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It’s a New Year and I’m Counting my Blessings

The holiday season is coming to a close, along with the old year, and a new year is dawning. If you’re anything like me, it’ll take a couple of days to get used to writing 2010 instead of 2009.

There’s a lot of water under the bridge in 2009 and for many of us there have been better years.

I have to admit, however, that even though we’ve been experiencing the worst economic recession since the 1930s, 2009 actually brought me a number of blessings.

True, my income has more or less stagnated. But my book, Architecting EDI with SAP IDocs, was published by SAP Press in the summer and I’ve begun blogging on SDN. I also restarted my blog on IT Toolbox and have published a couple of postings that I’m relatively happy with and that have received more than a few interesting comments.

I’ve exchanged ideas and experiences with people from around the world, thanks to the book and the blogs. And I’ve even managed to do some pretty interesting integration work involving SAP and Sterling Integrator working together that has advanced my knowledge of both systems considerably.

More importantly, my teenage son, who used to be my Little Buddy but who now wears size 12 and a half extra wide running shoes and who delights in correcting my grammar whenever I open my mouth, is doing well in school and with his friends and is eagerly anticipating his college career, which is now only a couple of years away.

While I’ve worked hard to help him become independent and self-supporting, my pride in his success is tinged with nostalgia and warm memories of the child that he was. And there is more than a little sadness at the idea that one day he’ll leave home to start building a life of his own.

I’ve been a single parent for nearly six years so this sense of nostalgia at his approaching independence is probably a little bit stronger than it would have been if there had been a partner helping to raise him.

But life goes on and the end of another year, particularly one as interesting as 2009, is a good time to think about the future: where do I go from here and what do I next? Will I tackle another book and if so, what will I write about?

Integration Is Where It’s At

I do know one thing, and have known it for my entire SAP career: integration, between trading partners, applications, services, and systems, is the most wonderful place in the world to be. Just as no man (or woman) is an island, no system can stand alone and provide a company everything it needs to run its business and maintain its trading relationships.

I feel this truth in my bones. I come from a family of small businessmen. My father ran a store in a train station and my grandfather ran a restaurant. Their businesses were at the heart of a complex web of personal relationships that included suppliers, customers, employees, family, three levels of government, book-keepers and accountants, lawyers, and even law enforcement.

Each one of these relationships involved a further web of transactions that were meticulously recorded and stored and often compared with each other to build an overall picture of the health of the business, or ordering requirements, or detailed statements of revenues and costs for the bookkeepers and accountants to use in preparing tax returns or other regulatory documentation for government.

They did it all without computers. Even more astonishing is the fact that my grandfather couldn’t read or write and signed his name with an X. But he ran a business and employed more than a few people, made a good living for his family, and was even able to house, feed, and educate relatives in our native village back on the island of Naxos in Greece.

It was all in their heads, and in their relationships with professionals who were able to do what they couldn’t do, which is what business partnerships are all about: working together on something that’s bigger than any one person in the group but that benefits all.

So I’m a lucky man. I know how to automate the paperwork behind all these complex relationships. My father and grandfather would probably be bewildered by the technology and the complex data processing but they would understand the trading, the buying and selling and reporting that our integrated applications and services support.

I believe that they would be in awe of the opportunities to manage and grow their trading relationships — and their businessess — that this technology offers. So am I. And I feel blessed that I can do this work and I know that 2010 will bring interesting opportunities for further growth and development in what has so far been a fascinating career.

So by considering the past, I prepare for the future. Happy New Year to everybody and may 2010 bring us all health, happiness, and good fortune.


Architecting EDI with SAP IDocs 

Architecting EDI with SAP IDocs
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