In his The specified item was not found. Dick Hirsch picks up the Redmonk beat about having developers at the heart of go to market. To be 100% clear on this, Redmonk is a strong advocate of having developers front and centre of pretty much everything and especially product marketing. I have some sympathy with that view but not always. I am also aware that Redmonk has a special place in the hearts of SAP developers. Be that as it may.
On ByDesign, Dick says:
Suggestion 1: Don’t create a separate developer community for partners
On occasion, I’ve heard some indication that there should be some separate community for ByD developers. This would be a mistake. Exploit the passion and experience of the existing SCN community.
It is easy to see why Dick would hold that view but it is a fatal mistake.
- I speak with a lot of SAP customers and user groups. The number one gripe about SCN is that it is way too focused on the Business Suite. Almost everything else gets drowned out.
- If you look at the BPX community, that's been a hell's on earth job to get into reasonable shape.
- There is a dearth of conversation that BusinessOne customers can tap into. All-in-One fairs little better.
- Business ByDesign is unlike anything SAP has put into the marketplace. It needs to be treated as such.
- When you look at the construction of the SAP Mentor community it is 90% drawn from folk whose primary interest is in the Business Suite. That is changing as new people with interests in River, BOBJ and mobile come into the picture but it doesn't change the fact that SCN is cemented to the Suite audience.
- If the BYD audience is largely going to be business focused then, for example, how does SCN think that those same users are going to live with the crappy UI associated with blog post creation here (for example.) They won't.
Why would anyone with an interest in ByDesign come to SCN? It is nothing like the Business Suite. It is not a sale to a technology buyer but to mid-sized companies that have a need for an integrated suite they can easily implement - no coding required.
Heck - there isn't even a points development area for it yet!!
SAP is working - albeit with what seems glacial speed - to bring the VAR community up to speed. It has shown the SDK to developers. Those who 'get' ABAP and C# will have little problem dealing with what is in effect a scripting language. So where is the place for a ByDesign community inside SCN?
I agree that having a vibrant developer network for BYD is critical but it will be many a year before those same developers will need to be sharing code. Instead I predict we'll see developers rapidly develop add-on modules for the white spaces SAP is not going to cover. They will likely share those in the context of a marketplace but that's about it. And from what I've seen, there just are not going to be that many issues with the SDK to warrant a large community.
I could be wrong of course but let's put it this way: when I can follow a script, code it and have something 'new' running in BYD then ANYONE can do it.
I also believe BYD developers need their own identity. At the moment, those who know the Business Suite are making the instant comparisons and asking questions like: 'Why can't I just write ABAP?' Clearly SAP has a messaging issue here but in short - this is different, you're not going to be getting anywhere near the source code. You will be playing with business objects and forms. A totally different way of working and thinking. And it is this difference in thinking that to my mind is the hallmark of why a BYD community should not come anywhere near SCN. Anything else risks the 'old world' anti-bodies from stifling innovation on this solution.
Rainer Zinow does a fantastic job of working through the technical ins and outs of BYD. Rainer will likely admit that he needs to improve on changing his tone from one that sounds like SAPense to one that reflects business language. If you agree with that then it is easy to see how BYD will be an odd fit inside SCN.
Dick's second suggestion makes a HUGE amount of sense:
Suggestion 2: Find a BusinessByDesign SAPMentor
This suggestion may be premature. I know that the ByD SDK hasn’t been released yet.
Still, I’d like to suggest that there be a SAPMentor who is a BusinessByDesign expert. The synergy would be amazing and the inclusion with this group would help promote this new development environment.
Note to Dick: the SDK has been released but version 2.6 is the one that everyone is waiting for - due later this month.
I am currently in the process of developing a paper which SAP will have rights to distribution. In that paper I, along with my co-author Brian Sommer, talk about it as a business solution first and foremost. It is not a toolbag of bits and bytes although good implementations will need the knowledge of process experts.
I can therefore see some cross over from the BPX community into one for BYD but that's about it.
Rather than try live with the old I'd be MUCH happier seeing SAP carve out a separate identity for BYD devs. That's what makes market sense, whatever you believe the role of developers should be for this solution.