Sharing, community-driven, rating based – we must have all experienced it at some forum or the other in our day to day lives – while hotel bookings, car rentals, movie reviews or while buying a product online, we even read ratings and reviews, blogs and forums before we plan our holidays or do just to have credible knowledge about our areas of interest (best place to go for trekking?). Welcome to the world of collaboration. It is now established to such an extent that no individual or organization can dare to live without utilizing it, and, SAP is no different. It is quite apparent from the launch of SCN, moving from “SAP Developer Network (SDN)” to “SAP Community Network (SCN)”, that it is a step towards building and leveraging the community to have even more credible knowledge sharing.
I saw myself changing my opinion towards SCN over past few weeks and decided to pin down my thoughts. SAP did a fantastic job through “SCN Tip in a Minute” videos before go-live of the new SCN and that cleared many doubts over what the new look and features would be like. My initial impression about new features was positive, but I was not so excited about the fact that articles would now be open only for SAP employees, I had submitted an article previously and felt proud of doing a brilliant job at that and recognition I got (and points?) by that, more so because of the fact that there was an approval process involved, and extra care had to be taken to improve the overall content of the document, and I share that view with many colleagues at my workplace. Another view was - now that creating a document is open to everyone, without an approval process, it would lose its charm and one would not spend that much time and energy to prepare and submit an article as they used to previously. But I see where SAP is coming from, as the community grows, it must have become increasingly difficult to review and approve a document, and also, there might be risks of approving a document which is not authentic, or not 100% accurate – which would then be creating a wrong set of followers who follow the document contents blindly. And like any new product, new SCN comes with its own sets of advantages and limitations, it is also a risky proposition to some extent that might see old active contributors identifying a downward curve in terms of usability and stopping (almost) to contribute, which to me could serve as a wakeup call to SAP content team, which has already worked day-in and day-out to facilitate smooth transition ( very well put in this blog post by Trond Stroemme - http://scn.sap.com/community/getting-started/blog/2012/03/28/hasta-la-vista-sdn ).
Coming to collaboration part, I am confident that this model would be success, for most part. Allocating points based on user rating should encourage writers to engage more with the community and create useful content. Content that would attract community members to participate in the discussion, generate ideas and eventually lead to establish SAP as a brand that is evolving and adapting with changing times. It would definitely help in getting to know the experts and follow them, as is evident from the Poll on SCN, where leading feature that the community likes is “Following”, which is my favorite too, and of course, creating blogs is a much better experience now, and I hope this would encourage active contributors to create more blogs directly on SCN than in their individual wordpress/blogspot blogs. I would reserve my thoughts on other aspects for some time later, would just end this blog on a note - world is moving towards collaboration, and so are we!