Weather permitting (we are flying Jet Blue), SearchSAP.com will be covering the ASUG (Americas' SAP Users' Group) mySAP ERP Upgrade Symposium in Denver Wednesday and Thursday. In advance of the event, we spoke with ASUG president Rod Masney about SAP CEO Henning Kagermann's contract extension and what to expect at the conference.
Masney was very positive about Kagermann's new deal and said he extended Kagermann congratulations that evening. Kagermann personally responded with thanks and good words for ASUG the next day. So, it's probably not surprising that Masney sees the extension as a good thing.
"We [ASUG] see it as a positive because of the relationship we've built with him and his team over the years and the programs we've worked on together. Henning has articulated his commitment to all the user groups, not just ASUG. He has articulated that there's value that groups such as ours bring to his customers. He shows this through SAP resources, time at our events and his personal time meeting with us."
Masney views Kagermann as atypical among CEOs in his willingness and interest in working with user groups. Kagermann generally meets with ASUG leadership face-to-face twice a year, once at Sapphire and once in Germany.
The co-location of the ASUG annual conference and Sapphire is a prime example in Masney's mind. He also mentioned that ASUG developed the "voice of the customer" program (where ASUG surveys members about SAP products, services and relationship with SAP) at Kagermann's request, as well as a book that ASUG and SAP are working on jointly.
"The board extending Henning's contract is a testament to the strategies he's put in place and the leadership he's demonstrated within SAP, the growth they've experienced and the commitment to the strategy around ESA and where they're taking the platform with the customers."
Masney indicated that ASUG really doesn't care who succeeds Kagermann, and mentioned the organization's relationship with Shai Agassi, president of SAP's product and technology group, and Léo Apotheker, president of SAP's customer solutions and operations, have grown in recent years as well.
"It's not a beauty contest. For us it's about having the right relationships and having the opportunity to have influence in SAP, as well as to demonstrate that we're delivering value by educating our members and giving them an opportunity to network and learn from each other."
Masney also talked about the upcoming upgrade symposium. He said the attendees will represent the whole spectrum of the upgrade process from just thinking about it to already in the throes of it. (Earlier this year, Masney said he was starting to see an uptick in users considering upgrades.)
"The whole idea behind a symposium is a very small [200-250], very focused, very intimate event. There is a real good opportunity for education and peer-to-peer networking. This is not for giving them big-picture, esoteric information, if you will. But more to deliver concrete stuff that attendees can take back and use in their business."
We're bringing our digital camera to the event, so we'll aim to have some thoughts and pictures posted on the blog late Wednesday or early Thursday. We'll also have a couple items up on the main site by later in the week. If there's anything specific you're interested in, please shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).Jon Franke News Editor