I’m well-versed in the ins and outs of the ASUG (Americas SAP Users Group) web site, having volunteered for more than 5 years, survived 2 major site revisions, and been recognized for our efforts in fixing site bugs. While ASUG continues to grow in membership, activities and events, I’m blogging on SDN and not ASUG.com Here’s why.
On the ASUG.com web site, there are numerous resources available to employees of member firms, including SAP. We have discussion forums where questions are asked and answered, document repositories for useful information, and blogging capability. Discussion forums are channeled to special interest groups (SIGs) and other factions, with geographic interest by chapter, process communities (like BPX) and technical SIGs (I’m a techie). If you subscribe to a discussion forum you get email notification of postings, which are easy to turn off later if you are not interested . However, I’ve learned that the number of subscribers is in the hundreds, or even in the tens, for many forums. Others may find postings by browsing the site, but these numbers point to the low potential audience for a topic thread. For email “blasts,” our community subscribers are much higher, in the thousands or tens of thousands. But such transmissions need to be sent out cautiously, at the risk of turning off the end customer with too much irrelevant news. I’ve been editing a monthly newsletter since taking on a community facilitator role; each edition is reviewed by 10 to 20 people, including volunteers and ASUG HQ paid staff, prior to being distributed. Such a process takes time, on the order of days or weeks, and can risk being old news by the time anyone reads it.
I’ve been using SDN and BPX more frequently over the past few months, since our fortuitous meeting with Marilyn Pratt (during ASUG annual conference/Sapphire). I had browsed it in the past (okay, I lurked), and even earned points in 2005 for hosting a Birds-of-a-Feather session on Unicode at TechEd in Boston. I’ve generally preferred to continue posting messages on ASUG.com, as I can trace the provenance of a message reply and typically know posters from prior events. I’ve posted a couple questions on SDN without much positive feedback (trust me, Black & Decker has been doing SAP for a while and we’re past the easy questions). Yet, I started blogging as part of the run up to Tech Ed, and then got serious with a blog-a-day during the conference (not easy given the choices of things to do in Vegas). There has been good feedback, and as I started writing this only one had earned points, but my main goal was to use this medium to write my business trip report in an innovative fashion, so that the whole world was watching. From what I can tell, roughly 500 people have read each day’s blog, an order of magnitude higher than a discussion forum post on asug.com. More folks read the page that Craig linked to, so I hit the top 25 blog posts. The points system reinforces that I’m writing content suitable for mass consumption rather than self aggrandizement. My blog on our table buffer incident earned high points, so I’m more likely to write that type in the future. Self revelation can be tedious; business continuity tips pay the mortgage.
What about ASUG blogs (you may ask)? Well, the facility has been there since September 2006, and I’ve only seen 3 articles so far. The content has been interesting, but there’s no volume. It’s like the problem daily newspapers face around the country; media is fragmenting and customers move away from the less-exciting outlets. There are few articles, few readers, and little feedback. A vicious spiral, accelerated by the lack of a viable reward system that SDN includes.
In the future (which has already started) I’ll be blogging on SDN, editing newsletters for the ASUG BITI community, and moderating/mentoring the ASUG discussion forums because that’s my home base, the site where my peers hang out. I’ve embedded links to my TechEd 07 Las Vegas blogs in the October ASUG BITI newsletter.
Collaboration? Doing it.
In case you don’t know what the ASUG BITI community includes, here’s the list of SIGs and parts of their missions/visions:
- Archiving / Information Lifecycle Management [data management, retention management, records hold management and eDiscovery compliance, document archiving, as well as aspects of modern storage strategies]
- Data Governance [data governance strategy to support successful SAP implementations and sustain a stable master data infrastructure]
- Development Technologies [development technologies associated with the delivery of custom developed SAP functionality]
- Integration Technologies and E-Business [improvements to the business and technical aspects of E-Business, as well as utilizing and/or planning for utilization of electronic interfaces, integration technologies, collaborative solutions and services with SAP]
- Mobile Technologies [functionality for Mobile Solutions. SAP Mobile Solutions, including MAM (Mobile Asset Management), Mobile Sales, Mobile Business Intelligence, MobileTime and Travel]
- Security [Application Layer security]
- Systems Management [Support and maintenance of the SAP operational environment … Performance tuning, high availability and disaster recovery]
- Workflow and Business Process Management [business and technical topics related to Webflow development and deployment, from the initiation of a project to the ongoing support]