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Why Social Networks Matter Now

Social Computing Matters Now 

Look around. Whether it’s LinkedIn, YouTube, Wikipedia, FaceBook, the SAP Developer Network (SDN), the Business Process Expert (BPX) Community, the Business Objects Community (BOC), or any number of other social networks, it’s clear that social computing is here to stay.  

That’s because, in addition to generating endless fresh ideas and engaging people from diverse fields and interests, social networks allow people to reach beyond traditional barriers. Moreover, social computing lets people connect with others to create innovative new technologies, consider new solutions to old problems, and help to build vibrant, expansive online communities.


Just what is Social Computing…Exactly? 

Perhaps the most noted definition has roots in the concept of Web 2.0, a term coined by Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media (and SAP TechEd’07 keynote speaker): “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move of the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.” (O’Reilly, 2006). 

Since that statement was made, a number of new definitions have emerged. For instance, Georgia Demetriou, an advanced degree candidate at the Manchester Business School in the UK, defines social computing as the use of any set of “Web 2.0 technologies that have taken over the Web world indicating a new range of acceptable behaviours for communication, collaboration and information exchange” in her thesis, Participation in Online Collaborative Communities within Organisational Contexts: The Case of SAP’s Community Network. 

Like the myriad definitions of social computing, the tools by which people interact with each other online also abound. We have blogs, which often incorporate lively images or videos; forums, which enable virtual Q&A sessions; wikis, which encourage group brainstorming and distributed authorship; social networks, which bring people together around shared interests; podcasts, which allow people to listen to or view content when and where they want; and RSS feeds, which tap into new and emerging content as it’s created.  (And that’s just the tip of the social computing iceberg.)

Yet as diverse as the tools are, they have one thing in common: they’re all dynamic, enabling “mass review, collective contribution, feedback and refinement” (Demetriou, p.25).   


Connecting People across Time Zones 

So whether you’re a developer in Tel Aviv, Israel, or Akron, Ohio, social computing opens up a new world of connections and contacts. Literally.  

You can meet with peers and colleagues at all hours of the day or night to discuss fixes to IT issues, or even larger implementation strategies – without ever stepping away from your laptop. Moreover, you can get the solution in less time than if you were working on your own, or within the fixed boundaries of your own company.  

At Cardinal Healthcare, for example, participation in the BPX Community helped to accelerate a major new project. The company had a pressing requirement to implement a new business process in just four weeks.  

One of the developers at Cardinal had a technical question relating to the use of a Guided Procedure. So he posted it to an SDN forum. Not only did he get help from an SDN member within twenty-four hours, but he also got advice from an SAP employee. Through his social network, this same developer was able to discover the answer to a key question and keep the project on track.   


Leading to Technological Innovations

Groups of people can use online social networks to think together in new ways. The right kind of online social network can help to identify the problem or need, then gather together collaborators to work out the problem, and finally, facilitate the communication necessary to find the solution or innovation.

Independent blogger / analyst and “Enterprise Irregular” Dennis Howlett wrote about this beautifully in ESME: anatomy of a community based project, as did Richard Hirsch of Siemens in The specified item was not found. on the same project. 

Also take the case of the City of Dortmund, which used SDN forums to create a cutting-edge Mobile Infrastructure (MI) application for its urban engineering department. The application was to be integrated with the City’s global positioning system (GPS) and mobile geographic information system (GIS) software.  

According to one developer at the City of Dortmund, engagement with other SDN members not only helped in the creation of this MI application, but today makes it possible for the in-house development team to solve 50 percent of its problems through regular participation in the forums.  

A similar story comes from Yorktowne Cabinetry, which sought to create a customer-facing portal using Enterprise Portal four years ago. Its developers found that help from other members of SDN solved intermittent issues along the way, and also led to a more innovative, sophisticated portal application.  

And over time, Yorktowne developers found they weren’t the ones asking the questions on SDN forums; instead, they’d become experts in the use of Enterprise Portal, and were now regularly sought out for their advice!  

Participants in SDN and BPX also play an important role in the direction of SAP software, including innovations that SAP makes to its product line. For example, a piece of code submitted by Top Contributor Michal Krawczyk made it into SAP Enhancement Package 1 for SAP NetWeaver 7.0 recently. 


Creating a New Model for Learning 

In the pre-Web 2.0 world, job training meant taking time out of your job, traveling to a training facility, poring through texts, and/or sitting through lengthy lectures. In the Web 2.0 world, however, participants can take part in real-time or “just-in-time” training, in which training is made available when the trainee needs to apply the new information. Learning can happen 24/7. Moreover, in this new world, the trainee doesn’t sit in a classroom full of other trainees, but can interact directly with the experts.  

At Statoil, for example, one developer was working on his SAP XI Certificate and relied heavily on SDN for support during his learning process. At Tesoro Corp., another developer got “on-the-spot” training within 30 or 40 minutes of each issue cropping up.

In the SDN and BPX and Business Objects communities, just-in-time training may also mean engaging an SAP Mentor. The SAP Mentor initiative identifies and provides special status to exceptional and high-value members of these communities who can share knowledge with others. SAP Mentors are role models who differentiate themselves through the high quality and frequency of their community contributions, and who build momentum for the community as a whole. 


It’s all there in the Thesis: a Comprehensive Overview of both Collaborative Communities and the SAP Community Network

The question of value always comes up… value to the individual community member, value to their employer, and value to the sponsoring organization.  As Georgia Demetriou says in her extensive and comprehensive paper, it’s clear: 

“Social computing shifts computing to the edges of the network, and empowers individual users … to manifest their creativity, engage in social interaction, contribute their expertise, share content, collectively build new tools, disseminate information, and assimilate collective bargaining power (Parameswaran and Whinston, 2007). As these … ideas and applications enter organisations their purpose is also translated into business value, organisational creativity and industry innovation.” 

Further, she concludes:

“collaborative communities can deliver different dimensions of value to different recipients … highly influenced by the particular participants, their roles in the community and their corresponding behaviours in undertaking activities such as sharing information, exchanging ideas and generating knowledge.”

For much more insight into collaborative communities and our own SAP Community Network (SDN, BPX, Business Objects – augmented by the SAP TechEd and SAP Tech Tour events), see the full research paper just published in our SCN library through the generous agreement of its author.


Business Networks and Customer Value are at SAP’s Core

At SAP, we understand the importance of business and social networks — and we understand their value to our customers, partners, and to SAP itself. That’s why we began down this path — with SDN — five years ago, it’s why we dedicate so much energy and passion to the success of our community members through these “Enterprise 2.0” methods, and it’s why this topic is a strategic imperative and differentiator for SAP. 

We want to hear from you about how you use social computing, what benefits you derive from our SDN, BPX, and Business Objects communities today, and what you want to see from us in the future that will help you accelerate your success.  SCN Support! You have our commitment that we will continue to make all of our social media channels, tools, and programs the best they can be, to your benefit.

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  • Thanks for the kind words Mark -  much appreciated. You post makes me think of something that plays to many dimensions and especially that of diversity. SDN has a rich mixture of people and backgrounds. My challenge to SAP would be how best to organize and marshal that richness for the benefit of all going forward in a manner that recognizes the give and take that should characterize the best of community, allows SAP and its customer to profit in equal measure. I suspect that is an important challenge going forward.
    • Hi Dennis:  Now that you mention it...  without even intending to, my post above mentions: a female student in the UK, a young top contributor in Poland, a young-at-heart (I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt) gentleman (again...) in Spain, Tel Aviv generally, a U.S. health care provider, a mid-size MidWest manufacturer, a very large diverse German-based company (not SAP), Norwegian and Latin American petroleum companies...  I think diversity (people, languages, cultures, customer industries served...) is a very positive characteristic of SAP that we sometimes forget is a differentator to which we should pay more attention.  Delivering value to all of them -- and all those not mentioned here -- is a critically important balancing act.
  • Hello Mark,

    Excellent blog - thanks for posting this.

    I have a question - is social computing now part of how SAP develops and enhances its own products?Most of the value I see in SCN is in partners and customers helping each other out very productively (and I am very thankful for having a forum where I can find answers faster than before, and hopefully provide some answers to others). Apart from a few cases like some code finding its way into standard, or community members coming together to write a book on BPX (these are both significant - no doubt)- I have not seen SAP making use of the large pool of SCN brainpower in an organized way in product development. Of course I will stand corrected if some one explains if this is happening already.

    I assume SAP architects and product managers do read the threads/blogs etc and get an idea of what the ecosystem is saying, but is there an organized effort to use SCN as a valuable resource for product development?

    • Vijay, I'm sure there are other cases, but one neat example is the ongoing refinement of the REACH compliance solution, where BPX provides a very public gateway to the roundtable in Collaboration Workspace (CW).

      In this way, key stakeholders from SAP and Technidata gather input from the wider BPX community and discuss key elements of REACH legislation and corresponding business and IT requirements via managed forums in CW.

      Have a look at the  REACH - A Central BPX Information Repository blog as a first point of reference.


    • Hi Vijay -

      In addition to the specific examples Marilyn and Kieran cite, also note that our SAP Product Managers and Developers are often the people monitoring and moderating our discussion forums, they are active bloggers, they participate in the wiki, they demo and present at TechEd (where they interact directly with our customers and partners), they have calls with SAP Mentors... 

      While I would admit that we can go much further in *formally* adopting customer/community member feedback into product plans and priorities, our informal network and informal feedback mechanisms are very strong. 

      Consider that more than 6,000 discussion forum posts and about 15 blogs flow past the SAP Product Managers *every day* (7 days-a-week).  Constrast that with the "old days" when product managers might do market surveys each quarter in order to understand customer/partners needs and preferences.  The scale, scope, and speed of influence that you have -- as a community member -- is considerable. 

      Now, formalizing this more is a not-so-hidden goal of mine.  You're on the right track.  I think we'll see some progress in the year ahead. 

      Mark Yolton

      • Thanks Mark, Marilyn and Kieran for pointing these out - greatly appreciated.

        I have been chatting to several clients, colleagues etc on this topic for the past few months - on how social computing helps an enterprise. While no one seems to argue against its benefits , I did notice a kind of "commitment issue" - a reluctance in commiting to taking inputs from a social community "formally" and "on a larger scale". I guess it is due to reluctance to change, "not made here" attitudes, legal issues etc and will probably improve with time.

        Mark, I am very glad to note that you are actively pursuing a more formal adoption at SAP. I think SAP will be a great role model for other companies in this aspect.


        • Hi Vijay -

          I don't think it's a commitment issue... I would describe it more as a question of "pace of adoption" and "priorities," among other things. 

          For example, I am reminded of the adoption curves that are normal in most aspects of life and business (innovators, early adopters, early/late majority, laggards), and related observations such as Geoff Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" book. I suspect that we are in the "early adopter" phase of social media and social networking, and in order to cross the chasm for broader adoption and for the mainstreaming of virtual, collaborative communities, we need to show direct, irrefutable business and personal benefits if we are to capture the attention (and investment of time and other resources including $$$) of the majority.  My goal, of course, is to keep SAP on the leading edge of this phenomenon -- called Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 or social networks -- and to be a shining world-class example as we demonstrate what I and other believe is very real business value and personal benefit.  I'm glad for this thesis paper from Georgia, and glad you're engaged in the conversation. 

          Mark Yolton

  • Mark, this is an excellent assessment of the revolution in communications prompted by the advent of social computing and Web2.0 platforms. The processes and tools are democratic, egalitarian, and environmentally sound. Plus, they establish firm channels for co-innovation.

    The explosion of Web2.0 technologies enable global networks and also provide solid foundations for virtual interactions, covering areas such as:

    * News & media - CNN iReports
    * Business -  Check out the industry recordings from TechEd Las Vegas!
    * Healthcare - Alberta Telehealth

    And a logical extension of these concepts in the motion picture industry...
    * Babelgum Online Film Festival


  • Mark - I swear I had not heard of the city of Dortmund, Germany before this, but I picked that destination as my stopover between Berlin and Frankfurt on my way home after TechEd next week. I didn't find Dortmund in the Fodor's Guide to Germany, so I thought it might be less crowded than some of the larger cities.  And there it is in your blog.  Perhaps I will run into Frank Brackmann during my short stopover!  // Jim
    • Dortmund is famous for its coal mines (which are mostly gone), its soccer club (which had better times) and its beer (which is still the best thing about Dortmund). So if you stay there the evening make sure you are able to leave the next morning 😉
      • Isn't this a great example of a social network providing value in realtime?  Jim's traveling to Dortmund but knows nothing about it...  Dirk chimes in as an "expert" to offer advice about its history (coal mining) and main feature (great beer), with a little advice based on experience (don't enjoy too much of Dortmund's main product or you'll miss your train the next morning). 

        Thanks to both Jim and Dirk for playing along...

        • Mark - I have corresponded with Frank Brackmann, the city employee referenced in your blog (found his email address on SDN). He said Düsseldorf or Köln would be more interesting, or have more night life than Dortmund.  I want to see different sights than the guide books recommend, such as what a smaller city contains.  Besides, I will be blogging at night, not visiting taverns.  Okay, maybe just one.  Jim
  • Mark~

    Caught up with this on Facebook! As a big user of FB, Linkedin, Twitter and other sites, the collaboration needs to be explored to be put to good use. Same applies to the SAP CW. (Ex-Plexus). Thats the way the customers want it.


    • Hi Kartik -

      I agree that more of the Facebook, Linked-In, flickr, and other "consumer" social media tools and capabilities can be adapted and adopted for our "business" social networks.  In SCN, we've adopted some of the specific capabilities, but there's always room for more (that's what makes this job fun and constantly challenging), and we can have more links to/between these social networks and our business networks (like our "SAP Community" collection on YouTube, or our SAP Community Network groups in Linked-In).  We need to keep borrowing from the 'casual' social networks the best practices to incorporate in our business-oriented SAP Community Network.

      Mark Yolton

  • Hesitantly posting, as the author of this thesis it is really interesting to explore how such a network functions, what it means to different people but most importantly how it evolves.

    It is challenging to portray how this community functions as the roles people undertake become fluid and ever-changing, and it is also of interest to explore how SAP will be shaped and even changed by this community as its content evolves.

    I will be continuing this research into a PhD thesis since the novelty of such a community portrays an invaluable resource for organisations.

    • i am a new member to the community from outside.

      Experiencing how good it feels to freely exchange views,I one day wanted to understand 'what's happening!'.

      Searching the books whaatever i had I finally took my favourite.- " Organizational wisdom and Executive Courage" edited by Suresh Srivastva and David L.Cooperrider, published by New Lexigton Press.

      The following three articles featured in the book is a treat to understand this process of 'working in community' and participate responsibly and be happy too!:

      1.'Reinscribing organizational wisdom and courage:The relationally engaged organization' by Shiela McNamee

      2.'The relational rebirthing of wisdom and courage'by Mary M.Gergen and Kenneth J.Gergen

      3.'Developing wisdom and courage in organizing and sciencing' by William R.Tolbert

      Lastly the Epilogue in the book by Suresh and Argun is wonderful summing up.

      I am still reading them.
      Since you are still working on the thesis i thought the above material would be valuable.

      Please have a look at them.they are simply enlightening!

      sam anbazhagan

      • Hi Sam -

        A quick "welcome" to the community and to the conversation on this topic.  Thank you for sharing your favorite works and wisdom of others.

        Mark Yolton

        • A bright chance for another branch to sprout!

          I am afraid this would look like a critical appraisal of the thesis. I wish it not to be so.
          A few points that came up in my mind while reading the thesis are as follows:

          In the thesis it is said (page 25):
          "Essentially Web 2.0 platform indicate a number of distinct characteristics that ultimately differentiate from traditional organizational information and content sharing systems"
          It appears it is the 'differences that would make difference!" (Remembering Bateson's words, of course!)

          Promotion of the differences especially 'harnessing collective intelligence' would make remarkable impact, it appears..

          Altruism is said to be one of the basis for contribution by some of the members.
          It is interesting to remember that it was Eli Lilly Endowment due to whose support the Harvard Research Center for Study of Altruism was set up in the year 1955 - a formal set up for study of a subject which would have looked unrelated to business in those days!
          Hope it may be revived by many organizations now and make the Web 2.0 contribute greatly and gratefully to the well being of the world.

          DIK: The data-information-knowledge stream as propounded by Devenport is shown at page 39.
          This was in 1997. We are a decade away from it. And now it is DIKW; Data -Information -Knowledge- Wisdom trajectory.

          About wisdom in work organizations, Limas Michael J. and  Hansson Robert O. said:
          "In recent years, much theoretical and empirical attention has focused on wisdom as a psychological construct.
          The development of wisdom is viewed as a positive aspect of aging, but also has a complement to more traditionally-studied domains of intelligence.
          Two studies, involving a total of 327 adults, examined how our understanding of the construct might be furthered by its application into specific, problematic contexts, and by having its utility assessed.
          This involved: 1) development of an instrument that related the elements of wisdom to the context of work organizations;
                               2) identification of the primary ways in which wisdom contributes to well-being in work organizations; and
                               3) identification of types of organizations (organizational cultures) most likely to need and value wise persons of influence in their midst.
          Results suggest that wisdom is of greatest consequence when it fills an important gap in what is offered by the organization's (or society's) formal structure. Where the culture has developed more formal institutions, structure, and principles to guide its activities and ensure fairness in how people are treated, there may be less need for informal sources of organizational wisdom."

          The following material also may be interesting to read in this connection:

          Knowledge -> Intelligence -> Wisdom: Essential Value Chain of the New Economy an updated and expanded version of keynote speech by George Pór ,Founder of Community Intelligence Labs delivered at "Consultation Meeting on the Future of Organizations and Knowledge Management" of the European Commission's Directorate-General "Information Society Technologies"
          Brussels, May 23-24, 2000

          Another author working in this field for some time Dr.Let Davidson.Ph.D.

          'Arete Initiative' by University of Chicago is for research on wisdom and make it popularly useful for humanity.

          With our growing capability to compute socially and keeping in view the enormity of social problems it may be time that facilitation by IT to factor-in wisdom in decision making processes becomes a possibility in near future.

          After bringing 'Data-Information-Knowledge' string in the thesis, you have moved to connect 'creativty'.
          I wonder whether it could have been 'wisdom', purely in view of the work going on in the field of wisdom and the known link to knowledge.

          Connecting this string to wisdom could be the another branch!

          There is much to be studied, no doubt, before making a major comment. But i feel this thought of a possibility of new branch interesting.


          Sam Anbazhagan

          • I have to admit that the branch of wisdom was something I haven't considered possibly because it never came up in any of the discussions I had or the arguments voiced.

            But it is an interesting concept especially when linked to organisations since it is a difficult construct to prove and justify that it exists or is developed especially within an informal space of discussion forums, blogs and wikis.

            Thank you for your input.



    • Hi Georgia -

      We happily welcome you to the SAP community. Thank you for selecting us to focus-on in your research (as a positive example!), for allowing us to publish your full thesis in our library for the broad benefit of others, and for connecting with our community members here thru your comment. 


      Mark Yolton 

  • I may be old school here, but my take on Social Computing or Web 2.0 is that it's still largely "for the kids", meaning people more preoccupied updating their Facebook profiles or sending more or less "relevant" updates to the Twitter community (what on earth is the point of Twitter anyway?)

    I've been an SDN member since the trial phase, and highly valuate this tool, but my feeling is that the proponents of Web 2.0 sometimes fail to sell the "business value" of all these nice-to-have social tools and technologies.

    Good to see a blog with real-world examples of tangible results of what Social Computing can actually be used for, instead of yet another ecstatic cheer about another Web 2.0 invention that ultimately serves no other purpose than having people wasting even more valuable time on the Internet, without bringing real business value to their clients and ultimately themselves.

    A lot of the writing on Web 2.0 sounds, to me at least, like the white papers of SAP and other vendors; lots of fluff, but not too much meat... 🙂

    • Being from an old school of thought may be the perfect way to analyse the business benefits from Web 2.0.

      I would like to elaborate here about the point raised by you about Twitters,

      We wonder who has the time to keep sending and receiving tweets but guess what Twitter has become the most mashed up web based application ever ! It is interesting to notice here that the application provides the apis and people do find amazing stuff to do with it.

      One of the key concepts of web 2.0 which we all need to understand is it is not the application which is useful , it is made useful by the users. This is a tough one to understand but the very idea is very simple, just built an application , make it web services enabled and watch !

      There can some of the weirdest of ways people might use your application and we can't do anything about it.

      No one ever imagined a Twitter will be used by the Congress men to broadcast live discussions during non media coverage meetings.

      Hard to believe but the airline companies are using twitter to roll out new offers, some of which are tough to find on the websites and the customers are sharing there travel plans along with their friends on twitters with the airline company.

      I use twitters for SEO, yes i do , try broadcasting your news through twitters regulary and you will see how you sky rocket in your search list,

      These are few of the examples which are very different from each other for the use of our favourite question : What are you doing now ?

      Twittering from Second life

    • I'm starting to scare myself here; either by my inherently negative attitude or ignorance, or both, but I decided to check out ESME, both by going to the above-referenced blog and the site itself. After 30 minutes of pondering, I still can't figure it out. Looks kinda like a billboard, or a watered-down, simplified version of a forum, without the categories allowing for structured posting? Which might be OK if there are only a handful of people using it, but what if you get thousands of people posting messages? How can you even hope to get any kind of, well, sense out of it?

      Worst of all, I'm getting this sneaking suspicion that the guys involved in ESME, or anyone actually using it, will have a hard time explaining to me (and anybody outside the Web 2.0 world) what it actually is, or how it works, or how it can benefit me or my company. The "about" link on the ESME site itself was not really too self-explanatory.

      I may be just exposing my ignorance here, but... reading these blogs full of buzzwords and not really seeing the "real content" worries me. Anybody else?

      • Hi Trond,

        maybe this will help you understand the value of ESME. It is our presentation at DemoJam in Berlin last week. (the video is only 7 minutes long)

        I also have a couple comments on Twitter.

        So far it has helped me solve several difficult server installation problems, because it put me in touch with the right people.
        Everyone helping me were people I didn’t know, so without Twitter I wouldn’t have known where and how to find them. On Twitter they found me. (or rather my problem)

        Furthermore it has catapulted me into SAP "Mentorhood" and even opened doors for me to work on projects like ESME.

        Mostly I don't even bother to Google questions I might have, but ask my Twitter friends instead. I know they will provide me with the right answer and not the answer Google think I might need.

        And instead of searching forums for the right syntax I need for a piece of code (we all know how time consuming that can be), I post the question on Twitter and I usually have the answer I need within a couple of minutes.

        Furthermore Richard Hirsch posted this blog, about using these tools for team building/team communication a couple of days ago.
        The specified item was not found.


        • Thanks Anne, you managed to clarify for me.

          A lot of the time, people heavily involved in breakthrough technological solutions fail to do just that; namely relate their tools and inventions to the world around and it's tangible problems.

          I may suffer from the tea-spoon syndrome; I prefer explanations like your own to the esoterical, conceptual and evangelistical discussions on offer from most of the "insiders". I'm continuously left with a feeling that most of the buzz around web 2.0 is created by insiders, for insiders, to a large extent failing to communicate their ideas to the large (?) majority of people on the outside.

          Maybe this will even tempt me into starting to use some of these tools!


          • I am glad I could help! 🙂

            Presenting these tools without getting lost in technology and empty buzzwords is definitely a challenge. What I have learned is that by sharing my own personal experience and stripping my explanation of buzzwords, makes it easier for others to digest.

            If you ever need help setting up any of these tools, let me know...


      • Hi Trond,

        Please bear in mind that the ESME project is still in an Alpha state of maturity, and that the final "E" in ESME stands for "Experiment". Having said that, the fact that we have a push-based, opt-in messaging system with a REST API brings several concrete business benefits.

        Specifically, the opt-in nature of ESME counters the "thousands of people" problem - you only get the messages from people you choose to follow, and there is even a small expression language to control that flow even further (e.g. "only show me messages from user X if they are tagged with Y").

        The REST API has enormous potential - at Demo Jam we showed how to use it to send log messages and code change notifications to developers who were interested in them. We are now thinking of taking this to the next level with business notifications - as a simple example, a message that someone just made a change to the HR Org Structure can be useful for people heading up org units. Another example is a notification that a server is about to be restarted: this is only useful information for about 10 minutes, and is exactly the kind of thing that needlessly clogs up people's email inboxes today.

        I hope this goes some way to showing the potential business value in something like ESME.

        Best regards,

    • Hi Trond:

      Thanks for this. Yes, what started as something "for the kids" has evolved and has been adapted for us "mature" business people.  Linked-In might be an example since it is directly intended for professionals.  But so are Facebook, Twitter, flickr (photos - see the TechEd pages where we link to attendees' photos on flickr), and many other tools becoming useful to adults engaged in serious business (and to maintaining all-important relationships with other business people, communicating broadly on topics of interest...). 

      I'm glad you found "business benefits" and "individual personal benefits" (finally) covered here.  There are some good books out on this, starting with "Net Gain" by John Hagel ~10 years ago, to the recent "Groundswell" by Charlene Li.  You'll also find a good (but I'm sure incomplete) list of benefits to various groups (in this case: SAP, its partners, its customers, the individual community members) in the appendix of the thesis paper linked-to from my blog. 

      Mark Yolton

  • Hello Mark,

    I wanted to write a blog on this but your article pretty much sums things up. The success of human race is not only because of its ability to think and  apply thoughts but also because of its supreme ability to communicate. There was a need..... A need to communicate better. That is the reason we had telephones. Then the need grew, we had the Internet, the WWW and now the latest buzzword.... Web 2.0. Yes truly we are evolving. New Technology gives new solutions but this alone doesn't make us successful without being able to transmit the knowledge to others. While human social network is a reality, it was just a matter of time before this was incorporated in the WWW. I  am using internet since late 90s and have witnessed the evolution of this immensely popular medium. From sending emails to doing business worth Billions of dollars, it has been a great journey. And the fun has just begun. The SDN is a fantastic source of info. Info that is mostly contributed by its members and users. It is helping SAP evolve faster and better than it had ever been. It is transforming businesses and has the ability to change the way business is done Worldwide. In todays Global business environment, there is more and more need to connect and make use of the resources. Those who do.... Will get far ahead of the rest of the competition.

    Thanks Mark for the fantastic blog.

    • Thank you, Avik.  I think your insights are on target.  There is an evolution and a transformation going on in the way we communicate, in the way we do business, in how we engage with customers and partners and suppliers in our ecosystem (it's more organic and less mechanical; more like biology than structural engineering...).  I believe, as you do, that those who embrace and master this "new way" will find themselves in a position of advantage, and will benefit from the skills, knowledge, and new / richer mode of interaction and engagement.

      Mark Yolton

      • Hi Mark,
        Thanks for the nice eye opening. I am new to the field of SAP and gained a lot from the same. FYI, I  am the moderator for different SAP communities in various networking sites and would love to share this article with my members.
        I would also appreciate if you could visit and join me at: