This is the first in a series of blogs where I’ll chronicle the creation of the SAP HANA Essentials book.
“It’s déjà vu all over again” Yogi Berra
Well, for the second time in my SAP career, I’ve “volunteered” to produce a book about a hugely important SAP technology. The first time, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. So I should know better than to do it a second time, but then again, I’m often a bit dense.
When SAP announced SAP NetWeaver in 2003, I was the “evangelist” for technology and SAP NetWeaver was my primary focus. So, after shooting my mouth off about the need for “easy-to-understand” collateral about SAP NetWeaver a few too many times, I found myself committed to delivering the SAP NetWeaver for Dummies book for Sapphire 2004--less than 6 months away. Lets just say that it was WAAAYY more successful than any of us had ever dreamed it would be. The publisher sold nearly 100k copies of that book in the first year it came out. I assure you, it had nothing to do with the quality of writing (or lack thereof). We had just hit the right nerve—the SAP ecosystem needed an easy-to-understand material to get their heads around the technology so they could decide on how to incorporate it into their roadmaps. It was so hot that several SAP partners were ordering it 1000 copies at-a-time from the publisher. And, no, I didn’t get any royalties from the sales of the book, but that was ok since my job was to spread knowledge about the technology and a book was the best vehicle for that at the time.
So, 9 years later, I find myself repeating history again (hopefully I’ve learned a little since then). I’m back to being a technology evangelist and I’m starting a very short and painful journey to deliver the same type of easy-to-understand overview book on a technology that is even more critical to SAP’s success—SAP HANA.
However, this time, I’ve got an even more audacious goal. Instead of “only” getting 100k people to read the book, I’m going to try to get 1 million people to read the SAP HANA book. Basically, we’re going to take the same writing approach we did with the SAP NetWeaver for Dummies book, but remove the paper and ink costs, hit repeat and crank up the volume to 11.
Faster, Better, Cheaper
Several things have changed in the publishing world over the past 5 years that actually make this plan a lot less crazy than it sounds. First, just about everybody in the tech world has an iPad or Kindle by now, so the proliferation of reading devices has hit critical mass in the SAP ecosystem. Secondly, ebook technology can help us point people to “level 2” content, which means we only have to focus the book on the “level 1” content. It will be a bit shallow technically for some people, but that’s the point. And, if they want deeper technical info, it will only be a click away from the ebook page they’re on. Thirdly, since we can edit and update ebooks about as easily as a MS Word document, we’ll be able to continuously keep the SAP HANA book up to date as the product evolves.
The really critical feature that will make it easy for people to acquire the book is that we can make it available for free. Our belief is that since SAP HANA is going to be so important to every member of the SAP ecosystem over the next several years, we have to make the Level 1 knowledge freely available and accessible to everyone who wants it. Whether you’re a CIO or a “code-monkey” in the SAP ecosystem, SAP HANA is gonna be a really big deal for you in the near future. A level one understanding of SAP HANA is going to be a crucial skillset for everyone who works in and around SAP.
With that, I’ll let you take a look at the current table of contents for the book. Please be aware that this is definitely going to change over the next couple of months. However, it has most of the content listed that will be in the first edition, but we’ll probably mess around with the structure a bit as we go.
More updates on the writing process to come. Looking forward to your thoughts on how to make this the best possible SAP HANA resource for the entire SAP ecosystem.