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Autumn. The time of year when the PSL* makes its glorious return to Starbucks, when leaves turn SAP gold, and turkeys start to gobble nervously because they sense danger in the air. Beautiful autumn. Or, as the technical communication world calls it: tcworld conference season!

Together with over 4,500 technical writing professionals from all industries, several colleagues from SAP User Assistance (UA) travelled to the tcworld conference and trade fair, held in Stuttgart, Germany, from November 13 to 15, to make the UA world run better and improve people’s customer experience.

The key takeaway for SAP UA from tcworld 2019? In a world that is marked by digital transformation, emerging new technologies, and the move to the cloud, user assistance needs to change. And at SAP User Assistance, we’re definitely focusing on the right topics to get on track for a successful future in user assistance!

And here’s how SAP UA contributed to the tcworld conference 2018

Axel Luther (SAP Germany) took the stage to talk about the importance of design in user assistance. A packed room was proof of the fact that the technical communication community is starting to realize that the UA world is indeed a-changing. It’s no longer just about text – design has gained enormous importance over the last years. Thankfully, we at SAP made that realization a while ago, maybe also due to the fact that all of a sudden, we were dealing with competition in our sector. If there were two products out there, one with a user-friendly user interface, and one that makes you cringe – which one would you choose? Exactly.

The three key takeaways

To enable scenarios based on software documentation, such as machine learning, search, and retrieval, having high-quality metadata for user assistance content is often the key differentiator between success and failure. To make sure that everybody will be on the road to success, Jordan Stanchev (SAP Bulgaria) offered a well-received workshop for tcworld attendees in which they learned how to build their own first taxonomy, because that’s the best way to collect and organize the required metadata.

Christian Lieske from SAP Language Services (SLS, SAP Germany) collaborated with Dr. Felix Sasaki (Cornelsen GmbH) to sketch Wikidate, the free Knowledge Base that is part of the WIkimedia universe. Their focus was on usage scenarios in technical communication in particular, which ranged from knowledge exploration to automatic content enrichment, from translation to terminology.

Making Agile and Continuous Delivery Really Work was the title of a presentation by Dobrinka Stefanova (SAP Bulgaria). Having worked in agile teams in the cloud area for over 7 years made Dobrinka the perfect candidate to present her learnings of past experiences in the form of tips and best practices. In addition, she explained the continuous delivery container model implementation in the DITA content management system. The topic resonated well with attendees, who, after the talk, even shared their own “agile” experiences.

Agile Software Development Methodology

Vincent Asmuth from SLS talked about the machine translation model at SAP. Machine translation is currently making a huge impact on the language industry, so Vincent discussed how SAP tried to gain efficiency through machine translation while still retaining the trust and interest of the experienced translator base by implementing an edit-distance based payment model that measures the post-editing effort of translators through the number of edits done.

At the end of the 3-day conference, tekom organized a panel discussion with participants from various small and medium companies. The topic of choice was the evolution of the value of technical communication in companies, and Antonella Stella (SAP Germany) was invited to talk about the activities that were undertaken at SAP to make user assistance more visible within the company. Even though there may be room for improvement at SAP, it was eye-opening to hear from other small and medium companies, those that do not work in an agile environment, that their user assistance professionals often struggle with the lack of integration into standards and processes. At SAP, we are quite advanced when it comes to integrating user assistance into the development process.

More information about tcworld conference on the official conference website.


* PSL, or Pumpkin Spice Latté for the few who may not know