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The U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other high-income country, and yet, our health results are some of the worst.


In 2014, U.S. healthcare spending constituted 17.5 percent of total GDP, a number that’s expected to increase about four percent by 2025.


The current business model for healthcare is not sustainable. Costs are soaring in every aspect of the industry, especially on pharmaceutical drug prices, and neither politicians nor can society afford the recent hike.


It can cost up to $8 billion to bring a new drug to market and at least 10 years. “The current business model is just not sustainable and we have to have a more holistic approach,” said Arim Furtwaengler of Boehringer Ingelheim in the latest Knowledge by Wharton Paper, Precision Medicine: New Paradigms, Risks and Opportunities.


“The current situation for the pharmaceutical industry is very challenging, with lots of significant and dynamic changes coming from limited budgets of payer organization and governments, and ever increasing expectations and aspirations by patients, physicians, and society of what ‘modern healthcare, research and new technologies’ might potentially accomplish,” Furtwaengler said.


More than a Buzz Word: Precision Medicine


To better treat and prevent diseases, pharmaceutical companies, providers, payers, government entities, and technology leaders must join efforts to mainstream precision medicine.


Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.


The advent of precision medicine would entail changes to every facet of modern healthcare like FDA classifications, drug companies and diagnostics companies working together, full adoption of electronic medical records, and increasing accessibility to DNA editing and sequencing.


Arguably, the most progress in precision medicine has been made around cancer. Healthcare professionals can compare the sequence of a cancer patient’s healthy genome with the sequence of their tumor genome, identifying the existence and location of a cancer marker or specific mutation.


Jennifer Morrissette and the team at the Center for Personalized Diagnostics at the University of Pennsylvania says that cancer tumor DNA sequencing will become the standard of care in the next few years.


Beyond the Genome


In addition to DNA analysis, precision medicine examines the patient’s phenotype and how the patient interacts with his or her environment.


Joe Miles of SAP agrees, saying, “it’s not just about taking your drugs; it’s making sure that you’re eating right, exercising, being active, and having a good care circle.”  Wearable technology, e-health, and mobile health will play an integral role in keeping doctors and patients connected in and out of the office.


The Wharton Paper explains that precision medicine also considers commonalities between patients to help identify the best treatment options based on what has worked for others in the past.


Through CancerLinQ LLC, a wholly-owned nonprofit subsidiary of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and SAP, cancer patients and their physicians can be informed by the data of nearly every patient treated before them.


CancerLinQTM is a state-of-the-art health information technology platform that leverages in-memory data management to analyze big data from a growing number of patient records.  Record data is accessible to practicing oncologists in a simple, easy to comprehend user interface.


ASCO CEO Clifford Hudis noted that with CancerLinQTM, “we can learn from the care given to 97% of adult patients who do not currently participate in clinical trials.”


An additional example is Grail, a startup in which Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have invested. This company is developing a cancer screening blood test for people even if they show no symptoms.


Information Technology Powers Precision Medicine


To implement wide adoption of precision medicine and eventually dramatically drive down healthcare cost, the healthcare industry must make a massive investment in new data systems, new business models, and new procedures, noted Thomas Wilckens of InnVentis.


Life sciences, especially, need to harness new technologies in order to speed the time-to-market, staying ahead of trends in precision medicine.


With technologies like SAP HANA we now have the power to comprehend various sources and formats of data in real-time.  Scientific texts, clinical studies, proteomic data, genomic data… across any language can be viewed to identify trends and patterns. With technologies that can store and analyze gargantuan data sets with accuracy and incredible speed, healthcare professionals can pull actionable insights to make more informed and better care decisions.


Petra Streng of SAP put it best, “without the speed of the data systems, and without the technical ability to look at all this information, no human brain can process millions and billions of iterations and compounds.  This is where IT needs to play a key role.”


It is the role of IT, politicians, healthcare professionals, insurance companies, and society as a whole to work together to make precision medicine the standard of care. Human lives are at stake.


You might also like:


The #BigData Revolution: Who Owns Our Data?

Why Care About Personalized Medicine? Your Life Could Depend Upon It.

Healthcare IT isn’t just buzz… it’s our future

Knowledge is Power: Why Educated Patients Live Longer


Follow me @Cmdonato and on LinkedIn.

The excitement was palpable on stage at SAP TechEd 2016 in Las Vegas when Keytree topped the mobile voting charts as this year’s DemoJam winner. I caught up with the ecstatic winning team in this VIDEO interview minutes after they accepted their award for their astounding prototype “beApp.”


I originally talked with Will Powell in early August, when he told me this was the eighth DemoJam competition for the team at Keytree, a U.K.-based, global SAP partner. His team apparently took his advice to developers on the winning magic for DemoJam, having done their homework, established a team early, and pushed the envelope.


Presenters Powell and Nic Doodson also had tons of fun presenting beApp, which could turn out to be ultimate motivational tool for students. Using holographic images, Powell and Doodson showcased what they called the power of Newtonian physics. beApp is designed to inform and reward students as they go about their daily activities across campus. They can check their class schedule, stay in touch with classmates, get directions, and join societies and groups – all through the app which is connected to the collaborative cloud platform SAP Jam. The fascinating demo showed beApp linking with academic activities, specifically a physics class that used Microsoft HoloLens, connecting learning tasks directly to SAP software.


Perhaps most game-changing, using custom open social widgets, beApp rewards good behavior such as punctuality, academic excellence, and good citizenship around campus. Students can gain “Excellence Reward” points for spending in campus stores or trading with fellow students in return for services. It promises to be a whole new learning experience.


Watch all six of the DemoJam finalist videos here.


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Few artists have sustained a more successful rock & roll career over four decades than Bruce Springsteen. And maybe no other artist is still performing concerts that last more than four hours at 67 as he did a few weeks ago, breaking the record for the longest concert in the United States.  Bruce’s creativity, passion and longevity are both amazing and inspiring.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the song “Badlands” and the line “It ain’t a sin to be glad to be alive.”  Those ten words became a rallying cry for me as I was embarking on my professional career to find what I loved so I could love what I do.  As a business leader today, I am still inspired by the Boss and his lyrics. And there are plenty of lessons to be learned from them. Here are my top three:


1)     Keep things Real

Well now I'm no hero

That's understood

All the redemption I can offer girl

Is beneath this dirty hood
(Thunder Road)


Bruce is all about honest, hard work, understatement and knowing where you come from. For him, it is not about being a celebrity or having fancy show effects. When he performs live with the E-Street band, he is just a man with a guitar. He could play shorter concerts, and rely on an elaborate production. But he has none of it. Rather, he pours his soul and heart into every performance, feeding of the audience’s energy and vice versa. He is authentic and raw.

The lesson: True success is driven by passion, heart and grit – not titles or money. Know who you are, and earn it every day.


2)     Never Lose Sight of Your Dreams

Everybody’s got a hunger, a hunger they can’t resist

There’s so much more that you want, you deserve much more than this,

But if dreams came true, oh wouldn’t that be nice,

But this ain’t no dream we’re living through tonight,

Girl you want it, you take it, you pay the price

(Prove it All Night)

Bruce is a storyteller. His songs are about the everyday struggle. They paint the picture of Marys, Johnnys and Killer Joes who aspire to bigger things, but get lost in the daily grind. But they are also full of hope and dreams. Bruce sings about the fire and hunger that drive his characters. He celebrates those who go for it and live in the moment and reminds us that those who don’t will be relegated to thinking only of a better past.


The lesson:  Life is full of setbacks and time passing. But you can’t let it stop you. Never lose sight of your dreams and pursue them with a passion and “hunger”.

3)     Enjoy the Ride

Someday girl I don't know when we're gonna get to that place

Where we really want to go and we'll walk in the sun

But till then tramps like us baby we were born to run
(Born to Run)


We are all on a journey. And as the saying goes, “getting there is half the fun.” When Bruce and the E-Street Band play Born to Run, they play it with the same zeal and passion they did four decades ago. The hunger and fire hasn’t stopped. There is no place they would rather be than on that stage.

The Lesson: Find your passion and surround yourselves with people who share it. You’ll be inspired and inspire others to achieve their potential and do great things – perhaps without even knowing it.

Just like the real Boss…

For more than 120 years, The Hershey Company has successfully made great-tasting chocolates that you and your family have grown to love. Over the years, the company has added other candies, confectionaries, and snacks to its growing portfolio to meet the changing needs of consumers.SAP_Hersheys_Chocolate_01_300x228px.jpg


Hershey’s tradition of innovation goes beyond creating new products; it also involves reimagined systems and processes. Hershey understands that it takes innovation and evolution for continued growth in today’s marketplace.


In a recent video, J.P. Bilbrey, Chairman, President, and CEO of The Hershey Company, talks about how the company relies on knowledge and insights to drive business decisions in order to win in the marketplace.


Hershey is on a journey to providing an uninterrupted flow of information to employees across the company. Bilbrey sees this kind of enterprise connectivity as critical to Hershey’s future success.


Exactly how critical? Well, to quote from that same video, Bilbrey says, “Enterprise connectivity is going to be the single most important thing to be able to win in the marketplace. And we want to win.”


That’s a very strong statement, and off-screen, Bilbrey had even more to say about the topic.


Keeping Pace with Change

During his 35+ year career in the industry, Bilbrey has seen tremendous change in the consumer products world – economic globalization, a growing digitalization of daily life, and the consumer’s own changing relationship with food.


“The speed at which these things are happening is more dramatic than ever before,” Bilbrey observes.


He believes businesses like Hershey must keep pace.


“Having access to information in a live business environment lets you act on insight at equally fast speeds,” says Bilbrey.


Bilbrey makes the point that a company’s information and its talent typically span the entire enterprise.


“An organization needs to be well-connected to take advantage of all the data that is available,” he says. “Tear down the silos and get that information to as many people as possible. You’ll discover some great insights from some surprising places.”


Knowledge is the Enabler

Such insights already help Hershey fine-tune its recipe for market success.


“We use SAP S/4HANA in our supply chain where we’ve been able to influence how we think about inventory, how we procure goods, and how they move through our system,” says Bilbrey, citing just one example.


And by “influence,” Bilbrey clearly means “improve.”


He describes a specific instance where deeper analysis and greater insight into the supply chain enabled Hershey to take out more than 20 million corrugated paper cartons from the production and shipping process.


“Twenty million cartons,” Bilbrey repeats for emphasis. “That’s a big number.”


It’s the CEO’s Job

Bilbrey notes that Milton S. Hershey built his business on the concept of “doing well by doing good.”


Hershey himself believed workers should be treated fairly, and he established a model community that included good housing, green space, arts, and entertainment. He was responsible for creating the Milton Hershey School for disadvantaged children, and decades later a US$50 million gift from the Milton Hershey Trust led to the renowned Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, which combines a medical school, teaching hospital, and research center.


This legacy of progressive thinking continues at Hershey.


Today, Hershey uses the knowledge gleaned from its data and analytic capabilities to explore new market opportunities, build value for its investors, and deliver the great tasting snacks loved by generations of loyal customers. In other words, to help the company identify all the right priorities.


“And that’s one of the most important things a CEO does,” says Bilbrey.


You can hear more from J. P. Bilbrey in this SAP video where he describes how The Hershey Company is using SAP to support the business’s goal to Run Live.


And please follow me on Twitter @JohnGWard3.

What’s the No. 1 challenge IoT brings to developers? Is there a killer IoT app? How can developers make IoT a reality? One of the most enlightening conversations I had last week at SAP TechEd Las Vegas about making IoT innovation happen was with Nayaki Nyyar, General Manager and Global Head of IoT and Innovation at SAP. Internet of things is rapidly moving from dream to reality, and Nayyar summed up the huge changes for software applications developers in this VIDEO interview.



Capturing value from the IoT opportunity

When it comes to IoT, everything is big. SAP is investing €2 billion over the next five years to help business and government securely tap into, analyze, learn, and take action from data across a network of millions of connected devices. Connectivity is exploding along with the information it generates, making collaboration critical. That’s why SAP is expanding its ecosystem of partners and startups in the IoT market, which is estimated to reach €250 billion by 2020.


Transportation is among the many industries IoT is transforming, (think: connected, self-driving cars), and Nayyar was particularly excited about an event taking place in Italy this week. SAP and executives from Trenitalia, Italy’s largest train company, are showcasing IoT innovations, demonstrating how predictive maintenance technologies are transforming the transportation industry. You can follow @SAP_IoT and #SAPIoT to join key parts of the event live via Periscope on September 29.


At the same time, there was and will continue to be plenty of IoT innovations inspiring and empowering developers at all of the SAP TechEd events, including Bangalore and Barcelona.



Follow me @smgaler


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Two software developers are combining their interests in drones and horseback riding to create IoT solutions for agribusinesses worldwide.

Cattle farming has evolved since the 1800’s when cowboys drove cattle along the open ranges of the American West. Although it’s become big business globally, ranchers still lose sleep over the same questions: Where are my cattle? Are they healthy? How many calves were born last week? Do my animals have enough grass and water? Which predators are in the area? All of these factors can influence the rancher’s bottom line.


1000_Oleg and Alexander Bolgarin Horseback2.jpgThe economics of cattle farming increasingly favors big herds requiring ever-larger grazing areas managed by fewer caretakers – from ranches in the USA, to China, Brazil, India, Argentina or Russia. And the numbers are truly staggering. One major agribusiness in Russia, for example, aspires to grow its herd to a million cattle grazing across 1,000 square kilometers. Monitoring territory of this size is a huge task, so farmers are increasingly looking to technology for answers, and they’re finding inventive solutions based on the Internet of Things.


Enter the “quadcopter cowboys,” Alexander and Oleg Bolgarin, two brothers with similar hobbies and the same employer: SAP. The two brothers are passionate software developers, avid horseback riders and drone pilots. Their entrepreneurial idea to help ranchers sleep better: Collar cattle with sensors, connect the herd to the cloud and apply drones as “mobile base stations” to ferry cattle data to a central cloud-based platform.


Digitalize to Feed the World Sustainably


SAP supports the Bolgarin brothers’ passions by giving them time and resources to develop a prototype. They are currently in discussions with one of Russia’s largest agribusinesses, which has shown interest in applying the IoT solution supported by the SAP HANA Cloud Platform.


In all industries, agribusinesses are becoming increasingly digitalized, a development which is viewed by many as key to feeding the world sustainably. Digitalization of their processes enables agribusinesses to increase productivity and manage food supply chains sustainably and transparently “from farm to fork.” Early adopters of IoT solutions in crop farming have already shown that sensor data across farms can be collected and analyzed on a cloud platform.


The production process on cattle farms is similar worldwide. Mother herds graze in open green fields, bearing calves. Bulls reaching 220 kg are moved to separate grazing fields to mature. At about 400 kg, ranchers move the cattle to more densely populated feedlots where they remain until slaughtered at around 600 kg. The cycle is continuous and the challenge is to maximize output while ensuring quality while minimizing operating costs.


Spotting the Calves, Protecting the Herd


1000_QuadcopterTeamSAPLabsCIS_Moscow3.jpgThe prototype developed by the Bolgarin brothers envisages a cattle collar with sensors for location (GPS), motion (accelerometer) and temperature. Batteries need to keep the collar transmitting for the life of the cow, up to three years. According to Oleg, the current cost per collar is about $25. He believes, however, that the cost will drop significantly.


Sensor data can be combined to tell whether a bull or cow is sick, trapped, lost or deceased. According to one study, accelerometers can distinguish up to nine different cattle diseases. Temperature can indicate a dead bull, which if left undetected might spread disease to others. An animal which is alive (temperature) but static (GPS) could be injured or trapped. The pictures delivered by a drone can also deliver useful information about a herd, such as pasture grass quality or the number of newly born calves. Where it’s clear that predators have struck, ranchers can take preventative measures.


As with any operation in remote territory, there are technical challenges. Perhaps the most innovative part of the Bolgarin brother’s solution is the way sensor data is transmitted from the herd to drones. RFID can transmit only 10 meters, Bluetooth is susceptible to weather conditions, and mobile communications networks seldom support underpopulated rural areas, so all three were not viable. Alexander and Oleg therefore outfitted drones and collars with a low-power wide area network (LoRa) transmitters and receivers. LoRa is a relatively new communications method intended for wireless battery-operated devices that supports sending data long distances at very low data-rates.


Data Analysis Supports “Herd Management by Exception”


QC-architecture.PNGThe interesting part begins once a drone completes its mission autonomously and returns to the farm with herd data. All sensor and picture data are uploaded to SAP HANA Cloud Platform for evaluation. Cattle farmers can immediately analyze and evaluate the data to gain near-real-time status over their herds, develop action plans and even make predictions that support upstream and downstream processes of the business. With the information, cattle farmers can more easily adopt a “management by exception” working model, which helps them optimize the way resources are allocated. And perhaps they can even sleep better.


Along with other colleagues from SAP, Alexander and Oleg Bolgarin continue to refine their prototype with the hope of launching a finished product that will be applied by cattle ranchers worldwide. When they are not horseback riding or thinking up new uses for their drones, they are busy in SAP’s Globalization Services team at SAP Labs CIS in Moscow. Alexander localizes SAP’s procurement applications to markets in the Community of Independent States (CIS), while Oleg is product manager for SAP’s logistic solutions in Russia and other CIS countries.

Thousands of companies are using business networks to drive value for their business through greater procurement efficiency, shorter buying cycles, lower processing costs, higher supply savings, and more.


To achieve these results, a simple and quick onboarding process for suppliers is critical. This can open the door for you to reach critical supplier mass, increase electronic transaction volume, and optimize spend under management.


Through flexible enablement and integration options, organizations can work with virtually all suppliers, regardless of supplier size, transaction volume, or technical sophistication level.


What’s the best path for your company?


Join SAP Ariba on October 6th for the webinar “Optimizing Enablement and Integration with All of your Suppliers.” This informative webinar will present tips on how to optimize supplier onboarding through the latest innovations for supplier enablement.


You’ll gain insights into the multiple enablement and integration strategies you can choose to enable your entire supplier base. These strategies work for all suppliers, from low-volume, tail-spend companies to high-volume, strategic organizations.


Specifically, the webinar will provide highlights of a range of enablement and integration methods, from a simple, email-based process to full system-to-system integration. You will learn more about the following:

  • Supplier enablement dashboard, which provides automated supplier segmentation, and online supplier enablement monitoring and management.
  • Light enablement, which allows for easy, simple, and free transaction with tail-spend suppliers through interactive e-mail. This option can help eliminate the complexity of onboarding and connecting suppliers who transact on a limited basis, such as small long-tail suppliers with limited technology infrastructure. With a few clicks, suppliers can receive purchase orders, and send order confirmations and invoices to their buyers without any portals to manage or business process changes.
  • Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway, which provides full system-to-system integration of strategic suppliers. Built on SAP HANA Cloud Platform, this solution provides a simple and efficient way for suppliers to integrate with the Ariba Network. It reduces the deployment and integration time needed to connect with multiple buyers through a browser-based application that easily connects back-end software systems to the Ariba Network.


You will also hear strategies and tips for choosing the right enablement approach for your company, speeding up value realization, and integrating your suppliers quickly to the Ariba Network. In addition, you’ll learn how incorporating the appropriate options as part of an overall supplier enablement strategy can help you achieve the goal of transacting electronically with all of your suppliers.


Register now for the October 6th webinar. When you register, you will also receive a post-webinar recording link to share with others in your organization. Questions? E-mail us for more information.

You don’t win by predicting the future; you win by getting the odds right.


I heard this provocative quote at a recent conference. As far as I could tell, the speaker was trying to make the point that you don’t need an accurate forecast of the future. Instead you understand the probability of different events happening and choose one that gives you an advantage over others.


This quote is from Will Bonner’s book “Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics.” Bonner is CEO of Agora Inc., one of the world's largest financial newsletter companies. The next few sentencesof the book do a good job of explaining what Bonner meant:

You can be right about the future and still not make any money. At the racetrack, for example, the favorite horse may be the one most likely to win, but since everyone wants to bet on the favorite, how likely is it that betting on the favorite will make you money? The horse to bet on is the one more likely to win than most people expect. That’s the one that gives you the best odds. That’s the bet that pays off over time.

Bonner, and the speaker who quoted his book, are talking about an arbitrage in an inefficient market. While we normally associate the term arbitrage with the financial markets, it applies in many other situations. An example from parimutuel betting happens in an episode of the crime drama Numb3rs when the ‘criminals’ take advantage of the higher expectation of betting on the second-best horse. Here’s a good explanation:

Since the odds are set by the bettors, they may not actually reflect the true odds of a horse winning a race. Most bettors will concentrate on the best horse and place their bets there, often forgetting about the second best.

There are legal and tax differences in every country (and in every state in the U.S.) which provide another kind of arbitrage. Residents of the state of Washington might drive to Oregon to purchase expensive goods because Oregon has no sales tax (while Washington has no income tax). Cultural and geographic differences also provide an opportunity for arbitrage.


Netherlands’ Aalsmeer flower market is world-renowned as the place to purchase flowers and plants; blooms flown in from India are sold to international customers on the day they arrive, fetching a much higher price than they would have back in India. A similar situation exists for the diamond markets in Antwerp Belgium.


Even in fact-based businesses, most decisions are based on arbitrage. We collect lots of data about what happened but we cannot know the future with certainty. Given an unpredictable future, management estimates the probability of multiple events happening and chooses the one that gives them a competitive advantage.


So embrace your inner arbitrage. Don’t spend your time trying to predict the future; focus on getting the odds right.

This blog was originally posted on Manage by Walking Around on September 18, 2016.

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

There is something magical about being around start-ups and people with an entrepreneurial mindset. Maybe it is the “can-do” attitude as if the world lies before you, and all you have to do is pick the perfect cherries and start eating. Maybe it is the youthful dynamic one feels when entering the SAP Innovation Center in Potsdam regardless of one’s own age.


I travelled to Potsdam to be part of the Innovation workshop SAP had organized in collaboration with Connected Living, an organization that offers a networking platform for member enterprises to exchange views, mutually inspire each other and develop user oriented, intuitive technologies and solutions for the connected life of the future. There was a dynamic mix of customers, start-ups, SAP and Connected Living.


Because innovation is so strategically important, SAP enables employee-driven innovation through an intrapreneuership program. SAP employees can submit their ideas, build a business within SAP and run it like a startup with end-to-end responsibility. Events like our workshop foster innovation with our customers, partners and start-ups, especially when you manage to go across industries to focus on strong use cases. Working with start-up networks helps us get the outside view, and then we create the magic ourselves through new innovative solutions that put people in the centre.


In Potsdam, I had the great pleasure to meet several start-ups within the Connected Services area. Here is a small sampling:


  • Homefort, founded in 2015, offers Smart-Home-Security systems including installation, customer service, 24/7 emergency service.
  • Casavi, founded in 2015, developed a specialized platform and mobile app for digital building management. Tenants use online-bulletin- boards to access important documents like rental agreements or lost and found notifications and to engage with each other as a community
  • KIWI , founded in 2012, is an RFID- and smartphone-based automatic door opener which safely opens front doors via a wireless signal. With KIWI, real estate companies, service providers, and emergency services increase efficiency and reduce costs, and tenants enjoy the safe, simple and convenient comfort of just walking through their door with the transponder called KIWI KI and KIWI app
  • Digimondo, a subsidiary of E.ON SE, provides a “Low Power, Long Range” (LoRA) network which is offered in most German cities. This company secures the connection between billions of objects by transferring small information packages via the international LoRaWan standard – energy saving, low communication costs and extremely high reach – being a basement or underground parking lots – securing seamless transfer of information
  • Careship offers individualized services ranging from caretaking, escorting of elderly as well as home services. With their offering, they want to make it possible for people who are dependent on help to become mobile, more independent and socially active while at the same time supporting their families


Presentations by all these great companies led to a lively brainstorming session. We used Design Thinking methods to come up with new use cases, which eventually could end up being either standard solutions or custom developments.


I left the workshop feeling energized and truly amazed by the creative power that is unleashed when people collaborate on new ideas and work together to make them a reality!


Lone Aggersbjerg


While Irfan Khan’s keynote on the first full day of SAP TechEd in Las Vegas didn’t have any pyrotechnics similar to Björn Goerke the night before, it was just as dazzling with the spotlight on customers and their unfolding digital journeys. Khan, who is General Manager and Global head of SAP Database & Data Management, said he was intent on “keeping it real. We’re putting on stage three customers demonstrating how their digital journey has unfolded. It’s about how to become faster, simpler and smarter in the context of the business journey.”


Khan explained how SAP HANA in-memory technology has provoked industry-wide disruption, initially simplifying IT architecture, and now featuring a host of new capabilities including the recently announced SAP BW/4HANA and SAP HANA, Express Edition. He invited three SAP customers on stage to share their respective stories.  Here are some excerpts from their conversations. You can also watch my VIDEO interview with Khan, as well as all three of these customers.


Lenovo saves $50M in transition costs

Brian Connors, Vice President of Strategic Technologies at Lenovo, said his company has a special relationship with SAP, not only selling and innovating SAP solutions but also as a huge user of its solutions. Faced with having to integrate acquisitions, Connors detailed how Lenovo is working with SAP to create tremendous opportunities as well as reduce complexity using SAP HANA. The company is focused on real time smart data integration

“We had to optimize our supply chain, expand manufacturing capability, and have real time cost reporting so we understand where things are,” said Connors. “We’ve improved data reporting time by 45 times, and we are a lot closer to how we manage supply chain with customers. With integrated, multiple manufacturing facilities we have broader, more predictable capabilities, and can configure products and ship them directly to customers. Our transformative journey has saved the company $50M in transition costs.”

Epsilon gets closer to customer data for insights and action

Steven Bernstein, Senior Vice President of Digital at Epsilon, explained how his company is innovating with the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, powering agility using real-time data to help their clients get closer to customers. Epsilon is upending traditional data analytics with new models that more people can access for faster, better decisions.

“We’re allowing our customers to get closer to the data than ever before,” said Bernstein. “That frees up their time. Something that took weeks now takes minutes. We can integrate processes from a marketing perspective. Overall, we’re reducing speed to action and this excites our customers.”

Noble Corporation discovers amazing possibilities

Mary Mclemore, IT Manager of Analytics at Noble Corporation, talked about the value of having a proof of concept to help implement SAP BW 4/HANA. Mclemore said the use cases opened everyone’s eyes to the possibilities, especially in a data-sensitive industry.

“We realized that developers could do things quicker and easier, and we wouldn’t have questions about why it takes so long to get a report out,” she said. “We also were able to understand from the trend [capabilities] that we no longer have to store all that data. With SAP BW 4/HANA, we could do trend on the fly, and get a snapshot at any time. It was amazing to see the possibilities. We have huge opportunity to access data for monetization.”

Visit SAP TechEd to watch Khan’s complete keynote replay, which includes a video from SAP customer ConAgra.


Follow me @smgaler

Related content:

VIDEO: Watch Irfan Khan’s Keynote Replay at SAP TechEd Las Vegas

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At our first SuccessConnect of the year in Las Vegas, I invited Accenture and Corning to join me on stage to talk about HR transformation at their companies. The digitalization of HR requires managing change, and expectations, and the best way to understand what is takes to succeed on this journey is hearing directly from leaders in the midst of it. These are two very different businesses, but they have in common a vision to put their people at the center of everything they do.


Corning, maker of the first light bulb for Thomas Edison, wants to attract their industry’s most innovative minds and provide an employee experience centered on excellence and collaboration. For Accenture, our longstanding partner and now a full suite customer taking our solutions to its 400,000 employees globally, agility in business is as important as allowing people to find the opportunities to do their best work. Both Accenture and Corning have a clear vision of their expected outcomes, and they spoke about needing not just the right software, but also getting the journey right. If you missed it, our conversation at SuccessConnect can be found online - keynote replay.


One of the promises we bring to our clients is that we are here to take a journey with them. And that journey just starts at the deal signing. I talked at SuccessConnect about the importance of self-sufficiency and adoption. Both require providing an experience that is easy and engaging. I tell our team that success is when someone uses our solutions and thinks “that’s pretty awesome.”


Two years ago, I made my first set of customer commitments at SuccessConnect, and since then, we’ve invested equally in both the S’s in SaaS – the software and the service, because our clients are investing in both. This is the world of multi-tenant services, and we’re taking the DNA of rapid innovation cycles from product development to everything – product support, solution implementation, and next gen cloud operations – to ensure you’re successful in your continuous transformation journey.


2016 Customer Commitments


Keeping with my SuccessConnect tradition, here is what I promised customers this year:


Value realization

One of the things that separates SuccessFactors from our competitors is the recognition that we’re not in the business of simply transacting software, we’re in the business of delivering your ability to create outcomes – and foremost among those is an all-in team, motivated by your vision and ready to do what they are best at to drive your business ahead. To make sure you can measure the value we bring, we’re providing you a tool to track your progress on specific outcomes, and quantify success with our solutions. We’ll soon introduce a beta version, with the live tool launching at SuccessConnect 2017.


Customer support

Everyone on my team, no matter what role they’re in, understands the need to be committed 110% to customer support. And we know you expect support to happen quickly, so we are ramping up our team to ensure a two-day turnaround on 80% of support tickets that don’t involve code fixes or engineering. Over the next few months, you will also see new customer service features such as live chat for product support and a more personalized experience on our Customer Community, with content relevant to where you are in your journey filtered for you.


Implementation success

As I emphasized at SuccessConnect, the HR transformation journey is a three-team partnership between you, our client, your partner and our team. The days of sitting down and blueprinting your journey over months and years are gone. To ensure your successful adoption of SuccessFactors solutions, we’re introducing programs to help our implementation partners ensure you are live on time, and ensure our software is configured for best practices, and results. Implementations will include tollgates for quality checks, and support for partners with timely expertise on any challenges. We will also launch a project evaluation system to give real-time visibility into project progress.


Innovation with stability

Another important commitment for us is to balance speed in innovation with ensuring stability of our solutions globally. In 2015, we introduced separate preview and production release environments for all clients. The value of this has been far beyond what we expected, with customer preview logins to test features increasing exponentially for each release. Evolving our release model further, in 2017 we’ll focus two releases a year on foundational changes for platform, scale and stability, and two releases focused on pure innovation including opt-in features. The releases with foundational changes will be made in Q2 and Q3, to avoid peak usage months, and to ensure you do not have to spend time testing new functionality during your most critical business period.


We’ll continue the success is simply human conversation at several more SuccessConnect events coming up in Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore and Vienna. And we’ll be back in Las Vegas soon for SuccessConnect 2017 from April 3-5. I invite you to pre-register to join us there.

Jonathan Becher

Digital Dose – 11110

Posted by Jonathan Becher Sep 26, 2016

Below is a collection of #digital tweets from the last 2 weeks – from my perspective the trends, tips and digital news that’s worth a read whether you’re a casual observer or a fellow CDO.


13 Sep 2016 Columnist Eric Enge addresses the importance of sustainable competitive advantage, and where opportunities lie in the worlds of SEO and digital marketing. Read more about it here.


14 Sep 2016 Agriculture – one of the least digital sectors of the global economy – is slowly adopting more and more technology. The Oregon Unmanned Aerial Systems Future Farm is a real-world testing ground for drones to help farmers.


14 Sep 2016 Criminals are creating new, sophisticated digital currencies to keep pace with technology. In response, Europol launched a new law enforcement group dedicated to digital currencies.




15 Sep 2016 According to research done by Computer World’s Thornton May, 3 to 11% of the employee population does not support digital disruption initiatives. Read more about digital dissidents here.


17 Sep 2016 Do you want to travel 750 miles per hour?  A new Hyperloop test site near Las Vegas shows commitment to making high-speed travel a reality. Check it out.


18 Sep 2016 Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing may have depleted up to 26 tons of fish from the ocean. But that may change soon thanks to Global Fishing Watch, a new partnership between Google, Oceana and SkyTruth.


20 Sep 2016 Love gadgets? Check out this article from Digital Trends listing some of the coolest non-commercial tech products like atomizing faucet nozzles and robot hands.


22 Sep 2016 McKinsey thinks economies could be boosted by $3.7T over the next decade if emerging markets fully embrace digital finance. Learn more here.


24 Sep 2016 A new concept gadget, Scrip, is giving digital currency that real money feel. Read more why Scrip holds digital value in this economy.

In the race to go digital, most businesses today are considering IoT projects. But there are still some key questions about impact, security and value that are obstacles to adoption. I sat down with Maribel Lopez, an IoT and mobile expert and head of Lopez Research, to get some tips for business leaders to think about before embarking on IoT projects.


One key piece of advice from Maribel, “Everyone is looking for the killer IoT app but oftentimes it's a combination of mundane things that offfer big opportunities for efficiency.”


See below for three other pointers.


Digital is Different and so is Data


Businesses have been going digital for a long time, since the days when e-commerce was hot.


For example, in retail, digital used to mean replicating the shopping experience online. Now it’s about locating the customer in the store, giving you a 3D view of the customer and the thing. Now things can talk to you and tell you if something is wrong or seems weird.


What’s different about digital transformation today is the availability of different types of information. You’re not just digitizing paper processes. We now have different sources of information about weather, location, usage, etc. that wasn’t available before.


Data provides the power and opportunity in IoT use cases.


It gets really interesting when you think about what you can do with that information. Now that it’s cheaper to go digital, you can use the cloud – like the SAP HANA Cloud Platform -- to build apps that take advantage of that data. It’s a perfect storm of cheaper sensors, more data sources, and an ability bootstrap in the cloud.



Make Security a Priority from Day One


You can never be overly concerned with security. But security should not stall your IoT projects.


Too often, people think about security after the IoT system is in place but you need to be thinking about it while you’re designing it. Like with mobile, IoT is up and down the stack and pervasive so need to think about the security the whole time and bake it in -- from the sensors to network to apps.


Security is not sexy like user interfaces so often it's the last thing designers consider before shipping a product. But you need to start with security in mind because it's hard to add later.


Define Value: Cost Efficiency or Transformation


There are a couple of ways to use IoT. The first two focus on saving and making money. The third case is the ability to do something you couldn’t do before.


In the first case, it’s relatively easy to show value -- like with predictive maintenance. Then the question is what scenario will save you the most money? You need to consider what’s most important to your business and your key KPIs over the next year. Some people have very specific goals – they want to sell products twice as fast or increase quality control.


Then you can look at how IoT will help improve the product’s performance (either in sales or quality) and make decisions about how IoT can impact change the most quickly.


While you’re defining your IoT use case, make sure you can tie it to your stated KPIs for the next year or two. That will help you pick the right solution, get executive traction, know what you want to accomplish and be in line with your business.


Then there’s the case of digital transformation. Take the Disney Magic Band - a bracelet connected to sensors all over the park that helps visitors do everything from access their hotel room to function as your ticket to the park.


The Disney Magic Band is really different – it was designed to help improve park vistor’s experience, reduce the wait on lines, improve cross-sell and upsell to customers. It's unlikely that the project is going to save Disney money but did it improve KPIs? Yes.


That was a billion dollar project but it put Disney in a totally different place in terms of customer experience and business models.



Lopez Research

Maribel Lopez on Forbes

Southeastern Pennsylvania is well-known as an inspiring place to visit during October. The weather is near-perfect and leaves on countless trees exhibit a myriad of autumnal hues. However, this year, finance professionals from all over will have an extra-incentive to visit the Keystone State. finance2.jpeg


The 2016 SAP Financial Excellence Forum is being held October 11-12 in SAP’s Executive Briefing Center at the North American headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. This year’s theme, is “Digital. Live. Reimagined.”


As the world grows increasingly digital and connected, macro-economic trends are reshaping the business landscape and impacting all business functions.

Fortuitously, this event will feature inspiring discussions by customers on how to engage, empower, and make real-time decisions in order to stay competitive and thrive in the age of disruption.


Attendees at this year’s forum will also:


  1. Learn how to enable digital business strategy and maximize digital investment.
  2. Interact with SAP Partners within the “Innovation Zone.”
  3. Network with peers from world-class organizations.
  4. Watch inspiring keynote sessions from thought leaders and customers.
  5. Participate in interactive track sessions throughout the finance journey.


Additionally, attendees will explore the benefits of becoming a “Live Business” through financial transformation from companies like Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, HP Enterprises, Houghton, Mifflin, and Harcourt, and Bosch Siemens Hausgerate.


Attendees will also meet key industry thought leaders like Peter Horvath, of Horvath and Partners; Steve Barrett, ex-CFO of Whirlpool; and Thack Brown, GM and Global Head of Line of Business at SAP.


Doreen Remmen, Senior VP Operations and CFO at Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), will host a roundtable around management accounting framework, finance talent management, and the pathway to the CIO. The interactive discussion will also include CFO’s discussing key findings of the report Future Pathways to Leadership survey by ACCA and IMA covering more than 750 Sr. Finance leaders.

Finance executives attending the forum can also expect to learn how to focus more on optimizing business performance and strategic activities, while spending less time on compliance and basic tasks.


Companies that have “live” visibility and can respond immediately are in the strongest position, as finance organizations need to evolve to provide holistic risk management across all dimensions. Finance organizations are seeing increasing responsibilities as well as new opportunities to lead digital transformation.


By providing two days of networking and infinite learning opportunities, the aim of this year’s forum is to provide the platform and tools for finance professionals to reimagine everything.


And with the storied trees and changing leaves of historic Brandywine, Valley Forge, and Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park all nearby, a transformative October experience in Pennsylvania awaits all who attend this two-day event.


To find out more on how digital finance capabilities can be the heart of your business, join us at the Finance Excellence Forum, Newtown Square, Penn., October 11-12.

In my previous post, we looked why it was important for Telco's to go digital. While writing that post, I had intended to write a follow-up about the definition of a Digital Telco. In this post, I will start on the follow-up by looking at the definition of 'digital'.


I am currently reading Raymond William's masterpiece 'Culture and Society'. In the opening chapter, Raymond explores the evolving meanings of a few important words during the period 1780-1950. Some of these words include:


  • Industry (from human attribute of perseverance to manufacturing, means of production to institution )
  • Class (division in a school to social order),
  • Culture (tending of natural growth or process of human training to general state of mind,general state of intellectual development in a society , general body of arts to finally whole way of life, material, intellectual & spiritual) ,
  • Art (human attribute/skill to represent the creative or imaginative art)


This got me thinking about the word 'digital' which seemed to everywhere these days with regards to its potential to disrupt industries.


A quick googling led me to the very interesting word stories page from Oxford English Dictionary (OED) written by Richard Holden about digital. It is surprising to see evolution of the usage (as mentioned in the OED word story)


  • In the sense ‘designating a whole number less than ten’ (fifteenth century)
  • ‘of or pertaining to a finger, or to the fingers or digits’ (1897 OED entry)
  • Digital devices as opposed to analogue (1930-40)
  • Digital media (1970s onward - information having a digital equivalent in CDs etc) - subsequent fall in this usage since the default was digital
  • Digital as an embracing of computer technology or internet - replacement of real world equivalents with digital e.g. digital art, digital marketing etc.


In addition to the above, we have also seen, since the 1960s with the growth of business software, numerous paper based business processes getting digitised with technology (or going 'digital').


Today, we are also seeing entire industries becoming digital with new business models as seen in the growth of the on-demand economy with startups who're disrupting entire industries and creating new ones. With the internet of things, we are also seeing the usage of digital pertaining to connecting things via the internet to one another (or to put it another way 'digital' economy is bringing the world closer).


I am sure there are similar equally interesting stories from usage of technology, IT, software and the plethora of other words we're used to - keen to hear your views on the same.


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