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In 2009 Netflix’s internal corporate culture PowerPoint went viral. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg called it “the most important document ever to come out of [Silicon] Valley.” Just this past week a friend forwarded me the same link. His colleague, a fellow mid-twenties engineer, emailed the link to his entire office before preparing to leave his century-old firm to work for Google. The one-line email: “This is how most tech companies should operate.”

 

The presentation highlights “freedom and responsibility” as the two overarching concepts under which Netflix illustrates seven cultural pillars through various key values, behaviors, skills, and policies. A few of these include:

 

- Vacation Policy and Tracking: “There is no policy or tracking.”

 

- Policies for Expensing, Entertainment, Gifts, and Travel: “Act in Netflix’s Best Interest” – just five words.

 

- No Brilliant Jerks: “Some companies tolerate them; for us, [the] cost to effective teamwork is too high.”

 

The phrasing is punchy and the policies unusual in most traditional corporate environments, yet I still noticed many similarities in my own working environment. For instance:

 

Innovation through Simplification: For Netflix, innovation is driven by “minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify.” At SAP, simplification is a critical component of our corporate strategy and potential to innovate. For instance, simplifying the customer experience by offering one digital experience, one solution per business problem, and one delivery and support model is central to our growth. As an individual employee, one of my responsibilities is to simplify how our Corporate Social Responsibility arm tracks efforts worldwide so that we can measure social impact like never before.

 

- Great Work vs. Hard Work: Netflix employees are measured by their accomplishments, not by hours spent in the office. I know many companies say the same, but act otherwise – I’ve worked for a couple. Consequently, I’m astounded by how often I’m asked whether I’ll “be in” tomorrow. While I prefer working onsite, I don’t have to take vacation to visit family in LA when something important comes up. On a daily basis, I have colleagues with prestigious positions that drive their kids to and from school, and attend parent-teacher events. It’s different to see, as opposed to hear and read, this value in action.

 

- Courage: One of the nine qualities employees must embody to be hired and promoted at Netflix is courage, which our company values as well. The three people I work most closely with at SAP also happen to be three of the most courageous people I have ever met. One of these individuals includes my manager, who in this piece shares a deeply personal story while voicing what she believes will be the greatest accomplishment of our generation.

 

Innovation through simplification, great work, and courage are not only concepts I see in practice at my workplace, but also values that are important to me as an employee and a person. They sound simple and are open to interpretation, but are essential for employee satisfaction and retention.

 

While Netflix’s culture presentation is half a decade old, the fact that it is still actively traveling from inbox to inbox says something about the values of the workforce of the future. In fact, Netflix ranks #34 among the top 50 companies young people want to work for (see my colleague’s piece on Forbes). Perhaps this is because what Netflix practices is what the next generation values – and expects.

 

What do you think about Netflix's company culture? Weigh in and tweet @apolack

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil will be the culmination of years of preparation and it’s now almost here.

 

This will be the 20th FIFA World Cup and it will take place in Brazil starting in June. Every World Champion since 1930 has qualified for this year’s tournament including teams from Brazil, Germany, Italy, France and defending champion, Spain.

 

Fans from around the world will once again be immersed in every bit of the action as they cheer their favorite team to victory.  Until now, enthralled fans that watched World Cup action could only wish they were making their own spectacular kicks and passes to each other.

 

However, that has changed thanks to Continental Tire, the official sponsor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Now fans can play along with each other while competing for prizes that include a round trip for 2 including accommodations to a World Cup match.

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Here’s how it works:

 

. Download the Official “ContiRioKick” app

 

. Start virtually “passing” to other players and friends

 

. Find other nearby fans via “radar mode” within the app

 

. Points are awarded for each pass and the longest sequence of passes

 

. The best passers will win prizes each month

 

Dirk Rockendorf, head of eBusiness and responsible for the ContiRioKick app at Continental Tire commented on the app, “For us, the app is one of the best ways to convey our commitment as an official sponsor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and give the best virtual passers among the fans the opportunity to attend a World Cup match.”

 

In keeping with their commitment to remaining equipped with the absolute latest in the optimization of information technology and networking, Continental recently deployed SAP across one platform.

Similar to players on the ContiRioKick app passing seamlessly in a sequence to each other, the recent SAP implementation has created a worldwide logistical footprint resulting in transparencies between regional distribution centers and Continental customers.

 

Garett Greer, Global TMS Key User with Continental said that not only has the new SAP Transportation Management software dramatically reduced shipping costs, but it fit instantly into their IT landscape because it communicated directly with existing systems with little customization required.

“SAP had a solution that allows Continental Tire to split freight costs down to the article level. This is something that I believe was never achieved by any other software. There’s substantial savings just based on transparency and reporting.” You can see more of Garett Greer in this brief video.

 

As for reporting your own total passes in the ContiRioKick app, there’s still time to play but you better get out on the “field” ASAP. The higher your score, the better your chances are of winning. Each month, the top 11 players automatically qualify for the monthly prize drawing. Even if you’re having an “off game” there’s no need to worry. 11 other winners are also chosen at random so imagine the possibilities!

 

By playing along with the 2014 FIFA World Cup app you will also be helping an extraordinary school program called Project Uere which helps children overcome learning obstacles. Through the program, 4 to 18 year olds receive individual learning support .Continental is also funding an E-learning module as well as providing teachers and equipment for a children’s football project.  Additionally, when 1,000,000 ContiRioKick passes have been played, Continental Tire will donate an extra 10,000 Euros to the project!

 

So are you ready to pass your way to Rio for a front row seat at the 2014 World Cup?

Google something, you get your results back.
But when Gmail or Google stops working, everyone notices.
Your system stops working.
Your company stops working.

 

A plan needs to be in place for when things stop working.
You need a technical leader who can make it work again.

 

Successful leaders during crisis have some secrets:

 

 

1. Look to the Left and Right of the Problem

 

Often times your team, in crisis, will jump into problem-solution mode.
The system has a performance issue, they will analyse logs to find the cause.

 

Take a step back.
Why has this issue come up now?

 

Yesterday the system was fine.
Today it’s not.
What changed?

 

Look to the left, look back, how did this issue begin?
What changed?

 

A new patch.
A new upgrade.
A new component.
An increase in user load.

 

These are likely suspects that need to be investigated.

 

You then need to be able to look to the right.
You need to be able to tell the future.

 

 

2. Time Traveling and Predicting the Future

 

You need to be like a magician, like an oracle.
Predicting the future.

 

Actions are agreed, logs are to be analysed.
You know who will do it.
You know how they will do it.

 

But when will you get the result?
When will they get back to you?
When can you make your next decision?

 

Whenever someone else decides for you?

 

Agree on the next checkpoint.
The next phone call.
The next time you meet.
The point in time you will reconvene to discuss findings and next steps.
Then make your next decision, based on that information.

 

“....by 3pm we will know if users can continue to work today or will have to wait until tomorrow…”

 

 

3. Unraveling the Daisy Chains

 

Many people end up waiting for the guy...who is waiting a the guy, waiting for another guy.
Why have someone report back the work of other people?
The message gets distorted.
Sometimes twisted.
Often times lost in translation.

 

Find the communication daisy chains, then jump over them.

 

Get the contact details of the person who is actually doing the work.
Then speak to them.
Cut out the middle man.
Exchange contact information so they come back to you directly next time.
Build a new bridge.

 

It establishes a clear picture of what is actually going on.
It establishes your control.
Only with the right information, can you make the right decision.

JB cognitive disorders 4.14.14.jpgEver notice that some people get more things done than others?

 

For years, the most popular explanation came from Steve Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey argued that personal character, purpose and self-discipline were the primary characteristics of successful people. The book has been wildly successful, selling more than 20M copies. My only criticism is that Covey believed that combining lots of highly effective people would result in a highly effective business. I think team effectiveness relies more on the mix of talent and styles, than on individual mindsets.

 

While he doesn’t say it explicitly, I don’t think Michael Dearing is a Covey supporter. Dearing, a Stanford professor who All Things Digital describes as the Hottest Angel Investor You’ve Never Heard Of, believes that successful people distort their own reality. In a presentation called The Five Cognitive Distortions of People Who Get Stuff Done, Dearing claims successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have the following traits:

 

  • Personal Exceptionalism
    They believe they are special and at the top of their peer group.  Their work is snowflake-special. Their experiences are well outside the bounds of normal.
  • Dichotomous Thinking
    They see the world populated by black and white extremes, with very few grey nuances in the middle.
  • Correct Overgeneralization
    They make universal judgments from limited observations and yet are correct a disproportionate amount of the time.
  • Blank-Canvas Thinking
    They have a strong desire to invent new rules, especially when the existing ones are generally accepted. They do not paint-by-numbers.
  • Schumpeterianism
    They believe that disruptive innovation is natural and necessary. They assume creative destruction is their reason for being.

 

Dearing’s traits encourage perfectionism, indifference to facts, and mindless ambition. Having lived in Silicon Valley for 20 years, I see countless entrepreneurs who exhibit these traits. In addition, many of the successful tycoons who rule the Valley follow this thinking. Some believe you need a reality distortion field to get ahead.

 

Which school of thought do you subscribe to: Covey or Dearing?

 

Please follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

This blog was originally posted on Manage By Walking Around on April 14, 2014.

This week’s Top 5 blog posts on SAP Business Trends showcases how technology is helping get renewable energy to market, bring healthcare to rural communities, and educate people across different types of borders.

 

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“With SAP ... we can offer more benefits to the farm, the factory and the families,” RSSC said.

No. 1: Trade, Aid & Suite Success (on HANA) for the People of Royal Swaziland

 

The Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation wanted to revamp and simplify its IT landscape by cutting costs and eliminating disparate systems. Ryan Somers taste-tests RSSC’s sweet deal with SAP, which could reduce the planning process from weeks to hours -- and save more than $100,000 per day.

 

No. 2: How Technology is Transforming Rural Health in India

 

Millions of children in rural India live without access to regular or reliable healthcare. Sarah Harvey examines a digital, mobile and in-memory evolution that could bring healthcare to more than 270 million Indian children, eliminating the need for paper records and hospital follow-ups easier.

 

No. 3: Share Economy Comes to Education: Notes from the MOOCs Experiment

 

Massive Open Online Courses are revolutionizing academic and corporate education. Susan Galer opens class on how these organizations share curricula, combine efforts and foster agile, lifelong learning.

 

No. 4: VIVA Las Vegas! VIVA SAP Insider 2014!

 

This month’s sales and marketing event SAP Insider 2014 tried to show employees how to “engage customers like never before.” Shalini Mitha takes us inside the use of SAP cloud technology to sell like the best and engage to win.

 

No. 5: Tune in to #SAPRadio April 8th - Social Recruiting: Art or Science?

 

Millions of job candidates eagerly post their credentials on social media, leaving human resources managers to figure out how best to fill their business-critical job postings. Mike Montalban steers us to the debate of whether social recruiting top talent is an art or a science.

 

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

This blog has been submitted by Ed Satchell, Vice President, Value Engineering, SAP

 

Last week SAP announced that it’s Business Suite will be made available as a SaaS offering in the Cloud. This is an action to support the stated strategy of making SAP a Cloud company.

 

I would like to share with you some evidence to support why Value Management will be as important in a Cloud environment as it’s ever been On Premise.

 

SAP in conjunction with Knowledge at Wharton conducted a Survey of 364 respondents to a Cloud Computing questionnaire on Adoption, Impact and Outlook.

 

There is general belief that Cloud computing will have an impact on future business


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Security and the cost of integrating point solutions are the biggest concerns with Cloud computing


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Companies that have approached Cloud Computed in an integrated fashion have achieved the greatest business value.

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You can get the full report here.

 

The ability to combine a Human Capital Management offering with a Governance, Risk and Compliance applications to insure that individuals have the proper clearance to conduct certain activities before they take place. Or a giving a salesman the ability to have visibility into available to promise in addition to account history can make the difference in making the next sale or not.

 

SAP has been successful because our customers have been successful in improving effectiveness, efficiencies and creating new markets. Our great desire is to first understand what our customer’s needs and wants are and then providing these services it’s as simple as that.

 

Hope you found this information helpful. Do you want to learn more about SAP value management tools, technologies & services in the area of Big Data and how they can help you drive business value? Please email: valuemanagement@sap.com , Twitter:@SAPValueMgt

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Women in the workplace are at a watershed moment.  From college degrees to buying power, women are now in the majority and poised for driving positive change like never before.  With the rise of informal workplace “think tanks” known as ERGs (Employee Resource Groups), women are joining forces to inspire important causes; share growth opportunities; and help each other advance in life and at work. ERGs are enabling women to build the community and marshal the drive to achieve more and reach higher for themselves and for their organizations.

 

In this week’s episode of HR Trends with Game Changers: Women Driving Change: Power of Employee Resource Groups, three dynamic female leaders discuss this welcome phenomenon that is already in place and thriving at a growing number of enterprises. Our panelists are Simone Morris, Diversity & Inclusion Leader; Marla Britt, Thermal Processing Engineer, Applied Materials; and Bela Dwivedi, Senior Director, Mergers & Acquisitions, SAP. Listen to the podcast at your convenience here.

 

Top 5 most memorable insights from our panelists:

  1. Women are powerful beyond our measure.  We owe it to ourselves to play bigger. – Simone Morris on Twitter @jubileetown
  2. ERGs are think tanks to come up with innovative ideas to support and drive business value. ERGs are where women can shine. – Simone Morris  @jubileetown
  3. Fast fact: 82% of women in executive-level jobs played sports in high school or post-secondary school. And it wasn't about winning, but teamwork. The moments to shake it off and get up again. – Bela Dwivedi @beladwivedi
  4. On team sports: Even if you're not an athlete, passion, resilience and drive would suffice to lead. – Simone Morris  @jubileetown
  5. On men in women’s ERGs: We open up our membership to men and they get to see things we discuss – our perspective. Very important and necessary. – Marla Britt  @Applied_blog

 

Top 3 #CrystalBall predictions for the year 2019:

  1. There’s push vs. pull coming. More push [for change, instead of being pulled to do it]. It will be challenging. Game and reward will engage more people in ERG development. –Simone Morris @jubileetown
  2. Companies are going to realize that ERGs are a great training ground for leaders and use this as a basis for promotion. The Fortune 500 will tap into ERGs to scope leadership for promotion. My advice: Take 1-2 years to scout support for your new network. – Marla Britt   @Applied_blog
  3. ERG will morph to WRG: Workforce Resource Group. – Bela Dwivedi @beladwivedi

 

The next live HR Trends with Game-Changers Radio episode on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 explores The Workplace Learning Revolution: Redefining Learning for the 21st Century. Follow us on Twitter at #SAPRadio.

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From recruit to retire, the changing landscape of HR has forced many institutions to reassess the methods they use to engage and interact with talent. On last week's edition, we learned that a whopping 46% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by 2020! Are millennials the trial and error for reshaping Human Resources and organizations into the future?

 

Executives are grappling with how to fill some big shoes as the baby boomers exit the workplace to become retirees, but also trying to understand how this new era of “individuals” – not just a workforce – can be optimized for growth. Last week on HR Trends with Game Changers Radio: Secrets of Optimizing Talent, we asked experts Deepti Singh, Director of Talent and Learning at American Savings Bank, Gilda Stahl, Senior Editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, and Tracey Arnish, SAP Head of Global Talent, about the status of this inevitable transformation of work and how to ride the wave of change from the workplace as we know it.

 

Top 5 most memorable insights heard on this episode:

  1. Just because an employee is treated “equally”, doesn’t mean they are always managed or assessed “fairly”. Today, fairly managing and evaluating talent means knowing that “there is more to making great leaders than just technical ability alone” and that “thought leadership needs to be shaped around the uniqueness of each person” to yield the best “ROI in each employee”. –Deepti Singh
  2. Institutions almost need to trash the concept of “Performance Management” completely and strive for “Performance Encouragement.” –Producer/host Bonnie D. Graham
  3. “We need to look closer at the team talent and diversity … and no longer point to [a single] hero” to drive results. -Gilda Stahl
  4. Fast fact: “82% of the time, the research also showed that companies fail to choose candidates with the right talent [to be managers].” –Gilda Stahl (ref: Gallup Research)
  5. “Stop promoting based on technical talent. Look at early work DNA and the desire to lead.” –Tracey Arnish

 

Top 3 #CrystalBall predictions for the year 2019:

  1. Deepti Singh honed in yet again on the “individual”, emphasizing that this unique look at the employee “will be central to loyalty.”
  2. Gilda Stahl’s 5-year vision for HR foresaw some kind of “moneyball” – where the use of metrics will enable organizations to drive more and spend less. The staple will be the Big Data of HR and will help reveal not only IQ, but EQ [define EQ in parens] for workplace success. This balanced approach to the individual will help determine career trajectories.
  3. Tracey Arnish sees a future involving the “heavy use of technology to facilitate talent conversations, understand everyone, and drive learning management systems so managers can do their jobs” more effectively.

 

The next live HR Trends with Game-Changers Radio episode on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 explores Social Recruiting: Art or Science? Listen on-demand at your convenience and follow our panelists’ words of wisdom on Twitter at #SAPRadio.

Sarah Williams* is a millennial. And like most millennials, Sarah has student loans.  To put herself through college, she worked overtime as a restaurant server; however that was not enough to cover the cost of tuition, rent, car payments, and text books.  Sarah graduated in 2013 with over $31,000 in student loan debt.

 

According to the American Student Association, today, in the US, there is somewhere between $902 billion and $1 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt, and in 2013, the average American student graduated with about $29,000 of debt.  Add interest onto that number and incorporate the struggle to gain employment after graduation and you have a recipe for years of living paycheck to paycheck. Ask most millennials and they will tell you: it’s not fun.

 

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However the University of Kentucky, a state and federally funded public institution teaching 28,000+ students, is determined to make a difference. In an effort to use data and analytics to improve graduation rate (avoiding a hike in tuition costs) and to achieve operational efficiencies, the University of Kentucky (UK) transitioned away from its large data warehouse and went live with the in-memory data analysis capabilities of SAP HANA in March 2012.

 



According to an ROI study by IDC, by running SAP HANA, the school will achieve:

     -$6.17 million in benefits (discounted) over five years

     -509% return on investment of the SAP HANA purchase

     -Payback in 9.5 months


In addition, UK will save an average of $210,800 per year in increased tuition over five years by improving its graduation rate through the use of analytics enabled by SAP HANA.


The ROI study also projected many technological benefits due to SAP HANA.  They include:

     -Up to 420 times faster data reporting than the legacy system (large data warehouse)

     -Up to 15 times improvement in query load times

     -Average data compression improvement of 77%

     -Up to 87% reduction in extract, transform, and load (ETL) times

     -Up to 80% of data updated in real time

 

With the in-memory data analysis capabilities of SAP HANA, The University of Kentucky can view granular reporting data in minutes rather than days.  Now, UK has real-time access to information on student performance and can detect the need to provide personalized services to struggling students much earlier, significantly reducing the likelihood that the students will leave school. By reducing attrition and increasing the graduation rate, the university will bring in more tuition dollars without raising cost.

 

Although the University of Kentucky can’t completely relieve the stress of student loans, by utilizing SAP HANA for its in-memory computing, the university is making a proactive effort to save funds, avoid hikes in tuition rates, and increase the efficiency of operations and staff.  The university is now better achieving its mission of providing higher education to as many students as possible.  And for students like Sarah Williams, the effort is appreciated and makes the difference between eating instant noodles for dinner each night and affording fresh groceries.

 

Read the original blog release here.

 

Follow me on twitter: @CMDonato and on LinkedIn.

 

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

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The Buzz: Women at Work.


Women in the workforce wield significant influence as drivers of change across industries and fields, far beyond their traditional roles in HR. How? Through ERGs (employee resource groups), a think-tank networking forum where the brightest, most effective women leaders exchange ideas and strategies. Is your company leveraging this power?

 

The experts speak.


Tune in, Tuesday, April 15th at 12 pm ET / 9 am PT for a new HR Trends with Game-Changers roundtable discussion on Women Driving Change: Power of Women's Employee Resource Groups. Our panelists will include Simone Morris, Diversity & Inclusion Leader, Marla Britt, Thermal Processing Engineer, Applied Materials and Bela Dwivedi, Senior Director, Mergers & Acquisitions at SAP (pictured from left to right).


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Simone Morris, Diversity and Inclusion Leader: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us” (Marianne Williamson).


Marla Britt, Applied Materials: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people never forget how you made them feel” (Maya Angelou).


Bela Dwivedi, SAP: “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).


Join us for Women Driving Change: Power of Employee Resource Groups.

It is a well-known fact in healthcare that countries become healthy before they become wealthy! In the last decade, you may have been inundated with headlines talking about the myriad of opportunities in emerging markets for healthcare.  But what was earlier a trickle at best, is now becoming a stream, and will morph into a flood in the near future!!

Consider the facts – 75% cancer related deaths between now and 2050 will happen in emerging markets. Developing countries account for 80% of global deaths from chronic diseases, according to the International Finance Corp. They suffer from the diseases of both the developed and the developing world, and while they have come to expect the same quality as developed countries, 50% of medical spending in developing countries is private and out-of-pocket expenditure.


The healthcare system in these economies is in a nascent stage, and this state of flux and uncertainty leads to an unprecedented opportunity. Emerging economies are countries with the greatest need, the largest populations and the fewest resources and thus have the ability to become a cost-effective model of care delivery. Healthcare providers are uncovering patterns for delivering value-based care, and leaders across health sectors—public, private, and payers—should take heed. They must challenge the norms of how and where care is offered, and enable connections among people, use technology with business transformation to re-invent delivery, provide right tools and training to the workforce, standardize operating services and procedures, share data across organizations, and optimize costs to deliver value over the long-term.

Healthcare mobility as a disruptive innovation for emerging markets

mHealth is today is where the internet was in the mid-1990s. The confluence of enabling technologies, low-cost to entry and high demand is already there. The wide availability of mobile phones can drive disruptive use of an existing technology. Mexico for example has 90 million phones compared to 20,000 clinics in the country. The lack of brick and mortar access, and the need to have mass reach can be achieved through mHealth, the practice of medicine supported by smart mobile devices. But for emerging countries, it is more than just the devices – it is really the whole ecosystem from the infrastructure and the connectivity to the end to end solutions enabled through them.

Patients in emerging markets are much more likely to use mHealth applications or services than those in developed countries. Similarly, more emerging-market doctors offer mHealth services than colleagues in developed countries, and more payers cover these costs. 59% of patients in emerging markets already use mobile health applications or services (vs. 35% in developed markets). These countries can be the perfect trailblazers for healthcare mobility. The ability of these countries to leap ahead lies in the paucity of existing healthcare: there is greater demand for change and, just as important, there are fewer entrenched interests to impede the adoption of new approaches.

Innovation leading to reverse innovation

Diagnostics developed for resource-challenged low- and middle-income countries are now extensively being used everywhere in the world. An example of reverse innovation in action is the Medtronic approach to chronic disease management in nations without adequate medical school capacity to train specialists in heart disease. 69% of deaths in such nations are due to chronic disease, but the building of medical training programs would have taken decades. Medtronic designed a low-cost, pill-sized pacemaker inside a stent that can be put into the heart instead of the invasive inter cardiac leads used in the U.S. to electrically synchronize the heart. Remote sensors in the pill-sized pacemaker transmit signals via any smartphone to a cloud computing infrastructure. Although this new technology was developed for India, which has 1.2 billion citizens but only 100 electro physiologists, General Electric (GE) embraced this and developed a $1,000 handheld electrocardiogram device for rural India and a $15,000 PC-based portable ultrasound machine for rural China. These devices are much more affordable and rugged than their American counterparts, and they are now being sold around the world.


Healthcare providers will always have something new to learn. They need to be curious about the innovations in poor countries as they are dependent on cost-effective healthcare delivery. It is learning, collaborating, and best practices that will fuel the long-awaited transformation of healthcare to something data-driven, value-based, and personalized.

Learn more about one of SAP for Healthcare’s innovative solutions to support collaborative care delivery at www.carecircles.com

learningblogsmall1.jpgA few weeks ago at the 11th annual SAPInsider Human Resource (HR) 2014 Conference, I had the opportunity to speak with several HR experts on how high-performing companies are changing employee engagement with dramatic results. Here are highlights from our conversations.

 

Address the leadership challenge – empower employees: According to Josh Bersin, Partner and Founder at Bersin by Deloitte, “Companies are struggling to engage, attract, retain, and lead younger people. They don’t have the leadership programs to drive the dynamic level of leadership that young people want. Sophisticated HR teams know that they have to work closely with top leadership to create new models of engagement in the new world of work.”

 

Bersin’s company recently released its Global Human Capital Trends 2014 survey of over 2500 respondents from 90 countries. One of the key findings is that traditional employee training is being transformed with the advent of online and mobile learning. Employee empowerment through collaboration and self-driven learning is crucial to fostering a culture of development and growth that drives higher performance.

 

Connect the siloes: Industry analyst, Lisa Rowan, Research Vice President of HR, Talent and Learning Strategies at IDC, believes one of the top challenges HR faces today is a diverse and geographically dispersed workforce.

 

“Gone are the days when 95 percent of the workforce went into the office and were full or part-time employees. People are working remotely around the globe, you have freelancers and contractors. You may have partners’ employees working next to your own employees. You can’t gather everyone around the water cooler, yet HR still needs to meet the needs of the business.”

 

Rowan advises HR to rethink the way they use technology. “Companies are scaling back on the number of vendors they have to work with as disparate systems can’t collaborate because they have different data on them. Take an inventory, and decide what’s working and what’s not. Wherever that greatest point of pain is, that’s where to start.”

 

Engage with five generations of workers: Industry analyst Christa Degnan Manning, Senior Vice President of Research at HfS Research, says that companies need an omni-channel employee experience that also focuses on soft skills.

 

“Self-service has been overdone and employees are frustrated with it. You need mobile, social and chat in a centralized environment that provides shared services supporting the worldwide workforce, engagement with all generations of workers in the way that they want.”

 

Perhaps the biggest challenge for HR is the recognition that its processes are fundamentally changing. Mike Ettling, Global Head of Cloud and On Premise HR at SAP, told me that, “Everything from recruiting to onboarding to learning is less prescriptive, and more about self-empowered employee collaboration using social and mobile.”

 

What I find most optimstic is that after years of considering employees as cost centers to be minimized, there’s growing recognition among many companies that people are indeed their most important asset. It only makes sense that HR technology changes as well. The focus now is on helping employees take control of their learning so they can get more work done that’s directly related to strategic business results.

 

Follow me @smgaler

If there is a Wawa near you, this company needs no further introduction. But for the rest of you folks, Wawa Inc. is a chain of convenience stores headquartered in suburban Philadelphia that is famous for its freshly brewed coffee and built-to-order sandwiches.WawaStore1_Folsom.jpg

 

Wawa operates more than 645 convenience retail stores – over 365 of which offer gasoline – in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. For many of us, it is our go-to place for a morning cup of joe, a tankful of gas, and a “shorti hoagie” for lunch.

 

Wawa has a very loyal following. Last year Wawa announced that it reached one million fans on its Facebook page.

 

One Family’s Wawa Connection

 

My wife grew up just a couple of blocks from Wawa’s very first store in Folsom, Pennsylvania. Her parents remember the day it opened in 1964. For many years it was a weekend ritual for my father-in-law to walk down to his Wawa and pick up the Sunday paper. That's the Folsom store in the photo.

 

I developed a ritual of my own when the kids were in high school and middle school. Back then, I started off most days by driving my daughter Hannah to school. Invariably, we stopped at our local Wawa for a hot chocolate and perhaps a treat for the lunch bag.

 

I didn’t have to drive Hannah to school; the bus would literally stop for her at our front door. But for me it was an opportunity to spend some quality time with my daughter. And even if we didn’t have anything particular to discuss that day, that time was precious to me.

 

Then when I got home, I turned around and did it again – taking my son John to school and stopping off at the same Wawa.

 

The Wawa folks took notice. At first it was just a joke, but soon they were asking each of my kids about their studies and wishing them well in their school day.

 

Taking Success to the Sunshine State

 

In my job at SAP, I’ve had the opportunity to write about Wawa and its considerable success. Wawa has used SAP software optimized for the retail industry for some time now to help fuel new revenue growth and manage costs more efficiently.

 

For example, Wawa managers focus on key retail concerns such as store stock levels, product costs, spoilage, and shrinkage with visibility down to the category and item level. And in food service, they can fully analyze the demand and yields for specific recipes and menu mixes.

 

An article in the Convenience Store News describes how the SAP software continues to play an integral role in Wawa’s recent and dramatic expansion into Florida. Since 2012, Wawa has opened dozens of stores in the central portion of the Sunshine State.

 

According to a company press release, in one year Wawa sold enough coffee in Florida to fill 15 swimming pools.

 

The article describes how business insight helps support Wawa’s day-to-day decisions at both the corporate and individual store levels. And Wawa officials note that knowing “what parts of the business are not working and which parts are excelling” is particularly important when a company is expanding.

 

An Anniversary Worth Celebrating

 

My Wawa connection continues to expand too. When my then teenaged son got his first job, it was at Wawa. It was a part-time gig as a Customer Service Associate behind the cash register. The job was all his idea; his own initiative. John felt he had made friends there.

 

Working at Wawa has been a rewarding experience for my son. It is an organization that appears to actively foster a sense of family among its employees. On John’s birthday, Wawa sent him a card.

 

This April, Wawa marks a major milestone – its 50th anniversary. An in-store celebration is planned for the original Folsom store on April 16th. It’s an occasion that I can’t let go by without my personal congratulations:

 

Happy Birthday, Wawa!

 

  – From my family to yours.

 

Learn more about the SAP for Retail solutions, and be sure to join me on Twitter at@JohnGWard3.

Just because a company is small doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a complex business.

 

Take a look at Joskin. The Soumagne, Belgium-based manufacturer of agricultural trailers and related tools produces close to 3,000 machines every year. On the face of it, that doesn’t sound like much of a challenge. But consider this: every agricultural machine it produces is unique to the customer, from slurry spreaders and livestock trailers to field aerators and self-propelled cargo trucks. They manufacture more than 70 different types of machines with more than 1,500 options. They then distribute customized orders from their four European factories to more than 40 countries around the world. The family-owned company is fast-growing, with revenues increasing four-fold since 2000 and an employee base that has expanded from 240 to 790 people. And they’re constantly tweaking and expanding their product lines to meet the changing needs of the agricultural customers they serve.

 

With €107 million in revenues a year, Joskin is a midsize manufacturer without outsized customer service challenges. To support its expansion while still providing outstanding service to a growing customer base, they needed to make detailed information available at employees’ fingertips. They also wanted to streamline other key business functions, including material resource planning, financial reporting, and IT management. So last year, they deployed ERP on SAP HANA.

 

Now Joskin’s customer service department can respond to the distinct needs of the farmers who contact them. When answering customer service requests, they can pull up an exact view of the individual machine down to its bill of materials that outlines each piece of equipment’s individual parts and assemblies in a single second. They can also immediately modify the install base of the customer equipment if any modifications or repairs were performed after delivery. Thus they can address customer problems and questions on the phone or online at the speed that customers have come to expect in today’s hyper-connected world.

 

Thanks to SAP HANA’s performance, customer service has improved dramatically. And the company is poised to reinvent other processes throughout the business to take advantage of real-time information. Material resource planning and daily production control reports are processes seven times faster. This means that Joskin can now run MRPs as frequently as needed. Certain financial reports took the accounting department more than ten minutes to run or—worse—often aborted due to a timeout. The accounting staff would have to reload a single report up to six times to get what they needed, taking up an hour of time they could devote to higher level financial analysis and decision-making. Now those accounting professionals can access financial information from general ledger, accounts payable and receivable, and line-item reporting in a few seconds. And closing the books is a lot smoother.

 

IT management is simpler, too. Backups take 40 minutes instead of five hours. With a database that is six times smaller, recovery takes less time. And, like other users of the system, their total cost of IT operations will decrease.

 

More responsive systems and analytics will enable company leaders to meet their stated goals of developing a dealer network closer to their users—for increased customer responsiveness and greater customer input into product development—and closer control and optimization of strategic phases of production at Joskin.

 

To hear from Joskin leaders about their experience with SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA, check out this video.

Swaziland – bordering South Africa and Mozambique with a population of only 1.2 million, is the country hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. 25% of the adult populationswaziland.jpg and a staggering 40% of mothers are affected by the virus. Swaziland has also seen its life expectancy drop from an average of 58 years in 2000, down to 50 years in 2011. Part of this is because of extreme poverty, lack of education, and limited healthcare.

 

But there is hope and Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC) plays a significant role in the development of rural Swaziland with over 6,000 people currently involved in sugar cane production. The importance of the sugar sector to Swaziland’s economy is unprecedented, accounting for 59% of agricultural output, 18% of GDP, and 35% of agricultural wage employment. Since RSSC produces two-thirds of the nations’ sugar, they’re afforded the opportunity to give back to the community by providing for the people in many ways:

 

  • Managed housing for ALL employees and dependents within the estates’ various towns and villages. Aside from employees, another 20,000 people live on the estates as well.
  • Two healthcare facilities focused on primary healthcare and HIV and TB prevention
  • 1st class primary education for the children at a private, English speaking school  (and much more)

 

RSSC’s vision is to be a leading producer and marketer of sugar and renewable energy, so they turned to SAP (becoming the first SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA <SoH> customer in Africa). The challenge? To revamp and simplify their IT landscape through modernization focused on eliminating disparate systems and reducing costs from lack of visibility and over expenditure.

 

swazi.people.jpg

 

“SAP as a company stood out from an innovation and cost standpoint and because of its global presence. From a technology platform perspective, SAP’s SoH could deliver on RSSC’s requirements for the future,” said Rob Coombe, RSSC Group IT Manager.

 

RSSC aims to reduce the planning process from two weeks, to a few hours. And the company will also gain immediate visibility into areas where value is lost. From a leak in a pipe, to more accurate predictions on amounts of water and sugar cane required for the factory, these estimates could cost RSSC over $100,000 per day if not on target. “We can now dedicate more time and resources to innovation and less to ‘keeping the lights on’. With SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA we now have a modern, competitive analytics engine with comprehensive integration, so we can offer more benefits to the farm, the factory, and the families here at RSSC.”

 

In the future, Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation intends to integrate with myAgri® Agriculture Management Software, SAP’s Farming Solution, allowing for continued innovation with an organization that is providing a positive footprint through housing, healthcare, and education in a nation that needs it. Recent stats show that Swaziland is in the stabilization phase of its HIV epidemic with infection rates dropping slightly from 2008 to 2013 and with companies like RSSC doing their part; the Swazis can keep hope alive.

 

Learn More about RSSC's Journey here. Connect with me on LinkedIn & Twitter.

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