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Leveraging the Talent-Driven Organization – by the Aspen Institute  

The following is excerpted from an email I recently sent to the SAP Community Network (SCN) team, supporters, and stakeholders within SAP. The recognition really belongs to all the participants in our communities, so I’d like to share the note along with some additional thoughts.

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One of the greatest quotes I could ever hope to see is this one, from the recently released Aspen Institute publication “Leveraging the Talent-Driven Organization” …

SAP Community Network (SCN) … may be the most extensive use to date of social media by a corporation.

(Free download of the full Aspen Institute publication: http://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/leveraging-talent-driven-organization )

 

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The sense that we / SAP are leading is not unique to the Aspen Institute folks, or limited to the Deloitte team (John Hagel, John Seely Brown) who sponsored this roundtable. 

I had lunch with a well-respected social media thinker and O’Reilly author last week and when I asked which companies were leading he cited us first … when pressed he also noted a couple of others, but he was serious about us being at or near the top.  You know that the Altimeter folks (Charlene Li, Jeremiah Owyang, Ray Wang…) hold our work in high regard.  So do the Ant’s Eye View team (Sean O’Driscoll, formerly of the Microsoft MVP program).  Last year, siteIQ rated us #1 (tied with Intel in our space).  When I attended a recent Social Media Business Council (SMBC) meeting, our work was the envy of others.  And there are the constant requests for us to share our experiences at conferences, in articles / interviews / podcasts, and with customers or others. 

The consensus among those who are in-the-know is that we are among the best at orchestrating a community of customers, partners, independent consultants, individual experts, and thought leaders. 

These accolades are really directed to you, to each of you who have helped build the community to what it is today, who actively use and encourage peers to use social media tools in their professional lives. Congratulations to you – on making it possible thru the work you do every day supporting, participating, sharing in this community. I hope you will take a moment to bask in this for a moment and appreciate what we have accomplished together via SCN, our events, and the SAP EcoHub. 

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Bringing the Best of the 20th Century into the 21st Century 

So how did we reach this point? As the Aspen report notes, There is some irony to the fact that SAP should be a pioneer in the use of social media. The company, which is based in Germany but operates globally, describes itself as ‘the world’s leading provider of business software [which includes] enterprise resource planning and related applications such as supply chain management, customer relationship management, product life-cycle management, and supplier relationship management.’ These are the very types of software that have helped to shape the structure of efficiency-driven 20th century firms.”

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Just as we offered products and solutions to help build the best-run businesses of the 20th century, it’s important for us to help our customers be the best-run businesses of the 21st century too.  Timo Elliott recently posted a great blog summarizing SAP’s leadership in the Web 2.0 space by SAP (via SAP products and services), with SAP (facilitating interactions with customers, partners, influencers, etc., such as through SCN), and at SAP (internal usage of these tools).

Building a Culture of Community – Internally and Externally

It requires a shift in culture for a corporation to be comfortable with employees using social media in their day-to-day business activities and to provide those tools, platforms, and channels to its customers and partners — a willingness to take risks, to allow experimentation, to give up control — and requires even more of a shift to begin embracing it as part of a core product or market engagement strategy. At SAP, we still work to battle internal risk-adverse “antibodies” who are struggling with the move from the left side of the above table to the right side. But key supporters recognize that social media isn’t just a fad, it’s the new way of working.

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External recognition like this publication from the Aspen Institute continues to validate what we already know, and helps us spread the message: We derive real business benefit from our social media usage, and we want SAP customers to be able to derive similar benefits not only from their interactions with us, but from interactions with their customers, their partners, and SAP’s other customers, as well.

“One of the most valuable [benefits] is its power to give employees at all levels of the company real-time insights into customer needs, interests and problems. And the prominence of SAP Community Network has had a positive impact on the perception of SAP as a company that is open and collaborative. Customers generally are happy when a supplier will really listen to them, a process that is inherent in the structure of SAP Community Network.”

I’m very proud of the work we’ve done with SCN, and our leadership in this area. Hopefully seeing our experiences first-hand and having personal interactions with SAP via / Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / etc. will help your organizations ease into the cultural shift required to enter the social media / Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 world of business – if you haven’t convinced them already.

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By the way, are you aware of all the social media properties that SCN is on? Here’s a list of the some of the most active networks – follow, fan, join, subscribe, etc. if you haven’t already: 

 

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