“The Wider Wisdom of the Crowd”

Techies take over Las Vegas Casinos, fun and Hollywood flair. No other city captures it better than Las Vegas. But when the techies annually descend on the city in September, they are only interested in computers. A feature about the unique world of programmers, nocturnal demo jams and the founder of Wikipedia.

“Think about what we could do if we were to use the ‘wider wisdom of the crowd’ to solve problems,” said Schwarz. An innovative and mutually profitable partnership is worth its weight in gold in the IT business.

Solving IT issues with partners

As a topical example of this kind of collaboration, Schwarz announced a partnership between SAP and the Boston-based InnoCentive, an open innovation marketplace. Members of the SAP community and “Solvers” from the InnoCentive network can work together to address SAP-specific challenges and broader technology and IT issues. Cash prizes are awarded to Solvers who can provide successful solutions to problems. SAP has already posted three challenges. The company is seeking ideas for novel uses of social networking to enhance business applications, a method to simplify Web server error handling, and a video for the SAP community network.

Communities: driving innovation

The value and potential of borderless collaboration was clearly evident during the Community Day programs held in advance of the conference. Some 300 members attended this get-together of the SAP Developer Network and the Business Process Expert Community. In more than 40 interactive sessions on topics such as SAP NetWeaver, they collaborated to solve common IT problems and used the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas. “Once you start talking about pain points with five to 10 customers in a room, you start to see patterns emerge,” explained Yariv Zur of SAP Labs Israel. The contributions from customers, partners, and IT experts consequently have a significant influence on the development of SAP technologies.

As an expert on communities, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales took questions during the conference. He explained the breakthrough for the online encyclopedia came only after a decision was made to end editorial control and users were given almost completely unrestricted access to the platform. “Freedom of information – this is one of our core values,” said Wales. “Information can never be locked up or made proprietary.”

With his new Wiki Search project, he wants to establish a future-proof search engine where users from around the world are responsible for managing its content. Wales sees a trend in online collaboration in the increasing use of video. He believes that technology is ready for the next big social innovation – all that is missing is the next big idea.

SAP combines strategy and technology

In today’s world, the focus is on the customer – not the company. Commands and controls have been replaced by collaboration and communities. As Schwarz explained in his keynote, relationships are more important than ownership, and risks are now distributed.

SAP and Business Objects’ joint solution portfolio helps businesses take advantage of this change in values, and bridges the gap between strategy and execution. Schwarz looked at the entire product portfolio and its benefits, from SAP Business Suite and its Enhancement Packages and the SAP NetWeaver technology platform and its innovations in business process management, to Business Objects’ business intelligence, information management, and business process optimization applications. This was followed by a series of demonstrations of the Business Objects information discovery and delivery (IDD) tools. IDD allows companies to efficiently design their processes, align them with strategic goals, and get information about processes to aid decision-making.

Once again, the highlight of the SAP TechEd conference was the Demo Jam, a kind of “American Idol” for IT experts. “Jammers” have just six minutes to pitch their innovative concepts based on SAP systems without using slides. This year’s winners were Michael Portner and Patrick Pant, both of SAP. They showed how to integrate a spell check for everything in an enterprise landscape using two lines of code in a Web Dynpro application and one function module in ABAP.

“A community-driven improvement of software that people use on a daily basis – that’s exactly what we’ve done here; this dictionary followed that spirit,” explained the winners.

The SAP TechEd conference offers members of SAP’s technical community the chance to enhance their knowledge and find out about the latest developments. The event takes place once a year in four countries.
SAP TechEd 2008 dates:

  • SAP TechEd 2008 Berlin, 14 – 16 October
  • SAP TechEd 2008 Shanghai, 05 – 06 November
  • SAP TechEd 2008 Bangalore, 12 – 14 November