SAPPHIRE NOW is not just the pun-iest conference of the year (SAPPHIRE, SAP-phire, get it?), it is also the biggest tech conference for businesses of the year. This year’s edition of Sapphire, extended over 3 days, gathered 20,000+ attendees. Our unit, Machine Learning, has also been very successful: 34 million readers learned about us in different articles in the media and 75,000 viewers watched our sessions online after the event. Quite a bit, right?
Why go to SAPPHIRE?
The unit Recast.AI joined in January, SAP Conversational AI, belongs to the bigger Machine Learning department at SAP. And shortly after the acquisition, we jumped into the big machine that is organizing SAPPHIRE NOW. Our goals for the event was to bring the value of conversational interfaces to the 378,000 SAP customers to addressing much bigger markets, leverage the power of conversational interfaces by integrating chatbots into all existing SAP products, and of course announce the release of new ground-breaking features in conversational AI and machine learning.
Discovering the showfloor
SAPPHIRE NOW is big, blue and beautiful.
The show floor gathers different exhibition areas of SAP units, different cool showcases, and an entire section dedicated to partner booths. Amongst them, you can find small demo theaters where people come and go to present their products. This floor is surrounded by bigger theaters where presentations are held, and two major scenes: the Best-Run Theater and the Keynote Theater. From 9 to 10:30am every morning, everybody listens to the main keynote of the day.
Understanding the ropes of SAPPHIRE
If you’re preparing to attend SAPPHIRE, there are a few things you ought to know to make the best of your trip.
If you are planning on exhibiting, here are a few things we want to share:
Consolidate a valuable agenda
This first advice applies to all events of such kind: going there without a plan will always result in failure. There’s too much to see to just decide on the fly. Before attending, establish what you want to get out of the event: prospects? Contacts? Technical expertise? Awareness for your product? Write down you key objectives and create a rock solid agenda. During our 3 days there, we hosted 3 talks, were represented on the Machine Learning booth, had two customers with multiple media opportunities, and over 10 business meetings.
Bring a solid team
Five people from our team came to SAPPHIRE NOW: our director, our partnership manager, a product manager and our US team leader. My role was to coordinate everything with everybody and making sure nobody dies. Quite straightforward! Every single person was essential. Because of the frenzy of talks, business meetings, lunches, breaks, commute, rehearsals, interviews, you need to have people on hand to hold the fort at the booth, take care of your guests, do the talks, go to meeting. Don’t forget to BYOE(xecutive)! Many execs come to SAPPHIRE NOW, so it’s always handy to have somebody to take care of them accordingly. Lastly, don’t under-estimate the jetlag and energy these events take… people get tired. Plan accordingly, and schedule time off.
Don’t limit yourself to the conference
Unless you have a packed agenda, I’d advise to come a day before and leave a day after the conference. As an exhibitor, you need to get your badge, understand the showfloor, see the location and the commute; it is much safer to do that before the event starts, when you have time to make mistakes. Leaving a day after allows you to enjoy the more relaxed but valuable networking that after-works, dinners (or, you know, a Justin Timberlake concert) provide.
Take the time to meet your colleagues
SAP is a big company! SAPPHIRE NOW is great to meet John and Mary from the EMEA office, who you’ve exchanged hundreds of emails with but have never actually met. Take that as an opportunity to strengthen your own professional network!
Oh, and, by the way… Bring a jacket! While it is boiling hot outside, the AC is always on and things get chilly indoors.
So, if you’re wondering whether or not you should go next year, at least you have all the cards.
See you then!