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Sapphire 2009 Podcast: Jon Reed Interviews SAP Mentor Dick Hirsch

In the second of two podcast recordings made at Sapphire, Jon Reed of interviews fellow SAP Mentor Dick Hirsch to get his impressions of Sapphire 2009. Listen in as two self-described “BPX geeks” discuss the themes of Sapphire from a BPX perspective. Jon gets Dick’s reactions to the Sapphire keynotes, and also gets his view on how Twitter is changing the experience of live events, both for virtual attendees and the actual participants. Dick also offers tips for how SAP professionals can move their skills into a BPX direction.



Topics covered in this podcast include:

0:33 Dick’s background at Siemens, and his work with Portals solutions and composites. How he wound up at Sapphire 2009 through SAP’s blogger relations program. The value of face-to-face interactions and what you can get from them that you can’t get “virtually.”

1:55 How the coverage of events is changing: Twitter, virtual events, and how budget limitations are increasing the importance of virtual event access. Keynote speaker streams are interesting, but Twitter goes further, by giving you the pulse of an event. Twitter posts change the experience of watching a keynote due to the live Tweets that frame an event even while it is happening. SAP even incorporates Tweet commentary into some of its live events as they unfold. Following events on Twitter, you can see links that expand the meaning of a keynote, or even a factual correction or clarification of what a speaker is saying. It’s a more intense experience and a deeper way to involve yourself in a speech.

5:12 Dick watched all the keynotes. He found that each one was distinct from one another in terms of message and speaking style. The first day of keynotes were managers with a polished speaking style. Hasso’s second day speech was different – it started dry, but then when it went off script, it became more chaotic but also refreshing.

What Dick liked and didn’t like from Sapphire. From a BPX perspective, Dick appreciated the relevance of the business process focus and how it has become a key part of the strategic direction of SAP. Dick believes a focus on process is crucial, not just today, but for the future of the enterprise. The process is becoming the central focus for the technology. People have to deal with this focus by learning the technology and understanding what a process focus means.

7:35 Jon nominates himself and Dick as a “BPX geek” – but what about the confusion about BPX outside of those who are already drinking the BPX Kool-Aid? Dick mostly interacted with those who already understand the importance of process thinking, but he sees a major improvement in the awareness of what a BPX perspective is all about, but it’s still not there yet.

8:54 Is BPX just SAP hype, or is it real? Dick believes that BPX has real credibility because it allows you to take a step back from a technical problem and look at it from a process level, or a business analyst level. This abstraction is not for everyone, but it’s important that the story that SAP tells encompasses all these different layers of perspective.

10:05 Top-down buy-in matters in the enterprise. But bottom-up change matters also. The SAP professional who is interested in gaining more BPX skills in a pro-active manner is often in a bind these days: there is a desire to pick up new skills, but not always the budget or the time. So aside from a formal training in the BPX curriculum, what are the other ways that someone who wants to become more of a “BPXer” and acquire more of these skills can do? The BPX community is the obvious answer, but what would Dick say to a classic SAP functional person in terms of next steps towards the BPX skill set? Dick would recommend starting with the BPX community, but the interaction with others is important as well. Don’t do this on your own – go to events, go to hands-on sessions, head into the BPX forums, and get a hold on some of this content.

12:14 Dick has experience mentoring other BPX members in the BPX community. Jon asks Dick how he has helped people get started. One way is to start in the forums. If you want to get a feeling for the pulse of the BPX community, reading some of the BPX blogs is a good start as well. Learn what other community members are thinking about, this is better than starting out from scratch.

13:48 As the security team starts knocking on the door where Jon and Dick are taping, Jon asks Dick for a Don Henley review. Dick asks why all the headliners seem to be from the 1970s. But you don’t go to these events for the music, he goes for the idea exchange.

16:20 Jon asks Dick for one takeaway from his experiences at Sapphire, someone he met or talked with that changed his perspective. This leads to a closing discussion of how the Twitter-built relationships are fostered, but then the difference you experience in person that can’t be accomplished on Twitter.

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