Mastering SAP Highlights, Sydney 2019 (Part 3 of 3)

Back in 2019, a friend recommended me for a weekend gig that involved attending and covering an SAP conference in Sydney. Being completely curious and interested in what this would entail, I said “yes”. So here now is the third of three articles produced for Inside SAP.

This piece was published on 28 March 2019.

The original piece can still be read on the company’s website.

Ilya Popov shares his thoughts on attending Sydney’s Mastering SAP 2019 conference.

As with every conference of this scope, there were more presentations and people to meet than it’s humanly possible to do within a specifically allotted amount of time. Luckily, we were able to ultimately meet, shake the hands of, learn from, listen to, and even interview several people.

It’s easy to forget that these yearly gatherings would not be possible without the tremendous background effort of the organisations involved in helping these events come together. The Eventful Group spent nine months preparing alongside organisations, speakers and venues to make it happen, and the entire event went down without a hitch and ran like clockwork. That’s no small feat. On behalf of everyone at Inside SAP: THANK YOU!

The Eventful Group did not operate in isolation – they had the help of their sponsors and partners, including Diamond Partner, EY. Standardising procedures, improving workflows, submissions methods, programming bugs, information at this conference is of benefit to every single Australian SAP user.

But what did Inside SAP think?

Well. Change certainly came up a lot. A considerable amount of time was spent discussing the human factor. How do we get people on board? How do we help others understand change? How do we train up people who’re in the latter half of their careers and need to learn new protocols and procedures? How do we explain the importance of cybersecurity to them?

Casualisation is another matter of concern. Australia’s economy has shown an increased number of employees working casual hours due to a variety of needs. SAP’s staff, particularly at Fieldglass, stressed that the permanent workforce is going nowhere, to the relief of many. But do expect to see more contract positions come into existence, for short- to medium-term projects – particularly for those initiatives that require skills from overseas.

And finally, there was the concern around communication. Particularly around employee layers within organisations. Whenever change occurs, it will be important for any organisation to have those who readily embrace change, those who are hesitant, and those who question its need. Each of these three social divisions can be of benefit to each other, to ensure that fools don’t rush in where angels fear to tread.

It’s important for co-workers to have a mutually beneficial back-and-forth dialogue, and to teach and train one another. Particularly when dramatic new changes occur – in such instances, the importance of having enthusiastic employees willing to convince their co-workers of the merits of change is vital.

In the words of Richard Hunt, Managing Director of Turnkey Consulting:

 “In my experience these events can often be overrun with consultants and vendors but at this one I saw a real commitment from client teams who were there to learn and network. So hats off to the organisers!”

Change, education, communication, all of this leads to well-oiled organisations ready to face the future and ready to engage with changing security protocols and measures, and thus expect the same level of compliance from any and all partners and supply chain partners.


Mastering SAP Highlights, Sydney 2019 (Part 2 of 3)

Back in 2019, a friend recommended me for a weekend gig that involved attending and covering an SAP conference in Sydney. Being completely curious and interested in what this would entail, I said “yes”. So here now is the second of three articles produced for Inside SAP.

This piece was published on 27 March 2019.

The original piece can still be read on the company’s website.

Last week, many delegates attended Mastering SAP in Sydney to ask about Agility and the future of the workforce.

In this space, Toni Jackson (APAC Director, SAP Fieldglass) highlighted 3 key elements affecting the future of work, which she identified as: 

  1. Talent and technology transformation
  2. The new Agile workforce
  3. Regulation and innovation

With 70% of business leaders believing they need a new mix of talent and skills in the future, Toni provided further information for companies and employees coming to understand and integrate agile methodologies into their workplace practices:

  • Traditional employees will be joined by contractors, freelancers, and crowd-sourced talent
  • Routine work will be further automated by robots and AI
  • Companies will focus on truly human skills
  • Careers will be built around learning rather than jobs

A few more key takeaways we highlighted from the show included the importance of bringing people along for the transformation and change journey and including the human factor in change and its cousin, security.

Alongside the changes that are happening in the workspace, technology shifts are a concern from an operational and legislative standpoint, as discussed by Grant Smith (General Manager, Energy Queensland).  When we deal with issues like identity theft or cyber attacks, he explained, we don’t actually know anything about the human that’s engaged in the theft. We only experience the repercussions of their actions. He said:

“It’s one thing to identify the Human. It’s one thing to identify the Machine. It’s another thing to identify the Human behind the machine”

David Roberts (VP, Executive Advisory Council, SAP & Advisor, UnderArmour USA) discussed a paradigm shift in his presentation “The Case for a Finance-Centric Organisation.”

“We were able to have a discussion around SAP HANA for finance and what it means to shift the paradigm from the traditional way to run the business to having a finance centred business and how other companies have gone through that journey.”

During his talk “Making Digital Change Happen,” Andrew Bettenay (CIO, Endeavour Energy,) pointed out very clearly that

“Coming up with a strategy that makes sense can and must be done quickly. But do not assume that all impacted stakeholders are able to come on the journey as quickly.”

This same sentiment was shared by Mark Weatherford (USA Department of Homeland Security’s first Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity.). When asked about what was of paramount concern to him, Mark explained:

“My greatest concern honestly is the third-tier suppliers that you touch too because you really don’t know what they’re doing, what their posture looks like, and what their security practices are, and if they’re touching your environment you basically get their diseases.”

In a heavily Security and Risk oriented conference, many speakers made it clear that their are more questions than answers. What’s needed is more communication and education around security. We need to develop imaginative minds, capable of envisaging potential problems or issues before they arise, so as to catch them in advance. We need to first remember that we’re dealing with technology and the people behind it. 

Read part 3 here.

Want to know more about the speakers and their companies? 

SAP Fieldglass:

Under Armour:

Endeavour Energy:

Energy Queensland:

Mastering SAP Highlights, Sydney 2019 (Part 1 of 3)

Back in 2019, a friend recommended me for a weekend gig that involved attending and covering an SAP conference in Sydney. Being completely curious and interested in what this would entail, I said “yes”. So here now is the first of three articles produced for Inside SAP.

This piece was published on 26 March 2019.

The original piece can still be read on the company’s website.

Mastering SAP Sydney too place last week on the 18th and 19th of March. The opening presentations had a strong emphasis on security and risk in addition to recurring industry staples.

As with most trade shows and conventions, there’s never enough time to meet, speak with, and catch up with everyone we’d like. However, we did have the pleasure of meeting several brilliant people and attending some highly informative presentations. Notably, we listened in on Mark Weatherford (former USA Department of Homeland Security’s first Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity) providing unique insights into the world of supply chains and the risks they can be exposed to through a lack of due diligence and poor security. 

Organisations both large and small can make the exact same mistakes and suffer equally similar financial, social, and physical repercussions. Consider the assorted manufacturing and distribution pipelines at risk for the car manufacturing industry in a world where we can buy German cars with Dutch engines that have Taiwanese computer sensors, American-made wheels, powered by petrol imported from the UAE. The fallout that would ensue if even a single link in that chain were to rupture or break for any period of time can have vast and negative knock-on effects upon other connected suppliers, distributers, wholesalers, and retailers.

As such, it’s important to map one’s supply chains, identify where problems might emerge, and critically: engage with staff. Want to avoid having staff that feel like a nameless cog? Engage with your employees. Brief them regularly. Create a culture that values security and awareness – to know how and when to spot potential issues or problems. 

The changes being undertaken by the ATO are a particularly relevant subject to many delegates at Mastering SAP. Matt Voce (Local Product Manager, SAP Australia) addressed Single Touch Payroll in his session: “Deep Dive: Understanding Single Touch Payroll for a Successful Go-Live.” The ATO is currently undergoing the biggest change in tax-related legislation since World War 2.  We live in a world of constant change, uncertain as to how anything will work in the future. Yet Australian tax law has, despite obvious developments, not undergone a drastic upgrade in over 70 years. 

Matt shared advice and guidance on navigating the change as the STP deadline approaches on the 1st July 2019. His session included a live demo and real feedback from SAP Payroll customers.

As many surely noticed, the topic of security was also a focal theme at the conference. And who better to speak to on the matter than Melissa Price, the CEO of Aust Cyber, who spoke of the importance of a holistic and inclusive strategy to ensure good security practices, standards and enforcement. 

“Everyone is responsible for security now”, because if organisations are going to manage risks, it has to involve people from different business unites, and every single person in an organisation needs to be provided a unique set of incentives to entice them to learn about and care about security and change in policies, software, hardware, and procedures. But to avoid a simple band-aid solution, we need to employ change management to ensure the right long-term decisions are made and applied properly.

On Identity Management, we spoke with Simon Ell at Sailpoint, a company that specialises in identity governance, risk management, and access certification. Consider: staff members come and go at organisations, and sometimes a new hire will inherit the computer and access privileges of the previous owner of that particular position. Often times, inheriting a person’s role involves having access to all the same files, directories, and systems of the previous job holder. 

But is that necessary? Should someone be able to access folders and files they don’t understand or don’t need access to? Failing to track folder privileges can lead to security risks. 

There’s an obvious overlap between the need for wise managerial policies that can ensure employees remain engaged and understand the value of sound and change-prone security policies. Such goals cannot be attained if we do not first stop to pause and reflect upon a long-term strategy. 

Opening speaker Dr Jason Fox, summarised the concept when he said: “I guess my hope for folks is that we can pause and reflect a little bit more.”

Read part 2 here.

Interested in learning more about the people we met?

Dr. Jason Fox:

SAP Australia: