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After spending way too much time struggling with how to start this blog I’ve decided to keep it simple and share an important moment of my life with you: Last week I accepted the Head of SAP Community role, stepping into the very large shoes that Malin Liden has so skillfully filled before me.  In this, my first blog post in this role, I want to share why I’ve made this decision and what it means to me personally.

I joined SAP over six years ago to head up the global social media function.  I knew coming here from Cisco that SAP already had an incredible, award winning community program – in fact I think it had just been renamed SCN from SDN when I joined – and my hope was to make SAP’s social media practices as world class as our community efforts.

One of the first people I met at SAP was Mark Finnern. Over lunch he told me a little about SCN and a lot about the SAP Mentors program.  At the end of lunch Mark asked me for input. I simply and sincerely shared that it was clear that SAP’s community programs were every bit as stellar as I’d heard about when I was at Cisco, and that if we were to build a great social media program at SAP it would be greatly accelerated by borrowing the DNA that the community team managed to create.

Two years later we reorged and social media was no longer an organization neighbor:  I got to work directly for Mark Yolton.  I went to my first TechEd, got my first Mentors jersey (strictly honorary; I certainly don’t feel I fully earned one), and began to learn even more about the SCN program from the heavyweight talent in the program.

So with that history in mind, there are two reasons why I took this job.  First, I remember very clearly the solemn and thoughtful Mentors sessions (broken by having to sing a song to accept my jersey), the joy at Demo Jam, the eagerness inside the community to answer questions and help fellow Community members.  I am thrilled to be part of that energy again and where needed, even help restore that energy.  Secondly, I see a new level of commitment within SAP to restore the community to its former greatness, and in fact to take it even further. I’ll share more about that in a future blog post but trust me, the commitment is very real and a powerful factor for me to say “yes” to this role.

There is a tremendous amount of work needed to get from here to there and personally, I’m “all-in”.  I will be spending more time within the community and reaching out increasingly to you in the community for your ideas and input.  And I invite you to reach out to me as well.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I did not acknowledge the very talented team that I am lucky enough to inherit, led by Gali Kling Schneider – all of you are simply amazing at what you do.  And I want to thank Malin for her past and future conversations, you’ve been a great mentor for me in making this decision and I can only hope to match your passion for this program.

As mentioned earlier in this post I’ll share more soon and at regular intervals, but for now I thank SAP for the opportunity, I thank you in the community for being both patient and demanding, and I thank my new team for their support as I take on this new role.

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76 Comments

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  1. Jarret Pazahanick

    Good luck Brian and definitely appreciated the openness of “restore the community to its former greatness” as that type of transparency will go a long way.  I personally hope the damage isn’t deep enough as often once people leave it is hard to get them back.  Sure you have been following the blog below and comments as lots of ideas and issues included as well as my thoughts at the bottom.

    https://blogs.sap.com/2017/06/27/why-i-dont-feel-like-bloggin-even-if-i-find-nothin-better-to-do/

     

     

     

     

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    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Hi Jarret, I appreciate the warm welcome and the reminder to stay transparent.  If I lose this quality I hope everyone (anyone!) points that out quickly.

      I’ve read Jelena’s blog and the lengthy commentary there.  It’s hard to read, knowing where the program has been.  But it also energizes me.  There is nothing simple about the problems we’re experiencing, they have accumulated over time and have to be solved one by one.  I was told community members weren’t looking for more promises so I won’t offer any; judge us by our work and accomplishments.  In the meantime, thank you for taking time to comment.

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  2. Moya Watson

    Brian! Great to see you take on the challenge. Looking forward to pitching in to continue to work with all the fine folk continuing to keep the community fires warm inside SAP and outside. Excited to see where the ship will sail with you at the helm!  Somehow I can’t think of another nautical-themed metaphor besides “head of helm” so I hope more clever people than I follow up 🙂 Anyway — see you soon!

     

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    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Moya!  First, and foremost I’m grateful for the naval imagery you chose NOT to use in your reply 🙂  Thanks for the warm welcome, I’m looking forward to running into you more than occasionally in my new role.  Looking forward to our work together!

       

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  3. Devraj Bardhan

    I think you accepted this job a little too late. Many have deserted the platform and will not return.  Why should they?

    There are more fragmented SCN type jam collaboration spaces all over  including learning hub.

    SCN has gone downhill and its story is similar to CRM’s downhill story.

    My suggestion is to hand over SCN to a startup and let them run it. Or hand over to mentors who have retired and are willing to give this one last chance.  Also  maybe Split SCN and create a SDN again for cloud foundry, SCP, Leo etc

     

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    1. Jarret Pazahanick

      Sadly I agree with you Devraj as I wrote almost a 100 blogs on SAP SCN many of which were extremely popular and have since moved on to the LinkedIn Blogging platform where my engagement is now 20X the “new” SAP SCN.  Trying to think of a scenario where I would start blogging again on SCN.

       

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      1. Moya Watson

         

        My jury’s still out as to the LinkedIn vs SAP Community (vs community xyz) debate, as you know Jarret, though admittedly my testing was far from empirical.  It really depends on how much effort you’ve spent building up the network, and where.

        Many have invested a lot of energy into building up a network here, and that’s value on the table.

        As for never coming back once someone’s left — I think people may be more agile than that.  Just the other day at the start of a meeting I heard someone insist he was ‘never coming back’ to the SAP Community.  By the end of the meeting he’d changed his mind. The good news is that the community’s still here, as well as its value — and I’m glad to see you here too.

         

        PS: to spite me with a high dose of irony, the first time i clicked “Submit Reply,” my comment and the page vanished — words into thin air!!!  yeah, there’s a lot of work to do…

         

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        1. Jarret Pazahanick

          Thanks and definitely agree and I spent more time building up more SAP SCN than Linkedin for many years so would like to think it is similar in both places. There needs to be a reason to “comeback” just like there are reasons to “leave”.  It will be interested to see what that looks like with new leadership in place.

          As far as Linkedin vs SAP SCN here is my last blog where I cross posted.

          https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-sap-managed-payroll-good-option-most-customers-jarret-pazahanick?trk=pulse_spock-articles

          On Linkedin it has 313 Likes, 40 comments and 142 shares and 11,290 views as well as 314 views from “CEO / Executive Director”(Metrics that would be great for SCN by the way as “who” is reading your content is important.

          My SAP SCN blog of the exact same content posted minutes apart and showing higher on google search:

          https://blogs.sap.com/2016/11/10/why-sap-managed-payroll-is-not-a-good-option-for-most-customers/

          Has 1 Like , 0 comments and 19 shares and 929 views.

          Just thought you might find that interesting.

           

           

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          1. Moya Watson

            That’s the kind of data/analysis we need — we utterly, absolutely need to get to the bottom of the views count thing.  First step is convincing the team that views counts DO matter — and then to figure out why they have plummeted – as they seem to have done.  Is it a bug, a technical proxy glitch of some sort? is it an RSS thing? is it something else technical? Is it truly that nobody’s here reading and can’t click through — or can’t authenticate in the first place? Very worthy investigation to be had here! thanks for bringing it to the table.

            thanks,

            -m

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            1. Jarret Pazahanick

              Definitely agree Moya and I had several SAP SCN blogs “back in the day” that had over 50K views and 100’s of comments but the layout was cleaner, consistent, there was gamification and SAP Mentors content was promoted and given a special spot on the home page.  My own sense is the new layout makes it very hard to find things as far as views and hard to comment due to ID issues. I just tried to find the discussion thread in SAP HCM and took me 3-4 mins for example and like to think of myself as somewhat technology savvy and in our world (HCM) there is the SuccessFactors Community as well so it further divides peoples attention

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              1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

                Jarret, platform aside I’ve been personally working with Gali and team (esp. Jamie Cantrell) to review blogging policies, governance and some new training for end users and moderators; just a heads up on that, trying to reduce noise and get some best practices practiced more frequently.

                 

                 

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                1. Jarret Pazahanick

                  SAP resources review and approving SAP content (especially marketing) could be part of the issue to start with so something to consider.  On that side can you confirm that SAP employees content gets reviewed by a SAP Community resource or is it open blogging.

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                  1. Jarret Pazahanick

                    Also what about getting fun and creative with something like the top 25 blogs of Q1 and Q2 get a free ticket to SAP TechEd and top 25 blogs of Q3 and Q4 get free ticket to Sapphire.  Very little cost to SAP and could get some people to come back.  Just a thinking outside the box idea.

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            2. Henrique Pinto

              There is no technical reason, please don’t try to find one when there is none. The answer is simple: people don’t log to the SAP Community anymore because it isn’t good. The format, the content (or rather the way it’s presented), the way you interact with people, everything is off. Jive wasn’t perfect but it was definitely better than what we have today. It’s a user experience problem, and only by acknowledging that, we can really evolve.

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              1. Jelena Perfiljeva

                I agree. It’s not the matter of “if only we did X” then everything would be fine again. This community has been broken on so many levels that I am too getting very skeptical if we will ever see the same participation as in the SCN glory days.

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        2. Brian Ellefritz Post author

          “Just the other day at the start of a meeting I heard someone insist he was ‘never coming back’ to the SAP Community.  By the end of the meeting he’d changed his mind.”

          Teach me your ways, Moya.

           

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          1. Moya Watson

             

            Just want to be clear it wasn’t me who changed anything in that conversation 🙂

            I think it was the fact that a group of people, including executives, were listening.  isn’t that also what some of online communities are about? saying stuff and people saying “yes, i see you!” 

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        3. Yogesh Patel

          Hello Moya,

          I am totally agreed with your comment. Specially I like this one… “community’s still here

          No matter what… stay positive.. I hope there will be lots good thing coming out of this…

          Regards,

          Yogesh

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          1. Moya Watson

             

            Thanks Yogesh.  If you and folks like you are still here, that’s all we need to know to make sure we help  make it work!

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      2. Devraj Bardhan

        Jarret I read your LinkedIn posts. I do believe LinkedIn network is good but that platform has others issues. Pluse shutdown is bad. Also searching is not easy or intuitive.

         

         

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    2. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Thanks, Devraj, keep the ideas and suggestions coming, please (honestly).  The bottom line is we need to serve our core constituents with a great and useful set of community experiences.

       

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      1. Devraj Bardhan

        Brian, I am actually happy that you are onboard. I just feel its a bit too late.. lets see.,

        I have bee on SDN/SCN since 2004 so there is some history and I would like to see SCN grow and flourish.

        However this is good to be real hard work. You will need to go through the tons of suggestions already in SCN and find out what users are missing and what needs to be fixed ASAP.

        I used to read a lot of material using my RSS feed. Its a great way to filer out the noise. I feel we need to invest more of how ppl can consume information related to them.

        PS: Please cross post your blog on LinkedIn and see how it goes.

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        1. Moya Watson

           

          Though I don’t love the idea of cross-posting in general, I was and am open to that experiment — but in my case, the SAP Community blog got far more views. I think this is (as I mentioned above) because I don’t spend a lot of time growing or interacting with my network on LinkedIn.  It matters where you grow your network.

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    3. Moya Watson

       

      Hi Devraj; FYI, by the way, your “SDN” for SAP Cloud Platform is right here on the community — https://www.sap.com/community/topic/cloud-platform.html

      Leonardo is called out in the IoT community topic page but of course since SAP CP is its technical underpinning, the content is disbursed – https://www.sap.com/community/topic/internet-of-things.html

      And finally, Cloud Foundry is also largely aggregated as well on the SAP CP community topic page but – and this is for sure a dynamic we’re trying to figure out – doesn’t warrant its own community topic page. Until then, we also still have the wiki as a workaround and have an ‘entry page’ of sorts we’re trying out for CF — https://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/display/SAPHCP/Cloud+Foundry

      All feedback welcome on how this feels but yeah, some stuff is there but maybe not discoverable as before. Then again, were the three+-level navigation tabs of the old days really great?

      cheers,

      -m

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      1. Devraj Bardhan

        Sorry I forgot how I used the old SCN using a web browser. 9 months is a long time. However I did use RSS feeds a lot and had my favorites and that is all that I really needed.

         

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  4. Chris Paine

    Hi Brian,

     

    Firstly welcome aboard and good luck!

     

    Secondly, to reiterate something Jarret mentioned. In the SAP SuccessFactors space we have an additional SAP SuccessFactors community which is only for customers and partners, no read only access for wider audience. When searching for an issue on SAP Support, the SAPSF community articles appear and some are very relevant, just like when searching for ABAP issues, having a link to an old SCN thread was sometimes very useful.

     

    I’m not sure why we have two communities. One a walled garden and one not. But I’d suggest both cannot survive, one has to go, both cannot be successful.

     

    Would be interested if you have a mandate to effect such a change?

     

    Cheers,
    Chris

     

    (3) 
    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Hi Chris, the SF community is being looked at alongside SCN in the strategy exercise I mentioned in my blog.  Many of the cloud acquisitions came in with their own community practices, some closed, some open (some have both!).  We’re looking at audiences, use cases, etc. to see if it makes sense to have one platform and/or program that we can stretch across more.  My sense is right now we’ll have some diversity for awhile but want to look at common practices (governance? gamification?) at minimum.  Much to do, and don’t want to get too distracted from the urgent need to solve usability on the SAP Community platform, but trying to see around the next corner, too.

       

      And thanks for the welcome!

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      1. Jan Olsen

        Indeed, not an easy task. There are many different types of users here all with different needs and aspirations. Good luck, I hope you succeed in making the platform more user friendly.

         

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  5. Lars Breddemann

    First off: all the best for your new role!

    Like practically everyone who commented on this blog so far, I’ve been an active member in the various SAP communities for many years. Unlike others, I haven’t been able to attend any of the real-life events like TechED or SAPPHIRE in quite some time, so I barely know anyone in person and I’m not part of the in-circle of the community.

    However, to me, it feels very awkward when a new “Head of SAP Community” is announced, that I’ve never even heard of. Not that I have ever seen anything from Malin Liden; I just learned her name from this very blog post.

    Now, this could mean that I’m just terribly ignorant and never see anything beyond the far-off corners of my topic areas (HANA, DBMS, and such things). The thing is: I try to keep up with the things happening around the SAP Community and yet her name just slipped through.

    Maybe the unfamiliarity has less to do with my filter bubble, but more with the fact, that “Head of SAP Community” is a position in the SAP Marketing team. And this is where it gets interesting:

    One of the main problems (besides all the technical challenges that we/SAP don’t seem to be able to fix for the last 8 months) in the SAP Community is that it lacks genuine member involvement and contribution and gets flushed with marketing content.
    The forum moderators had and have ongoing discussions on what kind of content would be allowed as a blog post (and if it’s marketing content then it’s not allowed/wanted) – yet the “Head of the Community” is part of Marketing.

    I guess my question here is: what’s the idea going forward here? The SAP Community clearly is considered a marketing asset – but it should be clear by now, that using it as a push channel simply kills it.

    As a SAP employee who volunteers a lot of time and effort to moderate and contribute insight, know-how and experiences with our technology, I’m currently at a point where I don’t see the point anymore. My motivation to contribute was to discuss and/or see interesting stuff but not to generate the content backdrop for the marketing efforts.
    I’ve never looked into maximising the read-count on my blogs, but given their nerdy nature, I always found they were doing just fine. Yes, I get the whole “LinkedIn” is the better platform thing, but that’s not me.

    Unlike you, I’m not “all-in” here anymore (probably most old-time SDN/SCN folks are out of the door with one foot). What is it that you and your team are going to do about all that?

    What is it that you and your team are going to do about all that?

    And when will all of that happen?

     

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    1. Devraj Bardhan

      I think we the lack of content, the moderators should allow every post that anyone cares to write on this platform. As it is hardly anyone reads.

      Second all the SVPs of SAP write marketing blogs any way.. so why should it be that SAP SVPs are allowed to write and not others? This is a community. Readers will decided what to read, what to ignore and what to share.

       

       

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      1. Lars Breddemann

        I strongly disagree with that. In fact, I support the idea of stronger restriction for blogging, specifically for SAP employees (and everyone else) who posts marketing content.

        The “blog”-situation won’t improve by simply letting more noise onto the platform. Readers won’t decide what to read and what to ignore. After one too many “noise” blogs, they will leave the platform. Maybe for a long time. The goal for this platform should be to increase the chance of hitting a blog post that is worth to be read. And by removing more noise, the chances to find just those blogs should increase.

        Maybe then, when it’s more likely than not, to click through the list of blog posts and find the majority of posts to be relevant and well done, more users stay longer and come back more often.

        I for myself find that approach more reasonable than the “open the gates and let the flood take ’em” approach.

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          1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

            That’s a simple question with a complex answer.  The blogging challenges on SAP Community are hitting my desk daily and I’m keen on reducing them drastically.  The Rules of Engagement prohibit promotional content in the community and we are trying to tighten up the diverse interpretation and enforcement of that. We have new training in development that we’ll be rolling out for both moderators and bloggers to diminish this. We’re looking at the Rules of Engagement again to tighten up “loopholes” That being said, it’s an open landscape and we we’ll always need to be vigilant.

             

            I specifically avoided the word “marketing” in my answer because I know a lot of people with marketing in their title who have good content to offer the community and in most cloud companies for instance, marketing’s assignment extends well past purchase and they work to onboard new customers and make sure they can use products effectively.  I would say that’s different from marketing’s historic mission at SAP and we’ll see this stretched over time. I would also say that some promotional blogs can be written very differently so that there is more value provided by them and their tone and intention is changed from promotional to educational.

             

            I’d also like to see us look at encouraging more blog content of the type you need and value.  I know we’ve lost contributors (platform again) and this means that SAP content and promotional content is feeling like it dominates.

            Again, my first impressions, but as for the abuses we’re seeing in blogging practices, we have to reign that in.  Probably 70% of the emails I’m getting about community issues have to do with this.  It’s a priority, Devraj.

             

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            1. Henrique Pinto

              Blogging is probably the only perspective of the now-defunct SCN that still somewhat works. There are no forums/discussions (Bulletin Board-like interaction) anymore and the wikis have been retired.

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            2. Yogesh Patel

              Hello Brian,

              How about having additional TAG called – Product Announcements & Update?

              This idea might solve problems… Members who wants to read about it they can go in there or just don’t go there at all.

              I think SAP employees are NOT trying to do marketing over SCN but, they are trying to provide you new product related information and what SAP has to offer you. If you don’t like to read them! who is loosing?

              Cheers,

              Yogesh

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    2. Lars Breddemann

      These were actually not rhetorical questions, Brian.

      I’d really like to know what the plans are and what the timeframe for those plans are.

      Besides all the obvious and much-discussed problems of the platform that need solutions, what I am looking for is a reason to continue or return to participate here.
      For other platforms & communities, I do see why I want to contribute.
      There are reasons why I’m a regular contributor in our SAP HANA JAM community and on stackoverflow. These platforms make it easy and efficient to contribute and/or have the right audience (at least for my purposes) to make the effort worthwhile.
      On top of that, I never experienced any of the cultural clashes (i.e. marketing vs the techie/people-that-actually-use-the-stuff world) that have been ongoing here.

      Looking forward to hearing more about the plans to get blogs|answers.sap.com back into the group of sites to consider when looking for knowledge, experience and expertise.

       

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      1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

        Hi Lars, I agree the questions are not rhetorical and the community deserves more clarity on the path forward.  Good news on that, Oliver Kohl who is leading our IT team is working on a blog to update the community on the path forward and insight about our roadmap.  Expect to see that in the coming week, perhaps sooner.  In the meantime, we’re grateful for your contributions – and your tough questions.

         

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        1. Lars Breddemann

          Thanks for commenting, Brian. As to Olivers’ blog post: I expected it, waited for it and well, it’s just not there – the week after you said it would be.

          By itself, this would be nothing I would even notice, but in the context of the massive loss of trust in the SAP Community ‘management’ this doesn’t help to rebuild confidence in your team.

          And when looking at https://answers.sap.com/articles/264665/what-weve-got-here-is-failure-to-communicate.html and https://answers.sap.com/articles/260860/why-oh-why.html I’m under the strong impression that not much has improved in the way that active community members are involved in the development processes around the technical platform.

           

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          1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

            Hi Lars, Oliver got pulled into two acceleration workshops last week that I know of; he and I have been in touch and he’s apologized for not getting this out.  I’ll check with him on a new time frame.

             

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  6. Matthias Wild

    Hello Brian,

    Aloha! All the best for your new role!

     

    I miss the most important question: What instrument will you play in the SAP Mentors band at TechEd? Looking forward to jam with you at TechEd Barcelona.

     

    About SCN today: It took us 9 month to rebuild a home for ASE (which is not Agile Software Engineering, but Adaptive Server Enterprise) and we had our painful moments. But we are back, and we learned to think even more community centric and to connect the user groups worldwide. Thanks to Gali & team for always listening to us!

     

    Matthias

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    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      The only musical “training” I ever received was a wasted “investment” to learn the accordian when I was in primary school.  Those were not my best years.  I’m hopeful that no accordian will appear in my hands at TechEd, Matthias, but I’m happy to bang sticks together in a drum circle (even though my musical son doesn’t trust me to keep time with music well).  It’s all in fun, looking forward to it!

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  7. Michael Appleby

    Hi Brian,
    You have taken on a massive task!  I wish you much luck in achieving a more functional community than we have at present.  You have a lot of hardworking members here who are very willing to help make it a success.  Please, please don’t let us down!  

    Only one suggestion will I make here:

    Make better use of the functionality already built into, or available via plugins from, the two main platforms, WordPress and AnswerHub.  Many of the deficiencies of the present site can be addressed by judicious incorporation of their functionality.  One qualifier to that suggestion:  Incorporation of the two does not necessarily mean forcing the two platforms into a single joint, less functional architecture.  Many of us would be happy to work with the tools separately, if it meant better availability of each of the best of breed’s functionality.

    Cheers, Mike (Moderator)
    SAP Technology RIG

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    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Mike, I’ll commit to you – always – to make every effort to help this program succeed.  Thanks for the suggestion too, will look into it.

      (1) 
  8. Denis Konovalov

    Hello Brian,

    Welcome and good luck !
    I hope you will succeed to make this place what it used to be.

    I have a concern I cannot ignore. SCN is not a Social Media Platform. Never was and all attempts to make it one made it worst, not better. SCN is a TECHNICAL discussion and knowledge sharing platform first and foremost. this is why majority of people come here, to discuss their projects, issues and solutions.
    Social media and its 5 minutes attention span does not work here. And the reason we are in the state we’re in.

    Denis (moderator, Analytics)

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    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Hi Dennis, I think your concern mirrors others here: Can a “marketer” with social media in their background realign themselves to lead a technical community that is immersive, rich in content and membership, and actually defend the community from what we see as parasitic marketing behavior? A full answer is worth a second post,  and I’ll spend time over the next couple of days on that.  Of course you will have to decide my fit by watching how the program behaves with me at the helm, but I’ll lead into my next blog with a quick story:

      A bit over 10 years ago I was hired to lead the global demand generation team at Cisco.  When I took that role my school aged children asked me what I did at my new job.  Proudly I said “Well Cisco sends almost 8 million emails globally every month to people urging them to buy our products.  That’s my team!”

      Their reply: “Oh, that spam email that we get that we’re not supposed to open, is that you?”

      I recovered quickly and grabbed some advertisement mail from the kitchen counter and said “No, that’s not all, we also send this kind of mail to people who don’t know about Cisco to help them know what our products do.”

      Their reply: “That stuff mom throws in recycling, is that you too!?”

      True story.  Since then… well, that’s my next blog.

       

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    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Thanks Henrique.  I’m on my third marriage so I have no qualms about trying an old concept again.  There is plenty to like about the “old SCN” and I do think you’ll see more of that coming back.  Stay tuned…

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      1. Colleen Hebbert

        Brian…

        That statement might open a flood gate to people asking for jive back or raising hope.

         

        By old scn, do you mean a return of lost functionality and period content structure  (tags) changing?

        (1) 
        1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

          Colleen, my comment wasn’t about the platform, rather the program. Sorry, I didn’t mean to trigger any smiles or frowns.  My early association with “SCN” was as a program that included a technology environment but was also closely coupled to TechEd, the Mentors program, even PartnerEdge, our University Alliances program, etc.  I should be more careful, I know the platform is dominating our thoughts and concerns these days… will choose words carefully.  Still learning.

           

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            1. Caetano Almeida

              I don’t think that going back to SCN is an alternative, but we may look into the useful features that we used to have in SCN and think about how can we have something similar in the new platform.

              Using a tag is not a problem, as long as it is simple and easy to find and follow the proper tag.

              (1) 
              1. Colleen Hebbert

                @Caetano – that was my assumption of what Brian meant. However, I could see other members having a different interpretation

                 

                I hope when the community has an idea with a lot of support that it’s not rejected as it’s “not part of the vision” or “not on our roadmap”.

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  9. Yogesh Patel

    Hello Brian,

    Welcome and congratulation.

    Since many SCN members/moderators already told you about what is going on I will not add more and keeping you excited about your new opportunity.

    Regards,

    Yogesh

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  10. Caetano Almeida

    Hi Brian

    Welcome on board and I wish you luck on this new challenge.

    I’d like to reinforce a point that Denis already commented in his comment: We must keep in mind that SCN is not Facebook!

    Information in SCN is important, even when it is not brand new, and many users don’t log into SCN every day, as they log into facebook. So we must provide tools for the users to easily get access to questions and blogs, even when they are not brand new.

    Regards,

    Caetano

     

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  11. Sherryanne Meyer

    Hello Brian.

    I appreciate your role and your enthusiasm. Community is vital to continued learning and quality of worklife with SAP. I look forward to seeing your involvement!

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  12. Michelle Crapo

    Hello Brian,

    Welcome!   I hope you can help put SCN, SDN, or SC back  on track.    I JUST started blogging again.   The only reason I started was to promote my Teched session.   Then I wrote a follow up blog about OpenSAP courses.  I had pretty much left the community.  I’m back.

    Well – my comments see all of them above.    That’s quite a spreadsheet you could put together.  If you get a chance to look at a non-community blog there is a great one by Chip Rogers.

    I commented there.  He uses examples from the “OLD” SCN.  The tribe is all of us.   All those old and new people that come to SCN or don’t spend time there anymore.

    So if you have time to read – here are my comments to him about how to destroy a community:

    • The gamification system is removed.  Even though it did not motivate me – it did a lot of others.
    • The platform is switch 3 times very quickly. That messy tribe is not going to be happy. They no longer can do things quickly.
    • Have problems consolidating many accounts into one. That causes a lack of identity to the tribe member.
    • Use your community for a LOT of marketing. To the point where people are skimming articles.
    • Switch to all the new technology (Fiori, HANA, etc)  – and not make a place for the old.
    • Switch to a platform that is harder to use and not easy to find what the tribe would like to find.
    • And I wonder if you follow your own copywrite rules.   There is just too much in one place.

    So I would add, look at what you can do to build a good tribe. Also look at what you don’t want to do to start losing that tribe. A healthy tribe will keep the community alive.

    As a side note – there are things I love here.   Some I like are: OpenSAP courses, information on the BUILD tool,   I’m sure there are more.   I’ll just have to keep digging.

    Yes – I’m blogging on linkedin too.   So many more people view my blogs.

    Oops – I wrote too much as is normal for me!

    Welcome!   I enjoy seeing the changes that are made.   They should be interesting.   I hope you are making it to TechEd (Las Vegas) this year.   I bet if you ask people there, you’d get a different perspective.   WHY?   Because many of them have left the community and the comments you are getting are from people who are one the community.

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    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Hi Michelle, you wrote a lot to respond to but I’ll hit a few highlights starting with a big one for me: I will be at TechEd and I hope to meet you there if you attend too.  There are lots of voices as you say and some people we very much want to win back and I’ll be doing a lot of listening.  Also I did read Chip’s blog, I saw that in LinkedIn too – in fact Chip and I have talked since I took on this role (I’ve also met with Mark Yolton; I’m putting a lot of thought into the SAP Community culture and I was always impressed by the culture Mark, Chip, Mark Finnern, Moya, etc etc. had built “in the early days”.  I’ll share more soon, but wanted to acknowledge your reply and thank you for coming back and contributing.  We’re working hard to regain your trust.  I agree that the platform shifts injected challenges we need to solve but there is a lot more we can and should do to rebuild our culture as a community and as a brand who puts community first.

       

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  13. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Welcome, Brian, and good luck, you’ll need it!

     

    I’m a bit late on the comment train. It’s not that my torch would not light up or dragging the pitchforks along was slowing me down. You see, recently I had to create a brand new SCN account simply because my employer decided to change their contract with SAP. Now I am Jelena The Second.

     

    Then I had to take some time to re-follow the people Jelena The First used to follow, catch up on some discussions, etc.

     

    I saw this blog in the RSS feed and made a mental note to come back and comment on it. Unfortunately, I didn’t bookmark it and I didn’t remember the blog title or your name. All I remembered was that it was posted in Using SAP.com, so how hard could it be to find again?

     

    Well, if you go to the SCN home page or use the jumbo-menu – do you see any hints there that would lead you to the blogs with Using SAP.com tag? Sure, I can see all the blogs, which I can also do in my RSS feed. But I waited too long and now in the “blog roll” this has been pushed way far down by the new blogs about Leonardo, “social selling” and “smart cities” (which are somehow relevant to SAP, I guess).

     

    Pretending that I do not have a tag list in a spreadsheet saved on my PC, I wandered around in “About SCN” and “Community Support” forest leading me nowhere near where I needed to get. I wish I could devote more time to this UX experiment but after about 10 minutes I gave up and cheated by using a bookmark I saved in my browser. Phew, finally made it!

     

    But to complain [yet again] about the user experience is not exactly why I came back here. What worries me most these days is that we seem to have reached the times of “change of guard” on SCN yet there is no guard to change to.

     

    It is quite natural for any group of people to experience some kind of rotation. We grow older, our needs and wants change. Some people might stay longer, some move out and on. But to keep the group going you need an influx of new members. And you need them to be active and stay with the group for a while.

     

    For example, in Jarret’s case above, it’s not necessarily a platform issue (it partially is though but that’s not my point). Let’s say Jarret’s career was expanding and, naturally, instead of file-and-rank SAP users he eventually wanted to reach the executive level audience. It is quite a natural progression and certainly LinkedIn or Twitter are better platforms to do that. But then when people like Jarret or John Appleby or dozens of others I can’t remember from the top of my head move up, new Jarrets and Johns, and, hopefully, Jelenas some day need to take their place.

     

    But I do not see them on SCN anymore. The last time I saw a rising SCN star it was about 2 years ago. This started even before October 2016 but the last migration was the kill shot IMHO.

     

    So I guess you might as well add “how do I reach these kids” to your long list.

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    1. Jeremy Good

      Hi Jelena 2.0 – I am adding a reply here to inform you that Brian added a new comment below in response to your post.  This serves two purposes – triggering a notification for you that you otherwise would not get, and for Brian to see that by intent or by accident, he has shown us a prime example of the community brokenness related to content engagement and community feel.

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva

        Jeremy, thanks for doing that! Otherwise I would’ve been blissfully unaware of the reply. Also I’ve heard about Jon Reed’s comment on the Mentor Jam. So yeah – this is a showcase of broken functionality right here.

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  14. Brian Ellefritz Post author

    Hi Jelena, thanks for taking the time to – first of all – find my blog again, and secondly to share your input on what needs to be addressed.  Being so new I’m admittedly a bit overwhelmed by the areas to focus on and we all know the danger of this…  But I appreciate the observation of the changing of the guard that occurs in any community.  It all starts with a reason to come, join, engage.  As you said, many motivations which bring or keep you here and that might be very different for new audiences, new members.  I’ll put this on the list.  In the meantime, thank you for the torch and pitchfork imagery, it livened up my day (although my dreams might be impacted somehow).  I hope we can connect soon; any chance you’ll be coming to TechEd this year?  I hear your name a lot, would love to meet.

     

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva

      Brian, thanks for a reply! It is likely I’ll be at TechEd in Vegas this year. Hopefully, the SAP Community will be better represented there if SAP is indeed serious about improving the situation. Last year all they got was like a small table on the side, which was not very encouraging.

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      1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

        Hi Jelena, we had another call yesterday with the TechEd event team; plans are still forming for floor layout etc but we’re working hard to maximize our footprint.  Hope to see you there.

         

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  15. Jon Reed

    Brian, I read this with interest as many years ago in the full swing of being an SAP Mentor I was very involved with the SAP community. Now in my own career transitions I moved away, but have seen many vendor communities in the breadth of shows I cover.

    That brings perspective as many vendors continue to struggle with community, and pay lip service to it without truly investing. I believe this is because they don’t truly trust that the investment in community will ultimately deliver a bottom line difference. That’s sad because I know it will – these days it’s all about adoption and retention and that’s where community is so essential.

    I think what disappointed me from the SAP side is that SAP had a clear advantage in community as a real pioneer. But the talent that drove that has largely been lost and I don’t see the same momentum. Multiple SCN platform changes have added to the challenge.

    I welcome the public transparency of this post and your comments because in my view that’s been sorely lacking from community leadership in recent years.  I would also ask: why is the SAP community downplayed at TechEd when it should be even more visible? Why is it not as proudly visible at Sapphire Now as well? I’ve been told in the past, “community is more of a TechEd/developer thing.” That is so ludicrous. The absence and downplay of things like the community clubhouse at TechEd speaks volumes. It used to be you’d run smack into that thing and have amazing conversations.

    I think your best chances for success, along with that transparency, is that while the SAP community seems more dispersed there is still a huge passion to tap into, though many are disillusioned by the changes that doesn’t mean they don’t have passion you can’t win over. I still see plenty of dedicated SAP Mentors and non-mentors doing their thing, same goes with user group volunteers. This good comment thread is yet more proof.

    Your biggest obstacle, in my opinion, is the rise of KPI culture inside of SAP. These days it seems like everything has to be quantified and measured and validated (“What is the KPI for this meeting” is not too far off from “What was the KPI of the conversation I just had?”) It’s getting ridiculous. Community is messy, community is hard, community can lead to criticism and conversations that the sentiment tools perceive as “negative.”

    I believe your success will involve not only luring back in those who have turned away, but raising the voices of dissenters and solving the problems they are raising. Mostly I see retweets of positive and happy stories amongst the SAP corporate accounts. Timo Elliott recently wrote that the job is not to try to stop the negative conversation but to solve the problem that sparked it. Still way too much fussing over the messengers and instigators who bring problems to light. Those with strong voices of dissent should be celebrated – especially if they are well informed and speaking for customers and project realities.

    I’m sure you agree that we win the sentiment game by playing the long game – that means happy customers – who thrive on communities of open expression – across SCN and wherever.

    A weekly roundup of the five best blogs that point to a problem SAP needs to solve – and actions that will be taken – would indicate how the tide is turning.

    Best of luck and if we run into each other at future shows, happy to talk more.

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    1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

      Hey Jon, I’m thrilled to see and hear your voice again. In my last stint with SCN (even if it was a bit at arms length during the Yolton era), I always appreciated your balanced, thoughtful and direct posts.  I hope you continue to tune me – and us – in the right direction here.

       

      You put a key word on the table in your post: “culture”.  Community is all about culture, both within it’s membership and between the host and the member.  When I mentioned my Finnern discussion in my post, my excitement in that conversation was the feeling I was coming to a culture that valued community without proof of it’s value.  Because SAP simply trusted that the relationship investment created a powerful benefit to SAP. I know Mark Yolton got pulled into a LOT of discussions to show the value of the very large investments being made, but no matter which way those conversations fell, the net was a “keep going” message. We have to rebuild that culture and I can tell you we’re actively looking at ways to do that.  We have a long way to go, but I’m seeing positive signs.  More on that soon.

       

      As one of our exec sponsors said recently “let’s not waste a good crisis”. Most valves now are fully open, some are still rusted shut.  We’ll keep at this.  I see what you see; there are many great people right on the edge, looking in, ready to be reactivated when they’re convinced we “get it” again.

       

       

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      1. Graham Robinson

        Hi Brian,

        let me add my voice to those of congratulations and welcome.

        As one of those who can directly point to SDN & SCN as overwhelmingly positive contributors to both my professional and personal development I wish you success in resuscitating the SAP Community. I am also heartened by your openness and accessibility as demonstrated in this post and associated comments. I detect not just an appreciation of size of the task but also the responsibility as well.

        I fully endorse your opinion that SAP needs to rebuild the culture where they “simply trusted that the relationship investment created a powerful benefit”. How I wish I had that phrase to hand in a meeting only last week.

        Cheers

        Graham Robbo

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        1. Brian Ellefritz Post author

          Thanks Graham, I appreciate your thoughts and input.  I look forward to hearing more from you as we move ahead, I know there will be many opportunities along the way to remind me to “get my compass out.”

          Thanks again,

          Brian

           

           

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