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SAP Business Trends

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By Jenny Dearborn, Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer, SAP


Whether we’re talking about the corporate learning environment of today or 10 years from now, one truth will remain: The right experiential and continuous learning will deliver the sustained human capability businesses are seeking. Executives know thisand they want results now.

According to a recent global study[1] by Deloitte Consulting LLP and Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 59 percent of executives believe learning and development is an important part of business strategy. Yet according to new SAP research, only 47% of executives surveyed say their company has a culture of continuous learning (visit our Workforce of the Future Hub for more insights into the role of corporate learning and the future of work). We have our work cut out for us.


Here are three ways learning professionals can meet these challenges, now and in the future:


1) Demand for learning experiences—not just training activities


Several recent studies have shown that our cognitive machinery is fundamentally incompatible with conventional, one-way schooling. The traditional “one to many” approach to teaching and learning isn’t effective. The days when knowledge was considered a commodity to be delivered from teacher to student are over. Instead, knowledge emerges through curiosity-fueled exploration. Everyone must be a student, and a teacher.


Corporate learning executives are bringing this approach to the workforce, shifting the focus from activity-based learning to experiential learning. By integrating interactions, mentoring, coaching, action-based learning, shadow assignments, and access to educational resources into the learning program, corporate learning can help employees feel empowered, invested and engaged to the business.


2)   Proof of accountability and value through data-driven analytics


Traditionally, corporate learning relied on vanity metrics to demonstrate value. Specialists tracked the number of training hours conducted, programs offered, and employees trained at each session. But, these measurements didn’t indicate whether corporate learning had any impact on business objectives.


This approach is quickly becoming undesirable. Since they have ubiquitous access to information and limited time, employees are willing to invest their time, energy, and resources only if the learning program can bring true value to their work. For learning specialists, this means there’s little room for guesswork. Specialists can rationalize learning and predict how they can help advance strategic goals by understanding what information to collect, how to analyze it, and which methods can best communicate findings.


The need for analysis doesn’t end when training begins. Once the learning experience is complete, learning specialists should analyze the performance of their “students” to determine program effectiveness. If they haven’t realized the expected results, specialists should conduct further analysis to identify remaining gaps and map them to specific areas of the program to improve future learning opportunities.  This methodology is summarized in the chapter “Results-Based Evaluation: Keeping the End in Mind” in the recently published ASTD Handbook


3)   Integration of social and collaborative communities into learning programs


Employees of all generations are affected by technology—personally and professionally. Most of us even use social communities to communicate and consume information 24x7. By using this same technology, employees can obtain learning content, collaboration opportunities, and experiential programs that help them develop and grow their skills.


This is where a learning framework that includes social and collaborative communities becomes essential. For example, companies can create an intranet portal that provides employees with a wide range of high-quality, relevant, and engaging content; social learning opportunities; and live access to training systemsanytime, anywhere, and on any mobile device.


The stakes will be higher for corporate learning in 2024


Over the next 10 years, corporate learning will move beyond curriculum creation and design and toward lifelong learning. It will also become a hard-core science that requires number-crunching and a thorough understanding of the entire business. But more importantly, corporate learning will become a critical part of finding, engaging, and retaining talent.


As a result, professional development will be a top priority. By fostering a culture that values career-long learning, businesses can help employees believe that their talents and skills are well-used, motivating them learn more to improve performance. This feeling will become contagious, even spilling over into recruitment. Recruiters will seek out candidates who place a high value on learningseeing this quality as a good match with the overall corporate culture.


To all my fellow learning professionals: The future of your business rests squarely on your shoulders. Don’t fear this challenge; embrace it. This is your chance to uncover a generation of geniuses who will see your business as a place to go, grow, and innovate. And for your executives, that means a workforce that’s ready to outperform the competition.

To learn more about the workforce of the future and the importance of building a learning culture in your company, check out the great resources on our Workforce of the Future Hub.


Twitter is where I hang out: @DearbornJenny


[1] Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014. To download a complimentary report, visit: http://marketing.bersin.com/deloitte-global-human-capital-trends-2014.html

Stalin Mohan

The Innovation Express

Posted by Stalin Mohan Oct 31, 2014




A year ago the SAP India IT and Marketing teams came together to brainstorm on an innovative idea of bringing SAP products to the biggest market in India comprised of small and mid-size companies. The challenge was ‘to cover the vast geography of India’.



Post a small workshop with Marketing team, the idea of ‘The Innovation Express’ (literally a moving Bus) was conceptualized. The Innovation Express would be a first of its kind travelling showcase of advanced business solutions exclusively designed to help realize customers’ ambitions. But the biggest challenge that haunted IT was how to provide connectivity on this moving vehicle? The Innovation Express route was traversing through customer premises located in small towns and cities of where the telecom infrastructure wasn't very advanced.


The IT Team in India worked with various telecom vendors on the above idea. The concept of VSAT too was proposed, but budget was very limited, and IT team had to work on cost effective solutions. Based on these constraints, a solution combining various technologies like 4G/ 3G and CMDA was conceptualized to provide seamless data connectivity to SAP cloud.

Below is a detailed view of the Technology implementation on the Innovation Express:

  • Setting up the ecosystem of technology: a holistic network of technology that ensured all application in Innovation Express are available real-time for the customers
  • Secure it: Enforce company security policies (e.g. password encryption), conduct remote actions (e.g. lock, wipe, remove password), and identify required security systems that ensure protected environment for the solutions
  • Manage it: Ensure strong, continuous and reliable network for the technology to perform seamlessly without users impact, and optimize support with troubleshooting and hardware inventory


The above technology framework gave a new experience of SAP solution to customers across the length and breadth of India. It gave customers a chance to demystify cloud technology, experience its relevance for their business, see in action the power of visualization and real time data analysis, anytime, anywhere and also check how different business functions like Human Resources, Procurement etc. can benefit by using different SAP solutions.

The top 3 business drivers behind the genesis of The Innovation Express:

  • Position SAP as a SME solution provider: SAP solutions are perceived to cater to only big corporates or enterprise customers. In reality, SAP solutions are extremely relevant for SMEs. We want to reach out to SMEs through this initiative and position SAP as SME solution provider.


  • Coverage: India is a large country and taking SAP new innovations to those customers (especially outside metros) is a constant challenge. This program will approx. cover 12 cities and 5000 Km


  • Customer Experience: While many would have used or heard about SAP, they would not have seen or used the actual SAP solutions or the new SAP Innovations. This program allows customers to get the first-hand experience on a close proximity.


Besides providing connectivity on the Innovation Express, the IT team also provided support in building demo pods in the bus for indulging customer in live demos. The champions from IT team supporting this project were Praveen Shetty, Savio Cardoz and Prakesh M. They were ably guided by Anil Khatri in making The Innovation Express an on-road reality.
If you would like to know more information about “The Innovation Express”, please contact Shetty Praveen or visit: www.theinnovationexpress.com

Maybe you remember this Mercedes-AMG cameo appearance in the movie, Transforms Dark of the Moon.

Mercedes AMG.jpg

Driven by supermodel and actress, Rosie Huntington Whiteley, this equally attractive speed demon, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, transformed into mechanical giant, Soundwave the Decepticon.


Mercedes AMG, the performance division of Mercedes-Benz, creates some of the most sought-after vehicles in the world.  Each engine is hand built from start to finish with utmost craftsmanship, making the brand a staple for speed and high status.


High Performance. High Quality.


Priding itself for high-performance and gold-standard cars, Mercedes-AMG is careful to test each engine thoroughly. There’s just one problem.  Engine testing is a costly and data-intensive process. And while most engine failures occur within minutes, failed tests cannot be identified until the hour-long process is completed, wasting time and money.


Mercedes-AMG engineering employees expressed their strong desire for real-time data analytics to improve the engine production process, and recently, parent company, Daimler AG, decided to make it happen.


As a trial to determine potential companywide benefits, Mercedes-AMG piloted a real-time quality assurance platform, deployed by SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, that harnessed the Internet of Things and SAP Predictive Analysis software to optimize engine-testing processes when manufacturing its vehicles.


Now, an engine test showing unusual engine behavior can be stopped and ended at any time during the test procedure, and results are sent directly to engineers via tablets for faster resolution.


The Result

With its new system, testing run time on unsuccessful engines is 94% faster than before, and therefore Mercedes-AMG gained the equivalent of an extra day of testing capacity each week. Mercedes-AMG lowered internal costs, and engineers and customers alike are happier because now there is more time to focus on refining engine quality and vehicle customization.


In an interview with Forbes Insights, Dirk Zeller, head of IT Consulting at Mercedes-AMG, explained that this process “leads to more insights faster, as we compare more data and use complex analytics without losing time.”


Continued Growth

In the future, Reinhard Breyer, CIO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, explained that, “This breakthrough innovation is just the start.  Ultimately we want to monitor engine performance in customer vehicles.”


Watch below for full video interview:



After implementing this new simplified IT system, Mercedes-AMG experienced their most successful year in history, selling over 32,000 automobiles in 2013.


For more information about Mercedes-AMG and the full range of solutions provided by SAP, check out:


Forbes Insights Case Study


Mercedes-AMG Business Transformation Study


Video interview with Reinhard Breyer, CIO, Mercedes-AMG.




For more on IoT, part of the Networked Economy, click here.


Click here to learn how real time analytics can impact your business.



Let’s race.  Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

During Business Blueprinting of any SAP project, most of the time the implementation team and the client team of different SAP Process Modules needs to work together but it seldom happens. There will be always lot of meetings, discussions, workshops happening and many a time we tend to capture the outcome in some local text or word files later struggling to collate all of them. People tend to travel a lot especially if the client team is spread in multiple countries.

Keeping all these in mind, it always helps if we have a collaborative simple framework which will be accessible to everybody being hosted in public cloud and if the framework can host some of the reusable questions that are commonly raised in the workshops along with sample data.

When I first thought of building such a platform, I was thinking what should be the starting point . I know business processes and their designs are always big thing in the SAP projects but we already have lot of very powerful business process modelling tools available in the market including IBM's BPM for SAP.  Hence I thought of starting with a simple questionnaire framework which will contain all the common questions that are in general raised during any businss blueprinting workshop and you need to either suggest the probable answers as implementation expert or would expect the client to answer it and you should be able to capture it immediately. It also makes sense to map those questionnaires to one of the most common deliverables in any SAP projects which is the IMG Configuration nodes Process area wise.

With these basic ideas, I started designing this collaborative platform using IBM PaaS Bluemix. The basic building blocks or steps to build and deploy the application in Bluemix was simple



But we need to understand the overall architecture first especially if we need to build the integration layer with such SaaS with any enterprise application like SAP.



So once this architecture is understood, you can now follow the steps described below to build the integration layer with SAP and your application in bluemix .



Now let us talk about the application which we built. It would be easier to understand if I provide some screen-shots first





For the particular industry , if we open the pre-built questionnaire, it will contain lot of details of each of the entity that are used as Configuration objects.  Along with that, it will also open the relevant questions and there would be a form to capture the answers.



Each of these config objects and related questions will be mapped against a IMG Configuration node at left hand side. It will also be linked to some sample configuration data on right hand side bottom section.


You will also have a collaboration forum or chat room which can be leveraged by multiple Consultants working on the same file and discussing it out among themselves before saving it.



Once this questionnaire is saved , you can directly upload in Solution Manager BPH. You can also create the BCSet file and upload them to any target SAP instance if you feel. We tested the SAP integration in the BCSet upload case.



On SAP side, we created a Z function module which is RFC enabled and can read the BCSet file as a string and then in the code it transfers to an internal table in the correct format and then calls the standard code to upload and save in SAP. Then we created the enterprise API in Bluemix using the RFC function in Cloud Integration Add-on. The relevant API is then called from the java layer of the bluemix application.


With the advent of Cloud-based Paas like IBM ‘s Bluemix available, building such application from scratch and even creating the integration layer is now just matter of few days. It will really usher a new era to serve client’s any demand in much realistic and accelerated manner.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how to close the traditional gaps--sometimes real, sometimes perceived--between what sales needs and what marketing delivers.  Step one is about aligning goals and establishing accountability and trust with each other, which I call “One Flag,” a principle I explored in a recent blog.  Step two is about going to market with common messages and value propositions and employing an omnichannel strategy to communicate them, which I call “One Voice.”


Today, enablement increasingly means helping sales people understand buyer personas and how to engage with prospects in new ways.  Marketing needs to help Sales become familiar with relevant content that they can share with their accounts through social media, account based marketing, peer communities and forums.  Just like they need to know how to read an annual report, today’s sales people need to be fluent in using new generations of prospecting, engagement, and selling tools like Linked In, Twitter, Slideshare, and YouTube along with emerging tools like Buffer, Feedly, Bottlenose, Quintly and others. 


Sales must use these tools in ways that are authentic and influential to their audience--not heavy handed.  Because their buyers are out there, operating as secret shoppers, consuming content, opinions, and recommendations about your brand, your products, and even you yourself. So when they do engage with you or others from your organization, those interactions should be consistent and natural extensions of what they’ve discovered on their own.


Think of the last time you bought a car, for example: If you are like me, you did all your research and were most of the way to making your decision before you ever set foot into a dealership.  You researched online information about options, reliability ratings, factory discounts, and vendor promotions, as well as reviews from other customers and industry perspectives. You followed a Twitter feed like #edmunds that gave you an unfiltered view into who is talking about the car and what they are saying in real time.


You ran different scenarios using online calculators that told you what you should pay and how you might finance it.  Then you show up on the dealer lot, confident and armed with your research, your bottom line, and the competitors’ pricing.   Your work was probably 95% complete. In that situation, the last thing you want is a sales person who doesn’t know you to devalue all that work and then try to redirect your intentions.


You’ve done your research and want to buy a car.  As a buyer, you view the final negotiation and contracting phase simply as a formality to doing commerce.  If the sales team pushes you too hard in a different direction without having earned that right of influence, you might just walk!


This example shows how increasingly the objective of both sales and marketing is to influence the buyer to prefer your product or service before ever interacting directly with a sales person. You want your prospects to engage with the attitude of “Yes, I have seen the work you have been doing in this space and I am ready to talk.”  They need to feel that you understand them and their needs--in short, their persona.  Because by engaging potential buyers with “One Voice” that’s consistent across all channels--including the in-person experience—you will have an educated and motivated buyer who is ready to seal the deal.

When we look at all the different cloud companies that are doing business and gaining more and more venture backing, I have always wondered what happened to the old fashioned attitude of making money as the focus.  With all of the current buzz around innovation, I read this article and thought it was eye opening on the reality of business.  I never will forget that old adage by EF Hutton -- "We make money the Old Fashioned Way, We Earn it".  Especially in light of the Facebook story about Whatapp -- a 21 Billion dollar purchase that lost 232 Million dollars.



Marc Andreessen, a prominent venture capitalist who sits on the boards of Facebook, eBay and Hewlett-Packard, recently startled the startup community by criticizing spending rates and warning of impending “vaporize”-ation if companies don’t start reshaping their habits. This message of “worry” is a change of pace from the investor who has previously gone on record refuting allegations of a tech bubble, but it’s a lesson I realized early in my career. Often there is a fundamental difference between companies operating on venture capital and those bootstrapping their way to success.

In short, companies that haven’t taken investment capital need to be laser-focused on growing revenue and managing cash, while those who have are often more focused on how to spend the money. It’s more than a funding model – it’s a mentality. “What new digital tool, marketing campaign, fancy office or cool (fill in the blank) should we invest in next?” is the question on the minds of many venture-backed startups, while “How are we going to make money today?” is the question driving bootstrapped executives. Of course, the investment model can work, but for every Google and Facebook, there are many others who try to use this approach and fail. In fact, a lecturer at Harvard Business School found that three out of fourventure-backed start-ups fail.

Stern Fisher, an angel investment network, estimates that only one third of well-known companies have taken venture capital. That means two-thirds of the brands you know by name have succeeded the old-fashioned way – earning money and investing it back into their companies to expand. Of course, as Stern Fisher is quick to point out, some of those companies are older than the venture capital market, but it proves that the traditional method of spending only the money you make works.

Working on the opposite ends of the earning vs. spending spectrum affects company priorities, mentality and culture. How often do you hear start up CEOs complain about all of the time and effort it takes to fundraise? Imagine if those early efforts were completely focused on building the business. To be successful, all companies, even those that are venture-backed, need to think like those that are bootstrapped: wake up focused on growth; go to bed thinking about revenue, and in between, work toward closing deal after deal."

Full Article posted below:


Funding Model Mentality Is Key to Driving Growth and Revenue

Needling players on the opposing team and even your teammates is a cherished tradition among baseball players, and nobody can bust chops better than major leaguers. It’s how they stay sane during three-hour games and endless road trips during a 162-game season. And one of the best in the business was Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.


In honor of late October being World Series season, I thought I would share the story (and video) of the night I was on the receiving end of the famous Reggie Jackson needle during an interview we did last October at an SAP event in Half Moon Bay, California.  And I deserved it!


Reggie had driven over from his home in Carmel to host a meet and greet session with our customers, who upon his arrival were listening to a talk by Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Steve Jobs’ first boss.  We had already set up video equipment for me to do a sit-down interview with Nolan, so while we waited, I took the opportunity to ask Reggie for an interview.  After some cajoling he agreed.


Just as we were getting ready to mike up Reggie, Nolan breezed in and said “I’m ready for my interview.” I knew his time was tight, since he was scheduled to host a roundtable discussion with some of our customers right after the break.  So I asked Reggie to step aside and let Nolan go first.  He graciously agreed and chatted with some of our staffers while I interviewed Nolan. (Spoiler alert 1: Reggie gets me back for this one).


When Nolan was done, Reggie came back and we started the interview.  He spoke engagingly about playing for great managers like Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, Gene Mauch, and Dick Howser and described the tantrums of Earl Weaver and Billy Martin.  All was well until I made the mistake of saying “You were well known back in the day as ‘Mr. October.’” (Spoiler alert 2: Reggie makes me pay the price for this gaffe. Let’s just say he didn’t quite appreciate my use of the past tense.)


I then asked him about Jackie Robinson and told him of my Brooklyn roots, of which he was incredulous. Somehow he thought I was from Yuma, Arizona.  As I tried to wrap things up at the ten minute mark, Reggie took command of the interview and wielded the needle to great effect.  All I could do was laugh, because he was right, all the while thinking to myself “this will make great TV.”


Take a look and let me know if you agree.  Lastly, here’s a big “Thank You” to Reggie for being such a good sport.



When you consider the opportunity to fraternize with the beloved penguins of Simon’s Town, stopping to smell the flowers that adorn Adderley Street or zipping along the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway all in one day, it’s no surprise that the City of Cape Town was recently named, “The Best Place in the World to Visit” by the New York Times. Not surprisingly, this vibrant city perched on the shore of Table Bay is world-renowned for its conservation and biodiversity initiatives.  capetown2.jpg


Cape Town is also the provincial capital of the Western Cape, as well as the legislative capital of of South Africa. The country’s segregated past is not a secret, but its progress since those dark days has been in many ways meteoric.


The SAP Customer Alliance Team recently caught up with Rudy Abrahams, CIO City of Cape Town, to discuss some recent technological developments. In one of his more striking comments, he said he believes that what makes the city so unique is they perpetually add value to the experience of its citizens and visitors alike.


Not unlike many large metropolitan areas, the City of Cape Town experienced some growing pains within various municipalities because they were running stand-alone local management systems (In 1994 there were 64 local municipalities). Subsequently, the city was suffering from a lack of integration and duplicative efforts within their IT systems.


Mr. Abrahams described how the various municipalities were ineffectively communicating and the social responsibilities of the government were conflicting with things like the commercial objectives of utility business units. As a result the City of Cape Town was not only extremely challenged in managing limited natural resources, but also burdened with an aging infrastructure.


Complicating the picture was the fact that many citizens could not afford even basic utilities. The city needed a solution that included dramatic sustainability measures, while rapidly expanding basic services and eliminating the historic divisions within the municipalities.

Below, Abrahams said that the City of Cape Town undertook some critical steps to overcome many of these challenges and accomplish their goal of having an integrated asset and maintenance process:


How did you accomplish your goals?

“SAP assisted us in building process value chains across the organization. It was imperative that a company with the experience of SAP implement new business processes into the organization.”

What were some of the results of the ERP implementation?

“We became a lot more transparent as an organization with the implementation of SAP. We also became a lot more responsive as an organization because there was now one single version of the truth.

How has this empowered you to work better?

“SAP has ensured that we were a lot more efficient as an organization because we spend far less time with manual interventions and are now provided with lots of organizational savings so that we can employ our resources into more strategic areas. We made use of the solution to breakdown silos across the 7 municipalities and converge into one council and that’s the reason we implemented SAP ERP.”

The City of Cape Town has seen a 10% reduction in water usage and energy consumption as well as the installation of green electricity solar heaters in 10% of private homes. They’ve also achieved the merger of previously autonomous municipalities into a single metropolitan city. In fact, the SAP ERP solution was the largest SAP implementation in local government in the world, a project that also included the deployment of SAP-Land Use management.  capetown.JPG


Dramatic social, economic and environmental progress is clearly evident these days in diverse South Africa. For example, it’s quickly grown from international isolation to seeing the City of Cape Town recently chosen as the proud host of the 2016 International LGBT Travel Association Global Convention.


Indeed, from the flea-markets of Greenmarket Square to the beaches of Sandy Bay, the residents of Cape Town are now more than ever, ready for the world.

Woody.JPGThis quote from Woody Allen is a perfect headline for a blog about project management disasters, don´t you think?

Every day we see businesses respond to a challenging economic environment by deploying scarce investment funds in pursuit of a competitive edge. These initiatives, which are inevitably delivered via projects, represent significant investments for the organizations concerned.

As organizations struggle with the impact of downsizing, increasing complexity and global mobility, successful project management is becoming increasingly important. Executives in high-performing organizations recognize the imperative to identify, prioritize, coordinate and manage the projects that will turn their strategies into reality. In the global competitive environment, value-for-money is a priority. While many businesses have cut back optional spending in recent times, we see others that can no longer hold off essential projects. Effective project management practices help control the added risks that project activity introduces to normal business practice. 

History is littered with project management disasters that show how painful the consequences of poor project management can be: huge time delays, excessive project costs and mockery that ruins the brand value these organizations have built up over years. Here is a recent example of a recent spectacular project management disaster in Germany: 

The Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Normally known for our efficiency, punctuality and engineering mastery, the new airport in Berlin is an embarrassing example of a troubled construction project from the Federal Republic of Germany.  Having missed 5 target dates for its opening, the project is still underway and the final opening date still remains unclear. Original plans showed a target opening date of 30 October 2011. The original budget for this massive project was 1.7 billion Euros. To date, almost 5 billion Euros have been spent so far.

The causes for this huge project failure are not completely transparent to the public, but there is one important factor to consider: the public sector often struggles with such large-scale projects, because it’s not responsible to investors but to the people, the tax payers. Project leaders have to act transparently, involve citizens, manage the money and solve complex infrastructure tasks. Public building has reached a level of complexity that is apparently too much for the state to handle.


Slimmed-down administrations are hardly capable of controlling construction projects efficiently. It´s the old dilemma of poor project monitoring and mismanaging resources. In my opinion, there is another important rule organizations should not forget: don´t work in silos, don´t think in silos and set clear project goals. In the case of the Berlin airport, quality management and security experts were obviously not fully integrated in the development process. Also, there was a constant change of requirements and design ideas that made the whole project a disaster.


This is just one example of project failure, among the plethora in the news.

SNCF - French Railway

For instance SNCF, the French Railway company, found out how one bad assumption can “derail” a project. Following the arrival of the first of its new fleet of regional trains, SNCF discovered that the newly designed trains are too wide to fit into many of the railway stations they were intended to serve. So, 2,000 new trains are too wide for the railway. I see this as a combined R&D and Project Management failure.


After concentrating on failures, let’s focus on what makes projects successful?

  • See the entire picture and share the same project data
  • Detailed financial planning
  • Resource scheduling
  • Impact analysis: coming back to Woody Allen´s quote – unforeseen changes do happen! This happens on practically every project. You start with a clear concept or at least you thought it was clear when you started.  Then one thing leads to another and before you know it you are involved in a different project.  Structured, logical thinking and software with powerful analytics can help you analyze different possibilities.
  • Cope with BIG project data

Fortunately, a large percentage of projects are indeed successful, both in time and on budget. With the help of SAP Portfolio and Project Management, the South-Africa-based railway corporation Transnet experienced $62 million visible savings in two years’ time, increased project transparency and better financial reporting. Read their story.

Needless to say, there is always the risk that something unexpected may arise in your project that software cannot predict. But software can help you adjust your plan, make risk analyses and play what-if-scenarios. That way, you can at least try to outsmart fate…  and if you want to impress God, plan with a software-supported process.

October is SAP’s dedicated Month of Service when employees like me are encouraged to give back to the community in some small way. I spend part of yesterday with a group of extraordinary people doing just that. Over 1,500 people gathered at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston for the Funny Women...Serious Business: 40th Anniversary Celebration event. Its purpose was to raise awareness for the good work of what’s become a Boston institution, Rosie’s Place.


This year is a special one for the Rosie’s Place community. It opened its doors 40 years ago when founder Kip Tiernan saw poor women disguising themselves as men to get a meal at men-only shelters in Boston. Today, Rosie’s Place provides 12,000 to 14,000 poor and homeless women with services that enable them to live dignified, fuller, and happier lives. Support includes meals (100,000 served each year), a bustling food pantry, and overnight shelter. Advocacy services are central to help women navigate an increasingly complex labyrinth of support including legal, educational, job and credit counseling, and mental health assistance.


When I talked with Sue Marsh, Executive Director of Rosie’s Place, shortly before the fund-raising event, she told me why she thinks Rosie’s Place is unique.


“We do things because they are the right thing to do rather than because someone tells us what to do. It’s a community that’s based on the principals of justice and unconditional love. We not only talk about those values, but we work hard to live by them.”


The agency combines direct support for individuals backed by policy-driven efforts. For example, one current initiative is focused on simplifying Massachusetts state benefits processes. By eliminating redundancies agencies can deliver faster assistance to people in need while saving money for the state. At the same time, Rosie’s Place provides training, workshops, and other resources to help women build the skills they need to advocate for themselves in an increasingly self-service world.


To say that the afternoon event was inspirational is an understatement. We listened as a series of women, on video or through speakers on stage, told stories of heartbreaking loss followed by triumphal reclamation – each narrative was at once individual and universal. But this is much more than just overcoming great odds. Novelist Alice Hoffman, who introduced the featured speaker, Cheryl Strayed, characterized Rosie’s as a place where a woman can walk through a door into a new life. In her keynote, Strayed drew many parallels between her personal story and what happens at Rosie’s Place.


Strayed’s Number One bestselling memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, details her 1,100-mile hike from the Mojave Desert to the Oregon-Washington border and the personal struggles that compelled her to take the journey. Following the untimely death of her beloved mother at age 44, Strayed descended into a self-destructive lifestyle that included drugs and promiscuity. Here’s how she described her life-changing moment.


“When my mom died I didn’t think I could take another step. But what I learned is that she had given me all the tools to save myself. It occurred to me three years later that I had completely done the wrong thing. I had actually dishonored my mother by ruining my life. The only way to honor her would be by becoming the person she raised me to be. It was a simple realization, and that’s when I decided to take the journey into the wild.”


Strayed’s book is being made into a movie slated for release this December starring Reese Witherspoon. But what she wanted to talk about yesterday was the epiphany she had when her hike ended at a place called “The Bridge of the Gods,” (no kidding). It was on this spot that she connected her past, present, and future, all drawn from the legacy of her mother’s love.


“Rosie’s Place is that kind of bridge. When you’ve had your life ruptured by loss, you have to find a sense of safety and home in the world. That’s the most powerful thing that Rosie’s Place can give its guests. There are real resources too, but it’s the presence of an organization that says to people, you’re welcome and you matter here and we treat you with kindness and respect that really matters.”


Sitting in the audience, I thought that Strayed’s characterization of her hike as “tremendously fun and horribly hard” could be a metaphor for life. “The only way we can do it is one step at a time. Every step hurt, and every step took me in the direction I wanted to go. Change is made by the very simple act of the micro rather than the macro.”


During times when hype and scale turn heads, it’s good to remember that meaningful transformation is often propelled by that first, simple step forward.


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The revolution is underway. The days of stale, boring corporate news are over. Or so SAP hopes.


Head honcho of Global Corporate Affairs (GCA), Torie Clarke, is looking to speak to SAP's many audiences in a new way. That's why she signed up three top media professionals from print and TV. The goal is simple: create disruptive content that informs, entertains, and tells the SAP story in a simple way.  So when Nicola Leske, Megan Meany and Paul Taylor were looking to make the move from journalism to the corporate "dark side," Clarke made sure they had a home in GCA. All three have started at SAP in recent weeks. Their world-class media credentials will help to augment and enhance a talented group of SAP corporate comms professionals.


The Content Team is aiming to broaden the way SAP tells stories and how they tell these stories. More human, more personal, more visual.  Sharable, accessible stories. GCA Head of Content Sam Juneau calls it "the consumerization of corporate communications."  A former broadcast journalist and television producer himself, Juneau thinks employees and external audiences will consume information more vigorously if the information feels and looks like the content they consume at home. More humor, some drama, more fun, more human — a mirror of the choices they make outside of work in front of the TV, on their tablets and smartphones.


It might come as a bit of a surprise to hear that Leske, the new Head of Global Media Relations, dislikes press releases. “The way they are presented and written is of no use to a journalist,” says the former Thomsen-Reuters technology correspondent.  At the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School of Journalism, she learned if you can’t shout your headline to a chef in a noisy kitchen and make yourself understood, your message is too complicated. “If SAP could modernize the news process, we could really stand out,” says the German-born, American-bred journalist whose job it will be to do just that.


Paul Taylor, a tech journalist who joined SAP after a long career with the Financial Times, approaches his job as senior correspondent in the Global Corporate Affairs content team as he did his old job. “A good story is a good story. It includes human characters. What works in the real world can work in corporate — people want something interesting to read and to share.” He believes if it feels right for an external audience, it should appeal internally too. He sees no division.


Meany’s foray into corporate communications resulted in “The Spin”, a weekly newscast, light, irreverent but informative. During her career as a lifestyle journalist for broadcast media, she developed, produced and moderated TV series for consumers. “You were responsible for telling a good story even if one wasn't handed to you. There was constant pressure to create content people would be interested in,” she says.


The team’s mission is to cannibalize the mainstream media outlets and bring viewers and readers into the SAP family. In fewer than 140 characters and often less than 120 seconds. Here's a sample of what lies ahead:


Here are highlights from the seventh in a 13-week series of broadcasts on HR Trends, a special edition of Coffee Break with Game-Changers on the business channel on Voice of America Internet talk radio. During this series, industry experts are discussing a variety of topics trending in HR today, such as this one on the use of reviews and its affect on employer branding.    http://scn.sap.com/servlet/JiveServlet/showImage/38-115454-568460/Graham4-player-wide.jpg

Online reviews of organizations are affecting the recruiting process for both companies and candidates. Just how was the focus of this week’s radio broadcast with Tim Sackett, SPHR, President of HUR Technical Resources, Will Staney, Head Talent Warrior at Glassdoor, and Jessica Miller-Merrell, Founder of Blogging4Jobs.com.


The people now have the power! 

For the first time in history, prospective employees have the opportunity to find out what the working environment is like at companies they are considering for new employment. The availability of online reviews of companies, access to employees through LinkedIn and other social networks, and employees speaking out online have changed how candidates job hunt.


Here’s a few ways that things are changing, according to the experts on this week’s panel.

  • It is, after all, a referral economy. It is a just a given today that people will check out online reviews and ask for feedback on social networks from family and friends before making a consumer purchase. And today, looking for a job is no different, as people want guidance in making the right employment choice. Formal and informal reviews are everywhere online. And for
    those that are willing to do due diligence, it’s easy to find people on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Glassdoor that are happy to chat about what it’s like to work at a particular company. This is empowering for people, and it puts them in the driver’s seat as they make this important decision about their future. 
  • Companies need to let go of control. Whether organizations like it or not, employees are always talking (both online and offline) about where they work and what it’s like – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Employers need to be okay with this and learn how to use all these comments advantageously. In fact, companies can use negative reviews as a motivation for change. Reviews can be analyzed to see if there are patterns, which can then lead to positive changes internally.
  • Negative reviews show authenticity. Here’s another thought about negative reviews – they are a reality. Everyone recognizes that there are no perfect companies in this world. If people see only positive reviews, they suspect censorship. Authenticity and transparency are what counts here, as people want to know what a working environment is really like. Reviews are highly subjective, as everyone has a different point of reference. One employee or candidate’s negative review could be a positive for someone else.
  • It’s key to focus on the employee experience. Again, if a company is getting bad reviews, it can be a positive wake-up call for a company that they need to build a better work experience for current employees. After all, if a company is a great place to work, that kind of news will spread quickly. And companies can use that type of buzz advantageously to attract top talent and hire premium candidates.
  • Encourage – but don’t influence – employees to write reviews. In fact, when companies know they are creating a good work environment, they can proactively encourage employees to write online reviews about their experience. For instance, when an employee’s first year anniversary comes up, HR can offer congratulations and request that they share their experience online. It’s important not to influence what they are going to write about, but a company can encourage openness and transparency about the work environment. 


The crystal ball: What will recruiting look like in 2020?

For their predictions, the expert panelists share their views on what recruiting will look like in 2020.

  • Sackett believes the best talent acquisition departments will report into marketing. He sees recruiting as a function that
    is closer to sales and marketing than HR. And he believes recruiting efforts will be much more effective if they reside in marketing and are broken off from traditional HR responsibilities. 
  • Staney disagrees, as he sees that marketing and human resources have very different internal customers. HR represents an
    entire company, from marketing and sales to engineering. But marketing’s internal customers are sales people and he believes this would be a hindrance in hiring the right candidates companywide. However, he does think that the walls between departments throughout a company will start to become windows, with greater collaboration that is enabled by technology. 
  • Miller-Merrell agrees with Staney that HR should still be responsible for recruiting. She also sees employer branding evolving
    to engage contingent workers, a segment that will be much bigger in the future. She sees the workforce of the future as being a more transitional workforce, with people entering and exiting companies more quickly.


You can hear the full broadcast on the yelpification of recruitment here, including more on the role of leadership in this challenge. Listen to other recent HR Trend Radio Shows, including ones on baby boomers, workplace collaboration, and work-life balance here.

With the exception of mathematicians, we humans can’t handle big numbers. The blame falls squarely on our ancestors. To survive, our knuckle-dragging ancient forebears needed to count how many people to feed, and estimate if enough animals were nearby to hunt. These were small numbers that changed little over many generations. Since there was no evolutionary requirement to understand either large numbers or the concept of exponential growth, we humans never developed these abilities.

But we need to start. Ever since the first microchip rolled off the line, digital technologies have been advancing at an exponential rate. So far, this has been apparent mostly in faster boot-up times when we get a new laptop. But soon we’re going to experience exponential in a new way: it’s going to change everything about the ways we do business. We need to better understand what these changes will mean to our complex world.


To illustrate the power of exponential, futurist Ray Kurzweil tells a story about the inventor of chess, whose demo to the Emperor was such a hit that he was allowed to name his reward. This clever inventor was also a mathematician, and he requested his reward in rice; one grain for the first square of the chessboard, two for the second, four for the third, and so on, doubling at each square up to the board’s total of 64 squares. The Emperor granted his request, viewing it as humble, and for a while things progressed as expected. However, after 32 squares, when the prize passed four billion grains, the Emperor started to take notice.  By the 64th square the sum had zoomed to 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 grains of rice, a pile that tops Mount Everest! 


The Emperor’s failure to foresee this result was completely human.  What’s more, this is pretty much where we are today; about 32 doublings since the first real computers were introduced during World War II.  Indeed, exponential acceleration continues across the full range of digital technologies including raw compute power, data storage, bandwidth, transmission speed, miniaturization and myriad others. Three years ago IBM’s Watson supercomputer fit into a bedroom. Today it’s the size of 3 pizza boxes.


But wait, there’s more!


Here’s where things get really interesting.  Because digital technologies are designed to work together - to combine with each other in systems and networks that multiply value – the exponential growth occurring in individual technologies means that their power in combination is also increasing exponentially. In short, exponential growth is now increasing at an exponential rate. For the mathematically inclined, this means the line on the logarithmic scale isn’t straight, it’s actually curved.




In plain English, under current trends the technological progress in this century could be of equal magnitude to all such progress over the last 200 centuries.


Consider that as recently as 2003 Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the iPhone, Wikipedia and Skype either didn’t exist or were practically unknown. The explosion in mobile devices had barely started. Yet today these have transformed business and society. Now the likes of neuromorphic computing, 3D bio-printing, robotic bacteria, brain mapping, and next-gen virtual reality (to name just a few) are either here or just around the corner, with even greater potential to revolutionize.


Complexity holds us back


Advances in digital technology will march on at a mind-blowing pace, as will their potential to improve lives and help business run better.  But a big problem has arisen which threatens to hinder, indeed derail, the path to a brighter future.  Up to now, complexity has been a manageable downside to progress. Today it’s become a crippling issue of epidemic proportions. Research shows that children think life is too complicated, working professionals are having health issues from the stress of information overload, and personal relationships are suffering.  All this is a direct result of complexity. In addition, business executives say complexity increasingly impedes growth.  Perhaps complexity is the reason that labor productivity since 1999 is essentially flat despite a 49% CAGR in cost-performance of digital technology.


To win the future, Run simple today


If left unaddressed complexity will undermine our ability to benefit from the exponential innovations on, and over, the horizon. Here are three things organizations should do to prepare.


  • Shrink the layers of management that have built up over time. The result will be speedier decisions, less bureaucracy, and more time to focus on innovation.


  • Streamline existing processes and workflows that haven’t kept up with the times or, if they can’t be streamlined, redesign what the user sees in order to mask the complexity. New processes must meet expectations of the digitally native; intuitive and easy to use.


  • Reduce the complexity of IT infrastructure. CIO’s can spend as much as two-thirds of their budget on running and maintaining existing systems. Consider moving to a platform that frees up the ability to innovate quickly, and scales easily across your organization. 


To win the future, running simple today is the best way forward.

Have you ever met someone that says, “Gee, I love change – let’s mix things up!”


Most likely not, as people are typically quite attached to status quo. Imagine then what people really think (and feel) about a business transformation. After all, change is at the heart of a business transformation – and a successful one can’t really occur without massive change where very little is left at status quo.

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Perhaps it’s time for companies to more consciously consider how the people – the employees who are most affected by business transformation change – feel during the process.


The role of human behavior in transformation


Back in the 1980s, the Theory of Planned Behavior, which categorizes human behavior into three kinds of beliefs, was developed by American psychologist and professor Icek Ajzen. The beliefs in Ajzen’s theory include behavioral ones, where attitudes influence a specific behavior, and normative ones, which guide acceptable and non-acceptable norms. The third category is control beliefs, which are about who is impacting someone’s behavior – the actual person, or someone else.


Over the years, Ajzen’s theory has often been applied to improving healthy habits (for instance, in quitting smoking), changing harmful habits (reducing drug consumption), and coaching. But what about applying it to business transformation? What would that look like?


Certainly, there has been a lot of research and practices put in place regarding behavior and change management over time. But perhaps applying Ajzen’s theory can bring a new perspective that would drive greater success in business transformation initiatives. 


Human beliefs: Key drivers for success


So what would happen if companies examined behavioral, normative, and control beliefs during the course of a business transformation?


With the application of Ajzen’s theory, there would most likely be a clearer understanding of when resistance – a normal but often disastrous part of change – crops up for the people involved in the transformation process. Resistant behavioral belief, along with a willingness (or not) to change (normative beliefs), and a perceived sense of control (control beliefs), are just a few of the human characteristics that would arise during a transformation. Whether or not they are acknowledged, addressed, and taken into consideration could make or break the success of the transformation.


Simply put, understanding the psychological mechanisms for behavioral change in business transformation is an endeavor that any company that wants success should undertake. The beliefs outlined here – behavioral, normative, and control – are, in fact, key drivers for building intentions and changing behaviors – and a business transformation that works.


In the article, “The Theory of Planned Behavior: Understanding the Drivers for Behavioral Change in Business Transformation,” in 360° – the Business Transformation Journal, the authors explore the link between behavior and business transformation. They connect Ajzen’s theory with the Business Transformation Management (BTM) methodology in an effort to help companies bridge action-oriented psychological research with business transformation practice. They also discuss two interesting use cases where Ajzen’s theory and BTM have been applied.


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.

Moving an idea to execution....successfully and sustainably is no child's play - even for the biggest and the best.   Some do it well, and others....just don't.  And these days, it seems like everyone's trying.  I read about the likes of Coca Cola,  Intel, and Johnson and Johnson all reaching into disparate, amorphous, sometimes crowd sourced networks of inventors, "Querdenkers" (the german word for unconventional thinkers), and under the radar "tinkerers" to find their next big break.   What amazes me, is that some of these corporate giants are able to take these new ideas and concepts into their own sluggish, hierarchical, and rather resistant organizations, and use them to ignite new products, new business models with a rather admirable degree of success.    But how?  Is it having irreverent swashbuckling buccaneers at the helm of your ship?  A culture that RESPECTS and REWARDS "failure" , or a mash up of that and more?   


I'll be at the Business Transformation Summit this year, where I intend to explore this mystery and hear from more than 10 thought leaders will share their insights and best practices for deep business transformation.   And these are not your regular "business conference attendees".   I'm especially excited to hear from an extreme mountain climber, a toy company exec, and a rather maverick industrial engineer who decided to up-end the helicopter industry, all come together and share their insights.  What I gather is that each of these individuals has risked failure to overcome a very different set of tough challenges. Yet they’ve all succeeded through innopreneurship–a potent combination of innovative thinking and entrepreneurial skill.   I am so hungry to learn more...



Alexander Huber,  the record-breaking mountain climber also happens to be a physicist.  He will share his experience in overcoming nature’s extremes. Throughout his career, he and his older brother Thomas have been driven by an insatiable desire to tackle new fears and obstacles–from ascending El Capitan in Yosemite National Park to climbing the big walls of the Himalaya Mountains. Their approach to these extreme, physically demanding situations is a blueprint for business and IT professionals as they explore their own personal leadership and organizational boundaries.



Daiva Staneikaite Naldal, Senior Business Manager, LEGO, will reveal how one of the world’s most beloved toy companies uses technology to get close to customers and produce a steady stream of new innovation. LEGO is an iconic brand that came back from the brink in 2003 with a new approach to innovation that not only revived the company from breathing it's last gasps, but also took it to a new level of performance not yet seen before. Today, LEGO has reinvented itself.  The company is leveraging user-generated product co-innovation through a crowdsourcing platform called LEGO Ideas. The company also runs a collaboration program with talented entrepreneurs in a community ecosystem supported by social media. For every industry and company size, LEGO provides a powerful case study for radically rethinking innovation processes to meet the demands of a constantly changing marketplace.  And that's just the beginning of it all...


Moving from stagnation to transformation through innovative and entrepreuneurial thinking does not happen for even the most successful business people so easily. In about 15 days, I'll be at the BT Summit and hope to share more on what I learn about how to balance a tolerance for trial and error with operational excellence and how it can transform an entire organization with amazing results.


Stay tuned for more from this year's BT Summit....Nov. 10-11 in Berlin...and follow me on Twitter @Shuchi5.  I promise to report back on key insights and learnings from these amazing individuals...


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