We’ve Got Something to Share
Over the past few years, I and my colleagues have been asked to share the story of our SAP communities with many others both inside and outside SAP. Within and outside our ecosystem of customers and partners. Within and beyond our industry, around the Silicon Valley (where I’m based) and in a variety of countries and venues around the world, and in a variety of media and channels.
That subsequent sharing has taken the form of written articles, informal conversations and discussions, telephone interviews with the business trade press + university researchers + peer companies + industry analysts, live podcasts and webinars and video blogs, speaking – and even keynoting – a range of events, and probably several other modes of information transfer. A great many people and companies want to learn more about our SAP Community Network (SCN).
For example, in the past few years, my SAP colleagues, SCN team members, and I have …
- Spoken with more than 50 outside conferences including Communities 2.0, the Evans Data Developer Relations Conference, SoftSummit, Social Media Strategies, BRITE at Columbia University in New York City, the SIIA Software Summit, Virtual Edge, BlogWell, SD Forum in the Silicon Valley, Gilbane conference, and a Frost & Sullivan webinar and conference; and of course a slew of SAP TechEd sessions around the world;
- Shared our experiences and “lessons learned” with peers including members of the Social Media Business Council (SMBC – of which SAP is a founding member), with Creative Good Executive Council members, and other small groups;
- Participated in private briefings with partner companies such as Cisco and Adobe, customers like Molson-Coors or General Mills, or through invitation-only discussions with the ASUG CIO Council, with Deloitte’s Center for the Edge (probably the coolest-named group I’ve come across), and at an Aspen Institute roundtable / think-tank;
- Shared with classes or participated in academic research at the University of California – Berkeley, Utah State, MIT, Academic Study Finds SAP Community Offers High Response Rates, Timely Answers, and Sense of Community, and other institutions;
- Briefed analysts and consultants from large / traditional (Gartner, Forrester, IDC…) and small / independent (Altimeter, SiteIQ…) firms;
- Contributed to at least 30 articles in publications including Forbes, BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, Business.com, and more.
Maybe I’m a slow learner, but after a few years of this intense onslaught of requests for us to share our experiences, by about mid-2009 it finally dawned on me that we have something pretty special and unique to share with others, and that they are interested to hear about what we do here in these communities. Plus …
- 1) We really, really (really) enjoy and passionately believe in what we do – we think it provides tremendous benefit to our customers, partners, and SAP … that it holds the potential for even more extraordinary value and benefit for other companies and individuals … and might possibly change the business world and the way we work in a very broad sense in the years to come;
- 2) We have a special privileged perspective from which we get to hear about or see amazing stories from members of our community, and we want to share those stories very broadly, openly, and actively with others – to shine a spotlight on the customer and partner members of our communities and ecosystem;
- 3) We sure have learned a lot along the way through trial and error after a few years of creating, nurturing, experimenting, stumbling, growing, and extending our SAP Community Network (SCN), so admitting our mistakes would help others to avoid them, and sharing our lessons-learned might help others capture the benefits faster.
Book: The Living Enterprise
There are a lot of ways we might gather, organize, and share what we’ve experienced and what we have learned, what we see occurring now and therefore believe about the future, and to provide a platform for you and others to relate your stories. We could do a series of articles. A really long blog. Video. But ultimately, we decided that a book has the qualities we want.
And who better to collaborate with than Zia Yusuf, the former EVP of SAP’s Global Ecosystem group, and independent author Shel Israel.
- Zia is the architect of the modern SAP ecosystem organization; the guy who pulled a bunch of disparate groups together into a cohesive unit, a powerful force for SAP and its customers and partners, and a strong and differentiating benefit to those members of our ecosystem. Zia left SAP recently to pursue his next challenge, but he remains willing and interested to share his unique perspective on the SAP ecosystem and communities.
- Shel is a renowned author who has at least a couple of really interesting and relevant books to his credit – specifically, “Naked Conversations,” which was written with Robert Scoble about the business potential of blogs back in 2006, and “Twitterville,” which just released last year about – you guessed it – that ubiquitous social media channel. In addition, Shel has a very engaging creation process whereby he uses his blog and Twitter to collect and evolve the content through individual stories, and a storytelling style of writing that we think will help this book stand out in a crowd of business books.
For now, we’re calling the book “The Living Enterprise…” in order to emphasize the evolving, growing nature of companies in the future – influenced by their social networks and by the ecosystem in which they participate… but that’s also just a working title as a placeholder and may not be the final title or theme.
Yours is the Story We Most Want to Tell
I envision this book to be about 1/3 the story of SAP, its ecosystem, and communities … only enough to establish our credentials and our credibility for readers who don’t know the company or our communities, customers, partners, ecosystem, Mentors, and so on. Another 1/3 should be YOUR story, and those of your colleagues and peers in the SAP communities … what has been your experience, what value have you gotten personally, how has your company benefitted… This is the most important and most interesting part of the book – its heart and core. The remaining 1/3 should be the stories of other companies, individuals, thought leaders, pundits, and people or companies outside our immediate sphere and ecosystem that help round-out the current situation and point to the future.
With this in mind, I would really like to have you – yes, you personally if you’re willing – participate in the book, to share your personal anecdotes and stories, to tell Shel (and me and Zia) your impressions of what works and why it does, what doesn’t work and why you think it misses the mark, what you’ve seen or experienced or noticed through your membership and participation in our SAP Community Network and our broader SAP ecosystem.
The good news is that Shel Israel is an extraordinary story-teller… just leaf through Twitterville or skim his blogs and you’ll see why we wanted to partner with Shel as a key author. For you, that means Shel can get basic info from you in an email or comment or note, and with a follow-up interview he can take a pedestrian anecdote and weave it into gold. For some recent examples related to our book project, you might be interested to take a look at Shel’s recent blog posts on:
- “Announcing: ‘The Living Enterprise,’ My New Book Project”
- “TLE Notebook: SAP’s Orchestra Conductor Metaphor”
- “TLE Notebook: SAP Job Board, a New Example of Lethal Generosity”
- “What Threadless.com and SAP Have in Common”
Will You Please Contribute a Story, Opinion, or Observation to the Book?
If you are willing, we’d like to hear from you. “Raise your hand” to participate simply by leaving a note as a comment to this blog (below), or by commenting on Shel’s blog (“Global Neighbourhoods”).
If you know of someone with an interesting story to share, please let them know about this project.
As we make progress, I’ll blog here occasionally to keep you, as a member of the SAP Community Network (SCN) in the loop. You might also want to follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/markyolton or http://twitter.com/shelisrael or http://twitter.com/ziayusuf
In the meantime, thank you for the part you already play as a member and contributor to a community that is generating so much interest from others. You and the other nearly two-million members make this SAP community and this ecosystem worth writing about.