This blog would never come into being without kind help of Mr. Martin Lang, Director Collaboration on SAP Community Network.
Have you ever participated in a discussion how would you like to change/ improve the SCN site? I bet on “yes” or “yes, all the time”. Many forum posts have been posted about the complaints, ideas, errors, some blogs asked to change or improve certain features of SCN (check the SCN Support for tons of suggestions). I know many of the discussion are much older than my first SCN contributions, even though I have participated in some interesting discussions on the topic. This blog is not about more ideas and complaints; it is about how I change my opinion about the SCN infrastructure thanks to a deep discussion with a friend.
First of all, dear reader, understand how heterogeneous the current SCN infrastructure is. It seems like all the parts of the site are only modules (a famous word in SAP) of a single engine, but it is not like this:
- Blogs: run on code externally hosted 3rd-party solution
- Forums: engine is an old product by Jive software. Since the version is outdated (by the way it means without the standard support/ maintenance, that is why some of the errors can be seen for so long and stuff).
- Wikis: are powered by Atlassian Confluence Wiki (by the way the upgrade from 2.6 to 3.2 version is running, so the SCN teams are working hard to improve everything they can)
- Idea place: engine of this brand new part of SCN is Jive software ideation plug-in for their Jive SBS social networking platform (if you´re not aware of the existence and/ or the purpose of the Idea Place, please check the Podcast: The Potential of SAP Idea Place – Crowd-Sourcing SAP’s Future.
- …with some other components and system (not really important for me or the message of this text). Everything is glued together with SAP NetWeaver Portal system 7.x (for those who want to know some more I can recommend the TechED09 session UP203 Running the Biggest SAP NetWeaver Portal Implementation in the World by Matthias Boehmert, Development Manager, SAP IT).
What does that all mean:
- Before implementing any changes asked by the Community members, we need to decide what features/ corrections and other “things”, that cost money (!), we need to have implemented like right now. Why? Because if we would implement these “things” right now, we would be investing (I mean SAP would be investing) in an outdated platform which will be shut down sooner or later. So this money would be like thrown away… only because the Community would be so stubborn to insist on the changes.
- We will face a great challenge of integrating things together. We need to have (I mean: we all would probably prefer to have) all the “channels” named above (blogs, articles, wikis, forums… and hopefully some more, new, colorful and fancy channels…maybe like Twitter integration and stuff) integrated into a single content repository. The search could then be simplified and all other mechanisms would work the same way for all the content types (tagging for example, how you could tag things “together” if you would have to implement the tagging system into the several different “engines” and then glue everything together).
- In the end the one last (BIG) challenge will remain: how to migrate the current content (are we going to migrate the current content? All the content? Part of the content? Which part? What will be the steps of the procedure? What about the schedule… and much more)
What I want you to do, as a follow up:
- Please visit Jive software homepage. Do the research. Learn what are the features and if you like it (this is important especially for the people who are coming with the suggestions for months: could you please check the features of the new Jive engine and comment if you would like to use it on SCN?). If you need to try it yourself, you can register for their Try Jive SBS. Or what I think is a better option for the ordinary people: check the names/logos of the companies which are running Jive software and visit their portals/ support sites based on the new Jive software. Example: Cisco support Community. Or you can check the Jive´s community, if you want to see how the creators use their own product.
- Concentrate on the features of the new Jive software you would like to use here, on SCN, and tell us about it. Do you want to use: Collaboration on documents? Answering questions through the email (like you get the notification, reply to the notification and the answer gets appended to the original thread)? Polls? Tagging? Sub-communities and topic groups? LinkedIn-like look and feel (list of all the relevant news on the activity around you)? Widgets (something we could develop on our own…maybe?)?
- Understand the costs and the obstacles. We want you to understand SAP listens to all of you (us), but this is not a simple operation. Understand why bugs appear (forums are out of the standard maintenance) and why things take weeks to get implemented/ corrected even if they seem to be very simple (before understanding the whole picture I was convinced that some of the “corrections” or “enhancements” would take a IT university student like hours to do, but it is not that easy in the business). Everything costs money.
- Comment! We need to know you´re aware of the costs, the challenges and the obstacles. Jerusalem was not built in a day. The change of the SCN infrastructure will not start tomorrow and will not get completed in weeks after the start. This is a long-distance run and we want to make sure, we run together (you, me, us).
The goal of the blog was to explain and help you understand. To tell you, you´re important, your ideas are important! But you cannot expect the changes to happen in a matter of days/weeks (months?). I ask for your support and understanding instead of the flood of more and more complaints.
Thank you, Otto
P.s.: If you have any idea what would be the best tool to run the coming discussion about the topic, please share it through the comment below this article. I am afraid, that forum discussion would not meet all the needs, nor would the Idea Place or other “conventional” tools (wikis…).