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The SAP Mentor Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics, such as emerging technologies, learning, and other topics, and provides insights from Mentors and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.
Building a solid foundation through integration across multiple sources to unlock a volume of data across users, applications, processes, and devices grows in importance in today’s fast-paced environment.
For some organizations, integrations are viewed as an afterthought, or more tactical, versus strategic in nature.
The key is to have a unified integration methodology and framework that brings visibility to fragmented, siloed data across the organization and makes it a strategic priority.
In our recent conversation with Daniel Graversen, SAP Integration Expert and Product Owner at Figaf and SAP Mentor, he shared many insights on his professional journey and passion to teach SAP integration and process integration, as well as how he helps organizations save time with new integrations which are impactful to business outcomes.
Anne K Petteroe (AKP): From your Computer Science days at the Technical University of Denmark to today, you have developed a passion for Process Integration (PI) and Orchestration (PO) which has led to starting your own company, Figaf. What is it about PI and PO that excites you?
Daniel Graversen (DG): I was intrigued to get a business understanding of what was being exchanged between systems, and then being able to automate it. It is interesting to me to understand the business processes that flows within the enterprise and across organizations impacting all stakeholders.
AKP: Over the years you have created a number of SAP Courses on SAP Integration. Why did you want to help people to understand integration
DG: Nowadays, it’s quite easy to create a course and start selling it. However, it takes planning and effort to develop courses that provide a high-level of value.
I have always loved teaching people how to use SAP Integration tools. It’s so great to see how people with different skill sets can use a wide-range of synergic integration approaches, tools, data, and content.
From my own real-life experiences of using SAP Integration tools, I enjoy providing many best practices and lessons learned to help better understand how it will work in real life.
AKP: How did you first become involved with the SAP Mentor Program? As an avid SAP Community blogger, what motivates you to share your knowledge within the community?
DG: When I started with SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI) back in the day, I thought there was some missing information about how to handle integrations and process flows. So, I decided to write blogs so that people could leverage my knowledge.
At first, my posts were not all good until I learned more about how to write quality posts. One thing that I love is when I meet people and they tell me that some of the blogs I wrote have helped them with learning about SAP integration!
AKP: Congratulations! When you and your Figaf team won SAP’s “ Hack2Build Beyond a Hackathon ” competition by building the first-ever SAP PI (Process Integration) to SAP Integration Suite migration tool, you showcased speeding up the quality of migrations by automation. In addition to saving time and supporting testing, how can this solution help with integration redesigns?
DG: In a migration, there are a lot of manual tasks that need to be performed for each interface. We at Figaf have built a tool that can automate many of the tasks so that developers can save time on it. Luckily during the hackathon our team was able to leverage our existing platform and create a flexible tool that allows us to improve migrations both now and over time.
We did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and estimated that there where 1,000,000+ integrations running on PI/PO that over the next 9-years needs to be migrated to SAP Cloud Integration (CPI) for data services. If we can save 50% of the time required, then it will free up a lot more hours to be spent on creating new integrations and realizing impactful business outcomes.
AKP : When you help organizations get their SAP and third-party integrations to run smoothly as a process orchestration (PO) layer of SAP’s Business Technology Platform, what percent of your time is spent on the (a) process (b) people , and (c) technology? Can you share a high-level example where you balanced people and automation activities to view data better, and perform end-to-end business process management?
DG: Love the question. I normally say that specific to integrations, the integration owners (aka developers) are not seen, because you never see our integrations if they work correctly.
When you need to build an integration between two systems, an important part is to understand who the experts are who are both using and running the systems, and then create integration(s) that work for them. So, there is going to be a discussion on both technical – how to connect – but also facilitate a conversation about the business semantics.
I would say that 30% is done on understanding the process, 30% is building and developing the technology, and the last 40% is on testing and bug-fixing with the people that know the system and process. The best part is to know how many hours the tool saves people.
AKP: When you encounter students and recent graduates, they may not realize the opportunities in SAP Integration and related integration technologies. What suggestions do you provide if they want to get into this field or related technology positions to get a high-quality job in support of their career?
DG: There will always be a need for integration because more systems will always pop up. I talk to a lot of people about ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming), SAP integration, and business process career opportunities.
Learning the newer forms of SAP integration like SAP Cloud Integration (CPI) for data services and the SAP Integration Suite is a lot easier than it used to be in the XI/PI (SAP Exchange Infrastructure/Process Integration) days. You don’t need a lot of programming to excel because a huge part is to understand and translate messages.
Overall, the opportunities to start a career related to SAP integrations is immense. The need for talented, skilled workers will continue to grow in the near-future and beyond.