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As I’ve shared before, our main goal for the second half of this year is improving the SAP Community user experience. A critical component of this improvement is rethinking and reworking the organization of community content.

In his recent blog post, Oliver Kohl tackled this very important subject, outlining how several teams (including mine) are working on a new SAP Community concept that moves away from tags and toward topics, to simplify how content is accessed and delivered.

This approach represents a shift in our strategic thinking — namely, recognizing the fundamental flaws in the current platform and making radical changes to the user interface and personalization, to deliver the best possible community experience. Instead of focusing almost entirely on features and fixes (as shown in release highlights and the roadmap), the new philosophy emphasizes a bigger picture — one that combines larger structural changes with shorter-term deliverables.

This is not to suggest that requests for features and reports of issues have become less significant. Quite the contrary. There’s a reason why we encourage members to make suggestions (and vote on them) in Idea Place. We are working to keep posters and voters up to date there, and we’re close to announcing a new section of SAP Community that consolidates information about features and issues. The release notes are not going anywhere, and recent releases include the ability to sort Followers/Following lists in your profile (as Audrey Stevenson announced in Coffee Corner) and auto login on SAP.com that has consistent login behavior across SAP Community as well.

In short, release notes remain important. And let’s not overlook the SAP Community roadmap. Per Oliver’s blog, the map can’t adequately convey the larger structural changes (such as the shift from tags to topics), but it’s the best tool for illustrating short-term enhancements. And a new roadmap is now available, unveiling priorities for the third quarter.

You’ll see that this quarter’s highlights include significant tagging improvements that allow synonyms and acronyms, @mention functionality and more profile enhancements.

You’ll also see that the new map once again includes epics (functional packages) that form themes (goals providing the most value to the community). For example: @mentions, one of most demanded features, combines with additional improvements to content notification to provide a much better navigation experience.

Beyond the epics and themes on the roadmap, a lot more development is happening behind the scenes that we will not be able to release in Q3. We’ll be working on enhancing the total experience. To illustrate a collective result from the roadmap: add @mentions and improved notifications to larger conceptual changes in personalization and the user interface, and you end up with the clearest possible paths to the content that you want.

That’s a lot of activity to achieve that bigger picture. The map can’t capture it all — ergo, the map can’t communicate it all. We’ll be stepping up our efforts again to share even more information here. The release highlights will be making a comeback so you’re aware of the latest and greatest developments, and we’re planning to publish regular progress updates about the map and the larger structural changes that Oliver described in his blog post. So you’ll know where we are and why.

I paraphrased Oliver quite a bit here — mainly because this post complements his (just as the enhancements on the roadmap complement the larger structural changes). Now I’d like to quote him directly: “this has been the most challenging time in my professional career.” As an SCN veteran, I connect to and share Oliver’s sentiment. I also share his confidence in our new direction. The roadmap is partially pointing the way, with foundational redesigns further fleshing out the bigger picture — to drive the SAP Community in the right direction.

To get us where we need to be.

And back on our feet.

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19 Comments

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  1. Jürgen L

    I was confused when I heard it (new SAP Community concept that moves away from tags and toward topics) the first time in the recording of the SAC.

    I had already posted a comment but deleted it again after I had re-run the recording and it became more clear and I thought I had understood it.

    Now this blog and I am back being confused and think we need some clarification, if not for the others then at least me for.

    you wrote: new SAP Community concept that moves away from tags and toward topics

    and a few lines further: this quarter’s highlights include significant tagging improvements that allow synonyms and acronyms

    Why an improvement for things that go away?

    (4) 
    1. Oliver Kohl

      Hi Jürgen,

      thanks for solving that mysterious whereabout of that comment 🙂

      We should have made it more clear that tags aren’t going away completely. They will get replaced as the main means of aggregating content on the tag page. Instead (much fewer) topics and their respective pages will serve as a replacement.

      Tags will still keep existing for further categorising content (one topic, many tags), and to filter content in the content browser.

      Imagine, that the primary tag will be replaced by a topic, but otherwise user and managed tags are still available for further categorising the content.

      Hope that explains it better.

       

      (0) 
      1. Jürgen L

        Unfortunately not Oliver.

        Does that mean user still need to enter tags but their question is finally listed in topics?

        How will they then find their content?

        If that relates only to secondary tags, is that tagging then mandatory or optional?

        (0) 
        1. Oliver Kohl

          For each new content, the author needs to add a single topic (same as a primary tag currently). The content will show up on the topic pages. Except there will only be a couple of hundreds carefully chosen topics available.

          In addition, the author can add further tags, but that is optional. Same as currently with additional/user tags.

           

          (2) 
  2. Martin Hinderer

    Gali,

    I somehow get really upset now when all of you SAP guys are promoting idea place on the one hand, but ideas like mine (https://ideas.sap.com/D37848) are in status “under review” since months.

    I simply do not believe any longer that it is worth the effort entering new ideas there.

    (2) 
    1. Gabriella Gogl-Gyorgy

      Martin,

      Your idea did get feedback from Audrey multiple times, so it wasn’t left unattended. The items that you raised are not Community, nor Profile related problems, but SAP global and have been worked on for a long time and will continue to be so. Please check your idea for further thoughts.

      All the best,

      Gabi

      (0) 
      1. Martin Hinderer

         

        Gabriella,

        in my opionion I, as a user of the community, do not need to care about if this is a SAP global/local/regional/system specific problem. I am using (or trying to do so) the SAP community platform, as many others do as well. And we have a problem with the accounts and profiles. And this is what the idea is about. SAP asked us for input on what is wrong, what we need to have changed.

        I am a user. In this role I do not care about which system is running in background. This is my problem, this is my requirement, this is my input/idea to solve it.

        I just asked for feedback on status, and also asked why the idea is still in status “under review”. The definition of this status is that SAP is still reviewing the idea to “determine its potential”. Since October 2016…

        (3) 
    2. Gali Kling Schneider Post author

      Hi Martin,

      I understand you’re upset. Your idea is indeed a very important (and requested) one however it is one which is relevant for SAP at large. Our team is a long time champion for this internally in SAP.

      As Audrey posted, behind the scenes work continues but unfortunately there is nothing we can share yet, hence the status remains ‘under review’.

      Best, Gali

       

      (0) 
      1. Martin Hinderer

         

        Hi Gali,

        should it then be at least moved to status “accepted”, which is “idea is beeing considered for a future release”? The potential of the idea (and I do not write my idea, as I only was the one that wrote it down on idea place) is quite obvious in my opinion.

        Regards

        MH

        (1) 
        1. Audrey Stevenson

          Hi Martin,

           

          I do think Under Review is the right status still.

           

          While we all agree there’s an issue, the actual way to tackle it has not been established in a way that matches your ideas. The ideas are still under review as solutions; they have not been accepted as the solutions or, as a change in status would require, actually “considered for a future release” yet.

           

          I do see that Gabi has shared more insight in the idea itself, which will also help explain what’s going on a little more.

           

          In addition, Oliver made this comment on his recent blogpost: “Regarding the multiple user ID issue I can tell you that this is becoming traction again. It won’t go away by simply ignoring it, but it isn’t a isolated SCN issue either. It will only get resolved by coordinated efforts, and a proper concept across all sites, which is something a bunch of people started to look into recently.”

           

          So hopefully all of this helps show that I’m not just being flip when I say that the wheels are still turning in the company on this issue.

           

          Regards,

          Audrey

          (1) 
  3. Ivy Li

    Hi,

    Glad to know that @mention is released since I found some people would like to write somebody’s name as personal tags and this time they will reach the people they want to contact.

    For the strategy ‘moving from tags to topics’, I read the discussions above, and may I assume that for primary tags, it will be replaced with topic which is more general so that we do not need to add so many tags for one product?

    If so, will this topic also list all the managed tags so that people would easily choose the correct tags if they want to categorize the issue with specific tag?

    BR,
    Ivy

     

    (0) 
    1. Gali Kling Schneider Post author

      Hi Ivy,

      Thanks for reaching out. I’d like to clarify that @mention has not been released yet, but it is coming soon, as the roadmap shares, which we’re all very happy about.

      Regarding the strategy of moving from tags to topics, yes in general primary tags will be replaced with topics which are indeed fewer. In addition to choosing a topic when creating content you will be able to further categorize your content with other topics or tags. We’ll share much more on the process when it comes closer but that is indeed the direction.

      BR, Gali

      (2) 
  4. Simon Kemp

    Hi Gali,

    Thanks for posting this and sharing the direction you are taking with the community. I was wondering if there is somewhere that you share the user research you’ve done that you must be basing the future direction of the community on? I know SAP have some great UX designers I think it would be wonderful to see and understand how SAP has leveraged this UX capability to redesign the SAP Community.

    Thanks,
    Simon

    (1) 
  5. Joachim Rees

    Currently, I’m not expecting much, but also don’t want to be discouraging, so go ahead and best of luck!

    I feel I’m in a neutral (or: “I don’t care so much anymore”) position right now, but whatever you do I’ll probably stick around somehow!

    best
    Joachim

     

    (4) 
    1. Gali Kling Schneider Post author

       

      Joachim, I appreciate your taking the time to write and especially sharing that you will “probably stick around”. It is indeed our aim to move you from a ‘neutral’ to ‘positive/forward go’ state in the future.

      (1) 

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