We'll be reporting on the legal markets announcements SAP made at the Sapphire annual user conference in Berlin this week, in the may edition of the Insider newsletter (out next Thursday) – and oh, yes they do have plans for the legal market – but in the meantime, here are some initial reports…

To say Sapphire is big is an understatement – it's gibleedinormous. There were 9000 delegates attending from 74 countries. There were even 300 press, analysts and bloggers present – which is more than the number of people you get attending any of the legal events in the UK, with the exception of the Legal IT and Solicitors 200X exhibitions. And there was unlimited free ice cream and iced doughnuts on tap – but more about that later.

This Monday saw Simon Niven, head of programme management at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, give an interesting presentation on talent management and how the firm is using SAP's HR system to provide a cradle-to-grave – or at least from new recruit to retirement and/or 'termination' (his choice of word, not mine) – system for monitoring and managing the career progression of fee earners. There was also a round table panel session on a related people management topic, namely how to recruit and retain IT staff in an increasingly competitive global IT market. Stephan Raemaekers, of Deloitte Consulting in Germany, suggested that the reason why so few graduates were joining the IT industry in Germany was that they would rather study law or social sciences (in the UK this would be media studies and creative writing). However, when one cynical member of the media present suggested the problem might actually be that IT graduates would rather work on sexier projects, such as interactive games or Web 2.0 social media, rather than for companies designing and implementing business accounting systems, there was one of those awkward “Vot ist das Grand Theft Auto?” moments.

In terms of the goodies, all delegates got the Berlin equivalent of an Oyster card for unlimited free travel on the city's public transport system and a dinky little backpack/wheelie bag. The latter proved particularly popular with grown men devising all manner of schemes to obtain additional bags. Plenty of food available – altho it was of a peculiarly Germanic nature, comprising mainly of small animals and fish fried, stewed, baked, pickled, sliced, diced and/or turned into sausages served up with sauerkraut and cream cheese. Still, the doughnuts were nice.

Our pictures show Simon Niven holding forth, plus the wheelie men in action (and yes the venue was so big that it did have a train line tunning thru it) and some doughnuts lined up in the press centre for afternoon tea.