Skip to Content

Some of you might have seen some of the recent blogs that Joanna Chan and I have been putting together about our experiences in building a mobile app using the SAP NetWeaver Cloud as a platform.

Sending formatted email with inline images from #sapnwcloud

Using SAP NetWeaver Cloud to link from a QR code to Apple App Store or Google Play

Using OAuth as an alternate user authentication strategy for SAP NetWeaver Cloud

RESTful APIs in SAP NetWeaver Cloud with a mobile device

Linking to and managing a mobile app using a simple solution in SAP NetWeaver Cloud

Building a cross platform hybrid mobile app with PhoneGap Part 1

Building a cross platform hybrid mobile app with PhoneGap Part 2: Local Storage

There is an awful lot of work that has gone into these blogs (and there are more to come too).

The other day I got asked by someone in my company,

“Are we doing the right thing by publishing all this? Aren’t we giving away our competitive advantage by telling the competition how to do all the great things that you guys are building?”

Now, I’m pretty certain that it is good for me personally to share. I learn a lot more by having to explain what I doing in a (relatively) clear fashion to someone else than if I just do it. But I could probably do that by just having a team meeting and doing some sharing of info. So what’s the benefit of sharing more widely? Well, I get some pretty useful feedback from others for a start, my ability to present improves each time I try. Like Graham Robinson once said in a conference presentation he was giving, “if you don’t get up here, you’ll never learn how to present”. It’s probably fitting with my SAP Mentor status, but more to the point, that just how I like to do things. I enjoy sharing.

But is it good for my company that we’re sharing so much? The guys down the road, could just pick up our blogs and then use them to build something without having to spend nearly as much time – surely? Well, actually I doubt that. Firstly, only the really motivated ones are actually reading the blogs, and generally, I’d like them to become as familiar with my ways of doing things as possible, because in the future its likely that I’m going to try to hire them! 😉 Seriously, though, if you’re motivated you can find out this stuff on your own. And you’re going to need to be motivated, because the blogs certainly aren’t a step by step tutorial.

Secondly, I really like that my company is promoting its employees to spend time sharing information with the wider community. This is one of the reasons that makes it a place that I want to work at, and I hope that others see this too. One of the aims of our company (I’m pretty sure this isn’t a secret) is to be the employer that employees want to work for – and through this get the best talent on board, and through that be successful. It’s a pretty simple formula. I hope it works.

And finally, this is a bit about advertising, not just about how great a place it is to work here, but about what our skills are. It’s one thing to be able to say “hey we can do A,B,C,D,E,F” – but quite another to be able to point out how you are helping others to learn that stuff. Hopefully, if you’ve read one of my blogs, and you find yourself in a similar situation, you’d  think, “might just ask Chris/Jo about that, he’s/she’s probably come across a similar situation.” It’s thoughts like that, that lead to potential business opportunities.

So don’t kid yourself, I’m not doing all this blogging completely out of the kindness of my heart, there’s a certain amount of wanting to be able to “give back” to the community that has taught me so much, but I really think that by “paying it forward” I will get just as much, if not more in return.

No video today, but the usual disclaimer applies, my thoughts, opinions and mistakes. Please don’t take this as representative of my company’s views, although they might well be aligned. Thanks for reading, and if you have some thoughts about this, if you think there is a “line” where it becomes commercially wrong for a consultancy to publish detailed blogs, I’d love to hear and understand your thoughts because I’d really like to be able to go to my next management meeting and justify why I’ve spent so much time this month blogging on SCN.

Cheers,

Chris

To report this post you need to login first.

39 Comments

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.

  1. Tammy Powlas

    I am not in the NetWeaver Cloud, but for sure I like the sharing that you and Joanna do.  I want to contribute more but I totally run out of time. 

    For sure I learn more by sharing and there is a lot more in return. 

    Hopefully more on SCN will contribute as well.  Great question  – should I be sharing, and I say the answer is yes 🙂

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks Tammy,

      I think to some people there is a certain reservation about sharing (the company I used to work at for example spent ages trying to decide if it would allow its employees access to Google+ because it was scared that they might share something that would be detrimental to the company.) I see it slightly differently, if you’re in a consulting business and you can’t trust your employees, you might as well pack up shop!

      But as I tweeted – I’m glad I hang around those people who do feel that sharing is worthwhile – like your good self 🙂

      Thanks for the comment and tweet!

      (0) 
  2. Andy Silvey

    Hi Chris,

    this is an excellent blog in so many ways.

    I totally agree with your raison d’etre,

    ‘wanting to be able to “give back” to the community that has taught me so much, but I really think that by “paying it forward” I will get just as much, if not more in return’

    and to the same end that’s why I publish my favourite documentation and solutions to technical challenges in a wiki and keep it maintained as new challenges are crossed,

    SAP NetWeaver Basis Administrator’s Toolbox…

    and rest assured I will be adding your blogs to the Cloud section

    Paying it forward  is close to my heart these days in so many ways.

    All the best,

    Andy.

    (0) 
  3. Jarret Pazahanick

    Excellent blog and topic as I remember it was something I struggled prior to becoming more active sharing information and seeing all the benefits that come with it. We all know individuals and SI’s in the industry that try to hoard their knowledge thinking it will make them more valuable which is a real “old school” way of thinking. The good news is there used to be a lot more of these folks before the SAP Community Network was formed and sharing became more “fashionable”.

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Hi Jarret, just because it’s fashionable doesn’t make it right though 😉 . I’m sure those old school guys must have had some reasoning for not wanting to share. But perhaps as you say, with others sharing that model just doesn’t work any more. (Which is a good thing, I think.)

      Thanks for reading/commenting 🙂

      (0) 
  4. Fred Verheul

    Hi Chris,

    To answer your question: YES! YES! YES! (OK, you got the point).

    This is of course a personal question that everyone has to decide upon for him- or herself. I think you give a great answer in your blog post (several of them actually), and I couldn’t agree more.

    I’m not sure you emphasize it enough in your blog, but IMO this is not only an advertisement for the company you work for, but also for yourself, building an online reputation and personal brand. Even if for whatever reason you leave this company, this kind of sharing will still be associated with you and I’m sure it will be to your advantage.

    By the way: thanks for all these blog posts. Haven’t found time yet to digest them, but very much want to.

    Cheers, Fred

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks Fred,

      My own personal brand is, of course, important to me, but I don’t think I’ll be leaving my current employer in the near future. Enjoying it far too much!

      And really glad that you’re finding value in the other blogs, yes there is a lot of content there! Make sure to post up any questions you have and Jo and I well do our best to help out with what we know/have found out.

      (0) 
  5. Susan Keohan

    Hi Chris,

    I am not going to pretend to have fully digested the content of the blogs that you and Joanna Chan have written.  But I can say this – you two have put so much effort into these blogs – and the projects that inspired them – that you have enriched the community.

    And we all know how that goes.  By setting a great example (and sharing) you will hopefully inspire others to do the same.  For my part, I would be more likely to look seriously at a consultancy such as yours simply *because* you are sharing – rather than one that keeps all their good people and info under wraps.

    Keep it up!
    Sue

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Sue, thanks Mate! (we just had discussion in the office and decided that if you write Dear Sir/Madame with capitals the Mate should be capitalised too)

      If you ever decide to move over here and are interested in a consulting role, don’t forget to give me a shout 😉

      Hope that at least the videos in some of my blogs make it a tiny bit easier to understand – but then again given how much is blocked at your work, you probably can’t even see them!

      Thanks for the support!

      (0) 
  6. Mark Chalfen

    Hi Chris

    Following on from the brief twitter convo I would like to voice my opinion.

    Everyone has to learn, and even those who are perceived to know more than others still learn.

    Sharing your experiences helps the community and also helps yourself and your company.

    Like it or not your company will benefit from your content and the work you actually do.

    The real output of your work is the most attractive part for others as they will want you for your experience.

    Keep up the good work

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks Mark, I really appreciated your twitter comments, thanks for making the time to recap in the blog comments.

      (0) 
  7. bose g

    Chrish

    In my view “An image worth 1000 words” euqals below sentence

        “if you don’t get up here, you’ll never learn how to present”.

    Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts!

    Regards

    bose

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks Bose, was a good man (not me) that came up with that thought. I’ve been trying to copy him ever since. Although he doesn’t have the same beautiful shiny head of no hair that I do 😉 .

      (0) 
  8. L. van Hengel

    Hi Chris,

    Yes, please! Keep them coming 🙂 I appreciate your blogs and I know how much time is involved in creating blogs like these.

    I also have the privilege to work for a company that promotes writing blogs and sharing them with the community next to the internal knowledge sharing which is done as well. In fact it’s one of the reason in am working here, because for me that is very important. I also noticed that others see that as well, because during job interviews i did for my company many times the candidates mentioned how cool it is that my company promotes this. It’s even better when they say the read your blog and liked it.

    So in the end with writing blogs you are also promoting your company and help your own reputation and improve your skills as well. A win-win situation!

    Cheers,

    Leo

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks Leo,

      yes it does take a fair bit of effort to put one of those technical blogs together, I’d estimate I probably spent around 12h per blog, whilst this one here was one heartfelt hour last night. Isn’t it funny which one has got the most responses 😉 .

      But I agree, I think it is worth it. Thanks for your thoughts! And glad that I was one of the factors in getting you to finish up your latest blog 🙂

      (0) 
  9. DJ Adams

    Hi Chris

    You explain the “dilemma” very well and IMO have exactly the right attitude and approach.

    Someone once said that the best way to understand something is to [have to] explain it to someone else. Like you and many others in this community, I have also benefitted a great deal from this idea; I know very well how much effort and checking goes into detailed blog posts and articles. And the side effects are great, too.

    cheers

    dj    

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Hi DJ, as you are one of the guys who’s technical blogs I have very often referred to on SCN, it’s great to hear your comments about this. It’s good that you continue to see positive effects from sharing, even as the SDN/SCN community has evolved and grown.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      (0) 
  10. Stephen Millard

    Chris.

    Great blog post.  I struggled for quite some time when I first started training up colleagues to do what was effectively my job (pre-SAP days).  I felt like I was devaluing myself (my increase in training skills not withstanding).  But I rationalised it to my 5% rule (something I blogged about in my “SCN Contribution – How can I contribute to SCN?” post).  I’m willing to share 95% of what I know and keep 5% for myself to keep my ‘competitive edge’.  To many this sounds harsh, but the key is that I use this as a driver to keep myself developing.  in time I would share 100% and learn 5% new.  The more I know however the more I need to know to get that 5% so I personally find it a really great motivator for personal development and (hopefully) everyone benefits from it.

    I’m also really fortunate to work for an organisation that values community contribution.  I had a call from my CEO about ten days ago where his whole reason for calling was to encourage me to keep sharing!  Reading through the comments it’s really great to see so many organisations being so progressive around this – gives me a good vibe for the future of communities such as SCN 🙂 .

    Stephen.

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Hi Stephen,

      It’s an interesting approach/idea that you present. Personally, I find that however long I spend trying to teach others and share, I always have a little bit extra that I learn/know. It certainly isn’t deliberate that I don’t share this extra bit, it’s just that I learn it on the journey of sharing.

      As my friend Martin Gillet tweeted, you also need the background, context and field experience to be a good consultant, you can’t learn it all from a blog. Even if I tried to share everything I knew (which I really don’t have time or inclination to do) I’d still have that other stuff.

      Nice to see you getting internal recognition for your sharing, sometimes that just doesn’t happen enough.

      Thanks for your comment.

      (0) 
      1. Andy Silvey

        Hi Chris,

        to be honest during my last 14 years as a Basis Technician, I’ve gone through all of the phases, in the early days defensive, restrictive with sharing knowledge, further on, sharing because I was forced to document, but worried that this would leave me vulnerable, but these last years, and now in my 14th year as a Basis I have reached my inner peace, my inner freedom,  and discovered that sharing without reservation, giving without wanting to receive. only makes me stronger and like you said, when sharing with others we learn more.

        And not to mention, if we want others to behave the same way, our colleagues, our work culture to share without reservation, to give without wanting to receive, then we have to lead by example and show others the way, and then it becomes visible that a sharing culture is a learning culture and everybody benefits and everybody becomes stronger, and in SAP as we _all_ know, we are _all_ learning everyday, and anybody who says they know everything about SAP is a liar, so there’s enough to go around for everybody without fear of sharing knowledge.

        I think Stephen will also reach this point one day. and it will be as interesting for him as for the rest of us.

        All the best,

        Andy.

        (0) 
  11. Graham Robinson

    Great post Chris,

    You have pretty much nailed it.

    I would only add that in our little IT world information is no longer power – so it contains much less value than it used to. Information is simply information – it is a Google search away for anyone.

    What is valuable is how you use that information, how you collect it, how you understand it, and how you then draw on it to turn ideas into reality.

    So what you, and Jo, and the many others who openly share their experiences with others do is demonstrate where the real value is. It is you guys.

    Cheers

    Graham Robbo

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks Robbo, really appreciate your comments.

      I agree, the model where not sharing could be an advantage is very much eroded away when you can just type your query into Google and likely someone somewhere has shared it.

      And I’m still trying to get my presentation skill up there by practising as much as I can, thanks for the original motivation!

      (0) 
    2. Andy Silvey

      Hi Graham,

      very interesting comment of yours I am reading while patching a system 🙂

      You said,

      What is valuable is how you use that information, how you collect it, how you understand it, and how you then draw on it to turn ideas into reality.

      I would like to add to that, and I am open and welcome the input of others,

      I’d add that what is important today is intelligence

      and what is intelligence ?  For me intelligence is (knowledge + experience) applied to a situation/problem/project/activity

      so, I agree with you, anybody can google, but it is only from applying experience that one can qualify the validity of what one has found on google (the knowledge) hence, it is the application of knowledge + experience which makes intelligence.

      And intelligence can’t be aquired from a blog or a google search, or reading an internal company document, intelligence only comes with experience.

      I’m curious on what others think to this, and if somebody more clever can express it better

      🙂

      All the best,

      Andy.

      (0) 
  12. Karsten Arold

    Yes sharing is the thing to do. Surely sharing does not give away a competitive advantage. It is rather winning one.

    You make yourself and your company known as a thought leader and I suggest that this is great advertising and its free.

    And let me say this. Bob Dylan wrote: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Doorwhich has been interpreted and sung by lots of other people. However it remains Bob’s song.

    Same thing with your knowledge, isn’t it?

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Great comments Karsten!

      Surely sharing does not give away a competitive advantage. It is rather winning one.                  

      Love the “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” comparison. Class! 🙂 Although the comparison to Bob Dylan might be a bit extreme 😉 .

      Thanks!

      (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks John, we shall see 🙂 how your prediction goes. As someone who shares a lot yourself (and has been a great influence in how Jo’s blogs have been put together I know!) it’s good to see your support – especially as your move towards more consulting and less being an SAP customer.

      (0) 
  13. Kevin Grove

    Chris

    Thank you for all of the recent posts. I have not missed any. I especially love the whiteboard videos. Without sharing SCN ceases to be worthwhile.

    Please keep sharing.

    Best regards,

    Kevin

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Hi Kevin, really glad you like the whiteboards! I’ve had so much fun doing them. I think sometimes approaching how you explain something to people can have a great impact. Hoping the whiteboards work like that!

      Don’t worry, I’m still sharing! (and will do as much as I can!)

      (0) 
  14. Gail Moody-Byrd

    Chris,

    Thanks. Like this allot. So important to share this rationale with others who could benefit from more involvement in the community. Let’s see if we can get this on the homepage 😉

    Gail

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks for the slot on the homepage Gail!

      Amazed that my simple little heart-felt blog generated so much attention. But I certainly do believe that sharing is very much worthwhile.

      Thanks again!

      Chris

      (0) 
  15. Luke Marson

    Hi Chris,

    Important points and sharing has big benefits for companies and individuals alike. I know it can be difficult for companies to find a justification, but if presented properly there are real benefits.

    It’s important to remember – as you pointed out in a comment above – that a blog only gives part of the information. The context and overall knowledge goes much further than a blog can. To genuinely give the entire context and background to what you are blogging about would make it more of a book chapter – or an entire book – than a blog.

    Keep up the great work – including justifying your sharing to your company!

    Best regards,

    Luke

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks Luke,

      sometimes it is an effort to justify to consultancy firms why their staff should be sharing, especially when many of the senior managers are still “old school”, but I’m lucky not to have that problem. 🙂

      Now, about that book I keep on intending to write… 😉

      (0) 
  16. Kumud Singh

    Hi Chris,

    You have brought very thoughtful points on the discussion front. While contributing (anything that I have done so far!) on SCN, I have realized that unless I am very clear with the topic, I would never be able to document it. I have also learnt new facts while documenting my work to make it worth sharing. I have to thank SCN for inculcating within me the habit of documenting the new learnings in projects. Another challenge while sharing on SCN is, it should be new or different from already existing documents. I find these challenges pretty motivational.

    If someone gets benefitted from my work, I find that as a compliment. Sharing brings lot of advantages. Thanks!

    Regards,

    Kumud

    (0) 
    1. Chris Paine

      Thanks Kumud,

      I completely agree, it is indeed one thing to complete a piece of work, and another to be able to document it to such a level where someone else might be able to replicate it. Although I wish the documentation I have to do in my day job was as fun as the video whiteboards that I have done recently for my blogs!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

      (0) 
  17. Matthias Steiner

    A clear YES from my side! Yes, you should – and a heart-felt thanks for doing so!

    As I stated in a recent blog:

    Last, but not least a mentor should be willing to openly share his/her knowledge and expertise with the mentee. That may sound trivial and obvious, but it sure is worth mentioning. Sadly, many people who could be great mentors are still stuck in the antique mindset that their knowledge/expertise is their most-treasured good, which they need to protect by all means as this is what comprises their value. Such thinking seems outdated in the 21st century, as given the pace of innovation cycles it’s no longer as important what you’ve learned in the past, but that you are willing to accept the fact that only continuous learning will allow you to stay up with this ever-changing world. It’s not what you learned, but that you learned how to keep learning.

    Keep up the great work!!!

    (0) 

Leave a Reply