After an informal introduction by Marilyn Pratt, Craig Cmehil addressed the audience and threw in a challenge right off the bat. [Craig] What is the “Big Secret” of the Community? Craig asked and offered a “magic box” for the first person in the room who’ll figure it out during the day.
The Innovative Community Day @ Bangalore is a first of its kind: A hybrid model with community day activities such as sessions, presentations, speed networking on one hand and on the other hand having elements of innovation weekend where real life business problems are solved. It’ll also for the first time that technologies like “River Platform” & “Project Gateway” will be unveiled for people to experience. (both technologies were announced earlier this year – 2010). Starting 5 pm these technologies will be unveiled and attendees will team up to solve real life business cases using these technologies.
Craig, in his introductory remarks, repeatedly mentions a “guest speaker” but nothing is revealed until last minute. It turned out to be none other than the Managing Director of SAP Labs India, VR Ferose, who took some time off his busy schedule to talk to the innovators at the community day. “Community” and “Partnership” were they key themes of his wonderfully delivered speech. I tried to capture a few highlights:
- Ferose quoted an example of “Fake IPL Player” (a blog by a non-descript author) which became the most read publication about the Indian Premier league (IPL – European style cricketing club events). The author wrote the blog from a fake id and no one knew who this “author” was. Later this became the first book to be published without an author’s name. It also went on to become a best seller. So? Well the point he tried to make here is that such things are possible in the context of a community. A group of people like the blog and they pass it on and it soon becomes big – whether or not the author planned for it. Facebook is a similar example. Community endorsed “Facebook” and it became very big.
Ferose then talked about the importance of partnership and how it helped SAP in a couple of Corporate Social Responsibility projects. A few months ago, SAP wanted to help the underprivileged children in India by providing access to computer labs but realized it couldn’t do it alone. SAP partnered with Nokia & the local govt. and was able to provide laptops, batteries for the laptop and solar panels to power the labs. The point here is that partnering is a smart way to solve big problems even when you individually don’t have the capacity to solve it.
Thirdly, Ferose urged the SAP community members to question the status quo and think about becoming a 50 million strong community from 2+ million members today. Is this possible? How can we do it? (Ideas are welcome J)
Lastly, Ferose concluded his speech by telling a funny tale about “Know your customer”. His team was challenged with putting together a corporate social responsibility project of building and running a computer lab for the underprivileged children. They worked very hard and came up with some innovative solutions to accomplish this project. But at the time of actually “presenting” to their customers (i.e. educating the underprivileged children about the lab, technology etc) they realized that none of their customers understood what they said – language barrier. It’s a small and simple thing but a great realization of “really knowing your customer”.
I hope I did justice in summarizing Ferose’s note to us today. Do let me know if you were at the event and have something else to add.
(video courtesy of Marilyn Pratt)
Back to community day: After a “busy” speed networking schedule orchestrated by Marilyn Pratt, I’m sure all the attendees felt they knew their neighbors
The next session was an overview of Code Exchange by Rui Nogueira and below are the highlights:
- Code Exchange is mainly two things:
a. Set of collaboration tools & code repository
b. Legal framework
- The main goals of the “Code Exchange” program are to enable people to come together to build code, create add-ons, work on interesting projects or simply to consume the interesting pieces of code in the code repository.
- People from different companies/profiles work on the same code in Code Exchange, bring in ideas and hence lead to a mixed IP effort.
- The three broad use cases of code exchange are: Initiate, Contribute & Consume
a. “Initiate” or create a new code and get recognition from the SAP Community for the code/add-on you created
b. Or you could “Contribute” that is search for projects you are interested in and work on them
c. Or just consume! Look for interesting add-ons on the code exchange and use them in your day-to-day work.
- Code Exchange – Current status quo:
a. 450+ users since go-live at SAP TechEd 2010 Berlin
b. 450+ subversion commits
c. 50+ projects
If you want to know more about Code Exchange reach out to Rui Nogueira (@ruinogueira) or check out the community page which has all the information: http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/code-exchange
Watch out for a follow-up blog covering rest of the events – project gateway, business cases and more!