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Author's profile photo Jim Spath

Are there infinite turtles in the ecosystem?

I have been privileged to be an SAP Mentors for several years now, unlike several of my august colleagues, plan to continue for a while, as long as SAP and my employment situation allow.  As with any volunteer role, there are duties, and then there are perks.  One duty I’ve evolved into is keeping tabs on SCN wiki spaces, including the Mentor lists (A-J/K-Z), and similar editorial challenges.  With the upcoming Jive 5.0 upgrade to the forums and blogs, but not the wiki, I’m trying to help with the taxonomy and behind-the-scenes architecture.


An opportunity afforded SAP Mentors on a regular basis is access to higher level management, to kick around ideas and get sneak previews, usually with fairly strict nondisclosure rules.  I generally shy away from the “top-of-the-top”, letting my more higher-powered and interested Mentor friends deal with the C level.  But this past week we had a session with Aiaz Kazi (“Global Vice President and Head of Technology and Innovation Platform Marketing”). Quite a title, and I hoped to see more technology and innovation, with less marketing.  I was right.


Since the discussions were frank, open, and “forward looking”, I’m unable to share details.  But when you see slides and content at SAP TechEd, I can say, “yah, I knew that”.  The first surprise of the webcast was a visit by Vishal Sikka, who is a “C-Level” leader within SAP, and one who has not only supported the Mentor initiative, he has fully embraced it.


I was given permission to share the following video clip by SAP; as you view it you should understand that there was ongoing chat that I’ve cropped out, as well as preface and follow-up remarks that shall stay private.  I’ll let you watch and then I’ll drop more commentary below.






After this performance, Vishal was also joined by another “C-Level”, chief marketing officer Jonathan Becher. Given the intense banter already ongoing, Jonathan jumped right into the session.


If you search for “Turtles All The Way Down”, the wikipedia entry talks about Bertrand Russel, whom Vishal mentioned, but it also goes into the cosmological background of this story, as well as to references to Hindu mythology.  It’s too bad, perhaps, that Vishal did not draw that allusion, nor to any of the timeless software mythological belief systems proposed.  I try not to think very often about infinity, as it hurts my brain.


Okay, a fun story, now what is the point to the Mentor program, and to software technology?  As I’ve said, I don’t want to share all of the back story, as it was brought up candidly, with the expectation of not being repeated.  But to me, the gist of the story was not about infinity or Mobius strips or Yertle the Turtle, it’s about the organization of the modern office, finding approval or resources where they sit in “the stack.” Knowing your place in that maze, and finding what you need, is the human side of software development and application.


I’m thinking we could pull some SCNotties video entries from this clip, too.

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      Author's profile photo Mark Finnern
      Mark Finnern
      Hi JIm,

      It was an amazing session. From inside SAP I know how hard it is even for direct reports to get hold of Vishal.

      For him to just walk in, wondering why Aiaz is having such a great time on a webinar, realizing it is a one with the mentors, for him to just pull up a chair and join the conversation blew my mind.

      That interest in the conversation and comfort level with the mentors to tell the turtle story, was super refreshing.

      The best proof for the new more open and engaging SAP. That the newly minted head of Global SAP Marketing Jonathan Becker joined at the tale end of the session was icing on the cake.

      Jim thanks for capturing that part and making it available, Mark.

      Author's profile photo Kumud Singh
      Kumud Singh
      Hi Jim,

      Now thats a blog from which we can derive multiple conclusions!!!
      I am sure there would be a next one following this..lets name is as:Are there infinite turtles in the ecosystem-PART1


      Author's profile photo Tom Cenens
      Tom Cenens
      Hello Jim

      Really entertaining share, thanks.

      I agree with what Mark sais on the new SAP. It's really refreshing to see things like this happening and I think it's great that they care about openess, feedback and influence.

      Kind regards