If you think that an SAP Configuration Workgroup (CWG) conference is only about technology, think again. SAP has hit a revolutionary crossroads where new technology will shape configuration for the next 20 years and beyond. And with this new technology comes vital decisions that could alter the landscape of your business. Which is why our conference is evolving to meet the growing needs of SAP customers in all capacities – including those focused on business solutions.
CWG has long had a reputation as a techie organization and that our conferences can be rather intimidating for those who are new to configuration or not highly technical. There is some unfortunate truth to this, but it is essentially the nature of the beast. Configuration is a highly nuanced topic where the right solutions and best practices may not be obvious or intuitive. Through CWG presentations and networking opportunities, you can get access to information that you won't find anywhere else. It is not in books, online help, or training. Chances are good that somewhere in the world someone else has faced similar technical challenges to yours, and CWG is the place to find that someone!
Over the years, I have had numerous conference attendees tell me that they spent months searching for answers to tricky technical problems that were answered in a few minutes at our conference. They further tell me that the cost of the conference paid for itself many times over by getting those answers. We always have great presentations about good modeling practices which are the cornerstone of successful and sustainable implementations. We also address topics like functional integration to sales and distribution, production planning, and various other related solution areas. Finally, you have no better access to learn the details about the latest product innovations, updates, and roadmaps from SAP.
But What about the Rest of Us?
I have had the honor of serving on the CWG Board of Directors since 2005, and I’ve been a member for nearly 20 years. We have often wondered how we can make our conferences more interesting for more business leaders, in addition to technical audiences, and are striving to make the value proposition better known for all audiences. In the past, when we have tried doing more business-centric presentations to attract managers, we tended to lose interest from the technical attendees because technical attendees say they have little influence on their company's system implementation strategies. It is a critical time now to strike a balance in content for business and technical audiences. The SAP product line is robust, with new products coming, and we want to promote education for all relevant roles.
I became President of the CWG Board of Directors in May at our Budapest conference. Taking years of feedback from CWG members and eLogic's customers alike, I set a goal for the board to enhance our conference program by offering more content for decision makers – those people who are charged with setting their company's system implementation strategies. At our upcoming St. Louis conference in October, we will have presentations and roundtable discussions that are specifically tailored for this audience. So I want to spread the word through this blog and other means in the future.
Why Start Now?
With so many choices now available in the SAP Product Portfolio, how does a customer decide which products or solutions to use and when or how to deploy them? I know from working with many customer executives that these decisions are weighing on them more heavily than ever. They are under pressure to keep their competitive advantage that modern configuration technologies offer. They feel that they need to be making some decisions, but they aren't sure how to make them in an informed and optimal way. They want access to detailed information and discussions that can provide better guidance.
Frankly, it is difficult even for SAP to deliver a concise message on how to make many of these decisions. These can be very nuanced topics and there is rarely a simple or one-size-fits-all decision tree. In the old days there was just LO-VC configuration within SAP R/3. Later came the IPC (in fact, the CWG was founded to influence SAP to develop the IPC). Today there is an explosion of solution options and alternatives. In some cases, there are different groups within SAP responsible for different options. So it is also valuable to get input from systems integrators and other customers about the numerous considerations in making such decisions. For example:
- LO-VC or AVC in S/4HANA
- SAP CPQ Native or SAP CPQ for VC Edition
- Guided Selling in Sales and/or Commerce Cloud
Where can customers turn to get this kind of information? The kind you can't find in books or training or marketing. Sound familiar? Since there were few system options and decisions to make in the 1990s when the CWG started, the CWG naturally gravitated toward the topics of solving technical configuration problems in "the" ERP system. Over time, standalone and CRM system discussions came into play, but there really weren't "fork in the road" decisions like we have today. Simply put, tech talk becomes moot if we aren't sure which combination of systems will best support the needs of a customer's business.
Have You Been to CWG, Lately?
The CWG Board is taking action to diversify our presentations over the next several conferences starting with St. Louis. We want to be the conference for all SAP users – offering in-depth technology sessions and deep value for business leaders. There have been and will continue to be significant new modeling, functional, and application topics at every CWG conference to keep pace with the extensive, ongoing developments in SAP's S/4 and C/4 platforms. But SAP is more than just technology, it’s a way of transforming the way businesses connect with their customers, and we want to be a part of making that success happen.
I encourage anyone who believes the two criticisms above to consider attending the St. Louis conference. We will soon be announcing several key presentations and sessions for the conference, and I hope you will agree that there will be something for everyone who has interests in production configuration. I welcome your feedback on how we are doing before, during, and after the conference. You can send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see you in St. Louis!
To register for the conference, click here.