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“Better | Faster | Stronger” is Not Just for the Six Million Dollar Man Anymore…

Social media, social applications, social networks, and social business have dramatically transformed how millions of people connect and collaborate, and how businesses make decisions and operate. 

And for years, the SAP Community Network (SCN) has been an innovator and leader in accelerating and advancing social business for SAP, its ecosystem of customers and partners, and across the entire spectrum of industries engaged in global business.  We led the way in many areas, we have been regarded as a pace-setter and innovator — and now I’m excited to say that we’re taking the next giant leap forward. 

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon to Your Community: Innovations, Updates, Clarity, and Massive Modernization

Since its inception in 2003 as the SAP Developer Network (SDN), what we now know as “About SAP Community Network (SCN)” (broadening in scope to encompass multiple communities, each serving groups beyond simply developers to also include sysadmins and IT professionals more generally, business process experts, business analysts, functional and solution consultants, university students…) has been community-driven.

What do I mean by “community-driven”?  We measure and track hundreds of thousands of conversations and traffic interactions every day, observe consumption trends, listen to advice and requests in our discussion forums, blogs, and wiki, pore through SCN 2011 Member Survey results, gather feedback at FEATURED EVENTS, prioritize suggestions in the Idea Place, weigh the advice of SAP Mentors … and then we plan and execute changes and innovations based on the collective voices of our community members and other stakeholders. 

We know, for example, that running a seamless and constantly evolving platform is invaluable to our community members: customers, partners, and colleagues.  And we also know that while, over the past years our platform has served us well, we cannot innovate, extend, customize, and evolve this platform fast enough or in all the directions necessary to best serve the diverse users we need to serve going forward. 

With this in mind, I’m pleased to let you know that we are — right now — planning a massive re-platforming, migration, and modernization of the underlying infrastructure of this SAP Community Network.  Within the next few months, we will be running on the most robust, full-featured, scalable, extensible, integrated community and social networking platform on the planet… and you will benefit tremendously from this modernization. 

 

SCN on JIVE

If you have been monitoring closely, you will notice that the comprehensive migration of the current SCN social media platform to the JIVE Social Business System (SBS) version 5 (not yet released) has begun.  Internally we call this “Project SCNergy,” (pronounced to either emphasize “synergy” or “energy”), and the SCN team is working hard — and has been doing so for months already — to plan and execute a transition of the bulk of our community areas (for example thousands of topic pages, more than 20,000 blogs, and more than 8 million forum posts…) with new designs, capabilities, content organization, features, and much else.

Not everything will migrate to JIVE, of course.  We will retain our SAP NetWeaver portal as an uber-front-end “welcome mat,” our LDAP, federated search across multiple SAP online properties, single sign-on, KM for our article library, e-learning, videos, events pages, and an intact wiki. 

What will migrate includes the SCN business card, blogs, ratings, activity stream, discussion forums, points database and recognition program, our article cover pages and documents, and user profile.

Due to this dramatic move and the well-known leadership of SAP in the social business world, I was recently invited to keynote at the west coast JIVE New Way Tour event in San Francisco.  In my keynote presentation, The Power of Social Business, I talked about the value of social business and the broad benefits of streamlining into one modern platform, with an emphasis on JIVE. 

This gave me the opportunity to highlight SAP’s social business leadership — particularly with SCN but also with SAP’s internal employee communities and gated semi-private areas — to illustrate how SAP leverages social business technology and best practices, and to show how the migration fits into the overall SAP landscape and social business strategy. I share the video of this keynote with you in case you’d like to deep-dive further into SAP’s social business and JIVE. 

 

http://newwaytour.jivesoftware.com/player.html?xml=JiveNewWayTour2011_5_1306250890055OWWW.xml

So why JIVE?

We selected JIVE because it is the current leader in providing social collaboration platforms for social business, because SAP and JIVE have had a strong, healthy, and evolving relationship over many years, because some of the largest business-oriented communities in the world are running on JIVE so we expect they can handle our massive size and growth trajectory, because the platform has proved to be robust and reliable enough to deliver the global access and 24×7 availability our members expect and require, because we share a common vision of social business with the JIVE leadership team, and because we believe they will evolve and innovate at a pace and in directions we desire — so that the future can be very bright for our SAP community and its members.

 

Looking Back

We have experienced tremendous growth and expansion in SCN over the past nearly 8 years.  Since our launch in 2003, the quick implementation of JIVE for our discussion forums, the early use of blogs, and expansion in 2006 to launch BPX, by 2007 we reached 1 million members and re-branded ourselves as “SCN,” then followed with the BusinessObjects (now Business Analytics) and University Alliance communities, in 2009 launched the SAP EcoHub App Store and the Career Center, in 2010 passed 2 million members and launched both the Code Exchange and the Idea Place.  For 2011, our big undertaking is to fully modernize our community platform so that growth and expansion can continue unabated.   

 

Moving Forward

After hosting millions of people in 38 million visits to the SAP communities in 2010, the growth trend continues in 2011.  We look forward to growing, evolving, and modernizing now, in order to increase the quality of interactions and benefits to current members, and to expand this value to new types of community members and collaborators in the years ahead. 

This year’s migration and platform modernization gives us: a unified and consolidated view of topics including discussions and blogs and other published content, personalized content views to follow precisely what interests you, value-added connections to individuals and influencers including easier following of favorite individual members, easy publishing capabilities that make sharing ideas and insights more democratic and more broadly accessible to all members, more prominent and threaded interactions, simpler and yet richer search, smoother and more prominent personal connections, an updated recognition system, and much more. 

 

Watch This Space! 

You will hear alot more about this project in the weeks ahead, and then you’ll notice a dramatic (and, we expect, positive) change in a few months.  In the meantime, please let us know your thoughts in the comments area below, and in the twice-annual SCN 2011 Member Survey.  Obviously, we’re listening, and we’re responding, to your opinions, ideas, desires, and requests… this platform modernization project is one massive example of that responsiveness that we can’t wait to share with you!  

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15 Comments

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  1. Chris Paine
    Very excited to see this happening. The community is a very important part in making SAP a success and supporting customers. It is an excellent step to address the concerns of the community has with the current SCN platform.
    I keep my fingers crossed that the new solution is as good as I might hope for and allows us to continue with improving and growing the SAP community collaborations.
    Chris
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    1. Mark Yolton Post author
      Thank you, Chris.  We are expecting vast improvements, and not just with the initial launch but with continuous innovation as well. 

      Regards,
      Mark Yolton

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  2. Christoph Schulz
    I tried to remember how life was in the pre-SDN era. It is a daily companion now…

    Looking forward to a more social network powered by Jive. I hope that you still use your own portal product, it is a great showcase of what can be done with SAP technology.

    Regards
    Christop

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  3. Matthias Steiner
    Hi Mark,

    great to see you speaking about our plans so openly and enthusiastically. Knowing your team I don’t have the slightest doubt we are up for a real treat – soo looking forward to it! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Matthias

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  4. Sascha Wenninger
    Hi Mark,

    great to see you guys aren’t ‘resting on the laurels’ of SCN and are always looking for improvements in the platform. Very excited to see this happening, and all the best with the implementation! Bring it on (and let me know if you need beta testers 😉

    Sascha

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  5. Mark Yolton Post author
    Hi all who have commented here and elsewhere.  We really appreciate your positive approach and support for this major program. 

    @Greg: We hope to reduce some of the pain or frustration from limitations or requirements of the platform (not sure we can eliminate it completely for everyone, as Abraham Lincoln said famously: You can’t please all of the people all of the time…) and to turn the experience to overflowing joy! 

    And yes, I expect membership will ALWAYS be free as a bonus benefit to any SAP customer or partner who wants to participate. 

    I also agree and would emphasize that this SAP community is member-powered.  I really do believe that our SAP community is what it is — vibrant, engaged, professional, expert, supportive, encouraging, and so on — precisely due to its members.  They/you establish, maintain, and evolve the underlying culture of this community, and that’s what makes it special.

    @Sascha: You’re right; we never rest – whether on our laurels or otherwise.  Constant innovation and improvement is in our DNA; we are never satisfied and will never be “finished.”  This year’s modernization, though, will be a major leap forward versus incremental steps.

    @Matthias: You are right to point out that the SCN core team, plus our SAP IT colleagues/partners, and 600+ moderators and content area managers are our “secret sauce”… They are working very hard to deliver an amazing new experience for the community. 

    @Christoph: I can’t imagine now anyone involved with SAP as a customer, partner, consultant, or super-user could live without SCN.  Your experience – that it’s an integral tool you use daily – reflects what we hear from others too.  

    And, yes, SAP Portal is still in the mix of technologies we will employ going forward.  We will include and integrate and leverage many other SAP components too.  In fact, in the background we are right now adding HANA to crunch traffic and other data to display in Explorer, Excelsius, and other management dashboards. 

    @Chris: Our way forward and constant evolution — including investments and improvements — is guided to an extraordinary degree by what we hear and observe from community members like you. 

    Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support! 

    M.

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  6. Martin English
    Mark,
      I’ve used Jive SBS in a previous job, and found that it was very easy to connect with people and groups on a global level.
      I’m looking forward to the new improved SCN 🙂
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    1. Mark Yolton Post author
      Hi Martin: We use Jive internally within SAP as part of our intranet and “SAP employee network” (the counterpoint to the external-facing “SAP Community Network”), and adoption and satisfaction is quite good.  Features and functionality are strong, integration is strong, usability is pretty good, UI/UX are fairly intuitive. And the relationship with Jive (the company) lets us know that what they have in mind, and in store for future improvements, is quite impressive.  Thanks for your support on this.

      Regards,
      Mark Yolton

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  7. Krishnendu Laha
    Hello Mark,

    I have been part of SDN (well SCN :), love this term as ABAP guy) for last 5 years and seen it is better and better.

    It’s nice to see this initiative to make it more robust and hope identified error will be solved in migrated platform.

    Good luck.

    Cheers
    Krish.

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    1. Mark Yolton Post author
      Hi Krish – Getting better and better is what we’re always striving for.  We’ll never be “finished,” but constant forward progress — with the right emphasis and priorities at the right time — is the art we practice.  We don’t always get it exactly right, but it’s a moving target, and all 2.5 million members of this community have a somewhat different idea what should come “next,” but so far we’re finding mostly success while appreciating the patience and support from the members to keep working on whatever comes next in the long list of “to do’s.” 

      Regards,
      Mark Yolton

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  8. Jonathan Groll
    Good news. As a regular SCN reader I am of the opinion such an overhaul is required for going forward and for rendering of content specifically for mobile devices. Also, for those of us working in countries or offices with poorer internet connectivity it would make it more pleasant and feasible to participate in SCN. (For instance, Firebug showed me that 57 requests were required just to render this web page and it took 30 seconds to retrieve them all!)

    I look forward therefore to the “Better, Faster, Stronger” and leaner SCN. All the best with the migration.

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    1. Mark Yolton Post author
      Thanks, Jonathan.  We do a bunch of things to improve performance already – like caching “locally” to serve distant locations from the server farm – but there’s more we could and should do.  The fact that we’ve built this community infrastructure over the past ~8 years means that there are some very old parts of the foundation, and there is too much complexity and too many inter-dependencies that are not natural or designed-in from the start as part of an integrated whole.  We will get an integrated brand-new system to start fresh. 

      Mobility is one of the driving forces of this.  We’re challenged a bit on how we will implement for mobile at the outset due to some system security and performance challenges in the expected architecture, but the IT experts are actively working on it to solve for the mobile world.

      We appreciate your support.

      Regards,
      Mark Yolton  

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  9. Jelena Perfiljeva
    Sorry to rain on everyone’s parade, but I still recall the last time the SDN forum was “upgraded” a couple of years ago it kind of didn’t go very well. (It involved shrinking of the text to the unreadable size and many bugs.) I’m quite surprised to read that Jive is leader in their area since, according to hundreds of SDN members (there was a huge post in ‘Suggestions and comments’) they didn’t do such a terrific job with the forum.
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    1. Mark Yolton Post author
      Thanks for your comments, Jelena.  We haven’t upgraded the forums in many, many years. In fact, they have been out of support by Jive for many years. What I think you’re referring to is our own implementation based on some serious limitations we’ve faced on SCN – not the core solution from Jive.  We have done alot of research based on feedback in forums like the one you note, plus the twice-annual surveys, etc. — and we are convinced that the new platform — which is in everyone’s “leaders” quadrant — will be a vast improvement.  We look forward to showing you!

      Regards,
      Mark Yolton

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