It’s hard to believe that another year has passed. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be packing my bags and heading off to support the annual user group conference for my company’s software. While there are activities throughout the year – Webcasts, newsletters, educational opportunities – I truly look forward to this event. As Van Halen sang, “It’s your tomorrow, right now!” It’s an opportunity to network and learn about new solutions. But most important, it’s a chance to spend three days with companies in my industry and learn about their challenges and successes. It’s also a time to reflect on the value that user groups bring to their member companies.
“It’s enlightened me, right now…”
If you’re currently a member of a user group, you know how beneficial they can be. Through year-round activities, you can build peer relationships and share experiences – both good and bad – and learn about solutions. And when you need to solve a business issue, you can leverage the experience of your peer group to find an answer.
“Workin’ so hard to make it easier…”
User groups also offer channels to provide feedback to the solution provider. There might be a formal process to influence development. And there may be opportunities to participate in requirements gathering and usability testing. Through the combined voices of the user group members, positive change can be affected.
“Make future plans…”
And then there’s the annual conference. I’ve often said that the first day of the conference is like a class reunion. For those who have attended for several years, it’s a chance to renew business acquaintances and make new ones. For first-time attendees, the opportunities are many, and may even be overwhelming. The education is valuable as you make plans for your company’s future, but there’s also value from the networking that happens before and after each session, in the halls, at lunch, and throughout the event. And the contacts you make add value to your business throughout the year.
In my role as an SAP solution manager, I’ve seen firsthand how our customers share and learn at these events. You should find the user group for your software and get involved. For SAP customers, the Americas’ SAP Users Group (ASUG) holds their annual conference each May, and offers hundreds of sessions in dozens of process and industry areas. This event is a rich offering and one that will certainly benefit you and your company.
Do you want to learn more? I invite you to read my three-part series focused on the value of user groups:
· Part 1 – “Joe Cocker and the Need for a Good Friend”
· Part 2 – “Jim Croce and the Power of Influence”
· Part 3 – “Styx and How User Groups Show Us the Way”
If you’re an ASUG member, I’ll see you at the conference! And if you want a little inspiration, here’s Van Halen singing, “Right Now” right here.
Lynn Lupo is the Go-to-Market Lead for the SAP Global Wholesale Distribution Business Unit and is the SAP Point of Contact for the ASUG Special Interest Group for Wholesale Distribution.