“Ontwikkelaars eerst!” (Developers first!) could safely be called the rallying cry among the Dutch SAP Mentors who kindly gave up 15 minutes of their busy schedules on day two of SAP TechEd Amsterdam. Gathered in the SAP Netherlands Lounge on a perch overlooking the bustling show floor were SAP Mentors Jan Penninkhof, Twan van den Broek, Roel van den Berge, Ronald Konijnenburg, and Fred Verheul. This entourage also included “honorary member”, Robin van het Hof; if these SAP Mentors have anything to say about it, Robin will hopefully join their ranks in the future. The fun and spirit of the interview is clear in the video embedded below.

There was no lack of passion about SAP technology among these gentlemen, who shared details about a focus group they aim to establish for SAP developers in the Netherlands as well as key takeaways from the event so far. The idea for the dedicated focus group, which would run under the auspices of the VNSG (Dutch-speaking SAP User Group), was born during a dinner held in June among Dutch SAP Mentors. According to Fred, they are now “actively trying to get people on board in order to get the minimum number of people to participate in the focus group, so we can hopefully start it up next year.” When asked what they hope to achieve with this focus group, Jan said: “We have held community events organized with the VNSG which were attended by 500-1,000 people”, so he is optimistic that they’ll reach the required number of participants. “Hopefully with this focus group, we will be able to influence SAP in a certain direction.”

“Sharing knowledge is very important”, said Ronald. “And we do this through VNSG events, at InnoJam during TechEds, and through #sit.NL events. Twan, who according to Ronald is the “founding father of the sitNL initiative”, launched sitNL to fill the need for a local techie event like SAP TechEd but more local for the Dutch community. “We always hold this meeting a few weeks after SAP TechEd so we can recap what we have learned during SAP TechEd, to bring the message to the other guys who were not so fortunate as to be able to attend SAP TechEd”, said Twan.

Twan – who incidentally won SAP DemoJam the night before – didn’t hesitate to call SAP TechEd Amsterdam 2013 his “best TechEd ever”. Ronald – who incidentally lost DemoJam, and on his birthday no less! – was no less enthusiastic about the event. “SAP is really putting developers first. I’ve been doing SAP since 1994, and there’s been a tremendous change within the corporate culture”, adding “SAP HANA and cloud has made them number one in the marketplace, and having outside developers and partners developing solutions on HANA is something that is really in the DNA of SAP now. And that’s something fundamentally different than it used to be.” Picking up that thread, Jan continued: “SAP is also trying to attract developers from outside the ecosystem and has set up several initiatives around that.” This idea took shape in the SAP Mentors room on site at SAP TechEd Amsterdam, during which the SAP Mentors proposed having a tool like SAP UI5 to make a gesture towards the open source community.

For Robin, a key takeaway from this event was the chance to finally meet people in person with whom he’d only ever engaged with on SCN and Twitter. Fred cited as a key event takeaway the discussion he had with Senior Vice President  of TIP Marketing Ingrid van den Hoogen, during which they covered legal issues, IP, and “things SAP can improve to attract more developers from outside the ecosystem.” Roel is a new SAP Mentor, so he was impressed by both the access that granted him as well as the approachable attitude of SAP’s executives.  “As mentors we had the chance to have interesting discussions with people like Maggie Fox, Bernd Leukert and Bjoern Goerke. For me as a first time mentor, it was really fun to see that they’re not in some ivory tower. They were really engaging with us, and they really wanted to hear us. We could give our opinion and they listened. That’s cool.”

https://youtube.com/watch?v=oGZdz6bdbHk

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