We don’t need no education

Published by Tobias Hofmann on

7 min read

Another brick in the wall, pt.2 Pink Floyd (Youtube)

One of the more pleasant surprises at SAP TechEd 2020 was the free access to selected learning journeys as a Learning Hub (LH) subscription (*). With this offer, SAP TechEd participants get free access to selected SAP learning material until end of March 2021. In total, four learning journeys are part of the offering:

The journeys contain official SAP Education training material, as well as links to recommended openSAP courses. The first two courses on integration topic offer more openSAP content, the one for Fiori is a good mixture and the one for ABAP is almost openSAP free.

Besides LH content, all TechEd workshop material is made available on GitHub. This is a huge change compared to previous years. Typically, you got access to the workshop handouts in the event material (as a PDF) and the workshop systems were made available only for a selected timeframe. Now all content is available, for everyone. As its on git, you can extend the scenarios, create a fork, pull request, open an issue, etc. For the system access needed to run them: use a free trial.

Finding the right workshop content and get started in the correct order is not so easy. I’d like to have the information currently scattered around in different places at SAP be consolidated at one place. Discovery center with its missions and services is the place where I’d like to see get all content. This would help finding relevant content as you learn more about a service or while going through a mission. To find out the possible price tag for the needed services to run the scenario the cost estimator is available on the same site. Putting the tutorials there could help in curating the content, as the discovery center lists contact persons for a mission.

So far, this is all great news! The numbers look promising. As SAP’s Chief Learning Officer Maxwell Wessel stated on Twitter: 8.000 started using LH TechEd Edition. Out of 60.000 registrants for TechEd, 8.000 seems low. For sure many participants already have access to LH through their employer.

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What’s not so good is the emphasis on the investment of $11M. You cannot look at the money spent; you have to recognize that this is helping people to be empowered at customer projects. If customers can make the best out of SAP because of skilled people / developers, then they are going to continue to invest in SAP. Guess where a large part of money comes from that SAP makes? It’s not SAP Education selling trainings, it is license fees. For those SAP needs end users. To ensure the next project is done with SAP, having the skills to work with SAP technology is important.

8.000 new LH subscribers, workshop material available on GitHub, access to free trial for hands on exercises and learning. This is amazing for the SAP world. Considering where we are coming from, like 10 or 6 years ago, this is a step forward. Yet, the high price of LH makes it costly in most countries, and in case your employer is not paying, it is costly for a person to sign up for a few (2-4) trainings. Why so harsh?

Others do better. I created a comic (xkcd style inspired) to show what I mean: to understand how you do, you have to take a few steps back to be able to see the whole picture and where you are standing. Leave your bubble, expand your horizon. If you want to be the best, or be recognized as a leader, you cannot compare what you have done now with your previous results. You have to compare yourself against others.

I spend a serious amount of my professional life outside the core SAP world. I deal with a lot of different solutions and architectures that touch many other vendors. Attending non-SAP conferences or trainings is part of my job. That’s why I know: others do better. Maybe SAP cannot see that their efforts compared to the broader IT area just don’t come close to what others are doing. Leave the bubble and comfort zone, evaluate where you really are standing. Offering a discount for two certification vouchers is nice. It is still >220€. AWS is providing a learning path with free trainings and a free exam voucher during re:Invent 2020. Microsoft provided a free exam voucher at their Build and Ignite conference. You get a free training and voucher from Microsoft for Azure Fundamentals.

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Free access to a few courses on LH for a limited time is nothing compared to the free training access you get at Microsoft Learn. AWS gives you free training content. Is it so complicated to give access to learning material to everyone for free? To offer a free exam voucher for event attendees?

In case you want to learn ABAP, you now have until end Q1 2021 to do so. And ABAP is at the core of SAP, now and for the decades to come. Why not make it super easy to learn it? University Alliance once brought SAP knowledge to students, including ABAP. After past UA leadership focused on non-UA related goals, let’s hope that UA gets back on track. Thinking about learning SAP technology, the only project where it is super easy to learn, to get samples, demos, scenarios, walkthroughs is: UI5. They even have their own conference! You don’t find this for ABAP, AI or Integration (maybe it is time for a dedicated conference on ABAP, like ABAPConf). That’s why it is even more important to get learning content out there and lower the entry barrier. SAP Education can still offer classroom trainings. These training will be getting better when the audience can prepare themselves with the online available resources. Main objective for attending a course is not to spend money, but to learn something, to get a better understanding of a topic.

Summary

SAP, please continue with the free access to high quality content so people can start learning and deepening their SAP skills. The people that want to start or are already working with SAP are your greatest asset. These developers, consultants, experts are the ones that assure that customers are using SAP, that SAP solutions are selected for solving business problems. Outside core ERP, nothing is reserved for SAP. Other companies are entering the market. In case it is easier, cheaper, less risky to go with a non-SAP solution, customers will do so. People don’t simply switch to a different technology; time is a valuable asset. They can choose from several learning offerings for free, choosing SAP is not on the short list for many. Let’s change this.


(*) To find some information on the available LH editions: it is a quest. Find the download link for a XSLM file in a LH overview page, accept the security warning from your browser and decide if its save to run macros from a file downloaded from the internet (hint: for the Excel sheet to work, guess what is needed). Don’t know why they do not provide this kind of information in an UI5 app.

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Let the world know

Tobias Hofmann

Doing stuff with SAP since 1998. Open, web, UX, cloud. I am not a Basis guy, but very knowledgeable about Basis stuff, as it's the foundation of everything I do (DevOps). Performance is king, and unit tests is something I actually do. Developing HTML5 apps when HTML5 wasn't around. HCP/SCP user since 2012, NetWeaver since 2002, ABAP since 1998.

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