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Mark Yolton presented his annual “SCN Year in Review” presentation to the SAP Mentor Initiative a few weeks ago.  The content of the presentation covers some basic metrics on the SCN site and I now have a much greater appreciation for the daily traffic and growth that is happening here year over year.

 

A Revelation 

One item that caught my eye is the list of the top 5 forum pages for 2009 (as measured by points).  They are…

  1. ABAP – General
  2. ERP – Logistics Materials Management
  3. BI – General
  4. ERP – Financials
  5. Process Integration

 

Two of the top 5 forums are in the ERP area.  I think that’s significant for two reasons.

 

First Thought…

First, SCN started out as SDN.  SDN was focused on SAP development technologies and was not initially geared towards the functional or business oriented communities.  SCN has re-oriented itself and it’s clear that they’ve made significant strides in targeting that group based on the forum metrics above.

 

Granted, hidden in those numbers are a lot of threads of little value.  I moderate (heavily!) the financial related forums and see many poorly worded questions that have no hope of being answered.  The community still has a ways to go in spite of Moving to Strict Rules to improve Quality and  Control and the heavily referenced Rules of Engagement.  But I think that’s just a natural side effect to the overall popularity of the ERP forums and ones that myself and the other moderators have to deal with.  If ERP issues didn’t exist to the extent that they do and SCN didn’t have a place to house them then there would be no activity regardless of its quality.

 

Second Thought…

The other item that I found revealing in these numbers is another piece of evidence that the SAP community still struggles with the basics of ERP.  I don’t know how else to say it but it’s something I’ve had an opinion on for a long long time…  there is a lot of ERP pain out there. 

 

This might be a surprise to some because it seems that the majority of the marketing material and overall focus that is generated either by SAP itself or the community at large is on SAP’s other offerings such as BI, NetWeaver, BPC and EPM, CRM, SRM, APO, etc.  Rightly so…  I don’t fight or begrudge the demand of those applications.  BI has been hugely successful and many other SAP applications (such as SRM and Portal) have had significant success as well.

 

But SAP’s historical success — in fact the very foundation of the company — has been built on ERP systems.  R/2, then R/3, and now SAP ERP.  I’m sometimes amazed that so much text on the internet is dedicated to CRM (just an example) when customers still struggle with the basic blocking-and-tackling of an ERP based order-to-cash scenario.  

 

There are more ways to document this such as comparing the number of installs, users, or individual documents generated in these systems…  but I’m not trying to get into a you-know-what contest…  just highlighting the continued importance and struggle within SAP ERP.

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  1. Shreekar Ranade
    Nathan,

    I use the forums heavily and I attribute a vast amount of my learning to these forums. Increasingly I rely on crowd sourcing (from the forums) to get me what I need – especially since SAP help is so utterly in disrepair (to put it mildly). However I have noticed that a lot of times searching is really bad (especially as you mentioned since people word things so poorly). You might want to look at using metadata (i.e giving more attributes to these questions, so that search can be simplified) or perhaps making search itself more robust and intuitive. (not sure how search is done internally, but sometimes google search lands me a link that internal search cannot).
    Other than that – kudos on such a great platform.

    Regds;

    (0) 

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