SAP Builders Spotlight: Digital workspaces and navigating the coloring book of the citizen developer journey

Interview by Esmee Xavier. Originally pubished in the SAP Community.

The series highlights success stories from our SAP Builders community. Do you have a project you’d like us to feature? Reach out to us on the Builders Group or comment on this post.

This edition features Rich Blumberg, who has been part of the SAP world for 18 years.

As a long-time SAP consultant, Rich has been involved with multiple teams and projects, including SAP Innovation Awards, SAP Community, and weekly working sessions with customers to dive into SAP Build. His team also created the internal Help Center for SAP’s transition from SAP Jam to SAP Build Work Zone. During our interview, Rich shared his thoughts on teaching citizen developers and getting started with creating digital workspaces.

Builder: Rich Blumberg

Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Featured solution: SAP Build Work Zone Help Center (internal)


Tell us first about your experience with the SAP Build Learning Journey.

Having gone through the low-code/no-code learning journey, it gave me an excellent foundation to learn more about SAP Build AppsSAP Build Process Automation, and what I already knew about in
SAP Build Work Zone. Also, I was very excited to learn and put into practice the use of OData and REST APIs, which had been a big interest for many years.

What kind of gaps have you identified in the learning journey for real citizen developers?

Often the expertise is done by technical people with a deeper understanding of the technology, be they software engineers, developers, or pro-coders. They don’t always explain it the way that us business practitioners, AKA citizen developers, can fully understand.

As an analogy, it’s kind of like a coloring book. I want to see where the lines are, where the numbers are, where I can add colors, and where I can deviate a little bit. We need guardrails as business practitioners, and we also have a lot of time constraints.

For example, with SAP Build Apps or SAP Build Process Automation, I want to go in and be told to try these five things or these 20 things very clearly step-by-step. I don’t want to have to guess or have subject matter experts assume that I know what to do.

This creates an opportunity to bridge the much appreciated technical expertise with business practitioner’s knowledge to expand the use of SAP Build.

What other approaches would you recommend for teaching these concepts?

I’ll use formulas as an example. As a business practitioner, give me two or three of these and break down the steps to use them. If I can do this five times with five different formulas, I will start to get the hang of it.

As a parallel learning example, I started taking guitar lessons three years ago, so now I’m a lot more proficient with chords and strumming. I’m not ready to get on stage yet with the best of the best, but I have a lot more confidence, because I’ve gone beyond just understanding the basics. But as teachers and experts you still have to show me what’s required. Once it’s spelled out accurately, then I’ll take it one step at a time.

With SAP Build Apps, you can’t assume that us business practitioners know what properties are or that I know what the nodes mean. It took me a long time to get comfortable with nodes, components, and variables. The In-App tutorials were very helpful. While business people have many skills and work experiences… many of us need to learn it like the “For Dummies” book series!:-)

Tell us about the project around SAP Build Work Zone’s Help Center.

When SAP Jam became Work Zone, many valued customers, partners, and also SAP had to make that migration and move forward. SAP has tens of thousands of active workspaces, so we worked with SAP IT and the Employee Experience team to reduce the number of questions, concerns, and fears that the thousands of SAP employees had. We set up frequently asked questions like what can Work Zone do for workspace admins or users? What are the capabilities? And also, how can there be a feedback loop?

By teaming up with IT and the Employee Experience team, we were able to help reduce dramatically the number of questions and issues, which could have been a nightmare, and reduced the temperature of people heading to the unknown.

We also encouraged people to appreciate the SAP Build roadmap as it pertains to Work Zone, because the SAP Build family will continue to come closer and closer together, as well as how it will work with things like UI5 cards and widgets, which are really cool.

What are some of the biggest challenges teams might face when starting with Work Zone?

It’s like anything else, you have people at different parts of the learning curve, from beginners to experts. Beginners just need to get comfortable and familiar with the breadth of things that it can do. It never ceases to amaze me that as much as I know about Work Zone, there’s always new features and capabilities to discover.

The good news is that the SAP Build Work Zone is relatively easy to get started using. If it was compared to a swimming pool, you can walk into the shallow end and very quickly start doing things. We have weekly working sessions and I’m continuously amazed at all the different groups, use cases, and how they communicate the best information to the audiences that they serve.

What I’m passionate about it is knowledge management and speed to value.

In addition, we’re exploring helping groups that might have a thousand plus assets, be it documents, videos, or podcasts in a landing page or a community. We can help them validate and curate what is the most important information that the audience needs to do their jobs, be it for implementations, adoption, change management, solutions – you name it, and making it easy for them to find what they need, when they need it.

Each of the SAP Build family of products has an unlimited number of use cases to consider and discover. Looking forward to learning more, continuing to be hands on, and taking the value for employees, customers, partners, and users to the next level.

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