As a father of three young kids, I’m no stranger to the power of Walt Disney. That’s why at this year’s SAP TechEd event in Las Vegas, I thought I might experience a little Disney magic for myself by listening to David Hull, a solution architect for the company, talk about SAP Community Network and why it has become an integral part of his work ethic. David shared some great insight and underscored the “give-and-take” mentality that keeps the community network running like a finely tuned, well-oiled rollercoaster. That said I knew there was more to David’s story. Thankfully, I was able to sprinkle some fairy dust on his Outlook calendar to nab a follow up call.
A good majority of Disney’s IT infrastructure, including SAP, is outsourced. A core group, including David, is tasked to conduct prototypes, upgrades and functionality extensions like SAP enhancement packages. This collective effort requires something that is not exactly easy to accomplish: stay on top of emerging technologies and how they are changing the landscape. That’s why David turns to the SAP Community Network blogs.
“The people who are writing blogs about in-memory, SAP HANA and mobility are the actual people that are leading these efforts at SAP,” said David. “So you’re getting the story directly from the source – the folks who are actually responsible for developing these cutting edge technologies. I can’t think of a better tool to keep me informed on how things are going to work and how they affect me and the applications I have installed at the company.”
In short, David’s responsibility is to add value to the company. So when he finds something beneficial he must make a business case for it. Guess what? A lot of the business case information he needs resides within SAP Community Network blogs. Contacting the authors of the blogs and people who have commented on them is also part of David’s business case equation. “We have to make a very solid business case for these projects before they get approved and allowed to proceed to the proof of concept stage,” said David. “That’s why events like SAP TechEd and the blogs on the community network are valuable. Someone is offering instruction on what they are doing, how they are doing it and where they are taking it.”
These valuable interactions on SAP Community Network have inspired David to become an active participant himself. It’s one thing to attend conferences or visit the blog sites and wikis, but it’s an entirely different animal to jump in and participate. A groundswell of information opens up and it all happens due to people contacting each other, according to David.
“Not necessarily with questions but also other options that maybe you hadn’t thought of,” said David. “It’s hard to see the value unless you get involved and become an active participant. SAP has been really good about pushing the social media aspect. If it had not, then I think it would be a much more fractured community. You wouldn’t have this single source where everybody is coming together.”
David is currently crafting business case scenarios for SAP Solution Manager and a virtualization project. I look forward to catching up with him again soon to see how these projects are panning out.