SAP is revamping its Sapphire annual conference in 2006, combining it with an independent user group event, in a move both organizations said would reduce costs and improve a dialogue with users.
SAP America Inc. is joining with Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG), to hold both of their events at the same location next year in Orlando, Fla. The announcement was made at ASUG's annual conference in Anaheim, Calif., this week.
The two conferences will take place May 14-19, 2006.
SAP spokesman Bill Wohl said the ASUG conference will continue to be run independently, but the new format will place the user group conference a day or two ahead of the Sapphire event.
"Both groups use their conferences to touch their members, and we would like to see ASUG participants extend their visit to take full advantage of both events," Wohl said. "Independence is important because ASUG would not want to lose its opportunity to liaise with its membership, and at the same time, SAP would not want Sapphire distracted by all things ASUG."
ASUG was created in 1991 and ranks itself as the largest independent, not-for-profit organization of SAP users and partner vendors in the world. Each year the organization has held its user conference about two weeks before Sapphire.
ASUG said its membership is about 35,000, including about 2,000 SAP employees who are counted as members. It has been working to create partnerships in recent years to improve the visibility of its activities and services.
The organization had a nearly $10 million in total operating revenue in 2004, according to its 2004 annual report. That figure includes $7.8 million in revenue from conferences and meetings and $1.8 million in membership dues.
ASUG's 2004 conference in Atlanta drew about 6,000 attendees. The group has 37 chapters in the U.S. and Canada.
"The programming, structure, audiences and marketing of these events are not changing," ASUG president Karen Chirico said in the statement. "Through collocation, we will increase exposure and strengthen the reach of both organizations, and we will provide a more dynamic customer experience by bringing together more facets of the SAP ecosystem."
Wohl said SAP and ASUG have had a solid working relationship. The groups hold quarterly meetings with ASUG board members and other SAP executives. ASUG also runs influence sessions and forums with SAP executives to help sway future research and development activities at SAP.