Which SAP Technical Skill is the Hottest? A JonERP.com Exclusive
jonerp_full_logo.PNGWhich SAP Technical Skill is the Hottest?
A Ranked List by Jon Reed of JonERP.com
Published: October 2008

For the first time, I am ranking the demand for the hottest SAP technical skills. With the proliferation of SAP technical skills, it's not possible to consider every skill (or skills combination). But JonERP.com visitors seem to like these lists, so I hope you enjoy this one. Before you read the list, I encourage you to check out my disclaimer about my SAP hot skills rankings, which has some key skills pointers to keep in mind.  

Before I present the list, I want to make one more disclaimer: when I call a skill "hot," it means that there must be some level of demand for this skill on project sites right now. So, for example, many of SAP's eSOA tools, for such as the Composition Environment (CE), are important skills to have looking ahead, but they are not necessarily "hot" now. That's why I put these skills on my "SAP Skills You Want to Have" list, which is more of a look into the SAP skills future.

On the other hand, there are many SAP technical skills, such as core Basis and ABAP, that are still in demand, but are not necessarily going to be very hot as we move ahead in the market - unless they are updated with a blend of NetWeaver-related competencies. So, to make this "hot SAP technical skills" list, a skill has to be in demand today, but it must also be "forward thinking" as we look ahead to the SAP skill sets of the future.

With that out of the way, let's have a look at what I rank as the hottest SAP technical skills, ranked with the hottest first and so on. Note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive list, so if I missed something you are wondering about, feel free to email me with your questions, or comment at the end of this article.

Oh, and one final thing: I realize that very few SAP technical folks can span all of the skills below. SAP technical work spans programming, database management, system administration, security, and many other areas. So feel free to disregard things on this list that do not tie into your specialization. And yes, functional SAP professionals can benefit from adding in some know-how of these hot skill areas as well.

1. BI/BW/BO - There's not much question that BI in all its current flavors is the hottest SAP technical skill on the market today. There are more than 1,000 BW related job openings on Dice.com now, and the interest in BI activities is strong enough that some have even called it "countercyclical," which is a fancy way of saying that the spending on BI continues even as we endure a sluggish economy hampered by the high cost of energy and the subprime mortgage crisis. I'm including Business Objects though in fairness, these are separate openings currently. It's fair to say that the vast majority of BI-related openings are technical, so this is a good area to have in your toolkit, whether you are BI-focused, or just including it in a broader technical skill set. If you want more details on the emerging areas of BI, as well as the impact of Business Objects on the BI skill set, I recommend you read my "SAP/Business Objects Skills Transitions" piece which goes into this topic in detail.

2. Solution Manager - Solution Manage is interesting, because if we do a Dice.com on the phrase "SAP Solution Manager," we get more than 4,000 results, which is quite an impressive amount, though it includes some offbeat results. However, if we search on job title only, we get only 14 results. Therefore, Solution Manager is not yet a focal point for most consultants, however, as a tool, it is gaining traction because there are few SAP activities that Solution Manager does not touch on. Solution Manager is heavily implicated in upgrades, business process management, post-go live process monitoring, and many other SAP processes. True, not all SAP customers are running Solution Manager, but that is changing by the day, and we can expect this tool to become a key part of virtually all SAP installations within a couple of years.

When it comes to Solution Manager, it should also be pointed out that since SAP has mandated the use of Solution Manager in order to gain access to OSS and to issue product keys to install new software, it is really going to be a necessity going forward for Basis consultants to at least have basic experience working with Solution Manager utilities. The full market adoption of the complete Solution Manager component suite is still open for debate, but certainly setting up and managing the SLD (System Landscape Directory) environment will be essential for all Basis consultants to become proficient with.

3. NetWeaver Portals - You can call it Enterprise Portals, or SAP Portals, or use the full official name NetWeaver Portals, but whatever you call it, Portals has become a key skill area for many SAP technical folks. One thing we know about Portals is that it will never make the top of this list. The reason? The SAP Portal is just one of many ways that corporate users can access SAP information. And with the proliferation of many kinds of mobile and handheld devices, and all kinds of "thin client" or web-based access to SAP, we can anticipate that SAP Portals will never be the only game in town when it comes to SAP system access, and this will keep a bit of a damper on the overall Portals demand. There are different aspects to Portals skills to master, from installation and security to GUI customization. We also see a lot of custom Portals development work, and it's good to keep in mind that this custom work involves a combination of SAP tools (like Web Dynpro and iViews) as well as mastery over Java-based programming techniques.

If you break down the Portals product architecture from a skills perspective, the dividing line is around those who can operate on the Java side of the ABAP/Java stack. For example, Portal developers with WebDynpro for Java experience are still at a premium over those with general PDK (Portals Development Kit) and ABAP back-end integration skills. From a Portals security perspective, having distributed Java-based applications tied to the Portal create much more complex SSO (single sign-on) procedures for Enterprise Portal security consultants to contend with, and this drives skills demand for Portals experts. At this point, not many SAP Portals administrators have experience in complex Java/WebDynpro SSO scenarios.

4. SAP Security - SAP Security is one of those steady areas that may never be the hottest but it continues to have relevant, and with the impact of GRC and segregation of duties issues, we can expect SAP security to continue to have a high level of demand. In fact, when we look at the expanding needs for "Identity Management" throughout SAP's product line (including Portals and BW), and when we consider the continuing importance of overall enterprise security, we know that SAP security skills are here to stay as a key part of a technical SAP skill set. Up to this point, we haven't seen as many SAP Security specialists as I once thought we'd see, but as tool in the technical toolbelt, it remains a winner.

And we may see more SAP Security specialists sooner rather than later. We already mentioned some of the security complexities raised by SAP Portals, and there's more. With the acquisition of Virsa in 2006, SAP ensured that Security skills would have an even broader relevance. Of course the Virsa tool has now been incorporated into the combined SAP/BO GRC (Governance, Risk, & Compliance) suite. The GRC 5.2 suite, for example, had four security/compliance tools, including Virsa Firefighter and Compliance Collaborator, and the new GRC 5.3 has seven security/compliance tools and the beginnings of vertical industry specialization.

Although Identity Management is not part of GRC, NetWeaver Identity Management is also going to keep getting hotter, as it provides for SAP-centric management of all IT landscape security, even for users who need access to corporate master data stored outside the SAP ERP platform.

5. NetWeaver XI/PI - I could have put this higher on the list, and perhaps soon XI and PI will climb. We know that PI (Process Integration) is the new name for the tools that many still refer to as XI (Exchange Infrastructure), depending on the version of SAP being run. So why isn't PI higher on this list? For one thing, we have to remember that SAP is a late entrant into the middleware game, and many SAP customers are invested in other middleware solutions and they aren't ready yet to go "all SAP" when it comes to application integration. We also know that PI will gain more momentum as it fully matures and more SAP customers decide that standardizing on SAP NetWeaver is the key to realizing the promise of an SOA-based Enterprise Architecture. XI/PI is one of those technical skills that both Basis and ABAP folks can get involved with, from different angles. However, because XI/PI has connections to many of SAP's Java-driven components, a pure ABAP programmer will not be as successful in this area as an ABAP/Java "hybrid" who can easily move from IDOC and BAPIs to Java Objects and XML.

6. MDM (Master Data Management) -  I am impressed by the number of current MDM job requirements I am seeing. While it's not fair to say that this component is "on fire" yet, and we must remember that most SAP customers must pay extra to get MDM going, MDM is definitely a tool on the rise. Because of MDM's importance to many integration scenarios involving both eSOA and Business Objects, MDM should remain on this "hot list" and could perhaps rise higher. My current check on Dice indicated 131 SAP MDM jobs. Of course, these jobs vary greatly, and not all of them are deeply technical (some are actually purely functional). Many involve BW know-how, again driving BW-related skills needs higher. Some good news for ABAP folks: like BW, MDM is much more ABAP driven currently, so the ABAP-MDM connection is a good one to pursue. For more discussion of the impact of SAP MDM skills, I recommend my blog entry on the SAP MDM skill set , which at last count had 17 comments following the entry as well.

7. SAP Mobile Device Skills - We're seeing all kinds of work linking SAP to mobile devices, whether it's sales force automation via the SAP-BlackBerry integration, or shop floor related work connecting SAP with handheld devices and bar code scanners using SAP's AII (auto-ID) infrastructure. Much of this work revolves around SAP's NetWeaver Mobile component. This mobile development and integration work may still be more of a niche focus than a tool to add to the tool belt, but I expect that to change. The increased mobility of the workforce and the desire to extend SAP into new areas to capture data and increase visibility is going to be a continual theme. So, this is a good area to be moving into.

Honorable mention: here are a few more technical skills that are emerging as very appealing skills to have on the resume, but are not yet fueling huge consulting demand:

Guided Procedures (and all of the latest SAP Workflow and Webflow tools)
SAP/Adobe Interactive Forms

SAP xmii (SAP xApp for shop floor integration, manufacturing "intelligence" portal)
Web Dynpro (for ABAP and Java, both tools are in some demand)

Surprisingly, I can't put SAP Duet on this list...perhaps Duet is just too simple to require much consulting support, but there's not even a trickle of real demand here yet.

We'll revisit this list down the road and see what's climbed and what's fallen. I look forward to your comments!


Okhaide responded... (User IP:
10/17/2008 15:00:24
Re:Which SAP Technical Skill is the Hottest? A Jon
Hi Jon,

I hear there is a high demand for SAP HR skills in the UK now.

What do you think?
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
10/17/2008 15:04:19
HR demand in the UK
Hey Okhaide -

I'm not an expert on the UK market, but if the UK is anything like the U.S., I'm sure the demand for HR is pretty strong there. Of course, the downturn has affected demand across the board, but relative to other skills, I think the HR experience is good to have.

You may also want to see what I have to say about HR, or SAP HCM as we should now think of it, in the "Hot skill rankings" of the SAP functional modules. You can get there by going into the "News" section and then into "Hot Skills Updates."

- Jon Reed -
sachin responded... (User IP:
10/29/2008 21:30:17
Hi Jon,

is it ok if a functional guy learns ABAP for a deeper understanding. I will not be actually doing coding but will have the knowledge of how things work. I am an SD consultant.
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
10/29/2008 21:34:54
ABAP and functional
Hey Sachin....

Yes, definitely, ABAP is a nice knowledge base for a functional person to have. Good question. Historically, my opinion is that functional consultants with an 80/20 mix, with 20 percent technical skills, are the best. This is starting to change with some BPX roles that are truly techno-functional. But knowing enough ABAP to work with technical teams and help spec out custom work to meet business needs definitely makes you more valuable. I have written more about this in the SAP Career Blog (top tab on right) so you should check that out also.

- Jon Reed -
trufunctional responded... (User IP:
11/12/2008 19:02:46
is xmii functional or technical
is xmii heavily technical or can a functional consultant with a basis background get it. Is there programming involved?
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
11/13/2008 21:31:47
xmii is across the board skill wise

Thank you for your question. SAP xmii is across-the-board in terms of the SAP skills needed.

The reason I put this on the technical list is because the successful xmii folks I have known to date have all been developers. However, just like most areas of SAP, such as Financials and HR, there are also functional needs in xmii.

I recently saw an SAP xmii job order that had a developer opening, a functional opening, and a techno-functional opening. Here's a few excerpts:

"Position 1 Func/Tech xMII Expert

xMII Expert with at least 3 years of xMII implementation experience.
Consultant needs to be able to gather functional specs, translate to technical
specs and implement.

Position 2 Functional xMII Expert

xMII Expert with at least 3 years of xMII implementation experience.
Consultant needs to be able to gather functional specs, translate to technical specs.

Position 3 xMII Developer

xMII Developer with at least 3 years of xMII implementation experience.
Consultant n...
Kwanele responded... (User IP:
11/20/2008 04:07:31
where does crm lies in this case?
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
11/20/2008 19:38:39
Well, it's a tricky question. You can certainly do technical CRM work, in fact there is a fair amount of it, but for the purposes of these lists, I'm only including technical SAP components on this rankings, otherwise it would get too confusing for me to track it.

I have already ranked the functional core SAP modules. I'm going to rank the demand for the SAP Business Suite components, in order of consulting demand, next. I can tell you that CRM is number one on that list, though it depends a bit on how you define the SAP SCM component.
Ganesh responded... (User IP:
11/24/2008 03:54:02
Demand for core SAP ERP like FI/CO and SD
Hi John,

Hows going to be demand for SAP SD/FI/MM in coming years.

what should a SAP Functional consultant have in it toolbox for the future

Many thanks
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
12/01/2008 21:02:31
functional module demand
Hey Ganesh...

hopefully you saw the functional hot skills list I did also? http://www.jonerp.com/content/view/178/46/. This should give you a better idea of how I see the SD and FI/CO areas, but I'm optimistic about both areas as you will see when you check out that piece.

As for your other question about hot SAP skills of the future and how the functional skill set is changing, I suggest you check out my webcasts on SAP Business Process Expert skills. Beyond that, you may also find some use in my "SAP Skills You Want to Have" list, which is intended as a more forward-thinking list. http://www.jonerp.com/content/view/74/46/

Hope this helps!

- Jon Reed -
Indranil responded... (User IP:
12/08/2008 23:25:04
SAP EP/Web Dynpro career path
Hi Jon,

I am a SAP EP consultant having 4 E2E (2.5 yrs)experience including Web Dynpro,KM,VC,ADOBE.Surprisingly i am not finding any great demands of my skill in INDIA.Could you please suggest me any other skill that I can learn,so that I can find a better position in the job market in future.
Anand responded... (User IP:
12/11/2008 01:02:39
Hi Jon,

I am having SAP experience of 1 year in ABAP (in ECC 6.0 implementation) and since last 5 months I am in SAP XI 3.0 and ABAP also.
My query to is ...
1. In future, what could be the way of my career ... like shall I continue with ABAP + XI or seek chance to have complete dedication towards XI (or PI)
2. with this ABAP + XI track , what can I learn the other rechnology of SAP that can help me in my career building ?

Thanks in advance ,
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
12/12/2008 12:30:36
question about Enterprise Portals
I received the following comment which did not seem to post correctly:

"I am a SAP EP consultant having 4 E2E (2.5 yrs)experience including Web Dynpro,KM,VC,ADOBE.Surprisingly i am not finding any great demands of my skill in INDIA.Could you please suggest me any other skill that I can learn,so that I can find a better position in the job market in future."

I'm a little surprised to hear you can't find work with this skill set. The EP/Web Dynpro/Adobe skill set is a good combination. Perhaps you are in a case where you are ahead of where some companies are, but your skills seem sound to me.

One thing you can do is to look at Indian job boards and see which jobs that are more common have skills that touch on yours. Maybe you can do a "skills gap analysis" this way and determine what you are missing. Perhaps other readers can comment on this as well. But overall, your skills seem strong to me. Perhaps adding some XI/PI will help also, but I like what I see in your...
Indranil responded... (User IP:
12/12/2008 20:29:19
SAP EP/Web Dynpro career path
Thanks Jon for replying.As per your suggestion I made a survey in some popular job sites in INDIA as well as in the job setions of some big software house.What i find that the indian market is very hot for BI and I think BI+EP will be a good and strong combination.Please give your valuable suggestion on that.Wiil it be a good one..?

Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
12/15/2008 21:27:34
Bi and Portals makes sense
Hello Indranil.

I like your thinking a lot there. Great job doing the job board research. It seems basic, but it's really important. BI is a very good skill to add to the mix. There's not a huge amount of work integrating BI and Portals, but there is certainly some of it, and then there's all kinds of additional BI projects you could move into. So, I think it overlaps well enough and adds something important to your skills. Please let us know how it goes and good luck! (Note that I rank BI/BO number one on this list and have posted more commentary on BO elsewhere in this hot skills section.)

- Jon -
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
12/18/2008 21:42:43

sorry for the delay replying to you! I had a few issues with the comment part of my display. I now have all the comments on one page so it's easier to see them.

As for your question, the future of ABAP and SAP development is not a topic I can answer easily here in a way that addresses all aspects of your question, but check my SAP career blog for more on this.

However, I would suggest some things:

1. XI is phasing out in favor of PI, so you definitely want to get ABAP-PI experience to stay current.

2. PI is a hot skill but since companies have other middleware options, I would not solely concentrate on PI.

3. You might want to look at other integration technologies and middleware, as well as XML based data exchange. Another option might be either BI or Portals work.

4. I would also get some exposure to the NetWeaver Java stack so you are not limited to ABAP. SAP is still strongly supporting ABAP, and you can even do SOA with ABAP, but some of SAP's next generatio...
ANANDRAMAIYA responded... (Registered)
12/21/2008 21:53:43

I am working as an abap consultant from last two years in india and now i want to get some new dimenstion product knowledge.
Kindly let me know which new dimenstion product should i go for as an abap consultant for future aspect.
Prashant Brahmbhatt responded... (User IP:
12/24/2008 22:41:05

I am working in ABAP last 2.5 years with Mainly SD module At present Company I worked In both ABAP as well as in SD So I am confuse in which dimesion i have go for better future either SD+ABAP (techno-functional) or select any one module?I have not much domain experience in SD.
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
12/30/2008 18:27:08
ABAP future
Anandramaiya and Prashant:

Thanks for the ABAP questions. This comment form in this part of the site currently has a space limit, unlike over in my blog, so I have to be brief here.

But, I have written about the future of ABAP a lot on this site, one link you can cut and paste is: http://snurl.com/9aepi, which will get you the blog entries on the topic. Also look at my answer above. Feel free to post a question in the career blog I can answer in more detail.

- Jon Reed -
blaiso responded... (User IP:
01/28/2009 14:21:06
Hi John, I am BI consultant with a skills set in the backend and the frontend, in BW-BPS, BI-Integrated planning, I also developed skills in SEM and Abap objects as well. For the future with BI as my core field, can you please tell me what skill enhancements I might work on in order to stay updated?

Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
02/01/2009 09:49:49
BI skills expansion
Hey Blaiso.

Hopefully you also saw my full article on BO/BI skills in the hot skills section. You might also want to listen to my recent podcast with Franz Aman on BO skills which is currently on my home page.

In terms of skills enhancements for you specifically, one thing I do like is the combined BI/BO EPM Suite. This is where some of the functionality involving Integrated Planning is ultimately heading. The EPM suite is still reaching maturity, but some of the individual solutions within it are ready for action.

You may also want to hit on a little bit of Java development as well, since the BO side of thie product line is Java-based.

I hope this is of some help.

- Jon Reed -
Blaiso responded... (User IP:
02/01/2009 17:34:22
BI + Retail it's a good way to go?
Hi John,

Thanks for the quick reply, I read your article on Sap-Business objects skills transitions which I found very interesting and learning rich. Yours advice and thoughts are definetely helpful for me.

Because I don't have so much years experience in SAP(3 years) and working on project basis(not permanent in a consuting company even though I would like to be), I'm just wondering if also focusing on a IS-Retail certification would make me more attractive for BI projects targeted on Retail business, since Retail is on demand now?

What did you think?
Amir responded... (User IP:
02/04/2009 23:12:12
Techno/Managerial Role in Netweaver Domain
Hi Jon,

I am SAP Certified Technology Consultant with Over 5 years experience in SAP Basis/Netweaver. I am also pursuing part-time MBA from premier institute in India. My question is that though I am loving management studies, but my love for SAP Technical domain is deep too :) So moving forward I am just in fix if I could find a role with perfect marriage of both technical and management domain. Any suggestions?
Alberto responded... (User IP:
02/05/2009 13:30:48
Real Estate Investment and finance.
Hello John,
Thank you very much for your comments.
I have just finished a MSc in Real Estate Investment and Finance in England (just at the worst time)
On the other hand, I am a Bachelor in Computer Science with a MSc in Computing.
I have work experience in both sectors.
Is SAP BI the perfect marriage for both "worlds"?.
Would you suggest SAS?
Jon Reed responded... (User IP:
02/14/2009 10:24:13
BI perfect marriage
Hey Alberto.

Sorry for delay responding, been travelling. But yes, in a way I do think that BI does represent the perfect marriage of your interests. Another really interesting thing might be approaching real estate from the vantage point of spatial analytics, part of BI, and assessing the financial viability of certain kinds of development, or even anticipating evolving environment hazards. You have a lot of options, so I'd go where the best and most challenging opportunities are. The money should work out if the rest is in place.

- Jon Reed -

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