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When I learned about the „HANA One Innovative Application“ contest, I thought it was a great idea, and decided to participate. So in the busy pre-Christmas period, I dedicated a whole night to drafting ideas and researching the feasibility of possible submissions, and eventually came up with two ideas for apps that I entered on the web site just in time before the closing deadline.

Yesterday, I checked to see if my app ideas were visible in the list of entries to vote for on the contest page, and was surprised they weren’t. I asked someone from SAP if my entries had been rejected as not good enough, and, after looking into it, he came back with the information that the contest was only open to US residents.

I went back to the web site and yes, it was actually in the fine print of the contest, so I could have seen it if I had read the fine print more carefully. I hadn’t, so I accept part of the blame. Still, here’s my criticism:

  • Excluding almost the entire world from this contest makes no sense. SAP is a global company and fosters innovation globally. The contest should have an international scope.
  • If there were any legal problems forcing you to be open to US residents only, I believe they could have been solved. Previous HANA-related competitions by the Developers Experience team were open to an international audience, so why not this one?
  • When I submitted my entries, I entered my German home address. The list of countries to choose from was complete and there was nothing on the screen to indicate that my submission was invalid with a non-US home address: no warning next to the relevant input fields, no error message after submitting, and no email either.
  • The invitation to participate blog from Dec 6 makes no mention of this restriction, either.
  • As a side note, I did find it strange that I didn’t get a confirmation email from the web site after submitting my contribution. I would consider a confirmation email common courtesy, so I decided to check back the next day and inquire in case my entries weren’t visible.
  • After my entries were disqualified, I feel an (automated) email informing me of the disqualification, explaining the reasons and perhaps apologizing would also be common courtesy. The least they could have said was, “you’re out – better luck next time.” But not even that – I think the way this was done is very unlike SAP.

That being said, the contest is a great idea, and I like almost every aspect of how it is set up and executed: Letting the audience vote for suggestions, giving contestants enough time and the resources to build their solutions, having a clearly structured and transparent process and attractive prizes – that’s all great. So I hope very much that I’ll be able to participate in future instances of this competition with an international scope. I also wish the contestants the best of luck and look forward to following their progress as the competition unfolds.

In the meantime, I hope that other potential entrants read the rules more carefully than I did, and, if they were from outside the US, did not waste their time like I did. I also hope not too many people are disgruntled because of the unusual communication (or lack thereof) around the disqualification process. I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that I am. Sometimes, developers can really be sensitive plants.

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6 Comments

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  1. Dorothea Sieber

    Hi Thorsten,

    I understand your frustration. I will definitely bring this back to our HANA group and will make sure to take this feedback into account for future contests.

    Let me know if there is anything else I can do.

    Best,

    Dorothea

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  2. Amit Sinha

    Hi Thorsten & other international participants,

    As the head of the team that organized this, I apologize for the inconvenience caused. We under estimated the legal challenge of running a competition with prizes across different countries (there are failry strict rules around judging, voting and prize money across countries) that vary and were ultimately forced to run it for US only.

    The team understands this concern and is working on creating ways to do something for the non-US countries shortly.

    I am so glad to see the passion for HANA 🙂

    regards

    Amit

    Head, Marketing

    Database & Technology Innovation

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  3. Aiaz Kazi

    Thanks for the rant Thorsten – this is a very appropriate and valid one – especially since I was the one who goaded you into making these submissions on HANA One the last time we met in Walldorf earlier this week.   

    I reiterate what Amit said above, and just wanted to add that given the choice of doing a U.S. only contest, doing a global contest with no cash prizes, and doing no contest the team chose the first one.    While this was not ideal – this fit perfectly with how we run things here – “Just do it and beg for forgiveness later.”  More often than not that works well and lets us get around the shackles that we tend to wrap ourselves with.   Every once in a while we will hit something like this…and this time around the time was too short to fix the established rules etc.   We’ve learned a few things from this last exercise and the team has doubled their resolve to come up with a global solution for the next initiative and in the meanwhile see if there is any way to extend/assuage the current situation.  I’m proud of how this team delivers and listens…and know you guys understand this as well

    I’m personally working with the team to ensure that we come up with a global initiative soon and one where we will do our best not to compromise the speed with which we move but at the same time redefine the legal framework we need to work within.

    I want to thank you and all our HANA fans globally for your passion, support and understanding and stay tuned for more to come soon…

    Thanks

    Aiaz

    Head of Technology Innovation Marketing, Startup Focus, and Developer Experience

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  4. Jelena Perfiljeva

    As a side note, I did find it strange that I didn’t get a confirmation email from the web site after submitting my contribution. I would consider a confirmation email common courtesy<…>

    I agree. All legal challenges aside, common courtesy should still be there. Not cool, SAP…

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