SAP users' group picks CIO

Kaplan Professional's CTO picked to steer technology direction

The Americas' SAP Users' Group announced this week that Craig Lathrop will become the organization's CIO, effective Jan. 7.

In his new role, Lathrop is expected to oversee ASUG's technology strategy and identify opportunities to implement new member services, ASUG officials said.

Lathrop is chief technology offficer of Kaplan Professional, a learning and certification business unit of Kaplan Inc.

ASUG is a volunteer-run organization that supports end-users running SAP AG business software by providing access to educational materials and open contact with other SAP community members. The group's membership has climbed from 54,378 in 2005 to 66,631 in 2007.

SAP is a Walldorf, Germany-based provider of business application tools. The software vendor's core business suite includes enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, supply chain management, product lifecycle management and supplier relationship management software.

Ray Wang, principal analyst for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said Lathrop's appointment as CIO should push ASUG adoption of emerging forms of collaborative technology and software tools.

"When you think of the role of a user group like ASUG, their mission and charter is to create community among SAP's base," Wang said. "[Lathrop's role] could come as improvements in discussion groups, networking forums, member support and polling tools deployed to help identify [ASUG members'] needs, concerns and interests."

Wang said a challenge for Lathrop will be to maintain ASUG's independence from SAP while maintaining his members' clout to help drive product change and convey key areas of concern to the software maker. "There's a symbiotic relationship at stake. When interests are aligned, the [user] groups and the vendor thrive," remarked Wang.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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