Column: SAP gets starry-eyed at SAPPHIRE NOW conference

Opinion

Column: SAP gets starry-eyed at SAPPHIRE NOW conference

Last week Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects) gave the performance of his life, as himself, playing the role of a big fan of SAP's Enterprise Resource Planning software.

On a stage in front of 4,000 fans, at the Sapphire/TechEd event in Madrid, he unveiled his passion for enterprise resource planning, cloud computing and in memory transactions.

Byrne seemed to be opening his heart to his audience of customers, partners journalists, analysts and bloggers.

Who'd have thought that the star of films such as Miller's Crossing, End of Days and Treatment would be so concerned about the future of corporate computing?

But clearly he was sitting in his trailer, performing his own form of data analytics and predicting the future.

"We have two quantum leap opportunities ahead of us," he said. "Cloud computing. And in-memory computing."

Like many an IT executive, he had a theory about what Einstein would say if he was on the board of an IT company today (mind you, he'd have to get his hair cut).

The great man would have re-written the theory of relativity to include in-memory computing and cloud, apparently.

"E equals IMC squared," said Byrne.

[PAUSE FOR LAUGHTER]

"You should have seen him in Orlando," said the woman beside me. "He was speaking off the cuff then and came across as a bit of a wild card."

Perhaps someone wrote a script for him this time, because he was using a lot of phrases that IT marketing managers might use.

"Don't let your what ifs become your if onlys," he told us.

"The present is already the past," he argued. "Now is the future."

"We have to make decisions in the blink of an eye," apparently.

Hang on, isn't that how we lost £8 billion on a useless IT system for the NHS? By rash decisions. Fujitsu, a partner at this event, was involved in that disaster.

Gabriel Byrne is right. The future is pretty scary.

A credible witness?
Jim Hagermann Snabe makes a bit more of a credible witness.  Well he would do, seeing how he's co-CEO of SAP.

SAP's concept of in-memory computing, which compresses data enough to fit an entire warehouse full into one giant pool of memory, is the fastest growing category of IT, claims Snabe.

Putting all your data into memory means you can process any calculation thousands of times faster. There's no problem that can't be solved.

For example, by 2030, for example, one third of Europeans will be over 65. How do we deal with that?

Or how can we get something back from all the billions that were wasted on the NHS?

I'd like to ask the computer why they didn't put Snabe on first.

This was first published in November 2011

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