I returned from speaking at Tech Ed ’08, Bangalore, last week but had to travel immediately to speak at SAP Insider’s inaugural BPM Conference. This sequence of events told me two things: (a) I need to manage my travel schedules a little better, and (b) the best investment in skills that an organization can make is in the BPM arena. As a result of many conversations, one other thing that became clear was that more evangelizing is necessary to keep organizations on-track with their intended platform growth – if you are currently solvent, now is not the time to shrink back just because the overall economic climate has taken a turn for the worse.
Last month I had put forth the argument (Café Innovation – Innovation is the mantra for competitiveness…even in tough economic times!) that companies that continue to innovate during the downturn are the ones that will emerge ahead once things get better. I am ever more convinced that this has to be the way forward.
It appears our national effort to shore up the economy includes the promise of unprecedented investment that will ultimately return consumer confidence and purchasing ability to levels that will re-power our economy. It is commonly understood that corporations must further stakeholder returns while national efforts are less geared toward personal profit. However, there is something to be borrowed from the logic of investment in the right areas during the downturn. Let us take the example of a corporation that is solvent, and has defined plans to grow its capabilities, perhaps requiring some form of process innovation to make it happen. In this scenario, it will behoove this corporation to not abandon its plans just because these plans demand cash outflow without the promise of an immediate return. No doubt, these plans need to be reviewed, and perhaps sharpened, but there may still be enough merit in them to promise a solid return in the future. In such a case, this growth/innovation plan should not be abandoned, but instead viewed as part of the strategy to gain long-term competitive advantage vis-à-vis those corporations that are not financially solid and cannot afford to pursue such initiatives for the time being.
Investing in the skills of the future ought to be one such strategic initiative. In a recent interview (The Role of BPX Skills in a Changing Economy), I was asked if the recent downward swing in economic conditions would adversely impact the desire and ability of organizations to push for more BPM skills within their workforce. From what I see as trends in the SAP ecosystem, I would say that for SAP-centric organizations gaining sharp skills in NetWeaver BPM, as it continues to evolve, will be important; and this is especially true for those who must use modeling to successfully deploy SAP solutions in response to their process requirements. The SAP practitioner of the future is one who must possess modeling skills, and preferably in the tool of choice that SAP has begun to direct them to. With that in mind, forward-thinking organizations will, likely, resist the temptation to put on hold the evolution of its SAP-inclined workforce.
I find many in the SAP ecosystem have questions around this subject. I welcome your thoughts, input, and suggestions.