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Going Into 2010: What Can a New Perspective Do For You?!

Being human is directed to something other than itself…. Human existence is not authentic unless it is lived in terms of self-transcendence.”  Viktor E. Frankl.


How do the words of Viktor Frankl connect to what we see on BPX, SDN and all that SAP Community Network makes available to customers, partners, consultants, and other SAP stakeholders?  At the risk of oversimplifying Frankl’s contribution, the essence of his words are that meaning in our lives is discovered in the service of others that we care about, a sense of being a part of a community.


But I do get ahead of myself; so, let’s go back a bit.  I first became aware of Business Process Expert community a little over two years ago and I had my doubts as to how this fit in my work or how I can leverage it to meet the existing mission.  It has taken some time, some nudging, and an openness to “unlearn” so I that I may “learn” and adapt to something new.  A reframing of the situation and of the opportunity ahead was necessary.


No matter how I looked at it, 2009 was going to be a challenging year.  That was my view a year ago as I prepared to take on new responsibilities within Industry’s Trade Sector.  Gone were the familiarities of my past six years at SAP working on solution definitions, building business cases, or supporting sale cycles.  Instead, there was this amorphous community that I needed to get my head around as well as articulating a community strategy for Trade Industries.  Certainly there is more to the job and community than BPX, yet at the same time, the information that BPX offers is extraordinary in depth and breadth – but a year ago that was a mystery for me to unravel and discover.  Throughout 2009 and in working with a dedicated and highly talented virtual team, the Retail BPX Community has grown and developed across the globe.


Consider the context around the growth of SCN and enterprise collaboration:

  • The idea and practice of social networks has exploded in 2009 with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and others counting millions of users where connections are made, credibility is established, information is shared, and advice is offered – all 24×7 across the world
  • In time-starved developed and developing worlds, a shift from traditional family and community gatherings is underway to online communities and extending to how information is distributed and archived
  • People want to access the right information when they are situationally ready: planning a vacation, making a buying decision, locating a product, starting a project, etc. No longer is it sufficient or desirable to be “broadcast” to
  • Increasing complexity in our world as measured by the generation of new information
  • “A single weekday edition of The New York Times [in 1997] contains more information than an average person in the 17th century would have encountered in a lifetime” (Newsweek)
  • Stored information is doubling every 3 years, and in 2002 print, film, magnetic and optical storage media produced about 5 exabytes of new information (for reference, the US Library of Congress contains around 136 terabytes of information, 5 exabytes is roughly equivalent of 37,000 new libraries of Congress) – University of California, Berkeley Research 
  • With the flood of information, and the rise of social networks and online communities, there has also been growing interest and relevance for Business Network Transformation or “built-to-adapt” business networks that deliver faster innovations at lower costs through collaboration (also see slideshare for further application to Ecohub)



So the deeper I delved into SCN and BPX and discussed with analysts and practitioners, the more clearly I was able to see these macro network changes and the nascent outlines of their impact on how we organize, collaborate, and communicate in the 21st century – in short how we will “get things done.”  The more one is exposed to the platform, the more sense it makes and how it can not only fit, but facilitate, everyday situations during an implementation, a software buying decision, getting up to speed on the technology or the processes and so on.   Yet, there has also been a share of both internal and external challenges, much of which is driven by time-starvation, lack of awareness, or simply not being ready to consider a new way of framing existing challenges.  For example,


Internal – “I don’t have time to learn a new tool…  if I have to do one more thing I’ll go crazy…  there are too many customer touch points I have to work with…”

External – “I want my account executive to get me the information…  just send me an email… how can I find what I want in all of this…  I’m too busy researching a business process…  if I contribute then I’ll give up some of my secret sauce…”


Current and Future opportunities:

But these are not stopping the many customers, partners, consultants and SAP folks that are taking advantage of Retail on BPX to increase their knowledge and efficiencies and engage in a dialogue around the Retail solution set and the business processes…


For customers – in the Retail arena, if you are looking for information on an available retail solution, or how to get started with the latest release, just point your browser to the Retail Wiki.  Do you want to read the latest point of view on a retail topic (or offer your own in a Retail blog), or find featured Retail news, or special events, then check out the Retail BPX Home Page.  Do you have a question about implementing a business process, check out the SAP for Retail and maybe you can also contribute to an existing thread.


For partners – if you’re implementing SAP for Retail offerings at your customer, you can also leverage the Retail Wiki for good tips and tricks, or contribute to ongoing threads in the SAP for Retail.  You can also use the Retail blog as a tool to share your customer experiences or particular point of view,thus building greater awareness of your specialties or capabilities.


For SAP – Solution Managers, consultants, and developers can gain insights into how the Retail solutions are being implemented by customers and partners, consider future solution definition, or get input to a business case through reading of the SAP for Retail and Retail blogs.  There is a rich tapestry of questions/threads with both SAP and non-SAP members contributing to the conversation.  And this is in addition to the existing and growing wealth of relevant information on Retail solutions on the Retail Wiki.


In closing, the nature of community is around a set of interests (e.g., SAP and retail) and designed to be open, inclusive, available, and constructive – a collaborative network.  This is not a tool to gain mass conformity or to dictate to others.  Rather, this calls for and allows a multitude of opinions yet allows for clearer communication of existing SAP solution assets and for the receipt of community feedback.   Your community is better when agreements and disagreements are voiced and acknowledged – you don’t have to agree with what you read, but we are all better when we can engage constructively to clarify existing points, and work toward improving products and designs that fit and facilitate in our professional and personal lives.


I would be amiss if I did not add an important part to Frankl’s message…  “responsibleness is the very essence of human existence.”  With that I invite you all to actively engage, contribute, comment, share, and improve our collective knowledge and deepen our insights around your business processes that you run and support and how SAP can help in 2010 and beyond!


Best wishes for the New Year!!!

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  • Good suggestions on who can benefit from using this network and how. This type of community takes time to build.

    Your post also reminded me of an interesting article in Wired a few months ago. Facebook envisions the future of the Web as a place where we increasingly go to our social network / community for information, in contrast to Google's vision of algorithmic mapping of the Web and search to get what you need. (Link: I think both are important and both should be important in the SAP world.

    • Thanks for the feedback and link Jason.  You bring up a good point on source of data and both models will be of use (and how these apply for SAP).  There is clear benefit in tapping your social network/community for information as you are able to assign a level of trust or credibility to the source.  Of course Google offers an additional perspective to one's search.