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SAP Business Trends

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As commerce moves further away from transactional models, every marketer must confront the truth that consumers demand to be engaged. A recent Gallup study shows that “fully engaged customers” account for a 23 percent premium in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth. In contrast, disengaged customers account for a 13 percent discount.


And yet, customers demand such intimate, constant attention that the task of engaging with a high volume of them seems impossible.


Luckily, there are tools that can help businesses automate some of the more tedious aspects of relationship management and devote more attention to their bottom line. Email marketing has been one of the most effective of these tools, mainly because 91 percent of consumers still use email on a daily basis.

But it’s about more than wide reach.


Email campaigns work because they present a win-win scenario: The customer feels appreciated and engaged, and you spend less time and money keeping them focused on your brand. Email campaigns perform some of the same functions of traditional sales and marketing, but with more efficiency. Customizable, automated campaigns ensure the right emails go out at the right time to the right people. Intelligent reporting then delivers insight on important metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and time-spent reading.


There are many different kinds of content that marketers can use during the customer journey. Let’s take a look at a few common examples.


Welcome Emails/Confirmed Opt-In

These are the emails a customer receives when they initially subscribe or join a mailing list, which can happen in a variety of mediums (online, in-store, or in conjunction with a purchase). Research shows that welcome emails have a 50 percent average open rate, which means they’re highly effective compared to other forms of content. Marketers can also camouflage info solicitations in these confirmed opt-in emails.  I.e. “Thanks for signing up. Click here or login to complete your profile.” This works especially well with email service providers that integrate with customer relationship management software.


Drip Campaigns

The phrase “drip campaigns” originated from a clever intravenous simile. Drip campaigns “nurture” consumers with content as a hospital would nurture a patient with an IV drip. Except in the marketing context, the objective is to educate customers about products and keep your brand at the forefront of their mind. Hospitals presumably have a different goal.


The emails are typically dispatched at regular intervals, such as once a week. On average, nurtured leads make 47 percent higher purchases than non-nurtured leads, because drip campaigns build a rapport with each consumer over an extended period of time. Drip campaigns can also be targeted based on user behavior, like interaction on your webpage.


Surveys and Feedback

Many organizations like to send emails out after a customer makes a purchase or uses one of their services. If you’ve ever rented a U-Haul truck or stayed at a hotel booked through a travel site, you’ve been a part of this. The dual value of these emails is easy to see: the customer gets an opportunity to voice their opinion (with a review), and you get an opportunity to gauge your business’s success and make improvements.

Abandoned Shopping Carts

No, not like the abandoned carts in a parking lot. We’re talking about the kind customers leave on your website when they select a product, but then leave the site without purchasing it. Such actions shouldn’t be dismissed - these scenarios are actually golden opportunities for future sales.


An abandoned cart can be a trigger for an email inviting the customer back, perhaps even offering a special discount as an incentive. Many big name ecommerce sites are already doing this and seeing magnificent results (like Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys R Us, and Bass Pro Shops). If that doesn’t work, send a second email. Second abandoned cart reminders lead to 54 percent more sales than first reminders.



Numerous companies now offer optional e-receipts, which are little works of marketing genius. The customer thinks, “Well, yes, it would be nice to get my receipt digitally. That way I won’t lose it/have to carry it in the bag,” etc. And voila, you have their email address.


Once you have an address, don’t let it go to waste. Design your e-receipts to deliver transaction records, but also carry content suggesting similar products or services the customer might be interested in. E-receipts with up-sell suggestions have higher click-through rates than any other kind of e-receipt.


How to Win with Email Campaigns

Now that you have a better understanding of email marketing’s power, here are some basic tips for making your next campaign a successful one:

  • Personalize emails improve click-through rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent.
  • Let recipients choose their delivery preferences. Only 35 percent of marketers ask their customers how often they would like to be contacted, and the top reason people unsubscribe is because they receive too many emails.
  • Use data and analytics tools to contextualize content based on behavior. For example, 58 percent of people check their email first thing in the morning, and 51 percent of all email is now read on mobile devices.
  • Think outside of the box. Some marketers have turned to alternative email strategies, such as deliberately making emails less visual (sans graphic design) in order to make them stand out and boost clicks. Be creative, and don’t let your email become a “mark-as-spam” victim.


Email campaigns have a lot working in their favor when it comes to managing relationships. They execute communication goals using reliable automation; offer customers responsive, varied content tailored to sales funnel position; and return specific, valuable insights to your business. Your sales and service reps can spend less time fiddling around with minutiae and be better equipped to handle the sales opportunity when it finally comes. And it will come.


The Holy Grail of business transformation depends heavily on the ability to spot new ways of doing business, and on leveraging technology to execute them.

In the first of my 2 part series on Innovation, I talked about creating infinite capacity to innovate, and a partnership model that is helping SAP bring industry solutions to the market. The question is, how do we keep up with demand for new solutions that offer both industry-specific functionality, and a rock solid base technology?


In a new world of software development, successful innovation models will rely on an open platform upon which a community of developers can create their own – often niche - solutions. At SAP, we offer the base foundation on which specialist partners can build.


Focus on What You Do Best


For a provider of core business applications geared towards the healthcare industry, for example, it may not be cost effective to develop very specific solutions focused on individual areas of medicine. On the other hand, a team of oncologists would see great value in a solution that offered solid predictive analytics functionality for clinical trials. If a developer with the right medical and technical knowledge can build upon an established Analytics solution, the end product benefits from the best of both worlds – and reaches the market quickly.

Historically, this sort of collaborative work has been difficult for commercial reasons such as licensing, but also because opening access to a sharable platform presented significant technical challenges. The greatest barrier, however, has always been the ability to integrate. Not so long ago, interfaces would need to be created as a one-off, and companies would offer their own proprietary APIs for each individual scenario. It was a rigid, non-scalable model. The SAP HANA Cloud platform introduces the much needed flexibility to make this work. By extending the breadth of SAP’s business applications through an open platform, we invite developers with deep knowledge across their areas to create their own industry-specific solutions [Tweet this].


The Network of Networks

What if we took a whole range of business applications, already accessible through an open platform, and connected them to a global digital network of companies that can collaborate with each other? When we put all this together, we open the door for Innovation. We create a virtual network of partners able to integrate business processes, from Procurement with Ariba, to Travel & Expenses with Concur, to Talent Management with Success Factors.

I was asked this question recently: is SAP really going to allow developers to build on their platform? The answer is clear: That is our core strategy! Whilst we want to continue to innovate, and to create ever greater demand for SAP applications, we recognize we can’t do this alone [Tweet this].This is why SAP extends the HANA on Cloud platform to our 1.2M community of developers, so they have access to our applications and to our business network. They can work with our 260 thousand customers, and are free to build a niche market around their own expertise.


A Community of Innovators

At SAP, we have 13 thousand partners, and a variety of partnership models to suit different commercial requirements. We provide openness and choice for our partners to build their own solutions based on their unique expertise on top of our platforms, ranging from cloud computing, mobile, in-memory, database, and business analytics.


When we joined forces with Rolta  – a leading provider of operational support for a number of industries, including Utilities, Manufacturing, Financial Services - we integrated their industry solutions with our HANA and business analytics technology, resulting in a more powerful product for customers of both companies. Rolta has core expertise in domain content and powerful analytics for niche verticals. Their focus on IP-driven solutions, rather than pure-play services, is an ideal fit for SAP’s ecosystem strategy to help bring value to its customers worldwide. Here’s what Pankit Desai, President of Business Operations for EMEA at Rolta, had to say about the partnership with SAP: “We are very pleased to work with SAP to continuously innovate and provide feature-rich Rolta products to our customers. This partnership will enable customers, including SAP’s large existing customer base, to enhance their use of SAP technologies by exploiting the power of our state-of-the-art solutions.”

With InEight – a technology solution provider for project-driven companies in the O&G and mining industries – the integration with SAP HANA and the Analytics stack from SAP enriched their product with capabilities such as predictive maintenance and complete visualization of operations. Again, customers gain with a more powerful solution and integrated support.

I talked about Infinite Capacity before. The HANA Cloud platform, and SAP’s network of digitally connected companies truly opens up an unprecedented array of opportunities to innovate.

Steven Birdsall is senior vice president of Industry Cloud at SAP

Follow Steven: @sdbirdsall

Emeralds, topaz and aquamarine are among the gemstones mined in Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second most populous state located in the heart of the country. A hotbed for miners and gold diggers since the 17th century, in modern times the state has become one of the largest economic forces in Brazil doing a brisk business in mining, agriculture and manufacturing. The state employs over half a million people to manage its economy, infrastructure and social programs, and until recently, it was all done manually! No wonder it was hard to keep track of investments, processes and employee data.

Fernanda Neves, the state’s Undersecretary for Human Resources, believes technology innovation is necessary to provide transparency and drive efficiency. That’s why she is thrilled with the State’s decision to implement SAP HCM powered by SAP HANA. “We’ll now have a real time window into data and processes. We’ll also have the tools to support the three fundamental pillars needed for growth in our State: personnel development, more value for citizens, and more efficiency in government operations.”


Eloy Tertuliano, Account Executive at SAP Brazil, says this implementation puts Minas Gerais at the vanguard of innovation in the public sector. “Not only will citizens get customized services, but technology will help the government build credibility with accurate data and better insight into spending.”

I could care less if you read this blog.  Could-care-less-e1422278050329-150x82.jpg

If course, I'm being partly sarcastic and partly ironic when I write that.  Since words matter, language purists often point out the phrase 'I could care less' is illogical and even an "an ignorant debasement of language". If you don’t care about something at all, then you cannot care less than you already do. The grammatically proper phrase is "I couldn’t care less".

Check out UK comedian David Mitchell’s amusing rant on the topic:



Ben Zimmer, language columnist for The Wall Street Journal, writes that 'could care less' has become increasingly common in American speech over the last few decades. In fact, it’s estimated 'could care less' is used about five times more frequently than 'couldn’t care less'.

While I'm not a fan of bad grammar, this construct isn't unique.  I can think of two other phrases which mean the same thing both with and without the word 'not' in them:


You know diddlysquat.  You don't know diddlysquat.

I can hardly wait.  I can't hardly wait.

Some language etymologists suggest these phrases emerged in the U.S. during the 1950’s to express sarcasm in the style of Yiddish humor. They point to other phrases like 'I should be so lucky!' which really means 'I have no hope of being so lucky' and 'Tell me about it!' which means 'Don’t tell me about it, because I know all about it already'. My issue with this explanation is most people aren’t being sarcastic when they use the phrase 'I could care less'.

To me, the most plausible explanation comes from the
linguist John Lawler who suggests the phrase 'could care less' lost the word 'not' through a process he calls negation by association. The most well-known example of this process happened in French. The phrase 'je ne sais pas' (which means 'I do not know' in English) evolved into the current colloquial phrase 'je sais pas'. Even though the 'ne' ('not') is no longer there, the phrase didn’t change its meaning.

Is this really how it happened?  I know not but I couldn't care less.


This blog was originally posted on Manage by Walking Around on January 26, 2015.
Please follow me on
Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Augmented reality (AR) was originally conceived in the 1960s when mixed reality head-mounted displays projected images onto people’s eyes and simulated an environment, or enriched a real one, with digital information.276209_l_srgb_s_gl.jpg


Since then the technology has evolved, of course, but the concept is pretty much the same. Today’s AR systems combine real and virtual objects interactively and in real time as the objects are registered or aligned in a single environment.


AR is actually a mixed reality with the real and virtual elements combined on a virtuality continuum between the real world and one which is completely simulated or modeled through the use of a computer. On the continuum, one can also find augmented reality (such as a Google Glass computer that blends real and virtual environments) and augmented virtuality (think of a TV newscaster in front of a computer-generated scene).


From fighter planes to furniture catalogs…


Generally speaking, the value derived from AR technology in today’s world is through an enhanced user experience as static, physical media is replaced with dynamic, virtual ones.


Today, AR systems are used in navigation, military, and healthcare applications with great success. For instance, AR provides in-helmet displays of plane information for fighter pilots; it’s also used in Visual Target Acquisition System (VSAT) for a visual sight directly linked to a plane’s weapon system.


And although it’s a technology that didn’t catch on as quickly as expected, it’s a technology that is a bit more commonly used than people might expect. For instance, football fans in the United States who watch games on television can see brightly colored “first-down” lines overlaid on the playing field thanks to AR technology. AR is also used in instruction manuals that are enhanced with multimedia elements for more complex goods, such as cars and machines, helping everyday people with technical processes through a step-by-step approach.


Smartphones, tablets, wearables, and Internet of Things (IoT) apps are enabling this technology and bringing it closer to everyday users. The IKEA yearly catalog is a good example of this. The company is using AR to help customers understand whether a desired piece of furniture will fit into a designated room. Customers can put the catalog on the floor, point their smartphone with an AR app to a piece of furniture, and see what it would look in the room.


Emerging as a disruptive technology


The potential of AR, especially in combination with other technologies like IoT, can go far beyond user manuals and lines on a football field. In fact, companies around the world are now using AR solutions to gain a competitive edge where none existed before as they generate significant business value in innovative ways.


To learn more about augmented reality and how it’s already being used to gain a competitive advantage, read this in-depth overview in “Augmented Reality in Action” from 360° – the Business Transformation Journal. This informative case study shows how a small helicopter manufacturer is using this technology to offer what no other has in this industry as it challenges its multi-billion dollar competitors.


360° – the Business Transformation Journal is produced by the Business Transformation Academy, a thought leadership network devoted to providing cutting-edge insights on innovation and business transformation. For more business transformation articles on the SAP Community Network, please visit the 360° – the Business Transformation Journal library.

Baby formula has an image problem. And it’s been hotly debated around the world for decades.


Similac Marketing Video 01-28-2015-1.jpg
Unapologetic breastfeeding moms prepare to rumble with rival parenting sects in Similac’s “The Mother ‘Hood Official Video.”

Sales of baby formula in the U.S. have fallen alongside the nation’s birthrate -- and an upsurge in breastfeeding, according to Reuters. And the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until at least age 2.


So what’s an infant formula company to do?


Setting the Stage


For one, infant formula maker Similac hired New York-based advertising agency Publicis Kaplan Thaler to spearhead a digital marketing campaign, which included creation of a video designed to go viral. Released Jan. 17, “The Mother ‘Hood Official Video” has enjoyed almost 3 million views on YouTube.


It begins as a clever parody of motherhood stereotypes (yoga moms, working moms, even dads à la The Dudes in What to Expect When You’re Expecting), which embody real and often embattled sects of parenthood. A mom settles herself onto a warm, cozy park bench.


But the soundtrack quickly lets you know that nonthreatening trouble is afoot, as acolytes of incompatible child-rearing styles collide. Trash talk flies across a playground, escalating to a rumble on a scale of absurdity not seen since West Side Story.


On-screen tension and off-screen music reach a crescendo just before a neglected baby and her carriage begin rolling downhill. It’s a relatively benign homage to the Odessa Steps in the Soviet propaganda film Battleship Potemkin, and everyone is happy at the end of this one.


After the Curtain Falls


This is Similac’s savvy way of mitigating the backlash against formula. The company isn’t trying to win new customers as much as get people to stop demonizing its industry.


And it’s working!


Moms who don’t use formula -- at least the ones I’ve talked to -- haven’t changed their minds about how to feed their infants, but the video did leave them feeling better about Similac’s brand. What’s more, they hadn’t realized that they’d change their minds until I asked them about it!


Fathers have a stake in parenting, and they’re ready to defend it.

“This call for ‘no judgment’ is really about asking moms to lay off each other,” The Daddy Doctrines noted last week. “Dads, well, this isn’t about you.”


Too right: It’s about getting women to stop besmirching infant formula, especially Similac. And it doesn’t stop with the video.


“Why is it that the moment you become a mom, everyone has an opinion?” Similac’s Facebook page asked last week.


This question ironically fosters an us-versus-them mentality meant to draw mothers of all strips together against, presumably, everyone who isn’t a mother -- and who didn’t have an opinion before you gave birth.


“When it comes down to it, we’re all on the same side,” the video’s YouTube description states. “Help us put an end to the judgment by sharing this video with every parent you know.”


Yep, Similac is explicitly asking you to help make this video go viral. There’s even a hashtag, a judgment-free battle flag under which everyone can rally: #SisterhoodUnite


Welcome to the New Marketing


“[Customers] are more easily able to switch providers if their needs and expectations aren’t met,” Sian Smith noted on SAP Business Trends. “They are also more likely to communicate any dissatisfaction, which can quickly become a viral nightmare.”


The beauty of this video is that it insulates Similac from such scandal. The next time calamity befalls the infant formula industry, those who enjoyed this video will be less likely to lump Similac in with the bad actors.


“Create fewer, better materials,” Timo Elliott recommended to marketers this month via SAP Business Trends. “One piece of superior content will have far more reach in the new social era than a dozen pieces of me-too marketing mush.”


Similac has done one better, marketing far beyond the horizon of its customer base -- and demonstrating that Similac truly understands the new marketing landscape. This commercial -- and it is a commercial -- isn’t trying to coerce you into buying any if Similac’s products.


It’s selling Similac’s brand.


That’s it.


Best case scenario: You convert to buying the company’s baby formula. But at the very least, Similac hopes you walk away from this video with a better feeling about the company.


Similac’s plan seems to be working on this video’s viewers -- even if they aren’t aware of it.



Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher


More From SAP Business Trends:


Why Marketing Has a Branding Problem


The Top 5 Ways Sales / Marketing Can Leverage Business Networks


Great Marketing: What’s Maths Got To Do With It?

As technologies have emerged to make paying for things electronically more convenient, easy and secure, consumers are ditching their wallets and checkbooks in favor of mobile devices that now function as virtual payment portals. As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, digital payment services like Apple Pay are catching fire. And that’s setting off sparks in the business world.  Just as ApplePay is attempting to eliminate payment risk for consumers, new solutions are emerging to do the same for businesses. And innovative companies are slowly, but surely, embracing them to improve what remains a largely manual, error-prone and risky process.


Take Hayden Professional Services, Inc. As a provider of cell tower construction services, the 10-person company relies heavily on contractors. And it must pay them upfront, along with any fees associated with projects such as permits and inspections. With millions of dollars often in play, visibility into the timing and amount of payments from customers is critical.


“We need to be able to see what’s pending and when money is going to be deposited in order to move forward,” says Lisa MacPherson, the company’s Office Manager. “But typically, we would just get a notification that an invoice had been paid.”

As a result, MacPherson would spend the majority of her time trying to figure out which invoices were outstanding and why – a process she said could often take up to a year.


All of this changed, however, when a major customer began using AribaPay. Delivered via a business network, the service provides a secure and accurate way for businesses to exchange payments electronically.  And similar to the manner in which Apple Pay drives security by not just removing the swipe from the point of sale, but the card number and security code altogether, AribaPay substitutes a non-sensitive proxy number at time of payment so that companies can complete the procure-to-pay process faster, easier, and with greater transparency and security than ever before. 


MacPherson no longer has to guess when invoices will be paid or why there may be a delay. A detailed payment schedule provides her with a clear view into the status and outlines any action that may be needed to move things along. And, when an invoice has been paid, MacPherson is not only automatically notified, but receives detailed data that shows what a payment represents at the invoice and line-item level, fueling faster, more accurate reconciliation.


Hayden Professional Services is now seeing payments in 45 to 90 days now as opposed to five to six months. And this, says MacPherson, is helping the company to fuel growth. “The time we used to spend chasing after things can now be put toward getting new projects executed.”


Emerging payment technologies are certainly disruptive. But disruption fuels innovation. And innovation drives advantage. Companies who ditch their manual ways in favor of automated solutions will see less paper. They will suffer less risk and put less effort into managing bank account information and related data. They will uncover and resolve disputes faster, monitor on-going payments better and lower their processing costs and fraud risk.  And – as Hayden Professional Services can attest - transform their business in the process.


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I still don't see profound differences between Millennials and, well, other people. But to fully integrate them into the workplace we’re going to have to get over a major hurdle. American executives often misperceive millennials on issues of engagement and career development. In Oxford Economics’ Workforce 2020 survey, 51 percent of American executives said the influx of millennials was already having an effect on their workplace strategy, but missed the boat in terms of a couple of key questions.

• Asked if millennials are frustrated with manager quality:   

60% of American executives surveyed said yes, while 18% of the millennials surveyed said yes.

• Asked if millennials might consider leaving their jobs due to a lack of learning and development:

62% of American executive surveyed said yes, while 31% of millennials said yes.

The gap reflects perception versus reality, and here’s the rub: Executives, though clearly concerned with engaging and retaining millennials, are misunderstanding the emphasis millennials place on guidance and workplace education (or really, more like the negative reactions millennials might have to poor guidance and a lack of workplace education).  Yet decisions are already being made on how to shift workplace strategy for this new generation. Not so easy to shift strategic direction if your compass is off, right?

Since we’re going to have to bring millennials into the company fray, and position them to rise into managerial and leadership roles, it’s a matter of employee development. So, a few practical suggestions:

Frequent feedback. Not unlike the rest of us, millennials also value frequent feedback. But they may not know enough about the company structure to initiate the conversation. Create ongoing check-ins with managers on everything: skills, performance, goals. Keep the conversation connected and hands-on, and mix it up from casual to more formal. 

Embed company culture. Also not unlike the rest of us, millennials want to be in on the company culture and mission, and want to glean a sense of meaning from their work. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review identified training and development organized around company goals as key driver of employee engagement. Embed company culture goals and values into learning and development components so employees can more quickly and closely connect to them and derive meaning from learning as well as working. Given the rapidity with which millennials communicate, network, and, well, get it, you can’t do this fast enough. 

Offer flexible learning platforms. Operating terms here for any career development software: on-demand. Mobile. Social. Cloud based. Customizable show each employee can work at their own speed, but with plenty of team-building opportunities and group learning components as well. And get those metrics and analytics in: invaluable data to be gleaned here.

Encourage reverse mentoring. Giving millennial employees opportunities to coach their older colleagues on tech skills is a win for everyone, a great way to engage younger employees, get them invested in outcomes, and make them feel valued; it’s a super team builder as well. You’re turning the biggest practical difference between the generations from a perceived minus into a clear plus.

The bottom line? Fear not the millennial, for they are part of the present and future of your company. The sooner you can align learning and career development with their values and capitalize on their strengths, the better you’ll inspire their engagement, performance, and loyalty. You can thank me later.

photo credit: Waag Society via IM Creator cc

Even though the Common Core State Standards Initiative was meant to strengthen the U.S. education system by ensuring “all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live”, sadly, it appears to be having the opposite effect. The problem? All kids learn and test differently and it’s impossible to capture the myriad needs and nuances of learning under the framework of a “common” set of teaching standards – especially for kids with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). What’s a frustrated parent to do?

common.jpgEmpty PARCCing lot


The upcoming PARCC exams seem to be piling on the frustration. Aligned with Common Core standards, PARCC has become a lightning rod for controversy by confusing kids (and parents) and as a result, many states have refused to participate in the PARCC exams. Of the dwindling support remaining, an opt-out movement is gaining momentum amidst controversy over corporate ties to Common Core - which begs the question: Who’s really in charge of education in the U.S.?


To its credit, PARCC has been very transparent about its testing procedures, encouraging people to participate in sample tests. But when educated parents struggle with many of the questions, it becomes obvious that “teaching to the test” isn’t the best tactic to make students more prepared to enter the workforce or attend college.

Learning from other industries

Establishing a common set of standards certainly makes sense – on paper at least – to establish credibility, competence and trust for a variety of different industries. SAP is on a continuous mission to improve its certification standards to ensure qualified individuals understand how to implement and operate its software.


According to Mary Bazemore, COO, SAP Education, establishing competency standards for SAP professionals requires input and validation from a wide variety of experienced resources, with the input being tied directly to a specific set of tasks expected to be performed by a given role. 


“We do not recommend using our certification test results as an exclusive standard for evaluating an individual’s capability, but as part of an overall evaluation of a candidate’s competency,” said Bazemore. “Evaluating a range of relevant criteria, including certifications, job experience and education has proven to be the most productive means of establishing standards that our ecosystem can use to determine an individual’s overall competence.”


What are your thoughts? Can Common Core learn from other industries to improve testing procedures?

What are the significant challenges facing today’s oil and gas industry? At this year’s Best Practices for Oil and Gas conference in Houston, CITGO Petroleum’s Joe Carroll had a ready response.275867_l_srgb_s_gl.jpg


“One of the issues we hear a lot about is the impact our domestic crude production is having on the transportation infrastructure,” said Carroll – who is manager of information technology applications at CITGO.


Carroll was right on point. The increase in oil and gas production due to the shale revolution in the United States has revealed inadequacies in the existing pipeline infrastructure and is putting significant pressure on other transportation systems such as the nation’s railways.


“How do we as an industry get our products from point A to point B, and do so as safely as possible without any kind of environmental impact?” asked Carroll.


The answer to that question will be important to consumers and oil and gas companies alike. CITGO, for example, has 48 petroleum product terminals located across the U. S. It is one of the largest suppliers of petrochemicals in the nation and has the capacity to refine more than 749,000 barrels of crude oil per day.


Taking a Closer Look

A 2014 report from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) described the transportation challenge in significant detail.


It found that roughly 2/3 of domestic energy supplies in the U. S. are transported through 2.5 million miles of pipeline. But most of this system of crude oil pipeline was constructed between the 1950s and 1970s. This infrastructure was designed primarily to move crude oil from the South to the North, and it was sized to accommodate the needs of the refining sector and demand centers of the time.


Today’s emerging crude oil production centers are in places like Texas and North Dakota. The study cites a 2013 industry publication that reports oil production in North Dakota alone exceeded pipeline capacity by about 300,000 barrels of oil per day.


This limited pipeline capacity has resulted in the increased use of other transportation options such as truck, barge, and – most especially – rail. The GAO reports that the number of crude oil carloads moved by rail rose by 2,400% from 2008 to 2012. And shipping by rail has raised its own safety concerns.


The Role of IT

Addressing today’s transportation needs – let alone tomorrow’s – will require sound decision making on the part of oil and gas executives. Their decisions must be based on a careful analysis of the best data available.


That sounds simple enough. But refining raw data into high-octane business insight requires the right kind infrastructure too. And here’s where another technology comes into play – namely, IT.


“We’re working really hard at CITGO to maximize the value of our business intelligence tools,” said Carroll. “Our vision has been to build a good solid core of data and empower our business users.”


At CITGO this means using business intelligence across the enterprise, from the supply organization to the lubricants group. The idea is to help the business experts themselves perform the data analysis they need to make good, sound business decisions.


As Carroll sees it, “I think the challenge for IT organizations is really partnering with the various parts of the business, understanding their problems, and helping to come up with the right solutions – whether that’s energy management at a specific operating unit or finding better ways to move products.”


Not a Blip

Transportation is likely to be a growing challenge for the oil and gas industry.


According to a recent Forbes article, “the shale revolution is not just a temporary blip.” Shale gas production has grown 51% per year since 2007, making the U. S. the world’s largest natural gas producer. Oil production from shale deposits is growing even faster. The U.S. was averaging 8.7 million barrels per day of total crude oil production in September 2014. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects it will top 9.5 million barrels per day in 2015.


That’s a lot of product to move. And we all want it moved as safely as possible.


Join me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.

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A man who is fighting against complexity and working very hard to transform a community and whole ecosystem. Last year in FKOM2014, I have first seen him on the stage to listen the global knote. During 90 minutes, each and every word that he has told was shaped and distilled with passion, confidence, optimism, teamwork and kindness. He was telling that SAP will be a cloud company powered by HANA and users will enjoy new SAP with beautiful interface called Fiori.

When left the stage I felt very upset that it is finished. He is a great character that can make you flow to the target. Normally I know myself that I can not motivate easily. However, personally he transformed me into a HANA knight.


This year he was strong, confident, calm. And happy to announce S4HANA. He was very motivated and excited about CONCUR and opportunities beyond. Again he influenced all the people who has listened him.




Mr. Bill McDermott, he is a great leader and executive, this is obvious, numbers are telling this not me, but there is more that we have to get benefit from all the efforts that he is performing and sharing everywhere. Please make a quick search in google "simplification SAP" and you will find him.


He is not only transforming the company that he is leading but also transforming the whole ecosystem, market and every individual. This is really stressful and hard job. However he is doing this with passion, kindness, optimism, teamwork and discipline. Just watch this "From corner store to corner office: http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/going-from-corner-store-to-corner-office-371168323817". He is telling how to sell without actually trying to sell ! Also he shows how passion and vision works.



Also @winnersDream is a good account to get benefit from his experiences. Also must read the Winners Dream.


Finally please do not take him as the CEO of SAP, he is more than this. He is a great leader who can help you when you feel yourself tired or hopeless, just read him, listen him before retreat or give up.


Many thanks Mr. Bill McDermott that you are with us.




Sarhan. @beyanet_tr

Interested in how business networks are changing the face of B2B payments by integrating them intimately to the P2P process?  Come find out @TreasuryRisk webinar: Treasury & Risk Magazine - The Future of Finance Today


Join Drew Hofler, Director, Financial and Network Solutions Marketing, and Andrew Bartolini with Ardent Partners this Thursday, January 29th to learn more.

Organizations looking to better compete in a networked economy are paying more attention to electronic payments.

According to research from Ardent Partners, nearly 60% of all business payments today are electronic. Moving forward, this will only accelerate, as electronic payments become a logical extension of business process improvements that are dramatically reshaping procure to pay operations.


In its report, “Emerging Strategies and Best-in-Class Performance in B2B Payments,” Ardent Partners identified key factors driving organizations to consider or expand electronic payment programs as part of an AP automation initiative. Here’s a simple way to remember them: S-A-V-E N-O-W.


S for Speed. Electronic payments eliminate the lag time associated with the printing, handling, and mailing of a paper check, and still let you control the timing of payment.  When used in conjunction with an electronic invoice process, the reduction in cycle time from processing an invoice and making the payment is dramatic: from weeks or months to days.


A for Accuracy. According to Ardent Partner survey results, 23% of respondents stated that e-payments offer a much higher level of accuracy on amounts being paid, while reducing the number of late payments, overpayments, duplicate payments, errors, and discrepancies.


V for Visibility. With visibility into the status of an electronic payment, suppliers can improve their cash flow forecasting, while eliminating the need to call their customers about payment status.


E for Efficiency. By moving off paper checks to e-payments, organizations extend the efficiency gains from PO and invoice automation to the last step in the procure to pay process. Most importantly, this includes delivery of line-level remittance advice to suppliers with an electronic payment for faster reconciliation.


N for Network. The collaborative potential of a business network is changing the perception of accounts payable from a tactical organization that pays the bills to a more strategic business partner, one that helps procurement enforce compliance and supports treasury in managing cash better.


O for Order to Pay.  Next generation electronic payment solutions go far beyond vanilla Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments, allowing you to marry electronic payments with pre-payment transaction documents such as purchase orders, contracts, and invoices.

W for Working capital impact. Electronic payments support early payment discount programs that maintain or extend Days Payable Outstanding (DPO), while offering suppliers a valuable source of liquidity as needed.


Here, I’ve just scratched the surface of the impact of business payments in a networked economy. For more information on this topic, check out the webinar on Thursday, January 29, hosted by Treasury & Risk: B2B Payment in the Networked Age: How to link information and settlement to reduce risk & transform your payments process.

Brooks Brothers (939x300).png

Brooks Brothers has been in business for nearly 200 years. It’s a retail pioneer with a flair for innovation, and right now it has its sights set on one of the hottest trends in the industry – omnichannel.


Much has changed since Henry Sands Brooks opened his first store in New York City in 1818. The brand synonymous with well-dressed gentlemen now has lines for women and children and operates over 600 upscale retail stores and outlets around the world. Consumers have changed too. They are global, fast-moving, and have immediate access to anything they want in the palm of their hand.

To stay competitive in the retail and fashion industry of today, Brooks Brothers had to make some changes to its business operations and systems. “We need to continue to reinvent who we are, both from a product standpoint as well as customer experience,” says Sahal Laher, executive VP and CIO at Brooks Brothers. To do that the company required innovative technology.

Consumers demand a simple and seamless purchasing experience across channels, and Brooks Brothers needs access to customer and purchase history data in real time.  “In a growing, global, omnichannel world, we found it challenging to fulfill customer expectations with a set of aging technologies,” says Laher. The business required a global supply chain system that would eliminate data silos and provide full visibility across all its markets.

To get where it needed to be, the company kicked off a program called Brooks Brothers Global Transformation. The project team identified gaps in the company’s technology footprint, determined the system requirements needed to grow as a global retailer, and selected SAP software as the solution.  “We selected SAP to have a global, scalable system from an innovative partner with a strong background in fashion and retail,” says Laher.



Brooks Brothers began its transformation by implementing the SAP Apparel and Footwear application. This was the first step to gaining control of its global supply chain. “The key process benefit that we’ve realized with SAP so far is better visibility into our inventory and our financials,” says Laher. That’s critical for a fashion retailer because inventory management is the central nervous system of the business. To offer an omnichannel experience, inventory must be accessible from any location close to the customer at any time. “We cannot go to market with a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Laher.

Brooks Brothers is also implementing the SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) and SAP Customer Activity Repository applications. These systems will provide a 360-degre view of customers worldwide. The company prides itself on fine quality and personal service, but every customer is different and Brooks Brothers has a large assortment with thousands of stock-keeping units. “SAP helps us simplify our customer experience by giving us a universal customer master database, which allows us to understand our customer, their purchase history, and their preferences in a real-time manner,” says Laher.

The company is also excited about the SAP HANA platform and the new SAP Fashion Management application. “SAP HANA will power our customer master as well as our CRM system so we can go through large volumes of customer data and come out with personalized recommendations in near-real time, “says Laher. And SAP Fashion Management will enable Brooks Brothers to operate its wholesale, manufacturing, and retail business processes in one integrated system. “The ability to have all of those functions in one ERP system is extremely powerful for us,” says Laher.

The future for Brooks Brothers is built around becoming a true global omnichannel retailer. This requires a consistent set of capabilities and systems across all markets.  With SAP solutions in place, Brooks Brothers has better visibility not only into its supply chain, financials, and overall business, but also into its global customers.

You might also like:

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SAP is Good Business for Goodwill



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If we’re to believe the hype surrounding the Microsoft HoloLens, virtual reality may soon become integrated into our daily work routine.


Enabled by Windows 10, the HoloLens is a virtual reality PC headset that brings high-definition holograms to life in the real world, where they integrate with physical places, spaces, and things. According to Microsoft, here’s how HoloLens will change how we work and learn:

With the ability to design and shape holograms, you’ll have a new medium to express your creativity, a more efficient way to teach and learn, and a more effective way to visualize your work and share ideas.


This means users can create their own holograms within the company’s "HoloStudio" and 3D print the finished result. While not commercially available yet, the HoloLens sounds impressive. Sure, fancy demos are often known to mask underlying deficiencies of a product before launch (I’m looking at you video game industry) but something tells me HoloLens means business.


For one, there’s the aforementioned hype, that truly is off-the-charts positive. But there’s also the fact that augmented reality has been making positive strides for a few years now, helping different industries run simple. I wrote about two of these real world examples recently at the SAP TechEd && d-code event in Las Vegas.




With SAP AR Warehouse, the user’s Google Glass is authenticated on the back end via a temporary QR code. Once authenticated, the user/picker might get their first task of the day beamed to their glasses. The system confirms the picker’s activities and the picker must answer “yes” or “no” via voice recognition before getting their next task.


The SAP Service Technician app (see video) was just as impressive. Simple directions with detailed 3D images hover right before your eyes, making maintenance a breeze. Can’t fix something? No problem, users can “Call An Expert” (who sees exactly what you see in the glasses) to help resolve the maintenance request.


Based on the early buzz of Microsoft’s HoloLens and augmented reality apps already being used in the enterprise, is it only a matter of time before this promising technology will change the face of the workplace?


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