A fête worse than death: After struggling to connect into SAP's SapphireNow online shindig, we were all 'rewarded' with a Sting concert

Can't stand losing you... over TCP/IP. So lonely... after connections drop. Message in a bottle... would work better, etc etc

Comment SAP CEO Christian Klein's epithet may well be that he appears competent – as in, he's the sort of person whose advice on the best option for life insurance one would be accepted without hesitation.

The opening of SapphireNow – the enterprise application monster's annual shindig held this year on the internet rather than Florida due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak – today somewhat undid that image. In short, it didn't work properly, and people couldn't view the event.

To the grinding irritation of users, analysts, partners, and, yes, journalists, the SAP website set to introduce the world to Klein's taste in interior design, if nothing else, came in the distinct flavor of 404 and 503. The conference webpage now redirects to the SAP.com homepage, a move perhaps designed to ensure the derailed web event lingers in our minds as little more than a vague memory of a bad dream.

Those who coming in via Twitter were treated to a pre-recorded speech from SAP marketing supremo Alicia Tillman, as participants posted messages about the lack of online action...

SAP itself leapt onto Twitter to hold its hands up.

Those looking forward to Klein’s "timely keynote on how to lead and succeed in a time of crisis and economic recovery," or so the blurb promised, were left to reminisce about recent up-and-downs at the top table of one of the world's biggest application software makers.

Bill McDermott, the long-standing CEO who used acquisitions to bulk up revenues at SAP over a 15-year reign, left in October 2019 to be succeeded by the combination of Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein as co-CEOs. Morgan then left in April as the multibillion-dollar outfit revised its model to take "swift, determined action… supported by a very clear leadership structure" in the face of business challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The curtain was eventually raised on the SapphireNow show via LinkedIn and Twitter's Periscope live video feed:

In his keynote, Klein had an oblique dig at workflow provider ServiceNow, now headed by McDermott. "True business transformation does not happen only with an intelligent workflow solution, or by selecting many best-of-breed vendors, leading to a fragmented IT landscape, or by just moving your IT landscape on a public cloud infrastructure and creating data lakes," Klein said.

"You can't do it without an integrated business model and data structure across the business."

All this lead inevitability to a pitch for SAP's enterprise software, which, according to Klein, is getting easier to deploy. A modularized stack means it can take only four months to get an S/4Hana module live, he claimed.

After that spiel, viewers got some pre-canned testimonials from Porsche's chief beancounter Lutz Meschke, who said the automaker is working on harmonizing master data management across the organisation, and also something called a "digital bot room."

Then SAP cut back to Klein presenting an imaginary vision of a digital circular economy in front of graphics that would have made The Day Today proud.

Viewers who managed to get into the main event were subsequently forced to endure able to enjoy a from-home concert by yoga-loving pop grandee Sting. Others, meanwhile, were greeted with a "service unavailable" message on the main event website.

El Reg isn't sure what would have been more frustrating. Ghosts in the machine, or the former Police frontman in the virtual flesh. It's a tough one. ®


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