Thursday, 7 January 2010

A sensitive blogger...I really wouldn't have guessed.

On my Twitter account I'm currently subscribed to feeds from around 60 or so sources, all of which in general I rather enjoy. Stand-outs for me include Ray Wang, Jeremiah Owyang, and Dennis Howlett - real serial bloggers all of them with very interesting, and at times, challenging opinions. I like this.

But yesterday something interesting happened. It seems Dennis got a bit sensitive. In response to the following blog post ( where Dennis wrote on the bullshit which  abounds regarding the demise of SAP in 2010 Dennis received a number of anonymous thumbs down votes prompting him to post on Twitter...

"what dick brains are giving this minus votes?"

I immediately rushed to Dennis' aid to offer solidarity (on Twitter at least) as I feel his article was a well written and well informed piece offering a realistic view, in my opinion, of where SAP currently is and in many ways where it needs to get to. Overall a positive assessment of a solid business.

On reflection I think it probably wasn't necessary to defend Dennis, he strikes me as a pretty robust character, he surely must be, he follows the England Cricket team, something which requires a similar degree of masochism I can identify with as a supporter of the Scottish National Football team.

If I can opine I think that what happened on the blog rating is a direct reflection of Dennis being brought into the inner sanctum of SAP as a 'Mentor'. To the outside world such a fierce critic of SAP offering a thoughtful and more informed insight into the Companies goals, aspirations, and possibilities for 2010 could be seen as some kind of 'sell-out' or at least a softening in the eyes of those who forwarded and retweeted Dennis' YouTube channel videos e.g. 5 SAP Failures (featuring Ray Wang).

In many ways it reminded me of a time quite some years ago now when the band I played in had an exceptionally fierce critic. Every gig, every single, every album released would be met with derision. Frustrating though it was we used to joke that if he ever heard us break wind he would claim that we did it in the wrong key! Eventually I called the guy and politely invited him to join us in the studio one day during a recording session. He came along and I found him engaging, we exchanged views on what made good records, he watched us work and record, and we both left having established respect for each other and our musical foundations based on widely different genres. In the future whilst his reviews were not overwhelmingly positive there was a candour in the writing of the articles and a final rating (usually 3 stars out of 5) which reflected an informed appreciation of what made us who we were. Maybe Dennis was merely reflecting similar in his article.

Looking at things from the SAP side I can only congratulate SAP in engaging actively with people like Dennis and yes, seeking his input and advice, after all that's what participating in Social Media channels is about and probably what more companies need to learn. You need to 1. Listen to what people are saying about you and/or your products, 2. Engage, understand and work with those (customers, analysts) who offer constructive feedback and use this to positively change your offering or approach, and, 3. Create from this a group of staunch advocates who share and promote your organisation's values/products/services.

Participation is also about taking criticisms on the chin and accepting other points of view which, despite the Twitter outburst yesterday, I guess Dennis knew already. And Dennis, in case you were wondering, I really do hope that South Africa win the Test.


  1. Heh - surprisingly, SAP has been very supportive of my recent posts about them. That includes some pretty serious people with whom I've had my share of run-ins.

    They 'get' dealing with curmudgeons like me very well and on occasion invite peeps like me to the Big Man's table. Trust me when I say that's warmly appreciated.

    My issue was more to do with the fact the post was being voted down but without any apparent comment as to why. Now if someone had said: 'Oy - self serving bastard' I could understand that. But without knowing where the issue lays it's impossible for me to address. To me, such actions are dopey and, quite frankly, cowardly.

    I'm not afraid of taking hits - it's part of sticking my neck out in an otherwise bland, PR friendly media. But come on - if you want to skewer me, at least have the nuts to say why.

    As to SA v ENG cricket - as I type this, I am watching Colly and Bell doing a sterling job resisting what I thought was a done deal in SA's favour. Whatever happens in the next hour or so, both sides have played magnificently. I always applaud that.

  2. Dennis, I'm totally with you on the anonymous posting - makes otherwise cowardly people feel brave and feel like they've scored a victory for the little man - sometimes they even are, quite literally, little men.

    Keep rolling with the punches Dennis. Love the opinions. One of my endearing memories of working at Siebel was on my first day when a Senior Exec asked us to promise him that we'd always have an opinion and be prepared to stand behind it, "never, ever be boring", he said, "I just hate that!". I've held that thought ever since then.

    Ooops another wicket gone I see!