As businesses have been forced to adapt to the changes resulting from COVID-19, most employees have lost the opportunity to experience regular face-to-face interactions with co-workers and peers. Video conferencing and remote working has replaced in-person discussions with those we work with, and professional events have all but migrated online. While you can still consume conference sessions digitally, most opportunities to meet and talk with colleagues face-to-face have been put on hold.

The good news is that SAP customers can network with other SAP customers anytime from anywhere by participating in ASUG Think Tanks. Free to all ASUG members, these monthly to bimonthly online discussion-based sessions allow members to connect and network with one another. There are 30 different Think Tanks to choose from, covering topics ranging from the aerospace and defense industry, to those working in the K-12 education space. ASUG also hosts some ad hoc Think Tanks devoted to specific topics or developments in the SAP world worth further discussion.

“ASUG Think Tanks are designed to start dialogues that will hopefully last long after the session has concluded,” said Kaela Altman, director of community operations at ASUG. “They are really about making new connections, meeting new people, and understanding what other solutions are available that you might not have considered.”

Bringing ASUG Members Together

Born in 2019, Think Tanks were created to bring ASUG members together and help build their professional networks. In a recent session Altman attended, two of the attendees realized not only that their companies were running the same SAP system, but that they worked right across the street from one another.

These open sessions feature roundtable discussions where all attendees are encouraged to participate. Discussions can range from how attendees are gaining advantages from certain technology solutions, to ways organizations are overcoming common hurdles in their respective fields. 

“These Think Tanks provide you with an opportunity to develop better, more personal connections with other ASUG members who are dealing with the same situations and problems and have similar needs,” said Jason Sprunk, director of GRM systems management and operations at Rockwell Automation and the chair of the Services and Support Community Think Tank. “The Think Tanks are a micro-reflection of the benefits that ASUG brings to its members: education, influence, and networking.”

Sparking Conversation and Growth

ASUG Think Tanks also give attendees a great opportunity to partake in important discussions relevant to their lines of business.

“Think Tanks are great opportunities where organizations and professionals working in the same lines of business can come together and either brainstorm a current issue or have a discussion about what solutions others have found to be effective,” said Cindy Seaburn, an ERP/SAP analyst for Duval County Public Schools and the chair of the K-12 Education industry Think Tank.

Sprunk said that attendees get to hear about real problems and their solutions from actual users and employees working in the field.

“There’s nothing better than setting aside the marketing hype and talking to another practitioner to find out the bumps and pitfalls,” he said. “With Think Tanks, you cut through all the noise and get to the heart of the matter.”

Think Tanks allow attendees to address how they are using SAP technologies and receive advice on how to use those solutions effectively.

“The real value of what we do comes from creating an environment where people can talk about what their companies are doing with SAP solutions,” Altman said. “Even today, Think Tanks are providing an opportunity for us to see each other, talk to one another, and network on very specific topics and SAP products.”

Filling the Networking Void of COVID-19

ASUG Think Tanks have become even more important during COVID-19, as most of us crave opportunities to interact with others.

“We are all hungry for personal and human connection,” Sprunk said. “Think Tanks have been a way to sustain that need. They have been vital during this pandemic.”

According to Seaburn, the Think Tanks have provided attendees with a much-desired sense of normalcy over the past few months. Sprunk agreed with their role in deepening the connections ASUG members have always built with one another. “You can’t travel, you can’t go to a conference,” Sprunk said. “Why not take 50 minutes out of your day to connect with your fellow community members and engage in crucial conversations?”

If you‘re an SAP customer in the automotive, chemicals, life sciences and health care, oil and gas, or utilities industries, sign up today for our special industry Think Tanks addressing the topics that matter to you. Dont miss this chance to connect with other attendees of the ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Industries virtual experience in September. 

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