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Jon Reed is putting together his lists of the hottest SAP skills of today and tomorrow. The skills that SAP professionals need to succeed is a common theme in all of our podasts as well, but these articles and ranked lists below will take you closer into the skills you want to have to succeed on project sites, and to stay marketable in the "outsourcing era."
SAP Skills You Want to Have Print E-mail
Article Index
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jonerp_full_logo.PNGA Ranked List by Jon Reed of
Published: February 2008

In this piece, I am charting the SAP Skills "You Want To Have." The emphasis is on skills you can acquire either on your own or on SAP projects right now. Note that this list is not the same as a list of hot SAP skills, though I have now completed one of those for the hot SAP functional modules. This list is a little more forward-thinking. The list you are about to read is the "SAP Skills You Want to Have" list, which looks a bit more to the future to chart out the key skills you want to have going forward. Before you read this list, I also recommend reading the general disclaimer for my SAP skills lists, which has some important pointers.

If you want to see how this list was compiled, go here.

Solution Manager - In the NetWeaver and eSOA era, there are all kinds of nifty SAP tools to add to your skill set, but one tool stands out above the others: Solution Manager. The reason I like Solution Manager so much is that it applies to many different SAP contexts. It’s one of the few bridges between pre-NetWeaver SAP, NetWeaver SAP, and the eSOA and analytics era also. You don’t have to be on the latest version of SAP to get access to this tool.

You can use Solution Manager to manage your SAP upgrade, and then you can use it for performance management and optimization after the upgrade. Solution Manager even contains a comprehensive change management program for handling the cultural and role changes involved in new SAP rollouts.

Solution Manager also positions you to get involved with cutting edge eSOA projects. You can generate "process objects" with Solution Manager, allowing you to begin the road towards composite application development. You can also port data from Solution Manager into Master Data Management (MDM) for number-crunching. As SAP continues its push towards a "Business Process Platform," it is also making an effort to automate routine processes and provide a central spot for managing system performance and business processes. More and more, it looks like Solution Manager will be integral to this vision.

BI/BW MDX - A lot of SAP folks haven’t heard of BW MDX, but it’s a key to creating SOA-driven "mashups" that leverage the BW environment. And the best thing? You don’t have to be running on BI 7.0 to use MDX. Any BW application from 3.x onward that is runs on some flavor on NetWeaver can "express an MDX." Short for Multi-Dimensional Expression Language, MDX allows you to take advantage of third party best-of-breed content and "mash" it with your internal data.

I did a podcast with Krishna Kumar of Enterprise Horizons where he goes into detail on how this is done. There is a general trend towards using BI-driven mashups. This might be the easiest way to get involved in SOA and generate an instant value that can be used to build momentum for more eSOA projects. So what if you can’t get access to MDX right away? If you’re an SAP technical type, you can still gear up for eventual MDX work by getting more involved with XML and XML/A, an XML for Analysis tool.

NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE) - The NetWeaver CE is SAP’s versatile Java-based environment that now ships with NetWeaver 7.1. Now, just because CE is a Java EE 5 platform does NOT mean that SAP is abandoning ABAP. That’s a topic for another article. However, skills in the CE toolkit are going to be valuable. So why am I making an exception to this list and putting down a product as vast as CE? Because unlike most SAP products, you can test drive CE on your own right from the SAP Developer Network.

CE has many different components you should take a look at. I strongly recommend spending time with the Enterprise Service Repository, the NetWeaver Application Studio, and of course Web Dynpro. Also make sure to check out the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio, which is now based on Eclipse 3.3. I would suggest even functional types spend a bit of time with the modeling environments within CE, in particular, Visual Composer, which I’ll get to shortly.

Web 2.0 Skills - I can see the functional folks getting restless with all this talk of neato techie tools. So let’s go back to a basic piece of professional knowledge we all need: how Web 2.0 tools are impacting business at the enterprise-level. To be fair, many companies have not figured out how to turn Web 2.0 projects into profitable aspects of their business model, but they will get there.

Just look at SAP: through its SDN and BPX Online Communities, SAP has changed their whole development model and brought them in much closer contact with their customers throughout the software lifecycle. There are more than one million members of these two communities, and that’s had a huge impact on the SAP product line. So what does an SAP professional do about this?

The problem is that SAP, for the brilliance of its own communities, has not really built a Web 2.0 tool set for its own customers that is fully integrated into SAP. We can expect it to come, but in my opinion, this is one of the few areas where Oracle is well ahead of SAP with its own Oracle WebCenter 2.0 toolkit. But SAP will get there. In the meantime, there are all kinds of things we can learn about Web 2.0 on our own, even if it’s just a matter of helping to build and contribute to a wiki-based tech support system or helping a customer integrate a blog into its customer-facing web applications. 


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