Simon Kemp is the SCN Member of the Month for October 2012. He is an SAP Consultant that has been in the SAP world all his career, even when he tried to escape once (read more about this in his Blog It Forward post). An “old" ABAPer and Portal expert, he is passionate about Mobility and User Experience. When I talked with Simon he was enjoying a beautiful afternoon in Australia, I could almost hear the bird singing and feel the early summer sun hitting his roof. I have to find a reason to take a business trip to Australia and visit him, John Moy, The specified item was not found., Martin English and many others on the other side of the world (is it really true that water runs down the sink the other way round in the South hemisphere? I don’t think I’ve ever been able to check).
Enough rambling. Simon is a community member you should know: He writes terrific blogs about events, it’s almost as if you had been there yourself. Of course he writes about technical stuff as well. He is passionate about beautiful software (a.k.a user experience a la Apple) and has simple, beautiful ethics.
Simon, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, who you work for, and other things you would like to share with the community (hobbies, fun facts)?
I live with my wife and our two young sons in Manly New South Wales Australia; it is a seaside town 7 miles northeast of Sydney City Centre and as the saying goes “Seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care!” – We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful spot.
I was born in Dublin, Ireland, moved to Switzerland as a teenager and then went to university in the UK (Scotland). My wife and I moved to Australia almost 10 years ago and are now proud Australian citizens.
I currently work for PLAUT Australia, a medium sized SAP services provider (about 150 people nationally), we specialize in Finance, HCM and Logistics including Manufacturing Intelligence and Business Intelligence solutions. I lead a practice that is dedicated to the SAP User Experience, I believe it is very important that SAP is not only great at what it does but that people find it easy and enjoyable to use – if people find a system “too hard” to use it will never deliver the benefits it was implemented to deliver.
My main hobbies are running, surfing and golf - although golf is taking a back seat while our boys grow up – it takes too long…so running and surfing are easier to fit into my schedule. When I travel for work it is easy to throw in a pair of trainers and you can run almost anywhere! Each year for the past four years I have run the annual City2Surf (14km run from Sydney City to Bondi Beach) and raised about $5000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA). The Nike+ app on my phone tells me I have run nearly 2300km in the last four years :-).
Note from Laure: Way to go Simon! Yeah, the Nike+ app is a great example of gamification. As Simon was telling me about his life in Australia I was trying to close my mouth and not make too many ecstatic sounds: Australia, beach, a house 700m from the water, summer just starting… Haaa I am envious! The Pacific Ocean here is way too cold for me.
When did you become a member of SCN and what brought you to this community?
I joined SCN a long time ago, I don’t even remember when exactly and my profile doesn’t reflect the exact date. It was way before TechEd Amsterdam in 2006, probably 2003 then. I still have an old SDN T-Shirt that I got at the Amsterdam event.
I haven’t been lucky enough to attend a TechEd since Amsterdam, that will change this year as I hope to go to TechEd in Bangalore in November. It is probably the closest and most affordable option from this side of the world.
I suppose I joined SDN (back then) because I was attracted to the community as a way to find answers and connect with people working in a similar area.
How does SCN help you in your daily activities?
There is a stack of information on SCN – sometimes you just need to find it! For sure SCN helps me sort out problems I encounter on the projects I work on – sometimes I will find an answer but if I don’t it is probably not a common problem and that forces me to look at my own unique environment and double/triple check what I have done. Often, I will come across a problem or topic and remember reading about it before on SCN.
SCN also provides me a way to be involved in a vast number of interesting projects and interact with people who are facing interesting and challenging problems. It gives you exposure to the world. Even if you’re not working on something you can read about it and learn. So if I ever get bored there is always an interesting puzzle to help someone solve on SCN!
Helping others helps me. It’s not until you try to explain something to someone else that you realize how well you understand a topic yourself. Don’t be afraid to give away your knowledge/IP. You get much more back by giving it away.
I would just like to mention that the SCN search has recently been vastly improved – I gave up on the old SDN search years ago and until recently only used Google with a site:sap.com filter to find things. But all that is changing now and more and more I find myself turning to the great new SCN search… if you haven’t tried it recently you need to!
How do you find the time to contribute to SCN?
No doubt that is tough, but there is always a spare 5 or 10 minutes here and there – it is good to take a break from your day to day work and jump onto SCN. Or in the evening instead of watching TV! If something matters to you, you manage to find the time :-) It’s about prioritizing.
I usually start my day early around 7am in the office so I set aside 15 – 20 minutes to eat breakfast and take a look at SCN, read some blog posts and answer some forum questions.
I see you also blog on your company Plaut’s web site. Impressive! How do you tailor the content to your different audiences? And do you have advice for fellow bloggers who are active on multiple platforms?
If something is relevant to our customers and to the SCN then I will re-use some of the content in both places. I would recommend this approach as I believe your readers will appreciate that you have taken the time to adapt something for them. Your customers may not have as much background information or technical knowledge as the people in this community [SCN]. And if you want to track your success on a different blogging platform you can use Google Analytics to see how you’re doing in terms of page views. I noticed that my blogs around events are popular.
That's Simon (left) on his company's web site. Cool, isn't it?
Who is the blogger you like to read most?
I like blogs that have a story line, I find it much more interesting to read. I have worked with SAP Mentor John Moy in the past and have always enjoyed spending time discussing topics with him, as it turns out John also writes fantastic blog posts which I enjoy reading very much. They are carefully crafted and provide a lot of details.
What do you like most about the community in general?
I love the collaboration opportunities and vast knowledge base that the SCN community brings with it.
I like the fact that people from across the globe can help each other and publish their knowledge and views.
I love it when a topic, blog or question sparks off a healthy debate and you really see in people’s interaction how much they care about a topic – and how much passion they bring to the discussion.
Notes from Laure:
Yes, in the team we also like healthy debates. And when they are really good they really got us going and talking about it ;-)
On the phone Simon and I started a discussion around SCN, the platform and the recent changes. Simon spoke enthusiastically about the “new” SCN, the blogging platform improvements, etc. He likes the new search, the way you can filter by categories. He was also having issues with logging in but he implemented a client certificate in IOS and now it’s working smoothly. I told him he should definitely share his tips in a blog. Who knows, it may help others and bring him from MoM fame to super star fame! Now you have to blog about it Simon!
In your blog about the Mastering SAP event in Sydney, you mentioned that someone said “SCN is geared toward technical community, it needs more functional people engaged”. What would you recommend in order to attract more functional and business people active into the community? And by the way do you know about the SCN Space SAP Business Trends and do you think it can contribute to that goal?
I hadn’t noticed the Business Trends space before – it looks interesting. The description reminded me of what Steve Jobs used to say about Apple being at the crossroads of technology and art, perhaps this space is at the crossroads of technology and business :-) I will start following it for sure. Once it gets a critical mass, people will see the value and they will be drawn into the discussion.
Hummm… how to attract more business and functional people, that is a great question! I’m not sure I have a great answer. Ultimately people need to see the value in the community for themselves. In the same way philanthropists gain great pleasure in giving away their money and helping others, contributors on SCN share their knowledge and can feel good about it by helping others. I think you have to experience that to really “get it”. I hope that step-by-step the functional community will reach a critical mass, realize the value and then it will be unstoppable.
In the functional arena there may be some reticence to share because people feel like they are giving away their Intellectual Property and somehow making themselves less valuable… in rare cases this may be true, but generally I think this is a misconception and the more you give the more you will benefit yourself.
In addition to ABAP Development, SAP for Mobile, and SAP NetWeaver Portal, what are the other areas of SCN that you follow and like to get updates from?
Anything to do with the User Interface and User Experience of SAP is of interest to me. I like to follow the UI Development Toolkit for HTML5 a.k.a SAPUI5 space as well as the User Interface Technology space. I’ve noticed a shift in SAP’s UI technology strategy, they are working to embrace the community standards, they are opening up now. This is great.
I have a huge interest in mobile.
ABAP and Portal are areas I started off with, but I’m less active now. I still spend some time in SCN’s Portal space though.
If a new member came to you and asked for your advice on how to be an active and respected member of SCN, what would you say?
I would say they should jump right in and get started, don’t be afraid to give it a go, you don’t have to be the world’s most esteemed expert on a topic to add value. In the forums for example sometimes it just helps someone to talk through the issue or problem they are facing; it can spark other ideas and possible solutions.
(I like that perspective!)
Even if you don’t have the exact answer you can help people by giving them possible next steps or strategies to try. I liken it to the old adage of “Give a man a fish and he will feed his family for a day, but teach him to fish and he can feed his family for a lifetime”.
Be yourself, be open and honest and people will appreciate that.
Is there an SCN member you admire (OK… you can name a few)?
There are so many great SCN members, I have already mentioned John Moy but all of the SAP Mentors on SCN are worth a “follow” in my opinion.
I think the people who are active in the forums on a regular basis and who give back to the community by helping others are worth mentioning here also – they are in it for the long haul.
What technology do you think is most exiting at the moment? It can be SAP related or not, business or leisure.
It has been said that “the future is all around us, it is just not evenly distributed yet” – there are so many exciting technologies appearing that are going to change our world in the future (and are already changing it in a small way now). I recently attended an Amazon Web Services event in Sydney and they had a case study of a cancer research company who by using AWS were able to reduce their R&D cycle times and costs by orders of magnitude! That’s amazing and will ultimately save people’s lives. This type of industry can be changed forever with such technologies. If HANA can power stuff like that, that could change the world.
Other technologies like “The Internet of Things” and 3D Printing are also very exciting areas that will open up vast new opportunities.
Easy question: Mac or Windows?
Pass… :-) I use Windows daily for work and carry an iPad and iPhone. I have a desire to use a Mac but mainly just because I like to learn new things. I am a bit torn on this issue as there is something about Apple's “closed ecosystem” model that doesn’t sit right with me, but I have to admit that by controlling hardware and software they seem to deliver a superior experience.
PC’s are quickly being surpassed by phones and tablets and are becoming more like consumer appliances – this is great for normal users for sure and Apple seem to be leading this.
Are you on Twitter?
Yes, you can follow my ramblings @skemp
Is Angus really your middle name? ;-)
(for those who wonder how I found that out, just look at Simon’s LinkedIn profile url)
Och aye lassie (not sure Google translate will work on this, but just ask any Scotsman or woman to translate!) My grandfather was Angus and my eldest son also has Angus as his middle name – that must by our Celtic heritage :-)
Every month, a member of the SAP Community Network is recognized for exemplary behavior: sharing knowledge with peers, being helpful and taking on additional tasks to support community engagement. See the list of previous SCN Members of the Month.