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Author's profile photo Thorsten Franz

2014 – The Year SAP Forgot About the Community

I have been asked during SAP TechEd && d-code Las Vegas how I felt about the SAP Mentors not being called on stage during DemoJam. My first reaction was that I hadn’t even noticed it: DemoJam night was great and had fantastic contestants, so I didn’t feel anything was missing.

geeks can dance.jpg

Vibrant community at SAP TechEd && d-code Las Vegas: “Geeks Can Dance” band

What about the many hard-working community contributors?

Thinking about the question, though, what did it mean that the SAP Mentors were not called on stage like in previous years? It is important to the self-understanding of the Mentors program that there should not be a culture of entitlement, and I agree completely. So it didn’t occur to me for an instant to feel entitled to this Mentor moment of fame on the big stage. It also occurred to me that no other community group had been called on the stage: not the Active Contributors, not the Top Contributors, not the Forum Moderators, nobody. It also occurred to me that non of the SAP Community members who tirelessly dedicate their private time to creating a wealth of material for the benefit of others were not even mentioned.

There was no speech calling out, to name just one (albeit very notable) example, the amazing dedication of Tammy Powlas who has a demanding day job (more like a day and night job in reality) and is on top of that one of the most engaged ASUG volunteers and on top of that probably the single most active SCN community member with countless contributions in forum posts, blogs, and other forms. There was actually a small community-organiyed flash mob to honor Tammy, but she is not alone: Forum moderators work reliably every day to keep their forums clean of spam and trolls, even if they have a go-live in their current project, or they are young parents and a new baby in the house leaves them almost no personal spare time, and so on. Many community contributors find their own personal ways to pay it forward, as Mark Yolton so inspiringly put it in one of this DemoJam night speeches. And that should be recognized loudly and publicly.

For most of the volunteers, a thank you and a group photo with other contributors at SAP TechEd used to be the only recognition they got all throughout the year. This expression of peer recognition kept them going. This year, SAP didn’t bother to show them much love. I don’t think that is right.

It’s wrong for one because not even once mentioning the Active Contributors, Top Contributors, and Forum Moderators might be seen as a display of disrespect towards their effort. SAP should express its recognition and encourage the contributors to keep going and new, potential contributors to step out of the shadow.

No apparent focus on the community

The lack of focus on the community was tangible not only at DemoJam night but throughout the conference. There was no mention of SCN or the community in a wider sense in any of the keynotes. There was no discernible Clubhouse on the show floor (I suppose the bean bags were expected to pass as the “clubhouse”). Key community advocates were out of the picture because they either didn’t get permission to travel to the conference or were only allowed to travel in non-community roles (e.g. to give away t-shirts instead of nurturing the community). There was no Wednesday night „touchy-feely“ event, no community profile photographer (just one for the conference speakers) and no discernible follow up to themes such as „gamification“ or „pay it forward“ that had played a big role in recent years. It was clear to see that the community, which was at the core of the TechEd experience in recent years, did not play a big role at “d-code” at all.

It’s also wrong because giving the impression that SAP no longer cares about the SCN community will hurt other programs, such as the Developers Program. SAP operates under the premise that they can only flourish if many developers adopt their technology and use it to develop new applications. These developers rely on SCN content and contributors to help them get started and to find their way through thick and thin as they build new applications on top of SAP technology. If SAP shows the SCN community the cold shoulder and community contributions drop, then who’s going to create the content on which the developers rely? I doubt that SAP’s own evangelists and product specialists are numerous enough to perform this job. This needs to scale – and it can only scale with the SCN community. And that works only if SAP continues to show the community its love.

So my wish for SAP TechEd && d-code Berlin: Call the Active Contributors and the Top Contributors on the stage. I want to have a chance to cheer for them.

P.S.: This post is not going to increase my popularity among the powers that be. Regardless of whether or not I’m right, this feels like an “SAP, we need to talk” moment to me, and I’m glad that SAP and specifically SCN have created a culture of open discourse and feedback through which SAP has received many chances to “get it right.” This is another benefit of having a strong community and nurturing it – and you don’t get that just by giving away t-shirts and developer licenses.

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      Author's profile photo Paul Aschmann
      Paul Aschmann

      Hi Thorsten, I agree with you that something was "missing" this year in regards to the community appreciation aspect and I think your blog points out some of the opportunities for SAP to make it right in Berlin.

      I would also like to give a shout out to Sam Yen (and the Fiori team) for promoting/supporting the concept of "Geeks can dance" on Wednesday evening. In my opinion it was the one thing #saptd that did have the greater community in mind and was a wonderful success.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      It really was a joy to look out from near the stage at the audience for Geeks can dance. It was packed, and amazing to be around. It's one of the best moments I've had at any TechEd.

      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      I really missed not only the clubhouse, but the recognition of the top contributors and moderators.  I don't care whether I get the spotlight or not, but the people who do the heavy lifting should get some. 

      Marilyn Pratt did put together an amazing event on Tuesday night - the #dataviz #datageeks saplumira  MSF challenge - and it was important and very useful.  Megan McGuire of MSF was a terrific speaker, and I think we all felt the pain of thinking of all those field workers using spreadsheets to capture that all-important data! 

      Overall, I think many people felt the same way, Thorsten.  So you have not lost any popularity, with me at least!

      Author's profile photo Chris Paine
      Chris Paine

      Hi Thorsten,

      I agree, I'm glad the Mentors didn't get the stage call, (they should be talking by using their actions and connections gained in program and should not need the stage thing) but note that the active contributors and topic leaders did get their photos on the big screen.

      However, I will have to point out that unfortunately SCN as a platform to engage new developers is probably not as important as you may feel.

      These developers rely on SCN content and contributors to help them get started and to find their way through thick and thin as they build new applications on top of SAP technology.

      In the HANA Cloud Platform space, this just is not a true statement. In UI5 space also. Many discussions are happening on StackOverflow and the developers that I think we are trying to encourage are tending to come from outside the SCN space.

      The majority of code examples for UI5/HCP are on GitHub, not SCN, the help doco which is full of example for how to do things for both UI5 and HCP is not on SCN. Training doco is in OpenSAP courses not SCN, etc.

      Indeed, quite often the only time I'll come into SCN is if there is a very specific HCP issue I'd like to ask a question about. (I finding that StackOverflow better for UI5 questions so not bothering with SCN in that space.) There are many questions posed in the HCP space, and it is a useful area for devs to ask questions of the HCP team, but it does not have the collaborative feel that other areas in SCN have.

      I quite like SCN, but to say that new or even experienced developers rely on it in the "new" SAP development spaces is, I think, probably overstating the use. Benefit from it, yes, rely on it, not really.

      This all said - I too would like the Top Contributors on stage at Berlin. They deserve it. Perhaps having a few of those "developer heros" photos featuring the top contribs around the show floor would work instead if time is a problem.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Chris,

      I totally disagree with SCN not being vital to new developers 😉 Building enterprise software is way different from pure JavaScript hacking. The GREAT SAP developer is knowledgeable in enterprise processes and SAP functionality as well as keeping up with new technology such as UI5. Where do I find the best? - On SCN!

      If you don't want history repeating itself (Read WDJ) SAP needs those StackOverflow devs to get some  BAPI know-how from SCN  🙂

      Author's profile photo Chris Paine
      Chris Paine

      Have to agree, a team of cross skilled developers is far better than a team of specialists.

      But I might take a team of specialists over one cross skilled developer (even if it were me!) 🙂

      But my point was more around not trying to be overly dramatic - let's not lose the important message by saying that SCN is the beginning and end of SAP community. It isn't!

      Did you notice the big ASUG stand - that's community too!

      and perhaps the developers that SAP is keen to encourage aren't in that space. But it is nevertheless incredibly important to the existing ecosystem and those folks that give up their time for SCN to make it so useful should rightly be recognized.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I agree 🙂 Open sourcing UI5 was an important and surprising step by SAP (Made possible in my eyes by the very community we are discussing here 😉 )  So, I agree that github and StackOverflow now are very important resources for creating interest about SAP in non SAP communities.

      Author's profile photo Joao Sousa
      Joao Sousa

      While I agree that for UI5 StackOverflow is probably a better source (something that will happen for every open standard) you can't disregard the weight that ABAP still has.

      I looked at SAP's quarterly statement, and although sales of new technology is 50/50 when comparing with the old ones, more then 60% of SAP's revenue is maintenance, and new ABAPers are still a reality.

      I disagree that backend knowledge is absolutely required. UI development requires a different skill set then back end development. What happens when backend developers try their creativity with UI is mostly dull UIs which are ok for ECC but don't cut it in HTML5.

      PS: The fact that this site doesn't work properly on Modern IE has also slowed my contributions.....

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      But it is costly to pay one back-end developer + one front-end developer + one guy to bridge these guys with specs as they don't communicate well with each other.

      The great thing about UI5 is that it is a high level framework and with some Fiori UI guidelines, even old timers like myself can create a decent looking application... sure throw in a web dev at the end of the project if the theme designer isn't good enough for your needs... but one guy doing the work of three has always won in my book.

      Author's profile photo Joao Sousa
      Joao Sousa

      More expensive yes, but there is really no other options if you really want to optimize your UIs. Very few people will be capable UI developers AND backend developers. Modern UI development requires not only programming skills but also a lot of design and user interaction expertise.

      Expecting every ABAPer to be a capable UI developer is not a fair assumption. And I speak against myself as I consider my self a good solution architect and even ABAP programmer, but UIs beyond the basic ListView/TableView are just not my thing, not because it's too hard technically but because I don't have the intuition.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Well, we made a company on that assumption and are doing very well.

      I think that most SAP end users are welcoming a UI5 application for their time entry compared to using the horrors of CATS or WDA.

      Consumer-apps or apps that can really create a business edge - customers are of course willing to pay for. But we need the great mass of applications for the UX to change for the regular SAP user. So Fiori combined with custom Fiori like apps is the way to go in my opinion. I believe that not to skill up existing competence at the SAP customers and implementation partners to make this transition is a recipe for failure.



      Author's profile photo Joao Sousa
      Joao Sousa

      It's good to see that customers are willing to pay for new SAPUI5 transactions. Unfortunately most I contact are at most willing to use the standard Fiori apps, as they have all their money allocated to maintenance of the old core.

      But it gives me hope! 🙂

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      very well put and i'm glad that you are reminding SAP of its dedicated ecosystem. in fact, i happened to sit down with a customer during the TechEd and he was amazed how dedicated SAPpers were.

      i second your wish of having active community members be recognized along the customers and partners in Berlin. we all have our day jobs and contributing meaningfully requires effort. i don't mean to beg for getting something for nothing, but for simply being fair and showing through action what many times is advertised as a community focus.

      SCN has grown but also have the numerous blogs, twitter, and linkedin, so in a way SCN needs to compete for our attention if it wants to avoid getting 'dear guru' type of content and stand out from the many online communities the world over.

      have fun in Berlin


      Author's profile photo Paul Bakker
      Paul Bakker

      I don't usually attend conferences and I'm not a moderator/mentor, I'd like to throw in my opinion anyway 🙂

      SCN is truly a thing of wonder. SAP have set up an (apparently) self-sustaining ecosystem where highly-skilled and highly-paid people from around the world volunteer their knowledge and time to help others and - especially - help SAP.

      Forget about customers waiting 2 weeks for a decent answer from OSS - you can get a pretty good one within 10 minutes from SCN! It has a staff of thousands spread around the world, and they are waiting for your call.

      I think SCN has become a big selling point for SAP (or it should be).

      This system has been cleverly organized so that consultants happily perform this service, day after day, week after week, for NOTHING. They will even work on weekends and holidays.

      Contributors receive no payment, no privileges, no freebies. SAP used to give donations to charity (way back in the early days) and free certifications, but then they realized they don't have to. Dial back the rewards, and the contributors keep coming.

      It seems that people (like me) will happily contribute for points, gold stars, badges and (perceived) prestige.

      Therefore, I believe that contributors will no longer be lauded at conferences because SAP have discovered that this, too, is not necessary. They will keep contributing anyway.

      Such are the mysteries of human nature....

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      I think SCN has become a big selling point for SAP (or it should be).

      Agree completely. The number of times I've had to go look at other vendor products (integration requirements) and you cannot find any information about their process, key concepts or designs. If you Google for an error message you will not receive any results. For SAP, Google and error and for  most parts, SCN are the top hit lists.

      I have even shown a client and explained SCN to them to let them know that SAP has a massive network of support and innovation with much of it coming from customer experience. These customers can feel more confident knowing help is always available.

      I always wonder if SAP is in a position to predict what their call volume for SAP Marketplace Incidents would be if SCN did not have it's "experts" and "gurus" answering questions and discussing issues and improvements? I'm even surprised as the number of SAP employees who ask for help on SCN. That is, SAP is receiving value from the volunteers on SCN.

      How to recognise SCN contribution is a challenge due to the number of people. Individual recognition might be a challenge. As a Mentor, Moderator and Top Contributor I don't need my name called out for any of them. However, it would be nice if senior executives did recognise the volunteers time of all people in SCN (even those who ask the questions - you need an audience for the material.) help improve their products and provide a wealth of knowledge for their customers.

      Just a simple thanks to the community as a whole for their efforts by a key note speaker would be nice. It would take less than 10 seconds - not much of an investment needed there.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      Thanks for pointing this out. I was not there but followed online and I saw evidence there of what you are describing. As our organization changes, new alliances need to be built. The history with the community just isn't there and needs attention. These bonds you speak of have been built with years of relationships - working on projects, blogging, commenting on blogs, disagreeing, making up, watching concerts, having get the picture.

      So I will bring your concern to the attention of people who I think could help - the same people Marilyn or Mark or Jeanne or Gali would know and speak with. I love the SCN community and it would be a crime to see it lost in the name of progress. Institutional memory has to be worked at to be preserved.


      Author's profile photo Chris Paine
      Chris Paine

      Listen to what Prakash Darji says in his HCP Strategy session at 34min point

      HANA Cloud Platform | SAP TechEd && d-code

      "Using the community, we can move the world faster, in a better direction"

      So don't think that everyone forgot 🙂

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Every session I had I discussed SCN and the amazing community there. I also encouraged everyone to view and contribute. There are a lot of us out there talking about the community and how amazing it is 🙂

      Author's profile photo Matthias Steiner
      Matthias Steiner

      Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend in person myself this time, but if Thorsten is concerned then so am I. I believe the 'community feeling' is an important ingredient at these events and the one thing that makes newcomers stay... and come back!

      Especially as SAP is reaching out to net new developers and small and medium business it's important to show the "human touch" to not scare away people thinking that such a big company doesn't care about individuals or small businesses.

      Without community it won't work... unfortunately it's hard to measure this and that's why you need executives that understand that component from 1st hand experience such as Sam Yen or Bjoern Goerke who mingle with the rest of us and have a great time doing so!!!

      Author's profile photo Frank Koehntopp
      Frank Koehntopp

      I'm very sad to hear that the people that make the larger SAP developer community work so well every day of the year received no attention. This would probably be the only time in a year for them to receive any kind of recognition by SAP. And it really doesn't take much - 3 slides and a ten minute time slot on stage...

      There was a comment by Jonathan Becher in 2012 that seemed to emphasize how SAP feels about SCN - I hope that's still true.

      My main reason for coming to #saptd is the community and the people I'm planning to meet there. The interactions with that community are what energizes and inspires me for the rest of the year.

      Powerpoint presentations can only take you so far. It's all about the people.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I agree that the community is key - but it is key to the SAP Dev's and functional consultants.

      Customers benefit from the free service of resolving issues in a timely manner - and a fair chunk of the audience in Vegas are regular SAP Dev's and functional consultants. Therefore an event like Vegas is the right time to involve the community and playback the success of SCN.

      SCN still promotes the community - has the member of the month and leaderboards, missions and badges to reward community activities. A simple screen detailing active members at Vegas would have helped. I look forward to Berlin to see if anything changes.

      Author's profile photo Chris Rae
      Chris Rae

      Hi Thorsten,

      I had dinner with you on the Thursday night and I must say, that is was a pleasure meeting you. I have read your article and read all the comments and I am not convinced that it is all that bad. I attended Teched last year and comparing that to this year, I do agree that the lack of clubhouse and things like the photographer were missing. The combination of the two of those gave the newcomer the opportunity to engage without having to worry about their own knowledge. It would be great to see them back.

      Being very fair though, there was a lot more content on the show floor this year and a lot more things going on. The codejam sessions, the lounge and the hacker space seemed to always have heaps of people their interacting with each other and getting some of the initial knowledge to further allow them to search and participate in the community. I am not 100% sure that the balance was right, but I don't think that having mentors on a stage would have made it "better". I think the posters around the place with the community members were a nice touch.

      I found plenty of opportunities to meet people and engage with other community members and that is a very important part of TechEd.

      There needs to be a balance, it will be interesting to see what changes (if any) they make for Berlin.


      Author's profile photo Lars Breddemann
      Lars Breddemann

      I think you're right Thorsten and I also think Paul Bakker is spot on here.

      In my eyes, SCN in not perceived (inside SAP) as a community that SAP belongs to.

      Seeing that it's either used to push marketing out or to drive down costs in other areas (e.g. support), fostering a community does not seem to be the top reason for SAP to run this thing.

      At Paul Bakker: I think the gamification efforts have shown what contributors actually get out of their participation. Besides many other aspects, SCN is a market place where it's possible to gain public status. And I'd say that many people definitively see this as a marketable thing.

      Author's profile photo Matthias Steiner
      Matthias Steiner

      Now that is a bit unfair!!!

      I'm not denying that such things ("push marketing out or to drive down costs in other areas...") may happen, but stating that "SCN in not perceived (inside SAP) as a community that SAP belongs to" is a bit of an overkill.

      Take the Developer Center as an example... here individuals like Thomas Jung , Rich Heilman (for SAP HANA) or Andreas Kunz (UI5) or Rui Nogueira and yours truly (SAP HANA Cloud Platform) are very much active and providing quality developer content on a regular basis...

      Author's profile photo Lars Breddemann
      Lars Breddemann

      Don't get me wrong here Matthias Steiner. All the people you mentioned are highly active contributors and I did not deny that.

      Having provided some bits of content to this platform myself I would not say that there are no people with SAP badges in their profiles that add to the community.

      This however is the engagement of individuals.

      The SAP-corporate approach here does look different. There it is (and not as seldom as you imply) about channeling marketing information (sure, using an ad blocker helps) and moving support costs to a self-service support by providing information here in SCN (pretty much reminds of the introduction of ATMs).

      So, my point is: from a corporate level, I perceive SAP not as part of the community but rather as some entity outside/next to it and who's activities are not rooted in the community.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I don't look at it that way, but I won't pretend to know I understand it. When the company I worked for was purchased by SAP, the SCN community was the way for me to get answers to questions, and understandings about products that I couldn't figure out how to get internally. SCN solved for me a lot of challenges our integration didn't.

      SCN will always have a special place in my heart.

      Author's profile photo Michael Howles
      Michael Howles

      I have to disagree.  In the SAP Design Studio space, we have active participants from SAP (not marketing, but developers who take time out of their day job) helping answer questions.  Maybe that's not the case in all SCN Spaces, but SCN is a highly valuable tool for me to get work done and contribute back to the community.

      Author's profile photo Lars Breddemann
      Lars Breddemann

      Michael, sorry but you miss my point.

      Just look at the SAP HANA related forums. How many relevant SAP contributors can be found for the single most important piece of technology there?

      I'd say 10 at max. and that includes the already mentioned ones.

      Does this look as if a 70K employee multi-national corporation is actively driving community activity?

      It's a great thing to see that some development teams embrace SCN that much.

      Keep that.

      It is - however - just showing that SAP merely lets people put effort into SCN. There's no company wide culture that entails community contribution.

      Well, at least not in my eyes.

      Author's profile photo Michael Howles
      Michael Howles


      I think your point is now made clearer, as you've homed in on a different particular space on SCN, whereas I am obviously enjoying a different experience in a particular space on SCN.  (Your comment I replied to I took to be a general comment on SCN and not the SAP HANA related spaces clarified in your reply.)

      Since I'm not myself very active with HANA yet (however I'm going through openSAP HANA courses and playing with HANA Cloud Platform, so there's hope!) - I don't have any helpful response for the level of SAP participation there.

      I do hope that my differing experience in my corner of SCN gives some hope or is a good example of a good experience, though!

      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes

      That's because SAP purposely chose to create another community for SAP HANA instead( and separate it from the rest of SCN.  Tht being said you are correct your mileage will vary by space.  I can attest that for the SAP CRM Spaces, SAP is highly active along with external folks and chooses to engage/participate or however you may call it.

      Author's profile photo Lars Breddemann
      Lars Breddemann

      Hmm.. was and is much more a marketing and communications platform for SAP and the SAP HANA product management than it is a community platform.

      It's a product site.

      I really think that it's great that SAP does at least allow for SCN engagement - so people who really want to contribute can do this without having to put in too much of their leisure time.

      But again: compared to the number of SAP people working in every single area of technology we have, the engagement level doesn't show a culture of sharing or community driven work style.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      Lars, I brought this very point up with Bjoern Goerke last week. Contributing to SCN isn't in the DNA, and to add to that, there are process blockers that make it harder.

      I believe a movement from the top is required to encourage developers inside SAP to contribute in some way. It would be so powerful. Hopefully our voices will be heard!

      Author's profile photo Dennis Howlett
      Dennis Howlett

      I'm not buying this. At least not completely.

      SAP paid for certain Mentors to fly considerable distance to attend TechEd. If memory serves, many Mentors are comp'd for the event. I saw at least 2 Mentors on stage at the opening keynote delivering amazing demos - that's never happened before. I video'd several Mentors and alumni. Mentors and alumni were all over the show floor and easily recognizable, the developer/hacker spaces were larger than I've ever seen them, the CodeJam sessions were oversubscribed 4x the first day, the hacker garage was heaving on the first day. Those were managed by Mentor/alumni. Every executive meeting I attended was packed with Mentors/alumni and no hangers on.

      Now...does that mean that very hard working and selfless volunteer got the recognition THEY deserve? That depends how you view it. One characteristic I've always admired about certain of the people mentioned is that they don't seek attention. They do what they do because they love community for its own sake, not because they need or want recognition. They don't have to be asked to do anything - they just get on with it.

      From what I gather, sessions they run are almost always among the highest rated. That speaks volumes to their dedication and sure, they should be honored.

      But then not all community people are created equal. Some do nothing other than consume content. Others do little and still others 'get the shirt' and then sit back, do nothing as though they've arrived somewhere. It is often the handful who selflessly do the most.

      If being part of community is the expectation that recognition follows then that's attention seeking in my book and anyone can do that.

      Could SAP do better? Sure. It can always do better. Did the community get forgotten? Absolutely not. At least not from my perch.

      Author's profile photo Matthias Steiner
      Matthias Steiner

      Fair points and thanks for providing your perspective on things Dennis! I agree that including partners and customers (some of who happen to be SAP Mentors or Alumni) as a big part of keynote is a positive trend and one that resonated well with the crowd.

      All the other new additions like developer garage and mini code jams, which some attribute to the new d-code flavor, are a great step in the right direction as well.

      Yet, calling the top contributor on stage before DemoJam became has sort of a tradition and lasts back as long as I recall. Why has that been dropped? I believe that surely is a question that is valid to raise.

      Furthermore, other community events (e.g. those organized by community advocate The specified item was not found.) were among the highlights for attendees the past two years - at least judging by the blog posts and conversations that followed. Maybe it's just a coincidence that those didn't happen either...

      Either way, I believe it's valid to emphasize on the community effect and that there is something between lectures, hands-on etc. that is of importance for the overall feel of the event and it's good to remind people in charge of it.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      Yes Dennis that's exactly it - recognition came for those doing things at the events, rather than for things that happened outside the events. There wasn't a clubhouse where community people "hung out" but rather, many opportunities to do things at TechEd.

      I don't know about you but from my perspective, I experienced about 1% of what TechEd had to offer and had my best TechEd ever.

      But the meaning of community has changed, that is for sure, and the digital community on SCN is now separate to the physical community at TechEd - with some overlap.

      Is that a bad thing?

      Author's profile photo Dennis Howlett
      Dennis Howlett

      I was run off my feet as well. In fact - other than bumping into you at sessions, we missed getting any time together.

      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes

      You are definitely right the involvement of "active people" from the community in the event is much improved from my last attendance of 2011.  A few areas that I thought were undersusbcribed by the community were:

      - Birds of the Feather Sessions

      I don't think many people signed up to host one of these.  I did and had a great session with other folks with similar interests.  I facilitated it as a open round-table for people to discuss, rather than any formal presentation.  I was very impressed that SAP opened up the lounges for the last hour of the day to anyone via a blog posting for signup.

      - 3rds Hands-on Session Challenge

      I really was shocked by the lack of blogs by people who did this challenge.  Getting a 3rd reserved slot for just talking about what interests you at Teched is a no-brainer.  This was published in the community yet had a low participation for Las Vegas.

      I guess I will take the opposite stand and say the issue with the community feel was the fact that community did not embrace as much of the new opportunities that weren't available in past years at least in Las Vegas this year.

      The only thing that puzzled me about the event layout was the SAP Mentor "zoo" oops I meant glass room on the show floor.

      Take care,


      Author's profile photo Mark Finnern
      Mark Finnern

      Hi Stephen,

      >The only thing that puzzled me about the event layout was the SAP Mentor "zoo" oops I meant glass room on the show floor.

      That is funny. We should have put some stickers on it: "Don't tab on the window" or "Don't feed the mentors" 🙂

      To have the SAP Mentors' room on the show floor really helps with collaborating and maximizing the time SAP Mentors spend in community activities and on the show floor, increasing the possibility of chance encounters, that can make huge differences.

      For example there was a session around SAP Mentors at the ASUG TV studio and I was able to grab one mentor to participate literally from the show floor while walking to the studio.

      Transparency is important. Therefore we were happy that the SAP TechEd && d-code team was able to accommodating our wish to  have glasses put in, so folks can see what is going on in the room.

      Of course always room for improvement. Let us know what can be done, Mark.     

      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes

      I kinda guessed that about the "glass room".  My only other thought is that the show floor layout separated too many of related "community actions into separate corners.  I'm fine with all that in the "back of the room", but it felt weird having expert networking sessions, code reviews, hackers lounge, community lounge, beverage stations, and the room with windows scattered across.

      Author's profile photo Jeanne Carboni
      Jeanne Carboni

      Hi everyone,

      First off, thank you to all of you for your expressions of gratitude for the community and what it brings to the SAP Ecosystem. Although it was not front and center at the event this year, rest assured that there are many of us working in the background to make the community better than ever as a part of the One Digital Experience project. Communications on the details of that project will begin after TechEd is finished this year. We have a couple of loose ends to tie up before we can begin the communications and engagement on the topic.

      As to attendance and visibility at the event, let's call this an experiment to see how important community is to the audience. I had to make some very difficult decisions because of multiple priorities and limited budget, so I chose to send only 2 people (albeit very important people - The specified item was not found. and Jason Cao) so that the remainder of the team could travel to Germany for workshops related to One Digital Experience. While we all would rather have been in Vegas with you, these workshops were critical to the longer term future of the community. We remain passionate about the community and look forward to sharing with you the 2015 vision as soon as possible. (Not to mention getting your input and assistance to bring those plans to fruition.)

      Beyond attendance, many of the changes with respect to community were out of my control. Let's face it, there have been many positive changes at SAP over the past year, and people are learning and adjusting over time.

      I will help amplify the messages here about the importance of SAP Community Network to support our participation at the events next year. It would be great to be able to have more involvement.

      My biggest concern about all of this is for the "newbies". For those who haven't been in the SAP ecosystem that long, they may not know about the community. They may not know about "pay it forward" knowledge sharing. And that would be a shame.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Community and for being vocal about what you think is important at the event. From everything that I've been reading, it sounds like the event was a great success. Dennis Howlett, I've loved reading your posts this week!

      I will reach out to Maria Squicciarini, first for a big congratulations on the many positives of the event, and second, to see if we can do any adjustments at this stage of the game to highlight community more at Berlin. I don't expect there is much that could be done at this late date, but it is worth some brainstorming.



      Author's profile photo Christopher Solomon
      Christopher Solomon

      Agree, Thorsten. I don't think the SAP Mentors need (nor expect or want) any form of recognition while there (we get plenty), but I have always found that a little "nod" to those active in the community (top contribs, mods, topic leaders, bloggers, etc) goes a long way. I was actually surprised there was none of that this the extent that I thought maybe it had happened somewhere/somehow and I had just missed it! (haha) And yes, I found it equally odd that there was no "clubhouse" area or at least some signage on the showfloor to inform people about SCN (especially those "first timers"). Not sure what the reasoning was behind all of that, but not going to dwell on it now....just hope next year is different and for that, the SAP Mentors (and others) can make sure our "two cents" are collected. 😉

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      I remember when SCN and TechEd first moved into Marketing, I was concerned that a lot of the awesome content on SCN would be replaced by marketing drivel. Looking back 4 years, I don't think things are on measure worse, for it.

      TechEd has now moved under events, and SCN doesn't really have a visible business owner any more. I'm sure there is one, I just don't know who it is. The detachment from SCN and TechEd is no doubt the cause for the lack of airtime for SCN on the TechEd stages.

      That said, this year, Steve put a bunch of people from the community on the keynote stage to show what SAP technologies can do. DemoJam was full of people from the community. Speaking slots were full of people from the community.

      So for sure, the only constant is change. TechEd is less about community recognition and more about community action. I'm really not sure that some back slapping on stage is a good thing for the community anyhow, it promotes a culture of elitism.

      I am concerned that there isn't an obvious business owner for SCN, or an obvious future strategy and direction. Maybe I'm missing something here, that's possible. SCN is an important asset to SAP and it would be a shame if it were left to pasture.

      But for me, the lack of stage time to thank people is the wrong place to focus, to start that discussion.

      P.S. How do people think thsee changes will affect the Mentor program?

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi John - SCN still sits in Digital Marketing, but as a robust community with a life of it's own, the idea that it needs a "face" in terms of a business owner is something that we're well past. Does the community need vision, direction, purpose? Absolutely. In 2015, the future vision for SCN will be front and center as a part of the ONE Digital Experience project. Community is vital to SAP and our ecosystem, and I look forward to seeing it become even more pervasive and integrated across our digital properties.

      Mark Yolton - don't you worry, we're on the ball. This debate had been excellent, and I look forward to helping the team determine how we can best recognize our community within the new TechEd format!

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      Thanks Maggie and I reflected on what I wrote even after you replied. If it's about the community, does it really need a figurehead or icon? Probably not.

      If you asked me for my input on what SCN needs, I'd say that we should fix the remaining technical problems and mobile-enable the site. Reduce the marketing noise that happens in some areas. Encourage more developers within SAP to write more candidly. Reach out beyond the installed base and encourage net new and diverse new members. And a bunch of other things besides, but back slapping wouldn't be on my list.

      One thing I got from reading this post and all the comments was that change is tough and maybe SAP can do a better job of communicating how community is changing and what that means to people. For a lot of people on this site, SCN is a big part of their lives, and those are very valuable assets. The challenge is how to change and adapt whilst not alienating the biggest assets that SCN has - those that contribute.

      I would be interested to see how those individuals feel and what they want and need. Perhaps there could be a mechanism to listen and hear from the top contributors, and get them a better SCN for their needs? That would be an awesome reward.

      Author's profile photo Jon Reed
      Jon Reed

      Reading through this thread, it's good to see folks like Maggie Fox and SCN leaders responding, and the honest comments of community members. In some ways, I think community was better represented at this show than any other, because of how it was integrated into Steve Lucas' opening keynote.

      In other words, not just "community is cool" but "community is integral to the business value SAP extends to customers", and "community drives kickass apps and innovation" - That's the message I got from this year's opening keynote. I think it set a powerful tone and made a better business case for community than I have seen at prior shows.

      A shift from less community "hang out" spaces and more "maker" spaces like Code Jams and/or expert lounges isn't necessarily a bad thing either.

      And: SAP's online presence will continue to be dispersed to some degree, whether it's Github or Open UI5 or even Open SAP. SCN may not need as explicit a recognition as in the past in that sense.

      I'm not even going to get into the recognition thing. If you're involved in community for recognition, you're in the wrong game. Do it for passion/mastery/paying it forward. Being on stage doesn't matter. Sorry. Recognition comes in its own magical ways, and on its own time.

      BUT - and this is big BUT - I don't know if SAP SCN team was integrally involved in SAP TechEd/d-code event planning this year or not. But - they should always be. If they are closely involved in the planning, and their voice is heard, then good things should happen. And Marilyn Pratt should always have an evening program, unless she chooses not to. Those evening programs have an impact on many people, a transformative impact in some cases. That's far more important in my eyes than a trip onstage. Community happens in the backchannels where confidences are shared. But a space is needed to ensure that happens, whatever that space might be.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      I agree that having the whole Mentor population on stage was really unnecessary (and I'm not saying that because they were stealing our MOM thunder last year 🙂 ). And even having the distinguished SCN members to walk on stage can be awkward and is probably not needed either. But I believe they should be mentioned and, ideally, SAP should pay (travel expense at all) for a few of them to be at TechEd every year. Recognizing their effort is just the right thing to do.

      And SCN should be prominently presented at TechEd because - let's face it - they shoulder most of the "Ed" part. Not to mention one must be mad if they want to attract the non-SAP developers and don't showcase the vibrant community that we have here. You tell them, Thorsten! 🙂

      Author's profile photo Michael Howles
      Michael Howles

      As both a new SAP Mentor, Member of the Month, and new SCN Topic Leader this year, I didn't have any recognition expectations.  I personally do not think that parading a specific group on stage is needed, for reasons stated already and I think that recognition more importantly comes from what you do, and not where the spotlight is shining.

      I will say that I'd disagree that their wasn't enough 'spotlight' recognition for SCN Contributors, as I was rather shocked/floored to see my face show up in the slideshow rotation before the keynotes and prior to the concert.

      Also, the seating for those SCN contributors (who are not already Mentors) was allocated so I think there was an appropriate level of recognition and kudos for the community in the different channels (SAP Mentor program, SCN, and Twitter personalities)

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I wasn't there, so I can't comment on the 2014 details, but since I still maintain a strong sense of pride at having been part of the establishment and growth of SCN and TechEd over the course of 8+ years, I'm glad the conversation is happening, and I'd expect nothing less than it would happen here in the community.

      Super that Thorsten used this platform to raise his concerns and share his perspective.  The fact that there have been 37 comments in less than a day-and-a-half shows that there's still passion and a healthy dose of interest around both SCN and TechEd, and the fact that a vigorous discussion and debate is occurring here in the open is exactly as it should be. 

      If the new leaders of this community and that event are on the ball, they're already listening and letting this thread inform their plans and guide adjustments and improvements for next time around.

      Author's profile photo Nigel James
      Nigel James

      Nice that you still pop over here Mark Yolton I hope you are enjoying the Disco at Cisco.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thorsten, your blog is just the thing we need, and this is what community is all about - THIS is the essence and reason for why we have SCN in the first place. First off, we need to hear your thoughts, and conversations like this provide the SCN team with feedback that helps us improve what we're doing (or at least move in the direction of improvement). Secondly, we need to use that feedback to provide a better community experience. In the case of the SCN team, that experience mostly happens online; we just don't have as much control over the way that events are produced and run, but we continue to amplify the messages (streaming video of keynotes and TechEd Live, updates on sessions, speaker blogs, attendee blogs, presentation material, etc) from those events so the community is informed and able to participate.

      TechEd was different this year, for sure - but the sense I got was that it was still loaded with great sessions and attendees were able to connect and engage like they always have. Your feedback and this entire thread is well-received by our team, and that includes everyone who is responsible for creating, maintaining and encouraging community at SAP.

      Author's profile photo Thorsten Franz
      Thorsten Franz
      Blog Post Author


      At TechEd last year SAP gave away buttons with the phrase "SCN is TechEd to go." I was actually the person who coined that phrase (and suggested it to Gail Moody). To me and many in the community, TechEd and SCN are two sides of the same coin.

      I don't need any back-slapping, as some commenters have put it, but I think there is no better place and time to promote the "pay it forward" spirit that drives SCN than SAP TechEd && d-code. It would be good if the people who actually get this spirit and have the proven ability to successfully promote it and who built this great community on it could use the conference as a powerful platform for their work.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      As I did not attend TechEd lately, I can't comment on that aspect of Thorsten's blog. Although I respect Thorsten highly and consider him a very fair - and brave - person. Not afraid to say what maybe others are thinking.

      As somebody who is no longer a mentor and no longer works for SAP, I've found it difficult to stay engaged with the community due to the new platform SCN is on. And I know it's not just me, as I talk to other SCN members about the challenges we face. There were so many problems with passwords (only yesterday did a friend ask me: did you ever get back on SCN, I've not, and it's been a year). So, a bit more focus on user-friendly infrastructure would be appreciated.

      I feel connected to SAP and the community, as there are awesome people (and TechEd was always my favorite event) but now that it seems impossible to contribute a blog to SCN via Safari browser, it takes a lot of will power to stay with it.

      Anyhow, hello to all of you lovely people on this conversation trail. I miss many of you dearly.

      And from all I hear (from internal & external sources), Maggie Fox is doing a kick-*** job and the One Digital campaign is just what is needed to be effective. (Maybe, Maggie, if you were able to blog more on SCN, that would get the great message out to the community faster:-)).

      Author's profile photo Steve Rumsby
      Steve Rumsby

      Hi Natascha - nice to see you pop up here and join in! It is a shame you are having such difficulties - some of what you post elsewhere would be welcome here also 🙂


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Kind of you to say, Steve :-).

      Author's profile photo Mark Finnern
      Mark Finnern

      Tons of community activity was happening at SAP TechEd && d-code, the connection back to SCN may not have been as prominent.

      Let me give you a couple of data points.

      I was helping Steve Lucas and his team with the keynote and until 4 hours before he went on stage, he was planning to honor Tammy Powlas on stage or even walk to her.

      I pinged close friends of her and that afternoon was able to talk to her directly, but she declined to be honored in front of that many people. Thorsten you are the poster child for introverts and will understand. That late in the preparations we were not able to replace her with someone else from the community. Knowing how packed Steve's keynote was anyhow, that element and with that the hock to thank all community contributors was dropped.

      As others pointed out, Steve did bring many outstanding community members on stage to show cool stuff. That was super powerful.

      Also the moderators and top community participants had better seating than even the SAP Mentors, it was a bit sad how few of them actually took these seats, I guess they rather stayed with their friends in the back, but many were shown on the big screen before the keynotes.

      Data point 2: New or reintroduced after a hiatus of many years were 10 dedicated slots for Community Lecture sessions. They were mostly curated by Moya Watson, and Thorsten you were part of the team too, that selected 10 presenters that got a free SAP TechEd && d-code ticket for that. I am crossing my fingers, that these sessions are living up to the high standard of the rest of the event. Let's also not forget all the ASUG sessions, all of them are community sessions too.

      New this year too were the one hour BOF sessions every evening curated by Marilyn Pratt. Loved that Ingrid VanDenHoogen was hosting one of these herself.

      New also the Themed Lunch which gave additional networking opportunities to the participants. It was a bit in the back and a bit tough to integrate into the massive flow of giving out lunches to 7000 people every day, still we had some interesting conversations.

      Then there was so much going on on the show floor: Code Jam, Hacker Lounge, Fiori Cafe, ...  and of course they point to SCN if people want to know more.

      Yes, there wasn't a dedicated pod where noobs can find out more about SCN, but was that really that busy before? Yes, people lined up to get the professional pictures taken and now everyone looks the same on SCN.

      Our cell phone cameras are good enough these days, that we don't need the pro anymore. Would be cool if it was a feature of the SAP TechEd && d-code mobile: You take a picture and with one button add it to your profile.

      My big dream still is, that my SCN user and connections are better known to me at SAP TechEd && d-code:  Oh look, my good old friend Boris is here too, let me ping him.

      Would also be so helpful, if connections I made in Las Vegas would get transferred back to my SCN profile for follow up. 

      To freely quote from Mark Twain: "Reports of SAP forgetting the community in 2014 have been greatly exaggerated."

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Mark,

      not sure if I can add much value to this thread at this point, but since your brought up the Community Lecture, of which I was one of the beneficiaries, I figured I should write something about that.

      without SCN, it would be impossible for me to participate as most of the people that made it affordable to me I only knew from here and from Inside Tracks. While the conference itself was free, travel and lodging were not, which I think is the case for most independent SAPpers.

      Events like TechEd may be the only opportunity to meet fellow travelers, all in one place, and compare their social profiles with actual warm bodies and vice versa (it's still kind of weird, isn't it?). what's more it wasn't an entirely free ride as I had to present, but since I liked what I was talking about, it was actually a lot of fun and full of speaker drama behind the scenes. I think more people were involved in making it happen that I will ever get to know, but my special thanks go to Tammy Powlas, Moya Watson, and Marilyn Pratt.

      I realize that SAP is a commercial enterprise and budgetary pressures are on all of us. What may look like an easy thing to pull of is far from it and takes a lot of preparation and effort from all the involved,

      So, long live the community, on and off line!


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thorsten, Bravo! I’ve picked up the towel that I threw in after I left the event. Your post has given me, and hopefully others, a new life, in regards to SCN. You’ve offered up new hope that there will be improved visibility, inter-actions, and awareness, between SCN leaders, SAP Mentors, and SCN members. I applaud your courage and humility! You’ve written words that even I, with such a low level of SAP prominence, or notoriety, did not have the courage to say.

      In other words, Thorsten, you’ve thrown the dart directly into the bulls-eye. You expressed my thoughts about this year’s event in Las Vegas. The absence of SCN leaders, and SAP Mentors, interacting with attendees was apparent. With less to lose than Thorsten, I am sure that I won’t be feeling much love for saying this, but, to me, many of the SAP Mentors, though not all, seemed to be clustered together, instead on inter-mingled among attendees, or they were “under the dome”, behind the glass.

      For this reason, I was motivated to read the “About the SAP Mentors” on SCN. And, while I am sure that I missed many occasions where Mentors lived up to wearing the cool shirt at this year’s event, I, myself, did not witness any positive “influential” SAP Mentor happenings that engaged SCN members. If I may paraphrase a bit of your words, Thorsten, it is about serving, not self-service. In Addition, I thought the Throwback Challenge was a fantastic idea, but it lacked the engaging interactions between SCN and its participating contestant members, like The SCNotties use to do.

      Above all, I am a baffled by notions expressed here that SCN has lost its worth with new developers because there is more HANA support on GitHub and StackOverflow. Indeed, SAP HANA is a technology that is truly incredible and has an unmistakable effectiveness. Surely, it will be a part of everyone’s infrastructure system in the near future. But, for now, after polling many of those I met at the event, only about 30%, at the most, had HANA installed in their systems. Accordingly, the only experience most of us have with SAP HANA, for the time being, is what we learn at TechEd. Thus, a new SAP developer does not always equal a HANA Programmer.

      When I think back to my days as a new ABAP developer, it was SCN who was behind me, supporting me, in my corner. Especially, when there was nowhere else to turn. I remember those times when I was knocked down, and almost out for the count, when SCN rescued me, and pulled me back up on my feet. This community made my job less stressful, easier, it guided me like a compass, SCN helped me to find land when I was lost in an ocean of confusion. How sad a thought it is to imagine a new developer without SCN on their side. And, no doubt, the new SCN online, at least for awhile, shut many of us out.

      To conclude, in response to this blog - that made me want to stand up and applaud - Its always a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling, when we can finally see the faces, and hear the actual voices, or outreached hands, of those at the other end of our SCN communications, well, except for this year. Thanks again, Thorsten, for throwing out the lifesaver!

      A community is a group of people who have come together, and they work and they live to try and improve the standard of living and quality of life - and I don't mean money.
      -- William Baldwin

      Author's profile photo Mark Finnern
      Mark Finnern

      Hi Tom,

      I makes me sad a bit, that you had that experience. Especially that SAP Mentors would cluster and in your eyes didn't reach out to the community enough.

      If you check the SAP Mentor Magic Foundation document, inclusion is one of our top guiding principles.

      Of course the mentors are only human, for them these couple of days are the moment where we see each other,  for most it is the once a year opportunity, or even for the first time in real life to get to know and catch up.

      We are having a SAP Mentor welcome reception on Monday night, that is dedicated for the SAP Mentors to be together with each other. This year in the second half of it we opened up for Top Community contributors and Moderators too, as a small token of appreciation.

      But there were so many things that included the whole community that were driven by the SAP Mentors:

      • Networking Lounge Number 1 was hosted by SAP Mentors. There we shared our expertise and engaged the audience in dialog every half hour that the show floor was open. Michael Koch for example got enough interest in one of his Independent Consultant Experience Exchange sessions, that he is working on getting such a community established within SCN.
      • The BOF sessions were curated by The specified item was not found. with many being hosted by SAP Mentors.
      • The SAP Mentors were also the ones that made sure that an expert was sitting at every table during the Networking Lunch
      • The example where community was really working on top of Thorsten Franz's post the Geeks Can Dance Band was also formed from a core of SAP Mentors, shout out to Matt Harding, but men and women made it rock that were SCNers.
      • Don't forget the fun we had with the 5K Fun Run/Walk original SAP Mentor idea where the majority of the 300 runners aren't mentors.

      There is more, but you get the picture.

      Again I don't deny that you felt this way, which is unfortunate, as you could have had a different experience. It may have been spread out too much, but then again if it is closer there will be more interference for example between the different Networking Lounges.

      For Berlin we will keep an eye out on not clustering the SAP Mentors, but also to everyone else, even if we cluster as SAP Mentors, don't be shy and join in, ask us questions, engage, we are welcoming these encounters and the insights that you are bringing to the conversation.

      See many of you in Berlin, Mark.     

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      Thanks for the reply (I read your response a few times actually). I know that you are a great guy, a fantastic leader, and have a terrific sense of humor. I also know that you, and the mentors, have the best of intentions and cannot be everywhere at once. I just had this overwhelming sense that a lack of community pride and inter-connecting was missing this year - So much, that Thorsten's post just felt right to me.

      I cannot disagree with the importance of the related activities that you listed - that were driven by the mentors. I can also attest to the hard work that several incredible community members, and mentors, like you, Marilyn Pratt, and Tammy Powlas continue do to that keep the community thriving. Perhaps my timing was way off this year, I am not sure. And, I will try to reach out more the next time, like I did with you, Mark, the night of the concert.

      Sometimes, I think that these little informal introductions and hand shakes, can make one feel more attracted to, and feel a part of, a community - than they might during an organized scheduled activity. You know, the little things. And, in the past I use to see more of these types of informal interactions between SCN members and it’s leaders.

      Mark, if it is one thing that I’ve always loved about SCN, it is that everyone can be heard, and the community listens and responds. Thanks again for your kind words. Good Luck in Berlin.

         Sincerely, Tom