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Welcome to the Podcast Directory

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: One Man's Pursuit of His SAP Demo Jam Dream: Interview with Brian Dennett at SAP TechEd 09 Print E-mail

podcastlogo_jonerp.gif"On the Experience of Being a Demo Jam Finalist and How to Stay Marketable as an SAP Developer"
Podcast Interview Date: October 15, 2009
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Too often, realizing SAP career dreams is seen as a process of seniority: until you have paid your dues for many years, you won't see the payback. While hard work is never a bad thing, Brian Dennett of Colgate-Palmolive has a different story: just two years into his SAP career, he was a Demo Jam finalist at SAP TechEd Phoenix 2009 (link to full SAP DemoJam replay). This was a powerful reminder that SAP career success in today's market has as much to do with late night bursts of content creation as it does with cubicle-based dues paying. To find out more about Brian's great story and get a view into his own career path, I had the opportunity to tape a live podcast with him at SAP TechEd 2009.  

During the 12 minute podcast, Brian talks about his Demo Jam experience and one thing that was unique about his performance: he is planning to give the code from his presentation away on Speaking of Enterprise Geeks, I also asked Brian about his experience working for Enterprise Geeks podcast jockey Eddie Herrmann. Humor aside, Brian and I also talked about the serious topic of how to contend with outsourcing as a technical person by keeping your skills on the cutting edge. Brian had some important career insights as a result of his TechEd experience, and he shares those with us during this podcast.  

Reminder: podcasts are self-rated PG-13.

Podcast Highlights

45: What it's like to work with Ed Herrmann of the "It's interesting to work with this guy, let's just say that."

1:20 Demo Jam is arguably the most prominent showcase in SAP for a developer, but many of us wouldn't know where to begin. How did Brian go from an idea to up on the DemoJam stage?

Brian: Credits SAP - the Innocentive Challenge for Polestar with $20,000 on the line for a great project using BusinessObjects On-Demand ("Me and Eddie spent the weekend hacking, and threw together this idea...those are the nights that are the most fun, when you're grinding on a cool idea." That's where Brian's Demo Jam concept came from. Three days before DemoJam, Eddie suggested to Brian to build on the Polestar challenge. Next thing you know, he's accepted. "Holy Sh*T!"

2:55 So what does the Demo Jam concept show?

Brian: The core class of the demo is a wrapper for the rest-based APIs that were released for SAP BO On-Demand. It's not easy for ABAP programmers to use REST-based APIs for BusinessObjects On-Demand, it can be pretty overwhelming. This solution takes away the complexity of all that. ABAP programmers can now take anything from an internal table, throw it into BusinessObjects Explorer, and get all the analytical part of it out without any effort on your part.

3:50 One thing that stood out about Brian's demo: he is going to be giving away the code on

Brian: A big part of the goal here was to create something useful, and it wouldn't have that utility without giving away the code. So we're going to put it out there on EnterpriseGeeks for anyone to use.

4:15 Revisiting the Demo Jam Phoenix finalists: there were seven finalists., most of them tag teams, many from SAP product teams. Then out comes Brian, probably the youngest contestant on the DemoJam stage that night, all by yourself. Were you nervous at all, did you feel it?

Brian: With Eddie giving advice on how to handle DemoJam and deal with the crowd, I felt good about it. And I knew we had filled a niche in SAP that needed to be filled. But a few hours before DemoJam, I started to feel some jitters. "But once you get up there, you just roll!"

6:10 In SAP, we talk about having to be a senior consultant and pay your dues to have an impact. But that's not necessarily true, and your DemoJam experience is a great example of that. You have a couple years in the SAP game - you don't necessarily have to be senior, you just have to be willing to offer up a creative solution and spend the late nights doing it. (Editor's Note: SAP Mentor Dan McWeeney Tweeted a while back that he would rather have a two year experienced RIA/Java programmer than a fifteen year ABAP person who did not know ABAP Objects.)

6:35 Brian's reactions to SAP TechEd: "Do anything you can to get to TechEd." Being out there on Twitter is great for meeting SAP Mentors, but there's nothing like meeting people in person and learning about possible niches and new skills you can learn.

7:35 Brian has promising years in front of him in SAP, but as an SAP developer, there are tough questions to deal with in the outsourcing era. Do you become a manager? Do you move in a more functional direction? How do you see your skills evolving?

Brian: I was really torn, before coming here, between the Solution Architect and BPX track. Both were intriguing to me. On the technology side, if you move away from it, you can fall behind fast. Coming here, I was able to appreciate the scope of the SAP tech community and the power of it, and because of that, I feel a lot more comfortable in technology space, and that's where I'm going to stay. Based on the excitement over this piece of code, and the possibilities for other areas in terms of integration, and gaps that need to be filled, there are a lot of opportunities to pursue on the technical side.

Jon: I'm glad you said that, because I get a lot of emails from SAP developers who are looking to jump ship to technical work or move higher up the food chain because they are concerned about ABAP becoming a commodity, or training their overseas replacement. And no, you don't need to be a developer your whole career. But what gets lost in this line of thinking is the power of pursuing an area within SAP that you are passionate about, that keeps you up nights working on projects that motivate you. That's the path to recognition, as Craig Cmehil would call it, the path to excellence. We have some SAP Mentors who are working on some amazing projects with Flex or even Google Wave - if you embrace the latest tools and work those projects to keep your skills sharp, there's going to be a good career for you on the technical side of SAP, and you will be valuable to companies. What does Brian think?

10:05 Brian: I absolutely agree with that. It's two sides of the same coin: because technology moves so fast, it's dangerous because you can quickly fall behind, but because of that, "if you can stay on the fringe, it's hard for anyone to keep up with you and it allows you to really become a game changer no matter how little or how much experience you have, or how small or big your team is, if there's that one piece of technology you get your hands on first, you can shift the whole technology space you are working in - it pays dividends.

10:45 Jon calls out Brian for his shameless plugging of the Enterprise Geeks - even the name of Brian's program inside of Demo Jam had a line item named "Enterprise Geeks" within the code. What's up with the Enterprise Geeks? Why is what they are doing so important?

Brian: The reason I decided to share the code there is because they have become a "pillar of the community" and a great source of information. I've told a lot of people about the Enterprise Geeks. A lot of people come up to me and ask me what they should do to learn ABAP Objects. I tell them about Thomas Jung's five video tutorial on ABAP Objects and that should be their bible to start with. "It really is geek food for the masses." Jon is coming from the business direction of SAP, and he still gets a lot out of Enterprise Geeks (another plug!) and the "intersection of geeks and suits." Whether you are technical or functional SAP, you need to meet in the middle somewhere.


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