Enterprise Geeks Podcast – Certify or Die

Should we swallow the magic SAP Certification pill?

Should we swallow the magic SAP Certification pill?

Fellow eGheads, you are in for a treat. This episode is packed with all kinds of geeky goodness with our special guest Dennis Howlett. Join us in this episode full of topics discussing the power of the crowd, the cloud, and the proud. With topics ranging from Facebook to SAP Certifications, there is a little bit for everyone.

If you have questions, suggestions, or topic ideas for future episodes, give us a shout here. Enjoy!

Running Time: 63 minutes

Talking Points

  1. Thomas is back from Cancun
  2. Learn more about the man himself, Dennis Howlett
  3. Facebook TOS explosion
  4. Coghead and the danger of the cloud
  5. SAP Labs vs. SAP Research
  6. Enterprise Mashup Application Platform from SAP Research
  7. SAP Certification Program – Certify or Die
    • Dennis’ blog on SDN that kicked off the initial storm
    • Jon Reed is a major player on the certification topic
    • SAP Mentor Meeting with SAP Education to discuss the SAP Certification program on Wednesday, Feb. 25
    • If you want your voice heard about the topic, post comments here and we will submit them
  8. Keep your Bollocks in your Pants
  9. Want to make a difference? Submit your videos for a good cause
  10. Update on Geeks without Borders 24 hour Charity Event on FMR
  11. Announcement of the ABAP Join Wizard and update on the ABAP Report Wizard

4 responses to “Enterprise Geeks Podcast – Certify or Die”

  1. Jon Reed says :

    Guys, TERRIFIC job as always. Dennis did an excellent job of framing the certification debate as it currently stands.

    With each episode I listen to, I can feel myself becoming more and more of an enterprise geek and that is great. I was already a pretty valid aspiring geek I think, but bringing the geekdom into the enterprise is a whole ‘nuther matter. I have an “SDN Uber Geek” hat, but I’m still growing into it. A few more podcasts and it should fit even better!

    As for my thoughts on certification, I think my views on this topic are pretty well out there by now. At this point, like you guys, I want to learn more during the Mentor Certification webcast, and then offer my views at that point.

    I believe Dennis is absolutely correct that SAP needs its Mentors (as well as possibly key SCN contributors) to be on board with SAP certification if it is to successfully establish a new level of market credibility. Some way of making certification virtually free, perhaps for those who establish some level of hourly community involvement, could be one way to turn some of the biggest and most effective dissenters into advocates – but only if the certifications themselves are up to snuff, because we all know these sometimes cantakerous and pretty brilliant people we rub up against in this community can’t be bought.

    In anticipation of the upcoming webcast, I have prepared a series of questions I have about SAP certification I will try to get answered during the webcast.

    Some of the most important ones have already been answered. In a response to my comment on Dennis’ recent blog, Sue Martin of SAP Education noted that not only will the highest level (Master) incorporate field experience, but the mid-level (Professional) will be a more well-rounded program than a narrow certification that I have always felt was limited – and even moreso now in the era of the process-driven enterprise where silos can be toxic. I was also encouraged to hear that Sue’s team is working on tying in community involvement and participation into certification somehow. Not sure how that would be done but it’s encouraging to think that this issue is being grappled with.

    Which leads me to a few points that weren’t touched on during this podcast that SAP likely needs to address at some point. One is the perception that SAP’s new certification push is largely an act of financial self-interest in an era where big upgrade revenues are going to diminish. I don’t happen to have this issue, I think SAP has every right to make money on certification, but many criticisms of SAP certification seem to center on the notion of unacknowledged financial agendas and so that point lingers out there, begging some kind of response. It’s not an elephant in the room but it’s not a mouse either. Maybe it’s a fairly large dog size.

    Another aspect I’m looking forward to hearing more about is industry-specific know-how. This is becoming an increasingly important requirement to customers, who tend to be skeptical of a referral of a “quality financials consultant,” for example, who doesn’t know their industry. So it will be interesting to learn about how SAP might anticipate (and validate) industry specialization.

    I continue to believe that BPX certifications, properly developed, would accomplish much of the need for a more well-rounded way of validating SAP consulting skills, so I am always looking to learn more about that. Finally, the notion of a peer or customer review system cannot, in my view, be overlooked. The technical tools are in place for such a peer review/recommendation system to be implemented, and as I’ve noted before, ASUG Edge is one such example that may be worth pursuing (I’m hoping to do a story on this site’s lessons learned fairly soon, we’ll see). What I have said is that if SAP does not grapple with this type of system internally, they run the risk of a third party coming out with one, and if it became broadly accepted, that would surely diminish the value of SAP certification, because at least in my view, several terrific customer references are going to continue to outweigh a classroom test, no matter how much it is improved.

    My two cents, or was it four? See you on the webcast!

    – Jon –

  2. Jon Reed says :

    p.s. I forgot to mention, Dennis was looking to recall if it was IBM in NYC that said they preferred the Microsoft certification to SAP’s. That was actually the Roche CIO, Jennifer Allerton, who indeed said that. Michael Krigsman of ZDNet posted the entire interview with Allerton on a recent blog entry. I stitched together simply the parts of the discussion that related to SAP certification and posted that in a recent JonERP.com blog entry as well.

    – Jon –

  3. Ed Herrmann says :

    @Jon – Thanks for the great compliments! We love to hear that we can help slowly pull you into full-time ubergeek. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1 cent – The financial aspect, is yes, the big Marmaduke in the room that has been mentioned. The best way for SAP to turn Marmaduke into a chihuahua is to A) charge a reasonable price that is even accessible to independents and small consulting shops and B) put together a quality certification program that proves it’s worth and value over time.
    2 cents – Excellent points about the industry specific areas, especially related to BPX certs. If you are claiming yourself a business process expert in a specific field, I would expect you to have some kind of experience/certification to back that up. It’s a little more cloudy when it comes to development work. Someone can claim they have FI experience because they wrote a report that retrieved data from an FI table, but that doesn’t necessarily qualify them as an FI expert. On the other hand, depending on the exact nature of the requirement, I don’t need to have industry specific knowledge to develop a well designed, scalable application. I would hope the solution architect certs stayed out of the industry specific arena, but maybe with them still available. Perhaps something similar to a college major and minor. My major is Solution Architect and I have a minor in SD.

  4. Jon Reed says :

    Ed, agreed on both points. SAP can definitely defuse the “cost Marmaduke” by taking some of the steps you mentioned. If SAP can show that certification is not just a profit center but a means to support its implementations, through the means you suggested and perhaps others, then that will go a long way.

    I would also agree that industry knowledge is not as important in some SAP roles as it is in others. That’s probably where the input from customers becomes crucial, in terms of SAP deliverying the types of individuals best suited for a particular industry. At any rate, we’ll learn more tomorrow on the webcast so I’m sure there will be more to comment on real soon.

    – Jon –

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