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With encouragement from Moya Watson in response to this blog:

https://blogs.sap.com/2017/07/26/sap-community-why/

by

I had written a response to the above blog when it got blown up while posting by the powers that be. So I decided to try again.  Of course, my second attempt kind of took a different turn so I decided to make it into its own blog.

But thanks to Lars for inspiring it and Moya for the encouragement.

 

If you haven’t read Lars’s blog already, you can use the link above to read it first.

Lars is on point.  Exactly what is the role of community?  What is SAP getting out of this?  What is the community for?

There is a monetary reason for SAP to have the community or they wouldn’t have it.  Trust me on that.  They see it as providing a tangible or intangible benefit.  I believe they truly see a strong community as being a net positive for them.  Members write Wiki’s. Members write blogs.  Members present technical papers and posters.  Members mentor.  Members are unpaid advocates for their software, (the best kind).  Members help newbies. Members teach. Members work with, and in SAP user groups (ASUG). Members are drivers of ideas. Members provide content and support to TechED. Etc. Etc.

But what engages these people?  What attracts and keep members?  Primarily it is interaction with other people.  It is not mobile accessibility.  It is not a cutting-edge technology.  It is not a slick interface.  Failure to have people engage with each other will result in a slow death to any community.

Almost without exception, any reason anyone gives, as to why they engage on the community, ultimately requires another person or persons.

If no one asks questions, there are none to answer.  With no answers, there is no way to demonstrate ones’ knowledge.  With no answers, there is no history to come search among for answers. With no audience, there is no reason to write a blog.  With no peers, there is no debate or discussion.  With no discussion and debate there are no intellectual challenges. With no one to earn respect from there is no reason to attempt to earn respect.  When there is no one to accept your offerings, there is no reason to be a selfless, humble, provider of support and instruction.

A community is a closed loop feedback system.  Something happens, feedback is given, feedback is received and a reaction happens. This must happen in a great enough manner to keep everything in balance and everyone happy.  If you lose either side of the equation, you move to a different level of equilibrium. Fewer newbies & fewer interesting questions, leads to fewer answers, fewer experts, and lower attention to the site.  Historical data, (blogs, discussions, questions, answers), becomes devalued as it becomes out of date and no longer relevant to current software revs.  The value as an online resource continues to drop off.

There is little difference between an online community and a real-life community.  People move into and leave geographical neighborhoods for the same reasons.  The perceived value of the area, i.e. what has to be put in, (often $$$), for value received.  The prestige associated with the area.  The support and inputs received, i.e. schools, public safety, quality of neighbors, etc.

All of this in turns drives what people put back into their community.  Participating actively in schools, volunteering for charities, maintaining their properties, fighting crime and working with police, participating in governmental elections and policy development, advocating for their neighborhood. Ruin either side of the equation and a neighborhood starts into a death spiral.

People have left the SAP community in droves.  Experts and mentors have been discouraged and moved away.  Or at least took long holidays at their vacation homes.  New experts are not replacing them which leaves the  remaining load to fewer people. New people are not connecting into the community and finding the remaining experts.  With fewer new people and fewer questions and less intellectual stimulation, the daily, even hourly participation by remaining experts drops off even more.

If SAP, (in our example, they’re like the government to our neighborhoods), wants to revive the neighborhood, they have to change the perceived value of participation.  They have to make it “the” neighborhood to be in.  Unfortunately, there is no single answer to that just as there is no single answer for government.  Governments need to answer basic questions for a given neighborhood before it can be revitalized.  What is it going to be?  What are we expecting out of it?  Is it a retail area?  A mixed use area? A manufacturing area? A recreational area? A riverfront? An entertainment area? A pure residential area?  Then what is important to the type of people they want there? What needs to be done to attract people and/or investment into the area.

We had a city in SCN made up of neighborhoods, (spaces) that people gravitated to. They knew of the other neighborhoods and were able to visit them when they wanted to or needed to. They knew who were the goto people in those neighborhoods. It seems that with little thought, our neighborhoods were shaken up, homogenized to a single city wide landscape and people dropped in various areas.

Experts were scattered across the city, and they couldn’t even hang their plaques and shingles out to advertise their services and abilities. They had to seek out and monitor certain stores and newspapers and hope they could find someone needing their services.  They no longer had an audience for their blogs and columns. So they stopped writing.

Fellow experts in related areas were scattered as well.  Information or questions from expert to expert were practically impossible. The network of experts were forced to sneak into a clandestine coffee house to visit with old friends. Common topics important to all of them had no way to be shared and exchanged. Notices that someone put something up were quickly lost in the citywide broadcasts where if you didn’t happen to hear about it right away, it was quickly lost in the noise of the city. Updates on career changes, family milestones, travel plans and networking opportunities were lost.  Knowing your neighbor became almost impossible.  Forget about even learning the new people’s names.  Trying to do anything the experts did before took them twice as long.

Newcomers were forced to put out help wanted postings (tags) and hope they had the right combination of postings so that an expert might find them. But with thousands of postings(tags) to choose from, it could be a tedious process to figure out the proper ones. They hung out in streets with new names, or even no names, waiting for someone to show.  When they did make a connection, they didn’t’ have a reliable way of meeting up with the same expert again.  It was only possible to monitor a few things at a time.  And they always had to be there, as nobody actually called them or sent them an email that they had a response or something needed their attention.  Sometimes another new person would show up and try to help them out. But that advice might be bad or incorrect. The info was permanently graffitied on the wall or on the street and never got seen by an expert. It was never corrected or updated by the original poster.  Now the historical data has incorrect information in it forever with no correction or indication to future newcomers that it wasn’t right.

Slowly, the experts that had fought to keep the city alive took longer and longer holidays from the city.  They returned less frequently. They let their streets and storefronts fall into disrepair. The value of the information at these locations dropped.  Newcomers would take a quick look around and without being able to find an expert, or something relevant to them moved on to a different city.

What’s sad is that the people are always out there. Populations never decrease overall. They just move to areas where they perceive the most value.  The experts don’t’ go away.  They find other outlets, other cities, other places to meet with their peers.  Newcomers will seek them out and find them somehow. But neighborhoods do die. Neighbors move away.

The good news is that cities and neighborhoods can be revitalized.  But they take serious attention and investment.  The laws of entropy must be obeyed. Investments must be made to maintain order and prime the pump. But the revitalized neighborhood will be mostly new people, with new ways. Some old neighbors might be remembered for a while.  Some might even adapt and thrive. But eventually most will be forgotten.

So, what vision does SAP have for the community?  Until that is defined, and the balance is restored again and the exodus ended, no revitalization is possible.

I hope I can survive and adapt. But I’m feeling old right now. 🙁

 

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56 Comments

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  1. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Craig, I’m so happy to see your name here as I was afraid it’s yet another one of those obnoxious “Smart Cities” blogs that have been popping out recently. When someone is afraid to open an SCN blog, as if it’s a dirty diaper, you know something is not right.

     

    Your analogy is spot ot. There are many neighborhoods in our area (IRL) that must have been awesome 40 years ago but lost their luster and now look like a trailer park. On the other hand, some neighborhoods not only held up well but even obtained the “historic” status and are now enjoying the increased property values because there are many people now who are willing to pay for “charm” and protected historic status. Of course, for every thriving neighborhood there needs to be both a community of people and an appropriate infrastructure. Cut off the water line in a historic neighborhood and see how quickly people leave.

     

    Before October 2016 SCN may have been like a historic neighborhood that only needed some sprucing up. Now I’m afraid we’re in the trailer park scenario where the old structures need to be demolished and new houses built for new people to move in. And why would anyone want to move here is a great question.

     

    (Let the record show that I’m doing Ctrl-A / Ctrl-C before clicking Submit.)

    (12) 
    1. Craig S Post author

      Yes, maybe some minor fixes would have resolved it. But now.. I don’t know.

      I think a lot of it was the time it took to implement and make some fixes.  Look how long it took to add in the spell checker.  It seemed like outside of technical issues, (site crashing, lost posts, incorrect displays, etc.. ) there was no coinciding effort to deal with the functional issues of things that were missing.

      I understand when resources are limited, things must be prioritized.  But it seemed to me as if actual bugs got 100% of the resources, (which I understand).   But then all the requested improvements and screams from the mods and mentors for certain perceived or actual lost functionality simply went in to the normal development queue.  The idea place seemed almost abandoned.  As in “we’ll look into these in due time”.  You know.. review, prioritization, analysis, proposal, approval of proposal, development, testing, etc…    I.e. standard promotion to production via the regular system methodology.  It was almost as if it was felt all was fine, everything was in correctly and this was just business as usual system tweaks to be studied and maybe implemented.

      Now I’m sure that was probably not the true case. That resources were limited and the technical challenges sucked resources dry.  But maybe that was the time to get more resources in and worry about budget later.  Cause folks were heading out the door.

      When we go to a major fire, we don’t worry too much about resources at the time. We call in what we need and let the accountants figure it out later. If a crane is needed, we get a crane, if 100 more personnel are needed, we at least get 90.  🙂  Same when we release a new SAP system to a client. If manufacturing clients are screaming and we clearly missed necessary functionality, we resolve it. In days or weeks.  Not months.

      Now, I fear that you might be right. It may no longer be about sprucing up the neighborhood. Experts and users have been lost. The balance of the equation has been broken.  The question is no longer making the existing moderator’s and mentors happy.  It’s how do we attract and bring in new users and encourage them to stay and do more than just ask a question and leave.  We have to show them its worth their while to come back every day and check to see what is new here.  That there is value in them becoming part of a community.

      If that can happen, some of the “lost” folks might come back.  For those that don’t, replacements can be found among the new residents of the community.

      But the future is most likely a very new community, with a new generation of experts.

       

      (5) 
  2. Moya Watson

    Craig, I’m so glad you didn’t give up.  Great to see you in the neighborhood. What a beautiful piece. Love the analogy of online and real-world communities and of revitalization.

    Before we can talk revitalization, you’re absolutely right that we need to nail the purpose:

    Exactly what is the role of community? What is SAP getting out of this? What is the community for?

    Agreed with the section on what members “give” to SAP via the community (“There is a monetary reason for SAP to have the community…” section), but to me, asking what we can ‘get’ out of members is the fundamentally opposite approach to what makes a community tick.  If this gets me labeled idealist or worse — maybe out of touch with “business realities” — so be it, but we first need to look at community as a way to provide everyone with a voice (a house? basic rights?) and our privilege in that case is to listen.  If I were the government (and I’m usually glad I’m not), our highest purpose would be a community of the people, by the people, for the people…

     

    Thanks for being a part.

    (12) 
    1. Craig S Post author

      Thanks Moya!

      I don’t think its a matter of asking how much we can get out of the community of users in a dollar sense or how we can leverage them more.  I think its more about simply recognizing the value of the community from a corporate standpoint so that resources can be fully justified to support it and grow it. And resolve any issues that crop up, almost at any cost.

      Just like a city has to allocate police, fire and EMS services to neighborhoods.  Some need more, some less, some a very specific mix of resources. While some areas can handle some delays in some services, some can’t.  It might be acceptable to let a building sit empty and fall into a certain amount of disrepair for a few months in a residential area.  But totally unacceptable to allow that to happen in say the historic garden section that is a primary tourist section.  The New Orleans Garden District and French Quarter in New Orleans for example vs the 9th ward and other non-tourist areas.

      But the French Quarter and Garden District are key neighborhoods that drive much of the economics of the city. If anything at all is an issue in those areas, the city won’t spare any expense to resolve the issue.

      Is the SAP community viewed as a key neighborhood for SAP?  i think maybe now it’s beginning too. I’m not so sure it was last year.

       

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    2. Jamie Cantrell

      In my personal perspective, the ROI/value of Community to SAP is simple: we are creating a symbiotic relationship with our current customers and partners to build loyalty and brand advocacy. In business terms, we benefit by creating an environment in which our members gain value from the platform in regards to building their personal brand, expertise, reputation, and network by sharing and consuming information and building relationships with each other. This naturally creates people who are interested in SAP, who want to share the brand out to the world, to their peers, to their employers. We don’t need to sell on Community to gain value — which is why we don’t allow it. It’s more valuable to us as a company to have you all here, building personal professional investment in SAP as a community (lower case “c”) than it is for us to force sales conversations down your throats.

      In regards to the other comments made in this thread, I won’t try to address them all, as I want to stay mostly out of the way of the group therapy that needs to happen via peer support for all of us right now as we get the platform into working order. I want to share my thoughts on Craig’s city analogy though. We are in a position now where we have to spend the time and due diligence to do it right this time, fixing the bigger underlying problems before we see real results. We cannot put new coats of paint on individual houses to save the neighborhood without investing in fixing crumbling streets and failing sewage systems. In the end, you’ll have pretty houses floating in sh*t.

      Thanks everyone for your thoughts and for hanging with us during this challenging time of change.

      Best,

      Jamie

      (8) 
      1. Craig S Post author

        Thanks Jamie!

        I love the analogy of new coats of paint, and floating houses at the end!! 🙂  I’m really looking forward to new sewer lines!

         

        I know you see the ROI for the community.  And I know Brian does too. But as things percolate upstream those “soft” or intangibles make it hard to fight for resources when accountants are making budgets and executives are looking to cut budget or “make their bones” so to speak.  It’s hard to sell a $100,000 development on the backs of “it’ll speed up the ability of our mentors to review posts” against $100,000 development that can show a 3-yr payback and 5-yr reduction of costs by 66K.  So many companies focus on these short-term things, (which IS important!), but fail to look at long term survivability and what makes companies really great.  Managing solely by the $$ is a sure way to long-term failure.

         

        It really takes strong executives at the top to believe and set the mandates and priorities.  I’m hoping that has been done.

        Craig

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        1. Moya Watson

           

          Agreed and I can say that community has top-level attention.  Maybe some people have different motivations, and I don’t think SAP ever lost sight of the value of the community even if it looked a bit blighted in the past couple of years — but we’ve been a pioneer in community since 2003 and I see no reason why — with the help of passionate members like this — we cannot be there again.

          (5) 
  3. Lars Breddemann

    Very well chosen analogy. Obviously, I fully agree with the points you make, especially about SAP’s corporate interest in a well-functioning community.

    My favourite bit of the “city”-idea is that it allows to tackle the big messy problem, that is the current state of the SAP Community Platform in smaller parts.

    Changing things neighbourhood by neighbourhood can be an option.

    Solving similar problems differently for different areas can be the best choice (i.e. do moderation practices have to be exactly the same for “topics” with 50 regulars vs. topics with “5000” regulars? <– ok, the high number is optimistic, but you get the point).

    I get (and share) the feeling about old. It has been a tiresome ride until here. But as you wrote, it is possible to rebuild this “city” and, very fortunately, it doesn’t involve manual labour 🙂

    (3) 
    1. Craig S Post author

      Thanks Lars!

      Yes.. no physical labor!  But a lot of mental labor!!!

      I agree that maybe it can be tackled neighborhood by neighborhood as opposed to one big city overhaul.

      I guess the question is how to view our neighborhoods and how they are defined.  Should coders have their own area?  Should we build a pure entertainment area around the coffee house?  What is the goal?  Attract new people?  Keep us old people happy?

      I really don’t know!  I do think we need to relegate sales and marketing to their own neighborhood and get them totally out of the tagging business.  Build a ten foot wall around them and top it with razor wire.  🙂

      Craig

      (1) 
      1. Lars Breddemann

        To be honest, I use the “no physical labour” argument most of the times when I get frustrated with my line of business in order to drag up at least one positive aspect (even though I surely could use more physical activity these days…).

        Like you, I don’t have THE ANSWER® ready for how to (re)build the different sub-communities.

        I get the point of having sales and marketing in a special place but I’m not sure that building a virtual ghetto is the best option here. There is content (e.g. from product management or event announcements, …) that I would be interested in; I just don’t want to have it thrown at me when trying to read blogs and questions of “my” topic areas.

        This feels a bit like as it boils down to having some sort of opt-in mechanism or a part of the “topic” page that one could collapse (or not). Well, by now everyone should understand why I’m the last person to ask about UIx questions…

         

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  4. Brian Ellefritz

    Craig, thanks for the refreshing new analogy and point of view.  I love the comparison to urban cycles and the neighborhood model; there is a lot to draw from the mental picture you’ve created here.  A lot of the challenge in any revitalization is making something real, making it approachable and relevant to audiences.  And as Lars picked up, using this mental model some new options might emerge (like neighborhood vs entire city overhaul).

     

    Your comment about the value of the community to SAP struck me (again – I’ve seen it before).  I share Moya’s reservation about investing in this expectation too deeply and in fact if we use your city/neighborhood analogy, didn’t villages and cities spring up because they served the naturally communal behavior of humans (vs. proving that they served a specific need)?  I won’t go further on this now, it’s a bit academic to me at this moment as I’ve not encountered a single “why are we doing this?” or “what value will we get from this?” so far and hope I don’t.  For now, it’s enough for me to know we’re rebuilding a place where people want to be.

     

    Thanks again for your blog post, Craig, glad you expounded it past the response to Lars post. Great stuff.

     

    (2) 
    1. Craig S Post author

      Thanks Brian!

      You can see my response to Moya.

      As a systems analyst and functional consultant, I think it’s extremely important to justify and try to quantify the value of things if you plan to spend money on it.  I don’t like politician’s making unilateral decisions with “discretionary funds” and grant money. I feel the same way as an SAP shareholder.

      But on the other hand, a real pet peeve of mine, is that we rarely take into account the intangibles and they get short shrift by most people, especially corporate people. An analyst needs to account for these. If we keep the city as our example, the parks are a perfect example.  We all know that no city is viable without parks, playgrounds for kids, ball fields for youth leagues and weekend warriors. But how much $$$ should be allocated?  Personally for me, its never been enough!

      What is the value of a Yellowstone? Glacier National Park? Yosemite? Grand Canyon?  Or at the city level, Central Park in NYC? Fairmont Park in Philly? Golden Gate Park in San Fran?   In bad times, these are the first places to get cuts because their dollar value is not immediately apparent. It’s messy to quantify. It’s not easy to promote the value of outdoor activity.  The benefit of greenery to a city.  The morale of a community to have places to relax and be with family on the weekends.

      I am sure that the same discussions go on about the SAP community.  What is the 3-yr payback for the community?  5-yr?  How much is it contributing to the bottom line?  How can you make it a profit center and not a cost center?  How can we reduce support for it?  Can we get a cheaper platform?

      I hope that 2016 showed that the community was of benefit and has been sorely missed.  It seems to. I hope that now it’s been defined as a “key” neighborhood and it gets whatever is needed to fix it. I hope that the primary goal is now the user experience and not the cost. (That worked for Walt). And I really hope you’ll have all the necessary resources you need to do the revitalization.

      And yes, you are absolutely correct that villages and cities sprung up out of a desired communal experience.  I have no doubt that the SAP experts and mentors will again find themselves in an SAP related community.  It’s our nature. We want to be in such places. We will seek them out.

      I guess the question is though, will it be SAP’s city?  Or a city somewhere else on the worldwide web?  Or maybe it’ll be a whole bunch of small villages spread out around the world.

      Craig

       

      (4) 
        1. Craig S Post author

          I’m jealous!!!   My favorite park. Been there and did some back country hiking and camping.  Can’t wait to go back!!!!  Looking forward to the pics..

          Not sure where you’ll post them though!!!

          Craig

           

          (1) 
        2. Brian Ellefritz

          I’m a Yosemite guy myself but Yellowstone is awesome too; have a great time Jamie (and no wading in the hot springs: we need you back safe and sound!).

           

          (1) 
        3. Scott Raines

          Wishing you light traffic and few other visitors on your week to Yellowstone! There’s nothing quite as annoying as going out to a remote location to experience nature and then having to wait in long lines…

          (2) 
          1. Craig S Post author

            Its why you have to visit these parks more than once, Or at least pick one of them and do that.  Do the tourist stuff on the first visit.  Then you have to get to the back county and lesser used areas. In Yellowstone, my son and I didn’t see a single person for 3 days after the first 6 hrs from the trailhead.  In July, the height of the season!

             

            (2) 
          2. Jamie Cantrell

            Tell me about it! I’m actually more worried on the trip back because I live in Central Oregon and coming back in time for the solar eclipse. Our emergency services folks are expecting millions of people into our little 90,000 person city. It’s going to be a zoo!

            (1) 
  5. Simone Milesi

    Great blog Craig!

    Between this and Lars’ one, i think we nailed exactly the focal point, the root of all the problems: who are we? How can we improve?

    (5) 
  6. Rob Dielemans

    Great blog Craig. This coupled with Lars’ blog put into words what many were thinking.

     

    One of my reasonings on why this community is not thriving has to do with the tools available to react to questions and the limited time a community member has to interact with them.

    In old SCN, per space I could quickly get an overview of all pending questions that accumulated in a day or more and decide which one to interact with, simply by CTRL+Clicking the topics. Then spent the rest of my 20 minutes assigned to SCN answering them.

    Now it is scroll, scroll, scroll, click, scroll, scroll, scroll ctrl+click, scroll, click, scroll, scroll, etc. It takes for me too much time to find out all questions the last 24 hours. So I end up maybe seeing the topics of the last 8 hours or so.

    If SAP is truly committed to revitalize the community then this obstacle has to go.

    (5) 
    1. Craig S Post author

      Thanks Rob.

      Yes, I agree wholeheartedly.

      And as stated, you missing these topics is a bad thing.  If others post bad or incorrect information on posts you’ve missed that bad info is now there forever. It’s part of the record and future users might see that and it’ll send them down the wrong path and on a wild goose chase.

      Craig

       

      (1) 
      1. Rob Dielemans

        hi Craig,

         

        I think it is a fair demand to make that one of the deliverables has to be:

         

        It takes no more than 20 minutes to search all questions posted the last 24 hours in multiple spaces (in my case mainly Abap, MM and Workflow), find 10 that suit your interest and add your expertise to them.

         

        What do you think?

         

        Cheers, Rob.

        (1) 
        1. Craig S Post author

          i think you are generous on the time.  I’m not sure that the future mods and mentors of the “I want it now” generations of the new digital age would accept that.

           

          Craig

          (0) 
    2. Robin van het Hof

      I couldn’t agree more! This has been my biggest gripe with the new community, and makes it downright useless for me.

       

      I used to have SAP Community the first page in my browser each morning.

       

      Now, I visit it maybe once, twice a week…

      (1) 
  7. Jarret Pazahanick

    One of my favorite SCN blogs of the year (although I never would have noticed it unless I was on Twitter) as the analogy is spot on.  It is VERY hard to build a good neighborhood as takes years and bad decisions can slowly ruin it.  I am shocked to be honest on what a horrible job SAP has done with what was their crown jewel in the enterprise space and though I can appreciate Brian Ellefritz (tried to tag him 3 different ways but that seems to no longer work) jumping in the time for action has passed 2-3-4-5-6 times already so if SAP is still at the “information gathering stage” and not all hands on deck fix ASAP point than it is even more hopeless than I thought.

     

    I published ~100 blogs on SAP SCN, was a huge advocate, a SAP Mentor for 4 years, loved the community so like to think I understand it fairly well and since I am known as a straight shooter will say the odds are highly against SAP undoing the damage they have done as given what I have seen with the constant platform changes, lack of usability, tone deaf behavior, lack of accountability and pretty clear that this is not a priority anymore to senior leadership even though Bill McDermott said it would be “fixed” by TechEd there has not been one big noticeable change since Sapphire around usability (the biggest issue) so the neighborhood will stay a ghost town for the foresable future.

     

    On a side, there are other neighborhoods (i.e Linkedin) that have cheaper housing (easier to blog) better neighbors (ie CIO, Directors, CHRO), better amenities (can publish to LI and LI groups), more people show up to events (ie read blogs/updates) and better roadways (better UI/UX) so that is an example of one of many neighborhoods that SCN has to compete with now that they neglected theirs for so long. I am willing to move back part time (ie Cross posting) but need to see it is worth it and sadly right now it is not.

    (11) 
    1. Craig S Post author

      Thank you Jarret!  I know how active you were so I’m very appreciative of your reply.

       

      And this was on twitter?  Maybe I should sign up?

       

      And yes, there are other neighborhoods.  See my response to Brian’s reply.

       

      I feel the city SAP built is going the way the city Ford built went. 🙂

       

      Craig

       

      (1) 
      1. Jarret Pazahanick

        Thanks, and I would recommend twitter as can be a neat tool for SAP professionals (and many other things) but definitely takes a little getting used to.\

        On a side, the SAP SCN community when it was its best answered 1000’s of questions from customers and “consultants” (that were helping customers) which are now either going back to SAP or Customers are potentially struggling both of which is a huge short/long term cost to SAP.

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        1. Craig S Post author

          yes.. Now they can maybe get some history to use on future estimates of that cost.

          Prior to this, that possibility may not have been considered, (i.e. the rollout will go great!), or they had no real way to quantify it until now.

          I have this issue in QM all the time. We can say, “Well, you really need to do this because if you have a recall.. or if you get audited”, etc etc.. It’s hard to convince a client who rarely has recalls to do something daily “just in case”.  Even using the argument “best practice” can fall on deaf ears. But then that once in a decade recall comes…. 🙂

          Craig

           

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        2. Veselina Peykova

          I am probably too old, but Twitter looks to me like a huge spam-fest comparable to the current Activity stream (if you happen to follow a few more active members or popular tags). How exactly can it be turned into a neat tool for SAP professionals? Maybe you could write a blog about it and promote it in Coffee Corner (otherwise it will sink really fast due to the KPI madness).

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          1. Jarret Pazahanick

            The good news is I wrote some blogs that might be helpful though they are 6-7 years old.

            and
            11 SAP Executives to Follow on Twitter  (Lots of turnover from SAP in the executive ranks which you can see from the list as well)

            On a side, the key is who you follow will determine how targeted things are as well.  My twitter account is https://twitter.com/SAP_Jarret if you want to take a look to get a sense on the information and discussion I share/partake in as well.

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            1. Veselina Peykova

              Oh, my… caught in failed to search 🙂

              The problem is the type of content, which I find on Twitter – a huge part of it is irrelevant for me: events – not interested, content by executives – most probably not, popular articles – maybe… sometimes, but I am already scraping for content here and Twitter does not seem a significant improvement in this aspect. Sapland.ru + various blog sites is a bit closer to what I find easy to use.

              And most Linkedin SAP-related groups are very spammy with questionable content quality, which is why I rarely navigate there.

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            2. Jelena Perfiljeva

              Sorry for offtopic but do you have a separate personal Twitter account (considering “SAP” prefix)? One of my reservations is that I don’t like mixing “business with pleasure”. 🙂 Twitter is actually used a lot by our local government and parents at school, so I thought about joining at some point. But I wouldn’t really want to broadcast my quarrels with the local school board to the SCN friends, for example.

              Perhaps you could write another blog on this, eh? I even have a great title already: “Y U NO Join Twitter?”. 🙂

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              1. Jarret Pazahanick

                When I joined twitter, I probably should have been smarter on my name and once I had a following it is tough to change so I am forever known as SAP_Jarret in that space :-). No real logic to it but I use Twitter for more work related and FB for personal/friends/family though occasionally they will cross.  I hardly ever post something personal on twitter or work related on FB given the different followers/friends on each platform.   I do use twitter to consume a lot of hobby information (sports, investing, politics, news, kids school) and do so via private lists.

                At the end of the day, the only people that will see what you post on twitter are people who follow you and if you are ranting on SAP that will definitely be a different audience that parents at school 🙂

                Would highly recommend joining and following 5-10 people at first, and increasing as you get the hang of it.  Some neat information and view points out there and the 140 characters keeps things short and easy to consume as well.

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  8. Nathan Genez

    Craig,

     

    Thanks for your time and thoughtful parallel on this blog.  It’s hard to imagine that a decision to move from a space structure to a tag oriented one would be the primary downfall for SCN but the involvement is way down and I can’t find a better reason.  The traffic in the forums and new blogs in the ERP Finance area is a small percentage of what we had previously…  though that makes my moderator job a lot easier.  Maybe someone will write a case study on this one day.  From SAP’s standpoint, they’d have to first admit they messed up and with the most logical decision being to go back to the previous format, they’d have a lot of egg on their face.  

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    1. Craig S Post author

      Thanks Nathan!

      Personally I think it was a factor of many issues, not just one.  Using tags was, not to me inherently bad,  >2000 of them was bad!  The lack of thought into tagging is what amazed me.  I said it awhile back ago that it looked to me like they told a summer intern to use some marketing and sales hierarchy to go make the tagging list.  Maybe I’m wrong.

      I think the initial lack of the coffee corner hurt.  The amount of white space that still is an issue. The scrolling requirements and “more” button.  The focus on mobile interface. The lack of a basic spell check and other blogging tools that are taken for granted.  Only initially allowing 2 images or screen shots!  Basic sorting tools missing in lists.  Just so many different “misses” on so many levels that it added up to a colossal failure.

      Craig

       

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  9. Brian Ellefritz

    A quick (‘nother) shout out to Lars and Craig for your two amazing blog posts.  I’ve been circulating them to execs and sponsors and they’ve been more powerful than any slide decks or whiny emails we’ve used so far. One more (very powerful) stimulant – not that I believe we need more evidence.  Thanks again you two for your wisdom and for all the rest of you for your great comments.  It takes a village… (sticking with Craig’s theme).

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    1. Craig S Post author

      Thank you Brian.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing or not!!

      Kind of you know… the hand that feds ya….   🙂

       

       

       

       

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      1. Brian Ellefritz

        Ha!  All good, Craig, getting great feedback on the fresh ideas and thinking.  Obviously this is painful stuff but you put it out there in a way that can draw people in, which is appreciated.

         

         

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        1. Rob Dielemans

          Best of luck to you Brian.

           

          Do you think it’s also possible to change the focus from mobile to desktop/laptop since the tools that people use to consume SAP products (end-users, consultants, etc.) are the same tools that they use to interact with the SAP community.

           

          Cheers, Rob.

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  10. John Moy

    Great analogy Craig, and an excellent post.

    My faith and trust in the SCN site dissolved when I was locked out of my S number account after changing employers. After writing a number of blogs in which I invested much time as my own ‘creations’, I was locked out. So for me it was like I spent so much time building and furnishing a home which I felt comfortable in and proud of, only to find myself walking to the door and my keys no longer worked. And being told by the local authorities that they had repossessed it and it was no longer mine.

    Since then I’ve shifted any blogging to a platform where I have more control. Yes there is no community in that site but I leverage LinkedIn and Twitter to engage with communities and share my blog links.

    Ever since I heard SAP Marketing took over the running of SCN (I hope that is indeed a factual statement) I didn’t feel good about where things would end. And when I saw a rise in blogs which were simply new product announcements that cemented my fears.

    I do so hope we can one day see the same community of old. The best days for me were when Mark Yolton lead SCN. But I guess that’s like reminiscing about the days of Star Trek TNG. In reality we probably need to look forward to something new.

    Cheers

    John

     

     

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    1. Craig S Post author

      Yes.  I heard that happened to several people.   Jelena Perfiljeva  was one of them too.  She had to relocate to a new house as well recently.

      We’ve gotten lots of feedback that says the sewers, roads and other infrastructure are being worked on and overhauled.  Hopefully when it comes out a new community will grow.  But it will be a lot of new people, (which isn’t bad either), and probably a different type of place just due to the nature of those moving in.  I guess we’ve been gentrified.

       

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  11. Stephen Johannes

    This is one of the best analogies of what happened, however I see bigger failure that happened and since I’m not in the SAP Ecosystem anymore I am happy to speak truth to the powers that be at SAP, however I know they won’t listen.

    • SAP Community is put under new leadership who fails to understand concept of communities
    • New Leadership pushes radical redesign of site that eliminates how communities work and focuses on information/context taxonomy features
    • New Leadership leaves during transition to new site for greener and better pastures
    • SAP Community withers away because advice of leadership who thought taxonomy system would work for human to human interactions
    • Existing SAP Leadership continues to ignore the fact that their 1DX strategy imposed on the community is fundamentally flawed and in typical behavior blames the community for not being willing to change.
    • Band-aids on Tag system are created to draw people back in, but ignore the fundamental problem that the design of the community site is based on a fundamentally incorrect architecture from a community perspecitve.

    Take care,

    Stephen

     

     

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    1. Craig S Post author

      Thanks Stephen for the comments.  Anymore, rarely is there a single point of failure. Which is a problem as then there is always the ability to deflect and debate what, as we commonly say in the QM world, the “root cause” is.  To me it’s really a bad analogy as when a tree topples, it’s never a single root failure that causes it, but multiple root problems.

      As you suggest, there were probably multiple issues.

      Thanks!

      Craig

       

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    1. Raquel Pereira da Cunha

      Thank you for featuring this post on home page. It made me find it and for sure it helped many other people too. It’s a very interesting reading, and particularly important in a community discussion I am in at the moment. It brought me more inputs.

      Thanks Craig for writing it.

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