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Author's profile photo Jerry Janda

Video: Bjoern Goerke and Thomas Grassl Talk About What’s Next for SAP Community

By now, you may have seen the blog post from SAP CEO Bill McDermott, announcing new leadership for SAP Community. And you may have wondered what these changes mean.

In this new video, Bjoern Goerke, Chief Technology Officer and President of SAP Cloud Platform, and Thomas Grassl, Head of Developer Relations, chat about these changes. As the new senior leaders for SAP Community, they offer their insights about what’s to come.

During their conversation, Bjoern and Thomas talk about the importance of the community (particularly the knowledge base and input from members) and discuss how we need to improve the experience. They also share their vision for the community — and address how we’ll make this vision a reality.

As a member of the SAP Community Experience team, I’m excited about what this reorganization can do for the community. And I’m not alone. Check out “New Year in a New Organization,” a blog post from Gali Kling Schneider, head of the SAP Community Experience team. You’ll see that there is a lot of enthusiasm behind the scenes — and I hope you’re feeling enthusiastic as well!

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      Author's profile photo Mike Pokraka
      Mike Pokraka

      Did the SAP marketing machine script this?

      No personal criticism of Bjoern or Thomas intended (big respect for what you guys are doing with ABAP Cloud Platform and other cool stuff), but he whole thing looks staged marketing fluff, there's no meat whatsoever. This is just as applicable 2, 5, or 10 years ago, and has no relevance to the current state of SCN. 

      Let's take the main statements:

      'Tons of knowledge is shared by millions of people out there' - Yup, that's obvious

      'Millions of people out there come to the site looking for information and answers to their questions' - Er, yes that's the point of a community site

      'We want to make things easier to find and provide more relevant information to everyone' - OK, personalising content is a vaguely new direction, but hardly a game changer. As bad as the current search capabilities are, that is way down the list of complaints. I haven't heard of anyone dropping off SCN "because it's too difficult to find stuff"

      Or maybe the title "What's next" was way off the mark.

      Did I miss something?

      Author's profile photo Mike Pokraka
      Mike Pokraka

      OK, this is my third attempt at editing/amending my comment.
      I wanted to add that this is no thing against the blog author Jerry either (we very much appreciate the work he does on the site), and correct a small type. But when I tried to edit it, I was faced with another long-standing issue:

      Then on submitting my first attempt at this reply I got the dreaded blank page.

      And I forgot to Ctrl-A Ctrl-C before clicking submit so lost everything.

      THIS is what we want to see addressed. Not the awful search for which we have Google as a superior workaround anyway. We must be nearing close to two years on the new platform, why are we still struggling with the basics?


      Author's profile photo Michelle Crapo
      Michelle Crapo

      Hi Mike,

      So I've been negative in the past. I won't hesitate to be negative again. I don't completely disagree with you.

      I'm still in the wait and see what happens phase. I'm trying to encourage conversations and people to come back. Why? Because we were a great community. We can be again. I'm seeing change. Some of the content is coming back. It's a hard balance. Beyond the obvious issues we are having with the platform. We need that content. Otherwise the best platform in the world will fail.

      The next thing that I notice - there are a lot of things going on in SAP itself. There is no correct language to use. There are many programming languages. There are people that don't care about the language they want to talk AI, Iot, business trends, new SAP products, and more.

      Questions - normal issues we've always had. Except there are less questions. Less people.

      I don't disagree there is a lot to do... I'm just glad to see this and other blogs relating to change. What's next would be cool. But maybe there is just too much going on to list?



      Author's profile photo Thomas Grassl
      Thomas Grassl

      I guess our definition of the “next” in “What’s next for SAP Community" was much more the near term and probably a better title could have been “Hello Community.” We didn't read from a script, Bjoern and I talked about what we thought, next time we will do it live. Per your comments, we might have covered some obvious points in the process, but only because these points also happen to be crucial. We understand the value of the community and we recognize we need to do better for our members.

      Since the announcement, Bjoern and I have received a lot of comments, encouragement, detailed feedback, and insights from many members in the Community. We want to say we take all of this input serious and we are looking forward to the next chapter of the community. Regarding future, I told the team I will not blog about what are the big plans. It’s more important to make things happen and share it with everyone when it’s real.


      Author's profile photo Mike Pokraka
      Mike Pokraka

      Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. You are right, “Hello Community” is a completely different topic.

      Most of us don’t have the privilege of knowing you personally, so we see Bill McDermott’s ‘these guys are going to fix things’ blog followed by a piece with “What’s next” in the title, described as the ‘new senior leaders chatting about the changes and offering insights as to what’s to come’.

      Forgive my cynic alarm bells when the actual content did not even acknowledge there was a problem, didn’t offer any solutions, and instead offered a bit of vision that - while useful - is pretty low down the list of what the community wants right now. But as “Hello Community” it was actually a nice intro.

      It reminds me of one of the bits of advice I was given when preparing a presentation for TechEd: you can have the best presentation in the world, but if it doesn’t match the abstract your audience will be disappointed.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      I agree that this may have been just a poor choice of title. Just like others, I was expecting a bit more from "what's next" (e.g. specific plans, steps, dates and such) but it seemed more of just another mission statement, more or less.

      Speaking of which - where are the specific plans, steps, dates and such?

      Author's profile photo DJ Adams
      DJ Adams

      I’d written some thoughts on this on my own blog over here: Thoughts on what’s next for the SAP Community. But I’ve been since encouraged by Jerry to repost them on here on the SAP Community, so here they are:

      Thoughts on what’s next for the SAP Community

      While I’m here, I’ll add my 2p worth in response to Mike Pokraka ‘s comments. To me, who is as suspicious as the next person, this didn’t come across as marketing material, and certainly not scripted. I have the good fortune to know Bjoern and Thomas personally, and am pretty sure that this was off the cuff and from the heart.

      The challenges we (that’s a collective ‘we’) have with the SAP community are many, and it may come as a surprise to some to find that some of those challenges are fundamental. But that doesn’t mean those challenges are thereby less important. Quite the opposite. To get folks to contribute and share knowledge is difficult. I know that from personal experience. To do that at scale is doubly so.

      As Thomas said in his comment, some of the points are obvious, but they’re crucial too. We (again, a collective ‘we’) would be foolish to focus on the bells and whistles before getting the basics in order.

      I’ve already seen some great improvements with the platform itself; I’m not averse to telling people that one of the reasons that drove me away from SCN was the Jive-based platform which was pretty awful for content contributors. But that’s behind us now, and I’ve recently written over 17,000 words (of drivel, some would say) on the SAP Cloud Platform workflow service. Without a hitch. I’ll say that again. Without. A. Hitch. Content creation works, and it’s pretty friction free.

      That’s a major step in the right direction.

      There’s more to community than enabling one-way content creation. But goodness me it’s a pretty significant part.



      Author's profile photo Jeremy Good
      Jeremy Good

      Hi DJ Adams - I'm sure that cross posting doesn't come without its challenges, but thank you for the valuable community contributions on workflow!  The technical content is out of my area of expertise, but I noticed a pattern in a few sample blogs I looked at where the "Discovering SCP Workflow" link takes the user to your personal blog space.  Is this by accident from the repost, or does the Guide not exist here in the community?

      As a very relevant use case test, I tried looking and searching for it, but was reminded of the present day brokenness in going beyond content authoring (I would agree with you that especially after the tag reduction, authoring new content is quite friction free, even though I'm not a frequent blogger).  I went hunting for where your primary tag fit into the CTPs or any logical navigation, but gave up after a few attempts.  I see this as a critical part to get the basics in order - content curation and orchestration in such a way that community members can effectively engage in consumption or collaboration on their area(s) of expertise without luck being on their side.  Far too often since the launch, I have tried to find or re-find something I know I had observed or encountered, but struggled to find it again for lack of a bookmark option, or ability to simply watch or follow a good conversation or blog.

      I first saw mention of your blog series on Twitter, and then as it related to the community posts and involvement with Jerry Janda but since I'm not following the primary tag you chose, it would have been only visible to me on the latest blogs widget as a chance encounter.  I am now following you here, and if I had been doing so prior to your blog posts, your contributions would have at some point been visible in my scrolling Activity Feed, but since I'm following several tags and community members it is likely very distant in many 'More' button clicks after 4 days (my first page view only covers the last 22 minutes).

      I would offer that I share the collective optimism with the recent changes in the organization, and will continue to roll up my sleeves and help Thomas Grassl and his new charter, especially when I can make a difference.  As Michelle Crapo mentioned, the 'wait and see what happens phase' is very natural, but I am confident we will get our mojo back, and after all, The SAP Community deserves our best!

      Time for some Nicolas Cage inspired GO-BABY-GO !

      P.S. - I started writing this reply yesterday, so my session expired in the meanwhile, so I had to open a new browser tab to re-authenticate so I could copy/paste this reply without starting over or losing all the embedded links 🙂


      Author's profile photo Joachim Rees
      Joachim Rees

      drove me away from SCN was the Jive-based platform which was pretty awful for content contributors.

      Thats the first time I read a comment like this, it's interesting to also get such views!

      Author's profile photo DJ Adams
      DJ Adams

      Some great thoughts there Jeremy Good , thanks!

      On the guide for the Discovering SAP Workflow “index” post being on my site, it was deliberate. There’s always a balance to be had with anything, and with 17,000+ words on the actual content (the 10 posts themselves) on the SAP Community, it felt to me as if a separate guide in a separate place might help, especially to bring traffic to each site. I have readers on my blog (that I’ve written posts on since 2002) that I’d like to direct to the SAP Community site, and vice versa.

      One thing that we were very keen on doing in the early days of the SAP Developer Network (SDN) was to make sure it didn’t become an island on the web. There was a danger that it might have become that, as initially you couldn’t even *read* posts on their without logging on, let along author them. Google couldn’t index the content, either.

      To illustrate this, here's a screenshot I still have from the very early days of SDN where, because of the island nature, there were almost zero links to blog posts on there:

      With that spirit still at the fore, I don’t think it’s healthy to see the SAP Community as the *only* place for SAP content. I for one do not want to see the SAP Community turning into Facebook, a site that’s only on the web, but not properly *interconnected* with it.

      To your other points about metadata and content curation and discovery, I think you’re absolutely right. There are some key ingredients that allow a community such as this to thrive:

      • people, to write and consume content and to connect with and assist each other
      • content, in short form, long form, chat, Q&A and other guises
      • signposts, classification and curation of those people and their content, to allow discovery through explicit and deliberate search, and through serendipity and chance

      Of course, to support this we need a solid platform too, and it looks like we have the makings of that now, if blog post authoring is anything to go by. Let’s see what the new 2018 design brings, I for one am looking forward to test driving that and seeing how it helps discovery.

      Author's profile photo Jeremy Good
      Jeremy Good

      We all hope that the test drive is early and often enough (I provided early feedback months ago) to have a positive impact in the overall outcome.  We've had enough premature celebration already, so we want to avoid the Gung Ho experience.

      Author's profile photo Joachim Rees
      Joachim Rees

      I usually don't like consuming Videos (at least in the SAP Community context), I rather like to read blogs.

      But as it was mentioned on , I thought I probably should see it before a I read on.

      So: I didn't get anything out of it.... 🙁
      But as so often: others might think differently and have different preferences, so it's great that you also provide this and other formats.