The Power of a Tribe – Business Communities as Competitive Advantage for Companies and People
In a social and digital economy it takes a crowd to win! SAP has one of the most active business communities in the world, with over 24M unique visitors online and a network of top contributors, the SAP Mentors, who thrive on sharing their expertise with others. I sat down with Fredrik Ohlsson, an SAP Mentor in Singapore, to talk about the value of communities for individuals, companies, and ecosystems.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I´m the Director of Enterprise IT Architecture at Tetra Pak, based in Singapore but on my way back to Europe after ten years in Asia. I´m responsible for ensuring Tetra Pak has a scalable, supportable IT landscape, and a technology roadmap that supports our business roadmap.
When I´m not at work I enjoy travelling with my family or riding the waves on my windsurfing board. And when I´m back at home you may very well catch me watching a cooking show on TV.
How did you find out about the SAP Mentors and what made you want to join?
I´ve always had a passion for IT and am fascinated about what it can do to empower businesses. I love exploring ways to crunch data for insights that help guide better decisions and actions.
I was introduced to the SAP Mentors by recommendation, being identified as an expert in business intelligence and analytics but also as someone who is passionate about learning, sharing, and exploring the future.
A main driver for me to join the SAP Mentors is curiosity, an interest in connecting with very diverse companies from multiple industries. It´s so interesting to see what challenges they face, how they approach them, and ideally be part of developing the solutions. It´s a give and take, and you learn so much in the process of helping each other.
How do you personally benefit the most from being an SAP Mentor?
There´s of course a social aspect of being part of a global group of people who share similar interests. But joining a network of top experts is also an amazing learning opportunity. The SAP Mentor Program connects me to professionals from companies all over the world, across industries. Hearing their stories, both of success and mistakes, learning how they address challenges I may not face in my industry or role is both enriching and educational. Being an SAP Mentor is a little like spending time as a management consultant: you´re exposed to situations that give you a lot of credibility when you talk to business leaders in your own company.
How do you see the community helping other SAP customers and the larger ecosystem?
The collective knowledge of the SAP Mentors must add up to thousands of years’ experience with SAP and implementing IT that is available to customers, partners, and SAP itself. It´s a goldmine!
For any company, candid feedback from those who know both your solutions and your customers is priceless. It helps validate your strategy communications, and also helps you avoid expensive mistakes.
For customers, insights from this network can save very large amounts of money. Imagine a company that is evaluating an enterprise BI solution versus ad hoc, local solutions or making an investment decision in Internet of things with an open source solution versus a package. These are big decisions and very expensive to get wrong. Tapping in to user community expertise allows you to evaluate options in a very thorough way.
We´re also seeing a workforce emerge that is increasingly thriving on purpose, a desire to improve the world. A network of people who share a similar mindset and aspiration becomes a magnet for talent, increasing the attractiveness of an ecosystem.
Do you see communities playing a different role in the Asian markets than perhaps in Europe or the United States?
I actually think communities are even more important here. Asian markets are fast, dynamic, and emerging. Networks are extremely important to ensure success for companies and individuals. It´s how you get things done, find the information needed to solve problems, and develop careers. It´s also a matter of culture. Communities fit very well with the Asian tradition to collaborate — not doing things alone.
Would you encourage professionals to join the SAP community in South East Asia?
Absolutely! We need a strong local SAP community in Asia and there are benefits for individuals across a number of areas. I look at analytics, digital business, IoT, and HANA/HCP as very strategic fields where we can collaborate, learn, and establish benchmarks in a network of experts connected to SAP.
Finally, any advice for us? How can SAP help strengthen the community in Asia specifically?
Well, first of all it would help if virtual meetings with the global team are not at 4 a.m. APJ time! Joking aside, I see two immediate opportunities.
First, offer community tracks both for line of business and technology. There´s a strong core of technical experts in the SAP community. However, the most expensive wrong IT decisions are business decisions, so it makes sense to connect the dots. At the same time, the audiences and personalities are different so if you completely merge the two it may dilute the value.
Second, increase awareness within and outside of SAP. I often encounter people who don´t know that there is an SAP Mentor group with representatives from multiple accounts who are ready to share their experience and information for free. It´s an incredible pool of knowledge that you can access without any bureaucracy.
Thank you very much for the conversation. I am happy to share that global SAP Mentor meetings are now offered in two time zones, and one is APJ friendly!
If you would like to learn more, please visit the SAP Mentor space here and join the tribe!
Thanks for conducting and sharing this interview Malin!
Thanks Fredrik Ohlsson for providing your insights and perspectives about business in Asia, SAP Mentors and the community! I agree this community is a "goldmine" for anyone or any organization willing to engage and learn from others with similar interests in SAP.