With ASUG Tech Connect on the horizon (Nov. 7–9, in New Orleans; register here), ASUG is delighted to introduce Nerd Exchange, an exciting new column from Jelena Perfiljeva and Paul Modderman, The Boring Enterprise Nerds. Helping subscribers stay on top of SAP, AI, Cloud, and enterprise software news through their hit Boring Enterprise Nerdletter, Jelena and Paul are funny, cynical, and always interesting—a breath of fresh air for the enterprise software landscape. 

Ahead of their ASUG Tech Connect presentation and roundtable discussion, “The SAP Skillpocalypse: How To Not Become Extinct,” Jelena and Paul share their feelings toward the inaugural event and reflect on what they hope to take away from their first visit to New Orleans.

Paul Modderman: ASUG Tech Connect. Coming up early November. What are your feelings?

Jelena Perfiljeva: I'm excited, which is an unusual state for me. Personally, I'm looking forward to getting back to normal after all these years of COVID disruption. It's not like I want to “go back to the island” exactly where we left it; the world has definitely changed. We can't deny that. But I'd like to get back into in-person gatherings and conversations–that's been lost for a while.

Paul: Going along with that, it feels like I'm getting back my energy. Maybe we're in a bubble of excited nerds, but I feel more zest around this event than I have for other gatherings lately. It's a totally new thing! Ostensibly, ASUG Tech Connect is standing in for on-site SAP TechEd for the U.S. audience… but it's a different company running the show, with a different perspective. The spirit is in the right place: to breathe new life into SAP techie gatherings.

Jelena: You know, I think there might be an issue with people treating this event like mini-TechEd, and maybe organizers want to distance themselves from that. One is SAP, and one is ASUG. And there's an advantage to that. You can have truly honest conversations and enjoy a more laid-back vibe. What themes are you watching for?

Paul: I am really watching the larger thread of innovation, in two senses. In the first sense, because the German user group, DSAG, provided some very straightforward feedback to SAP about pricing changes and policies around delivering innovations for on-premises customers, announcements to which ASUG offered its own response. I think the SAP world is still grappling with that and will be for a while. But I also zoom out and look at the tech world at large. What is the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in every software conversation these days? Artificial intelligence, or AI. I don't think anyone is thinking "I'm just going to go to SAP for any and all AI goodies." It's the broader thought about what I can do for my enterprise with AI. Which is way too much to unpack in one short article.

Jelena: As a developer, obviously I'm most interested in the development track. But I'm also excited about ASUG roundtables around partner relationships. This subject can't quite be discussed the same way at TechEd, so I'm looking forward to hearing customers and partners share thoughts on living their best life together.

Paul: It should be easy to hear those shared thoughts, since we'll be leading a discussion on that very subject, "Swipe Right on Deeper Partner Capabilities." But let's focus on outcomes: What do you want to walk away from Tech Connect with?

Jelena: New connections with interesting people. I'd really like to hear some great customer stories, and what my fellow nerds are actually doing with technology. When real people on the ground share what they struggle with, everyone benefits.

Paul: I think the non-nerd world underestimates how much nerds like to get together and talk nerd shop. There's this stereotype, that techie introverts just want to be in a dungeon staring at code screens. But it's not true! Nerds want to talk to each other, and level up their nerdery! (And if they truly want to level up their nerdery, they could check out our "SAP Skillpocalypse: How To Not Become Extinct" talk.) The sessions will probably be great, but I'm also pumped to go have dinner or drinks with folks and swap war stories.

Jelena: In-person events are serendipitous. You can't replace the random connections that arise from hearing someone describe a problem they're facing, knowing that you've tackled it before and that you can help. Or the other way around! It's like you don't have to go hunting for new ideas; they'll just find you.

Paul: I'm going to wrap us up with a final thought here. I think the ASUG marketing department made a good naming choice. Tech Connect colors the meaning of the event with a sense of communal learning. There will be visionaries prognosticating with roadmaps and deep expertise, and if that's your thing you're sure to find it. But the secret ingredient is attendees learning just as much from their peers as any session leader turbo-nerd.

To hear more from Paul and Jelena, be sure to attend their ASUG Tech Connect presentation and roundtable discussion, “The SAP Skillpocalypse: How To Not Become Extinct,” and subscribe to both First Five and the Boring Enterprise Nerdletter.

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