This week, SAP is hosting its annual US-centric user conference SAPPHIRE. Jeff Nolan, who leads SAP's Apollo (Attack Oracle) group has taken the brave step of inviting 10 independent bloggers. These are people with no direct affiliation to the company. In at least one case – Neil Robertson – has direct links to SAP's nemesis – Oracle. Vinnie Mirchandani has already declared his hand in this upcoming event.
Jeff's done a great job of not only assembling a crack team, but also made access to their commentary as easy as possible. If you choose to follow the action, then you can go here. SocialText has provided a wiki which has completely open access. They've mashed that up with GoogleCalendar so you can see what's been arranged for the lads.
This is an incredibly important move. It will for instance be interesting to see the extent to which mainstream media picks up on what the bloggers are saying. I'd also be interested to see what the PR blogging community makes of it.
In the meantime, I'm hoping the likes of Microsoft, Sage, IRIS, MYOB and many others in the applications market are watching this. Oh yes – the title of this post: Over the years and despite its monolithic and proscriptive approach to applications, its hideous cost and lack of recent innovation, you've got to give them credit for taking this step. In that sense, SAP really is "staying ahead of the pack."
As an aside, I wonder what Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, EDS, Accenture, PwC, KPMG and the rest make of this?
UPDATE: I found this page which shows the areas of interest for these folk.
UPDATE 2: It's not entirely clear whether virtual attendees will be allowed to comment directly to the wiki or leave questions. I've asked the question.
UPDATE 3: Ross Mayfield of SocialText asked me to put him 'on assignment.'
Cross posted from AccMan Pro