The Impact of Retail@BPX - A BPX Community Podcast
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Vendor Podcast - The Impact of the Retail@BPX Community: A BPX Community Podcast with Mohamed Amer and Verlin Youd of SAP
Hosted by Jon Reed of JonERP.com
Podcast Interview Date: June 15, 2009
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In this SAP BPX community podcast, Jon Reed of JonERP.com interviews Mohamed Amer, Community Manager with SAP, and Verlin Youd, Senior VP, Global Trade Sector, about the impact of the Retail@BPX community on SAP's Retail functionality. Mohamed and Verlin also talk about the growth of the community, how the conversations taking place at Retail@BPX are being incorporated into SAP's product evolution, and how those who are new to Retail@BPX can join in the conversation.

During this twenty one minute podcast, Mohamed and Verlin also address the issue of how competitors have learned to collaborate in new ways on BPX and the balance that companies strike between sharing industry know-how and protecting competitive secrets. Mohamed and Verlin also explain how Retail@BPX works in conjunction with SAP user groups rather than overlapping with support they are already providing. Mohamed sees Retail@BPX as a model for how all SAP applications should eventually roll out new products (in open dialogue with customers and partners) - listen to this podcast for more details on how this new process is evolving.

Podcast Highlights

:45 Mohamed's role at SAP and his background working with a variety of groups within SAP including development and sales. BPX is a major focus of Mohamed's work, in particular, the Retail@BPX community. His Retail@BPX work is balanced between external (wikis, forums, blogs) and internal (making BPX and Web 2.0 tools part of the Solution Manager toolbox).

1:44 Verlin's work at SAP in the trade sector practice and how he sees the importance of the Retail@BPX community for the evolution of SAP's Retail product. Verlin talks about why leveraging customer and partner communities has reached a new level with Retail@BPX. We can now have an ongoing dialogue with thousands of customers across the world at any given time, and incorporate that feedback into the product.

3:42 Jon wants proof that the conversations happening on Retail@BPX are not just marketing talk. Mohamed provides some actual examples of how POS (Point of Sale) user group interactions have had a direct impact on SAP's Retail functionality in the POS area. SAP's Solutions Managers are regularly reviewing the Retail@BPX discussions and bringing them back into the product dicsussion.

6:00 Jon asks Verlin how Retail@BPX can address skeptics who might wonder if the conversations in the community might be shaped by marketing rather than truly open. Verlin explains the importance of honest feedback loops and how SAP product managers are participating.

7:20 Verlin and Mohamed share some tips on getting started at Retail@BPX and how SAP users strike a balance in terms of joining conversations at their right comfort level but not revealing things about their competitive practices they aren't ready or able to share yet. Verlin finds that companies put their toes in and realize that there are many areas to talk about and only a small percentage of topics that aren't fair game to share publicly.

10:00 One common concern expressed by SAP users is that the BPX communities can conflict with SAP user interest groups or influence councils such as those fostered by ASUG. Mohamed explains the distinctions between how BPX and ASUG serve SAP users and why he does not see a conflict. Verlin and Mohamed talk about how BPX can serve as an ongoing discussion tool between user group meetings and events.

12:37 Jon asks the guys to share their vision of the future of Retail@BPX. Mohamed's vision is that Retail@BPX can transform the way product managers view product rollouts, with continual feedback loops with SAP users online. He envisions every SAP functional product using BPX communities as part of their rollout. There are almost 3,000 threads in the Retail@BPX community today, but Mohamed anticipates even more growth. Verlin sees the Retail@BPX community as still gaining momentum. SAP is committed to Retail@BPX and using online tools to drive discussions in the networked world. Facebook's SAP Retail page is another example of how the network is expanding.

16:44 One of the most interesting aspects of online communities like Retail@BPX is the new level of sharing information that companies that were once strictly competitors are sharing with each other. Mohamed says that from the forum activity, it's clear that companies are at different stages in this process, but they are getting involved, and there is definitely a change in perception about the value of sharing information.

19:14 Mohamed and Verlin share their closing comments for the podcast. Mohamed has found in the last nine months that the adoption in the community (and internally within SAP) is that Retail@BPX is going to change the way customers and consultants interact with SAP and how SAP takes their product to market. Verlin sees BPX as a very powerful tool of communication that can connect parties, not matter their size, around the globe. The potential of the community is going to be dictated by the level of activity of the participants.