image from Craig Cmehil's Rantings blog
A tweet by Capgemini’s solution architect Lee Provoost today got me thinking about the future and potential of SAP TechEd conferences:
how is SAP going to deal with the fact that lots of companies have now “no travel” policies for cost cutting?
Very aptly Lee pointed to the current economic climate which forced a lot of SAP customers to put a ban on traveling and expenses for conventions such as TechEd. This will be a problem that SAP will have to address when planning and organising the next wave of TechEd conferences taking place later this year and beyond. A while ago Chip Rodgers tweeted about the complications of figuring out the number of potential participants for TechEd given the current economic circumstances (“in this economy, how do we estimate attendance?“). TechEd attendances have been going from strength to strength in recent years, and quite rightly so. On my recent visit to TechEd Berlin in October 2008 I was very impressed with the level of organisation that goes into these events. However (and I sincerely hope otherwise) 2009 and maybe 2010 could be tough years for SAP’s main developer conference. Essentially, this got me thinking of ways out of this and thereby also making a move towards a greener way to cope with traveling as well as a smarter usage of energy.
“The biggest virtual developer convention in the world”
OK, brace yourselves! What if SAP would create an entirely Virtual SAP TechEd conference? Similar to the recent PKOM (Partner Kick-Off Meeting) and also the Business Suite 7 launch, would it not be a fantastic and mindblowing idea to entirely hold a big conference such as SAP TechEd in the virtual space? A combined use of video and microblogging could give an event such as this the feel of true collaboration. Granted, the devil is in the detail here, but there are only a few software companies on the planet that could pull this one off. In my view, SAP is one of them. The benefits and opportunities for such an idea:
- real savings for customers
- a truly green event
- bigger reach to even more developers and BPXers
- great extension to the current Virtual TechEd format
- real online collaboration
- target group for this already used to the web format
Now I can hear some people shouting “Bah Humbug” already, argueing that for example the organisational effort for an event such as this would be phenomenal. Another one: “What about face-to-face meetings, networking and collaboration ?”. Well, maybe, but would not tools such as Twitter (to some degree) prove these critics wrong? There could potentially be small compromises. For example, similar to the break up of SAPphire EMEA into smaller, more regional events, TechEd could go an analogous route by hosting one small main event with speakers/mentors and several satellite venues which would provide web video links to the main event, yet still giving participants a face-to-face option to network and collaborate locally.
Now, I can imagine that clever TechEd people such as Chip Rodgers, Amir Blich, Marylin Pratt or Craig Cmehil (Second Life?) have already been hatching a “Virtual TechEd Masterplan” such as this… or at least I hope they have.