SAP is known for its products. But there are also many good ideas floating around this place that never make it into a product. They are interesting ideas worth sharing. But for a number of reasons, they never make it into SCN.

That’s why they hired me (I’m not just an SAP employee, I’m a marketing employee).

If your reaction to that is “Yuck,” then this is the point at which you should move on to reading something else on SCN.

Because this post is about marketing.

If you’re still hesitating, it’s fine. Go ahead. Leave. Really. It’s okay. I’ll try not to take it personally.

Why I’m Here
I work at SAP doing what’s commonly known as “thought leadership.” Many people consider that term a joke. I must admit I’m not fond of it either. It’s often used to describe warmed-over brochures that have been given an expensive, four-color, coffee-table-book treatment—nothing leading or thoughtful about that. But it’s the most recognized term for what I do, so I use it when I have to.

One of the reasons SAP hired me was to bring a more journalistic approach to the way that the company does thought leadership. I’ve spent most of my checkered past as a journalist—most recently 13 years at CIO magazine after spending years at newspapers and magazines, including a stint starting up a magazine about cycling (which remains a major passion of mine—but hey, everybody has to get a real job sometime, right?). Most recently, I was a researcher focusing on how to market IT services to customers (with ITSMA). (If you’re a real glutton for punishment, you can read more about me at my personal blog.)

If you can’t see a common thread in all this, let me help. Some people love to hear themselves talk. I’ve always preferred to listen. What I like listening to best are ideas. As long as the discussion involves ideas, I can get interested in just about any subject—even ERP.

At CIO, some of the other journalists used to snicker quietly at my passion for ERP—and laugh openly at my bad impressions of Hasso Plattner. But I loved ERP. Not because of the software, but because of the stories that the software generated.

Installing ERP software at a company is meat and gravy to a storyteller like me. Some of the stories I wrote about ERP implementations would have made good serial dramas: “This week's episode: ‘Tears on the Eyeshade: Separating an Accountant from the Spreadsheet He’s Been Using for 40 Years.’” No kidding, people really do cry during ERP implementations.

So What Does This Have to Do With Marketing?
When I heard last fall that my boss was going to start a thought leadership “center of expertise” within SAP to sniff out interesting ideas and create stories about business and IT issues rather than products and services, I asked to sign on. My mandate is to never mention SAP products or services in my writing. Which is great. I’m not opposed to selling stuff, I’m just not very good at it—and I’m even worse with numbers.

If I’m selling anything, it’s goodwill. My hope is that by informing and educating people, it makes them more likely to think of SAP as a company they can trust. It’s the same kind of marketing that the management consulting firms like McKinsey have been doing for decades. It’s just rarer for a product-centric company like SAP to be doing it.

That’s what’s exciting—and frankly, very challenging—about my role. Places like McKinsey have what I call “an idea culture.” Consultants understand that they won’t make partner unless they come up with good ideas and communicate them. Marketing is focused heavily on promoting ideas—indeed, it’s just about all management consulting firms have to sell because they sell services, which are invisible.

Talking about the ideas floating around the products and services at SAP is a harder sell both with customers, who are used to associating the value they get from SAP with products, and with some SAP employees, who think that marketing that doesn’t lead directly to a product or service discussion is a waste of precious budget.

Why Ghost Writing Is Necessary
Feeling sorry for me yet? If you are, you’ll probably stop when you read what I have to say next.

That’s because the way that I’m planning to engage with you on SCN is by channeling other people’s ideas, not my own. Some people call that ghost writing and dismiss it as being inappropriate in social media.

I think that’s short sighted. If we limit the discussion on SCN only to those subject matter experts who have the time and skills to blog, I think we’re missing out. I hear this a lot: “I love the passionate rants. Keep the ‘articles’ out of social media.”

What if I told you that I think I’m pretty good at channeling other people’s passion? And I’m also pretty good at sifting good ideas from uninformed hype. Here are my other arguments for letting me present others’ ideas to you here:

  • Most people—even really smart people—can’t write worth a damn. Why do we assume that anyone can channel passion into his or her writing?
  • Social media is biased toward English. Most of the people I speak to at SAP are German and while most Germans are amazingly skilled at English, that skill rarely translates to the written word.
  • It’s not about the style, it’s about the ideas. One of the best aspects of social media is the opportunity to put ideas to the community and gather feedback. I’m excited about the prospect of not just presenting ideas to this community but also in building ideas with this community. As I interview SMEs around SAP and external influencers like analysts and customers, I want to be able to share the raw ideas in their earliest stages so that you can be part of the thinking process.
  • Transparency is the “hidden” problem. I think what people object to most about ghost writing is that the real people behind the prose are hidden. I will always blog as myself, introduce the ideas myself, and will always tell you whose ideas I’m channeling. I will attempt to respond to all comments myself, based on the work I’m doing with the SMEs. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll go to them and get the answer and come back to you with it. I’ll also give you the names of writers that I have working with the SMEs as we are doing interviews and working towards the “final” products: white papers, videos, etc.

I hope that this approach works for you and that we can engage in a dialogue about relevant IT and business issues and ideas. If it doesn’t, I guess I’ll be ignored or flamed. I’m willing to take that risk; though I can also take a hint and will leave if enough people really object to what I’m doing.

How about you? Are you willing to engage with me about ideas that come directly from SMEs’ brains rather than their keyboards?

Note: This blog originally appeared on Lead With Intuition.


It’s that time of year – young men and women are graduating from college by the thousands and making the leap into the corporate world. For some of you, it’s a piece of cake – you’ve already spent time in various roles and internships and are comfortable in your new surroundings. For others out there, it’s a challenge. It’s a change in lifestyle (no more skipping classes or sleeping in!) and a change in culture (office politics!) and it’s not always easy to make this adjustment. 


I remember all too well when I started my first “real job” out of school. It was different and it was the little things that I didn’t think about that took me by surprise. Now I was calling adults by their first name – even the one that used to be my high school basketball coach – he still feels like a “Mr.” to me.


That’s why I pulled together a list of 10 basic rules for success in your first job – the unspoken rules for success in the business world. Some I learned the hard way, others I learned by observing successful new grads over the years.


  1. Be professional – get there early and be mindful of your dress – take a cue from a person a few levels above you.
  2. Be positive – It is always easier to work with someone who is positive – complainers and gossipers are never fun.
  3. Be open - Regularly communicate with your boss about what your are working on…it gives them peace of mind and builds trust.
  4. Stay calm – Try to keep your emotions in check – in most cases you’ll find that this is business, it’s not personal.
  5. Find a buddy – Try to find a positive role model at the next level up from you who is willing to take you under their wing and show you the ropes. It’s always good to have someone close to share more sensitive questions or ideas.
  6. Learn! – Seek to understand the big picture and how you fit. Ask questions –it demonstrates your engagement in your role. Spend time talking to people outside of your immediate team.
  7. Take initiative – Once you finish your tasks, ask to do more. Nothing is worse than being bored at work – so take the initiative and ask to help. And if there is an area you want to learn more about, ask if there are shadowing opportunities so you can learn more.
  8. Be social – if there is a happy hour or a softball team – join! This is a great chance for you to meet new people and expand your network. After all, your future career opportunities will likely come from people you have a relationship with.
  9. Be nice – always live the golden rule and mind your manners. You never know who your next boss will be so make sure you respect and are kind  to everyone – even the janitor, security guard, and especially the support staff.
  10. Be discreet – don’t put anything in an instant message, email, tweet, or on Facebook that you wouldn’t want your boss to read! Remember even CEOs are social these days!

Bonus #11 - This just in from my colleage Sylvia Santelli, a social media rockstar who succesfully navigated the transition from dorm room to boardroom. Sylvia says:


Be Patient - be patient with yourself and patient with your work. The corporate world is complex and not easy to figure out, but as eager as a fresh-out-of-college, ready-to-excel- young professional might be, they may feel frustrated when they don’t get it ALL right away, like they did in their classes.


Great one, Sylvia. Would love to hear your thoughts – what tips did I miss? has amazing speed, but are you concerned the path to get there is slow with lots of speed bumps along the way? Concerned that it could take months or even years to implement?


Take a deep breath and know the concern is valid. And the answer is the implementation can be quick and smooth with very little business disruption. Take Medtronic as a case in point.


This Minnesota based medical device manufacturing company, with 40,000 employees, faces unique industry challenges. Their strategy is taking a full end-to-end look at the diseases they’re working to cure and strives to record and track every byte of customer feedback it encounters — whether it’s a formal U.S. Food and Drug Administration report or an informal conversation that a Medtronic employee happens to overhear. The company must also satisfy specific regulatory rules about tracking what their devices do.


As an innovation oriented company, they are on the leading edge of technology and need to be given the massive amounts of data the company processes and analyzes. With this business need as the driver they became an early adopter of SAP HANA.


So how did they get there? And get there on time? Yes, believe it or not, their HANA implementation was on time and considered fast for this highly regulated industry.


Keys for successful implementation:

  • Strong executive sponsorship – leverage executive support and relationships with SAP for new technology
  • Clear use case – drive speed and business value together
  • Critical business process – capture business requirements to ensure commitment; define business benefits and success metrics (e.g. reduced reporting time from 30 minutes down to 5 minutes with much deeper data access and report manipulation than before)
  • Strong business and IT alignment – hardware ordered and delivered ahead of project to avoid unnecessary delays
  • Skilled pool of resources including  project managers and architects



Want to learn more about their success story? Hear Medtronic’s Steve Teichman, director of business intelligence, share insight and best practices for the company’s SAP HANA implementation.


Other blogs in this series:

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No this isn't a sales pitch. SAP Services adds value...yes, really.


…..scratch that, NEEDS to go mobile.  With pressures rising to access networks remotely, obtain cutting edge mobile solutions and support personal devices, now is the time to consider your mobile strategy.  These pressures will not go away, in fact they will only increase. 


Does your organization tend to cautiously adopt mobile solutions only after they are proven in the market?  Well, you are not alone – according to a survey by IDG Research and CIO Magazine you are in the majority of 87%.  But can you afford to wait?


The benefits of enterprise mobility are many, ranging from improved productivity and customer support to increased competitive advantage.   And the pressures are coming from all angles – HR, Sales, Operations, Finance….


So how can we address this gap between cautious adoption and rising pressures?  The key is a sound mobile strategy.  A strategy that covers all aspects of your business.  That touches as many departments and processes as possible.  An ad-hoc approach is just not going to cut it. 


For more insights from CIO Magazine, download their paper “Top Three Characteristics of Successful Enterprise Mobility Strategies” and take their benchmark poll to see how your organization compares.


To view a larger version of the infographic click on the image or this link:


Infographic_Mobile Strategy_Final.jpg

The rumors are all true, the SAP Services blog is moving to SAP Community Network (SCN) and we are thrilled! For us the question has always been, “How can we optimize the value we bring to our customers and to our online audience?”  We believe the answer is joining SCN.  Many of you are already there, but in case you are not, here are the top reasons to join us:


  • Learn from the brightest from the SAP Ecosystem. There are over 1 million articles, documents and eLearning content on all SAP solutions and services.
  • Solve problems by posting questions in the discussion forums or search past questions. 8.7 million entries have been made since 2003.
  • Connect and grow your network with real SAP experts, over 2.5 million members from over 200 countries.
  • Contribute through blogging, commenting, asking questions or answering them.
  • Start building your online reputation!

*Thanks Gail Moody-Byrd for first compiling the list in this blog.


It’s free to sign up. Once you do you can really customize your experience by following topics and even signing up various newsletters.


Follow on SCN


Stay up to date by visiting SAP Services here.

Stay up to date by visiting Rapid Deployment Solutions here.


Once you sign up you can literally press a "follow" button in the top right and stay current on these topics.


Celebrate the Ch-Ch-Changes

When I started writing this blog I was thinking about the Ch-Ch-Changes that SAP Services is going through (for the better) as we move to SCN. So I invited good friend David Bowie to help me celebrate.




Thought it would be fun to crowd source songs on “Change”.  What songs remind you of change? Doesn't have to be your favorite song, but any song that speaks about change—so they can join as we celebrate—add it in the comments.


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