SAP Podcast: Jon Reed Interviews Kent Bettisworth On Sapphire 2008

"Sapphire 2008 in Review, the Keys to SAP Consulting Success, and SAP PS Innovations"
Podcast Interview Date: May 28, 2008 
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In this Sapphire in Review mega-edition podcast, Jon Reed Interviews Kent Bettisworth, President of Bettisworth and Associates, and gets his take on the key themes of Sapphire 2008.

Kent is a senior Project Systems snd Fixed Asset consultant whose company also offers SAP System Access in conjunction with Michael Management. After you listen to this podcast, you will understand why Kent is one of Jon's "go to" people when it comes to analyzing SAP skills trends and staying ahead of the skills curve.

During this back-and-forth discussion, Jon asks Kent for his reaction to the SAP keynotes and the trends Kent noticed in terms of SAP-for-the-BlackBerry, Business by Design, Role-Based Portals and beyond, and the emphasis on personalization and useability of SAP - not always SAP's strongest aspect historically. A major focus of the podcast is a closer look at the so-called "SAP Skills Shortage" and how SAP professionals should respond.  

Topics covered in this podcast include:

- Kent's take on the keynotes, and why he was struck by Hasso Plattner's emphasis not only on Role-Based Portals but even more personalized user experiences, leveraging the technology being developed for Business By Design. Kent also talks about the SAP-for-the-BlackBerry announcement and which parts of the enterprise should be most impacted.

- Jon asks Kent for the key trends driving SAP staffing, and Kent explains that at the conference and in his own client work, the major driver is still core upgrades as well as merger and acquisition implementation activity. Kent does make a distinction between the type of SAP consulting activity we see today versus what we saw in the mid-90s. He talks about the focus on technical upgrades, but that his clients are also doing functional enhancements in targeted areas. Business Intelligence is also a factor now.

- The so-called "SAP Skills Shortage" was a major talking point at the SAP press conference. Jon asks Kent for his view, and Kent agrees that the skills shortage is not so much across the board as targeted in specialized areas of higher demand. He also thinks that part of the issue is that SAP customers have a harder time leveraging the skills of less-experienced SAP folks (under five years). Kent shares some ideas around a mentoring structure that would allow clients to take better advantage of less experience talent in conjunction with senior mentors such as Kent.

- Jon asks for Kent's take on how specialized an SAP consultant needs to be in order to be successful, and gets Kent's take on a situation where his work was balanced on a project by another expert in the product costing area.

- Kent delves into the Project Systems area of specialization, and related skills in Fixed Assets and Portfolio Management. He shares the latest trends in Project Systems consulting in areas related to capital management, revenue, and investment management. Kent also tells Jon what the value is in the xRPM xApp and how it fits into the landscape of SAP functionality. xRPM is different from classic PS work in that it involves more technical skills in BI and Portals work in order to implement it.

- The talk then moved into a discussion of how SAP system access can help a consultant get a better feel for these emerging areas in PS and Investment Management, as well as other new areas of SAP. Jon and Kent talk about how the SAP ecosystem can be a great source of self-education for the SAP professional in transition.

- Last but not least, the last segment of the podcast gets into Jon and Kent's debate about the Business Process Expert skill set. Kent has maintained that the best SAP consultants have always had a business process focus. But Kent also agrees that today's BPX world has new communities (like the BPX community) and new tools to master. Kent talks about how he always saw the value of business process management expertise, whether it was Six Sigma or Total Quality Management.

- Jon and Kent talk about the pieces Jon has done on SAP configuration skills and whether they are going away anytime soon. Jon and Kent talk about the ideal skill set for the SAP consultant - a combination of focused specialization in a marketable niche with a broader (but related) business process and industry expertise.

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