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nicolas.busson is the Member of the Month for June 2013. I found out about him not so long ago when he was writing about SCN gamification, after the introduction of game mechanics in April. I was of course amused by his French candidness, but also impressed by the way he takes time helping people, always in a polite way, and the level of details he provides in his messages. He also recently published a blog series that got a lot of encouragement and positive feedback from the community.

This Member of the Month interview was the first one I did in French! And it was as long and enjoyable as the  interviews I did with other people in the previous months. I learned about BOL (which is not a "bol"), got super enthusiastic at all the positive comments Nicolas - sorry, Nick - had to say about SCN in general, gamification, etc.

Nicolas, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, who you work for, and other things you would like to share with the community (hobbies, fun facts)?

I'm 35 years old. I'm French, which means that I speak terrible English and I am arrogant. Hum... Does that sound like a good introduction? :lol:

I live in Paris with my wife. I was a freelance CRM consultant the past 4 years, but less than a week ago I accepted a position as a consultant in a small consultancy company in Switzerland: Neo Technologies. So I'm currently in the process of moving to Switzerland: finding a new house, buying a car, and reading/filling tons of paperwork!

I like to play tennis, go skiing... and prepare a good cup of coffee. To be honest I never really liked coffee. But one day I decided to give my beloved wife a good coffee machine. She loves espressos. I spent weeks gathering information about the best coffees, what makes a coffee more acid or more bitter, trying to understand the chemistry happening behind the hood: ideal temperature of the water, optimum pressure, etc. In short, I spent almost 2 months choosing a semi-professional coffee machine together with a coffee grinder, hoping that if I tasted a very good cup of coffee I would finally appreciate it too. Here is the installation I ended up with (using about 50% of my kitchen counter top):

Result: now I need approximately 10 minutes to prepare one single cup of espresso (it takes time to warm up the machine, grind the beans, tamper, etc.) and I still don't like it! But at least my wife does, and I'm having fun preparing it: makes me feel like a true barista :smile:

When did you become a member of SCN and what brought you to this community?

I started my career in one of the big 4 international consultancy companies: Accenture. On my first day I was sent on a mission as a SAP CRM functional consultant, without being trained beforehand. Back then already I turned to Google to find information and that's how I discovered SCN and kept coming back. SCN was always on top of the search results for most of my searches. It didn’t take me long to realize that SCN is a free goldmine.

Note from Laure: Congrats jason.lax for an SEO job well done!

You mention on your SCN profile that you are active in SCN Code Exchange. Can you share your experience of the platform?

I discovered Code Exchange thanks to gregor.wolf who mentioned it in one of his blog posts. It's a platform where you can freely share ABAP code. So I started creating my own projects (SAP Transport request dependencies analyzer, BOL master data generator, etc.) and I tried to participate to existing ones to help solve a few bugs, or extend some functionalities. After a few years using Code Exchange I would say that:

1) I wish:

- SAP Code Exchange was easier to find. Indeed, even when you know that it is there (somewhere), the easiest way to find it is to use SCN search engine. There doesn't seem to be a way to quickly navigate to it from the SCN welcome page.

- Projects were easier to find within SAP Code Exchange itself too. For example: once connected if you search for any "CRM" project, you won't find my own programs... although I added the "CRM" tag to some of them, and "CRM" word is even there in the project name.

-  The connection process was easier, without the need to accept the "Terms of Use" each time you navigate to a project page stored in your browser's favorites. This is annoying and I opened a discussion about it some time ago. I know personally a few people that gave up trying to connect and asked me to send them the corresponding piece of code via email instead.

2) I like:

- The quality of some programs that are available there: according to me SAPlink or abap2xlsx to name a few, are ones of the must-have for any SAP module implementation.

- Projects' owners are involved: most of the time if you ask a question or raise an issue, you'll get an answer both fast and above your expectations.

I heard SAP Code Exchange is being revamped and improved. A new version will be available soon, so let's hope it will address some of those issues, because this platform is definitely worth it.

Note from Laure: I know how much Nicolas likes to find “gems” on SCN and how much he uses Likes, Ratings, etc to surface quality content to the community. I suggested that he does the same for good, useful code available on Code Exchange. Why not write a blog or document series with the best picks for CRM, and share it with the rest of the community? The author of the code may not communicate about what they put on Code Exchange, but Nicolas could be a curator of good code, that is something the community would  appreciate learning about I think.

How does SCN help you in your daily activities?

Usually when I have an SAP-related question there is a 90% chance that the answer is already here on SCN. So I search SCN first. If I don’t find an answer there is a 99% chance that someone will give it to me when I open a discussion thread. In short: in my daily activities SCN makes me feel relaxed because I know the solution to my problems is within reach... hence less stress-related disease, and no need for medication... so you could say SCN is playing its part in lowering French social care deficit :razz:

Note from Laure: There you go! That’s a compelling argument!

Nicolas (continued): I also use SCN to be kept up to date on anything related to SAP, it’s a great source of good information. I use the Jive application for Android phones to follow content whenever I have a downtime, e.g. in the Parisian subway, and I give a lot of feedback directly in the app (liking, rating, commenting, etc).

When I’m at my desk SCN is the first page that opens in my browser so I check the home page regularly, and at the beginning of each month I make sure I’m aware of upcoming events, etc.

How do you find the time to contribute to SCN?

Less "poke" on Facebook.

I'm serious: Today, being active on SCN doesn't take more time than updating your status on Facebook, or sending 140 characters on Twitter. With the Jive app I’m always connected and receive real time notifications. At the end all I need to do is a small thumb movement to like an article.

By the way, initially I thought that to become a respected member on SCN you had to write the best and longest blog posts ever: but not everyone can be paul.hardy (see this blog for instance)  So I realized that there is something as important as publishing high quality content or answering 10 questions a day: it is to promote the content that you like and help make it known (by clicking one of the SHARE buttons, LIKE, or leaving a nice comment, etc.). So most of the time my contribution is limited to one click on a few buttons.

I recently found how to rate something and write a review at the same time, it’s something I thought was not possible, so I was very happy to know that it actually is possible. See for yourself:

Contributing high quality content is more difficult because it takes time. Recently I published this blog series about SAP UI 5 because I saw people I admire sharing ideas and experience with SAP UI 5 and I wanted to learn about it. So I “gamified” it: I gave myself one week to create my own app and set the goal to blog about the process every single day. Even if things didn’t work out well I promised myself I would write about it still.

What do you like most about the community in general?

There is no better place to stay tuned about what's happening around planet SAP.

What technology recently had you most enthusiastic about?

As a CRM consultant, and even if it is not so recent, I'm going to answer "WebUI". I'm a big fan, because creating complex screens has never been so easy. Sometimes you don't even need to code anything: just 3 or 4 clicks on a wizard and off you go with a brand new process. You can feel how smart were the guys who developed this framework.

And of course there is also SAP HANA. But I must admit that it's only when I saw this announcement about thomas.jung providing a free e-learning course on open.sap.com that I became curious about HANA. So I started reading a few articles and watching the course delivered by Professor Hasso Plattner about in-memory database, about two months ago. I loved his candidness and I was impressed by the numbers he shared... Now I'm looking forward to the opening of "CRM on HANA" space on SCN to learn more. Meanwhile I completed my first assignment two days ago for Thomas's course; I hope I did a good job!

What is BOL??

Back in 2006 I decided to stop working on SAP systems, because of a terrible SAP CRM 5.0 project where nothing was working as expected (I was implementing many OSS notes each day, and opening a dozen customer messages a week). The system was definitely too buggy (no offense: I'm not ranting here, it's just that I was really not having a good time). In order to get me re-motivated my employer sent me to a technical CRM WebUI workshop delivered by SAP: during this amazing 5-day course I learned about BOL (Business Object Layer), a new brick on which versions CRM 5.1 and higher are based upon... it's kind of WebUI backbone and it is now integrated in all CRM modules so that a developer or even the end user can very quickly create an object, the way they want it. So for me, BOL is somehow the reason I'm still around today.

If you want to learn more about BOL, see this overview and a master guide.

You said you like SAP Press book. Who is your favorite author?

Indeed I like those books very much (I read some of them more than once) but I don't have any favorite author. All those guys rock.

Any favorite book(s) you would like to recommend?

Hard to make a choice! But if I had to pick only one, that would probably be "Next Generation ABAP Development". I've got the 2nd edition, published in 2011. This book is terrific: it stages Russell, an ABAP developer who wants to discover and try new features available in SAP NetWeaver, thomas.jung and rich.heilman did an incredible job. You read this book like a novel. As I used to be more a "functional" consultant, I learned a countless number of things when I read it for the first time. I can imagine how much work it was to produce such a good book.

And for those who would like to know more about SAP CRM 7.0 I recommend "SAP Web Client". I'm also looking forward the release of stephen.johannes's book "SAP CRM: Technical Principles and Programming".

What do you think about the introduction of game mechanics on SCN one month ago? I saw you’ve earned a couple of badges already.

I love SCN Gamification! I think it was an excellent idea to introduce such a mission concept to help people discovering many not-so-known aspects of SCN. For example: how to update one's status. I didn't even know it was possible before I earned one of my first badges. Also, I've been quite impressed by the way everything was sent to production, without noticeable bug. How a success is that?

As far as I'm concerned I'm stuck on the "I shared some knowledge" mission, because I still haven't found anything interesting enough to share. But I'm working on it!

If a new member came to you and asked for your advice on how to be an active and respected member of SCN, what would you say?

Three pieces of advice:

  1. Complete the first 3 or 4 “onboarding” missions on SCN because they contain some precious pieces of information about how SCN works. For example: the rules of engagement, or how to "Follow" people (which is, according to me, THE most important functionality provided by the new SCN).
  2. However do not hurry either. It really doesn't make much sense trying to complete more than 5 missions on the first week for example. Be curious, and take time to read available content first. The worst you can do is publishing very poor content like "Hello World" blog post in order to gain points.
  3. Last but not least: check the 12-months Leaderboard of your areas of interest. There is most probably a few rock stars you'll want to follow.

Is there an SCN member you admire (OK… you can name a few)?

gregor.wolf. He's definitely the first one that became known to me, and quickly became a legend for me. Then I discovered thomas.jung, ivan.femia, horst.keller, stephen.johannes, john.moy3, steinermatt, marilyn.pratt, graham.robinson, etc. The list can be long: How much time do we have left?

Easy question: Mac or Windows? Or Android?

Windows and Android.

Are you on Twitter?

Yes, I’m @Nicolas_Busson but I don't tweet very often. I mostly use Twitter to stay tuned about important OSS notes sent by @SAP_Gsupport or @SAPSupportCE. Also, I use it to follow people that share interesting content they find about SAP. So don't expect me to be very active. I'm more the "follower" kind.

Do you want to be called Nicolas or Nick? 😉

Nick! That's how graham.robinson called me in a comment left on one of my blog posts. I can't tell you how happy I was when he did that, not because of the nature of his comment (even if I liked it very much too), but because giving me this nickname meant that a connection had been made (nobody ever called me Nick before). And that's SCN: I don't know him, and I'll probably never meet him in person since he lives in Australia, but we share ideas and talk like old friends... THANK YOU Mister Robbo! (I did mention him when you asked for people I admire, didn't I?)

Every month, a member of the SAP Community Network is recognized for exemplary behavior: sharing knowledge with peers, being helpful and taking on additional tasks to support community engagement. See the list of previous SCN Members of the Month.