Earlier this month, I joined about 800 individuals from SAP, SAP partners, SAP customers, and SAP user groups at SAP Arena in Germany to celebrate a significant milestone: the SAP 50th Anniversary.
Celebrating the 50-year anniversary of any tech company is mind-boggling. In the technology world, where things move so quickly, 10-year anniversaries are milestones worth celebrating. Yet, 50 years ago, SAP started a journey to provide enterprise technology; here we are, decades later, and SAP continues to be relevant and necessary to organizations across the globe.
Customers continue to want to do business with SAP. They need SAP just as much as they did 50 years ago—maybe more so—and they recognize how essential the software is to the functioning of their organizations. So for customers, partners, and SAP, it’s important we take this opportunity to pause and say, “You know what? We’ve done good. For 50 years, we’ve done good… Now, let’s get to 100 years.”
SAP Ecosystem Strength
What’s the trick to staying relevant for another 50 years? The strength of the SAP ecosystem—a strength on full display in Mannheim, Germany, at the SAP 50th Anniversary celebration. Eight hundred people showed up and celebrated an evening of SAP. And it was a big evening. The black-tie event started at 4:30 p.m. local time and went past 1 a.m. (I only lasted until 1 a.m.). It was wonderful.
It’s important to emphasize and recognize that this event took place in the middle of some important global matters. There is the conflict happening in Ukraine, with Germany and Europe struggling with energy resources because of the war. We still feel the lingering effects of the global pandemic.
Amid these situations and more, SAP found a respectful way to pause and take a moment to celebrate this milestone. I walked into this event with a very open mind, and I walked out impressed. SAP did a great job. It was well-thought-out and well executed—an all-around wonderful time.
Country of Origin
The SAP orchestra kicked off the event, which was a surprise. I had no idea there was an orchestra composed of SAP employees and their instruments. And they were great! During the event, there was a wonderful series of presentations to underscore the importance of SAP to the German economy from the chancellor of Germany and the head of the German state where SAP is located. It was incredible to see how important SAP is to its home country of Germany and its people.
We also heard presentations from Christian Klein, Dietmar Hopp, and Hasso Plattner. Hasso Plattner, one of the founders of SAP, has always been a staple of the annual Sapphire conferences, but he did not attend in 2022. Seeing Hasso back on stage felt like old times and seeing him alongside Christian was even more energizing.
Plans and Connections
I wasn’t in Germany just for the anniversary celebration. I participated in several planning meetings and spent time with other SAP leaders to talk about content, engagement, and customers. I also had the opportunity to catch up with DSAG (Deutschsprachige SAP-Anwendergruppe), the German SAP User Group. We conduct collaborative research together each year, but we don’t have a chance to see one another face-to-face often. And it especially doesn’t often happen on SAP’s home turf in Germany.
At ASUG, we’ve worked with SAP on SAP Sapphire and the ASUG Annual Conference for nearly 20 years. My time in Germany was a nice opportunity to see people in their home environments or comfort zones. I see them at our events in North America, but during this trip, I felt as if I’d been invited into their home to hear them speak. For example, when Christian Klein spoke, it wasn’t a massive, produced keynote address. It was simply the CEO speaking about the company.
Seeing Christian on stage with the founders of SAP was special. Think about it: how the original piece of software that five founders wrote 50 years ago has transformed into this really cool and important thing. That’s a big deal. And it’s a milestone worth pausing to celebrate. I’m energized for the next 50+ years of connecting with SAP customers, partners, user groups, and with SAP.