon’s annual agenda for many years, so we thought we’d share with you OUR tips for making the most of YOUR investment in Sapphire 2019.
1. Make a Plan
Perhaps more important than any other single consideration is to make a plan for the conference well in advance. Some people start writing their plan immediately after the previous year’s conference to capture ideas while they are fresh in their mind. Starting early also allows you to add additional goals throughout the year and it gives you a powerful document to support your request to attend the conference again.
Even if you start planning just days before the conference, you should start with a mission statement: why are you attending the show and what do you need to get out of it? You should include both personal goals—ones that make you more effective in your particular role—as well as goals for how attendance will help your organization. Consider problems you’d like to solve, skills you want to improve, contacts you need to make, leads you need to develop, and inspiration you need to find. Having a documented plan shows your boss the value in attending and helps you to plan your trip.
2. Make a Schedule
Just like you, the vendors, speakers, and representatives at the conference have a finite amount of time in which to meet with attendees. Three or four days will go by pretty quickly and you can easily run out of time or miss key sessions because the most popular sessions and demos fill up fast. You can easily create and save an agenda on the conference website for easy reference. You can also print the list of sessions, highlighting the ones of greatest interest to you, then plan the rest of your day from there.
SAP brings in some incredible guests speakers for keynote presentations—be sure to catch Bear Grylls and Soledad O’Brien this year—as well as engaging presenters from SAP and ASUG. A pro tip: don’t forget to schedule time for breaks and food. You’ll be on your feet all day, so taking a lunch break is important for resting and recharging!
3. Make Appointments
In addition to official seminars and sessions, your agenda should also include meeting with exhibitors and networking opportunities such as the new Neighborhoods and Pavilions and ASUG Hub. Be sure to scheduling meetings with key exhibitors in advance. Doing this ensures that the subject matter expert you want to talk to will be available or the demo you want to see will be available.
Sapphire has so much to offer, including technical, applications, and services, that you are sure to come home with lots of great ideas. But remember, the most important criteria to ensure success with S/4HANA is your employees. The best ERP solution is always the one that people adopt and use! So be sure to stop by Booth 332 to speak to us about S/4HANA Phase Zero planning, content creation, and training.
Leave some time for wandering the aisles as well; you never know what you will see at SAP Sapphire NOW + ASUG Annual Conference! If something catches your eye on the way to a session, make an appointment to meet in the booth at a more convenient time.
4. Make an Impact
There are so many opportunities to learn new skills and find inspiration at Sapphire. You can start before the show even begins with in-depth pre-conference seminars led by SAP experts. The ASUG education zone offers over 500 educational sessions and Sapphire offers almost 1,200 sessions and demos, so you are sure to find something to help achieve your learning goals.
The exhibit hall is also a great place to further your education. In addition to learning about great products and services, the hall is staffed by experienced professionals with deep SAP knowledge who are happy to share their insights, best practices, tips, and tricks. Grab a map of the venue and plot routes that will take you past all of the booths that catch your interest.
5. Make a Connection
Networking is one of the longest-lasting benefits of attending Sapphire, so be sure to carry business cards with you at all times or know how to share your contact information electronically. Networking often begins the moment you get on the plane from home; you might be sitting next to someone headed to Sapphire. In the hotel elevator, at lunch, and inside the lounge in the evening, other SAP users and providers will be all around you. Strike up conversations, ask questions, and get feedback because the relationships you make now can lead to long-term solutions and support.
The best place to make connections is of course within the exhibit hall. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the same information can be found online. Many exhibitors debut their latest products and services at Sapphire—offerings that may not appear on their websites. The connections you make here will answer the question of “how can we do that” for months to come.
6. Make it an Evening
The show closes at 6 pm, but that doesn’t mean the opportunities to learn and connect are over. Many sponsors and exhibitors host hospitality events, demos, roundtable discussions, and industry meetings outside of show hours. These events are a great way to keep networking and to pick up useful insights and customer success stories while enjoying complimentary hospitality.
The Orange County Convention Center is on International Drive, home to one of the widest varieties of restaurants anywhere, and the Orlando area offers outstanding culinary delights from around the world. With all of these great choices, you should never be eating alone. Make plans with colleagues, vendors, suppliers, and co-workers so you can “talk shop” over a great meal.
Your ticket also gets you into the SAP Concert on Thursday after the close of the show, with free shuttle buses to get you there and back. Make no mistake, SAP and their sponsors spare no expense! This year’s performer is none other than the Golden Globe, BAFTA, Academy, and Grammy award-winning Lady Gaga.
7. Make it to the Show
It may sound obvious, but actually attending the conference is vitally important. You and your company have invested a lot of time and money to be there so that you can learn all that you can and share that knowledge when you return. Orlando’s many attractions and theme parks, however, can serve as a siren song that pulls you away from your goals. Arrive a few days early or stay a few days late if you want to visit the mouse or see the wizard’s world.
8. Make it Last
Our final tip is to use what you learn at the show once you return home. The return flight is a great time to draft a proposal on how you want to implement the tips, tricks, and best practices you learn. Passing along your new skills and knowledge to improve business operations for yourself, your co-workers, and your organization is crucial in maximizing the investment in Sapphire.
Be sure to follow up with vendors you met with, read the brochures you collected, and visit the websites you wrote down while they are fresh on your mind. Jot down some notes and bookmark top websites so that when SAP-related questions arise, you can continue to demonstrate the value in attending Sapphire.
Visit Abreon, Ley-Line Advisory, and PCM in Booth 332.