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In my last Internet of Things (IoT) blog on SCN (with +18,900 views) I had talked about how SAP is helping companies Connect, Transform and Re-Imagine their businesses. Tennant Company (NYSE: TNX), a world leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world, has done exactly that, and with great success.

Tennant has co-innovated with SAP and a couple of our technology partners, to harness the power of IoT. Their CIO, Paul Wellman spoke about their IoT success at the recently concluded SAPPHIRE NOW conference in May and how they are driving competitive advantage in the marketplace today.

Tennant’s IoT strategy is focused on their higher end of product portfolio i.e. Commercial and Industrial machines as their B2B customers buy them in large numbers and need help managing these assets deployed at sites such as plants, warehouses, and retails stores, across North America. These floor cleaning machines represent significant investments for their customers and do need periodic service, maintenance, and lifecycle management.

Connected Machines to Big Data Insights to Value Creation

Tennant‘s R&D team has done a great job of innovating with machine control systems, telemetry, cellular modem, SIM card and firmware to successfully connect their fleet of ruggedized machines to device cloud and be able to communicate relevant data. Working with SAP and partners, this data from tens of thousands of machines and from multiple locations gets sent daily to SAP HANA platform for further advanced analytics and derive Big Data insights.



These derived insights are available to Tennant’s customers on “consumer-grade” and user friendly dashboards to help reduce their total cost of cleaning their work environments and drive better utilization of their industrial cleaning machines –

  • Machine Usage: Machine usage can vary dramatically from location to location within an enterprise and its sites. Having visibility of usage level e.g. at each retail store or warehouse location is hugely valuable for customers as having operational consistency across a fleet of machines equals direct labor savings.
  • Machine Location: Cleaning machines do go missing at customer sites and having the capability to track location of machines reduces lost/ stolen assets – and produce huge savings.
  • Machine Maintenance: Tennant’s customers are always interested in lowering their maintenance costs. To help with this objective Tennant has married the machine ID data with SAP ERP data (i.e. service order history) to provide a full view of maintenance costs.

Tennant’s IoT Value Proposition

Tennant’s IoT enabled fleet management solution is a win-win proposition - for their customers and for Tennant itself. Customers are able to lower their overall cost of cleaning and Tennant is able to drive better sales of aftermarket parts, be more effective with each of their service calls and importantly distinguish itself against its competition as they now can provide better customer experience and build customer loyalty.

Per Paul Wellman, Tennant is not stopping here. They have plans to add more exciting IoT capabilities in the areas of battery metrics, impact detection, maintenance diagnostics and usage by operator ID. They are also giving a lot of thought to new business models like “Cleaning as a Service”.

As you can see Tennant has a powerful IoT and Big Data story and I’d highly recommend you check out their presentation at SAPPHIRE NOW conference here.


Relentless Pursuit of Manufacturing Excellence

Manufacturer’s today need to fit into a new world that includes Big Data, IoT, cloud, mobility, social media, and omni-channel commerce. This is additive to their traditional challenges of designing and delivering world-class products and services. Some companies like Tennant are nailing it. Here's your opportunity to be equally bold - join us at Manufacturing Industries Forum in Chicago on June 23-25th and learn how you can re-imagine your business and do things you never thought possible on your journey to the Perfect Enterprise.



Additional Resources:



Neetin Datar leads Core Industries and IoT Marketing at SAP America. He has over 20 years of SAP and enterprise software experience. He is passionate about technology and its use by organizations to run simple. Follow him on Twitter @neetin_datar

People on Beach.png

The perfect storm of technology innovations is reshaping the future of business. The convergence of cloud (and commoditization of cloud), mobile (empowered users), Networks(connecting like never before) and big data act as a catalyst to empower individuals as employees, consumers, and as partners to increase their reach and relevance.


Cloud:  Precursor for Innovation

Cloud has been around for a while now. In fact, IDC predicts that worldwide spending on public IT cloud services is expected to reach $127
billion in 2018
. But the commoditization of cloud has allowed businesses to truly outsource their IT and workloads and trust that this deployment model will work for them. And, allows IT to align closer with the lines of business to focus on value creation, enabling them to do more and go faster.


Cloud users are realizing benefits in ways that impact the line of business directly via agility, simplicity, collaboration and innovation.” says Robert Mahowald, Program Vice President at IDC and leader of IDC’s SaaS & Cloud Services practice


On Wednesday, May 27th, IDC and SAP will reveal new insights on how companies are driving innovation into their business processes using mature cloud strategies. I’ll leave it to IDC to reveal key findings from their CloudView survey. But in anticipation of these findings, I wanted to share two compelling stories on how our customers are using cloud to engage with employees, customers, and partners in new ways; providing unique experiences to differentiate themselves, innovate, and grow.


What if you could…Accelerate the integration of newly acquired companies?

Ever wonder how the baked goods you indulge in reach the retail store where you purchase them? Aryzta is one of the largest frozen bakery companies in the world. The group has a leadership position in the specialty frozen bakery sector and is a global supplier of baked goods to the foodservice, retail and quick service restaurant sectors. Aryzta operates 60 bakeries and kitchens across Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand with products ranging from artisan breads, sweet baked goods to pizza’s, tarts and pies.

You can imagine how the importance of service delivery and business agility impact their success. A major strategy for Aryzta is growth through acquisitions. To integrate new companies more quickly, Aryzta needed a centralized, standardized, cloud-based HR system to help gain better insight and improve talent management. They had a variety of parallel HR systems, but SuccessFactors laid the foundation for them to build consistent workflows and integrate acquisitions quickly.


Watch Aryzta tell their story

What if you could…close a sale from a Tweet in two minutes?

Our world has certainly changed with the onset of social networks. What started as a social trend has transformed the way businesses engage their network of resources including employees, customers, suppliers, and partners. Those companies that can unleash their resources both within and outside the four walls of their organization can leverage an ecosystem that constantly creates new value.

Social business is becoming not just a B-to-C phenomenon, with nearly 60% of B-to-B companies saying that social business initiatives are positively impacting business outcomes.

But how do you manage and make sense of the massive amounts of dark data; bring it to light and make it available for analysis? Or, gain insights from the conversations taking place 24 x 7 about your organization?

Let’s take a look at Mohawk Industries. Mohawk is the world’s largest flooring company, with operations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.  The company is headquartered in Georgia and encompasses 32,000 employees. With Cloud, they can comprehensively engage their end consumers, channel partners and internal sales and marketing personnel to create a unique, unified and cherished experience for everyone involved. By simplifying Mohawk’s processes, SAP Cloud for Social has enabled Mohawk to easily monitor and engage with their customers to drive sales. 80% of deals that began by monitoring and directing social conversations closed. $8 million in revenue was driven from 14,000 leads found on social media. Mohawk even set a new record—2 minutes to close a sale initiated in response to a customer tweet.

These are just a couple of examples of how companies are creating business value using cloud.


NEW Insights from IDC

In late 2014, IDC conducted a global cloud benchmarking survey of more than 4,100 organizations of all sizes on a wide range of questions specific to vendor choices, transformation, spending decisions, and expected benefits of public, private, and hybrid cloud.

On Wednesday, May 27th, at 11a.m. ET, IDC and SAP will host a lively discussion on how companies are embracing cloud and optimizing their strategy to spark innovation and growth.

You won’t want to miss these groundbreaking insights. Register today!

What do war-predicting algorithms, sound-sculpted artwork, and obstacle-dodging drones all have in common?



The answer: Teens.

On May 16th TEDxTeen, presented by the We Are Family Foundation and powered by SAP, rocked New York City’s Scholastic Auditorium. Themed “Simply Irresistible,” the day of TEDx talks featured today’s youngest innovators using simple ideas to tackle the world’s most complex issues. Take Rebecca Dharmapalan, who at 16 took a camera through her hometown of Oakland to shine a light on the rampant, yet overlooked problem of child trafficking. Rebecca has won more than half a dozen film festival awards, bringing awareness to the fact that an estimated 100,000 children in the U.S. alone fall victim to sexual exploitation. Then there’s David Mace, who at 18 developed an algorithm to predict global atrocities, which he sold to the U.S. government. Today, David’s solution helps control more than $4 billion in international relief and improve more than 16 million lives each year.


Is your jaw still attached? 


If not, the good news is that through the daylong series of TED-style talks, viewed live in 153 countries, more than a dozen young trailblazers like Rebecca and David unveiled the nuts and bolts behind making the world run better and improving people’s lives – in a big way. While diverse, many paths shared six common steps:  


     1. “Figure out what’s important – to you.” – Ben Nemtin


From their parents’ garages in Canada, Ben and three friends wrote down a list of 100 things they wanted to do before dying: play ball with Obama, have a beer with Prince Harry, write a #1 New York Times Bestseller. For each task accomplished, they committed to help a stranger accomplish one of his or her goals. Today, they have inspired millions to believe anyone can do anything through their MTV show The Buried Life. Ben’s top recommendation? Know what’s truly vital, to you.


     2. “Start with the low-hanging fruit.” – Lauren Singer


100% of the trash Lauren has produced within the past three years can fit in a 16-ounce jar. On top of having sent zero trash to a landfill since 2012, Lauren has empowered millions to produce less waste by creating the Zero Waste blog, Trash is for Tossers, and an organic cleaning product company, The Simply Co. What may seem like an impossible lifestyle began by simply starting with what was easy, like shopping at farmers’ markets with Lauren’s own reusable bags and containers.


     3. “Look around. Think about how things work.” – Mihir Garimella


In order to create low-cost flying robots for search and rescue, Mihir has drawn inspiration from nature. By studying the basic behaviors and underlying mechanics of bacteria and fruit flies, Mihir has created Flybots, which can dodge collapsing ceilings and detect the source of fire in a burning building.


     4. “Get obsessed.” – Dave Fontenot 


Donned in University of Michigan pajama pants onstage, Dave discussed dropping out of college and AirBnB-ing for nearly a year and a half to devote his life to spreading the hackathon movement. Dave created MHacks, the largest hackathon in the world. His top advice: take a day, a weekend, or however long you need to get obsessed with a simply irresistible idea.


     5. “Use your left and right brain.” – Rachel Fox


She’s one part rock star, one part actress, and one part…day trader? Rachel Fox is the next Warren Buffett, who at 16 years old made headlines for Fox on Stocks. She is living proof that the common paradox of “left- vs. right-brain” is a false one – if anything, the common phrase should be “left- and right-brain.” Assuming you’ve got both, use ‘em!


     6. “Simply be You.” – Monique Coleman


The first and only United Nations Youth Champion, Monique is most widely known as one of Disney’s High School Musical stars. As the host of this year’s TEDxTeen in New York City, Monique closed the event with the conjecture that what the world needs most is for all people to simply be themselves.


Check out the full reel of TEDxTeen talks here. The SAP team congratulates all speakers and performers, as well as the winners of The Next Big Thing video competition: Kelvin Doe, Taylor DeVos, and Teagan Steadman. Keep in engaged with #SAPYouth!

This year Gordon Moore’s venerable law turns 50, a milestone that carries a powerful inflection point. We’re now at the knee of digital technology’s exponential growth curve, where from now on, advances will race ahead of our ability to make sense of them.Earth-Outer-Space-SAP-274115_l_srgb_s_gl

Here’s a fun thought experiment: Imagine walking 30 steps from where you are right now.  How far you’ve traveled isn’t difficult to figure, right? Thirty steps take you about 30 meters. Now do it again, but this time make each step twice the distance as the previous one… 1 meter, then 2 meters, then 4, 8, 16, and so on. How far will have you traveled? 10 kilometers? 100? 1,000?

Not even close.  This journey will cover 1,073,742 km, or 26 times around the earth.

Amazed? You’re not alone. While this illustrates the extraordinary power of exponential growth, it also highlights the trouble we have getting our heads around it.

That’s how it is with digital technologies. Processor speed, data storage, bandwidth, sensors and connected devices are leaping ahead exponentially, upending everything we thought we knew about how to best run our businesses and our lives.  But we’re handicapped.  Until recently our world has been one of small numbers that grew little over generations. Indeed, while technology advances faster than ever, upgrades to the human brain still take millennia.

Consider these facts:

  • This year Airbnb will become the largest hotel chain in the world (after launching in 2008), with more than 850,000 rooms, and without owning any hotels.
  • From 2012 to 2014, Uber consumed a whopping 65% of San Francisco’s taxi business.
  • Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics put 47% of U.S. employment (over 60 million jobs) at high risk of being replaced in the next decade.
  • 10 million new autonomous vehicles per year may be entering U.S. highways by 2030.
  • Today’s sensors are 1 billion times better (1000x lighter, 1000x cheaper and 1000x the resolution) than only 40 years ago. By 2030, 100 trillion sensors could be operational worldwide.
  • The cost of DNA sequencing dropped precipitously (from $1B to $5K) in only 15 years. By 2020 it could be $0.01.
  • In 2000, it took $5,000,000 to launch an Internet startup. Today the cost is less than $5,000.

With gains like this, it’s no wonder futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted that progress in this century could be of equal magnitude to all such progress over the last 200 centuries.

The fundamental driver behind all this is the relentless digitization of everything. That’s because once something is digitized it can then be copied infinitely, perfectly every time, and made immediately available to everyone. It also can be offered nearly for free, because the marginal cost of a digital asset is essentially zero. These are the forces that ignite exponential growth and, as we’re seeing, the rapid disruption of business models, industries, and, well, practically everything.

Examples abound. Here are just a few:

Self-driving vehicles will dramatically change the driver and passenger experiences, increase productivity and safety, and reduce the need to own vehicles for personal use. The automobile, insurance, legal, and transportation industries will all feel the impact.

Bitcoin threatens to undermine the traditional roles played by banks and payment systems by providing a viable alternative to traditional currency and value transfer methods.

3D Printing promises to render product complexity essentially free, by bypassing the physical limits of how we make and ship things. This will fundamentally change the manufacturing and distribution industries.

Digital bio-fabrication and DNA sequencing will transform healthcare by greatly extending lifespans and making ultra-personalized medicine available to billions.

Organizational structure, the nature of work, and the limits of human performance will be rethought as leadership, management, and education are transformed to fit our digital age.

These are revolutionary developments for sure, but they’re baby steps compared to what’s on the way. Indeed, the opportunities for wealth creation are enormous, as is the potential to solve global issues like poverty, disease, illiteracy, and resource scarcity. The world’s biggest problems are also the world’s biggest business opportunities.

The SAP Futures Series will help you explore these digital disruptions and others, to provide foresight on the amazing possible futures being shaped by technology. The goal isn’t to predict particular outcomes, but rather to raise awareness and spark discussion around issues that will shape your future.Here are four questions to help you get started:

  1. What are your competitive advantages today, and how could exponential technologies disrupt them?
  2. What major challenges are you facing, and how might exponential technologies help you solve them?
  3. What products and services can be digitized over time? What opportunities does this create for you, and for your competitors?
  4. Which technologies hold the most promise, and what are you doing to investigate their potential?

Please share your comments, ideas, and suggestions, so we can integrate your thoughts in upcoming SAP Futures Series articles.

This article also appears on SAP Business Innovation.


Your IT department has seen better days. Your team members’ development concepts and methods are stuck somewhere in the last decade and you’re slowly starting to feel that your team only causes costs or tries to keep the lights on whilst drifting towards an unknown future. Indeed, you’re increasingly feeling an urge to break out of this stagnation, but you don’t know how to motivate your team to drive innovation. You’ve even heard about User Experience (UX) strategies but you’ve been wondering how to introduce them into your company in order to revive momentum and to pursue new goals.

Sound familiar to you? If so, come and get help by signing up for our new training course for IT managers!

Register here:

“Innovation and Success Through Design – How to Transform Your IT Department into a Profit-Generating Innovation Driver”

The training will be held in German and will take place at the SAP AppHaus in Heidelberg, Germany.


In this interactive 1-day training course, you will:

  • Learn how to set the right priorities for your UX topics and how to realize a UX roadmap based on value potential, reach, and user satisfaction within your company.
  • Gain a high-level overview of the methods you can apply to identify and leverage your innovation potential, including using HANA, IoT, and Big Data to support potential new business areas and processes.
  • Find out how to trigger a renewal of the user interfaces in your company in order to take the first steps towards a modern SAP Fiori environment.


Are You Looking for a Change?


This course will help you to change your IT organization in order to become more innovative and to see where and how innovative ideas can be created. Moreover, you will get to know methods with which you can create and realize your own UX strategy in order to bring your IT department into an active, leading position and to adapt to today’s changing boundary conditions.

As a final highlight, the training will close with an open discussion round in which you can exchange your questions and ideas with SAP leaders and experts from the Design & Co-Innovation Center.

Are You Interested?


We gladly welcome IT managers and project leads who deal with dissatisfied users and usability issues within their company. The requirements of this training are your willingness to replace traditional IT project management methods with agile, design-oriented methods to enable more innovative and user-centered development. Additionally, you should have a rough overview of the business processes in your systems and of your company’s usability challenges in order to actively take part in the session.

We are looking forward to a day full of insights and enriching conversations with you!

legitimescn.jpgWhen I first spoke with the educators at BTECH during SAPPHIRE NOW one year ago, the doors hadn’t opened to the first freshman class slated to begin high school last fall. Fast forward almost 12 months later, and 110 students are on the verge of completing year one of six at this innovative high school, graduating with two important credentials – a high school diploma and an associate degree in computer information systems or internet technology, all for free.


I’ve written previously about this public/private partnership between SAP, the New York City Department of Education, Queensborough Community College and the Early College Initiative at the City University of New York. When I found out that some students, teachers and administrators were attending this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW event, it was the ideal time to get caught up. You can read about my interview with the students here.


Combining high school and college experiences

Ashley Legitime, Academic Student Support Program Manager at Queensborough Community College, was happy to answer my questions, coming fresh off BTECH’s positive first-year quality review. Legitime’s role encompasses much more than standard high school advisory positions. Everyone has to be super organized to guide students through a curriculum jam packed with a wealth of non-traditional but incredibly immersive learning activities. These include events on college campuses, mentoring and internships at SAP offices, and a dual high school and college curriculum focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

“I’m setting up courses, working closely with students to monitor their progress, and working with the high school to make sure students are also working on soft skills like networking, branding and presenting themselves,” said Legitime. “I’m also working with them on visits to SAP offices and the Queensborough Community College.”

Unlike typical high school educators, BTECH teachers have to prepare students for dual purposes: gaining a college experience as well as meeting New York state high school exam requirements. The team found an answer with focused learning segments. “The high school teachers were concerned about trying to do everything so we categorized the curriculum,” said Legitime. “Everyone doesn’t have to do everything.”


BTECH is located in the Martin Van Buren High School where students have their own gym, cafeteria, classrooms and hall spaces that are separate from the rest of the population. They also have different hours and a longer school day. In fact, the only complaint from students has been the travel distance. Eighty percent commute up to one hour and 45 minutes for the 8:30 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. school day. Legitime, (and the students I talked with), said the time spent on the road is well worth it.


Lessons Learned

Looking back on this year’s accomplishments, Legitime said the administration may rethink the timing of the mentoring component with SAP volunteers, moving it to the third year as opposed to the first.

“Maybe because they have so many new things to do the first year, one-on-one mentoring is more valuable when they’re juniors looking for internships and preparing for college course work. We might bring in SAP volunteers as group mentors for the first year students, helping them work on projects as they get acclimated.”

Keeping students engaged

Preparations are already underway for next fall’s freshman class with more classrooms and teachers. Incoming freshman and tenth graders will attend a summer immersion program at Queensborough Community College focused on reading, writing and research.

“We want to keep the students engaged and excite them with some new information while introducing them to the college-level learning experience,” said Legitime. “We’re thinking of a group competition where students work with professors and each other to pitch a product or app that uses technology such as social media or web design.”

While freshman and sophomores will attend different classes during the summer and school year, the idea is to provide a peer mentoring relationship so they know someone when they first walk through the doors to high school. Most important, with the equivalent of two years of college when they graduate, these students will have a head start on a career when they walk out of those same doors.


Follow me @smgaler


Related Content:

BTECH Student SAP Sapphire Trip

So...What do you want to be when you grow up?

8 reasons to send your child to a 6-year high school

Dame Ellen MacArthur and her foundation colleagues visited the Bay Area, and I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop with them.


    Workshop slogan: 'We are called to be architects of the future,

     not its victims' [R.Buckminster Fuller]


Most people know Ellen as the fastest person ever to sail nonstop single-handed around the world in 71 days on her trimaran B&Q/Castorama back in 2005. Being out there with no sleep (she mentions the longest stretch of sleep on her trip was 3 hours max), where the closest humans around where the people in the manned space station above her, apparently had a lasting impact on her view on the topic of finite resources.



Translated into our world where

  • Elements such as gold, silver, indium, iridium, tungsten and many others vital for industry could be depleted within 5 to 50 years
  • Commodity prices overall rose by almost 150% from 2002 to 2010, erasing 
the real price declines of the last 100 years
  • Demand for commodities is expected to skyrocket by 30% to 80% by 2030

Ellen’s foundation drives the idea of ‘circular economies’.

The circular economy is a generic term for an industrial economy that is, by design or intention, restorative. Compared to using materials in our linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economy, the circular economy is much more than recycling. It looks at all the options across the chain to use ‘…as few resources as possible in the first place, keep resources in circulation for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products at the end of service life’ [Aron Cramer, BSR]


When asked, Ellen instantly lists great existing circular economy examples and mindsets like

  • Rolls-Royce
    • Known for the ‘power by the hour’ service model, Rolls-Royce moved from selling plane engines to just selling the thrust from the engine as a service. Still owning the engine enables Rolls-Royce to re-use engines and parts much more effectively than individual plane operators could do
  • Caterpillar
    • Able to offer customers significantly lower prices on remanufactured parts when compared to their new products while tested to the same standards as new products, and are sold with the same warranty
  • Disney
    • Turning organic waste into energy, which is known as anaerobic digestion; turns out to be a great way to extract value from food scraps and treated sewage that would otherwise wind up in a landfill.
  • Novelis
    • Recycling more than 50 billion used beverage cans in 2014 and continues to be the world's largest supplier of aluminum beverage can sheet, now made with some of the highest levels of recycled content.
  • And many more…..


One thing is clear for Ellen. If we remain in our ‘business as usual’ mode, price volatility will continue to surge, alongside the probable inflation of key commodities.

Today the automotive industry consumes about 15% to 20% of the global steel production, in 2004 the price of steel rose 60% in one year and did not significantly decline until 2008. Without circular economics sudden exposure to price fluctuations is a permanent condition of doing businesses. Business leaders need to search for better ways to avoid these risks, and need to move to industrial models that decouple revenues from raw material input.

Recent research by the Ellen MacArthur foundation & McKinsey claims a $630 billion savings business opportunity in the European Union alone by moving to a circular economy. Other estimates predict that a transition to a circular economy is estimated to provide $1 trillion globally in annual savings by 2025. It contains solutions for recycling, re-manufacturing, take-back and reuse.


In our discussion I took 3 main take-aways for the path forward:

  • New research on circularity indicators just published
    • Looking at the BoM (bill-of-material) hierarchy is essential  - it allows the analysis of additional risk indicators that reflect critical material supply risks (abundance risk, environmental country risk, sourcing and geopolitical risk, and monopoly of supply), while still respect existing key performance indicators like compliance (e.g. REACH, RoHS, etc.), carbon footprint, price variation and supply chain risks.
  • A circular economy starts with ‘beginning of pipe’, where the decisions have to be made during the sourcing and design process
    • Product design and proper sourcing for circularity is a critical - ensuring the usage of re-usable and pure materials is a key
  • Internet of Things(IoT) is a pre-requisite  
    • Appropriate levels of asset tracking are required to maximize the value manufacturers, their customers, and/or third party providers can recover from products at the end of first and subsequent uses; IoT is an enabler of that --> see project Mainstream

It is already a given to many industry experts that we have to rethink how we use materials and limited resources to mitigate risks from material price volatility and material supply.

The circular economy is a global economic model that aims to decouple economic growth and development from the consumption of finite resources. In a circular economy you keep products’ components and the materials within them at their highest value and utility at all times. More and more companies see tremendous opportunity in this model, allowing them to capture additional value from their products and materials, while hedging against price volatility and resource limitations.

Building the circular economy will take time and will not happen overnight, but do we have a choice ?


    Me trying to explain to Ellen that men can sail too.....















While many businesses continue to experiment with delivering audience context over social media, a Toronto-area student has just offered another great example of the power that social media has to drive messaging, build community and engage support.


The campaign is called #LetUsCompete


A bit of background.


Right now, there’s a strike happening at a Toronto-area public school system. It’s been going on for a few weeks and has been getting lots of 'typical' media coverage. Yesterday, a single student wanted to change the conversation. She decided to create a voice for a large group of student athletes who have been deemed ‘unable to compete’ in the region's Track and Field championships, solely because of the strike. The student wants the media and all responsible people in the community to understand that many students had planned their post-secondary education on scholarships that they could earn via athletics, and ineligibility for the athletic championships would end the dreams of many as a result.


What could one high school student do?


The student created the #LetUsCompete twitter account to call out the unfair impact on students and used YouTube to create videos of student’s telling their stories.



Since starting the initiatives, many of the athletes and their supporters have started to tweet with it, share the videos, tell their stories. Traditional media has now got wind of the story and its gaining plenty of momentum (see photo below). As each hour goes by, more and more sympathizers are becoming aware of the story – and voicing their support of the students online (in fact, one Toronto media celebrity has offered to take the students to the event himself).




I'm sharing this because it's a great, inspiring story. But moreso, because there's lots to learn from what one student has done and executed with precision and purpose.


She has single handedly created a powerful community voice against intimidating rivals in the teacher’s union and the school board. It’s equally interesting to see how the latter have been stunned by the student’s ability to mobilize public opinion. She owns the community and public opinion now.


Most importantly, she has done what every organization wants to do for social media success: defined her goals, understood her target audience, refined her messaging and analyzed new opportunities as they emerged (partnerships, etc).


I hope you have a look and enjoy this story as well.

Just for fun: in an era of Big Data, what would be the best soundtrack? Here are my contenders:


1. The Police—Too Much Information


First and foremost, what defines Big Data? Well, it’s BIG (although there are are LOTS of other definitions). We have so much of it that we find it really hard to get our heads around it. These guys nailed it 34 years ago...

“Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane
Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane”


2. Big Data—Dangerous


I’ve worked in this industry for over 25 years, and I’m scared that Big Data can be used as a weapon. I'm not entirely sure what this video is about -- but it looks like bad news! (although I want the sneakers).

“Peepin’ through the floor, it’s like they know, It’s like they know I’m looking from the outside, And creeping to the door, it’s like they know


3. Kenneth Flamer—Big Data


If you’re a Big Data professional, this is your new theme song… It’s a great, catchy tune.

“Big Data ain’t mythology, it’s a reality…living the life with the means to discover big data in the internet of things”

big data by flamer.jpg



4. Rockwell—Somebody’s Watching Me


Data Privacy is important — please help!

“I feel like someone’s watching me… and I have no privacy”



5. The Police—Every Breath You Take


There’s a fine line between loving someone and being a Big Data stalker…

“Every breath you take, every move you make, I’m watching you…”



6. Dave Edmunds—Information


The number one use of data in music videos? Yup, more stalking…

“Information, that’s what I need, Some information”



7. Thomas Dolby—She Blinded Me With [Data?] Science


Big Data also means new technology — here’s how SAP HANA and Hadoop go together.

“She blinded me with science, And hit me with technology”



8. MC Frontalot—Power User


Another catchy song — who could imagine Big Data without Power Users? (aka Data Scientists)

“You’d think the computer was helping me do it so perfect sometimes.



9. Hüsker Dü—Data Control


These guys were screaming about the future way back in 1982. NSA and GCHQ, are you listening?

“At Data Control
They know everything about you
Keeping secrets is too hard
Your life is all recorded for you
In holes punched in computer cards”



10. Duran Duran–Too Much Information


Back to the bigness of Big Data (but I prefer Sting’s version)

“I hate to bite the hand that
Feeds me so much information
The Pressure’s on the screen
To sell you things that you don’t need
It’s too much information for me”



Which other cool Big Data tracks did I miss?


[This post first appeared on my Business Analytics Blog]

Ruud Willemsen

Sniffing or Partnering?

Posted by Ruud Willemsen May 20, 2015

I often run into organizations that start a new round of quotes for the automation of every process. Organizations are still approaching IT as a commodity. Is that a profitable approach? Or is it damaging in the long run?

At first glance, this form of cherry picking seems to be OK. Why would you not choose the most suitable and advantageous solution for every company process? It will probably provide savings in first instance. Yet many companies do not realize that they lose these savings in the long run.

Compare this situation to personal relationships. Will you choose to have several lovers? A partner to go to the movies with, another one to take out to dinner and a third one to take to the bar. Or will you choose a loved one who you will do everything with and with whom you will build a long term relationship?


On paper it sounds pretty cool to have many friends. But in reality it takes a lot more energy, time and money. Often those relationships remain superficial.


Sparring and Exchanging
That's how it's done in the business world as well. In the long run, permanent business partners are often the best choice. It benefits your continuity. A steady business partner knows your organization, the things you struggle with, the opportunities and pitfalls of your market. That knowledge and experience enables you to spar. This will most likely provide insights that separate suppliers would never have been able to offer.

High fragmentation of all processes is another danger of an ad hoc strategy. The software systems of different suppliers are not always compatible which creates a tiresome integration project. The integrated software of a single supplier offers a lot of added value. Often, integrated software features all kinds of smart features, which will allow a lot of processes to run very efficiently. In addition, the user experience is identical for every process. This will enable employees to utilize the tools quicker.


And finally, the costs. After a round of quotes you will most likely opt for the most affordable solution for that specific process. But will you also maintain an oversight of the possible long term savings if other processes have to be automated as well?


It’s good to take a critical look at your environment. Will you keep sniffing or will you partner up? Don’t let your company play the field, monogamy definitely has benefits in the long run!


This blog originally appeared in Dutch on http://blogs.sap.nl/ga-je-snuffelen-of-partneren/


Business has never been more complex, driven by a number of trends, including:

  • New sources of competition which are disrupting entire industries, whether it be technology upstarts or emerging market companies expanding into developed economies
  • An increasingly complex and uncertain regulatory environment
  • New sources of geopolitical risk
  • Increasing dependence on suppliers and customers
  • The unstoppable march of globalization


To compete, companies must rethink their approach to business.  Business as usual, even if one sharpens one’s pencils, is not enough.


Which makes the need for true business transformation all the more critical. Yet, I often cringe when I hear of another business “transformation” story.  The term is highly overused, frequently describing cases of marginal improvement.


I find this to be particularly true in cases of procurement transformation.  To truly help organizations thrive in today’s environment, procurement has to move far beyond its traditional spend management focus.  Procurement is uniquely positioned to drive transformative value, coordinating between the supply base and various internal functions.  Yet most procurement transformation stories fall far short of that.


That is why I am particularly excited about the plenary sessions at this year’s Ariba LIVE in Munich on 8-10 June.  The event theme is “The Future of Business Commerce” and business transformation figures prominently on mainstage.  The approaches taken are refreshing and the stories are of true transformation. 


  • Mark Gallagher, who held executive roles at various Formula One teams, will discuss how that industry radically (and quite successfully) transformed itself in the face of major regulatory developments that disrupted their traditional business model.  The lessons apply far beyond racing.
  • Pascal Delval, Groupe Auchan’s Indirect CPO & Managing Director, who has assumed P&L responsibility.  His views on the future of retail (the industry one could argue has been most upset in recent years), and how procurement must change to support it are highly insightful.
  • A.P. Moeller-Maersk Group.  Henrik Larsen, VP Group Procurement, will discuss the creative approaches taken in his department to truly challenge their traditional ways of doing business.  Given Maersk’s well known procurement excellence, this is a story worth hearing.
  • Nedbank Limited.  Shiraz Sarang, CPO, and Ian Fuller, Executive General Manager of Business Transformation, will discuss the cross-functional transformation underway at Nedbank and how they tackled each key element: People, Processes, and Technology.


Transformation is critical within procurement today.  Yet there is far too much use of the term and far too few success stories.  Ariba LIVE presents you with an opportunity to hear true success stories spanning diverse industries and regions.


Stay tuned to the latest news and conversations about Ariba LIVE by following the hashtag #AribaLIVE on Twitter.

SAP Supervisory Board member Margret Klein-Magar discusses Germany’s new gender quota law and calls for more diverse management teams.

German legislators have passed a new law that will require the country’s biggest publicly traded companies to appoint women to at least 30% of their supervisory board positions starting in 2016. If they fail to do so, the seats in question will remain empty. The 30% quota will affect SAP by 2019 at the latest, which is when the company’s next round of Supervisory Board elections will take place. Until then, there’s still room for improvement.


Margret, the new gender quota is on its way – where does SAP stand at the moment?

Margret Klein-Magar: Unfortunately, the proportion of women serving on the SAP Supervisory Board has continuously declined since I joined it in 2012. First it was four of 16 members, then four of 18, and now it’s three of 18. It’s a shame, as for me personally, the Supervisory Board’s diversity presents a lot of advantages; by that I also mean the various cultures, experiences, skills, and age groups we already have on the board. All these different points of view create the kind of positive tension that leads to creativity. In the end, it helps us make better decisions.

What are the next steps involved in implementing the quota?

The quota law won’t apply to SAP until 2019, which is when the company will elect its next Supervisory Board. In the meantime, we can only hope to see some movement among our shareholder representatives.

What’s your personal view of quota rules for supervisory or executive boards?

I’ve watched as the mere discussion of the gender quota has already changed how people think. That said, I’d still like to see us find the motivation and will to bring more diversity into the SAP Supervisory Board and Executive Board on our own. And I’m not just talking about the gender quota: Right now, we don’t have anyone on the Supervisory Board from Asia, which is an extremely important market for us. That’s something I think we really need to address. Why do you consider diverse management teams important in the first place? Diversity leads to more innovation, and let’s not forget that we only want our best people in these positions. Since half the population is female, basic statistics will tell you that we can’t have the best possible Supervisory Board if almost all of its members are men. On their way to the top, a lot of women fall through the cracks, so to speak. Societal reasons also play a role, of course.


What specific measures can we take in response? How can we make sure that women are able to reach the highest level?

The quota alone isn’t enough. Companies and policymakers can both do more to pave the way for increased diversity. Getting the people at the top to buy in is one really helpful way to start. I’ve gotten to know Hasso Plattner, for example, as a strong advocate for women on supervisory boards in particular, and in top management positions in general. Apart from that, a company can accomplish a great deal on the structural level to ensure that women have the opportunity to advance into executive management. We can work to guarantee objectivity in the way we select candidates for open positions, for instance. This also works in the interest of our male colleagues, because when certain people get preferential treatment, it puts men at a disadvantage, as well. All this notwithstanding, any woman who wants to take the next step in her career should be proactive about it.

Do you have any personal advice for women who have set their sights on a management position?


When I think of what’s helped me in my own personal situation, three things come to mind. At home, it’s important to share the non-work-related chores with your partner and not let other people paint you as an absentee mother. Secondly, choose a boss who supports your ambitions, but also demands your best. That might sound provocative, but it’s basically about not putting up with an unsatisfactory situation and making some changes yourself. The third and final thing is maybe the most important: networking.


As a woman, are there any specific concerns you try to promote, or does that not play a significant role in your work on the Supervisory Board?

Two things are especially important to me. One is the sustainable and long-term success of our company and all its employees; the other is our ability as a supervisory body to make realistic assessments. In my view, this means staying in touch with SAP’s employees, asking the right questions, and keeping our ears to the ground. I think it’s crucial that we avoid making decisions in an ivory tower, which is why I rely on a large network of contacts and other resources. Some studies have determined that this communicative and integrative approach – being able to listen, in other words – is more prevalent in women. I’ve also seen it in plenty of men, however.

The Supervisory Board of SAP SE is elected in Germany, but oversees the entire company all around the world. Does that really reflect the concept of diversity?

Fortunately, that’s not entirely the case anymore. We can now at least say that three of our nine employee representatives are elected by the company’s European works council. It’s too bad that the process still doesn’t include all of our employees worldwide. We’re working on it, however: Through the Spokespersons’ Committee for Senior Managers, we incorporate the perspectives of leaders at all of our locations around the world into the feedback we provide to the SAP Executive Board. In working with the employee representatives on the Supervisory Board, I’m also committed to expanding our communications in both directions to include the company’s entire global workforce. The process might be slow, but things are changing.



Margret Klein-Magar has been at SAP since 1991. As head of SAP Alumni Relations, she is responsible for assembling a network of former SAP employees that is set to launch in July. In addition to having represented the executives on the SAP Supervisory Board since 2012, she chairs the Spokespersons’ Committee for Senior Managers and coordinates SAP’s global executive network.

It’s a difficult time for sales people. Not because margins are tight or the economy is still recovering, but because the digital revolution has fundamentally and permanently changed sales as a discipline.


Today’s accessibility of information has shifted the balance of power to buyers, equipping them with much of the detail they need to make an informed purchasing decision before they even engage with a sales person. This means the opportunities of where and how sellers are able to add value to the process have also profoundly changed. And frankly, not everyone has kept pace. Many sales departments and individual salespeople don’t fully understand how to meet buyer expectations in this brave new world, or worse, are still approaching the sale with an outdated mind set.


For example, according to new independent research findings by Loudhouse commissioned by SAP, trust is now rated as the single most important factor when purchasing products or services from vendors – ranking ahead of both cost and experience. In fact, the pre-requisites of a closer working relationship with vendors in order of priority are now trust, experience, insight and then cost. Sales Image Facebook 1 Without Quote.jpg


And it seems buyers are not only becoming more informed, but also more risk-averse. Two thirds of buyers admit the sales process is taking longer as they take their time to evaluate more alternatives. The onus is therefore on sellers to tell buyers what they don’t already know, and to reassure them that they are spending their organisation’s time and budget appropriately.


This power shift away from sales in favour of buyers is not all doom and gloom for sales organisations.  Whilst the internet can empower and educate customers, there is no substitute for experience or human interaction. In this sense, technology should enhance and support an enterprise sale, rather than replace the sales process. The good news is that despite feeling harried by traditional sales approaches, research shows that buyers would, in fact, welcome a new form of dialogue based on relevant and meaningful engagement.


So how do you ensure your sales organisation keeps pace with buyer expectations and delivers an excellent sales experience? It’s not as hard as you might think. There are four key benchmarks to achieving sales success in our current digital era.


- The first is personalisation. Businesses must provide more relevant and appropriate content that demonstrates a full understanding of individual buyer needs while predicting their future needs. With the right tools in place this is easily achieved, but unfortunately is often overlooked in favour of old-fashioned, lowest common denominator approaches.


- The second is trust. As with all solid relationships, a successful partnership is built on the sound foundation of trust, transparency and integrity. This means the buyer feels that the seller has their best interests at heart to help them achieve their business objectives and delivers tangible value.


- The third is experience. Vendors must look to enhance the end-to-end customer experience by demonstrating relevant business acumen in the context of a customer’s requirements, delivered with speed, service consistency and seamlessness across channels.


- And finally, sellers must have insight. Business buyers are switching off the “carbon copy” sales patter often delivered by under-prepared and over enthusiastic salespeople. Instead, they expect bespoke, actionable and insightful solutions to address their business problems, and to work in partnership with vendors.


By effectively applying these four tenants to this new and more challenging sales environment, vendors can deliver a superior sales experience for buyers and stay ahead of the competition. B2B and B2C vendors may not want to change, and some may even consider doing so as an imposition. However, continuing to engage buyers in ways that are no longer wanted or make sense are not only counterproductive, they’re unsustainable.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Please leave your comments in the box below.

You can also download the report I mentioned in full here.

Kevin Kimber


Future Sales Banner.jpg

I recently returned from this year’s Ariba LIVE Las Vegas, and I’m still thinking about what a great experience it was. The fun and intensity of Las Vegas added to the high energy generated by the stellar speakers, record-level attendance, and nonstop networking as everyone focused on the exciting developments transforming collaborative commerce.


Being immersed in this flood of insights and ideas really brought home to me how far we’ve come—and how much we have to look forward to. The power of business networks is putting remarkable new tools in our hands not only to drive business success, but to make the world a better place. As I reflected on the show, three key trends stood out that underscore this idea:


1. Business networks are becoming mainstream, with adoption levels rapidly increasing across industries and geographies. And as many analysts note, this is one clear instance where a rising tide floats all boats. With more buyers and sellers making business networks a core part of their go-to-market strategy, the critical mass of participants continues to grow—which in turn creates more opportunities and higher value for everyone involved. In previous blogs, I’ve touched on some of these benefits, including:


Industry research backs this up. Andrew Bartels from Forrester described how business networks are evolving far beyond just document delivery to support buyer-seller collaboration on a wide range of activities, with higher spending on new technologies increasing resources and boosting engagement on both sides. Mike Fauscette of IDC pointed to business networks as the key platform for the next generation of business innovation—connecting companies with a broad ecosystem of customers, partners, and information so they can create market-leading solutions and gain the agility to predict and overcome competitive threats.

2. Sellers are experiencing exceptional success through Ariba Network, and their stories are inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. In session after session, sellers shared how they’re using Ariba to effect meaningful change within their organizations, communities, and markets—all while supercharging business growth. Smaller sellers in particular are raising the bar, adopting innovative approaches to overcome the odds and realize big wins. During a panel discussion about Ariba Discovery, we heard how:


    • Sam Crawford from Armed Forces Rehab and Renovations has transformed his small regional construction company into a major national competitor, fast-tracking progress on his dream of providing jobs for veterans in all 50 states.


    • Alexander Ashe of Spendology has dramatically expanded his company’s reach by pursuing “leap” opportunities that stretch Spendology’s vision, netting a 34% win rate and multiplying B2B revenue 25x.


    • Jonah Manning at PeopleOps has leveraged his company’s boutique-style sales and service in a whole new way, landing projects that have doubled revenue growth and opened the door to global business projects.


3. Corporate social responsibility is taking center stage. As concern escalates about threats to the environment, human rights, and social equality, more companies are proactively taking steps to become part of the solution. Reaching into every area of business—from supply chain management to fair labor practices to sustainable procurement and more—a growing number of corporate social responsibility initiatives are benefiting from alliances with nonprofits sharing the same goals. These collaborations can lead to new synergies that accelerate progress towards positive change.

This point is emphasized by Ariba’s partnership with Made in a Free World, a nonprofit focused on eradicating forced labor, human trafficking, and other forms of modern slavery. Together we’ll explore the vital role business networks can play in making things better—providing the transparency, predictive insights, and market tools and intelligence companies need to improve their social responsibility scorecard.


A lot of exciting things are happening through business networks, yet we’ve only scratched the surface—the possibilities are truly endless. We will be continuing this discussion at AribaLIVE Munich June 8-10, 2015.

I’ll also be blogging about these areas and more in the coming months, and I’m eager to hear your thoughts as well.

Every year, legions of start-ups come roaring out of the gates armed with plenty of energy, passion and commitment with an innovative new product that will take the world by storm. The harsh reality is that a staggering 90% of them fail. How can so many well-meaning entrepreneurs misread the market?


startup.jpgWhile the “fail fast and fail often” mentality means many will not give up after one failure, there must be ways to boost the success rate and spread the wealth of entrepreneurial success beyond the first attempt.


Three experts recently weighed in on the myriad challenges start-ups face – and how they can increase chances of success -- during a recent SAP Radio broadcast, “Innovation Evolution: Why Do So Many Start-ups Fail?”

Only the paranoid survive


The start-ups most likely to succeed have self- taught through different scenarios of failure, and have back-up plans in place, according to Suraj Sudji, of SAP’s Star-up Focus Program.


“It really makes a lot of sense for the founders to be paranoid in terms of what can go wrong, and how they can overcome it,” said Sudji. “And only by having that kind of an attitude, I think, a start-up can really succeed going forward.”


Sudji also cautions that start-ups shouldn’t worry so much about non-disclosure agreements (NDA) as “ideas are a dime a dozen” with the same idea usually being developed by ten different entities. As a result, success comes down to execution. Case in point: when Amazon started there were almost a dozen other companies doing exactly what Amazon was doing, yet only Amazon survived.

Protecting intellectual property


Professor Rajeev Srinvasan. Adjunct Professor at the India Institute of Management in Bangalore believes two issues plague start-ups: the ability to take a new idea to market and the ability to protect their intellectual property.


While the good professor agrees that NDA’s don’t carry a lot of weight, especially in the tech industry, start-ups should be mindful of what makes their product special and try to secure patents. Most companies at an early stage, even if they have a good idea, are too busy going to market and signing-up customers, said Srinvasan. If an idea is truly patentable or otherwise protectable by intellectual property, copyrights, trade secrets, geographic indications, trademarks are tactics to explore.


“You find that over time, they become extremely powerful because you’re able to prevent other people from coming in to your market,” said Srinvasan. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have your intellectual property become a standard, then you can simply force everybody else to buy a license from you, which is the very nice situation.”

Gotta have faith


Lakshman Pachineela Seshadri, Design Thinking and Lean Start-up Specialist at SAP believes in the Clay Christiansen school of thought: “Innovators need a heavy dose of faith.” They need to trust their intuition that they are working on a big idea and that faith need not be blind. Seshadri said the more start-ups analyze and research their idea, the more doubts are raised for themselves and their investors.


“The start-ups or innovators must have a heavy dose of faith that their ideas will work,” said Seshadri. “It should never become a situation of getting into analysis and paralysis. This is one of the stumbling blocks start-ups need to avoid.”


Listen to this SAP Radio broadcast in its entirety here and let’s start something on Twitter @TClark01.


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