July 20, 2012 // By: Christoph Zeidler // The Users’ Advocate
SAP.info: So, sharing news and views is what you do most. What else does your team do?
Awad: At the end of the day, disseminating information will always the most important thing we do. There are lots of things the user groups want to discuss and influence. But in some countries it often turns out people don’t really know how much SAP can already deliver. So we’re here to make sure they really understand the key facts – even in difficult territory like licensing models.
For example, it’s brilliant that we have regional Executive Exchanges where the top people from companies in the SAP user groups meet and talk with the top people at their local SAP companies. Executive Exchanges are a key two-way communication channel.
Meeting and working with each other in a user group is also crucial for customers. User groups provide a space for SAP customers to share their ideas and their accumulated practical wisdom.
A third aspect, and it’s a very important part of user group work, is providing input into the functions and quality of SAP products. It is part of our job to make sure feedback from users reaches the right ears in SAP’s product organization. User groups help SAP channel and prioritize customer input effectively, so with the help of the user groups we at SAP can be sure that our content really is what the market wants.
Customer Connection, the Customer Engagement Initiative, and Customer Advisory Councils are the gateways through which our customers take a direct part in fashioning and optimizing our portfolio. All of the user groups support this work so that they can take advantage of the opportunities for influence in their markets.
SAP.info: So your main function is as a kind of bidirectional communications channel, a mediator?
Awad: Well yes, “channel” is right, but it isn’t the whole story. Our job is to encourage and develop the user groups, because only users who engage with us, who think about our solutions, can help move the SAP world forward. We are the advocates for that perspective within the company, and we help user groups network with our co-workers in house, such as people working in software development. We enhance the benefit of user groups to the company so that the user groups can in turn enhance the benefit to their members.