SAP User Group's new chairman focuses on Brexit and cloud
Paul Cooper plans to recruit more line-of-business members
The new chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group has prioritised navigating the challenges of Brexit as well as encouraging more line-of-business cloud users to join the body.
Paul Cooper took over as chairman of the user group earlier this month, following the end of Philip Adam's tenure, and will hold the seat while the UK negotiates its exit from the EU - a time of economic uncertainty that depends on the nature of the deal the government secures.
"The clock is ticking," Cooper told IT Pro. " It's a political activity at the moment but once the politicians have agreed what's going to happen, when and how, organisations are going to have to make decisions about changes they need to make from an SAP and business process perspective."
"There will not be vast amounts of time to do that," added Cooper, "so we're working to make sure from a systems perspective SAP are there and ready to support the legal changes that may have to happen, [and] any taxation changes."
A twin challenge to Brexit is that of GDPR. Companies have until 25 May 2018 to get their data protection policies in line with the EU's forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation, which grants people more power over their personal data while increasing the punishments for firms who fail to protect it adequately.
SAP's own customers have already aired concerns over how compliant their SAP systems are with the legislation, with 86% of 102 members surveyed by the user groupsaying they're unsure of how GDPR will affect their SAP landscapes.
Cooper said he wants to help the user group's 5,000 members exchange best practices and get more support from SAP. "People are at that point where they're getting their heads around what they need to do," he said. "We're taking the opportunity where we can to help members exchange what they're up to or get advice from SAP and partners."
Central to his plans is the user group's use of SAP's Jam platform, which allows members to share information online, as the body seeks to increase its digital presence with more interactive webinars, as opposed to costly in-person events that members can struggle to attend.
"People are shifting away from face-to-face [activities] so we've had to start offering more web-based stuff," Cooper said. "For a lot of people getting an hour away from their work to listen to a webinar is much easier than a day out of the office."
Webinars will help the user group dive into more specific issues that aren't relevant for its entire membership, he added. "[They] can be very focused on something very specific that either wouldn't warrant a full day or something that would get a large enough group of people to make it happen."
Line of business
As Cooper became chairman, the body also subsumed the HCM-focused SuccessFactors User Group UK, adding around 80 members to the organisation and giving more prominence to line-of-business (LoB) cloud operations.
SuccessFactors will become another special interest group like payroll and application lifecycle management, though the SuccessFactors User Group will remain a standalone group within the UK & Ireland body, which will act as an umbrella group.
"We've always had very strong membership from the technical community and business analysts," Cooper said, explaining that LoB takes a different approach, where IT projects are driven by the end users rather than IT.
"The LoB people are now much more important in the cloud and SaaS portfolios, with organisations having put something like Concur in without really any input from an IT team, so we see that to maintain our relevance as a user group this is an area we need to make sure we're covering off and getting involved with," he said.
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