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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

The SAP Champion Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics and provides insights from SAP Champions and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.

Most of the innovative discoveries in business and IT have something in common – they are the result of curiosity.

Curiosity is how we grow individually and collectively. For developers, tech visionaries, innovators, and leaders, it fuels learning, discovery, innovation, and engagement.

Due to a lack of time and social norms, curiosity may feel out of reach at times. Some struggle and jump to conclusions rather than explore further. It can be uncomfortable not to know the right answer.

Adapting to uncertain market conditions and external pressures reminds us that keeping an open mind and staying curious helps achieve successful outcomes. It represents a never-ending cycle to make better decisions and address more effective solutions.

Staying curious should be practiced purposefully every day.

For murali.shanmugham, SAP Champion, SAP Mentor Alumni, SAP PRESS author, Forbes online contributor, SAP Customer Success Manager for SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), he has a long-standing curiosity about software technology.

From his early community experiences, there were times that he would be stuck on an issue or need some advice to arrive at a solution. After a few years of asking questions, he got more confident with what he was doing with SAP technology, which led to him answering questions and posting over 200 blogs on a variety of SAP BTP topics.

It was great to catch-up with Murali in his North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia home office.

Stacey Fish (SF): Hi Murali! You have two degrees in Computer Software Engineering – a bachelor’s from Periyar University, and a master’s from Bharathiyar University. What sparked your interest in software and technology, leading to your current role as Customer Success Manager – SAP Business Technology Platform at SAP?

Murali Shanmugham (MS): In my school days, software technology was something I was always curious to know more about. I enjoyed learning new things that involved programming, website development, photoshopping images, or editing videos.

After graduating, I chose software technology as a career since I could see a big demand in digitizing processes within organizations, and an opportunity to be able to create impact and be part of such initiatives. In my current role at SAP Australia, there is always something new and exciting to learn, and opportunities to help deliver solutions that can transform industries.

SF: As an SAP Champion, how did you first contribute and connect to the Community to become a Technology Ambassador? In this role, how do you engage with Community members?  

MS: I started using the SAP Community around 2005 with my first SAP engagement as an SAP ABAP developer. Being new to SAP technology, I used the Community a lot to get help when I was stuck with some issues or when I needed some advice on how to arrive at a solution.

Like many others, I used the Community to get answers whenever I needed help. However, few years (when I got more confidence with what I was doing with SAP technology), I started to help and answer questions in the forum. The more time I spent in these forums, the more I learned from others.

I was fortunate to work on SAP HANA Cloud Platform (which is now SAP Business Technology Platform) in early 2013 and I had many opportunities to engage with customers who were looking to use it to address different requirements. I started to write blog posts to share my experiences with the platform – these blog posts were mostly coming from customer requirements which show how BTP services can be orchestrated to provide a solution.

I have posted more than 200 blog posts on different BTP topics, and I’m always amazed by the response from the Community. Apart from being on the Community platform, I also enjoy collaborating with community members in face-to-face events like SAP Inside Track & SAP Stammtisch events in Sydney.

SF: Enjoyed reading your blog, “Collaboration in SAP AppGyver Projects,” where you refer to a new feature in SAP Build Apps (formerly SAP AppGyver) known as Project Sharing. How will this feature help with the future development of AppGyver projects by way of cross-teaming, versus one citizen developer (non-coder) or advanced programmer working in a silo?

MS: No-code initiatives can only be successful when there is a collaboration between the business technologist & IT developer. With the project sharing feature, it’s now possible for both personas to collaborate and ensure they can create an application that can be used productively with a shorter timeframe.

Business technologists/UX designers could focus on the screens/layout/fields/buttons which are required by the end users, and the IT developers could connect these elements with the API endpoints from the system of records, ensure there is the right set of authentication/authorization, and help in rolling out the apps for productive use.

In a recent “App in a Day” event which I was part of in New Zealand, we could already see positive feedback from customers with their business and IT users coming to together to collaborate and build apps.

SF: You posted, “Maximize your RISE with SAP Investment with SAP BTP,” which is very insightful to those who are looking to start – or have recently started – their RISE with SAP journey. You state that “SAP BTP is the foundation for digital transformation.” What’s a brief high-level example of a successful outcome from an end-to-end business process standpoint?

MS: RISE with SAP is a great opportunity to change the way people engage with processes. One example that could be considered is automating the processing of Purchase Orders/Invoices. No matter how much we digitize the systems and have the latest SAP S/4HANA system, businesses would still be dealing with partners who send invoices in a PDF or data in an Excel spreadsheet.

This is a scenario that can be easily automated using SAP Process Automation, AI Business services in SAP BTP, which can extract such data and use robotics process automation (RPA) bots/workflows to orchestrate the end-to-end process. The best part is that it’s all based on no-code tools and there are accelerators to automate processes.

SF: You and rajaprasad.gupta co-wrote the acclaimed book, “SAP Cloud Platform Smart Business Service.” Any plans for a sequel on your experiences with SAP BTP? What are a few compelling topics you would cover?

MS: I don’t have any immediate plans to author another book. Smart Business Service is already deprecated 😊.

SAP Business Technology Platform is changing so rapidly and there is always something new being added to existing services.

In the future, I would like to write on a topic which explores how customers can discover process inefficiencies using SAP Signavio and optimize them using the no-code tools of SAP BTP.

SF: What are some new topics that you are currently exploring?

MS: Currently I am exploring and learning more about the Metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

I have purchased few NFTs and explored metaverses like Decentraland. There is lot of potential with NFTs as they could provide new opportunities for global industries like consumer goods, sports, or retail to change the way they engage with their customers, enhance the value of their existing products, tap into new markets, and come up with new business models.

I recently authored a Forbes article on how NFTs & Metaverse will impact global industries. This is a topic which SAP is also studying closely along with Quantum Computing and deep learning.

SF: What is your advice for students and recent graduates who are looking to take the leap from their university experiences to a job with a top, global organization that is worthy of their educational investment? What suggestions do you have for getting a great job versus settling for a lesser opportunity?

MS: This is a great time to be in the software industry. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digitization and kick-started many transformative initiatives with almost every business.

Getting into a top global organization will provide plenty of opportunities to be part of such initiatives and help different industries transform the way they operate.

Here is my advice for recent graduates:

  • Follow your passion

    • If the software industry is what you are after, remember that there are different types of job in software industry. Identify which of those would be suitable for you.

  • Set short-term & long-term goals and work towards them with a plan

  • Identify and connect with a mentor who can provide guidance to you

  • Be active on social channels and establish your brand

  • Never stop learning

    • SAP Community is a great place to learn & share


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