Personal content picks for the world’s biggest networking event

biggest networking event

Note: This post was written in anticipation of Sapphire Now, SAP’s annual conference, which they re-launched in 2020 as one of the biggest virtual events in the world, attracting more than 100,000 participants.

You can see all of the content from this event here: SAPPHIRE NOW VIRTUAL EVENT

This week, I’ve provided inside information on how one of the biggest companies in the world is opening the doors to a path-finding, five-day virtual event called SAPPHIRE NOW. Today, I’m providing my hand-picked conference guide with the essential sessions for marketing and business leaders in my audience.

SAP is transforming its massive annual event to an online virtual experience. In previous years, this would have required thousands of dollars for travel and a ticket — and an invitation — but this year the experience is FREE and open to everyone.

And yes, they have Sting.

SAPPHIRE NOW offers a variety of executive presentations plus 11 different content tracks:

  • Business Technology Platform
  • Customer Experience
  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • Experience Management
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Industries
  • Intelligent Enterprise
  • Procurement
  • Small and Midsize Enterprise
  • Supply Chain and Manufacturing

With more than 50 speakers involved with this virtual stage, I’ll point out the five events that would be most relevant to the {grow} blog audience. I’ll be attending these sessions myself and I hope to see you there, too!

SAP has more than 400,000 customers and countless partners and stakeholders from around the world. I think it will be fascinating to see how the company pulls off a virtual event of this scale!

Each session will be a blend of live and pre-recorded content. You can view the entire line-up here, but this is the specific programming I’m looking forward to most:

1. Customer Experience
June 16 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time

This session will be extremely relevant to anybody in marketing today. There is so much pressure on our profession to own the 360-degree view of the customer experience. I predict that in the next few years, the role of marketing will be substantially transformed around context and experience.

That’s why this session is essential and number one on my list. This digital experience is jam-packed with outstanding speakers and topics including:

  • Customer experience trends and disruptions
  • Case studies from grocers, Bayern Munich, pharmaceutical, automotive, and healthcare
  • A discussion on brand loyalty between my friend Denise Yohn and Adam Savage, Former Co-Host and Executive Producer, Mythbusters
  • Building B2C customer experience into a B2B business
  • Future-proofing your customer experience


2. Keynote talk by SAP CEO Christian Klein + Sting
June 15  10:45 a.m. Eastern Time

Christian Klein

I’ve watched Mr. Klein in action a few times and he’s a different breed of leader. He’s young and relatively new to the job, having become the sole CEO back in April. He’s passionate. He wears sneakers. And I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

The main purpose of this corporate event is to introduce new ideas and provide some technology announcements. I expect a lot of that. But isn’t it going to be fascinating to hear a CEO keynote speech in the pandemic era?

The world is in turmoil. Most SAP customers have had their markets rocked and their supply chains upended. The very heart and soul of organizations is being transformed. What does SAP have to say about that? This will be captivating.

Also, Sting will make an appearance in this time slot. What’s not to like?

3. Small and Mid-sized business trends
June 18  1:30 Eastern Time

biggest networking event

Simon T. Bailey

This session is being created to explore the context of smaller businesses in the global crisis.

With “business as usual” now obsolete, companies must reimagine how they operate and engage with customers. Technology can play a new role in enhancing flexibility and responsiveness. The theme of this session is PIVOT and this will be a very energizing event.

I’m particularly excited to hear some of the speakers and stories presented including:

  • Sarah Evans, a friend of mine and an acclaimed thought leader in the SME space
  • Chris Turner, who will show how he is using technology to build a sports analytics company
  • Author Simon T. Baily will be talking about “shifting your brilliance”
  • Miguel Molina, an executive from Avocados from Mexico discussing new marketing practices

… and this is just a glimpse of what’s in store. Amazing content.

4. Experience Management
June 15  2 p.m. Eastern Time

Take a look at the theme of this session:

“Break the obsession with measurement with a system of action.”

I’m thinking WHAAAAAT?

biggest networking eventI think this is an extraordinary idea from a mega-company like SAP and we will see some cutting edge thought leadership here.

One of my favorite quotes from my book Marketing Rebellion came from Wistia CEO Chris Savage: “You can keep up with the pulse of culture or you can measure. You probably can’t do both.”

Are we starting to see this bold attitude show up in global enterprises? This session promises a bold call to “work differently” with case studies featuring Under Armour, BMW, and Ernst & Young.

Are we truly moving to an enlightened new era of customer experience management? Fasten your seatbelt on this one.

5. Industries Session
June 16   12:30 p.m. Eastern Time

azeem azhar

Azeem Azhar

It was hard to make this last pick. There are SO MANY good sessions to choose from. But I had to go with this topic about industry transformation because it features two interviews led by my long-time friend Azeem Azhar.

Azeem is a former tech journalist, an entrepreneur, and absolutely one of the most brilliant minds in the world when it comes to the future of business and technology. I decided to make this my final pick just because I can’t pass up an opportunity to see this man in action.

Of course there is much more to this session – seven different speakers, and features from retail, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, on-demand printing, utilities, and consulting practices. Should be a great one.

Viewing this conference on multiple levels

That wraps up my personal guide to SAP SAPPHIRE NOW.

On one level, the content will be amazing. But it will also be interesting to see how SAP can pull this off. In my experience, an online global experience like this is unprecedented. The complexity, coordination, and technology involved in this conference is mind-blowing.

From a marketing perspective, here are some other ways I will be watching SAP SAPPHIRE NOW:

  • What forms of presentation formats will SAP be pioneering? How could this work for me and my customers?
  • SAP has created SAPPHIRE NOW to replace a beloved annual event that brings people together in one location. How will they reinforce “community” in a virtual setting?
  • The company is on the cutting edge of content marketing. Will I see something inspiring and bold? I’m especially interested in opportunities for interactivity that might occur here.
  • SAPPHIRE NOW is being created across different departments, different countries, and different cultures. How does the company deliver a relevant and seamless experience with that level of complexity?

I can’t wait to find out!

I hope you’ll join me in exploring this five-day digital adventure by signing up here: Free virtual pass.

Disclosure: I’m being compensated as an advocate for SAP to highlight this extraordinary virtual event.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of several best-selling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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