Finding easier and less disruptive ways engaging SAP users in the business world is one of the main areas of focus for the incoming chairman of the SAP UK and Ireland User Group, Alan Bowling.
"We recognise the constraints users are under and need to find ways of adding value as a user group through new channels like webinars to enable people to network, interact and share experiences in using SAP products without having to leave the office," he said.
Bowling, IS director at Northern Foods, took over chairmanship of the user group this week from Glynn Lowth, IT manager at BASF IT Services.
Bowling said his predecessor had made the task ahead much easier by transforming the group from a purely volunteer organisation by engaging some full-time staff to deliver a more professional service.
"Although we have grown to 400 corporate members from 236 in 2002, that does not represent every company using SAP in the UK, which means there are still more users to reach, and we can do that only by ensuring the user group continues to add value," said Bowling.
He said the 2007 user group conference held in Birmingham this week was 20% bigger than the previous year, with 600 attendees, and he planned to grow the event and the number of special interest groups even further.
Bowling and Lowth, who have worked together in the user group for the past five years, both see special interest groups around SAP's products aimed at small and medium enterprises as being the most likely area of growth.
Lowth, who remains on as a director of the user group, said new members from the SME sector would have different needs and probably require different channels of communication than the existing corporate members.
"The user group is likely to undergo another period of growth and evolution as it adapts to the needs of this new set of users," he said.