SAP is augmenting its University Alliances program with a new Web portal aimed at bringing more college students into the fold.
The site is organized into sections like "faculty club," "student union" and "library," which contain content like message boards, case studies, lectures and career resources.
It joins SAP's existing online communities, which include the SAP Developer Network (SDN) and the Business Process Expert (BPX) community, as well as one for its Business Objects division.
Prior to the portal, SAP had a "very limited" Web presence for its university program, and what was there was largely for professors, said Bob LoBue, vice president of global university alliances.
"We weren't reaching the students directly. Now we can," he said. The site will also help SAP reach students who aren't formally involved in the University Alliances program, which provides member schools with access to SAP software and training resources.
SAP is providing content for the site, but expects overall contributions to be "very balanced" between itself and community members, LoBue said.
The new portal ties into SAP's ongoing campaign to address a skills shortage the company had once pegged at about 50,000 people worldwide.
At least in terms of bodies, SAP has the problem licked, according to spokesman Andy Kendzie. "Right now, we believe we can meet demand in the markets and focus on delivering quality," he said in an e-mail. "We are still investing in areas like our University Alliance program and working with partners to develop quality skills."
SAP is no doubt particularly keen to increase the number of developers who work on NetWeaver, the SOA (service oriented architecture)-based platform that underlies its most up-to-date products, such as the recently announced Business Suite 7.
The consulting firm Foote Partners said in a recent report that pay for SAP NetWeaver portal skills grew 28.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.