SAP targets business process experts

SAP is looking to attract more business process experts to use its software through the establishment of specific community site tailored to their needs.

SAP is taking its Business Process Expert (BPX) Community initiative mainstream after several months of more limited operations with the aim of creating an online forum for business analysts and consultants to exchange information and access software from SAP and some third parties.

A new category of worker is emerging, the business process expert, according to Mark Yolton, vice president of community programs at SAP. When the applications company officially launches its new BPX community Web site Tuesday, it will be aimed at these workers who act as a bridge between the IT and business sides of their organizations. The individuals combine a strong knowledge of their companies' business needs with some technical know-how, particularly in application development, he added.

SAP will be making the announcement of the BPX community on the first day of its TechEd developer conference in Las Vegas this week.

The BPX community is designed to complement the vendor's existing SAP Developer Network (SDN), which the company set up less than three years ago and currently serves some 500,000 developers. In surveys of SDN users conducted in June 2005 and January 2006, SAP discovered that around 12 percent of those polled identified themselves as business analysts or consultants. These people told the vendor that SDN didn't fully meet their needs, leading to SAP developing the new community as a way to encourage them to use more of its software and that of selected partners.

The idea is that business process experts can share ideas and experiences at the BPX community site via discussion forums, Yolton said. The site also includes blogs and access to both SAP technology and some third-party products, notably Aris Business Architect business process management software from IDS Scheer AG. SAP hopes to have a secure wiki in place within the next six weeks, he added.

Business process experts are particularly keen to discuss approaches to business process modeling and how to transform process models into active applications, Yolton said. The business analysts and consultants are also interested in hearing from their peers about change leadership and change management best practices and experiences.

SAP has been offering the BPX community as a "sneak peek" to limited numbers of SAP customers since mid-May, Yolton said, and the site has already attracted more than 30,000 users. "Over time, we expect it to grow to a similar size as SDN," he added. During the past few months, users have accessed the site from all over the world, with particular concentrations coming from China, Germany, India, the U.K. and the U.S.

Initially, SDN and the new BPX community will look similar, but gradually the sites will become more distinctive. SAP isn't providing details on the financial or employee resources it's drawing on to support the new site.

Yolton stressed the BPX community site is "free and open," meaning that anyone can register to use it for free, not just SAP customers. SAP is currently looking at establishing relationships with educators and training providers to beef up the training section of the site, he added.

Available only in English, SAP's BPX community can be found at http://www.bpx.sap.com/.

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