In a recent I'm outta here !! Dennis Howlett stated:
“I am one of SAP's most vocal critics and bringing me into the Mentor group was not going to make one iota of difference to my position. It was a bold and dangerous move. There needs to be a balance and having those who don't slavishly suck the SAP Kool-Aid or guzzle its champagne is what SAP needs. That's especially true as competition from the cloud vendors’ heats up.”
It is a great viewpoint and a very important topic for the long term sucess of SAP. It got me thinking about how few people are willing to publicly provide SAP with challenging and constructive criticism. Over the past 6 months I have written three articles that would meet that criteria including Why Workday is a Major Threat to SAP, SAP Certification Sale is Bad News and Is SAP Using the Right Mobility Strategy which hopefully give me additional credibilty when I write a very positive article such as SAP's Golden Opportunity to use Co-Innovation to Make better Software. My goal in being more vocal on the difficult topics is to cultivate an open dialogue on areas I felt that SAP needed some tough love. Doing so has labeled me a "troublemaker" in some circles though I consider it a badge of honor.
Enclosed is a list of 12 people who have consistently and publicly shared smart and well researched opinions that have crossed the spectrum of nudging, challenging and criticizing SAP. Most of their articles also contain ideas and potential solutions to the issues they feel passionate about. I would highly recommend you read their articles as well as start following them on Twitter.
Dennis Howlett - Dennis is a SAP Mentor Alumni and probably the most well know “troublemaker” in the group. He has a lot of respect and credibility in the industry as his articles are always well thought out and he is not afraid to provide SAP some tough love (probably much more then they like). Some recent articles include SAP HANA Gut Check and SAP Mobile Inching Towards the Rest of the World. You can follow Dennis on twitter at @dahowlett.
Jon Reed - Jon is SAP Mentor and recently published an excellent article called SAP at the Crossroads. He also partners with Dennis Howlett on JD-OD which covers many important and difficult topics. He is the only one of the group that has a picture showing his rebel side (smile) and you can follow Jon on twitter at @jonerp.
John Appleby - John is a SAP Mentor and over the last year has written many articles that have cemented his reputation as a “troublemaker. Some examples include Oracle & SAP: sticks and stones may break my bones and SAP's Mobile Strategy: Really? You can follow John on twitter at @applebyj.
Mark Finnern - Mark is the leader of the SAP Mentor wolfpack and it will probably surprise many people to see him on this list. He is responsible for creating the SAP Mentor Initiative and boldly selecting many of the people included on this list and providing them a vehicle to band together. The mentor program also provides a more prominent platform both within the community as well as with SAP Senior Management to express their views and constructive criticism. You can follow Mark on twitter at @finnern.
Thorsten Franz - Thorsten is a SAP Mentor and well known for his Kiss of Death for Web Dynpro Java – The Follow-Up Questions Kiss of Death for Web Dynpro Java – The Follow-Up Questions article which was quite controversial. Articles like that help provide additional credibility when he publishes a positive article on SAP such as Not your Grandfather’s SAP. You can follow Thorsten on twitter at @thorstenster.
Vijay Vijayasankar - Vijay is a SAP Mentor and has very effective style of writing articles often from the angle of asking difficult, open ended or challenging questions. Some great examples include A few HANA questions if I may? and What does it take for execution success at SAP? You can follow Vijay on twitter at @vijayasankarv.
Mico Yuk - Mico is a SAP Mentor and has been publicly vocal on all things SAP Business Objects related mostly via social media and twitter. An example of one of her articles is Four Burning SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 Questions Answered and you should follow Mico on twitter at @MicoYuk.
Michael Koch - Michael is a SAP mentor who isn’t afraid to be vocal with SAP and an example is SAP ByDesign SDK-A River runs through it. He is also part of the Certification 5 group with Jon Reed and Dennis Howlett, which has been very public in trying to influence change within the SAP Eduction group. You can follow Michael on twitter at @pixelbase.
Graham Robinson - Graham is a SAP mentor who recently wrote Thoughts on NetWeaver Gateway and appeared in Problems with SAP’s developer infrastructure model both of which sparked a lot of excellent discussion within the SAP community. You can follow Graham on twitter at @grahamrobbo.
Ethan Jewett - Ethan is a SAP Mentor who is isn’t afraid to be vocal with SAP and does so on a regular basis via Twitter. An example of one of his articles is Thoughts and questions about the HANA announcement and Ethan is definitely someone you should be following on twitter at @esjewett.
Thomas Wailgum - Thomas is the managing director at ASUG News and although many of his articles are from a reporting angle he is bringing important topics to the forefront such as SAP Licensing Negotiations: How to Turn the Tables. In addition, I believe as ASUG News continues to evolve we will start to see stronger opinions and challenging articles on the important issues facing SAP customers. You can follow Thomas on twitter at @twailgum.
Mark Chalfen - Mark is a newly appointed SAP Mentor who has written Have SAP's Enhancement Packages lived up to their hype? and What were people at Sapphirenow saying about the new release strategy? which are important topics for SAP customers. You can follow Mark on twitter at @Mark_Chalfen.
In the context of this article being a “troublemaker” is something all these people should feel very proud of. It is a real badge of honor and shows how much they care about SAP as most of these people make their living in the SAP ecosystem. SAP also deserves a lot of credit as while other enterprise software vendors try to muzzle any negative or critical opinions SAP goes out of their way to engage with many of the individuals above. They do so by giving them special access to senior management, ensuring they are at all major confernces and influencer events, including them in the SAP mentor program and most importantly providing a platform such as the SAP Community Network where their views can be seen by 2.5 million members. My hope is going forward more people will be willing to challenge SAP when it is warranted as it can make a real difference as I know firsthand that the senior management team is listening. SAP might not always like what they hear but they are very open in trying to understanding challenging viewpoints as they are smart enough to realize how this can help them in the longterm.