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Note that Jon blogs and videocasts on a variety of SAP and enterprise web sites. The easiest way to track all his content is through his JonERP Feedburner feed, which you can subscribe to via RSS or email. There is also additional video content to subscribe to on Jon also posts audio versions of much of his content on his JonERP iTunes Feed. To pose questions to Jon directly find him on Twitter.

Video Blog: Why is SAP TechEd Relevant to Business Users?

Before I did into this blog topic, I want to make sure that those who subscribe to this blog are aware of my other sources of content. I have a backlog of posts I intend to feature here, but if you want to track all my content, including my new podcasts and blogs on PAC and SCN, not just the posts here, make sure you’re tracking my feedburner "Master SAP Blog and Podcast Feed." All podcasts are on iTunes at the JonERP iTunes store.

With that out of the way, on to the topic at hand: Why SAP TechEd is relevant to business users. This is the time of year where I hear from business users that they aren’t interested in TechEd or aren’t trying to get approval. This attitude baffles me. SAP TechEd is not only highly relevant to business users, in my view it’s SAP’s best event of the year. Instead of using empty superlatives, I shot a video rant that goes into the specifics of my argument on TechEd’s business relevance. I am hopeful that this content will also help individuals build their business case for SAP TechEd attendance. I even donned a tie for the video so you know I went the extra mile on this one. And no, SAP didn’t ask me to shoot this video. In fact sometimes SAP itself plays down the business relevance of TechEd.


 Note: if you are having trouble viewing this video embedded, you can also see this SAP TechEd Business Case video or any of my other videos on my JonERP YouTube channel.

A few points of emphasis from my rant:

1. SAP technology and business is converging. Geeks and suits are morphing and fluid identities. Process-driven ERP (6.0) requires us to understand process orientation and end-to-end business, but also how to map those scenarios into SAP solutions. Knowing what you can do and what you can’t is critical.

2. SAP TechEd does have tracks with plenty of business content - the Business Intelligence and BPM tracks in particular. It’s hard to imagine an outstanding SAP professional going forward who does not have some grasp of BI and BPM trends. The BPM additions to SAP’s ASAP methodology are one key point.

3. SAP TechEd is the most soulful SAP event of the year because it’s driven by the community. The Community Clubhouse is the heart of TechEd and excellent expert networking discussions and informal talks go down there. Better SAP networks translate into better SAP teams (not to mention a better SAP career). Time spent building those relationships results in an invaluable "learning network." Plus, it’s pretty damn fun. When SAP starts to get fun, that’s when you truly start to distance yourself from those who view SAP as a job they want to get away from each day as soon as they can.

If you want some more ammunition to build your business case for SAP TechEd attendance, check out the longer piece I did last year, "Making the BPX Business Case for SAP TechEd 2009," which draws on interviews I did with SAP’s Marco ten Vaanholt.

Here’s some highlights from that piece on building your BPX/business user case for SAP TechEd attendance:

A. Make sure that the project team is clear that TechEd is not just for "techies." To get across the range of sessions available, share links of the relevant session tracks.

B. Explain how your role can be enhanced by TechEd attendance. For example, one person I talked to is involved in working as a liaison to a technical team that uses SAP’s Composition Environment (CE). So, attending a few CE-related classes should help this person work better with CE colleagues. This person’s company is also debating how to restructure some of their SAP activities around business processes. Classes on BPM will bring a more informed perspective on these issues. Solution Manager sessions may also help bring the element of managing live business processes into the knowledge mix.

C. Propose a reporting structure that will allow you to return to your company after the conference and share the lessons learned. This could include: tutorials with other team members and/or management-level presentations of what you have learned. You should go to TechEd armed with a list of agreed-upon topics so that you can ensure that the information you bring back meet’s your team’s expectations.

D. Remind your team that companies (even competitors) freely share valuable information at such conferences, including the ups and downs of implementing products that may be on your "short list" of projects on the horizon.

E. Point out that SAP sends leaders in its product management group to these sessions - valuable contacts you will be able to call upon after returning. (Example: one person I talked to about attending TechEd has some PLM-related responsibilities. A contact at SAP verified that some of the key PLM product leaders inside SAP will be at TechEd).

Finally, as I wrote in the piece from last year, don’t fear the geeks - especially of the "Enterprise" variety. There’s a ton to learn from deep dives with the technical virtuosos. Marco’s take as an SAP executive has relevance:

"We’ve talked a lot about the qualities of a BPXer; one of them is to have one foot in business and one foot in IT. The other role is a marriage counselor between business and IT… It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with more of the technical implications, which will then allow you to upskill yourself, as well as being more valuable in some of these conversations that you might have with your IT staff…In my personal experience, I come more from the business side. But throughout my career, I’ve tried to understand the technical aspects and it has helped me tremendously. When I get into conversations with our enterprise architects, specifically on SCN collaboration tools, I understand their perspective much faster. This allows us to create projects faster and agree on a step by step approach faster as well."

If you have further questions on this, post them in the blog comments and I’ll do my best to address them. Hope to see you at TechEd.



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