IT FYI: SAP Expands Online Expert Forums Into Manufacturing Sector

Expands online business process collaboration within and across industries; New forums include Chemicals, Life Sciences, Oil & Gas, Mining & Metals, Utilities and Industrial Machinery & Components.

SAP AG recently announced the extension of its 100,000 member Business Process Expert Community forums into new areas of interest for manufacturing executives. By bringing together industry experts facing similar challenges, the new forums extend the power of the community to foster collaboration and learning within and across key industry segments. The community has seen its membership top 100,000 since its launch six months ago.

In addition to the existing consumer products industry forum, SAP has added forums for the public sector, chemicals, higher education and research, defense, healthcare, life sciences, oil and gas, mining and metal, industrial machinery and components, utilities, and retail industries.

Fueled by the input of business process experts from companies in these diverse industries, as well as partners, business and IT leaders and software developers, the Business Process Expert Community site provides a collaborative environment for members to share their expertise and best practices leveraging enterprise service-oriented architecture (SOA) as a blueprint to increase business process agility. The community for business process experts stands side-by-side with the resource and collaboration environment for software developers, SAP Developer Network (SDN), forming a powerful combination to drive the continuing convergence of business and IT.

These are the initial BPX community topics, designed to kickstart the forums and give industry-specific members room for discussion. SAP expects that, as has happened in the already-established forums, each discussion will branch out to include other issues over time according to need.

Mining and Metal

  • MES, Manufacturing Integration, and Supply Chain Planning & Execution
  • Financials, costing and risk management

Oil & Gas

  • Supply Trading & Transmission
  • Upstream IT Roadmap
  • Master Data Management

Chemicals

  • Industry standards and regulations
  • Transportation

Industrial Machinery & Components

  • The solution provider network
  • Competitive advantages of a globally integrated enterprise for IM&C
  • Sharing best practices in extending ERP for IM&C

The typical background of the 100,000-plus members that have already joined on the Business Process Expert Community site includes:

  • Deep knowledge of business-unit operations and core processes
  • Expertise in gathering requirements and modeling business process flows
  • A background as either a business person who has "gone technical" but has coding skills, or a former application developer moving toward the business world
  • Knowledge of using simple queries to extract information from data sources
For example, by sharing best practices on practical uses of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, pharmaceutical companies, distributors and healthcare providers can improve their ability to provide solutions that protect the safety of the global pharmaceutical drug supply. Additionally, consumer products and chemical companies can exchange information regarding product registration and compliance requirements associated with government regulations.

The new industry forums will also include valuable content in the form of demos, presentations, articles, whitepapers, blogs and threaded discussions that assemble the knowledge and experience of SAP customers, partners, industry gurus and employees to help business process experts leverage the expertise of peers in similar job functions and industries. The individual industry forums will complement horizontal discussions focused on analytics, business process modeling and change management.

"As one of the world's leading chemical companies serving customers in agricultural, consumer and industrial markets, we need to be able to use advances in information technology to increase our business agility," said Rich Powers, director, Advanced Technologies & Architecture, FMC Corporation. "From our perspective, the value of SAP's Business Process Expert Community is that it serves as an accelerator for our understanding of new industry concepts in a timely fashion, so that we are able to successfully communicate with our business people on potential approaches and solutions. And most importantly we can do this speaking the language of business, not only of IT."

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