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Disclaimer: These are my own opinions not those of SAP or the company I work for.

For anyone who doesn’t know (and I am no expert here – and am probably about to offend people) an SAP InnoJam is a bit like an all night coding/hackfest session with an enterprise twist based on real business cases and the bleeding edge of SAP technologies. Over a short period of just 30 hours ideas go from high level business cases to running prototypes, developers get tired and a lot of caffeine gets consumed.

SAP InnoJam Logo

I had heard about the concept of InnoJam from SDN and from the Enterprise Geeks Podcast, so was excited to hear that one was being organized for Australia this year, when registration opened I jumped on to register my interest and sign up only to find out that it was going to cost me $300! For some reason my expectation was that it would be free, I am not sure why I felt that way but here are some of the initial thoughts I had:

 

  • I am giving up my precious weekend time 🙂
  • SAP should be paying me to attend as ultimately I will go back to my company and clients and tell them about the great new software SAP is developing
  • I am giving away my Intellectual Property (my great ideas) – and I am paying for it.. c’mon!
  • We are ultimately developing and creating something… what will happen to that something… who “owns” it?
  • I will be helping beta test this software and giving good feedback to the development teams

Anyway a little bit of time went past and the red haze subsided a bit, I talked to some colleagues and got some valued opinions. I was also contacted by the InnoJam organizers to see if I was interested in attending still. I did some research into InnoJam and thought a bit more about what I would gain from the experience and ultimately came up with these reasons for why I should attend:

 

  • This is a rare chance to try out new software from SAP and get hands on experience and help from the experts in these technologies.
  • Meet and work with like minded people with similar interests and make friends along the way
  • Learn new ways of doing things from the experts and my peers
  • Get help to develop against a real business case – one I could take back to my company or my clients
  • Get my hands dirty again in code (without any documentation requirements!)
  • Try something new and get out of my comfort zone (move my cheese :-))
  • If selected as one of the winners get a chance to present at the SAUG summit in Sydney and even at SAP TechEd 2011.

All in all I ended up feeling like the $300 is a small price (I wish it was smaller… we will have to work on that) to pay for these things. For all Australian tax payers it is also an Educational/Training related tax deduction (I hope – note I am not providing tax advice here)!!!

There are probably other good reasons for and against attending, I sincerely hope that there are more people who see the value and are willing to spend the money to make it a great and rewarding event (fingers crossed). Still not sure? Check out these links to the recent InnoJam in the Netherlands:

Insomnia @ SAP InnoJam 2011 Netherlands: Part 1 of 3

Insomnia @ SAP InnoJam 2011 Netherlands: Part 2 of 3

Insomnia @ SAP InnoJam 2011 Netherlands: Part 3 of 3

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10 Comments

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  1. Chris Paine
    Hi Simon,

    See the thing is, short of actually chatting to some of these great SAP personalities, what’s stopping you from doing this at home?

    Want to do some cool code, what is stopping you from rolling up your sleeves and just doing it?

    I’m still on the side that believes that such a great marketing opportunity from SAP should be free. But given how they don’t seem to get this with things like SUP, perhaps it is too much to hope for.
    Even if someone could tell me what the $300 was even for, it would be a start.

    I want to be convinced here. Perhaps if it wouldn’t already cost over $300 in travel to get there it might be a less bitter pill to swallow.

    Cheers,
    Chris

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    1. Fred Verheul
      Hi Chris, I just read your comment after posting mine, so will address some points separately:

      Yes, you can go coding at home, but:
      1. There are no experts from SAP around, and believe me (or read my blog about Innojam NL 😉 ), it makes a lot of difference as you can learn a lot from them.
      2. No software available, that is, not all software is available to everyone at home (SUP being a ‘great’ example, actually suffering from that myself).
      3. In my house, I don’t have enough room for 50 people, and coding alone is less fun. The teamwork is one of the great things of an Innojam.

      I do agree with your point that costs should be made transparent, and I think that if you ask, the organization is willing to provide that clarity (or am I being naive?).

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      1. Chris Paine
        Hi Fred, thanks for the info.

        I agree playing with experts helps you learn really quickly. Playing with peers always teaches you new things too. However the business justification for playing with stuff that is unlikely to be taken up by any businesses I work with – minimal I’m afraid.
        I’m pretty sure that if enough people were interested something similar could be done without official SAP support – you know just supported by the community and the mentors, and then we might be looking at a $169 or less price tag and all the pizza we could eat.

        No one works in our office over the weekend, i’m sure we could spare the space… 😉

        Unfortunately without a more solid business case, i may not have the option to just get the company to pay and unlike NL I can’t just drive there, it’s a long way from Melbourne to Sydney.

        In the end what is SAP hoping to achieve from InnoJam? Is this a SAP driven initiative, in which case SAP should consider what audience they want and how to get them there. If it is instead a community driven event then it should be a lot more transparent where these costs are coming from.
        I know what I’d like to get out of it, your blog explains much of that, but the personal commitment of a weekend and $500 plus is currently weighing too heavily.

        Thanks for trying to enlighten me 🙂

        I’ll try to convince the boss to cough up the cash, but not holding out too much hope…. 🙁

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        1. Michelle Crapo
          And so – what’s in it for you company?  I like to present on learning and using new technology.  So I can list many reasons to learn something new.

          Here’s my 10 cents – I live in the US – so I get to say cents.

          When you go to thinks like Innojam, you get a valuable overview of new technology.  You say – we may never get that or it won’t be for a long time.  But if you know and understand a bit about the new technology.  You can propose it as a way of doing a project.  You become more valuable to your company that way.

          When you get back from Innojam – do some presentations to your business users and SAP folks.  Show them what can be done using the new technology.  Get some excitement generated.  You can easily do this just by showing them the demo you worked on in InnoJam.  

          Now – I know your thinking – but some of this isn’t released yet.  Some of it isn’t.  However in Innojam you can use the technology that best fit your project.  So join a team that will be willing to use the technologies that are released.  Maybe you even have them, it’s just that nobody uses them.

          Maybe your team uses all new technology.  Is the idea they / you came up with something your company could use?  Is there pieces of it they can use?  This process will help you with requirements.  It will make you think about the project as a whole.

          My recommendation – share the information, use it when possible, and demo for your company.  As an extra bonus point out the valuable networking opportunity.  In a smaller setting you really get to know the experts and the talented people on your team.

          That’s my debate and 10 cents.  Besides you’re a techie.  Doesn’t learning something new appeal to you?  It sure does me!

          Enjoy and I hope you can convince your boss to cough up the extra cash.  The expensive part is getting there.  It really is a minor cost in the overall scheme of things.

          Michelle

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        2. Rui Nogueira
          I’ve written a blog summarizing the reasons why one should go to an SAP InnoJam or, better, why your boss should send you there.
          You can find it at Why your boss should send you to SAP InnoJam 2011 in Sydney (Jul 30-31)? (Why your boss should send you to SAP InnoJam 2011 in Sydney)

          Thanks to Michelle and Fred for pointing out some of the other benefits.

          Just a side-note for comparing the pricing between InnoJam Netherlands and InnoJam in Australia: the cost structure between an event in the Netherlands and Australia is pretty different. We aren’t able to setup the event in Sydney for the same price as in the Netherlands.
          And I write in my blog that I mentioned above, we are not trying to make money with this event, but just trying so cover SOME of the costs.

          Best,
          Rui

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  2. Fred Verheul
    Wow,

    I just used a converter to get that $ 300,- back to euro’s (it’s € 224,-, as well as USD 322,- ), because Australian dollars mean nothing to me, and I’m amazed.
    In the Netherlands, where I live, we’re used to pay at least € 500,- = 674 AUD for 1 day of training. So here we’re getting the equivalent of about 3 days training (normally a day of training is 6, maybe 7 hours), for a mere 300 AUD instead of > 2000.

    Sounds like a bargain to me 😉

    But seriously, if you think about it this way, I’m sure everyone will agree that 300 AUD is not too much considering that a lot of software has to be made available, and some experts from SAP as well. And if it’s the same as it was in the Netherlands, all food and drinks will be included which makes it even more reasonable.

    By the way, in the Netherlands we paid € 125,- (as members of the Dutch user group, otherwise € 140,-), which translates to 169 AUD. So, may be it could be a bit cheaper ;-).

    Bottom line: stop worrying, ask your employer to pay for you (they would be crazy not to IMO) and enjoy Innojam Australia!!

    Cheers, Fred

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  3. Simon Kemp Post author
    Fred/Chris,

    Thank you both for sharing your thoughts on this, I honestly can see both sides of this argument, for me it wasn’t a straightforward decision either.

    Chris brings up a very good point which I should have included which is Australia is a very big country with quite a small population and the distances between cities is huge, so many people would be asked to add travel costs on top of the registration fee (I guess on the plus side you won’t need a hotel!)

    I suppose you could argue that since it is the weekend before the SAUG summit some people may already be arriving in Sydney for that, but in my opinion the audience that attends SAUG isn’t generally full of developers. I think any future InnoJams would be better placed prior to the Mastering SAP Technologies conference, where the audience would have more of that developer flavour.

    Regarding the question “What is the $300 for…?” I have been told that they just want to cover SOME of the costs of holding the event. I agree that $300 sounds like a lot (I hope the food is 1st class!)… but based on what the cost in the Netherlands was I can see some room for improvement on the price. Certainly I hope they are not paying for the venue… I would have thought that the SAP offices in North Sydney would be more then adequate to host such an event(?)… I hope that the organizers will be a little more transparent on this topic in the very near future.

    The reality I suppose is that if not enough people sign up then the event is likely to be cancelled which I think would be a shame and a missed opportunity.

    I am not trying to convince people one way or another I just wanted to open up the conversation since it was bugging me a bit :-).

    Thanks,
    Simon

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  4. Tom Cenens
    Hello Simon,

    I would suggest you ask your boss if you can attend on company budget. What I always try to do is create a win-win situation. you say it’s weekend time so it would make sense if you tell your boss you will spend the time as off work time and you will learn about new technologies and products.

    Other tips is provide feedback to your company/colleagues. Do a presentation on Innojam or send out a company development technology newsletter after attending. There are many ways to justify such a small cost for the company and make the company/colleagues also benifit from the fact that you were present.

    Kind regards

    Tom

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    1. Simon Kemp Post author
      Thanks Tom,

      Yes you are right. I was surprised that it didn’t take much (any really) convincing to get my company to sponsor some people to attend. We now have 4 people attending the event!

      Thanks for your comments.
      Simon

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      1. Tom Cenens
        Hello Simon

        I would even try to go a step further if I was you and ask your boss to be able to attend webinars from time to time.

        There are a lot of interesting webinars or SAP Mentor Mondays. Of course you can multitask where possible, listen to a webinar while working on something else but if it’s really interesting it’s nice to have a dedicated hour to really pay attention, let it sink in for a sec and ask questions on the end of the webinar.

        I think a lot of persons are afraid to ask their boss or company these kind of things while there is no need for it. I see it this way, either a) he/she agrees and you can do it or b) they don’t want you to spend time on it but at least they will also notice that you are not afraid to ask, that you are willing to learn new things and that you are looking for ways to improve your skills.

        I asked my team lead at one of the customers who hire me (so not even the company I work for as a consultant) and I can attend webinars on their expense. I already mentioned it before, think about creating win-win situations. In return I present topics in team meetings to up the knowledge of fellow team members and I follow up technology and provide feedback to my customer where needed.

        Have fun at Innojam, I sure did in the Netherlands even though I couldn’t stay throughout the whole event.

        Kind regards

        Tom

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