The Value of Contributing Time to the Community: SAP Community Member Interview with Mustafa Bensan
The SAP Community Member Interview Series addresses strategic topics, such as emerging
technologies, learning, and other topics. It provides insights from SAP Community participants
who are making a difference with their contributions (e.g., blogs, Q&A, sessions, etc.).
This series provides insights into their interests and motivations which can inspire all of us.
Time is our most valuable asset.
Prioritizing the time to contribute to a community represents an opportunity to grow.
By sharing knowledge, community contributors often reflect on the value of giving back, broadening their global network of people and ideas, and developing new skills.
Whether solving one’s own challenges, technology requirements, or anticipated outcomes or helping a community member solve their issues, taking a small amount of time to provide answers, blog, and participate in the community is very rewarding.
For Mustafa Bensan, a leading SAP Community contributor, senior SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) architect, and start-up SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) entrepreneur, he has seen first-hand the value of contributing his time to the SAP Community. From his participation in the SAP Customer Engagement Initiatives (CEIs) he has provided valuable feedback to help shape future product direction.
It was a pleasure to catch up with Mustafa during his European travels before returning to his home town of Sydney, Australia.
Mynyna Chau (MC): Hi Mustafa! You have challenged the community and world to “Ask you anything about innovating on the SAP BTP” From your journey working with market leaders in transportation, financial services, manufacturing, environmental, and electronics, what sparked your passion for SAP BTP?
Mustafa Bensan (MB): Hi Mynyna! I enjoy staying on the cutting edge of trends and technologies that relate to solving business problems.
This interest was especially important in my previous role leading the SAP Centre of Excellence Architecture Team at Transport for NSW (New South Wales, Australia), where I needed to keep abreast of the SAP BTP strategy to provide subject matter expertise and guidance. Seeing the evolution of SAP BTP and its potential really inspires me to continue to dig deeper.
Participation in the SAP Customer Engagement Initiatives (CEIs) for SAP HANA Cloud, SAP Work Zone, SAP Launchpad Service, and SAP BTP Account Management has further encouraged my curiosity.
MC: How did you initially get involved in the SAP Community?
MB: Back in 2014, I was doing a lot of work with the analytics product SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio, which later became SAP Lumira. Initially, I started responding to related questions in the SAP Community. In some cases, I had encountered similar issues; in other cases, I took it as a challenge to come up with a solution. The year after, I became more active by publishing a Design Studio Innovation Series of blogs to share my experiences and topics of interest.
Around that time, I was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by SAP Mentor Tammy Powlas, who suggested that I submit a speaking proposal for SAP TechEd in Las Vegas – which I did and was thrilled to be accepted. I was invited back the next year too! I enjoyed attending SAP TechEd as a delegate in the past, so it was great to experience the speaker aspect of the SAP Community.
MC: You are recognized as a leading participant in the Community including as a presenter at SAP TechEd and Mastering SAP Australia, a blogger, answering questions as an “Avid Solver,” and providing feedback on SAP Work Zone, SAP Launchpad, and SAP BTP. Given your busy schedule, what motivates you to find the time to contribute?
MB: A wise mentor once told me, “It’s not about having the time, it’s about how you prioritize your time.” Contributing is a great way to learn and engage with members of the community. I really enjoy doing both, so it’s important to me to prioritize accordingly. And sometimes that means gradually working on my contributions, such as blog posts over a period of time, instead of all at once.
MC: Excited to learn that you have taken the entrepreneurial plunge to launch a software start-up that builds on your diverse and international career. From a community and thought-leadership standpoint, what are a few compelling topics that you plan to address around SAP BTP (e.g., Multi-Tenant Applications, Developing Frameworks, etc.)?
MB: Yes, I’m also excited to have this opportunity to realize my start-up idea. It’s been a fun ride so far and I’m looking forward to the journey. Along the way, there are a couple of key SAP BTP topics, among others, that I plan to address and share with the community.
One is about how SAP BTP supports SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) architecture for multi-tenant applications. I really must commend the SAP product teams here for creating a framework that simplifies this delivery of applications. The combination of the SAP Cloud Application Programming (CAP) Model, the SAP BTP Cloud Foundry Producer/Consumer subaccount model, and the SaaS enabling SAP BTP APIs is a big accelerator.
As a result, we can focus on the core application design rather than worrying about building the underlying SaaS plumbing. I am yet to see such an effective SaaS framework from any other major 3rd party provider.
Another important topic is about customer onboarding and digital experience. In the typical SAP enterprise application world, we have become accustomed to high-touch customer onboarding. This means dealing with back-and-forth contract negotiations between sales executives and manual provisioning of systems, resulting in long lead times and a disjointed experience.
In the cloud SaaS world, and with today’s expectations of a consumer-grade experience, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for a customer to adopt your product with a no-touch or low-touch approach.
This means reducing the friction by automating the end-to-end process, whereby a customer can sign-up for your product directly from the website or the SAP Store, with instant or near-instant provisioning, subscription billing management, and an engaging in-app digital experience to guide users.
MC: In your blog post, “Introducing a cool new way to upload your spreadsheet data to SAP HANA Cloud,” you launched a new product innovation initiative, DataGlider, to help business users upload data (e.g., .xls, csv files) to SAP HANA Cloud. What scenarios are you exploring? Do you anticipate a low-code/no-code approach to make it easier to upload data and still be IT department compliant?
MB: The key scenarios being explored include uploading flat file data to the following: SAP HANA Cloud for business application or analytics purposes; Data Warehouse Cloud; and to SAP HANA Cloud for SAP S/4HANA data migrations.
The initial release will take a no-code approach as the intention is to make the process as simple as possible for business users. Formula validations and transformations are on the roadmap, which may be considered low-code. Some great early feedback received from the product innovation initiative sign-ups sums up the goal very well, to…
“Make it simple even if it is ‘complex’ or intelligent behind the scenes.”
As for being IT department compliant, I think building on SAP BTP already gives us a head start, as well as the possibility of getting product certification through the SAP Integration and Certification Center.
MC: Do you have any suggestions as to how SAP can help start-ups successfully innovate on SAP BTP?
MB: Yes! One consideration is for SAP to provide a means for customer engagement to help validate a product idea early in the development phase to make sure the start-up is solving the right problem for SAP customers. In the case of DataGlider, I’m happy that, through our own efforts, we have been able to assemble a diverse group of participants for our product innovation initiative.
I feel that when it comes to SaaS product development, SAP BTP is a sleeping giant. If SAP can help with the customer feedback engagement, I see great potential for accelerating SAP BTP adoption driven by start-ups and partners.
MC: SAP TechEd has many tracks, workshops, hands-on-labs, lectures, and breakouts centered around SAP BTP. What topics do you plan to pay special attention to with other community members for this conference and beyond?
MB: There’s certainly a lot of choices in this year’s TechEd line-up. If I were to summarize, my main areas of focus will be strategy and roadmaps for SAP HANA Cloud, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, and SAP Work Zone. Also, looking forward to best practices for operating SAP BTP, BTP application development, user experience, and composable architecture.
There are also some interesting use cases, for instance combining SAPUI5, SAP HANA Cloud and SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, that I would like to learn more about at TechEd.
MC: Is there anyone you’d like to mention from the SAP Community?
MB: I’m grateful to quite a few community members for their support. Let me mention just a few…
I’ve really enjoyed working with the SAP BTP4Partners Team, including, Jens Schneider, Albrecht Schuppert, Praneeth Chennuru and Magdalena Dabrowski. After several online collaboration sessions between Germany and Australia, it was wonderful to meet most of them in person on my recent trip to Frankfurt.
Martin Frick, Alper Dedeoglu and Uwe Klasing of the SAP Platform Advisory and Adoption Team have been very helpful in validating multi-tenant SaaS concepts and architecture. It was great to also meet them in person in Berlin. They have launched a new “Tried-and-True” blog series (read here and here) covering SAP BTP SaaS architecture.
Certain SAP Partner Community members (you know who you are) have made the time to share their SAP BTP experiences and pain points. This has helped me tailor the content of my blog posts with real world examples.
Back around the time I started extension development for SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio, Iver van de Zand reached out and took an interest when he had no obligation to do so, providing guidance and opening doors. I am grateful to this day for his random act of kindness and ongoing support with my SAP BTP journey.
SAP Mentor Gregor Wolf has helped raise awareness of my SAP BTP blogs and I am very appreciative of that.
And thanks to Raghu Ramakrishnan for periodically checking in and acting as a sounding board.
Learn more about Mustafa Bensan by checking out his SAP Community profile. If you enjoyed this blog post, let us know in the comments below! And feel free to ask him anything about SAP BTP!