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Back in February of this year I came back to the SAP world to join the ranks of several folks who were focusing on developers and bringing more to the developer community. One of the tasks I was asked was around engagement and I was asked to come up with interesting ways to engage local developers in a fun and casual way so I began to give it a lot of thought and began to formulate several ideas but one thought kept gnawing at the back of my mind…

Hacker’s Night…. all in all it was always my most favorite event of all the things over the years that I had a hand in helping to create so I decided to come up with the idea of a Hacker’s Night event but away from the other typical SAP events. Hence the SAP Hacker Night was reborn, Twitter handle, Facebook page and everything else to go with it. When I presented the idea to Thomas Grassl and Aiaz Kazi the asked me if I saw a possible link to other existing events like the InnoJam (formerly Innovation Weekend) which I had created 3 years before and then it dawned on me… of course there’s a link, there’s a path similar to my “Path to Recognition” in the days of SDN there was a clear path visible to me and so I began to rethink and recalibrate my idea and proposal.

The result was the CodeJam event which became the main central point for coders to come together and begin to work on a single specific topic be it HANA, Mobile or Cloud and the idea was to then encourage those who attended and potentially created something to then take their rough ideas and code to one of the InnoJam events and meet man other types of people who could then help take their idea and make it more robust and viable in a larger market and then possible win the event and get a place in the infamous DemoJam event at the SAP TechEd.

This all sounded feasible and since the event was targeted to coders and for a group of 10 to 30 people the costs were considered low enough that we could try an experiment and we thought to do 3 events before the SAPPHIRE NOW event this year in May. The events although they did not have the “numbers” we had hoped for, we learned a lot and realized this was an approach we wanted to expand and really give a solid effort to in 2012 so we said OK, let’s shot for 7 more events given a grand total of 10 events for 2012 and then evaluate.

I’m beyond proud to announce that NOT only did we achieve those 10 events but we went beyond to have done 15 17 total event; 15 different cities around the world and I’m very grateful to the fact that three of my fellow evangelists stepped up and hosted events as well – it was amazing for me to sit back and read about how my idea was being done and I was not even there – for me this was an early Christmas present so I have to say a huge thanks to Jordan Cao (2 4 events in China), Matthias Steiner (who lead the way for SAP NetWeaver Cloud which resulted in 5 total events, 4 of which I was only able to read about) and Alvaro Tejada (Blag) who just completed our first event in Canada.

The events went amazingly and a huge thanks goes out to the team from Anne Hardy who worked so hard to get the free developer licenses in place and enabled us to expose over 500 developers to all of the new license opportunities that SAP has provided in 15 different cities during something like 75 hours of coding! Download our infographic SAP CodeJam 2012

It’s these team efforts were I love to sit back and smile at many of my friends who were in attendance during SAPPHIRE NOW where Vishal spoke out about reaching out the developers and doing more to ensure they have access and opportunity. When he said that I physically felt the eye rolling of so many of those influencers in the audience — yet many of those folks were my friends and they gave me the opportunity to not only explain what we were working on but to also give me insights and advice on how to enhance and make those events better. Again these team efforts of so many people that are passionate and motivated in the SAP ecosystem were what enabled us to achieve what we have this year and has already encouraged us to begin planning into 2013 with events being set all the way into April already!

From my side big personal thank you goes out to Aiaz for giving me the room to try and the support to take the risk on this format and to Thomas for the constant support and of course Helena Losada on his team for putting up with me and the patience to work together with me to create a compact, packaged event that so many others inside of SAP are now able topick up and try an event themselves now. 2013 will be amazing!

We learned a lot this year about the event format and we’ve come to several conclusions that we are now comfortable to call best practices that will guide us into the future.

  • Only do the events on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday
  • Never do two topics together
  • Max the event out at 50 people but try to keep it closer to 30
  • Close registration a week in advance and try to get confirmations on those attending otherwise go to the wait list
  • Send out the “checklist” mail to attendees with at least a weekend in between the mail and the event
  • Never do an event in a location we were not asked to come to, there must be a local person to drive and encourage attendance

That local factor is critical, I can not stress that enough and so when I began receiving emails this year from people asking me why I did not come to this place or that I simply began responding “because you never asked me to“. The events we did do I must say thank you to the following people specifically and I hope I do not forget anyone because it won’t be intentional!!!

  • Thomas Jung and Rich Heilman in Newtown Square
  • Martin Grasshoff who came to several of the Mobile focused events to speak
  • Fred Verheul who invited us to Huizen
  • Ibrahim Gunduz and Abdulbasit Gulsen who invited us to Istanbul
  • Martin Fischer who invited us to Stuttgart
  • Luis Lanz who invited us to Madrid
  • John Appleby and DJ Adams who invited us to London
  • Diego Dora and Stefan Schaffer who invited us to Buenos Aires
  • Ce Zhang who helped us make Beijing and Shanghai happen
  • Vladimir Pavlov, Stoyan Vellev, Bistra Yakimova, Nace Sapundziev, Mite Mitreski, Kaloyan Raev, Ondrej Jaura who worked to bring Cloud focused events to Eastern Europe
  • Krista Elkin and Jon Druker who helped Blag make Montreal happen

It’s been a year of up and downs for sure and for me personally a year of reflection. I’ve questioned myself as well as many others, I’ve questioned established processes and conventions and I decided that to truly make this happen I’d have to break some rules, break some eggs and approach this topic from new and different angles. At most every single event I’ve either hosted or attended I’ve put myself out there and asked blunt and often painful questions about the things that not only I was doing but things SAP as a whole was doing and the feedback was not always nice – sometimes I felt as though I needed to get out the glove and slap someone’s face and challenge them to duel but in the end I realized that nothing is perfect and until you accept the imperfections you can never hope to begin to overcome them.

Argentina the last event we did was an eye opener for me, the folks there said to me “why does SAP always ignore the developers down here” I mean here I was having flown more or less 2 days to get there just to do the event for them; but I realized wait this is the perception and quite possibly the reality they live with and that is something I want to change in 2013. I had similar conversations with South Africa the other week and of course many other locations. I’m grateful I’m not alone in this – SAP now has two solid teams for engagement and enablement in terms of Developers and I know that we will begin to make solid and noticeable changes moving forward and begin to change those realities and perceptions.

I’ve spoken often to James Governor, a good friend of mine and one of the most interesting people I’ve come to know over the years of working in the Enterprise space. James is very big on the developer topic and over all these years from our first meeting to recently in Madrid has challenged and pushed me to do more and better.

Well I think now as I fly back to Germany to finally enjoy a few weeks of non-travel and time with loved ones I know my purpose and my goal at SAP. I’ve done a lot of jobs at SAP over the years for several different groups but the core of what I did has never really changed from one to the other and so as I consider that I have these words to share in terms of 2013 and it being the Year of the SAP Developer.

We will enable each and every developer to easily and quickly work in the SAP ecosystem be it with Cloud, Mobile, In-Memory, On Premise, Open Source or Proprietery – we will give them to the tools and light the way for them to do what is needed to do; for them to expand their skill set and secure the jobs that are coming available as more and more companies embrace the new technologies and new paradigms of customer interactions. SAP will not just be the big metal systems that are obscure to all but those who understand SE80 – SAP will be that inviting and open platform of change and the future. From the web developer to the ABAPer we will show the world how these two invidiuals work together to make efficient and usable interfaces for their fellow colleagues to engage and do their jobs more efficiently. No longer is the time when SAP coders sit apart from others in their organizations.

** UPDATED Dec 21, 2012 – Jordan managed to do another two events in China in December! Thank you Jordan! That made a grand total of 17 events this year!!!


Originally posted on Friday Morning Report

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  1. Matthias Steiner

    Hi Craig,

    very nice recap on the history and early success of the CodeJam series! And congratulations for turning it into a successful ‘franchise‘. I’m still new to this whole evangelism theme, but if there’s one thing I learned during the last half year it would be that it’s not the job of an evangelist to do it all, but instead to set the tracks that empower others to help do great things and spread the word! To convert other developers into advocates! Just as you have done with the CodeJam series…

    I wish I could take all the credit for the SAP NW Cloud CodeJams, yet that wouldn’t sound right. It was Fred Verheul who approached us with the idea of hosting the first and how could one turn down an active pull from the community? So, together with my team mates Thomas Bieser , Peter Peshev and Krasimir Semerdzhiev and the two of us we got the first one rolling.

    After that, the development team in Sofia took over and the one person to mention would be Tanya Stoyanova who drove the whole initiative forward. So, she basically deserves most of the credit for organizing the events in Eastern Europe.

    But enough of the praise – let me add one more thought from my side regarding the lessons learned or best practices you stated. There’s one I want to challenge, which is the “only one technology per event” one. From my own experiences and from what I was told especially when it comes to NW Cloud there’s always another technology involved – SAP UI5. It just seems natural for the community to create UI5-based user interfaces on top of a NW Cloud app.

    And as we move forward the cloud will only bring the other technologies closer together. We got HANA underneath and mobile and cloud are also coming closer together in 2013. Then I also see the similar skillset required to develop web and mobile apps: be it HTML5, JavaScript or CSS. Wrap it up in a HTML5 mash-up and package it with the SUP Hybrid Web Container or PhoneGap and you got a native mobile app. Or even if you’d rather go native right away – Android is Java-based so people got the skillset to develop both the mobile (= frontend) and the backend services. Or even if you go for iOS, you’d probably still use RESTful services to connect to a backend service, so that would be a common denominator….

    So, I’d be interested in teaming up and maybe make more specialized CodeJams around topics like:

    • developing a mobile app connecting to NW Cloud, or
    • how-to develop HANA-apps with NW Cloud, or
    • … (you get the idea)

    All in all, I consider it a privilege to be part of the CodeJam movement and I’m really looking forward to push further in 2013!

    All the best – cheers,

    matthias

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    1. Craig Cmehil
      Post author

      Matthias I do have agree with you there on the mashup angle and I guess I should have specified better – what we saw was a HANA and MOBILE event was too much all at once but if we broke it down to a HANA with NW Cloud Frontend – something specific then yes I fully agree we have a winning combination but the “pillar” in general was too much.

      And THANK YOU for mentioning the others that helped so much to make Cloud the second most frequent topic during the 2012 CodeJam year! I knew I had missed a few names unintentionally!!

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