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As I have become more active with Twitter over the last year it has become very clear that the adoption by SAP customers has been very slow. In this article I would like to point out the reasons why SAP customers and employees should start to become more active with twitter and the value it will bring to their organization.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read other user messages called tweets. These tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters that are displayed on the author's profile page. Over the past year the amount of individuals working within the SAP ecosystem, networking and content being shared and on Twitter has grown by leaps and bounds and it is only in its infancy.

Value of Using Twitter

There are some common misconceptions regarding the value of twitter and I will outline below some of the key areas and value that it can bring for SAP customers and their employees.

A. Networking/Industry Contacts – There has been quite a bit of talk recently about twitter and its value in bringing people together based on the Malcolm Gladwell article “Twitter, You’re No Martin Luther King” which I generally agree with. On the other hand I have had and seen many SAP relationships start on twitter which lay the foundation for a more meaningful future relationship. I often get asked what type of people use twitter as they must have a lot of spare time on their hands but I think it would surprise you that SAP, SAP Executives, ASUG, SAP Mentors, SAP Industry Analysts and senior consultants are actively posting information, new content, their views on SAP, sharing information and using the tool to network with each other.  Just to give you a flavor of some of the people with “to much time on their hands” some of the regular providers of content are as follows:

1. SAP - @SAP   @sapnews   @sapteched   @SAPEDU   @SAPNorthAmerica  @SAPByDesign

2. SAP Executives - @sapcio   MarkYolton  vsikka  @hschepp   @MTHei @spoonen

3, SAP Mentors - SAPMentors  jonerp  @finnern @@marilynpratt   @chiprodgers @MicoYuk @thorstenster @applebyj   @MartinLang @NathanGenez @MGILLET , @vijayasankarv @thomas_jung @steinermatt @sjohannes @pixelbase

4. By SAP and ERP industry experts - @dahowlett @mkrigsman @erickimberling   @fscavo   @dealarchitect @twailgum   @dbmoore   @bevansIW  @CIOonline  @cbjorlin

5. ASUG - @ASUG365   @BChambersASUG

6. Senior consultants- @R3Now   @micdoane   @martin_english   @SteveBogner   @SAP_Jarret   @Mark_Chalfen   @SCNblogs

This is only a handful of the key individuals in the SAP ecosystem that are active on Twitter and my apology for all that I left off the list. You can click on any of the names above to follow them or get some additional information. Once you start using twitter you will get a better idea of the people, information and viewpoints from the SAP industry which is very impressive.

B. Information - I realized early on in my career that there was a lot of SAP information available in the marketplace and the primary challenge was being able to find it and stay on top of it. While I personally use Google Reader as my main tool to stay current on SAP information over the past year I have started to use Twitter not only as a social networking tool but to occasionally find new content or even better, new sources of information I can start following. It is important to note that a majority of the content found on twitter can be accessed by different means but it another tool to ensure I don’t miss listening to a Jon Reed (@jonerp) podcast  for example as I know he will tweet out a link to it.  You will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of free SAP information available that will help you and your organization.

C. News – Many years ago I used to read the newspaper to get cutting edge information but over time the internet took over making the daily paper seem like old news and now in a way it feels like twitter makes some of the internet information old news.  Just to give you an example of how news travels on twitter, SAP announced their earnings this morning and as soon as it was released the information was on twitter and shortly thereafter were some tweets (aka 140 character analysis) by industry respected analysts as well as in the hours that followed tweets with links to articles dissecting the earning from Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) and others.  When I open up the US Today or Wall Street Journal tomorrow I will read about SAP earnings in what will feel like “old news” to me.  It is important that companies and employee have all the relevant news and information so they can make informed decisions regarding SAP.

D. Industry Events – All of the SAP industry events are now well covered real time via twitter and this was recently shown at SAP Teched 2010. If you look the SAP Teched website you will notice what a great job SAP has done integrating twitter to the event for anyone that posted a comment or information using #sapteched. If you followed this stream there was an unbelievable amount of free information, links and replays to sessions, insider information, pictures, and commentary.

It was a very unique experience but it almost got to the point where you felt like you were actually there and it something that you have to experience for yourself but it helped cement the value in twitter for me personally.  All the SAP events both big and small will be covered using Twitter going forward and I don’t want to discount the value of attending these events in person but as budgets tighten it is another way for companies and employees to be involved and get the conference content and a bit of the experience without having to send their entire team. There are a lot of SAP industry events yearly and it is important that companies and employees participate and gather the appropriate information so that they can learn and make informed decisions.

How to get started

I would recommend reading a previous article I wrote called “How to find and follow SAP Content on Twitter” as it should provide some valuable insight as to how to get started using twitter.  It is important to note that it takes some time and effort to learn and maximize the value that twitter can offer so don’t get discouraged.

Just like anything in life you have to give Twitter a fair chance which means committing to spending 15-20 minutes a day for at least a month and I will be very surprised if you don’t start to see the value this can offer you and your organization. I have seen firsthand the value that it can offer people involved in SAP and my goal is to spread that message to SAP customers because having the relevant industry contacts, information and news are some important aspects that are found in all successful SAP implementations.

If you enjoyed this article and want to give twitter a try please feel free to follow me on Twitter at @SAP_Jarret