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This podcast directory provides handy previews, in text format, of all the podcasts available for download at There are also video podcasts in the SAP Blog section. Note: The JonERP iTunes feed is currently the most complete audio feed of all new audio content, as Jon posts audio of his video podcasts and hangouts in that feed also. If you're a video fan you'll want to track also.
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Podcast: Abesh Bhattacharjee of SAP Labs on SAP Development Skills and SAP MII Print E-mail

podcastlogo_jonerp.gif"SAP Mentor Abesh Bhattacharjee of SAP Labs on His New Book from SAP Press on SAP MII, Keys to Success as an SAP Developer, and BPX Skills Trends"
Podcast Interview Date: August 02, 2009
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What are the keys to becoming a successful SAP developer? Why is SAP MII becoming such an important piece of functionality? And what do technical SAP folks need to learn from functional specialists and vice versa? In this podcast, Jon Reed of gets the answers to these questions with SAP Mentor Abesh Bhattacharjee of SAP Labs. In the debut of a podcast Jon and Abesh have been plotting since last December, Abesh shares the good news of the release of his new book on Implementing and Configuring SAP MII from SAP Press (co-authored by fellow SAP Mentor Dipankar Saha) and gives his insight on the importance of SAP MII and shop floor visibility to SAP users.

During this 24 minute podcast, recorded on Skype with Jon in Massachusetts and Abesh in Bangalore, Jon and Abesh cover the following topics:

Podcast Highlights

1:10 How SAP Labs manages to stay connected to customer needs and requests during the development process. Abesh is mostly working on SAP MII (Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence) which provides integration with low-level shop floor equipment. SAP MII makes this data visible to higher level plant floor and white collar workers so that they can see data from the shop floor in real time. SAP MII also provides an intelligence framework to generate visual and reporting data and make informed decisions. SAP Labs stays connected to SAP customers through industry Value Networks and the Enterprise Services community (more than 300 member companies, which resulted in more than 50 percent of the services that came out in the latest SAP enhancement pack). In addition, there are the SDN and BPX communities, which connect SAP Labs to the technical and business user community respectively. The BPX community can help bridge the gap between business and IT and share ideas on business process optimization and process modeling trends. With SAP Labs today, it's a constant interaction with customer requirements.

4:50 Abesh has an unusual set of SAP programming skills. Most SAP developers know either ABAP or Java (perhaps through Portals development). Abesh knows both but doesn't focus on either. So what are his programming skills? Turns out Abesh is focused on web based development in MII, including advanced flavors of XML, as well as HTML. He must also know the SAP web services to integrate them. In his free time, he enjoys projects in Web 2.0 development and Rich Internet Applications (RIA), including Abobe Flex, Adobe Air, and Yahoo Widgets. 

6:25 Abesh talks about the writing process behind the new SAP MII book, and what it took to get the book to press. Writing a book on SAP MII was a dream, and it happened all of a sudden when Abesh and Dipankar were contacted by SAP Press, and everything came together from there. It took one year to write the 468 page book, and was the first book on SAP MII to come out. It's not only a "how to" book, but it gets into the "whys" of SAP MII, and includes many business scenarios to help users see what the applications of SAP MII to real world project needs. 

8:36 For those who aren't familiar with SAP MII, why is this functionality important right now? Abesh says that when SAP first rolled out MII, the headlines were "SAP discovers the shop floor." This is some of the first functionality that allows the shop floor to be pulled into the ERP world in a visible way. Using SAP MII, shop floor problems (such as machine failure) can be identified and assessed within the SAP system, without having to go down to the shop floor to investigate. The moment a machine goes down, the plant manager sees a blinking icon on his dashboard and can take corrective action in a matter of seconds. 

10:30 SAP is becoming less and less about mastering one language (ABAP). But still, there must be characteristics that a good SAP programmer should have. Abesh says that SAP programmers should have a deep understanding of the business processes they are programming on. Without an intimate knowledge of the business processes involved, the customer won't be happy with the development solution. Going forward, understanding the trends in SOA and BPM is also very important for SAP programmers. 

12:00 Jon flips the question around: what should a functional SAP person understand about SAP development? Abesh thinks the functional SAP consultant should understand the technology involved and know the technical constraints. For example, a functional person should be able to let their project know what solutions are (or are not) technically viable. If the technical person and the functional person meet in the middle, they will be more effective as they will understand each other's language better. This leads to a state of high productivity with less explaining on each side. Also: functional folks should also know about SOA and BPM, two cornerstones of future SAP products. 

13:45 What does being an SAP Mentor mean to Abesh, and how would he explain the program to those who are not familiar with the initiative. SAP Mentors, to Abesh, are community leaders, often nominated by their peers, who are thought leaders and key contributors who are always there to lend a hand.

15:05 Another area Abesh is passionate about is RIA. Abesh has been working on RIA as a hobby outside of SAP, but there is more and more RIA work impacting the enterprise. Why is RIA relevant to the enterprise? Abesh talks about his start with RIA with Yahoo widgets, and then dabbling with Adobe Air and Adobe Flex. ABesh thinks RIA is going to be critically important to the enterprise. As Dennis Howlett once said, enterprise UIs can be sexy, not dull, and these can make the UIs much more appealing and user friendly, which in turns leads to greater adoption and use of the system. 

17:20 "Making the enterprise sexy" means inspired development work. So what does this mean to SAP developers who are scared about the future of SAP programming and contacting Jon about becoming a functional person? What are Abesh's words of advice for those who love SAP development but want to feel confident in their career path. Abesh's own experience at SAP Labs showed him that SAP can be intimidating due to its vastness and the amount of knowledge needed. Abesh's advice is: don't give up, take your time - once you start understanding it and working on it further, you're going to love it. SAP programming does require functional knowledge, so you can also get to know the business processes and industries you are working in, which can help you going forward either as a developer or on the functional side of SAP. 

20:01 Upcoming excitement: Abesh is looking forward to SAP TechEd, in particular SAP TechEd Bangalore. He hopes to attend other locations in the future as well. There are many awesome community activities at TechEd, including DemoJam. If you have questions about what's happening at TechEd or with Demo Jam, track Craig Cmehil, SCN Community Evangelist, who has details. 


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