Most Innovative Meetings 2019: #4 SAP Sapphire Now

Adopting a content-oriented “live-work-play” approach, planners aimed for a fun and productive conference.

At the center of Sapphire Now was the Central Showcase, a high-tech air travel-theme display designed to demonstrate how experiential data and operational data can merge to assist businesses.
At the center of Sapphire Now was the Central Showcase, a high-tech air travel-theme display designed to demonstrate how experiential data and operational data can merge to assist businesses.
Photo: Courtesy of SAP

For business technology firm SAP’s Sapphire Now and ASUG Annual Conference, which took place in Orlando in May, organizers completely rethought the floor design and experience.

“Our goal was to make the conference as relevant as possible to attendees,” said Nicola Kastner, senior director of global event strategy, who explained that the new approach packaged offerings that would help solve specific business challenges. This year’s conference took a “live-work-play” approach, creating a new, easy-to-follow layout that started before attendees even reached the trade show floor.Soft seating clustered in small groups invited conversation and networking.Soft seating clustered in small groups invited conversation and networking.Photo: Courtesy of SAP

For the “live” portion of the event, the entrance created an expansive area with seating options clustered in small groups, inviting conversation and networking. Throughout the show floor, meeting rooms had conference-style tables, pendant lighting, and soft seating in a private setting. A buffet-style lunchroom was moved to a large tent outside the back of the trade show floor. Theaters from small, 45-seat topic areas to the main keynote theater were arranged throughout the show floor. With all of these provisions and experiences in place, the attendees had no reason to leave the floor during the day.

Under the “work” umbrella, the show floor established five color-coded “neighborhoods,” each representing one of the five business disciplines in the SAP suite of products. Once attendees entered a neighborhood, they were greeted by SAP experts who offered best practices and guidance to meet challenges and take advantage of opportunities. Pavilion communities stood nearby; this is where visitors experienced SAP innovation and expertise around industry, services and support, and intelligent platform technology.

And coming under the “play” subhead, the most notable experience was a technology-equipped basketball court. Participants could shoot baskets from a variety of angles, encouraged and coached by a comedian dressed as a referee. SAP technology provided stats on the players’ abilities and compared them to those of N.B.A. professionals.

And, of course, there was the technology. At the center of the floor was the Central Showcase, a high-tech, air travel-theme display designed to demonstrate, through a familiar scenario, how experiential data and operational data can merge to assist businesses. Outside, four concave partial walls sported informational and inspirational messages, while inside was a 360-degree LED experience that displayed bold, ever-changing images inspired by airplanes. Employees dressed as flight crew staffed the display.

“Everything was designed with the customer at the heart of the experience,” Kastner said. “Sapphire Now can be overwhelming. We did everything we can to make it easy for participants to reach experts who can help and answer their questions.”On a high-tech basketball court, SAP technology compared attendees’ skills to those of N.B.A. professionals.On a high-tech basketball court, SAP technology compared attendees’ skills to those of N.B.A. professionals.Photo: Courtesy of SAP

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