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Read the comments :)

I was reading this article today and in the comments made me think of this place. Only warning it's very harsh truth.

Take care,

Stephen

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Nov 29, 2017 at 01:22 AM
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Harsh but not uncommon to what we hear here regularly.

The focus here is clearly on marketing and not on functionality with enterprisey pragmatism.

I'm more and more inclined to mentally swap the word digital in 1DX with the word disastrous.

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We want to hear harsh truths. Citing these types of comments are part of my ongoing efforts to communicate the dissatisfaction. (Yes, it's fairly obvious by now, but quotes and links are helpful...albeit humbling.)

Thanks for sharing.

Best regards,

--Jerry

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I believe that article went viral on Twitter.

Den Howlett spells out what I (and many others) thought for a while. Usually I like to be right but this is the case when I'd actually prefer if my suspicions were not confirmed. Now that Den posted this I know it wasn't just lack of information or my inherent pessimism.

"It’s the process knowledge, and that’s what you have to focus on, because that’s what makes you guys unique" - great quote from Dick Hirsch. I feel like SAP allowed business to be run by IT and marketing, essentially. And we it's a mistake.

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The licensing policy is what slows down my boss to invest more on SAP: he find it irritating (i'm filtering a lot!) so he doesn't want a tighter relationship with SAP even if our company would benefit a lot of some solutions.

Well, i doubt SAP would mind, we are not ABB, GM, Ford or whatelse :)

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That was an impressive read, thanks for the link.

Aside the topics of licensing, which I just have nothing to say about, I was impressed by

a) the casual racism about Chinese contribution to OpenSource without anyone even mentioning it

and

b) the overall negative and pessimistic view on virtually everything in those comments and in the article.

Looking around on the page it seems this whole environment of corporate IT, working with SAP and other vendors is just not a good place to be in.

I wonder if that's the case. And if so, why do so many not only continue to not only work their hours but spent time and effort on unpaid activities, like SAP user communities?

There was the comment about why SAP hasn't yet cloned Thomas Jung or Rich Heilman. While I would love to see more folks like these two advocating, communicating and explaining SAP development, I'd say that what makes them (and the also mentioned Craig Cmehil likewise) so outstanding is deeply connected with their personality. That's not something easily "cloned".

Oracle has restaffed AskTom with really capable experts after he left in 2015. Has the new staff turned out to be Tom-clones? Fortunately not.

With Craig's team working on the Express Edition and on Code Jams and the team behind SAP HANA Academy I see many colleagues whos blogs, tutorials and videos I happily recommend to anyone interested in the how-to parts of SAP technology.

It's not a question that many of the first SAP community contributors have left. But it's not like there is nobody left or stepping up their involvement. I'd rather welcome the new folks than mourn the departed - would be a dramatic way to put it.

Then there was this bit about how ABAP is now a "boat-anchor" and python what everyone wants nowadays. I wonder how that discussion is even relevant. If you're an ABAPer and feel your professional development is stuck, go learn Python, R, scala, go, rust or whatever. Does having additional experience in your resume have a negative impact on your chances to be hired? I find that hard to believe. Adding to one's skill set today is easier and more affordable than ever before.

One way to look at this situation would be to say: there's a lot of new things to learn and good chances to get noticed for contributions to the community.

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I can't say much beyond my own experiences, but I would agree that I've felt a general negative mood about our SAP experience. Prior to joining my company 2-3 years ago as a developer I'd never heard of SAP. There's been many discussions about whether SAP is the correct route to keep following, but it feels more like being held hostage to the complexity of transitioning to a new ERP rather than a strong motivation to stick with and grow the relationship. As for the actual system, it's been a tough environment to learn and even when I go online to this or any other forum I never really expect any questions I post to be looked at (let alone answered). Not to say it's all bad, our system does what is required and has some great functionality, but it just feels like it's on the decline. Even with TechEd this year I was the only one sent and though the topics of IoT, Blockchain, Machine Learning/image recognition were 'neat' there was really nothing I could take back and say we need to upgrade for these features. That makes it doubly hard as I feel there is likely a community division between those working with new features vs the old and I've not much reason to go learn the new until we decide to move to S/4 HANA etc where it can be used. It really is the process knowledge/coding that is important to us. Frontend/IU work can be accomplished in house via other means quite easily.

Just my 2 cents.

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it feels more like being held hostage to the complexity of transitioning
 to a new ERP rather than a strong motivation to stick with and grow the
 relationship.

Bingo. The other day on Twitter I brought up a cable company comparison (yet again). TWC is de facto monopoly where I live. There are some fiber options but, unfortunately, none in our specific neighborhood. Everyone hates TWC guts. They "innovate" all the time, e.g. few years ago they bumped everyone from 30 mbps to 100 mbps. A letter was sent to the customers to inform them how nice TWC was. Of course, 6 months later they jacked up prices because of "continuous improvement". I suspect for quite a few customers SAP is as much of a "partner" as TWC is for us. Something tolerated due to lack of better options.

Re: TechEd - I felt the same way. It's all fine and dandy but what is the actual value for our business? Our system is already hosted externally, so might as well be in "the Cloud", who cares. Performance is just fine. Our CFO would surely love that "digital boardroom" but not the price tag that would come with it. As interesting as it was for a techie, I just did not see any application for IoT or blockchain in our business landscape.

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Lars, I don't disagree with most of your points. I also didn't get what that ABAP note had to do with anything. And I agree that Thomas and Rich are just very talented educators that are possibly born once per generation. It's something one has to be born with.

These details do distract from the article but I chose to ignore them because I felt that the main message was valid and important one. I agree with Den that erosion of trust has started and will continue unless something is done about it. Sadly, these are the times when SAP would need all the trust and faith from the customers it can get. Because now you guys want to sell us not just an ERP but the whole platform and, ideally, everything that comes with it.

Re: negative and pessimistic view - but is there really a reason for optimism? You've mentioned that you can't comment on licensing. Fair enough but that (IA, specifically) was a biggest part of the article. And licensing is, indeed, the most depressing aspect in dealing with SAP. :)

I'm sure there are some trailblazer SAP customers who have the most awesome experience working with SAP on their innovations. But they are only part of the SAP ecosphere. And in other parts the situation is much less glamorous.

It might be hard to believe but I don't enjoy criticizing SAP and I'm sure neither does Den. They do have many things that are pretty cool and, of course, many cool people work there as well. But that's why it's especially sad when all their work could be for nothing just because someone else in the organization is not making the right decisions.

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I'm curious, since I don't go to many technical forums nowadays.. I thought TechEd is awfully expensive and I don't see how I can ever justify even the registration cost, let alone travel cost to an employer for a three day event.

Is the cost in line with other similar forums and programs?

It almost seems like you pay to be sold on the new stuff. But not a ton of stuff to help you with what's sitting in you company right now.

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I believe the attendance cost is within the customary range for the corporate events. Just googled it and it says Oracle Open World is $2650. Other small scale events are around $1000.

This year the hotel rate in Vegas was outrageous IMHO ($279 per night + $30 for Internet) but travel for SAPPHIRE, for example, was inexpensive when we went.

From my perspective, SAPPHIRE is exactly like you're saying, mostly a sales event (talking about the SAP part, it's also an annual ASUG meeting technically but I'm not involved with that). They even have a huge area with rooms for the meetings and lots of busy looking people in suits running around. TechEd is not at all like this. There are, of course, vendors but it's easy to avoid their siren calls if you don't want any souvenirs. There are hands-on sessions (attendees can pick 2) that go for 2 or 4 hours. And there are usually at least a few sessions that are not too cutting edge and can give you something useful for daily life. To me, most value of TechEd is in meeting people. People who go there and just sit through the keynote and some sessions and never talk to anyone are definitely not getting value for their money. I also suspect wrong people get sent there. Some folks I tried to chat up didn't look like they even wanted to be there. Some come completely unprepared as well and then it's "fail to plan - plan to fail".

Edit: for full disclosure, I receive free admission to TechEd from SAP, so my opinion could be biased.

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I don't get free entry and I don't have an employer to pay my ticket. But I still find it useful to go every few years for the hands on sessions and lectures, and the networking. I believe Mike Pokraka treats it as his annual training.

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Quite so :)

You can pay a similar price for a three day SAP course and learn one topic in great detail.

Or you can go to TechEd and pick and choose a few high-intensity sessions with the purpose of either get the gurus' wisdom on familiar topics, or to cram in a load of info to bootstrap yourself into a new topic. Personally I think this has higher educational value as I can choose the bits that are useful to me.

Think of it as 24 hours of curated training versus choosing from hundreds of hours of diverse sessions to suit you. For me, just on comparison of training value TechEd already outranks a three day SAP course.

Add the (real) value of networking - and the beers of course - and it becomes a no-brainer.

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In the past years, training/education was also my cost center for travel expenses. :) I agree with Mike that it provides more value overall than an SAP class would at similar cost.

As a side note, I believe SAP started to offer "developer pass" with some restrictions at lower cost. But I had no need for it and don't know the details.

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Sadly if an employer is not interested to pay for it, TechEd are pretty expensive in the boot-shaped country: aroud 1.5K Euro + expenses are basically the wage for a month.

I found pretty interesting the InsideTrack ones where i met Craig and many other technical folks: less people, more easy to exchange opinions without getting lost.

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Yes give us the new stuff. I love learning it. But you can't bring it home and immediately start using it. As others have said it's easy to justify Teched for the pure learning experience.

Also give us some of the "old" stuff. Things we might not have remembered or never learned. Help us to build our current skills so that we can immediately impress our employers.

I think lately that balance isn't there. Yes, because I spoke (on old stuff, darn I didn't name my session right), I did get a free ticket to Teched. What I didn't get was the huge hotel bill and other costs associated with Teched. So I can say, yes, I did have to justify going. Lucky for me my company is on the verge of a re-implementation of SAP. It was an easy justification.

Mmmm... I wonder about the balance though. Old vs new vs marketing.

Michelle

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Lack of "old stuff" has been mentioned every year since 2013 when I first attended. The hands-on session for ABAP gets sold out in a week. SAP should really get a clue and give us more plain ABAP sessions instead of 10 different ones on "how to extend S/4HANA".

There were several sessions that I think would've been beneficial to all ABAPers but they were just not named / described in best way. E.g. there were some sessions about "custom code migration to HANA" and one would think "meh, I'm not going to HANA for 5 more years, why would I need this now?" But, in fact, they were about the best practices that we should be following already, without waiting for HANA. Some sessions this year seemed like a repeat from last year though, that was very disappointing to me (those who didn't attend last year may feel differently).

Even with ABAP coming back from the dead this year, I still don't feel that old-timey ABAPers are a focus group at TechEd. SAP just wants to show off the new stuff, no matter how half baked. Even ABAP sessions were like "what's new in ABAP 7.52" or something. I don't give a hoot, to be honest. It won't be "new" when I'll get to actually use it.

Another odd thing: SAP does very bad job at informing customers what improvements are available to them free of charge. E.g. there are some SIG meetings at the events but I've never seen a presentation based on, say, a customer engagement initiative. Wouldn't many customers be interested in the enhancements delivered in SD or FI recently? No one seems to know about them!

And regarding expenses: SAP should consider sponsoring travel for the speakers as well. I didn't stay at Venetian this year (the cost was simply outrageous) and I left on Thursday evening since I'm not interested in the bar party. But even that "economy option" cost as much as my family could spend to rent a 3 bedroom beach house for the whole week in summer.

P.S. Was there any feedback solicited from TechEd attendees after the event this year? I don't recall...

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My 2 cents to the 'value for money' topic about SAP events.
A. The money part - it varies between locations, companies and households... a lot. The easiest way to evaluate the money part is:
1. Determine the total expenses to attend an event (may vary a lot between locations).
2. Find out what percentage of the amount from 1. you need to pay (varies between 0% and 100%).
3. Calculate the money you need to pay.
4. Determine how much you are left with at the end of the month after you pay for the basic necessities.
5. Calculate the number of months (yes, you read it right, months) you need to save for that.
If the result from 5. does not scare you or make you feel guilty and drop the subject - proceed to value calculation.
B. The value part (it is not the same for everybody):
1. What is your current role or the role that you pursue in the future?
1.1. If this is a technical role - take a look at the hands-on sessions, there is a higher chance to find something that you can use in practice.
1.2. If this is a functional role - you may still check the sessions with intended audience system administrators or developers and pick some knowledge, but the chances are that you won't benefit much from them (other than expanding your horizons). There may be less sessions to pick from if you are looking for something that you can immediately use (not everybody has a server in the basement and you are usually stuck with whatever your basis people have built).
2. What is your area of expertise and what interests you?
2.1. Do you work on/worked on/planning to work on in the near future on a S4HANA project? If yes - there will be more sessions to pick from, but you need to choose wisely to get some value of the sessions.
2.2. Are there recent innovations in your area of interest or exotic features that you want to know more about (for which there are no good online resources, trainings or books and you cannot figure out how things work on your own)? If yes - check if there are any lectures on that before making a decision.
2.3. How do you feel about global topics, thought leadership? If you are on a managerial position probably hands-on technical sessions are not a good fit. On the other hand - there are chances that you will get this without traveling by watching replays and reading blogs. If you are really busy, considering absence even for a few days is important.
3. How good is your English (substitute with another language if applicable)? Yes, many people in the SAP world read content in English/German etc., but do not excel in listening comprehension. If you fall into this category, consider the language barrier when you estimate the value that you may get out of an event.
C. The networking part:
1. How important is this to you and how much do you enjoy socializing? Are any friends or colleagues going? Is anyone that you really want to meet in person going?
D. Comparison to a 3-day official SAP training:
1. Perform the same exercise as for attending a SAP event and compare the results.
E. The beer part (assuming that you drink beer):
1. Where are you located? Do you have easy access to really good beer? If the answer is e.g. Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark - there is no need to travel to Spain (this is the closest TechED location in my case) to drink beer, call your friends and go to your favorite local pub, club or restaurant. Since this is your favorite place you know the price of beer and how much you enjoy drinking it with friends or colleagues. Calculate value for money and compare to the result of attending a SAP event (do not forget to add benefits and expenses of drinking beer during a SAP event).
2. Do you go to music festivals? If yes - in many of these events you can drink beer with friends while listening to good music. Calculate value for money and compare it to attending a SAP event.

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My analysis is quite primitive: "My Mentor homies are going to be there and I totally need to see the cute stuffed goat!" :)

But of course TechEd is not like a family reunion for most attendees, so yeah...

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"My 2 cents to the 'value for money' topic about SAP events." - Veselina Peykova

Um some of that might help me convince my boss - maybe. BUT it's not just my boss. I have to show a ROI for the higher ups. And I can't defer the ROI to the future. I usually can't justify by saying I got 10 different 3 day classes. Because - they don't care. They want to know NOW - be shown something that I can point to and say - yes Teched helped. That helped me with project XYZ that already had a ROI associated with it.

And really - for me I don't have to know if I want to go or not. The answer is always YES. If you've seen just one of my blogs you can tell that. But as fun as I have learning the new - I need to make use of it. I might not be able to based on my version of SAP.

I have - in the past - offered to pay for the things I needed if I just didn't have to take vacation. (Yes, expensive, but then I would go to what I wanted and not have to justify things.) However, lucky for me, my boss always found the money somewhere...

"SAP should consider sponsoring travel for the speakers as well" Jelena Perfiljeva/

What a nice idea. Again they would probably have to justify the ROI. Where giving us a "free" pass ONLY to the lectures, doesn't really cost them anything. They get a lot of volunteers to speak. Enough that they can pick and choose. So why offer up any more? From a pure money side - it doesn't make sense. But yes - I wouldn't have to beg my company to go so bad if I got a chance to speak. I'm getting good at the begging part. I bring out spreadsheets with data upon more data until they are cross-eyed.

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It could be something like a "grant" for select few speakers who wouldn't be able to make it otherwise. Of course, there are lots of candidates as it is but are they all really great ones?That's how the events end up being dominated by the third party vendor sales pitches disguised as "customer sessions" or "oh, we just got 50 consultants and paid them gozillion bucks to create this nice Fiori Launchpad for us" kind of content.

I'd go out of my way to attend those "grant recipient" speaker sessions. Imagine all the PR opportunities.

I don't have any data on the speakers though. It might as well be a non-issue. Maybe companies are happy to pay for anyone who speaks. But based on what I've heard from some people whom I think could make a great presenter, travel cost was a deterrent.

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Agreed.

I don't know about other speakers - but I still have to "beg" - not really - but justify the expense of going to the event. It costs - room, flight, some food, hands-on (if you want to got to these), and actual loss of work time. My salary for those days. I have been very lucky I've been able to justify it - so far.

And yes, if that means I don't speak, because there is someone/something better out there, that's good with me. I go there to learn old/new. The balance and now I repeat myself.

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