Thoughts on SapphireNOW ’14!

I watched Bill McDermott’s first keynote as CEO of SAP. His decision to begin the keynote with 3 students presenting their thoughts was a bold move . Unheard of in SAP history. I loved it. I loved it not because it was a bold move but because I’ve a story to share.

Lean & Hungry Look (LHL)

In July 2011, my son & I attended SAP InnoJam at Palo Alto, Ca. My son then was rising sophomore in an US University. We had a great experience. Lovely memories. The SAP team(headed by Anne Hardy, Juergen Schmerder & others) who organized was fabulous. That event provided my son with an opportunity to experience the corporate environment for 24+ hours. Soon after we landed in San Francisco from Atlanta, my son fell in love with Silicon Valley. He wanted to move there after graduation. Early next morning we attended InnoJam. Met lovely people. His love for Silicon Valley rose exponentially with InnoJam experience.

He was planning to specialize in Bio-Medical Engineering in freshman year. He spent his summer interning at an IT company in North Carolina. He attended InnoJam while interning there. After completing the internship & InnoJam, he decided to specialize in Computer Science.

He finished next two summer internships in Silicon Valley. He would be beginning his career as an APM(Associate Product Manager) in San Francisco, CA this August.

When I began my career in ’80’s, the CEO used to tell one of Shakespeare quotes to us employees: You all should look lean & hungry. 3 kids Bill McDermott/Hannah Datz presented to us in SapphireNOW looked lean & hungry. With that look comes impatience, not little but a lot of impatience – a quality which is suicidal in big corporations such as SAP. That CEO also used to hate “*ing” as in trying. This continuous tense will not take us anywhere, ing provides people with a platform to procrastinate, he used to say. My son unfortunately didn’t show an interest with SAP technologies even though 3 years ago we had a great time with SAP. I can only speculate the reasons why he was not interested: SAP didn’t make their presence felt in college campuses. Plus it took several months – SAP used *ing liberally – to get trial version of SAPSUP(Sybase Unwired Platform). We used this product in InnoJam but couldn’t continue our work. Had we continued our work, my son probably wouldn’t have forgotten SAP. I know Bill McDermott has a desire to make a difference & fix this issue.  This is catch-22 situation. SAP needs people who’re impatient. SAP’s culture require people to be patient. Good luck.

Mission Driven

Hannah Datz mentioned her generation is mission driven meaning they’re interested in giving back & help society than getting a big paycheck. SAP needs them, needs lot of them. Mr McDermott has taken initiative to influence the younger generation to join SAP. Not just by words but by actions, presenting them to SapphireNOW audience. Please continue. As dad of 22 year old son, I can tell this: SAP didn’t focus in hiring LHL & mission driven people in the past. Change that please. I hope he would get all support he needs within SAP to promote that practice.

Simple

The message I heard in SapphireNOW was not simple. I know nothing changes overnight but at the same time, we’ve heard “*ing” thing several times in the past – fixing issues around certification, education & training, trial versions to name a few. Marketing two polar opposites products SFIN & BW don’t make our(independent consultants, customers etc) job easier & fun. The SFIN message last week was not simple. I heard – from people who attended – 3 different versions of what SFIN is in relation to SoH. Finally I read this blog: http://scn.sap.com/community/cloud/blog/2014/06/04/sap-simple-finance-launched-at-sapphire-now-2014 It provides some details on SAP’s direction. I’m still not clear on roadmap to implement HANA. We’ve a lot of options but not with a lot of details or pros & cons for each. Hope we’ll start seeing more clarity in days/weeks/months to come.

My best wishes to SAP.

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Availability of Reasonably Priced Expert Resources!

I was reading this blog.

Dennis Moore says:

However, in conversations with SAP HANA customers and experts, there are still significant issues to be overcome before this becomes a worthy competitor to Oracle – issues in cost, stability, scalability, standards support, openness to a third party ecosystem, availability of complementary solutions, and availability of reasonably priced expert resources.

I wonder if non-availability of reasonably priced expert resources could be the primary reason for all other issues(except cost) listed by Dennis Moore. I say this because the expert resources would’ve identified other issues(assuming they’re true) quickly. Quicker identification would’ve led to quicker resolution. I don’t know what the author thinks as the reasonable price. As far as I know, SAP-HANA market is not attractive for the independent, detailed, ambitious, determined, dedicated, hard-working, successful consultants with several years of SQL / RDBMS / Unix / Linux / SAP / scripting / programming / data modeling / DW / DBA experience but with little or no HANA experience.

I was reading another blog  by Vijay. In this blog, he tries to define what big data is. Based on reviewing all responses of the customers, he concludes :

There is only one big V that matters to customers – BIG VALUE.

Now let us assume non-availability of reasonably priced expert resources is an issue. Let us assume SAP HANA marketing team is one of SAP customers. Let us also assume that identifying & training appropriate resources for HANA expertise would’ve provided BIG VALUE to the marketing team. What data could’ve been used by SAP to get that BIG VALUE?

  • SAP’s internal database which keep track of all messages opened by the employees & the independent consultants. This database would’ve provided information on the length of SAP experience & the quality of messages. SAP could’ve identified all consultants with n+ years of experience with additional criteria (such as experience with large corporations, length of contracts, length of non-SAP IT experience, quantity & quality of messages etc) & created a target group of consultants. Gather & analyze information for the target group from other sources such as:
  1. The level of participation in SCN – look for both the presence or absence of participation. Absence of participation may indicate busy work schedules.
  2. LinkedIn profiles & the recommendations
  3. The length & the scope of contract work performed by the consultants
  4. Other activities (either presence or absence) in social media including the presentations, webinars, tweets, InnoJams, TechEd/Sapphire participations etc. Once again the absence may indicate busy work schedules
  5. Other soft skills such as the level of aptitude demonstrated by attending the training programs, certificate exams etc.

I don’t know if SAP used the information from the databases identified above to recruit & train resources for developing HANA expertise but the point is that BIG DATA is nothing to do with the amount of data(Volume) or other Vs as confirmed by Vijay.