The Power of Community Comes to Life at SAP’s TechEd

marilyn and craig
Marilyn Pratt and Craig Cmehil, both SAP rock stars, embody the spirit of SAP TechEd.

Walking down one of the cavernous halls at the Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas, we approached one of my Enterprise Irregular (EI) colleagues, David Dobrin.  Dobrin looked surprised to see me and said, “What are you doing here?”  I said, “I’m here to learn!”

Yes, I attended my first SAP TechEd this week and this is where learning happens.  TechEd is in four cities around the world this year: Shanghai: March 13–14, 2014Las Vegas: October 20–24, 2014Berlin: November 11–13, 2014 and Bangalore: March 11–13, 2015.  An “elder” explained to me that TechEd is the physical manifestation of the online community that lives 24/7 around the world in SAP’s SCN community.  The earliest form of SAP’s SCN was launched in 2002.  The community has shape-shifted over the years to become the glue that ties together customers, mentors, evangelists, partners, and every member of the SAP ecosystem.

I was encouraged to attend TechEd by everyone’s favorite community host and star community advocate, Marilyn Pratt.  Between Marilyn and another one of my EI brethren, Craig Cmehil, the inimitable SAP evangelist, I knew I’d be in good hands to learn as much as possible from the community who turns out for SAP TechEd.  As a newbie to the space, my challenge for this trip was to get a better understanding of all things big data and data science.  My hosts, Mike Prosceno and Andrea Kaufmann did a fantastic job lining me up with SAP experts with whom I could share ideas and get a better understanding of how SAP was solving customer problems with big data via its HANA platform.

So what did I learn?

On Tuesday, I tagged along with Marilyn who was introducing Megan McGuire, lead for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)‘s new eHealth Unit, to various individuals and groups within the SAP community. The goal was to see team2 how SAP’s technology could further assist McGuire in her ambitious aim to provide timely, accurate information, monitoring, and accessibility for all MSF projects in 26 countries.  The challenges associated with data collection, language differences, data formats, even stable connectivity in remote regions all complicate MSF’s goals of going “digital.”  In understanding the complexity of the work MSF set out to achieve, I could see easily how this could translate to any large organization.  What was particularly interesting to me in the MSF approach was its emphasis on design thinking to frame the approach.  MSF’s strategy was designed in collaboration with ThoughtWorks which has an emphasis on disruptive technology for social good and change.  In the evening, McGuire was treated to the talents of about 75 SAP developers who formed teams and participated in a 4-hour data visualization challenge using MSF data and SAP’s Lumira data visualization tool.  Although I didn’t participate on a team, I was encouraged by how quickly the teams – many of whom had never used SAP’s Lumira – were able to start finding insights in the data.  Again, getting a real-time view into the challenges associated with data formats provided a number of teaching moments.

On Wednesday,  I met with several SAP experts and customers who were all taking advantage of the HANA platform.  One of the most interesting was Enakshi Singh, a neuroscientist, who is working with Stanford University on Genome research.  Singh told me that with SAP HANA, researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine are able to collapse the time to analyze large genome variant data from days to minutes and even seconds. The speed of the platform is accelerating learning and new discoveries around the world in the important work related to understanding the human genome.  I also met with Byron Banks, another one of SAP’s big data experts.  Banks and I discussed some of the challenges associated with what I’m aiming to do with Big Mountain Data.  He was generous with his insights and it was obvious to me how much commercial application of big data and data science can be applied directly to solving some of society’s greatest challenges.  I found the same spirit of generous giving at a luncheon hosted by Moya Watson, another SAP Mentor.  Moya gathered a number of SAP friends and fans (customers) who are interested in advancing technology for social good.  The discussion was exhilarating  and chock full of great ideas.

duke appFinally, I met with an enthusiastic team from Duke University who’ve created a real-time app to collect and present stats related to the famed Men’s Duke Basketball team.  With help from NTT Data, Duke’s athletic department was able to complete a “passion project” begun by a former Duke employee who aggregated all Men’s basketball data dating back from the early 1900s.  The project resulted in the first fan-facing data visualization and analytics tool in collegiate-level athletics. All the data is stored in the HANA cloud and presented via SAP’s Design Studio which was deployed natively on HANA.  The team’s project, which goes by the hashtag: #DukeMBBStats, will launch November 14, just in time for the new season.

When thinking about the SAP TechEd experience, it occurred to me how valuable an asset the SAP SCN community is to SAP’s business.  In the cacophony of over 7,000 visitors to the show, the attendees seemed to all “know each other”  in that way only a strong community can bond individuals.  The community creates an experience with the SAP brand that enriches professional development, loyalty, and spurs innovation.  Where SAPPHIRE, which I have attended many times, focuses on new SAP announcements and a concerted effort to connect with customers, SAP TechEd is an event by the SAP community for the SAP community. It was difficult to tell who was an SAP employee, a partner, or a customer.  It was just a blur of passionate people sharing and learning from their friends and colleagues.

The best lesson I learned in Las Vegas?  This will not be my last TechEd.

 

 

 

 

Come Shake your Cosmic Thing in Atlanta this Fall

Gandhi-quotes-In-a-gentle-way-you-can-shake-the-world.-300x300In my new role as social mercenary while I work on the startup, I’ve been doing some work for my good friend, Robin Carey, founder of Social Media Today (SMT).  Robin is one of the key influentials who served as an early catalyst to introduce the social phenomenon to the business world. SMT is a disruptive publishing and community hybrid that has delivered the right mix of thought leadership, exposure, brand value, and community engagement to thousands of early adopters worldwide.   SMT launched in 2007 and as chiefly a new media online enterprise, Robin has always avoided the temptation to get into the conference game.  That changed last fall when Blogworld approached her about doing a conference.  Blogworld’s New Media expo draws thousands to its flagship event in Las Vegas.

What I love about Robin is that she sees the whole market – the macro market – for social’s total potential for impact on a 21st-Century business.  Where she could easily be content to stay sequestered in the profitable social media marketing large chunk of the social pie, she has never lost sight of what social can do internally for an enterprise.  Robin credits her heroes as the inspiration for the conference, but she is a hero to many of us who are thankful she has never let go of that vision.

Robin chose another one of my good friends, Maggie Fox, to serve as MC and content producer for the event.  Maggie too has always been a champion for seeing the larger possibilities in the market beyond social media marketing and serves as a strategic advisor to large companies trying to navigate the social possibilities of a changing world.  She is focusing the conference agenda around issues that demonstrate how social is developing new models and changing traditional roles for individuals and brands.

So, when is this fabulous conference?  The Social Shake-up Conference will be held September 15-17 in Atlanta, GA.  The tracks are already established, and the sessions are getting filled in quickly.  Although you’ll see a lot of familiar faces in the speaker list for Shake-up, you’re going to be introduced to some new, dynamic speakers too.  The star opening keynote will be Porter Gale, who recently published, “Your Network is your Net Worth.”  I’ve heard she is a fantastic speaker.

In the back channels on the social web, I’ve been hearing a lot of grousing about how there is a hole in the market for a great conference. So many of us who’ve been at this for a while recall the magic that happened when people who knew each other really well online met for the first time in person at an industry conference.   It has always served as a good lesson behind the hoopla that powers the social web that real relationships are forged and forever grounded in the chemistry and bonding of a face-to-face encounter.  I’m looking forward to attending this conference and helping Maggie and Robin in every way I can.  BTW, this is not a conference where you will see a pathetic dearth of women speakers.  Women have been strong voices in the social revolution.  Come celebrate with us in Atlanta.

Early bird registration ends this week, July 5.  There are blogger press passes for influentials too, so just reach out, and I’ll make sure to hook you up.

Bonus question: who can identify the obscure B-52s reference in this post?  

 

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A Social Baptism for the Enterprise. Hallelujah and Amen.

About this time last month, I was undergoing a crisis of faith.  Faith in what brought me to this space: the promise of what the next generation web could be and could do to change business as we know it, as well as society at large.   My faith was shaken by a few ripples in the foundation.  I posted this short blog post on our Council Jive site:

I got some great feedback from members, but remained somewhat in a state of insecurity.  Things exacerbated when later in the month, a host of conversations had cropped up in the blogosphere on the failure some individuals were experiencing regarding adoption of social technologies inside large enterprises and critics taking delight in the “I toldya so” grand opportunity.

As the summer of 2011 was coming to an end, I found myself wondering whether I was the only one pursuing some greater purpose? Had I been completely delusional?  Blindly naive?

My crisis of faith ended on the morning of August 31, 2011.  

Mark Benioff, Salesforce.com CEO, whom I’ve been heralding as the voice of the new Enterprise generation since I saw him speak last year, killed it in his opening keynote for Dreamforce 2011 with the messaging I (and many others) have been consistently preaching for the past five years.   And, considering Salesforce’s Dreamforce is now the largest technology conference in the world, the social baptism that every one of those 45,000 in attendance and many more who were tuning in around the world received was epic.

So, with grace and humility, I have been re-energized.  You kinda either get this or you don’t.  If you do get it, I hope you’re rejoicing. I know I am.  If you don’t get it, don’t worry, it will benefit you too despite your willingness to embrace it.

If you are a believer, or just socially curious, I highly recommend you watch Benioff’s keynote.

Finally, Mr. Benioff, if you’re listening, all I can say is Thank You from the bottom of my bottomless heart.

Pinch me. Social Business has arrived.

I am here on the ground at IBM’s gala Lotusphere annual event.  If I didn’t see it for my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it.  Social Business is all the rage and the main storyline IBM is taking to its customers going forward.

IBM Executives are describing “social” as the next wave in enterprise computing:

Mainframe > Departmental > PC > Internet > Social

According to Alistair Rennie, General Manager for Collaboration Solutions, who gave this morning’s keynote, “It’s the most important Lotusphere ever.”  He credited social business as key to combining people and technology, a goal IBM has been working on for decades.

What’s significant to me in this endorsement is that one of the icons of Enterprise (the “I” in MISO) is touting social as a must-do, not a fad or a trendy adaptation of consumer technology.  This only bodes well for companies and organizations of all sizes, as selling the “vision” of social is half the battle in getting something started.

So IBM, you go girl.  Bring it.

(I will be here throughout the week.  Looking forward to talking to many IBM customers about their experiences.  If you are an IBM customer interested in learning how to “go social,” please join us this evening at 5pm in Asia 3 at the Dolphin.  You can talk to other earlyvangelists who’ve been at this for a while.)

Nomination Season Begins! Who will be Internal Evangelist of the Year 2010?

Photo credit: Alex Dunne

It’s that time again.   Last year was our inaugural celebration awarding a Council member, “Internal Evangelist of the Year.”  (#IEoY09)

We created this award to recognize an individual who has gone above and beyond the #dayjob requirements and truly has been an inspiration for the company leading a radical (and most often) difficult transformation of the large enterprise.

As I said last year, the same is true this year:

“…the job of the internal evangelist is far, far more difficult. These folks toggle between fighting the good fight every day and then slipping uneasily into a sort of DMZ where they can peek out into the broader community for support and the rejuvenation they need to go on fighting another day. It’s often a thankless job with no clear roadmap for advancement, yet the majority of them do it because they believe in the principles of the 2.0 movement. I celebrate them!”

Interestingly enough, last year’s award winner, Claire Flanagan, was promoted to Social Collaboration Director at the Boston E20 conference.  Hence, she created her own roadmap for advancement and was publicly and privately recognized for it by her employer.   We’ve all had an amazing year.  When I posted about the IEoY09 last year, we had just 40 members in the Council.  We now have 6x that number and the percentage of our “heavy users/most engaged” far surpassed 40 a long while ago. Even with the natural churn (members coming, going, new jobs, etc.), we are consistently growing and individual members have the accretive value of every new node’s contribution to the group intelligence.

So, this year’s winner will be harder to choose than ever.  The final selection will weigh heavily on the member’s recommendations from colleagues in the company, but we are considering all nominations including self-nominations.  Do not be shy!  Vote for your favorite Council member.  It’s good for the member to be recognized for achievements and career advancement; it’s good for the company in that it reinforces how critical the social business effort is to the organization; and it’s good for the sector as it validates the passion and enthusiasm this particular trend brings to the landscape for business reinvention.

Here are the rules/instructions:

1. The nominee must be a member of The 2.0 Adoption Council.  If you would like to recognize someone who is deserving of the award and is leading a social business transformation at your company (or any company), please simply ask them to join the Council.  The Council is free to join for qualified members.

2. We are looking for that extra something.  How did the member sway opinion in the company or in the industry at large?  Did the member demonstrably take a risk that paid off?  Are there any success metrics you have regarding adoption or transformative change in the organization you can tout due to the members’ efforts?  Has the business realized any measurable gains specific to the 2.0 effort?  In other words, the IEoY award is not a popularity contest.  It’s an achievement reward.

3. Where to vote:
– We have two forms for nominations.  My preferred form is the same one we used last year on Google.  You can access it here.
– We have a duplicate of the original form on SurveyGizmo. You an access it here. We needed an alternative web address, as many of our members cannot access Google apps behind the firewall.  Please only use this form if you do not or do not wish to use the Google form.

4. Deadline for submissions is October 22, 2010.

5. The Twitter hashtag for this year’s award is #IEoY10.  Most of the Council members can be found on Twitter.  Jamie Pappas has a list, and the @20adoption account follows members on Twitter.

The award will once again be a main stage event at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference (West) this year held at the spacious Santa Clara Convention Center.

Good luck all evangelists!   As you know, I am your most loyal, enthusiastic fan and you are all winners to me. Let the race begin!

Adoption is Dead. Long live Adoption!

Rumors surrounding the death of adoption have been greatly exaggerated.

The 2.0 Enterprisey crowd is gearing up to head to Boston for our annual pilgrimage.  This will be my fourth conference as a participant and board member.  Having watched and often interpreted the trends in this sector, I find it interesting to report that things have not changed much in general since our first get-together in 2007.   While it’s true that we have many, many more organizations large and small experimenting with and committing to 2.0 strategies– internally and externally– and the business itself is morphing into something much more grand and all-encompassing, the truth of the matter is: we are still early adopters of this new way of working.

The notion of “adoption” in general occasionally gets called into criticism by bloggers who are looking at the phenomenon purely through the lens of new technology adoption.   The adoption phenomenon is much more far-reaching and encompasses a wholesale reinvention of the way we will work in the future.  Social data and social layers that will filter transactions in the enterprise are the Next Big Thing in enterprise.  Period.  But before we can get there, we need to on-ramp legions of employees to change their attitudes and behaviors to maximize the benefits of what the socially connected universe offers.

It’s easy for us who spend a lot of time on the social web to re-imagine where we are in real terms relative to widespread embrace of social strategy and tactical best practices.   This is a mistake, and we need to scale back our expectations and see the immediate opportunity for what it is: an early adopter market.  This reality has been difficult to swallow, perhaps especially for me.   We’ve kicked off our case study series and early indicators are reinforcing the relative immaturity of the market.  We’ll have more details on those in upcoming months.  The good news is: we are all really early on a phenomenon that is changing the world as we know it.  This social transformation will be larger and more comprehensive than any technology transformation (including the Internet and mobile) we’ve seen thus far.  Those of us who are in this for the long haul know this instinctively and welcome the opportunity to shape the future.

That said, the Council members (who are squarely on the front lines of galvanizing change) have been working hard to put together some thinking on what’s working and what’s not  on the Adoption Trail.  In addition to our full-day workshop, we have an  entire track devoted to adoption issues at the conference this year.  I invite you to hear directly from these customers– at their sessions, at lunch, at the bar, in the halls… wherever they are.  You’ll know them because they’ll be wearing our pins, as well as a star on their badges.  We have over 30 Council members attending from a variety of industry sectors including: IT/High Tech, Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals, Public Utilities, Government, Construction, Publishing, Retail, Non-Profit, Health Care, Financial Services, and Manufacturing.

On the last day of the conference, in the last session time slot, I’ve reserved time to discuss “what we missed” in our agenda planning.  As board members, we try hard to include everything topical that’s fit to present, but invariably, we could fall short and miss or underplay something important.  This session is an attempt to capture that lost content and discuss it with a panel of customers and industry thought leaders (including Dennis Howlett and Lee Bryant, as well as a team of sharp shooter Council members).  So, while you’re attending sessions, please keep a mental note of anything you feel has been missing from the dialog all week and bring it to the session.  We’re going to try and keep the session as interactive as possible.

Look forward to seeing you all in Boston.