I've also been researching past speeches from SAP senior management, readily available on the SDN and BPX networks, and yesterday's address by Hasso Plattner, Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, was the first from such a high level that devoted such a large portion to the business case for the Community approach, which lives online in the two networks.
Plattner's big announcement was the "New Idea," (okay, sometimes simple is best) in which he shared his personal observation that the "virtual is real"; that the most significant new technology today is the i-pod, and that the SDN and BPX communities are key to SAP's innovation strategy. He calls the interactivity with developers and customers the "permanent massage of ideas" - and credits these communities with a greater agility in product development as well as the growing ubiquity of NetWeaver.
Interesting, the potential for reducing additional costs of services was a throw-away in Plattner's speech; the real value to SAP in the Community networks was the platforms that they provide for business solution development.
Flash: I just finished an interview with Zia Yusuf, SAP Executive Vice President for Platform Ecosystem, and Mark Yolton, Vice President SAP Community Network, who confirmed that the stunning amount of attention given to the Networks in the speeches of Plattner, and Henning Kagermann today, is a first. Although when I asked Zia if the the next step is to let United Airlines advertise on the site, he laughed.