SAP and Enterprise Trends Podcasts from Jon Reed (@jonerp) of diginomica.com
Free spirited, old school podcasts on all things enterprise with Jon Reed of diginomica.com, along with troublemakers and/or special guests
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In this thirty minute podcast, David Foote of Foote Partners reviews his firm's latest 2,000-employer benchmark survey data on trends in pay and availability of SAP enterprise application skills. Hear what's hot (and by how much), including which SAP skill has seen a 57% increase in market value over the last 12 months.

Also included: strategy advice for employers deploying SAP applications, and career advice for IT professionals building SAP careers over the next two years.

Kicked off by Demir Barlas of SearchSAP.com, this podcast begins with David Foote's overview of his latest SAP skills findings, including what's hottest in 2008. Jon Reed of JonERP.com weighs in toward the end of this podcast, asking David several questions about how SAP professionals should apply his findings to their own skills transitions.
Direct download: pcast_0908_sap_reed_barlas_foote01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:09pm EST
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Gas prices have been flirting with $5 a gallon recently. But as Krishna Kumar of Enterprise Horizons points out in this podcast, when most SAP customers implemented their first SAP systems, prices were closer to $1 a gallon. This massive change in the cost of energy has created both a crisis and an opportunity. On this podcast, we look at the opportunity side of the equation. Jon and Krishna are joined by Paul Kurchina, Director of the Kurmeta Group, and author of the recently released book In Pursuit of the Perfect Plant.

The three of us take a closer look at the intersection between the corporate "Green Movement" and eSOA, and how these converging technologies are having a beneficial impact on the bottom line, while charting a better course for global energy consumption. Paul and Krishna also explain how SAP professionals can get more involved in the Green/eSOA space - a potentially great way to mix skills expansion with purposeful work.  
Direct download: pcast_0808_sap_reed_kumar_kurchina01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:02pm EST
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What is at the root of the customer frustration with SAP's maintenance fee increases? And what does RunSAP and Solution Manager have to do with it? To get at these questions and many more, listen in with Jon Reed and SearchSAP.com Site Editor Demir Barlas as they interview Robert Max, ASUG Evangelist for ASUG, Americas' SAP Users' Group. Formerly the SAP Infrastructure Manager for a Fortune 500 Company, Max has played a leadership role in many ASUG groups, including serving as as the Chair of the ASUG Solution Manager Community.

During this podcast, Robert explains how SAP customers can achieve a greater value from SAP support by maximizing the use of Solution Manager, RunSAP, and end-to-end process optimization. He also talks about the skills needed by project teams (and individual consultants) if they want to take advantage of these emerging post-go-live opportunities.
Direct download: pcast_0808_sap_reed_max01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:58pm EST
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In this landmark podcast, Jon speaks with Kent Sanders, Senior Technology Architect for CSC Consulting, about the beginning of the end for the traditional R/3 Basis Consultant, and how to make the skills transition to "NetWeaver Engineer." Kent explains why mastering NetWeaver is essential for getting involved with eSOA, and why eSOA has moved from hype to reality. Loaded with practical skills tips for consultants and project teams, Kent SAP professionals an inside view on how they can round out their skills, avoid being outsourced, and stay marketable in the NetWeaver era.

During the interview, Kent talks about the differences between the classic Basis skill set and the emerging "NetWeaver Engineer" skill set. He goes into the specifics of the tools that SAP technical professionals need to master in order to remain marketable instead of becoming obsolete. Drawing on his own experience, Kent explains how project teams should approach building NetWeaver and eSOA skills sets internally. Kent also talks about how the business process orientation of SAP is impacting all SAP skill sets, and most importantly, how SAP professionals can educate themselves for these transitions - in particular by leverage the SDN and BPX communities.
Direct download: pcast_0808_sap_reed_sanders02.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:54pm EST
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The value of SAP certification for SAP professionals might be the most frequently asked career question of all time. In this special edition podcast, co-hosted by Demir Barlas of SearchSAP, Jon discusses the key issues in SAP certification with Sue Martin, Global Certification Portfolio Manager for SAP.

During the podcast, Jon poses the "hot button" SAP certification topics that he always wanted to ask, including Sue's take on the relevance of SAP certification to hiring managers, and the value of SAP certification for those trying to break into SAP. Sue also explains the new three-tiered SAP certification program, the latest efforts to make SAP certification exames more location-accessible, and what's coming up for SAP certification at TechEd 2008.

By the time the podcast is over, Jon and Demir get Sue's take on many of the questions JonERP.com readers have posed about SAP certification - including Sue's news that more than 80 percent of SAP hiring managers surveyed say that certification factors heavily into their hiring decisions.
Direct download: pcast_0708_sap_reed_martin01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:51pm EST
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Jon Reed interviews Jim Spath, Technlogy Architect for Black and Decker, and gets his frank views on ASUG 2008, including the Business Objects acquisition, SAP for the Blackberry, and the impact of social media on SAP professionals.

In this thirty-five minute podcast, Jim addresses some of the major themes of ASUG/Sapphire 2008 from the vantage point of how SAP's technology impacts the user community. An active blogger on the SAP Developer Network, Jim is also an SAP mentor, as well as an ASUG conference planner.

Join Jon and Jim as they peel back the conference hype and look at the issues that mattered to SAP users.

Topics covered in this podcast include:

- Jim's SAP's background and his current role at Black and Decker.

- The Business Objects acquisition and Jim's views on how the Business Objects purchase is impcating SAP customers. Jim discusses the importance of SAP customers developing a new Business Intelligence Roadmap that incorporates BO, and what ASUG is doing to help with that.

- The "SAP for the BlackBerry" announcement, Jim's own involvement with the ASUG Mobile Technology sessions and why he believes SAP needs to expand its focus beyond the BlackBerry to other mobile devices, in keeping with its platform-agnostic approach.

- Jim's take on the lessons learned from Sapphire/ASUG co-location and how companies can take better advantage of co-location when they send their user teams to these shows.

- Jon expresses his skepticism about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for big businesses, and Jim explains how his background in environmental engineering has given him a different take on CSR. He talks about his research on SAP CSR and how there may be some positive eco-friendly changes in SAP's own production processes that are possible.

It fits in with his goal of fostering transparency in business and supporting SAP in its commitment to greater transparency. Jim also takes pride in Black and Decker's own commitment to socially responsible business, and after the podcast, Jim sent along a link to Black and Decker's corporate citizenship practices.

- Jim's experiences as a blogger on SDN, how it has impacted his career growth, and his advice for those who are just getting involved in SDN and may be a little shy about starting their own blogs.

Jim talks about how writing publicly means learning how to handle and incorporate criticism, and how SDN/BPX leaders like Marilyn Pratt encouraged his own emergence as a blogger.

- Jim's take on the BPX Community Day and how social media is impacting the SAP professional. He talks about how Black and Decker has been very supportive of his efforts to involve himself in the SAP community, and speaks to the tensions some companies and managers may have around the question of "is this social media stuff you're doing wasting our time or helping our bottom line."

Black and Decker sees how the community involvement of employees like Jim pays off. Not all companies feel that way yet, but things are changing.

- On the BPX Community Day panel, the question of "how do you find time to interact online?" came up. Jim shares his secret to beating the time crunch: getting up a half hour early each day to blog.
Direct download: pcast_0608_sap_reed_spath01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:13am EST
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In this Sapphire in Review mega-edition podcast, Jon Reed Interviews Kent Bettisworth, President of Bettisworth and Associates, and gets his take on the key themes of Sapphire 2008.

Kent is a senior Project Systems snd Fixed Asset consultant whose company also offers SAP System Access in conjunction with Michael Management. After you listen to this podcast, you will understand why Kent is one of Jon's "go to" people when it comes to analyzing SAP skills trends and staying ahead of the skills curve.

During this back-and-forth discussion, Jon asks Kent for his reaction to the SAP keynotes and the trends Kent noticed in terms of SAP-for-the-BlackBerry, Business by Design, Role-Based Portals and beyond, and the emphasis on personalization and useability of SAP - not always SAP's strongest aspect historically. A major focus of the podcast is a closer look at the so-called "SAP Skills Shortage" and how SAP professionals should respond.

Topics covered in this podcast include:

- Kent's take on the keynotes, and why he was struck by Hasso Plattner's emphasis not only on Role-Based Portals but even more personalized user experiences, leveraging the technology being developed for Business By Design. Kent also talks about the SAP-for-the-BlackBerry announcement and which parts of the enterprise should be most impacted.

- Jon asks Kent for the key trends driving SAP staffing, and Kent explains that at the conference and in his own client work, the major driver is still core upgrades as well as merger and acquisition implementation activity.

Kent does make a distinction between the type of SAP consulting activity we see today versus what we saw in the mid-90s. He talks about the focus on technical upgrades, but that his clients are also doing functional enhancements in targeted areas. Business Intelligence is also a factor now.

- The so-called "SAP Skills Shortage" was a major talking point at the SAP press conference. Jon asks Kent for his view, and Kent agrees that the skills shortage is not so much across the board as targeted in specialized areas of higher demand.

He also thinks that part of the issue is that SAP customers have a harder time leveraging the skills of less-experienced SAP folks (under five years). Kent shares some ideas around a mentoring structure that would allow clients to take better advantage of less experience talent in conjunction with senior mentors such as Kent.

- Jon asks for Kent's take on how specialized an SAP consultant needs to be in order to be successful, and gets Kent's take on a situation where his work was balanced on a project by another expert in the product costing area.

- Kent delves into the Project Systems area of specialization, and related skills in Fixed Assets and Portfolio Management. He shares the latest trends in Project Systems consulting in areas related to capital management, revenue, and investment management.

Kent also tells Jon what the value is in the xRPM xApp and how it fits into the landscape of SAP functionality. xRPM is different from classic PS work in that it involves more technical skills in BI and Portals work in order to implement it.

- The talk then moved into a discussion of how SAP system access can help a consultant get a better feel for these emerging areas in PS and Investment Management, as well as other new areas of SAP. Jon and Kent talk about how the SAP ecosystem can be a great source of self-education for the SAP professional in transition.

- Last but not least, the last segment of the podcast gets into Jon and Kent's debate about the Business Process Expert skill set. Kent has maintained that the best SAP consultants have always had a business process focus.

But Kent also agrees that today's BPX world has new communities (like the BPX community) and new tools to master. Kent talks about how he always saw the value of business process management expertise, whether it was Six Sigma or Total Quality Management.

- Jon and Kent talk about the pieces Jon has done on SAP configuration skills and whether they are going away anytime soon. Jon and Kent talk about the ideal skill set for the SAP consultant - a combination of focused specialization in a marketable niche with a broader (but related) business process and industry expertise.
Direct download: pcast_0508_sap_reed_bettis01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:31am EST
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Foote Partners conducts some of the most extensive skills-based SAP (and IT) salary and skills/modules pay surveys on the market today.

In this podcast, hosted by SearchSAP.com, Jon Reed interviews David Foote of Foote Partners and gets David's views on the extent of the SAP skills gap, which skills are in demand (and which are not), the value of certification, and other SAP skills trends after Sapphire 2008.

The so-called "SAP skills gap" was one of the biggest topics of discussion at Sapphire again this year. David Foote was at the center of this discussion, asking SAP executives about the extent of the skills gap and how they plan to respond.

During the podcast, David details his concerns about SAP's ability to meet the skills demand caused in particular by midmarket expansion. He also gives provides insight into how larger economic trends impact SAP skills demand, and he also tells us why the best SAP professionals have a narrow, rather than a broad, skills focus.

During the discussion, Jon also gets David's take on how SAP project teams can attract (and retain) the best SAP talent. David shares how the data he gathers at Foote Partners ties into the overall trends he observes in terms of the value of IT certifications.

The limitations of certification when it comes to measuring the emerging "business process expert" skill set are also discussed.

In terms of which SAP skills are most in demand, David cites the following areas as trending towards "hot":

SAP ERP 6.0 upgrade skills (Financials, HCM, Materials Management)

NetWeaver Master Data Management (MDM)

NetWeaver Application Server

NetWeaver Business Intelligence (BI)

Areas that are getting a bit colder in Foote Partner's latest findings (which are issued quarterly):

ABAP Development

Payroll

NetWeaver Process Integration (PI, formerly XI)

Sales and Distribution (SD)

By the time you're done listening to this thirty minute podcast, you'll have an excellent feel for how Foote Partners views the skills trends in the SAP marketplace, and how SAP professionals can best respond to these skills trends.
Direct download: pcast_0508_sap_reed_foote01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:57am EST
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SAP HCM is one of the hottest areas in SAP consulting, but the skills you need to succeed in SAP HR are also changing. To get to the bottom of what's hot and what's not in SAP HCM consulting, Jon Reed sat down with Ralph Williams, Director HCM Solutions, B2B Workforce.

SAP HR is changing from a back office product to a strategically important "HCM" solution that includes cutting edge Talent Management components. But what does that mean for the SAP HR professional? What skills are in demand now?

In his role at B2B Workforce, Ralph has the opportunity to see firsthand which areas of HR are hot, and which are not as hot. In this thirty minute podcast, Ralph shares with Jon the specific areas of SAP HR that are heating up, and what he looks for in the HR/HCM consultants he and his team place on B2B Workforce projects.
Direct download: pcast_0308_sap_reed_williams01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:15am EST
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What skills do you need to perform an SAP Logistics upgrade to ERP 6.0? And what does it take to thrive as an independent SAP consultant? To get a better feel for the functional skills needed on the ERP 6.0 platform in the SAP Logistics area, Jon spoke down with Thomas Woelfel, a veteran SD consultant, and got his take on how the SD module is evolving.

During this thirty five minute podcast, Thomas gives his view on what SAP Logistics consultants need to know in order to keep pace with SAP. A major focus of the podcast is on the role of the independent SAP consultant on project teams, and Thomas' recommendations for success as an independent.

In this frank look at the challenges of independent consulting, Thomas explains how he has found a way to thrive as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on SAP projects, balancing his relationships with the end client and the outside consulting partner.
Direct download: pcast_0308_sap_reed_woelfel01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:02am EST
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