In August 2009, SAP was recognized as one of the most active large companies in online networks. But what does this distinction really mean? What is SAP offering its customers and partners in the era of Web 2.0?
Blogs, wiki pages, and forums have ousted e-mail as the preferred means of sharing experiences with SAP software. What key advantage sets these channels apart? In the “Service Industries” section of the retail community at http://BPX.SAP.COM, anyone can view the information they provide at any time.
A community for retail
SAP’s Business Process Expert (BPX) community for retail currently boasts over 20,000 registered users. Interest in its wiki pages, articles, and blogs continues to grow, with the wikis often recording over 1,000 views. Intriguing forum articles can receive over 3,000 hits each.
SAP is doing its part to promote knowledge transfer through online communities. The company has tasked a legion of subject matter experts in the fields of solution management, consulting, and development with providing continuous feedback on incoming contributions.
A wiki for Software
Users submit their contributions in several ways. For example, the Trading Industries Forum provides answers to questions in a matter of hours. A wiki with 20 detailed pages on individual solutions in the SAP for Retail portfolio also covers broader topics, such as master data or best practices in company management from the Run SAP initiative. Both the forum and wiki are unique in that they are open not only to customers and partners, but to everyone.
With an eye on retailers and their IT departments, SAP has gathered all of the information and wiki pages needed to successfully implement and use its software – from category management and optimal master data utilization to the integration of branch processes into company-wide business process logics.
From beginners to experts
The wikis take into account the varying knowledge levels of those who read them: There is a “Getting Started” area for people who first want to obtain the essential information, an area with select articles and blogs for experts, and basic links to general documentation and release-based references.
These pages serve as a launchpad to all of SAP’s available sources and drastically reduce the time users spend searching. They also offer a good starting point for customers’ new employees and partners who want to gain a basic understanding of a certain solution.
If the information on the wikis proves insufficient, users have the option of posing detailed questions in the forum. SAP subject matter experts and other gurus in the community typically answer such queries within hours. Supplementing the information on offer are blogs and articles written by community members, which observe intriguing facets from a unique perspective.
Online social networks are a proven means of interacting with software vendors and obtaining answers to questions. Members of SAP’s retail community have a clear advantage: the ability to both absorb knowledge from SAP and transfer it back to the company.