SAP to Split User Conference Between Europe, US

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SAP's annual Sapphire user conference will run simultaneously this year, in Orlando and Frankfurt, the company announced Tuesday.

The news followed company co-founder Hasso Plattner's pledge Monday to spark new innovation, rebuild customer relations and generally "make SAP a happy company" in the wake of the recent resignation of CEO Léo Apotheker.

SAP may have particularly hard work ahead of it in Germany, where user groups were especially vocal about the vendor's 2008 decision to move customers to a richer-featured but pricier support service.

The twin Sapphire events will take place May 17 to May 19. Last year's show in Orlando drew more than 18,000 in-person and online attendees, according to SAP.

Sapphire's return to Europe is a symbol of SAP's "commitment to customers," the company said in a statement. Although the events will take place on different continents, SAP will attempt to unify attendees through "real-time connected sessions" between Frankfurt and Orlando.

SAP is also planning to have "a major presence" at the massive Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, which takes place in early March.

The announcements drew a nod from Altimeter Group analyst Ray Wang.

"Tagging on to Cebit is a smart way to keep travel costs low and good way to show love to SAP's EMEA customers," he said via e-mail. "While virtual conferences have gained in popularity, nothing beats walking the show floor, sharing info with other attendees, and seeing a live demo."

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