How do you become an SAP influencer? Interview with Jarret Pazahanick
Many of you will have read one of Jarret Pazahanick’s blog articles on SCN or seen his tweets under the SAP_Jarret handle on Twitter. I thought it would be interesting to find out who is the man behind the blogs, how he’s used social media to become a significant influencer in the SAP world and where he’s going next.
Where do you live and work?
I have lived in Houston, Texas for the past 10 years but spent many years in Canada when I was younger. I am a dual citizen of the United States and Canada while my wife has an EU and Mexican citizenship so needless to say our kids might end up working for the United Nations when they grow up. 😀
Outside of working with my great SAP customers and being part of the SAP Mentor and Influencer/Blogger programs I am the managing partner of a small niche HCM consulting company called EIC Experts that I co-founded with my partner Chandan Gopalani in 2006.
Jarret, you seem to spend a lot of time on social media – blogging and tweeting. How do you think this helps your career and business?
I am a strong believer in the benefits that social media can have for SAP professionals and think it played an important role in helping me become an SAP mentor and thought of as in influencer within SAP. I wrote an article in the SAP Mentor Quarterly which goes into more depth on the topic and have written 8 articles on the benefits of social media on the SAP Community Network so you can tell it is an area I feel passionate about.
There is something unique about twitter and the method of communication that you have to experience for yourself before you can truly understand it’s potential. I often get asked what type of people use twitter as they must have a lot of spare time on their hands but I think it would surprise you that most of SAP Senior Management, ASUG Leadership, SAP Mentors, Industry Analysts, and well know senior consultants are regular users. I have yet to have any new customers come directly from social media as overall the adoption among SAP decision makers has been slower than I would like. That said I am always reminded of famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky’s quote “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been” and it is only a matter of time before this becomes an important channel and you won’t be able to create a strong presence overnight.
I am a big believer that social media for SAP professionals is only in its infancy and that twitter and other platforms such as G+, Linkedin and Facebook are only going to continue to grow in popularity and importance.
What is your background in the SAP ecosystem?
I started my SAP career in 1998 by being sent to the SAP Partner Academy in Toronto and getting my SAP HR Certification. I had a unique background prior to that as I had worked in the grocery business from 16 to 28 years old, and I have a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in marketing. The first computer training I ever attended was at the SAP Partner Academy and although I was drinking from a firehouse for the first few years my non IT background gave me a unique perspective that has really helped me a lot in my SAP career.
Like many others I specialized in the area where I got my first exposure and experience which in my case was US payroll. It is interesting though as after doing many payroll implementations I had a chance to start working in other areas of HCM such as the Employee Interaction Center (EIC) and Enterprise Compensation Management (ECM) each of which had a steep learning curve but I wanted to continue to adapt and grow my SAP career. I think it is very important to take advantage of the opportunities to learn and grow as you move through your SAP career, but also having a core area of specialization can be very valuable in the marketplace.
Now looking back over the past 14 years, I have completed 20 full life cycle SAP HCM implementations most for global Fortune 1000 companies and along the way I have started EIC Experts, become a SAP Mentor and part of the Influencer/Blogger program, SAP HCM and ASAP certified, a HR Expert author, SUGnews and CloudAve contributor, HCM Podcast Member, SAP Community Network Moderator and Gold Level Contributor. It has been quite a great run that is for sure.
How much do you think SAP listens and changes as a result of social media?
I have been impressed with SAP commitment to social media on a few different levels and they are definitely listening. Whenever I write a controversial article or even a negative tweet it is not uncommon for me to hear back from SAP in back channels offering up information or looking for clarity on my views.
The level of engagement with social media from the SAP executive team is the best in the enterprise software space and I outlined 11 SAP Executives to Follow on Twitter so that everyone could see. This engagement is one of the reasons I am trying to educate more SAP customers on the benefits of social media as it isn’t to often you can complain and have the CMO or a Vice President answer you directly. It is one area where SAP is truly doing an excellent job.
What’s your view on the SAP / SuccessFactors merger? Will it make SAP stronger in the HR space, and what challenges do you see on the horizon?
The SAP and SuccessFactors merger was a bit of surprise for many and although there will be some challenges down the road for SAP, SuccessFactors, consultants and customers I see it as a very positive event. I have joked with some that I have waited 14 years for HCM to become “hot” and there is no doubt that it is an extremely exciting time.
I have written several articles on SAP and SuccessFactors including SAP and SuccessFactors Roadmap Analysis, The Future of SAP HCM Consulting and SuccessFactors, SAP and SuccessFactors – Five Key topics I Want to Hear About at SAPPHIRE and at core SAP execution and communication with SAP/SuccessFactors customers will play a major role in the long term success. I am planning to attend both Sapphire and SuccessConnect in the next month as it will be important to stay on the bleeding edge of information.
One of the areas that you have blogged about over the years is SAP certification. Do you think it has improved over recent years? And how could SAP do certification better?
I think SAP Certification is moving forward but slower than many of us would like. SAP did a great job in quickly coming to market with HANA training and certification but there is still real opportunities around transcript verification, advanced certifications and raising the profile with customers in the marketplace. I am in a unique position being one of a handful of mentors that has multiple certifications and a little known fact I helped the SAP Education group last year build a new certification around SAP Payroll.
You are famous/infamous for blogging about Workday on the SAP Community Network. Do you think the threat from Workday is more or less than it was a year ago?
Workday has continued to grow and is a real formidable competitor to SAP. If anything they are a stronger threat than a year ago and many feel that SAP would have never made the large investment to purchase SuccessFactors if it were not for the presence of Workday. Although it is never easy to write a critical article my goal is always to cultivate open dialogue to hopefully foster improvement within SAP and is something I would like to see more community members do. It is important to note that a majority of the time when I am critical of SAP I do this through back channels and not publicly as it can be very draining.
What difference will SuccessFactors make to the SAP HCM world?
As more companies move to SaaS there will be some major impacts on SAP HCM consulting. A lot of people have reached out to me worried about the future and trying to understand what this means and I pulled together some experts in The Future of SAP HCM Consulting and SuccessFactors article.
At the core there is a real delicate balance within the SAP HCM Consulting market and although there will continue to be pockets of strength the combination of the product roadmap being squarely focused on SuccessFactors, continued off-shoring, faster implementations (RDS) and competitive threats such as Workday make it very likely that the On-Premise SAP HCM consulting market is headed for a real slow down.
That said at the end of the day, if you are a consultant that is able to provide value for your customers then it won’t matter if you are working with SAP, SuccessFactors or any other underlying technology as you will be successful.