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A Conversation with SAP Data Warehouse Cloud’s Lead Developer

Tobias Höhmann joined SAP’s headquarters in Walldorf, Germany in 2009 when he was still a student in the neighboring Mannheim. For a few months now, he’s been leading the development of SAP’s newest product offering, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud. For the International Programmer’s Day 2019, we had a chance to sit down and chat with him about his background and his current work at SAP.


You’ve been with SAP almost 10 years. How did your journey start?

Tobias Höhmann: I started working at SAP when I was a Business Informatics student at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University in Mannheim. Over the first three years, I moved between different projects, developing tools for GRC Risk Management, ByDesign Financials, and Research. As I progressed, I wanted to work closely with customers and see our use cases implemented in real-life situations. After I finished my undergrad, I moved into Business Intelligence consulting and was working mostly with SAP’s Enterprise Portfolio Management products, like Business Warehouse, Business Planning, and Consolidation, or other analytics tools.


Why did you switch to development?

Tobias Höhmann: What I was missing in my previous roles was the ability to truly shape the product: its strategy, features, and how it interacts with the customer. I knew that all the experience and skills I acquired in the past prepared me to take on the new role. One of the things that I enjoy most about being a developer is collaborating with teams scattered around the world. SAP is a global company and I always seem to find rare talent everywhere in the organization. I’m very amazed to see the dedication that each and every team puts into the development of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud.


Based on your experience, what is SAP culture?

Tobias Höhmann: There’s a true diversity of thought and opinions here. We share our knowledge and experiences easily and freely. Most of the people I had the pleasure to work with over the last few years were very open. And I’m not talking solely about their character. People value candor and feedback. We know that we’re working towards a common goal and one of the ways to get there is to continually question each other’s opinions and biases.


Why should people explore career opportunities here?

Tobias Höhmann: SAP is a global company whose products are used in every corner of the world. Our company covers all areas of business so you can find yourself working on some interesting, globe-spanning projects. One week you could be working on a manufacturing assignment, the next – banking. The company truly cares about its employees. Even if you don’t find yourself passionate about what you’re doing in the moment, you are heavily encouraged to stay and find another role or another location within SAP to explore your true potential. I’m the perfect example of that.


What makes SAP Data Warehouse Cloud different from other solutions available on the market?

Tobias Höhmann: SAP Data Warehouse Cloud provides everything that businesses need for data management in one single solution. Compared to other vendors we don’t solely provide a database or an analytical solution. Instead, we offer a deeply integrated solution with full database capabilities, data management, and data integration functionalities. On top of that, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud has built-in integration with SAP Analytics Cloud. With the concept of Spaces and virtual workspaces, we provide both IT and business departments with a unique way for working closely together in one product using the same toolset, without falling short on data security and governance.


Tell me about a day in the life of project development lead.

Tobias Höhmann: Each day is different. Most of my workdays start with a cup of coffee going and going over new emails. I also check the system status to make sure everything is working correctly. After that, I review the product backlog and plan the team’s work around that. I align development and technical architecture efforts across the teams and support solving issues in development as well as production. Sometimes, I also check a few lines of code to fix an urgent issue.


What skills are most important for a developer?

Tobias Höhmann: Curiosity and dedication. A lot of things don’t get solved by technical skills only. You have to be willing to dig deep to analyze root causes and possible solutions that arise during the development process. You obviously have to have general technical skills but that alone won’t help you cover all bases.


How do you stay on top of latest technology innovations and trends?

Tobias Höhmann: I make sure to read the latest and greatest in technology news to see what the current trends are and where the industry is going. I also follow tech publications and a few influencers on social media. Currently, I am following artificial intelligence, machine learning, and its effect on enterprise technology. When a piece of technology catches my interest, I sometimes simply try it out at home to see how it behaves to see if it’s applicable for my work at the office.


Which skills or technologies would you like to learn more?

Tobias Höhmann: During my studies, I attended a few sessions on deep learning. I spent some time on the topic but haven’t found enough time yet to explore it in detail. I’m very interested to see how we will be able to use it in SAP Data Warehouse Cloud to optimize our service offerings.


What does the future hold for you? What’s next?

Tobias Höhmann: I concentrate on the present and rather live in the moment. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is about to be available for everyone. The development team and I have a lot of interesting ideas on how to shape the product going forward. I am excited to see what the future holds!


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