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Transcripts from select podcasts are posted on this page. We do not transcribe all of the podcasts our our site, but all the transcripts we do have available will be posted here. For text "overview briefs" of all the podcasts available on, check out our podcast descriptions blog.
Jon Reed Interviews Marco ten Vaanholt: Podcast Transcription Print E-mail
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Becoming a Business Process Expert: Podcast Transcription
Jon Reed with Marco ten Vaanholt, Global Director, SAP BPX Community
Hosted by Jon Franke, News Editor,
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Jon Reed's Introduction: Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Marco ten Vaanholt on the topic of “Becoming a Business Process Expert.” We released this interview in podcast format. What follows is the transcription of that podcast. I felt strongly about interviewing Marco because more than any other person I spoke with at TechEd, Marco had the most compelling take on how SAP professionals could take the next steps in their skills evolution. As SAP’s technology platform transforms right in front of our eyes, it’s not always easy to understand how to connect our current skills to where SAP is going. In this podcast, I thought Marco did a terrific job of doing just that. Of course, the SAP skills transformation is more of an ongoing discussion than something you can resolve in one sitting. But this podcast definitely helped me to frame the issues in my own mind - I hope it does the same for those who read the transcript or listen to the podcast.

Jon Franke: Hi, I’m Jon Franke for In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the changing landscape for Business Process Experts and what professionals can do to keep up. We’ll also get an update on SAP’s Business Process Expert (BPX) community. Joining us is Jon Reed, Careers Expert and President of (, and Marco ten Vaanholt, Director of SAP’s BPX community. Thanks for joining us, guys. And with that, we’ll turn it over to Jon Reed to get us started.

Jon Reed: Welcome to this podcast interview with our special guest, Marco ten Vaanholt, Global Director of the SAP BPX community. Today, we’re going to talk with Marco about becoming a Business Process Expert and how to make sure your skills keep pace with SAP’s product evolution. I was recently able to attend a standing room-only presentation Marco did at SAP TechEd 2007 on this very topic.
Marco, along with the entire BPX community, has done some very innovative thinking in this area, and we’re going to try to get to the heart of some of those insights today. This podcast is hosted by SearchSAP and was made possible by a joint collaboration between SearchSAP, my site, and B2B Workforce, an SAP Premiere Partner. Marco, thanks for joining us today.

Marco ten Vaanholt: No problem. I’m looking forward to this interview.

Reed: Let’s get started by asking how you got your start in SAP and how you wound up in your current role as the Global Director of the BPX community.

Ten Vaanholt: It was quite a ride, actually. I’ve only been with SAP for about one and a half years now. I came from Yahoo, where I managed their global advertising/banner advertising system. So, when I started with SAP I came into the role of managing and building up a solution management office really focused on delivering collaborative technologies to our communities for SAP’s Developer Network. And one of the projects which was being discussed when I joined was to start a, what we called at that time, a Business Process Analyst community. We wanted to start a community which was adjacent to the SDN community, simply because we did a few surveys in the SDN community asking, “Well, what is your role?” And we found out that about twenty percent of our total SDN audience really had one foot in IT and one foot in business.

So, we started the BPX community as a grassroots initiative, with only a bunch of people working on top of their existing jobs, in May of 2006. And, naturally, that whole grassroots initiative evolved as the BPX community as it is today. What happened is, originally we launched it in a sneak preview mode during Sapphire in 2006. Then, we really launched it during TechEd 2006 with about 35,000 members. And then, we really tried to start the engines during TechEd 2006, and the momentum which we have gotten today has been enormous.

Reed: For those listeners who aren’t fully aware of the BPX community yet, tell us about how this community has grown and why you think it’s been such a compelling website for SAP professionals so far.

Ten Vaanholt: Yes, so let me just first touch upon a few things on the growth, We had about 75,000 members in the first year ending 2006. Today we have more than 200,000 members--actually as of this morning, a little bit over 200,000. And we grew from about three industry forums at the beginning of 2007, to 15 industry forums to date. And we’re going to grow to about 20 industries by year-end. We’re not only covering the industry-specific forums in the BPX space, we’re also covering what we call the “horizontal landscape,” such as the SRM, CRM, SCM, the organizational change management landscape, and GRC, etc. So what we’re trying to do is both have a horizontal as well as a vertical approach.

I think when you touch upon the phenomenal growth of the community, why it has been so compelling, it has a few aspects. The first thing is that people are trying to keep up with this new BPP/eSOA revolution. People are trying to understand, “What is it, and what does it mean for me?” And I think that the BPX community helps them in understanding what it could mean for them.

The second part is that we have seen a huge momentum and uptake with our partners. So the partners of SAP, whether it’s tier one, tier two, or tier three partners, are really trying to help their consultancy workforce to migrate and evolve into this new BPP space as well. And what they have found is that they can lower the total cost of ownership of education via this notion of community learning. So collaborative learning actually lowers the TCL of the partners.

Now, that same aspect has been seen with our customers, so our customers are facing the same challenges and same questions in terms of, “What is eSOA, what does it mean to me? How do I need to shape my organization of the future?” And the BPX community is trying to find collectively an answer to how they can shape this organization of the future. So in essence, not only customers but also partners, as well as independents, are finding a collaborative space where they can talk about the future of what business process platforms can do for them and what is needed to take advantage of those business process platforms.

Reed: We should mention for those SDN listeners out there that to join the BPX community, all you have to do is to click on the BPX option in your SDN profile and you can join the BPX community instantly.

Franke: Marco, how does the BPX community influence SAP? Is there a formal process?

Ten Vaanholt: Absolutely. Similar to what we’re doing with SDN and SAP NetWeaver product management, it’s our intent to utilize the same synergies, so we’re working closely with the industry solution managers, as well as the application solution managers. And they utilize the BPX community as a feedback forum into the product management cycle. So, what we are doing is we’re utilizing the BPX community as a feedback channel back into SAP, and that’s the first process which is happening.

The second process, of course, is also this notion that both our partners, as well as SAP, use the BPX community as a launch platform for new product introductions or new solution introductions. So, imagine that as the BPX community grows--and as I said, we’re growing with about 15-20,000 members a month--this notion of an increasing, growing community has also much more leverage from ISMs (Industry Solution Managers) and ASMs (Application Solution Managers) launching their products inside the community, so you know at the most earliest moment what’s new and then utilize the community on understanding what’s hot and what’s not, right? And sometimes you say to people, “Well, with this increasing amount of growing information--exponentially-growing information--how can your brain keep up with all this stuff?” And I can’t. But, what I do is I actually utilize the community to help me filter what’s hot and what’s not.


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