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ASUG on Technology

by Craig Lathrop | SAPinsider

July 1, 2008

ASUG’s first-ever CIO Craig Lathrop discusses the user group’s newly renovated Web site, upcoming technology projects, and the overall importance of ASUG’s members to the board.

Q: As ASUG's first dedicated CIO, what's the significance of your new role for members?

A: ASUG members work for some of the most advanced companies worldwide, so they expect the same level of technology support they have within their own businesses. Keeping up with emergent technologies is paramount.

We have to make sure we're not just offering one-off tools that meet a particular need, but rather building a solid foundation of adaptable capabilities to foster collaboration, community building, and continuous education among members.

It's been helpful to come from a learning and compliance organization like Kaplan, where my role focused on making customer-facing educational tools and technologies easy to use, no matter how complex they actually were behind the scenes. I've also worked with collaboration technologies for community building, another great fit for the user group.

Q: You've recently redesigned your Web site, — what improvements do you anticipate this change will make?

A: We've implemented a foundational change to the site, meant to provide a platform we can use to integrate emerging Web 2.0 technologies. The goal is to offer more meaningful services to help members establish more valuable connections, both with each other and with the vast amount of content available from ASUG's online ecosystem. Providing these connections, linking disparate pieces of content, is crucial. It's the difference between an isolated answer to a single question and a robust, complete conversation that provides members with the context they need.

At ASUG, we're always concerned with delivering relevant, value-added services that create real advantages for the ecosystem.

Our members are the common denominator in everything we do.

Q: What new projects will you be implementing in the upcoming year?

A: A very cool development is that ASUG now uses SAP — we signed on to be one of the first SAP Business ByDesign customers late last year. The CRM and business intelligence capabilities of this product will give us greater insight into member needs and behavior, allowing us to deliver targeted, higher-value services. We are currently live with the first phase of our financials implementation, and we're excited about the efficiencies this will bring to our operations.

Going forward, ASUG will surely have its hands full in terms of technological improvements and a burgeoning member dialog. We plan to monitor member satisfaction in various ways — through member engagement and overall renewal rates, for example.

Our members are ASUG's top priority — they're the common denominator in everything we do. If they're satisfied with the technology support they receive, then we're happy.

Craig Lathrop


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