I received comments in private related to posts (one in particular) I published last week regarding SAP TechEd. Since the comments were made in private I will not reveal the sources, but I do feel like I should address them in public since the posts are, of course, public. Others may have the same questions and will benefit from seeing my responses.
First, I need to make a correction. I provided incorrect information in a post last week where I said that SAP was hosting the SAP Insider “Reporting 2010″ conference. That is not true. While I did reach out via Twitter and a few emails, I did not get any clarification on what the conference was until after the post was already published. I now understand that SAP Insider is not a part of SAP; they are an independent organization that publishes newsletters and provides specific and targeted conferences throughout the year. They may do other things as well, but I now understand that while SAP does participate by providing speakers, they are not the host of those events. I do apologize for my error and any confusion that may have provided.
Second, I had some folks take what I wrote as a criticism of ASUG. I was not criticizing either ASUG or SAP or their respective processes. What I was trying to point out was that despite some claims to the contrary we cannot simply drop the SBOUC conference and send folks to TechEd without changing what is delivered at TechEd. It was pointed out to me that the content for SBOUC was designed to not overlap with TechEd. I understand that, and perhaps I should have pointed that out in my earlier post. I am sure that the folks that went to those sessions appreciated them. But there is not enough content at TechEd as it stands today to simply drop SBOUC. With my post last week I was not trying to imply that the content at TechEd was bad or poorly planned by either ASUG or SAP. But several folks have been quite adamant in their opinions that there is plenty of content already at TechEd. My post was an attempt to point out that in my opinion there is not, currently, enough BI content at TechEd to simply drop SBOUC.
To recap: I believe there is a market and a need for a BI-specific event. However, if discussions are held regarding merging SBOUC and TechEd, then in my opinion it must be a merge. Dropping SBOUC without migrating the content to TechEd would not be a good idea.
Let me now talk about some positive outcomes of such a decision, were it to be made. If the content from SBOUC were added to TechEd, how would the community benefit?
First and foremost, there would not be any confusion on the part of the potential conference attendee or speaker. Which conference should I submit to? Do I have to alter my topic abstract to make it more appealing to TechEd than to SBOUC? How can I convince my manager to budget for two separate SAP conferences? Which one is most appropriate for my role in my company? All of these questions go away if the two conferences were combined.
Next, the TechEd conference is huge. It’s not as big as SAPPHIRE but it’s about three times the size even of the largest BusinessObjects conference that we had. For some folks that would be attractive; more people equals more networking opportunities, and higher probabilities that I might run into someone experiencing the same issues that I have. The old “Insight” conferences we used to go to had between 2,000 and 2,500 attendees at most. TechEd last week had well over 5,000 and SBOUC had over 1,000. Add those two together and we would have a single conference with about triple the number of attendees.
Finally, does anybody remember what one of the top complaints was about the SBOUC conference when it was first reborn as a GBN conference? No party. I suspect because it has been larger (and therefore has a bigger budget) TechEd throws great parties. I did not write about Demo Jam this year, but I have previously. In fact, I had hoped to bring something like that to SBOUC. Score one for TechEd. GBN/SBOUC has dropped their conference parties for various reasons, but mostly related to budget. Since I have been attending, TechEd has had concerts by the Black Crowes (2008, Las Vegas), Train (2009, Phoenix), and this year Lifehouse performed live.
To those who were confused (as I was) about the hosting process for the SAP Insider conferences, I apologize. I hope this post helps clarify the points I was trying to make. As always, feel free to use the comment form to provide feedback or ask questions.