SAP Mentors in Australia deliver pragmatism, education and customer success
This is the first article in the 2011-2012 informational series called “Meet the SAP Mentors.” SAP Mentors are a super-smart, engaged global cohort of nearly 110 professionals – customers, partners, employees, bloggers, consultants, business people and technical wizards – expert in all things SAP, nominated by peers in the SAP Community Network and selected by SAP. Every day, SAP Mentors demonstrate their personal and professional commitment to leadership by helping SAP customers and practitioners solve the business and technical challenges that come with achieving better business results via SAP-based solutions. As a byproduct, the SAP Mentor Initiative is enriching the culture of SAP with a more open and collaborative dialog between SAP decision-makers and stakeholders. A shared commitment to dialog, collaboration and customer success helps to make the SAP ecosystem a predictable source of competitive advantage to the world’s leading organizations.
Ray Kloss, SAP’s Head of Marketing for Australia and New Zealand, has been a senior executive at SAP for nearly eight years.
He pays attention to the fact that fast-paced technological change–and the growing complexity of IT systems–means that SAP customers increasingly value independent, community-driven expertise to help them do high-quality implementations.
“SAP’s first value is customer success,” he says. “What’s absolutely critical to the conversation is engaged, motivated experts who are independent.”
That’s why SAP incorporated SAP Mentors into the SAP Community Network ecosystem.
“SAP Mentors are vital to the dialogue between SAP and SAP’s customers,” he adds.
Kloss notes that organizations want to acquire SAP-based solutions armed with pragmatic knowledge of the challenges they’ll face and what they can tangibly accomplish to improve their business.
Yet, even this seemingly simple task can be a tall order.
“After a typical SAP event,” Kloss says, “our customers tell us, ‘I learn more than I know what to do with.’
“They get inundated and at the close of an event, they ask, ‘What do I do on Monday?’”
“We set up a panel at the end of the SAP World Tour conference called a ‘Closing Locknote,’” Kloss explains.
“During an open mike session, we throw out questions and up to five SAP Mentors on stage respond to the hours of conference content in a frank, spirited and sometimes blunt fashion, advising SAP customers in the process.
According to Kloss, “SAP Mentors are an independent source of information who know the content and share with our customers their opinions on what to focus on when doors opens come Monday.
“It’s one of the highest ranked parts of the program at our SAP World Tour event in Australia and the feedback we get is that it’s very valuable.”
Communicating clearly, being of service
Adding value is at the heart of the SAP Mentors Initiative—and central to the culture of the approximately 110 SAP Mentors worldwide.
Graham Robinson, a fortysomething freelance SAP consultant and self-described “one-man band,” was the first SAP Mentor based in Australia.
Robinson focuses on midmarket point solutions. He believes that SAP Mentors bring crucial skills and attitudes to the SAP ecosystem, in areas such as clear communication and being of service.
“SAP Mentors are in touch with, and passionate about, the technology,” he says. “They’re fairly well rounded as people with interests in music, literature and climbing mountains.
“On top of all that, they can communicate in thoughtful and measured ways about SAP technology.”
He values the fact that the SAP Community Network nominates candidates as SAP Mentors who are open and honest communicators, a trait that’s exemplified by SAP Community Network blogs authored by SAP Mentors and also by SAP Mentors’ highly popular Twitter feeds.
Upfront, Robinson makes clear that he likes to “lead by example,” to walk his talk.
“I talk and blog about developer skills and more specifically about keeping skills up to date,” he says. “I believe developers should be much more vocal about technical excellence.”
Communications skills, combined with a community-minded attitude, bring tremendous value to the SAP ecosystem, according to Robinson.
Robinson says, “SAP Mentors help customers understand what’s real, what’s available and what they can do to address detailed stuff, including for example, how to prepare for SAP HANA.”
Compelling expertise, strong voices
Doug Hay is the straight shooting Global Alliances Director for the Eventful Group, an award-winning, 50-person global conference organizer that runs SAP-centered events in Australasia, the United States and South Africa.
“Seven years ago,” says Hay, “our company wanted to launch an event based in Australia in the SAP technologies space.
“We really wanted compelling live experiences, so to find great speakers, I attended SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, Nevada.”
TechEd ’05 inspired the Eventful Group to work with Robinson.
Robinson acted as a facilitator for the company’s inaugural SAP conference in Sydney, Australia and proved a popular for his knowledge of SAP technology
He was subsequently nominated and then selected as an SAP Mentor, in part because he demonstrated the desire to make the SAP community both more critical of, and more engaged with, SAP technology.
According to Hay, SAP Mentors are a highlight of the Eventful Group’s SAP-focused events.
“They push the envelope, do the latest and greatest stuff and our conference attendees value the demonstrations of SAP technology as well as the realistic and positive focus on helping others and sharing information.
“Today,” he says, “our Mastering SAP Technologies Conference series is one of the biggest SAP events outside of SAPPHIRE or TechEd.
“In March of 2012,” he continues, “we’ve got 14 SAP Mentors attending, some from Australia and others from Europe and the United States.”
Kloss, Robinson and Hay agree that SAP Mentors are valuable parts of an SAP ecosystem that includes customers, developers, users, partners, SAP’s business and technical leaders, and many, many others.
Today there are ten SAP Mentors in Australia out of a total about 110 SAP Mentors worldwide, or 9% of the global tally. And since the nomination and selection process occurs twice per year, there will be more to follow.
Mark Finnern is the SAP Community Network’s Chief Community Evangelist and the founder of the SAP Mentor Initiative.
“The SAP Mentors in Australia are a great example,” states Finnern. “They’re a group of passionate experts empowered by the SAP community to improve SAP project outcomes, and successfully disseminate our newest technologies.”
He concludes, “I feel really lucky to work with them and to see the great things they do every day.”
SAP Mentors Video
Watch the Meet the SAP Mentors! video on YouTube.
SAP.info Article on Mentors at SAPPHIRE NOW
SAP Mentors: A Rare Breed – May 2, 2012
Other Articles in “Meet the SAP Mentors” Series
Advocating for Excellence – May 9, 2012
The Tree of Talent – April 16, 2012
The Inside Track on Community Engagement – April 6, 2012