The upcoming SAP User Group Conference in Manchester is the “big event" where companies can be heard by the supplier, according to the group’s chief executive.

Following the cancellation of SAP’s own European Sapphire show from this year, the user group conference will fill in the gaps and give companies a chance to be heard by the vendor and share their experiences with each other, he said.

Craig Dale, chief executive at the SAP UK & Ireland user group, told CIO sister title Computerworld UK that the event, taking place on 23 and 24 November, would give SAP and Business Objects users the chance to have their voice heard.

“Businesses are having to fight for every penny they can get,” he said. “We need to get together in these difficult times and work out ways to make our businesses successful.”

A recent survey by the user group found that companies are set to embark on a round of core SAP upgrades with fear and trepidation about the cost and disruption that will ensue. And many users have vocally expressed concern about changes to SAP’s support agreements.

Dale expects both themes to come up at the event, and to be heard by the vendor, as the user group reveals its latest results on enterprise support key performance indicators. “With Sapphire gone, we have the full support of SAP at this event and they will be here to listen,” he added.

But the event is equally about learning how to make the most from the software. The conference has grown dramatically in recent years, with over 80 presentations and 75 exhibitor stands planned for this year.

SAP UK managing director Tim Noble will speak at the event, as well as user group chairman Alan Bowling, and Ray Wang, partner at consultants Altimeter Group. Celebrity speaker and former world champion athlete Kriss Akabusi will open the conference.

Breakout sessions will address the “nuts and bolts” of business, Dale said. Included in this are channels that address strategy and talking to the management board, IT sustainability, specific SAP technology, and end-user case studies.

SAP UK and Ireland User Group Annual Conference 23 and 24 November, Manchester, More details available here