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SAP Developer Challenge Theme One: Social Computing

My boss Mark Yolton introduced Shel Israel  as well as the top contributors in the room. Marc Bernard (picture) with 6794 topped them all more than double the points of the runner up.

 Top Contributor and Developer Marc Bernard


Nice, Shel starts out with his take away slide, so I can dose off for the rest of his presentation 😉 

Shel Israel at the SAP Developer Chalenge 2008

Communities are not about tools. They’re about people.

People don’t change tools do


Even though I agree with Shel I was thinking: That is tough for our developers competing to come up with the most intriguing tool to wow the audience come Monday afternoon. Going green anyone?


SAP’s own Mike Prosceno kick-started Shel’s blogger career by giving him the task to do the SAP Global Survey. (He had one already with Naket conversations, but took it up a notch through the SAP Survey. When I asked Shel, whether he would be available for this Developer Challenge, his reply was: SAP has done so much for me, I am happy to return this favor. 

‘Yes and’ technique worked nicely for him in negotiations with Mike.
Mike: We would like you to do some interviews for us regarding Social Media, Culture & Business.

Shel: Yes, and how about we post the questions and answers on my blog.

Mike: Let me get back to you about it. – Days later. – You are on.


SAP Global Survey enabled him to ask people all over the world about social media in their countries.


Sample of interviews he did and interesting stories from it:

Michael Dell is working on making Dell a truly conversational company. With Dell Ideastorm I think they are well on their way. I also heard that they generated half a million dollar through Dell employees twittering.


Talking about Twitter. sapdc08 is the tag that we are using for eventtrack. Follow eventtrack on twitter and then post @eventtrack start*sapdc08 from now until you post @eventtrack stop*sapdc08 all of your tweets will be tracked by Craig’s tool.

Laural Papworth, Silkworm 

“Saudi Women are already online, where they do what other people do, even flirt. But they do it anonymously, because the consequences can be devastating.” Devastating as in something that happened just a week before: 16 year old girl was caught by her father flirting on Facebook. He took her out on the street, beat her and executed her afterwards.

GM Bob Lutz didn’t get the GM side of the story out, so he started a blog. Everyone in the industry is reading it now. 

Paula Drum at H&R Block had the Cadillac problem, the customers got older and older and older. Is now one of the top 50 twitter folks.


Wael Abbas-Egypt

The most daring person of all the ones that he interviewed. He is posting police brutality videos smuggled out of  Egypt on YouTube:  “I will one day be arrested or killed. It does not matter. Someone will replace me. There stories need to be told.” 

My hat off to him, he really puts his life on the line for justice. Puts my little Future Salon: Boldly creating a world that works for all in its place: It’s like a kids birthday party. 


Peter Reiser probably the smartest person Shel ever met. That is quite the endorsement. Check him out, he has a funny cartoon on his blog, as well as an interesting file sharing collaboration tool just one post further down. He created internal community that is built around search.


Where is the ROI of Social Media? 

Here are some of the findings from these interviews:

  • Youth is the killer app
  • Youth driving adoption more than geeks
  • We are hard-wired to be communal
  • The most generous have the most influence
  • Culture matters
  • Control belongs to inhabitants, not builders.


Howard Rheingold in his book Smart Mobs was even more specific. Follow teenage girls in countries were technology is further developed to find out where we are heading with social software. That is a tall order for our developers being locked up at SAP for the next days 😉 

Business findings

  • Adoption      is faster than you think
  • Resistance      is found in the middle
  • Small      bands of evangelists making big difference
  • Measurement,      a key issue


The essential value is in the community.


Excellent question: SAP and Social Computing contradictory systems? Mark Yolton answered along the line of social computing is helping customers to solve problems,  which creates more successful projects and happier customers.


Yes, and the following problem space has not been covered and I see it as an opportunity for this challenge: SAP is king of transactions and the goal is to automate as much as possible. In many enterprises where SAP is humming 90+% of their business is running on autopilot. Most people in these companies are focusing on managing the exceptions, the crises situation where something is not going according to plan. If we are able to link in social software in these situations: Expert search with presence for fast reaction, wiki for the place where all information to this situation is gathered and keeps everyone on the same page, internal twitter like tool for short status updates, … I see an enormous potential for that interchange, interliking of the social with the transactional software. 


The more transparent a company is, the more trust it gets.

One of the key ingredients for disruptive technology is enabling access of that technology to many people, which usually means make it really cheap.


I asked about his last business point: Measuring is important.


Most companies are uncomfortable with things that they can’t measure and they try too early to do it.
Me think: So true.


As long as we are not able to measure the impact (as in ROI) of social media, we will not able to get the full potential from it.


That is the holy grail of social computing.
Exactly! If a team can come up with a convincing, even remotely convincing example for measuring the ROI, it will win on Monday, and we will keep them right here to finish the job, so that we can sell the solution in the next quarter 😉  


Mark Yolton in his final closing remarks also asked: How do we measure this?
What does it mean for consumer space versus business?


Good luck in cracking that nut.  

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