The Village View

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bloggers Corner at SAP TechEd

I was helping host the Bloggers' Corner at last week's TechEd (along with our great Comms guys: Mike Prosceno & Geoff Kerr). I had a dual role as a "Blogger" and as a liaison. (I was the only blogger that had an SAP affliation by the way, contrary to what some folks thought).

The others present were:
Michael Cote
Ismael Ghalimi
Tim Marman
Mike Masnick
Niel Robertson
Charlie Wood

here is a selection or TechEd blog postings from the Bloggers' Corner:

SAP TechEd '06: More Thoughts on SAP Enterprise Search
Technology: A case for Enterprise Widgets
SAP TechEd '06: SAP Tools Make Download Squad
SAP TechEd '06: TechEd Bloggers Accused of Bias
SAP TechEd '06: Stallgeruch
The New SAP
A Discussion with SAP's Shai Agassi
The SAP Developer Network (SDN)
Alleged Bias in the SAP Blogger's Corner
Building an ecosystem around SAP
Enterprise Search with SAP Argo
myERP 2005 as Business Process Platform
SAP TechEd 2006: Enterprise Search
SAP TechEd 2006: SAP Identity Management, Rails Goes Enterprise
SAP TechEd 2006: The SDN Clubhouse
SAP TechEd 2006: More Notes
SAP TechEd 2006: Applications/SOA Roundtable
SAP TechEd 2006: The New Services Platform
SAP TechEd 2006: All Coffee'd Up

Additionally, check out the podcasts from John and crew at

Also, a couple of my "key takeaways" (see McKinsey partners, I DID learn something):

- The bloggers know their s&*t. I was impressed by the level of detail these guys were able to go into when they were asking questions of SAP execs and developers. Additionally, Ismael, Cote and Charlie were schooling me on Oracle vs SAP middleware and PL/SQL vs ABAP vs Java at dinner on Tuesday night (yeah, bet you wish YOU were there). Four of these guys are running their own companies (Ismael, Charlie, Mike M., Niel). I learned a lot this week: from the execs, the presentations and, definitely, from my fellow bloggers. Thanks guys. (As an aside, they were also all pretty cool guys. We had a couple of dinners together and there was pretty good banter most of the time in the Bloggers Corner. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the guys at Office 2.0; Tim and I are gonna grab a beer here in NYC)

- SAP execs, management and developers got a lot out of interacting with the bloggers. Mike and Geoff and teams were able to set up a bunch of sessions with interesting SAP folks who are involved in developing product, driving stratgey and building communities. I'm not sure how many major software companies would go out of there way to schedule time with their executives to meet with with bloggers, but SAP did. Here's a partial list of whom the bloggers met with:
- Shia Agassi
- Zia Yusuf
- Nimish Mehta
- Kaj Van De Loo
- Mark Yolton
- Jeff Stiles
- Peter Graf
- Chris Hearn

- Being transparent is a good thing. You could argue that SAP takes something of a risk inviting (and paying for their expenses btw) of bloggers to attend two of their big conferences (SAPPHIRE, TechED). In addition to small gatherings with SAP execs, bloggers are free to attend sessions, receptions and generally mix and talk with SAP employees, partners and customers. There's no way SAP could control what the bloggers hear/write. It says something about the confidence a company has in its produts, service, strategy and employees to be this transparent. It also says that the company is interested in hearing criticism and suggestions. I thought that Tim Marman expressed it much better than I:
The other thing that is evident is that SAP is genuinely interested in engaging the blogging community. They've really gone out of their way to include the blogger's here in the conversation. They genuinely want to improve their transparency. They are doing a lot of things right, but people don't know it. They're also doing a lot wrong, but they're trying to remedy that.

- Another thing I heard from the bloggers is that by being at TechEd, they really learned more about SAP and/or gained clarity on some issues. In response to a question on SAP and Open Source (full disclosure, I asked the question) , Shai laid out a pretty solid picture of what SAP is doing in this area. Even if SAP could always do more, we've got a pretty good story in this area and SAP got an opportunity to share it with folks who understand the implications. (Ismael and Tim both included snippets on this in some of their postings). Some of the other bloggers who cover enterprise software, but may not have been itimately involved with it on a daily basis, say they will now follow SAP with much more detail. Considering that these guys have day jobs in which they work with, use, write about, and purchase or influence the purchase of enterprise software, this is a good thing.

A lot of credit SAP's blogger outreach goes to Jeff Nolan (who, unfortunately for me, as he was a great boss, just left SAP; I'm looking forward to working for Rob Halsey, the new Apollo Strategy lead). Jeff championed the idea from the beginning and found believers in his boss, Steve Mann, Mike P, and myself. I look forward to following in Jeff's footsteps and helping to drive SAP interaction with the blogging community.


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