James posted a really good piece on the different approaches that the big vendors are taking with regard to bloggers. There’s one quote in here that I want to highlight and address:
Of course Jeff Nolan was instrumental in getting SAP more blog savvy, but anyone that gives him sole credit for the company’s efforts is on crack. Nolan didn’t singlehandedly change SAP any more than Scoble did Microsoft. These guys are change agents, but they fit within a cultural context. Corporate troublemakers without very understanding bosses don’t last very long.)
He is spot on right with that observation and I’m glad he said it because it brings up the most important thing that large companies can do to be successful with next generation influencer models – embrace the people that make trouble. I couldn’t possibly change SAP because I pissed too many people in power off (it got so bad with Peter Graf that he would barely growl out a “hello” to me in the hallway). I was proud to walk around everyday with “so what, fire me” written on my shirt for everyone to see, and were it not for a lot of people above me who gave me cover and stepped in front of me when the bullets were flying, well we wouldn’t even be talking about it now.
People like Mark Finnern, Thomas Otter, Frank Koehntopp, Mark Crofton, and others are equally culpable in the success that SAP is having with bloggers. Personally, I think Thomas is one of the pre-eminent technology bloggers in Europe and SAP is lucky to have him. Mike Prosceno doesn’t have a blog, but I give the guy a lot of credit for taking me on face value when I told him it would be a really good idea to bring bloggers to Sapphire, and more importantly for putting his resources (Karen and Stacy) on it to make it happen. The logistics and cost for doing events with bloggers is really pretty daunting, if you don’t put the resources into it then it will surely come out half-ass, but SAP is setting the gold standard as far as this is concerned.
UPDATE: I was remiss in not including Charles Zedlewski’s blog in the list of prominent SAP bloggers. Charles is one of the smartest SAP guys in Palo Alto and is tough to beat in an argument.