The Next Convergence: Digital, Social Media, and Communities – Why It Matters to You
The Convergence is Happening…
Social media and social networking have turned traditional business practices upside down. Channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ let companies and their customers, partners, developers and influencers engage with the brand and with each other more effectively, directly and quickly.
In our case, they help build stronger relationships between SAP and its customers – and between SAP customers and other customers or partners. Importantly, these channels give SAP a vital feedback loop that enables us to respond more nimbly to customer needs, and to fine-tune our products and services. Likewise, they give our customers and partners access to insights and connections within the social network that enable those customers and partners to be more nimble, efficient, and best-run.
Consequently, those businesses that don’t adapt to this new reality are at risk – they cannot just “allow” or participate in social media, but must embrace, enable and encourage new ways of connecting, collaborating, of sharing information, and of forging stronger bonds between supplier, partner, or customer companies and the people within them.
To put it bluntly, “businesses that aren’t customer-led are dead.”
The quote stuck with me. Why? Because if you’re not engaging your customers in a meaningful, authentic way and leveraging their unfiltered feedback and insights about your products and services, you’re putting your business at serious risk – at risk of falling behind, or being eclipsed by the competition, of becoming irrelevant.
To help SAP become even more customer-led, and to help our customers succeed, we are more fully integrating our online communities and social media channels with our primary digital channel, SAP.com. It’s a big step that’s geared toward helping you find the tools, resources, and information you need, whether it sits in a “traditional” website, in the SAP-hosted online community, or in public social media.
Greater Social Media Integration = More Opportunities to Connect
Social media platforms and social networking activities have been a vital part of the SAP ecosystem since 2003, when we launched the fledgling SAP Developer Network.
Today, the world-class SAP Community Network (SCN) is over 2 million members strong and grows at an average of 30,000 new members each month.
Discussions on SCN generate more than 3,000 posts per day across 400 topics. We host thousands of active bloggers – primarily SAP customer and partner experts – who collectively publish at least a dozen a day. The community boasts a recognition and reputation-building program, informal learning, and rich tools; it enables people connections, insights, solution sharing, and much more.
In short, the SAP Community Network is a rich and vibrant resource anyone in the SAP ecosystem absolutely must leverage, in order to optimize the value they derive from their investment in SAP and in the SAP relationship. The community is hosted by SAP, but it is driven by SAP customers, partners, and independent consultants.
Beyond our hosted community, our SAP and SCN social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and SlideShare) reach over 425,000 fans and followers every day with the latest from the SAP brand, executives, and solutions. When those fans and followers share with their fans and followers, the reach and impact grow exponentially.
It is not unusual to have specific weeks of the year when a single social channel generates tens-of-thousands of tweets or posts by SAP followers, which have a reach and impact in the hundreds-of-millions.
Each platform – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, SlideShare — is a specialized tool for a particular purpose, but collectively they increase the vibrancy of conversations and the degrees of connectedness across the SAP universe.
We’ve encouraged tremendous growth in the use of social media and social networking by and with SAP because, early on, SAP recognized that customers and partners want more than a one-way broadcast of information from SAP to them. They also wanted more than a two-way dialogue between SAP and individuals or groups of customers or partners.
Our customers and partners want multi-faceted, completely open and authentic networked conversations – they need to talk with other customers, partners, and SAP in an open and evolving and unfettered way to learn about our products and services in detail – and we want that, too.
That’s why we’ve worked so hard to develop highly active social media channels that help you connect with members of our SAP team on a person-to-person basis, as well as with other customers, developers, and partners.
Now, directly from SAP.com you can leverage this expert talent and feedback from across the globe to make the best choices for your business, and you’re warmly invited to actively engage and participate in the conversations.
The Particulars of the Convergence
So what are the specifics? Going forward, on the SAP.com homepage you’ll find the most popular posts from our community to keep you up to speed on the latest hot topics dominating the discussions.
On each of our specific service pages, you’ll find the latest posts from community experts within that area, as well as links to relevant communities and discussion threads. You don’t have to take SAP’s word on our business-management solutions. Instead, you can engage and learn from the customers, partners, and end-users within our community and let their feedback drive your informed assessment.
Here are more ways our convergence of digital, online community and social media will serve you better:
Rapid-response peer-to-peer support: SAP Community Network is unparalleled in enabling our customers to get and to provide each other assistance on their questions in record time, and at high quality. In fact, the average response time to questions posted in our forums is mere minutes, and the vast majority of all questions raised are solved by other members of the community who work with SAP products and solutions every day.
Ongoing skills development: Our social-media platforms make it easy for you to find the online tutorials, videos, and demos you need to use SAP products effectively and efficiently. Training and education resources help you keep your skills polished, whether they are more formally provided by SAP or informally offered in the form of peer learning.
Resources at your fingertips: Through SCN, you’ll receive instant access to new templates, plug-ins, software downloads, code snippets, and other useful tools to simplify your business processes and to extend innovation. The Developer Center, for example, is a one-stop shop for free learning, trial offers and in-depth how-to guides.
Opportunities to connect with your “tribe”: With more than 400 spaces, you’ll find peers who are focused on the topic, solution, or industry that interests you most. SCN lets you make connections that grow your expertise and your career.
Crowd-sourced problem-solving: Collaborate on a global scale with other members of the SAP community to share knowledge and generate ideas on how to make our products and services even more responsive to your needs. You can trust SCN members to offer collaborative ideas and insightful advice. Leverage outstanding contributors including our SAP Mentors to accelerate your problem-solving or advanced understanding of emerging topics.
Easy content-creation process for all types of content: Get access to a complete set of social networking tools including discussions, blogs, and document collaboration and publishing, and share this content across our different properties. You are encouraged to share your own thoughts, business challenges, and technology solutions with the broader SAP ecosystem – this open sharing is what drives value to everyone.
Easy tracking features: Our channels are customizable. You can track your favorite content, people, or spaces with the handy “Follow” function. With 400 topic spaces and over 2 million members, it’s impossible to keep up with everything – so target your specific interests and hit the highlights based on your individual preferences.
Input on new products and services: SAP customers and partners are our greatest source of information on future SAP products and solutions. That’s why we offer a crowd-sourced community called Idea Place as a way for SAP to co-innovate with our customers, partners and the greater ecosystem. Using community engagement and online voting mechanisms, you get to influence SAP’s product direction, and we get invaluable insights that help us identify and prioritize those ideas with the strongest impact to be implemented in a future SAP solution.
And There’s More to Come…
Going forward, you’ll see more social elements and community-generated content in all aspects of SAP.com. You’ll be able to access relevant, unfiltered input from other members of the SAP family of customers, partners, and independent experts right when and where you need it.
You will be able to connect with our different social-media channels from various locations, in order to better discover the discussions that are generating buzz. And our social-sharing buttons embedded on every piece of content will help you easily share that content with your team, your own friends-and-followers, your network.
Aiming High, Moving Fast
Simply stated, our goal is to become the most socially enabled, socially active, and socially integrated company in the world, to the full extent that it benefits our customers, partners, prospects, and others who are drawn to engage with us and with our ecosystem.
As always, the litmus test for success is you. We want to know how well these integrated social media features work for you, whether they make the SAP.com website more engaging, relevant and helpful, and what else we might do to increase your access to high quality information and to improve your connections with insightful experts.
To get started, please take a moment to explore the pages below:
We’re on This Journey Together
This is the next major step toward convergence of our digital (SAP.com x 70 countries in 40 languages), social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.), and Community (SAP Community Network, or “SCN”) channels. The goals include fostering open dialogue and continuously increasing the value and benefit we deliver to our customers, partners, and individual participants.
I look forward to your feedback on this current leap forward, and on what else we can do to leverage all channels for greater engagement and benefit.