Tech Ed 09 in Phoenix was certainly different compared to the ones in recent years. For one, it was not in Las Vegas! More importantly, the attendees were mostly those who were serious about their experience – there were fewer people who were out for a boondoggle! I did two lecture sessions with Marco ten Vaanholt (our third year in a row) and another community member (Liladhar Bagad), and we found that the attendees in our sessions weren’t there merely to check out a novel idea but actually to enhance their understanding about how they would go about embedding insight within their business processes. Look out for this session (BPM 105) on Virtual Tech Ed.
In other conversations I found that there was a pretty strong undercurrent of “what can I do smartly and for lower cost to get more out of my SAP investment” and “what can I do to help the sustainability mission of my employer.” Unless they are looking at significant transformation projects or full-blown implementations that typically take months, customers want information quickly and keenly focused so they can manage their own destiny a little better. This is actually an affirmation of the power of communities and certainly of BPXers. If community resources can address many of their information needs, and if knowledgeable BPXers can make things happen with that focused additional help from the community, then overall TCO for a company’s SAP footprint is significantly improved.
There are new business models cropping up that will supplement what the SAP Community Network offers. While these businesses may charge for the knowledge/solutions they make available, the cost-benefit equation still plays out in favor of the customer for they do not have to de-prioritize a key business process enhancement that may be counting on this help, nor do they have to consider engaging in overkill mode by asking for high-priced consultants for their minor but significant immediate needs. These models also tend to employ the ubiquity of broadband access thus limiting the carbon footprint often associated with traditional support models.
One of my discussions with a global leader for a leading systems integrator revealed that the thinking at some of these larger consulting companies has already begun to shift toward figuring out the new space they must play in because customers are no longer happy or willing to incur big costs (financial and environmental) to address limited, specific, non-project or non-transformational questions. In order to win those large engagements they will have to more clearly define the value proposition they offer. Certainly something to reflect on!