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Why SAP Thinks Feeding Knowledge So Important

At SAP, as a company and as employees, we are committed to the Millennial Goals.  (I was further apprised of exactly what those Millennial Goals are by Education for All – Reviving SCN Engagement in Promoting Millennium Development Goals ). The core product of SAP is intellectual development, and so it is not hard to understand why education, knowledge exchange, and learning are foundational and extremely important to SAP, the company as a whole, and the SAP Community Network (SCN) as a living instance.

While understanding that educational parity is one of the key elements of succeeding in these goals, one of the pre-requisites for having access to education is in having access to proper nutrition.  Education alone will not provide the basis for the health and intelligence to absorb learning.  Nutrition on the other hand does.

Many of you may recall the tracking we did for Food for Points: Make a Difference Through Community Contribution! when we, in the community,  first partnered with our SAP Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) organization.  And perhaps later you will recall our SCN COO, Chip Rodgers, announcing the launch of an additional CSR/SCN program to benefit under-served markets which leveraged: micro financing, education and technology.

Our SAP Corporate Social Responsibility Approach

I’d like to pull together some of the things I’ve learned about the SAP Corporate Social Responsibility organization and what SAP as a company does programmatically and then I’d like to shift gears and give an example of how individuals in our organization (leaders as role models) think about these things as well.

This past week,  I spoke with Steve Williams who many of you know from last year’s  Help non-profits make the most of their limited marketing dollars at TechEd Innovation Weekend .

Steve outlined the internal three-pronged SAP CSR approach, leveraging SAP Technology, Investments and most importantly People.  He gave me a look into the SAP way of deploying our own people and described the different levels of support and some of the technology and skill sets needed.

  • Powering Technology Innovation: an example would be social innovation projects and actual SAP product donations to help streamline reporting, operational efficiency and enable transparency for non-profits, corporations and governments.
  • Investments  going beyond traditional monetary support and charitable funding by providing employee skills in technology and business topics to non-profits in addition to actual product donations
  • People providing skilled volunteering, as well as globally supporting SAP employees engaging in local innovation projects

What I learned is that this approach goes beyond traditional funding and ties in actual development work, mentoring, educating, partnering, collaborating, and engaging.  I was seeing a pattern emerge of giving more than just monetary resources. 

Where SAP is heading: More countries, More Ambassadors and More Impact

SAP has publicly committed itself to such activity with employees.

“We will be sending teams of next-generation leaders at SAP to the developing world to work with NGO’s on social innovation projects. By applying their expertise to challenges such as food delivery to areas coping with shortages or natural disasters, our teams will multiply the impact we can create through technology” (more about this in our online SAP Sustainability Report )

Individual Engagement, Volunteering, Giving

A year ago, while on a visit to the SAP US SAP Headquarters in Newtown Square, I met with SCN SVP Mark Yolton very informally and chatted with him about a number of topics including work/life balance.  What struck me very strongly then was the connection Mark drew between creating work/life balance and engaging in socially responsible activities.

I just revisited a blog Mark published (almost exactly 3 years ago!) and was deeply impressed by its relevance to Steve William’s Technology, Innovation, People approach.

Mark Y. called it: Let’s Start Something … for our Planet and Its People

Fast forward to a year ago and here is Mark Yolton talking about some personal steps he’s taken to “give back”.

How as a community do we implement these kinds of programs?


These are exciting times for SAP and for SAP Community Network.  We will soon be announcing a new program for the community around SAP Corporate Social Responsibility for 2011.  I’m excited to see SAP continue to support these kinds of programs and looking forward to hearing your reactions and contributions during the coming year!

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    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author
      thanks Jamie.  I’d love to hear more input from community with ideas around micro-volunteering for example.  Using the same collaboration spirit we have here to the benefit of a larger social good.  During Innovation Weekend it seemed that there were amazingly smart and talented people thinking in that direction.  How do we take this further?
  1. Former Member
    I just learned about the technical term “reciprocity”. The funny point about reciprocity is that you even feel an urge to compensate if you received some unsolicited or even unwanted gift/service. It seems to be hard coded into our brains.
    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author
      Good response to have hard-wired in some cases.  Of course not so good if we have a knee-jerk reaction to solicitations that don’t make sense to our core way of being.  Yet, here on SCN, the idea of knowledge share in a give, give, give environment does produce some powerfully useful learning assets, tutorials, how-to’s.
      To learn more about the anthropological view of reciprocity, it’s good to google that word and the name “Lee Cronk” who did research around this topic back in 1989 and whose findings are still extant and relevant today.  I found a really interesting article here:
  2. Former Member
    That’s very encouraging weblog I just read. One thing I would add here is that SAP as a organization is very rightly positioned to this initiative forward.

    1. Non-profits are everywhere and so are SAP people : This is very true and so “Demand and Supply” is not a issue here.What is needed is a Marketplace, which I know is already being taken care by a dedicated portal for Non-Profits in development.
    2. SAP Product Donations : SAP SAAS products are great piece of software which if donated ( a majority of them are already available to eligible organizations at a very minimal price ) could offer Non-profits great advantage to there effectiveness and operational capabilities.
    3 Collaboration : SAP Products like StreamWork already offer very extensive capabilities to people to come-together and collaborate while located at very different places.

    I do foresee this initiative helping both SAP and Non-Profits with a bonus of people engaged feeling happy to be able to contribute to issues other then their SAP projects and engagements.



    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author
      thanks Mahesh.
      I’m sure your experience and knowledge in this field will be instructive to the new NGO community. It is my understanding that your organization, Direct Relief International and your work with Enterprise Information Management in improving its operational efficience uses affordable software that your non-profit has been given access to and you’ve already made available to others in the community some of your work. It would be great for you to post a link to what you showed at Sapphire for the benefit of those who weren’t as lucky as I to attend your session.

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