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Introduction

In my second blog about SAP Innojam NL (find the first oneHow “De Hoogvliegers” won the first SAP Innojam NL) I would like to reflect on the event from a more personal point of view. I’ll share my objectives and what has become of them. I’ll also write down anything that I think might be relevant for future Innojams. Some might call it an evaluation ;-).

Thanks

However, before I get into the details of what worked and what didn’t, first let me congratulate and thank all the people involved in the organization of this excellent event:

  1. Rui Nogueira and his team of experts, consisting of jury member Juergen Schmerder (River), Chris Whealy and André Fischer (Gateway), and Martijn Tielen (SUP).
  2. The VNSG (Dutch SAP user group), and particularly Mientje Paais, Hans de Labije and jury member Rob van der Marck.
  3. SAP NL (for offering their location), represented mainly by keynote speecher and jury member Mark Raben.
  4. The volunteers from the Dutch SAP-community: Robert Eijpe, Tim Burchartz, Twan van den Broek, Jan Penninkhof, André Zandberg (and myself). Of these, Robert deserves a special mention because he’s the one that got the VNSG and SAP NL enthusiastic about this event.

     

Personal objectives

Like everyone else I had some expectations and objectives at the start of the event. In random order:

  • Meet other people, and especially those who I’ve met on Twitter, but not yet in real life.
  • Get access to and hands-on experience with SAP NetWeaver Gateway.
  • Have fun.
  • Learn.
  • Write down things and may be even take some photographs for a later blog about the event (I’m not even remotely a photographer normally).

       

Well, what became of them?

Meet other people

Mwahh, I had not nearly as much time to talk to and get to know people as I’d wished. As for new faces, I met self-employed Robin van het Hof (@qualiture), a new father for barely 2 weeks and yet present at InnoJamNL (talking about commitment!), so I could congratulate him and see he was clearly a happy and proud daddy. I also met Fons van Nuland (@Fons_van_Nuland), a consultant of The Next View, Tom Cenens (@tomcenens), of C/Tac Belgium and very active on SDN, and Oliver Lackner, sort of a colleague of my teammate Jeroen Huttinga (he’s an Austrian who, like Jeroen, has worked in Greece for years). For somewhat more familiar faces, I managed to sort of catch up with Thorsten Franz (@thorstenster) and Daniel Koller (@dakoller), whom I’d met during the SAP Inside Track Bonn last year, and with composite apps guru Matthias Steiner (@steinermatt), all from Germany (did I mention already that it was an international event?). There were a number of others, whom I can’t all mention here: this post is getting long enough without them. Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy meeting them of course. Still, it was mostly a matter of shaking hands, and saying hello or goodbye.

The conclusion must be that for instance an SAP Inside Track is much more suitable for informal discussions and to catch up with people. So I’m happy there will be one hosted in the Netherlands this year: SAP Inside Track Eindhoven, organized for the third year in a row, by Twan van den Broek (and others). It will be held on the last Saturday of November, the 26th.

Access to SAP NetWeaver Gateway

Well, as I’ve already written in my previous blog, there really was no good case to be made for using Gateway in our business case, which meant I got no hands-on experience whatsoever. Saturday morning, when SAP River was once again down, I went to Chris and André for some info/demo on Gateway, and instead got an (equally valuable) lesson in Javascript from Chris. But still, nothing on Gateway. So I’ll just have to make up for that in the upcoming (ramp-up) period.

Have fun

Finally success! 100% at least. No matter how many things I can think of that could have been better, or that should have been different, Innojam NL was very much a fun event, and if you don’t believe me, have a look at the photo’s.

Learn

Well, this one is easy too: you can hardly come away from this event without learning something. I got an introduction to Javascript (see above), learned of course a number of things about River, and heard some terms from the opposite side of the room, where Leon and Divya were busy trying to get the integration working between SUP and River. Last but not least I learned that I really have to brush up my presentation skills (well, I already knew this, but seeing oneself back on video is confronting nonetheless).

In order to also give something back to the community, I recorded a short video explaining how to send out a tweet from River. This is also meant as a response to Richard Hirsch’s A SAP River Video Dare ;-).

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Prepare blog

You probably guessed it: I didn’t even start to take notes during this event. No problem though, as this was such an intense event, I remembered most of it even after a week. Clearly there was no need for preparations onsite. Another learning ;-).

I will conclude this blog with some random things that worked out and a few that in my opinion didn’t. Either way, I think it’s interesting for future Innojams to take note of these.

Good things about Innojam NL

  • The choice to select the business cases from charity organizations does motivate people. This was best seen when, after the initial presentation of the business cases, some of which were even presented by representatives of the charity organizations, people got the opportunity to get a better understanding of the different business cases. Clearly, the tables with representatives of charity organizations were the most crowded.
  • Pressure cooking: by making a competition out of it, people got really fanatic (okay, enthusiastic), and on average got done a lot more than they would have in a ‘normal’ project. The commitment was very high, as already observed by Rui and others, and as can be seen from the photo’s and video’s.
  • Most of us work in a commercial domain, and by using business cases from charity organizations we got out of the ordinary business cases we deal with on a day to day basis, and we could work on some really interesting projects. Exemplary of this was that one business case of Philips, which basically entailed a high-volume billing engine, got no traction whatsoever. I’m convinced that had something to do with the fact that it sounded too commercial.

   

Things that didn’t work out so well at Innojam NL

  • There was only one team that wanted to use NetWeaver Gateway, and due to technical limitations of the SAP-system underneath they could not even use it as they wanted to. This, in my opinion, is a direct consequence of the fact that the business cases were coming from charity organizations: there’s almost no charity organization running an SAP ERP backend (or CRM for that matter). The business cases reflected this, and so there was little need for Gateway. Looking back I think we could have anticipated this, and may be should have searched for a different SAP technology.
  • It was difficult to get charity organizations to spend time with us (the organizing committee) to define business cases. In the end we did manage to get enough interesting cases, but it was a real hassle. Part of the problem was we didn’t have much to offer them: in 24 hours you can only hope to be able to develop a running prototype, whereas in the end they really need something that (just) works, is supported, and is a real product (bigger scope). And they must be able to afford it too. Of course finishing the product after the event is possible, but it depends on individual people committing themselves to finish the work in their spare time. Besides, because some technologies were not even out yet, nothing was known about licensing costs or subscription fees.
  • Not sure this one belongs here (I really liked helping to organize ánd participating), but as a consequence of bringing in business cases I had to present ‘mine’, and afterwards became automatically the owner of this business case. To be honest, I intended to go working on one of the other business cases, but didn’t have the time to figure out which one, as I was supposed to lead my ‘own’  business case. In the end this turned out alright though, since we decided to trade the original business case for the “Hoogvliegers” case, which turned out to be a good case to work on.
  • There was not enough time afterwards to really understand what the other teams did to get their demo running. Of course, after 30 hours of Innojam it was only natural that everybody wanted to go back home (Saturday 5 PM), but nonetheless, after seeing all the demos it would’ve been great to have some time to discuss the implementation details of the different demos. I’m not sure how this can be realized though. It might be easier at an Innojam that’s immediately followed by SAP TechEd, since everyone will stay anyway.
  • As I’ve said before, there really isn’t much time to catch up with people when they’re working in other teams.

       

Final verdict

SAP Innojam NL was a great event, and I’m very glad we pulled it off. Still, there are a number of things that in my opinion are more suited to another format, so may be we should think about another type of event next to (certainly not replacing) the Innojam concept. I once proposed a kind of Code Exchange project weekend and may be that’s what I’m looking for here. It’s still a long road from idea to realization though…

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9 Comments

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  1. L. van Hengel
    Hi Fred, nice blog again and great evaluation of this event! I was also really looking forward to using SAP NetWeaver Gateway, but SAP River also suited our business case better like most teams. I think SAP NetWeaver Gateway has great potential and can’t wait to work it. Have you seen the Technical Brief by Chris Whealy? http://whealy.com/sap/Gateway/Technical%20Brief/index.html

    I like the idea about a Code Exchange Project weekend. I already voted it up in february ๐Ÿ˜‰ An idea would be to vote for 1 Code Exchange Project via Idea Place and then make it part of the SAP Inside Track Netherlands. Maybe some kind of hackers night before the event. Let me know if you need help organizing.

    I agree that there was not much time to catch up, but we will meet again at SAP Inside Track Brussels or Netherlands.

    Cheers,
    Leo

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    1. Fred Verheul Post author
      Hi Leo,

      Yes , I’ve read the Technical Brief. Thanks for pointing it out.

      I think it’s a GREAT idea to pick one Code Exchange project and include it in the SAP Inside Track. I sure hope the main organizer of SITNL is watching this ;-). Would make SITNL even more fun. I do like the hacker night idea too, but it could IMO also be a side-event on the day itself: you code a few hours, attend some sessions, whatever.

      Anyway, see you at the next event!

      Fred

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    2. Rui Nogueira
      Just can say what the others said: great recap of the event. Thanks a lot for that!

      I really like your Code Exchange idea. Let’s talk about the idea with Twan. As the Code Exchange project manager and enthusiastic java, SAP NetWeaver Java, javascript, jQuery, River, html5 hacker I’d love to make this happen and participate in it. Maybe during the SAP Inside Track in NL.

      Best,
      Rui Nogueira

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      1. Fred Verheul Post author
        You forgot to mention ABAP I think ;-). But would love to see you as a hacker at SITNL. I’m sure Twan will work it out!

        Fred

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  2. Tom Cenens
    Hello Fred

    Good recap of the event. The lessons learned/feedback are very important. Nice to see an overview on who is who which is always useful.

    Kind regards

    Tom

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    1. Fred Verheul Post author
      Hi Tom,

      Thanks. Lessons learned were the main reason to blog about it at all. Agree on importance/clarity.
      I think I might have said this before: it was really nice to meet you face to face. I do appreciate your taking the time and effort to be there, knowing you could only stay on Friday. Looking forward to the next time, at a SAP Inside Track probably ;-).

      Fred

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      1. Tom Cenens
        Hello Fred

        It was really nice to meet you and other participants at the event and yes I wish there was more time to really talk about all sorts of topics.

        I’m going to TechED Madrid, I will probably not be able to attend the Innojam there but I will arrive on Monday so I can meet up with some community members if they are up for it in the evening to talk, catch up and drink a beer or something.

        For the inside track I really like the idea of @finnern on the bring a book that changed your life and since I’m involved in organizing the SAP Belgium Inside Track I would love to try out some new formulas or ideas.

        Kind regards

        Tom

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  3. Former Member
    Definitely agree with the part about “having fun”! Also from a tech expert and jury member perspective, SAPInnoJamNL was a great event and a lot of fun.

    I also agree with your assessment of Gateway suitability for charity scenarios, and our team will try to do a better job matching technologies and business scenarios in future – provided we won’t get the scenarios at the very last minute, which always forces to do some guesswork. But I’m glad the glitches didn’t spoil the fun, and we even built in some unplanned downtimes to make sure you have time to catch up with all the other attendees ๐Ÿ˜‰

    –juergen

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    1. Fred Verheul Post author
      Ah, now I understand the purpose of the downtime. Next time though, make sure all River environments are down, as some of the participants could continue to work in the preview-environment. Very annoying ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Fred

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