Podcast: Livin’ The Demo Jam Dream – An Interview with Brian Dennett of Colgate-Palmolive
If you wait long enough, things will come full circle. I posted a version of this interview with SAP TechEd Phoenix Demo Jam finalist Brian Dennett of Colgate-Palmolive on JonERP.com a while ago, but didn’t get a chance to post it here. But now that we are fresh off of Demo Jam night in SAP TechEd Bangalore, it seems that the topic is timely again – a great excuse at any rate.
But in all seriousness, I didn’t want this particular piece of content to go unnoticed here on SCN. I was determined to interview Brian, and not just because becoming a Demo Jam finalist two years into his SAP career is such a great story. Brian’s approach to making a community contribution and his pursuit of the latest technical trends gives us two useful reminders: it’s not always how long you plug away at a career, but whether you align it with the needs of your community and the limits of your imagination.
So from a late night coding session with Eddie Herrmann of the Enterprise Geeks to the Demo Jam stage, here’s Brian’s story, recorded live on the floor of SAP TechEd Phoenix. One of the best things about this interview? We get to hear Brian’s own realization about the future of his SAP career during a week where he was thinking hard about moving to the BPX side of things. I think you’ll enjoy hearing how he arrived at a way forward professionallly in the midst of all the goings on at SAP TechEd Phoenix.
Oh, and if you missed Demo Jam Phoenix, you can still catch the SAP Demo Jam replay online. Note: I self-rated this podcast PG-13.
(If for any reason the player doesn’t work, you can download the podcast using the “download media” link on the right hand side).
(Trouble downloading? if for some reason it’s not playing in its entirety for you, check out the version on JonERP.com in the meantime.)
45: What it’s like to work with Ed Herrmann of the EnterpriseGeeks.com. “It’s interesting to work with this guy, let’s just say that.”
1:20 Demo Jam is arguably the most prominent showcase in SAP for a developer, but many of us wouldn’t know where to begin. How did Brian go from an idea to up on the DemoJam stage?
Brian credits SAP and the Innocentive Challenge for Polestar with $20,000 on the line for a great project using BusinessObjects On-Demand. Three days before Demo Jam’s submission deadline, Eddie suggested to Brian to build on the Polestar challenge. Next thing you know, he’s accepted.
2:55 So what does Brian’s Demo Jam concept show?
Brian: The core class of the demo is a wrapper for the rest-based APIs that were released for SAP BO On-Demand. It’s not easy for ABAP programmers to use REST-based APIs for BusinessObjects On-Demand, it can be pretty overwhelming. This solution takes away the complexity of all that. ABAP programmers can now take anything from an internal table, throw it into BusinessObjects Explorer, and get all the analytical part of it out without any effort on your part.
3:50 One thing that stood out about Brian’s demo: he is going to be giving away the code on EnterpriseGeeks.com.
4:15 Revisiting the Demo Jam Phoenix finalists: there were seven finalists., most of them tag teams, many from SAP product teams. Then out comes Brian, probably the youngest contestant on the DemoJam stage that night, all by yourself. Were you nervous at all?
6:10 In SAP, we talk about having to be a senior consultant and pay your dues to have an impact. But that’s not necessarily true, and your DemoJam experience is a great example of that.
6:35 Brian’s reactions to SAP TechEd: “Do anything you can to get to TechEd.” Being out there on Twitter is great for meeting SAP Mentors, but there’s nothing like meeting people in person and learning about possible niches and new skills you can learn.
7:35 Brian has promising years in front of him in SAP, but as an SAP developer, there are tough questions to deal with in the outsourcing era. Do you become a manager? Do you move in a more functional direction? How do you see your skills evolving?
Jon: We have some SAP Mentors who are working on some amazing projects with Flex or even Google Wave – if you embrace the latest tools and work those projects to keep your skills sharp, there’s going to be a good career for you on the technical side of SAP, and you will be valuable to companies. What does Brian think?
10:05 Brian: I absolutely agree with that. It’s two sides of the same coin: because technology moves so fast, it’s dangerous because you can quickly fall behind, but because of that, “if you can stay on the fringe, it’s hard for anyone to keep up with you and it allows you to really become a game changer no matter how little or how much experience you have, or how small or big your team is, if there’s that one piece of technology you get your hands on first, you can shift the whole technology space you are working in – it pays dividends.
10:45 Jon calls out Brian for his shameless plugging of the Enterprise Geeks – even the name of Brian’s program inside of Demo Jam had a line item named “Enterprise Geeks” within the code.
Brian: The reason I decided to share the code there is because they have become a “pillar of the community” and a great source of information. Whether you are technical or functional SAP, you need to meet in the middle somewhere.