SAP Mentors: What, that bunch of weirdos!

21 November 2010

John Appleby

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

I’d intended to get a blog out on this first, but Dennis Howlett usually gets there first and says it best. Go read his blog if you like, I won’t be offended. For those of you that don’t know, SAP Mentors are the top community influencers in the SAP Community Network. Well, some of them at least – there are many people who aren’t mentors that might be. I felt serendipity was in play when Mark Finnern gave me the call late one night to say that I’d been selected for the intake this year.


When I told a senior member at the SAP User Group UK & Ireland about this, the reaction was pretty clear “What, that bunch of weirdos?”. I found this a pretty odd reaction at the time. Let’s take a quick diversion and let me show you a brief selection of SAP Mentors, to illustrate my point.

A short diversion – SAP Mentors

Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett): “Never knowingly underspoken” is Dennis’s motto (or it should be). He’s probably SAP’s top blogger and his knowledge of both people and SAP process is unparalleled. He’s also famous for his acerbic tone and I’ve heard it said more than once that if anyone else were to take the tone that Dennis takes, they would be sent to Coventry. Or perhaps a padded room in Waldorf that they keep for special people.

Owen Pettiford: Owen is an expert on SAP Composite Applications and runs Comprise IT and has been a huge proponent of the SOA space within SAP technology.

D J Adams (@qmacro): DJ is a true Enterprise Geek and comes from the annals of time. I’m making him sound old, but he’s an Android aficionado and speaks on all manner of Enterprise topics like Cloud and Virtualization. He is also a fan of Real Beer.

Phil Kisloff: Phil is a workflow expert for Cap Gemini turned PI and BPM architect.

Me (@applebyj): I run a technology business unit here at Bluefin Solutions and I probably have a bit of all those people in me. I certainly share Dennis’s sardonic nature and I can have a good hack at technology as well. I’m probably best kept away from real SAP systems as a result.

Note that I’m not trying to create a hall of fame here and there’s 95 other Mentors with their own stories that are just as amazing. I’ve just picked this list because these are the guys that will be on the stand at the conference. And would you imagine them all in a bar together? Not likely? Well I can tell you that this group gets on like a house on fire and having experienced it first hand in Sapphire NOW Orlando, I can’t believe how this bizarre and unusual group of people get on.

Back to today

I’ve gone to the User Group UK & Ireland conference for the last 2 years and to be honest I wasn’t going to go this year. The reason for this is multifold, but I felt that it wasn’t adding a lot of value to me and I didn’t have a speaking slot or anyone to go and specifically see. So when Dennis Howlett came and nonchalantly noted that we had a “shell” and he was going to setup some meetings with senior SAP executives, I wasn’t particularly enthused to get involved. He hadn’t had much of a reaction from the SAP Mentor community and presumably felt he had done his bit and expected something back from others.

I thought back to the “that bunch of weirdos” comment and realised that I was at an inflection point.On the one hand I could put my head down and not go to the conference, or I could do something about it. One of the key attributes of a SAP Mentor is the ability to “Do The Needful”, as we call it – and just talking about stuff isn’t enough. And so here I am, 2 weeks later. Slightly tired and looking a bit worse for wear.

Somehow we managed (no small thanks to Mark Finnern and Aslan as usual) to get Doris Pfeiffner’s pictures of TechEd Berlin and Las Vegas onto my PC – no mean feat when there were hundreds of huge 15MP photographs to download from her professional camera. And then turned this into a huge 7m x 2.5m (22’ x 8’) set of skins to go on our stand.

And so if you want to know how this bunch of weirdos are part of the SAP community, then please come and see as at the SAP UK & Ireland User Group Conference 2010. We will be the richer for your input, and hopefully you will be as well.

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About the author

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

I've always been passionate about new technology. I cut my teeth helping global financial services and consumer goods companies build data warehouses to manage their business - especially when they wanted to run faster.

These days, I travel weekly across continents, helping clients differentiate themselves using analytics technologies. This then involved building a team to design the solution, make it work and lead it through to successful completion.

I believe that in-memory computing is radically changing the face of business so you can ask me about SAP HANA, or about any other data platform like DB2 BLU, Hadoop or MongoDB for that matter.

I'm passionate that giving back to the community reaps long-term rewards and this has shaped the last few years of my career - being a contributor to knowledge sharing websites as an SAP Mentor; and a sometime advisor to Wall Street investors on emerging technologies and those companies bringing to market new innovations.

When I'm not busy designing in-memory apps, you may find me pounding the pavement to the beat of music in the hilly suburbs of Philadelphia, or traveling the world to meet new people and new cultures.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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