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This week I passed the 1,000 mark.  I published my one thousandth blog article.   This begs the question, why bother writing all of those blogs when the reward is often hard to identify? 

That is a fair question.  Let me try to answer it.  I had the good fortune to work as a CEO in a small mobile application company for nearly 5 years.  I was involved in nearly 200 enterprise mobility projects in that role, before most people had begun to think about enterprise mobility. I grew up in mobility as an OEM partner of Sybase.  I made mistakes, before we knew them to be mistakes.  As my friend Dan Homrich likes to say, “we earned and learned and have the scars to prove it.” 

In my days as CEO in a start-up company that was focused on providing mobile solutions to the services sector, I yearned to learn from other mobility experts.  The problem was in 2004, no one was writing about enterprise mobility.  The only people that had experience, and had suffered the pain of mistakes, kept the pain to themselves. I craved to know best practices, but those that knew, kept them as proprietary.  I wanted to know market trends, so I could make good strategic decisions basesd on data, but as a start-up, I could rarely afford high priced analyst reports.  I worked a lot on hunches.  Hunches, that I must say, were often more accurate than the analysts.

All of these early experiences have shaped my desire to document and share information that will make it easier for the next guy.  I enjoy writing, and have suffered the pain of experience.  In 2006, I started doing something few understood.  I started sharing my experiences online.  Soon I was making friends and sharing experiences with folks all around the world.

I admit that blogging comes with personal rewards.  It feels good when people appreciate and recognize your work.  When my ego and head starts to swell, I can always count on my SAP Mentor peers to put me back in my place.  It is a self-correcting system.

The blogging world has changed much.  In 2006, people found my blog via a small search engine called Google.  Without Google, or a company like it, no one would know there was a blog site called Enterprise Mobility Strategies.  Today, there are dozens of different ways to promote and syndicate your blog articles with technologies like Blogger, Twitter, Ulitzer, RSS feeds, Linkedin, SCN, Facebook, etc.

With all of these quickly evolving tools and technologies now available to share information, it seems strange, but predictable when communities cannot keep up with the change.  I see this happening on SCN today.  Members are comfortable with tradition, and uncomfortable with change.  They often aren’t interested in reaching out to new audiences and sharing experiences with the next guy.  They don’t like “How To” articles on SCN.  They enjoy the exclusiveness of the community.  They aren’t motivated to reach out and train the new guy.  Some struggle when business information is mixed in with code scripts.  Others don’t want information coming into the SCN community that is not original to SCN.  They somehow feel information with origins outside of SCN is less valuable to the end user.  All of this is normal.  It is the way the world works, however, it does not mean it is healthy.

An organization and community must grow, adapt and innovate to be healthy.  SCN should be expanding!  It should be looking for ways to add value to the person new to SAP, as well as to the jaded old timer.  Perhaps there should be different levels within SCN so “How To” information, that is desparately needed by rookies, does not bore the veteran.  Perhaps there should be hundreds of categories for those craving help in niche markets.  Perhaps have sections based on roles, responsibilities and experience.

Trying to force thousands of important articles with valuable content into a few limiting categories and formulas that are often overseen by jaded SDN veterans, is not the formula for dynamic growth and innovation that will appeal to the next generation of SAP and SCN users.

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12 Comments

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  1. Tom Cenens
    Hello Kevin

    It’s not always visible that community members appreciate a blog. Page hits don’t really give proper feedback.

    I’m convinced about the added value of blogs but of course it would be nice if more community members left a small comment after reading and enjoying a blog.

    I bumped into someone from SAP some weeks ago at a customer who recognizes me. She told me she uses my blog on trusted RFC when she has to set it up at a customer side. I loved it.

    My message for all bloggers is keep writing. Don’t get discouraged if no one comments, it doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate the content. It’s fun to write and all the content made available on SCN provides added value.

    Yesterday I was at one of our customers setting up Root Cause Analysis and they asked if I could include how to perform an E2E trace analysis in my documentation. Instead I could refer to my blog on SCN which provides just that information.

    In the future, a new blog editor can make a huge difference. At the moment I don’t like how the editor sets spacings etc so I convert my writings into html myself to make it look decent which is time consuming.

    Regarding changes needed, I agree changes have to take place on SCN but I also know SAP is looking into the possibilities. Perhaps they can’t really keep up but I can imagine it’s a huge project to throw SCN upside down and change it around. It’s not possible over night.

    Kind regards

    Tom

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    1. Natascha Thomson
      Great point about “annecdotal evidence” that a blog is being read. In my social media role, I learned that, for example, large enterprise CFOs tend to read blogs but not comment. We know this because of annecdotal evidence from trade shows and customers…

      I also think that commenting is cultural. Some cultures (and personalities) don’t like to “raise their hand” and publicly comment on a blog as it makes them uncomfortable. That does nto mean there is no appreciation. That’s why “thumbs up/down” buttons are nice, or star ratings.

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  2. Kumud Singh
    Hi Kevin,

    It comes as a surprise to me that the agitation going on within me has been written down by you in this blog..(although I can add many more).

    I very well support the comments for rookies and inexperienced people.We cannot ignore them as all of our roots lie there.I consider that as the best phase to lay foundation for rest of our growth.
    It is well said that a wise man learns from other’s mistakes.But in today’s world how feasible is this.Documentation of one’s experience, easily available for next person’s use is certainly an advantage.
    If you can please throw some light on below:

    In SCN forums, people say 75% of questions are already answered, but then when I get stuck anywhere and start searching for appropriate scenario, most of the time I don’t get.So do we need a better search method or properly categorized documentation or some change here.

    Can an idea be proposed to SCN as to have some privilege to be given for meetings of members of various categories. I think this will add dynamism in the community.

    Thanks,

    Kumud

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  3. Gregory Misiorek
    i blog for myself, if someone finds a value in it, great, if not, i simply don’t get read. i must say each blog is a lot of effort, especially on the editing side. the SCN blogging tools could be improved, too. there is some catching up for SCN to do like to become more like wordpress or instapaper, and to allow blog discussions on the mobile app. if SCN doesn’t do it someone else will. i rarely go to other tabs, so Blogs and Forums have become a center of gravity for me. i wonder if this can be confirmed statistically.
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    1. Anton Wenzelhuemer
      ‘I blog for myself’ is a fascinating motto I am already thinking 2 hours about. I must admit I do absolutely not understand it. Maybe googling some psychology related sites may help me to understand it…off googling 😉
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    2. Michelle Crapo
      I blog for “myself” to a point.  It’s an interesting idea.   I’m not always eloquent with the words / wording.   I try to blog about things I’d like to read.  Or problems I’ve had that I just couldn’t find the answer to.

      I think sometimes people don’t blog who should.  The beginners are still out there.  I need / love to read about new technology.  But I’m also a fan of old tips.  You can tell by what I write. 

      Like Gregory pointed out, if they don’t like it, they can skip it and not read it.  🙂

      Michelle

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  4. Natascha Thomson
    Kevin, I enjoy your blogs! 🙂 Please keep blogging. You have your own style and provide information that you would find interesting to receive. This will not always please everybody, but I don’t understand why that has to be such a big deal (referring to the long discussion about your mobility blog). It’s easy to quickly skim a blog and see if it’s relevant for me or not. If it’s not, I move on to something else. You blog regularly, so people should know after a while if they like your style or not. They don’t need to click on the URL anymore.

    In regards to how SCN categorizes, I agree, it’s not ideal, and we’d all love to see dynamically assembled content :-).

    There’s a responsbility with the writer to tag responsibly. I think comments on blogs are very important to help the writers know if their time was well-spent blogging, plus on how to improve in future.

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  5. Luis Felipe Lanz
    Hi Kevin,

    I guess the right question is “Why do we blog ?” 

    Let me elaborate a bit, as you probably know I have two blogs, once here in SCN where I share my experience with products, projects and the other one, where I write about other topics, in Spanish, for the last one I always refer like “My Blog, the one that nobody read”

    The true is that I’ve more visit in the private one than in the professional here, however I publish both with the same enthusiasm, not thinking about the audience, just thinking in the reader by accident, yes that one which is searching for certain topic when looking for other opinions or references and is able to find my post, read and sometimes comments.

    To whom ? I don’t know, but I post based in the Dalai Lama’s quote “Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.”

    Thanks and Best Regards,
    Luis

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  6. Priya Jacob
    Hi Kevin, Some people like yourself, are gifted with eloquent writing abilities, many may write but not all can express just as well. Thus, blogging may come naturally to some, at the same time not strike a chord with some others. All said and done, it is indeed an  effective means of sharing knowledge in today’s well-connected world. And yes, having a ‘Like’ button would invite many readers to vote/vouch as opposed to just commenting, although a comment could convey more. Keep sharing!
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  7. Michelle Crapo
    Why comment on a blog?  🙂

    I liked this one.  It highlighted some interesting ideas.

    1. Communities cannot keep up with the change
    2. SCN should be expanding!  It should be looking for ways to add value to the person new to SAP, as well as to the jaded old timer.

    Totally agree.  You’d be surprised at how many people stop me at teched to talk about “older” systems.  And “how-to” move to newer technology.

    We don’t all have the latest and greatest – so when you talk about newer people.  You may be hitting “old timers” that just haven’t gotten to that technology yet.

    Michelle

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