It’s 106 miles to Chicago

Published by Tobias Hofmann on

6 min read

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses”

Blues Brothers

Through a tweet from the SAP Community I came to read a blog from SAP’s Chief Learning Officer Max Wessel. In the blog he lays out three approaches that he thinks are a good approach to learning. Actually, they are the low hanging fruits that could have been harvested years ago. Put the training where the people are, offer jump start tutorials and keep going. Sounds easy, yet you have to remember: YouTube videos are nice, but only if they complement another training offering. Just by watching, you don’t learn. Google does not forget so fast, and old learning content isn’t helping.

What I am missing is the comparison against a benchmark. Currently it is a marketing fused blog. Talking with SAP customers about how they learn SAP technologies, with another SAP employee, some academic anecdotes. The will to offer the best is not shining through the text. What is the vision? Hands on is king and being able to transform learning content directly into a proof of concept or MVP, is even better. The option to deep dive into a topic where needed. That’s the kind of vision I am missing. SAP is listening is not a vision.

I regularly attend SAP and non-SAP events and more importantly, different learning offerings. My preferred one is Microsoft Learn. How Microsoft approaches learning is an eye opener. I have experienced first-hand how learning and upskilling can be. Like Jake Blues, I have seen the light. Once you have seen the light, you are on a mission from god. That motivation, that drive to deliver the best for the ecosystem, at least I don’t see it.

Max blog contains a line that can help understand why SAP learning is as it is.

“As Chief Learning Officer at SAP, I have two responsibilities. First, future-proof our workforce during a period of rapid technological change. And second, enable our ecosystem to go through the same transformation and get the most out of our products and services.”

First priority is to ensure that SAP employees can upskill. Second comes the ecosystem. If you put your ecosystem second, you do have a problem. SAP’s ecosystem is basically all SAP, just without SAP employees. That is a huge, gigantic amount of people that work on a daily basis at SAP customers. These people influence daily how SAP is used and perceived in the market. There are many SAP people out there that still code old 90’s style ABAP code, that work on old releases, that had their last training years ago. An important part in learning is the person. SAP makes it too easy for everyone to not learn. Cost, format, offering, format, everything can be used as an excuse to not learn SAP. The thinking that it is OK to participated in the last training 10 years ago is getting the new normal. That is a problem for SAP, for the ecosystem, actually, for everyone that is working with SAP software. I don’t know if SAP understands the risk this implies to their future.

When it comes to learning and ensuring that the ecosystem is skilled, SAP is like Bob’s country bunker with exactly two choices: high training costs AND is hard to access. In my opinion, SAP needs to ensure that their workforce as well as everybody else gets the same access to learning. No prio 1 or 2. It must be the same priority. This needs to be just like the task for the SAP CTO. Ensure that SAP employees and the ecosystem have access to the tools needed to deliver the best solutions. Imaging the CTO providing ADT only to SAP employees or having RAP, CAP, Fiori Tools or BTP services exclusively to SAP employees? Regarding learning, an SAP employee has access to Learning Hub, can easily use BTP or other SAP software to create a lab without having to think about costs or restrictions. For everybody else, access is limited by costs. While a company can give all their employees access to Learning Hub, they still have to buy it. Trying out SAP software can get very costly too (do we see a free BTP tier in 2021?). Learning SAP, and with learn I do not mean the basic hello world examples and tutorials, is costly. Yes, with BTP free trial and other offerings like NetWeaver developer edition it is getting better. The samples on GitHub are super helpful. The TechEd LH offering was great. Was, as in: it is a thing of the past and if you missed it: bad luck. The statement that a learning offer is available may be semantically correct, but compared to what might be possible, it is also just an excuse.

Microsoft goes as far as offering an integrated access to Azure in their learning material. Example: learn Kubernetes. All you need is a Microsoft account and you get for free a sandbox environment to try out Kubernetes on Azure. Seamless integrated into the learning material. The BTP boosters in the discovery center should be enhanced to offer the same experience.

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Automatisch generierte Beschreibung
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Automatisch generierte Beschreibung

For AWS you can find similar learning offerings. Not as good as Microsoft Learn, but close enough. This is accessible learning: free, online, guided, hands on. SAP discovery center gets close to this, but still is partly limited to an S-User or SAP wants you to talk to AGS. That’s like when you buy an overpriced piano, and the seller tells you that it’s a good deal because you get the black keys for free. (to some learning offerings, best is to quote Jake Blues after Ray said above reference)

Having Microsoft – in my opinion – setting the benchmark, let’s try to figure out why Microsoft was able to achieve this. I looked at their chief learning officer and found this:

“As the first Chief Learning Officer at Microsoft Germany I lead a team dedicated to the skilling strategy for our employees and our customers, partners, and future generations.”

This takes everyone to the same level. No priority first and second. Employees, customers, partners and future combined together with an and. Yes, it reads similar on Max LinkedIn profile:

“SAP Learning’s mission of creating opportunity for the more than 440,000 customers, the more than 3 million developers and partners in our ecosystem, and the more than 100,000 employees”

LinkedIn

You can see the focus lies on opportunity and numbers. You don’t write this when your mission is to skill people. Dear SAP: the future of the entire SAP ecosystem and SAP depends on skilled people. Do not prioritize, do not see learning as a sales opportunity. Make it as easy as possible to learn. That is a vision I’d like to hear from SAP. Don’t treat your ecosystem as a second priority.

Let the world know
Categories: SAP

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.

5 Comments

Greg Misiorek · May 5, 2021 at 00:58

Hi Tobias,

thank you again for doing the bidding for the SAP eco-system. sometimes, it’s hard to have one’s voice heard on sap.com platform as it is busy with many other threads and comments quickly disappear and lose their currency very quickly.

in any event, i agree with you about the education, which if i remember, used to provide over 10% of SAP revenue if not profits last time i was paying out of my own pocket to take a class at the source. open.sap.com have somewhat filled the void, but if a class doesn’t generate a lot of comments in the discussion forum it can very easily be confused with an advertorial for this or some other SAP offerings.

i have tried Azure a little bit but didn’t find it too compelling when compared with AWS or GCP but yours is not the only blog posts praising what Microsoft have done, so maybe i should be giving them more credit i finally get my money’s worth for MCSD and MCSP ‘licenses’ that have long but expired. As far as SAP goes, it really depends who you end up working with. there are a lot of really dedicated individuals who can cut through the bureaucracy and provide excellent support even if it’s on Youtube or twtr. i think you know whom i have in mind. a lot of bloggers, devops people, etc somehow prefer to stay back from socmedia and thus seem less helpful but even during TechEd or other events one can see their willingness to help in educating about SAP or lack thereof.

cheers and thx again for keeping this website allowing for dropping a comment and as you may have noticed i sometimes can be quite chatty and like to comment on things here and there, e.g. diginomica.

good luck with your efforts to make SAP easier to learn and to manage.

cheers,
greg

    Tobias Hofmann · May 5, 2021 at 09:50

    Hi Greg,

    Maybe you should give Azure a new try. MCSD reached EOL this year, and when you join MSFT partner program, you get a good deal on services and discounts. While OpenSAP is nice, and some courses are very good, most are marketing introductions for an SAP product. Taking the good ones for an SAP fundamentals like training with a certification could add value.

    What is needed, and where I think lies the biggest problem: to offer a good learning experience, everyone must contribute. It must be a holistic offering. Not just a product team that writes a learning plan and exam because they have to. For this to work, SAP needs to bring so many areas to the next level: free access, BTP boosters, hands on via CLI/copy&paste in a web terminal, etc.

    I am wondering if there even exists a user journey that defines the vision for SAP learning for the next years from a point of view of an external SAP user.

Martin G English · May 5, 2021 at 04:57

What’s sad is that people have been beating the drum about the need for better and more relevant SAP training for over 10 years. Here’s just one example from way back when …
https://blogs.sap.com/2010/04/20/sap-certification-the-certification-5-report/

hth

    Tobias Hofmann · May 5, 2021 at 09:21

    Oh yes, the old Cert5. Didn’t work out. Their focus was on the value of a certification. I’d more than happy to have access to good, valid, important learning material. That’s a few steps before even thinking about a certification and if it adds value.
    The SCN blog link is also a very nice example on another topic that did not evolve very well over the last decade. With all those SCN migrations, they never cared about content migration. Images are lost due to simple HTTPS certificate handling.

Anon · May 12, 2021 at 18:19

Even within SAP there is a priority. The development teams seem to get whatever they want, whether it’s learnings or tools for the job. The consultants at SAP are the last to find out about anything, with partners and customers being months ahead in the latest and greatest. As a consultant at SAP, good luck getting access to adequate learnings, or even a sandbox S/4 system, or a BTP account that works.

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