Are SAP people generally anti social?
It’s a loaded question and of course carries a double meaning.
The theme of this post starts with an interesting set of exchanges with between me, Yariv Zur, SAP Labs Israel and Vijay Vijayasankar.
At the end of that string we had pretty much concluded that the world of SAP in the twittersphere at least is relatively mute except for a handful of mouthpieces.
I concluded that the main reason is probably that most people who use or are interested in SAP are too busy working on SAP to spend time tweeting and commenting about the world of SAP. The likelihood that this is true is probably further borne out by the fact that the top SAP influencers are primarily either SAP employees or part of the analyst, blogger and partner set.
According to twtrland.com some of the leaders in the charge in no particular order are Gerry Moran (GerryMoran), Tammy Powlas (tpowlas) , (aiazkazi) , Rui Nogueira Karin Schattka , Patrick Tupper (PatrickTupper) , Greg Chase (GregChase) , Matthias Steiner, John Astill (JohnA69) , Uwe Fetzer, Fred Verheul (fredverheul) , Jonathan Becher (jbecher) , JM (JHMO), Vijay Vijayasankar (vijayasankarv) ,Andrea Kaufmann (AndreaKaufmann) , Gregor Wolf.
In all. this site suggests that around 4,500 accounts show up as most influential in the realm of Most Influential in SAP | twtrland
Real-time Tracker: #SAP – Keyhole suggests that for example in the last 90 days there have been around 500 posts by 336 users with a reach of around three quarters of a million users generating about 1.2M impressions.
Topping the list of the last 90 days are Steve Lucas (nstevenlucas) , Scott Bales (scottebales) and the M2M World Congress (M2MCongress)
Some big themes understandably have been HANA, jobs, the Cloud and sustainability and the environment is dominated by the USA and men.
Yariv started our conversation with saying that ‘5 years ago he blogged from DKOM and was reprimanded but that this year employees are encouraged to tweet DCODE and that he felt positive about this change. You can follow him on Yariv Zur (vlvl)
At first blush it is easy to conclude that those interested in Twitter are a small subset of the overall SAP community and that actually those working with SAP are not very ‘social’ but actually new research suggests that this is actually a pretty pervasive phenomenon and not exclusive to the world of SAP. A report from Twopcharts, a website that monitors Twitter account activity, states that about 44% of the 974 million existing Twitter accounts have never sent a tweet. Twitter defines a monthly active user as an account that logs in at least once a month. By Twitter’s standards, a person does not have to tweet to be considered a monthly active user – this means that there are an awful lot of observers and voyeurs on Twitter as compared with actually vocal users. Report: 44% of Twitter Accounts Have Never Sent a Tweet – Digits – WSJ
I guess my conclusions then are that SAP folk are social but just very measured and not really any different from all those others out there – some are just a little noisier than others and if you didn’t make these lists then either you haven’t enough of a history or you’re not as influential as you would like to be, under the #SAP tag at least.
I am 45 years old, so I am a dinosaur by some standards, so the question I ask may not make any sense, but I will ask it nonetheless:-
Is having a twitter account and posting something every ten minutes, all day, every day, a positive thing?
I suppose it must be, everyone does it.
I had bacon, lettuce and tomato for breakfast this morning, just in case you are interested. Does sharing that make me a major influencer?
Good one Paul.
I guess the distinction here is between the social for social sake and the social as in engaging in a dialog about challenges being had or discoveries made etc.
I daresay that many of those 'followers' of celebrities in particular are trying to find out what people are doing and trying to live vicariously through the inane twitter feeds of celebrities - getting a sense of their style, their outward facing persona and hearing what they opine from the horse's mouth so to speak.
In the forum of SAP though I think it could be something different, it just isn't there though. Adam Bäckman (AdamB_) has suggested that it is hard to say anything much in 140 characters but I think that seeing that as a limitation actually only presents itself as a challenge not necessarily a limitation.
For example, if there's a conference going on and I can't attend and I know someone else is attending and they have similar interests to me, and I know that they are prepared to invest in some twippets (twitter snippets) from the conference then I get some benefits from them being there even I can't attend myself.
I also see it as an opportunity to discover things. There are so many resources out there that are not indexed or not indexed well on the interwebs and yet things that we could commonly benefit from, yet there's no-one to ask in a general way and yet twitter or similar technology could hold the key.
I for one, for example would love to be able to post a tweet asking if anyone has a usage code for say a poorly documented BAPI and then get a slew of responses from benevolent ABAPers who have experienced it or used it before. It just doesn't happen.
At one time SCN used to be a great place to ask such questions. There were a lot of leaders in this space and the participation was relatively modest in terms of newbies. The tide has turned in my opinion. Many of the participants seem to be newbies and the guidance and thought leadership is down to a handful of 'inner circlers' who complain about the spam and the lazy newcomers who don't search properly. The 'community' part is now mostly a label. I think the leaders have been effectively played out and tire of the same stuff over and over again. It's a great library of content but it's hard to find exactly what you're looking for especially if you don't know exactly what it is you should be asking in terms of a search question.
So returning to twitter, it's as close a thing to a synchronous experience that you can get on the go today. Unlike email or a BBS it doesn't require you to know who to directly your comment, challenge or question at. You can just blurt it out. If there was a greater critical mass of active participants, someone might trawl upon your blurt-out in near real time or it may only be uncovered a couple of days or weeks later. If they respond with something useful, even a comment like 'I have the same problem' - it's better than endless searching without finding anything useful. You could collaborate on finding the solution.
About thirty years ago I read a ramling, incoherent book called "Winter's Tale" which has recently been made into a film that makes people laugh out loud (not intentionally) at it.
In the book the evil newspaper owner is giving a speech at a funeral praising the mand who has died. The speech goes like this:-
"He always liked me. He thought I was great" etc etc
In the same way UK magazine "Private Eye" has an "I spy" section where it gives an award to the newpaper columnist who has used the word "I" the most in thier columns that week. The late Michael Winner usually came up trumps.
So the question is are the tweets like this:-
"Saw demonstration of screen personas. Far too easy to click on wrong button in the screen builder"
"I'm at an SAP conference in Las Vegas! I've met Stevie Winwood! Here is a picture of a dustbin!"
I also know what you mean about the forums. Whenever I want to make myself cry I go and have a look at the latest questions on the ABAP Forum.
Last week a guy was asking if there was an IF/THEN/ELSE construct in ABAP. Last year someone asked what the keyword PERFORM did.
I used to be social. Then I became a moderator in the ABAP space and started hating everyone. 😏
Anyway.... I don't use social media much, but I'm not anti-social. I just prefer interacting with people in the physical world.
Last time I was at teched (Vienna), on the last night I went with my friends into the city rather than stay for the party at the event...
On the subject of writing about SAP conferences on the SCN :-
In a blog on SCN on 18/10/2013 Christina Miller announced a contest about the 2013 TECHEDS where she wanted people to blog about “tips and tricks, code samples, useful information you learned, what you are going to take back to the job, how it is going to improve what you do”.
When I go to an SAP conference I have to prepare just such an article for our CIO, to justify the high cost involved. If I told him what I ate for breakfast, and that I met a pop star, and drank the free drink and was sick everywhere, and did not mention SAP at all I am not convinced I would be allowed to go back the next year.
When I went to the SAUG conference in 2012 I did a little blog on SCN in which I tried to summarise the content of the sessions I had been to i.e. what the speaker had talked about and why it might be useful. I may not have done a good job, but I made an attempt. I tried not to mention food once.
Anyway, when I saw that there was an SCN contest this year I thought “wonderful, people have an incentive to talk about what they learned, and not dwell on dustbins and the like”. I honestly expected there would be blogs summarising the content of the presentations and hands on sessions and saying how (and if) this new information would be useful.
However, from what I have read , they still seem to go like this:-
“I got up late, and this is what clothes I wore, and this is what was for breakfast, and the conference room was really big, and in the morning I met Joe Bloggs, and John Smith, Thomas Jung, Mark Finnern, Michelle Crapo, Susan Keohan, Tobias Trapp, Thorsten Franz, Hasso Plattner , Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy, Dan'l Whiddon, Harry Hawke, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all - yes, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all - you know them from SCN, so I met CELEBRITIES, whoo-hoo, I’m in with the in-crowd, I go where the in-crowd goes, we all did a conga round the room, and then I got some toys from the exhibition hall, and then it was lunch, a nice Mexican spread, and then I went to a hands on session of some sort, I’ll tell you the title, and that the computer broke down, and then the toilets were really full, and then I got to sit in the exclusive area, and then I got up on stage to win an award, and then it was time for dinner, and then I danced with Jon Bon Jovi, and then it was time for bed, my hotel wallpaper had a nice design of green flowers on a white background, and out the hotel window I could see some casinos. Before I go, I’d like you to watch out for the blogs Joe Bloggs and John Smith are going to publish tomorrow, in which they describe their thoughts on breakfast and describe how wonderful it was meeting me”. P.S. Here is a picture of a trash can.
One of the comments (honestly) was “that’s the best blog about an SAP conference since XYZ”. So, some people must like this style. The comment was from Joe Bloggs and John Smith though.
About a year after I arrived in Australia had no idea what the word “blog” meant and the first time I heard the term I asked a colleague what it meant. It was about 2001, he described it thus:-
“A 14 year old posting his diary online, sharing the minute details of his day in an effort to feel important”
Things have moved on since then, there is a lot of VERY good content coming out in blogs, companies publish product updates using this mechanism. I read a blog from Microsoft when Windows 8 came out in which the reasoning behind the “metro” interface was explained, and you know, not once was a dustbin or what was for breakfast mentioned.
You might say I am not forced to read such things, and indeed it’s only morbid fascination that keeps me coming back, and there are blogs with information from TECHED inside them e.g. Graham Robinson did a good blog on FIORI.
However, far too often I see a blog with the tile "announcements from SAP DCODE" and I open it up hoping for, say, some announcements from SAP about their product roadmap or something, but instead there are just 54 pictures of the ehibition hall in a row.
I am also not sure that the pop stars are as impressed with meeting us as we are with meetng them. At SAPPHIRE in Brisbane in 2001 the band was INXS, lead singer Michael Hutcence was already dead at that point. Despite this he managed a fairly good set but at one point he stopped, looked at the audience ans said:-
"Hang on - you're all nerds aren't you?"
You're quite right, there's the distinction between the me/I - the trivial and those things that would be more meaningful and useful to a wider audience at a technical or functional level.
I guess twitter followers and blog readers vote with their viewings, subscriptions and comments.
Those who are a little more passionate take the trouble to do 'take downs' of writers of piffle, those who are more passive or oblivious to the importance of more substance simply walk away without giving of their thoughts.
There's a lesson there.
I'd far rather get negative/positive feedback than nothing.
Doing nothing takes no effort and so it seems it is often what people choose.
If people want to make things better they have to make the effort to comment and opine and not be passive observers.
&quot;We have a strategic plan. It&#039;s called doing things.&quot; - Herb Kelleher (Quote of the Day) - Im…
Jochen Guertler put this poster up in the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg, and it's probably the most photographed poster by our visitors (sap people 😉 ) we got on our walls
sorry, for doing some marketing for our beloved SAP AppHaus in HD 😏
Paul, I'm sorry that TechEd blogs were such disappointment but I shall summon this document to point out that blog is "where you express your point of view or share your thoughts on something". It's not meant to be a scientific article or a technical publication (some of them happen to be like that but can't say it's the norm) and people have thoughts and feelings about all kinds of things. Not all of them are grand or even interesting to everyone, which is perfectly fine, I think.
To me, for instance, food is important and I'm not going to apologize for it. I can get the information about the TechEd sessions anywhere (there are even full replays available for most), but good luck finding out what's for lunch. And if you're going there in person, lunch is not a trivial thing at all. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and pulling those stats on twitter Clinton Jones
I can hear your point, but still, wow, what a bold headline.
How do you define anti-social?
Personally I don't think that having a twitter account and being active on it or any other social media channel for that matter is what makes 'sap people' social. you may take it as one indicator, but let's not forget that there are many more "traditional" venues and channels of engaging and interacting to show 'social' behavior. generally i'd would not underestimate the power of pure old-fashion in-person interactions (water cooler, coffee corners, conferences, email, phone calls etc.), yes those are venues of social interactions that may not scale - still, it's an indicator of social behavior.
After 14 years of being part of 'sap people', having had the honor and pleasur to interact with people around the globe, my take is that sap people are genuine, helpful, supportive, empathetic and love to engage, which makes them a pretty social species 🙂 .
I like your conclusion, most people are probably busy focusing on their work, which is getting stuff done.
aaah yes Heike, it is as I said a 'loaded' statement. They're not reall ant-social of course, but it is clear from Yariv Zur's tweet that at one time they WERE anti-social.
I think that the SAP community is somewhat social but I think that relying on a small subset of the community to be the voices for the community is all wrong.
Thanks for taking the trouble to read and comment - that's what makes a community a social community!
I think that the SAP community is somewhat social but I think that relying on a small subset of the community to be the voices for the community is all wrong
no argument about that. what a great opportunity to invent a system that allows more participation from the community, i am curious to see what's down the road 🙂
I just want to add one question... We all are posting here questions blogs answers, is this unsocial?
Paul Hardy brought it to a point I totally agree. I don't see a need to be in every social board that active.
BTW: Spending time with physical people in the real world are also social time and I think most of the people doing that at least, also the SAP-people 😉
Quite true Florian, being actively involved in SCN is being social and there's no replacement for physical interaction with peers and like-minded people. I thought it was interesting that the Twitter statistics indicated that so many subscribers to Twitter are in fact not tweeting at all.
I also got a twitter and facebook account, but I'm not that active. Twitter for example is that overloaded of information's that you can't live your life if you want to stay updated all the time... And I'm not following hundred of people there.
Actually social media is really reflecting real life and it's interesting to see despite the communication medium some of those trends are still here. I was once told that no matter how large of an organization you have only 40% of the membership will support that that organization financially if the support was "voluntary". Although I can debate the exact percent the concept that you never have full participation in any voluntary activity is true. Most of us only want to consume and not create. Even though we have more freedom to create/contribute content the percentages who actively do this don't really increase as large as they should.
My best observation of this was that I was at the CRM2013 last year and the number of people actively tweeting was less than 20, despite there being at least 500+ attendees for CRM alone. Anyone who attended could have blogged/tweeted but at most 5% did.
If we pick on SCN as an example, at one point in time when points and activity were a little easier to review(old platform), I believe out of 2M+ registered members, there were only 2K to 4K active members(more than 250 points in a 12 month period) at a given time. It really meant those people who contribute to SCN were the exception to the rule. I don't know the new numbers are, but I highly doubt SCN even has 1% participation out of all registered users.
interesting.... I had never really thought about the notion that most of us only want to consume and not create - it is quite true!
thanks for reading and commenting !
Late to the party here, but something worth considering is the rule of thumb for estimating community engagement (at least, it was current when I was involved in the rollout of Jive across a multinational in 2009 or so) that says, basically, 1% will be passionately involved, 9% will contribute and 90% will will observe / lurk. Trolls are (by definition) part of the 9% and in some spaces they (and their victims) were part of the 1%.
I'm not "anti social", I'm "anti twitter". (And now I have one less password to change, yay!) As far as SAP goes, I already have as much social life as I can handle on SCN and offline, thank you very much. 🙂
Tweets are mostly 140 characters right? ( I just saw a recent article that this isn't necessarily so...). But for most of us, it's 140 characters. Since when could anything of real value related to SAP be parsed down to 140 characters? Honestly. Only sales and marketing blurbs if you ask me.
Using twitter as IM replacement, I have been able to solve or help solve SAP CRM issues by chatting with people on twitter. However most of those folks are also on SCN and probably the biggest missing feature on SCN is a wide open chat/IM. Twitter usually starts the conversation and then we end up with some back-channel e-mails for the full details if there isn't a public link or SAP Note number.
Yep.. so while it leads to a solution, it's really not normally the mechanism for solving the actual problem. As you said you often end up with emails unless you can tweet a note number for web link. So.. yes.. nothing in is SAP is just 140 characters cause the note or web link page will have way more than 140 characters in them!!!
Maybe once I get a smart phone I'll look at tweets.
The problem with a chat is, that those nice solutions will be gone after closing it. If the people with issues open a thread and the possible solutions are discussed there, everyone on SCN has won something, not just the users who were in the chat at the right time. 😉
Chat conversations are always fleeing and I see SCN in part as a knowledge database, in which you can find a lot of help - if you search for it. So I think, the chat would be of more use as a coffee corner meeting point than as a way to solve problems.
The other issue is that I think for some folks, tweeting one on one would really take up a lot of time. I usually won't respond to DM's here asking for help and request them to post a question instead. I think I would go nuts if all my contacts, newbies, ex-project team members, headhunter's etc... were able to tweet me. I assume you can block people from tweeting you? Or do you have to accept people in order for them to tweet at you?
Yes you are right that the history is gone. Truthfully if we were good.. we would post our resolutions back to SCN after the conversation is done. The real reason why they dont' end up on SCN first is the whole noise avoidance issue.
Then again I also have phone conversations with a friend of mine on the "hard stuff" type topics that we encounter, but it's more of a free consulting exchange than anything else.
Yep you can block twitter requests, but honestly even with all my followers I really dont' get a lot of noise. The noise ratio is much less on twitter from what I have found.
I think you have right there. Right now there is relatively low noise. The twitterati are making best efforts to restrain the spammers, the phishers and the trolls and there is of course the ability to raise complaints. The question is really whether that will remain the possibility. Remember the days of no or few adverts on linkedin and facebook?
No surprise that Heike van Geel is so far the only employee engaging with the community in the important dialogue here. It takes a certain amount of courage and a special perspective to be part of the machine and dare do that. Thanks Clinton Jones for triggering and Heike for stepping in from the SAP side.
The conversation is sobering and instructive. It illustrates the premise of the 491 pages I've just read of Dave Eggers new novel called: "The Circle" a cautionary tale of an imaginary company in the Silicon Valley, and described by the author as a book "that wasn't so much about the technology itself, but more about its implications for our sense of humanity and balance."
A Brief Q&A with Dave Eggers About His New Novel, The Circle.
While the book falls short (IMHO) on many counts, it does make a very clear point about what can happen when we get wowed by technology and the celebs of the tech community and forget the people it serves.
Art is often the first education medium for social dissent, introspection, self-correction and critique. Satire and cautionary tales are not always heeded but they do provide opportunity to stop and think.
Thanks to a link on twitter from Juergen Schmerder, just tapped into a new series on HBO (I don't have television so I just watched snippets on YouTube) Silicon Valley Reviewed: Episode 1 - YouTube
And now thanks to Paul Hardy I'll need to investigate a Winter's Tale.
A good opinion piece such as this serves the same purpose. It questions how the community is going and what the implications are of going with blinders.
Like Heike, I am very eager to understand the next generation of community on SCN. In order to remain relevant, this social platform for inherently anti-social types (a wink to Jelena Perfiljeva ) will need to reinvent itself....or die.
I think Marilyn said it all 😉
Marilyn, you make some great points about the community, as do previous comments. I'd like to add my thoughts.
As someone who has sat in the 90% space (observe/lurk) for a while now (years) and is heading towards that 9% (contribute) I am reminded about how getting involved in existing communities can be nerve racking, fraught with danger and ultimately lead to the peril of a potential contributor if not helped along the way. Specifically it reminds me of joining the volunteer fire service in my local community (I live in the countryside). I will briefly demonstrate this and show how we can draw similar conclusions to the SCN community.
When I felt that I could contribute to my community and did the homework about how to join the fire service, I found that I had to go to a monthly meeting. Turning up to the fire shed for the meeting there were about 30 people inside. Walking into the meeting you are faced with people who have been there, seen it and done it when it comes to fires. It was very daunting and not the greatest memory that I have of the fire service. You cop a lot of criticism for your lack of experience and lack of skill when compared to the ol' timers.
When you go through the training and make it out onto the fire ground you are expected to contribute as part of a team, there is however no-one there next to you to support you when that very first fire comes over the hill and heads your way. The only thing that stopped me from continuing to run was the hose that I still had hold of.
The people that were in the fire service were generally, very nice people, they were however all of an age or experience that they did not have, or want, to make time for newcomers. In their mind it was too hard, too much effort and various other legitimate reasons. What they did not seem to understand was that these newcomers had the energy and drive to contribute, they had the energy to teach other new comers as their skill increased and ultimately that would lead to a membership increase of "skilled" fire fights that could spread the load.
How does this relate to the SCN community and the original posters comments about SAP people being anti-social, it relates because I think that in a lot of cases people don't know how to get involved. They don't know if they are good enough, know enough or are relevant. Additionally, our existing community members don't know how to spread the load and coach the next wave contributors, primarily because others are looking for their specific input. They are right, there is a lot of noise, they also need to think back and realise that they used to be noise to someone else at some point in their career. Now I know that there is noise, and then there is some of the examples documented above, the point is that given the opportunity to spread the load those exceptions should not be such a big deal.
What can we do as a community to help? Well, in the fire service, I eventually became the first officer in charge of the station. We then worked very hard to increase our membership of all skills sets, ages and experiences. We worked tirelessly to teach the next wave what to do and when to do it. We increased from 30 members to 95 active fire-fighters in a community of about 500 people. We shared the load, We rotated the good and bad jobs and we encouraged the 9% ers to push harder to become a 1% er.
Now I am not sure the SCN needs to reinvent itself, it could however do with some fine tuning. The SCN moderators and the 1% need to look at how "they" can engage with the 9% as being the next wave of 1% ers. Further, they need to work out how to get a share of that 90% and turn a few more of those into the 9%. This shares the load, increases the content of new and interesting stuff and allows the 1% ers to take breath and look at the community that they have helped build.
How do we progress, not sure, I am after all one of the 9 % ers trying to find their place in the community. I can say though that meeting people like yourself and some of the so called "celebs" is a great way to start. Getting you guys out there and engaging is something that you can not do enough of, but like every good celeb there is an entourage or team of people standing behind you to contribute to the work. Without this you are but one person trying to influence, help, feedback and comment on the countless new posts here everyday.
As a firefighter myself; it was actually my signature here for a very long while until SAP MADE me change it when I started moderating :-(( ; I'm disappointed in your analogy. 🙁
But I totally understand it. Having been in 6 different emergency organizations now over the past 35 years, (some due to geographical moves, some to new interest in a specialty, etc), I've seen what you are talking about first hand. But most of the organizations in the last 10-15 yrs have been much more open and welcoming then they were say in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Partly due to an increase in professionalism and partly due to a huge loss of volunteers in the past 10 - 15 years.
To take the analogy a step farther... and with regards to SCN... helping people along and being a welcoming and encouraging organization can be difficult over a long period of time. This is especially true when newcomers tend to come and go. The drop out rate is high in the fire and EMS services. For us it is usually a matter of burn out, career changes, people not understanding the time commitment, people finding out that even when holding a hose it doesn't help and they need to drop it and turn and run when that fire approaches. So why do I want to spend 2-3 years becoming emotionally attached and investing hours in teaching, mentoring and training some one that will leave? (2 out of 3 fire volunteers drop out within 3 years, 4 of 5 within 5 years).
SCN is even worse I'm sure. Many members only come here when they need help. Of the gazillion accounts online, only a handful of "Emerald" and "Diamond" users exist. And many, many of them are SAP employees. (It would be interesting to know that info BTW, you use to be able to screen out SAP employees from the rankings and various listings).
With so many new users coming and going, sometimes without even as much as a thank you for the help they get, why should people try to be engaging, welcoming and open here? It's much easier to stay in the cliques of users you've learned to know over the years. For many, those new users need to do a bit of proving themselves, just as it happens in the fire service.
And even though we have gotten somewhat more welcoming in the volunteer fire service ranks, a new person probably won't ever really feel 100% included until they have stayed with that hose line in a burning house, climbed the ladder to a roof on fire, performed their first CPR, or removed that fatally injured teenager/child from a car wreck AND decide to keep coming back week after week.
No different here. Until folks have posted some answers, taken a chance and written a few blogs or documents that might be criticized and question their expertise, and shown that you WANT to be an active member at SCN, why should older members be more social to them?
You brought up an excellent point and having gone through the various phases of community contribution, the biggest problem is that SCN does not have an in-between role or perhaps a post moderator role for volunteers. Instead those active moderators have to play more of a rule enforcer role which becomes completely draining instead of a community building role that they would like to play. I really thought that SCN needs an in-between volunteer role that helps promote contribution/participation in spaces(with some basic moderator rights to assist) but not focused on rule enforcement. Perhaps I need to revisit this concept again and see what I can do to help.