In his welcome to attendees at the Toronto installment of SAP’s Conversations on the Future of Business event, SAP Canada’s new COO Terry Madore focused on the ''new SAP story.'' According to Madore, the company is no longer about going to customers with new products, but rather about executing on new ideas that come through ''business conversations.'' Madore described the company’s new approach to engaging customers as "co-innovation" which begins with "design thinking" by industry experts and solution designers, that receives input from SAP industry experts to develop a prototype, and moves from there to creation of a solution. The substance of most conversations, he explained, will be use of cloud, Big Data and intelligent data — delivered in a mobile fashion — to generate business results. Close to 60 percent of SAP revenues comes from these buckets, Madore added.
This conversational theme was echoed in the main event presentation: a panel discussion rather than product promotion featuring Victor Woo, Cisco Canada’s GM for the Internet of Things, Karie Willyerd, VP and Chief Learning Officer at SuccessFactors (a SAP company), Mario D'Amico, CMO Cirque du Soleil, Steve Kramer, SVP, Hybris (a SAP company), and Terry Stuart, chief innovation officer at Deloitte Canada. Some of the issues discussed were the productivity crisis, which Stuart labelled "a crisis of innovation" that is exacerbated by Canadian risk aversion, the impact of the Internet of Everything, which Woo believes will stimulate innovation, the embrace of new apps which Willyerd explained is driving productivity in knowledge workers that is more than just "adding hours," design thinking, which Stuart claimed will produce systems that are "used" in addition to being technically feasible and financially viable, and the creation of personal customer experience that extends beyond product, which D'Amico has worked towards in "pre show, on site and post show" circus marketing planning.
But the real star of the show, and a testament to SAP’s intent to spark dialogue was the presentation by Nate Silver. Author of The Signal and the Noise, the statistician is well known for his forecasting facility, having correctly predicted the outcome in 50 states in the U.S. presidential election. Silver now works for ESPN, where he has built an algorithm for analyzing players, and continues to write for a number of journals on the subject of "what can be predicted and what can’t." In the event video below, Silver took a stab at Big Data, outlining some of the best and worst practices in the analysis of data.