May 02, 2012 // By: Jennifer Lankheim and Sanjay Khanna // SAP Mentors: A Rare Breed
The five-year-old SAP Mentor Initiative has its origins in the SAP Community Network, a 2 million member online social network for SAP professionals, and SCN remains the SAP Mentors’ home base. Through SCN interactions and contributions (blogs, discussions, documentation, etc.) and volunteer activities at industry events, SAP Mentors advance their business and technical skills and gain a rich understanding of SAP and the needs and concerns of its customers.
Along with expertise and insight, another important trait of SAP Mentors is a willingness to use their expertise to help others derive value from their IT solutions. Take Mentor Tammy Powlas, a senior business analyst at Fairfax Water, the largest water utility in the U.S. state of Virginia. Through the SAP Mentor program, Powlas helped The Clorox Company understand the functionalities of the Incident and Problem Management component of SAP IT Service Desk Operation, an in-house support tool that connects to the SAP Service Marketplace.
“I did it without acting as a formal consultant,” says Powlas, whose SCN blogs on implementing the component prompted SAP Active Global Support to connect her with Clorox. “I shared the details of our implementation and directed [Clorox IT] to my blog posts. This not only helped Clorox, but also helped my company to see how we’re managing our support resources.”
SAP Mentors also offer customers a unique, independent point of view on the SAP experience. Ray Kloss, who heads SAP Marketing in Australia and New Zealand, says that in an era of incredibly fast-paced technological change and increasingly complex IT landscapes, SAP customers find independent, community-driven expertise invaluable in helping them drive high-quality implementations. “SAP Mentors are vital to the dialogue between SAP and SAP’s customers,” Kloss says.
Moreover, he says, organizations want to acquire SAP-based solutions armed with pragmatic foreknowledge of the challenges they’ll face and the results they can expect. “Absolutely critical to the conversation are engaged, motivated experts who are independent.”
That’s why the SAP Mentors are a natural outgrowth of the SAP Community Network, according to Gail Moody-Byrd, SCN senior director of marketing. “We’re keenly aware that with the rise of online networks, customers seek unfiltered advice from peers who have ‘been there, done that’ with SAP products,” she says, “and that’s exactly what they get from SAP Mentors. They have so much collective knowledge and such willingness to share it.”