I’m not a big fan of “you should have been there” articles. Hearing about how everyone had a great time at the 2023 ASUG Executive Exchange Fall Summit in Nashville and got to do fun things is nice but not very helpful when it comes to making better business decisions around your technology portfolio. That said, the two-plus days we spent in Nashville absolutely uncovered several key learnings for the attendees, and I want to share a few of them with you and get your feedback as well.

Spoiler alert—key learning No. 0 from the Summit is that effective technology leadership hasn’t gotten any easier. Navigating the rapidly changing technology landscape, managing SAP and partner relationships, and providing business value, all while delivering on your organization’s financial and overall performance goals, still presents its share of challenges.

The good news is that you are not alone, and the ASUG Executive Exchange continues to provide an effective forum where you can share with and learn from your peers about what is working and not working and how you can take advantage of their experiences to make your journey easier.

Now for the “real” key learnings. No. 1 is that RISE with SAP continues to be a topic that customers struggle with. We heard several stories from the presenters and attendees in Nashville about struggles not only with the initial negotiations for RISE but more and more about the challenges with implementing the products covered by RISE with SAP. Long story short, my advice based on what I heard at the Summit is to make sure you have clarity in two areas of RISE with SAP that you may not have otherwise considered:

  • Have a clear understanding of how support roles are managed. Attendees shared several stories where misunderstandings in this area led to everything from implementation delays to finger-pointing to system downtime problems. Make sure you and your team understand when and where SAP will manage the stack.
  • Having prior relationships with the hyperscaler(s) you use under RISE with SAP is hugely helpful. Again, we heard from customers who could get answers and solve problems more quickly and effectively because they could talk directly with their hyperscaler partner and not have to wait for an answer from SAP. I’m not going to get into whether this is “right;” I’ll just say that this is what worked for the presenters at the Summit.

Key learning No. 2 concerns the value of a safe, in-person opportunity to just talk to your peers. We closed the first day with a member-only, open session where we covered a broad range of topics—whatever the attendees wanted to bring forward. As the moderator for the discussion, I was energized to see the community working. Someone would throw out an idea, and everyone would chime in and reflect on their experiences. Whether we landed on a solution or topics for further discussion, seeing leaders connecting with other leaders and sharing helpful contacts at SAP, partners connecting their teams, and getting a new set of eyes on a challenge was incredibly rewarding.

And now, for the last key learning—the ASUG Executive Exchange Fall Summit is a very dense learning experience. We covered a lot of ground during the two days we were in Nashville. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances pulled me away from day two of the event. Everything I highlighted in this article is only from the first day. I’ve heard from several of attendees that the sessions on day two covering the past, present, and future of SAP S/4HANA, the SAP data and analytics strategy, and an executive briefing from the SAP Chief Customer Office were also some of the best they had ever attended. When you combine all of this with several impactful customer stories, a great keynote on AI from Jack Shaw, and ample time for dialogue to share and uncover key learnings with the fact that we also had three great nights of social activities, I guess I can say, “you should have been there.”

I like to close each month with some sort of challenge for you, so here it is: I would like to hear from you about what challenges you are facing now. This will help us continue to build a meaningful roadmap for the community going forward. This can be anything; don’t feel limited to SAP or even technology topics. If enough of you are facing the same challenges, then I want us to be working on solutions in the ASUG Executive Exchange community. I can be reached at david.wascom@asug.com. I look forward to your feedback and seeing you at our next ASUG Executive Exchange virtual or in-person event.

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