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SAP Business Trends

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Is your company in the two-thirds that have only mobilised email, contact and calendar apps—nothing more? An interactive SAP website can help you identify and take the best next steps.


I’m very slow when it comes to buying big-ticket items. I get overwhelmed with all the choices, and I’m always looking for the right-est (not best-est) thing to buy. (I’m a bit like Sheldon Cooper trying to decide between Xbox One and PS4 where tablets are concerned, even though when it comes to gaming consoles, I never decide and end up eventually buy then all.)


Take my tablet. Well you can’t take it, as I’ve still not bought one! When the iPad was announced back in 2010, I thought ‘Right, I’ll have one of those’. But almost immediately I doubted my decision, and went into research mode. Then I realised I’d be in New York City in May, so I could combine visiting the new Apple Store (I know, tragic!) and getting the device into one epic outing. But it was sold out, so I couldn’t buy one. And by then, we were months in to the lifecycle, so best wait for the new one.


I then went through that same process for next two iPads: wait for a trip, iPad sold out, wait for next one.


Then the mini came out, and now I have no idea. And perhaps I should go Nexus? I don’t know.


So good thing I’m not in change of any company’s enterprise mobility strategy where I might need to buy 100s of devices, mobilise email, apps and docs. I’d never get started.


And it seems I’m not the only one.


In a recent survey by Lopez Research, over two-thirds of companies said only their email, contact, and calendar applications are mobile-enabled. One of the great things about research: it reminds industry insiders where the real-world bar actually is.


So, where to start?


SAP worked with Lopez Research, to put together an interactive website and guide to Finding the Direction for your Enterprise Mobile Journey.


You’ll find guides, videos and more background information to help you get started, or pick up where you left off, including 19 steps from Lopez Research:


  • 10 Steps to Extend Existing Processes to Mobile
    The best way to mobilise is to extend the systems you already have into the mobile world.


  • 5 Steps To Accelerate Your Decisions and Responses
    Create strategies to improve how you deploy mobile is deployed and how to enhance strategies and processes with new contextual data, including temperature, GPS coordinates, motion, etc.


  • 4 Steps To Transform The Way You Do Business
    Once you’ve embraced mobility, it’s time to put it to use—along with the Internet of Things, big data, and analytics—to gain new insights and use them to really transform your business.


Now, if someone could just create 10 Steps to Choose the Right Tablet for me, I’d be all set.

Finally, we are seeing a shift in focus in the enterprise. As the economy continues to improve, business leaders drive for growth and innovation, rather than focusing on simply keeping the business running.


According to the PWC study[1], innovation is now the most powerful driver of growth for business. The companies that strive to grow and remain competitive broaden scope of innovation to introduce new products, new services, new technologies, new customer experiences.  The challenge, however, is in delivering the innovation, bringing it to the market fast and scaling it.


That’s where enabling IT technologies play crucial role within the organizations. The power of big data, deployed via cloud and delivered in real time in the form of instant, actionable insight anywhere, anytime has the ability to transform traditional business processed and allow companies to capture new market opportunities and solve tough business challenges that were previously unsolvable.


We’ve identified 3 key growth opportunities that can be unlocked with technologies designed for real-time business.


#1: Customers

The challenge is to keep existing customers and acquire new ones fast and at a low cost. Customers of today are empowered. They are digitally connected, socially networked and better informed. And they are now getting their information about the products and services they need from their peers and social networks. Buying decisions are often made before your company is even aware of the opportunity.


What if you could connect with your customers before they make their buying decisions, if you could analyze the enormous amount of digital information customers are creating in real-time so that you know exactly what they want and engage with them immediately and deeply. In fact, companies that use customer data from social media, previous purchases, website interactions and event attendance show 31% year over year revenue growth.


#2: Operations

In the always connected, always on world, with ever more complex business operations, the challenge is to stay flexible and responsive to market changes. That’s where ability to analyze the data from multiple sources – market research, point of sales, financial and sales forecast, etc. – in real-time can make real difference and put your company ahead of the competition. In fact, companies balancing supply and demand claim consistent business benefits such as up to 20% inventory reduction and up to 25% faster time to market.


#3: Risk Management

The risk landscape is clearly changing. Mainly due to globalization, risk events nowadays occur quickly and spread rapidly. Organizations that can understand and manage their risks effectively are better positioned for growth. Let’s take fraud management. It is estimated that global fraud loss tops nearly $3.7 trillion annually[2]. And yet, currently, 50% of fraud cases are detected by accident, after the loss has occurred[3]. You can make tremendous impact on the growth of the organization if you could expect unexpected by being able to react in real-time to the fraud events or, better yet prevent fraud from happening.



To find out how SAP can help, watch this 2-min overview of purpose-build, next generation HANA enterprise applications that can help harness the value of big data while simplifying IT, accelerating time to value and enabling business innovation:

[1] http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/index.jhtml

[2] ACFE, Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, 2014 Global Fraud Study, 2014

[3] ACFE, Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, 2014 Global Fraud Study, 2014

If it looks too complicated, it is. There’s too much complexity around everything we do in business. It’s pervasive. I’ve written about the ease with which “no” has become the standard answer in the workplace. But complexity goes far beyond.


simple.jpgIf you’re looking for a framework to help Run simple, here are five questions that I ask about every meeting, every project and every initiative.


1. How does this benefit my customer?


Always start here. The concept of “customer” goes beyond external customers. Everyone has a customer somewhere – how is what you’re doing right now actually helping your customer, whoever they are? Chances are, if you’re even remotely struggling to answer the question, you’re probably wasting time.

2. What are we trying to accomplish?


This video about conference calls in real life is spot-on. Meetings for meetings’ sake and endless discussion are akin to “playing office.” What’s the goal? Do we need a decision? Do we need a volunteer? Do we need a leader? Do we need a new idea? Don’t ever get into anything without knowing what you’re trying to get out of it. And remember, you don’t need to form a committee to collaborate.

3. What are the history lessons?


Never go into any serious effort without the benefit of some background. Unless you’re on the cutting edge of scientific research, I’m confident there’s something to be learned from work that’s already been done. Don’t get too tied down in asking everyone or reading everything, but a healthy dose of historical perspective usually helps.

4. Who’s accountable?

How many times have you left a meeting or been part of some initiative with no clear accountabilities? Probably pretty often, I’d guess. Accountability in business is like bread for a sandwich. Without it, you just have a lot of random inputs that never come together and ultimately can’t be consumed.

5. When do you cut bait?


People don’t stay motivated around an idea indefinitely. There has to be progress. There has to be transparency around whether you’re moving the needle. If so, momentum will carry you. If not, don’t be ashamed about admitting it. If the idea is really transformational, people will stay engaged and persevere. If it isn’t, people will respect the courage to admit failure and move on to whatever’s next.


There are better places to waste time than the office.


You might also like:


Empathy Lines the Path to Simple


Accelerating a Culture of Innovation


A Time for Founders

Steve Hurn

The Strategic Playbook

Posted by Steve Hurn Jul 28, 2014

With so much information at their fingertips, buyers today can bounce around all over the place. They can find vast amounts of information and perform their due diligence online. (It would be much easier if they all behaved the same way and went through a serial process so we can easily keep track of them all).  Sadly for sales people, that’s not the case. For many organisations, the response to selling to this new breed of ‘empowered customer’ has been to simply adjust their tactics.


For example, many sales teams send follow-up content to customers via email. The problem with this approach is that it makes it impossible to precisely track customer reaction to this information and provide relevant updates to meet changing customer needs. The truth is it’s not about changing your tactics; it’s about changing your strategy.

Sales blog - iPad.jpg


New technology platforms can analyse customer interactions and identify high-quality prospects, suggest next-best actions and provide insights that enable you to deepen customer relationships. Communities, for example, can serve as a collaborative platform for sales teams and internal subject matter experts. Through these platforms, sales teams can manage and track customer engagements in real time, and gather relevant insights from internal and external sources, including social media. They can also support bi-directional collaboration with customers.


The ability to track and analyse a prospect’s response to specific sales and marketing touchpoints is reinvigorating the use of playbooks in sales calls. Playbooks are nothing new and as we all remember from our early sales careers, they’ve been around for a long time. The difference is that now they’re way more powerful, thanks to the critical insights delivered by analytics. Sales playbooks are based on the context of a sale. In today’s dynamic business-to-business environment, that context is changing continuously. Digital guides can now be used with mobile devices to optimise the delivery of effective and consistent sales messages. Depending on where a prospect is on their customer journey, your sales people can share relevant content in the best possible sequence, as well as changing course on the fly to respond to customer questions.


You can also refine your playbook depending on the results you’re getting. By analysing the data and determining which messages are associated with higher win rates, larger deals or faster sales cycles, you can prioritise specific sales activities to align with customer needs and market conditions.


In an Alexander Group study, companies that effectively used digital playbooks gained up to a fourteen per cent increase in sales. And companies that implement analytics to prioritise sales leads and identify which customers will value additional products and services can potentially double their conversion rates.


This is so much more than simply a change of tactics. It’s a strategic analytics-driven approach to revenue. Mapping your sales activities to the customer buying journey will not only spearhead greater revenue creation for your company, but will also enable you to deliver an overall better customer experience by anticipating their requirements.


Take a look at the complimentary report below from Harvard Business Review on selling in a buyer empowered world.

Steve Hurn - Senior Vice President and General Manager Cloud and Line of Business at SAP


Sales LoB CTA.png

SAP is helping Finance executives move beyond handling regulatory requirements and processing financial operational transactions, to helping them transform their organizations into a more strategic partner to the business.


Finance is facing increasing pressures:

  • Companies are seeking to grow in spite of volatility in markets, commodity prices and stocks, and slow economic growth;
  • There’s an increased focus on risk, including financial, operational, legal, and compliance risk;
  • Finance is seeing increasing regulations, from changing accounting standards to mandates for electronic filings, including industry disclosures;
  • Increasing globalization requires management across diverse cultures and localized processes;
  • There is continuing pressure on margins, as the focus on cost control remains for Finance;
  • New business models are emerging, from shared services to increased partnering.

To address these challenges, SAP has used the power of SAP HANA to reinvent its portfolio for Finance organizations, offering a comprehensive set of end-to-end solutions.


Why SAP solutions?

The SAP solutions will help our customers drive Finance transformation, to allow their organizations to become more adaptive to the needs of a real-time and volatile world.  In that regards, there are three steps that Finance organizations need to master:


1st: Finance organizations must continue to maintain global regulatory compliance and controls of accounting and tax standards. This is non-negotiable, and is available from SAP across currencies and languages, in over 60 countries and for 25 industries.


2nd: To achieve operational excellence, finance organizations can optimize processes for efficient and collaborative relationships with customers, suppliers, banks, and government authorities. They can achieve this though automation and real-time self-service access to information from a single source of the truth across finance, operations, and analytics, powered by SAP HANA and leveraging the Ariba Network.


3rd: These efficiency gains allow Finance to focus on working with the business to become their strategic partner, to proactively engage all lines of business to plan and analyze current and future business scenarios.


With the option of deploying Finance solutions on-premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid scenario, organizations can simplify deployment and scale rapidly for a quick ROI.   



Finance innovations in action

  1. 1. A financial services company transformed its finance model and performance management processes with SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, powered by SAP HANA, creating new ways to provide superior value to customers and shareholders. The company experienced an improvement speed of 200x for audit-trail analysis with real-time reporting, and increased the speed of its planning and consolidation processes.
  2. 2. A global packaged-foods company implemented SAP CO-PA Accelerator in four weeks, and SAP Finance and Controlling Accelerator in eight weeks, both on SAP HANA. It achieved a 93% faster transfer of material ledger data, from seven hours to 30 minutes. It also reduced the month-end close and forecasting processes by three days, leading to better insight into financial data.
  3. 3. An Internet shopping site used SAP Predictive Analysis, powered by SAP HANA, to improve predictability and forecast confidence. By creating a model for an automated early signal detection, the company can filter out the “noise” of transactions to spot market trends through automated selection of the most appropriate model. This has increased insights into any deviations from the forecast.
  4. 4. A global banking and financial services company moved from completely manual invoicing to 80% electronic invoicing, and now drives 70% of invoices from purchase orders for better compliance and a compressed invoicing cycle. It on-boarded 3,700 suppliers onto the Ariba Network for business commerce collaboration, and reduced its Business Process Outsourcing (or BPO) cost by 35%.

We have many, many more stories from our unmatched customer base. We have over 57,000 customers using SAP Finance solutions on SAP ERP, and over 60,000 analytics customers.


Come find out more at sapcfo.com. Visit us at sap.com/financialexcellence and please follow us on Twitter -@SAPEPM, for the latest news in the industry.

You can watch the detailed video here.

Big Data Gets Personal: Wearable Tech in Your Workplace

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


How much sleep am I getting? Am I running as often as I should? Questions like these are the starting point for the next workplace data revolution, one that already may be walking around your office.


Call it wearable tech, the Internet of Things (IoT), or the quantified self — all terms reflecting a reality in which we collect as much data about our personal lives as we do (or should) about our sales figures. And what we do with that data could profoundly impact workplace culture and productivity.


Fit for work?

If your family’s as exercise-obsessed as mine, you already know about the most common type of personal data device: fitness and health-related devices. My husband uses a Polar wristband that tracks his heart rate while cycling. My Fitbit tracks how much I walk and reminds me I really need to take the stairs more often. There are numerous smartphone and, yes, smartwatch apps that will track my mood, sleep habits or even how often I call my mom. I can then share this data via social networks if I want.


But what about sharing this data with the office? Companies large and small are starting to offer these devices to their employees as part of workplace wellness programs.  At BP, employees can use Fitbit to enroll in a “million-step challenge” that enables to them to earn health credits similar to those they’d gain by scheduling regular check-ups with their doctor or taking part in online classes.


Google Glass, iWatch and beyond

But wearable devices don’t have to be focused just on health. The Hitachi Business Microscope looks like an elaborate employee ID badge but includes sensors that track not just who you talk to at work, but where and how actively. A manager can monitor who speaks up at meetings and who spends more time at the coffee machine than their desk.


Then there’s the much-discussed Google Glass. An always-on Net-enabled video camera that sits on the frame of your glasses just at your temple is either the coolest collaboration tool since Skype or your worst privacy nightmare. Speculation that Apple is developing an iWatch is also driving up interest in the future of wearable tech.


A Pew Research Center report released last month concluded that most experts believe that by 2025 there will be a “global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked computing environment built through the continued proliferation of smart sensors, cameras, software, databases, and massive data centers,” and that people will experience “augmented reality … through the use of portable/wearable/implantable technologies.”


So how do we, in 2014, prepare for this brave new world? Here are three things to keep in mind:


1) Useful is better than cool

Just because your CEO is really excited about her Pebble smartwatch doesn’t mean you should rush to buy them for everyone. Think about what you want to get out of the technology — and don’t be afraid to ask for input. Your employees are more likely to embrace tools that improve their safety or effectiveness vs. being monitored without purpose. And create metrics for your metrics. An app that tracks informal social interactions within a work team sounds great, but if using it never results in improved productivity or morale, then move on to the next idea.


Also, don’t forget about the technology you already have. Do you really need to use Google Glass to have an online meeting with a colleague sitting at a desk in London? No. The cameras on your computers work just fine.


2) Take privacy concerns seriously

Even in 2014, some employees are still surprised to learn that their company can monitor their work email. If you are investing in wearable tech, make sure your employees know what you’re using the data for and how the information is being stored.


Prepare, too, for your employees bringing their devices to work. What happens the first time someone wants to use his smart watch to record a meeting? Or take pictures of the factory floor with Google Glass? Investigate policies that cover individual as well as corporate use of these devices.


3) Reach out to your IT leadership

Loads of cool new technology without a plan to support it means it’ll be in a closet with the fax machine in a year. So find out who on the IT team is thinking about this stuff and start planning.


The good news is you’ve been through this before. These “new” challenges are similar to those raised by smartphones only a few years ago: Which devices will the IT team support? Do corporate security polices require a centralized ability to lock and/or wipe data from them? Who decides on data standards?


Getting ready

One expert quoted in last month’s Pew report noted that the 13 billion Internet-connected devices in 2013 will surge to 50 billion by 2020, including not just devices we know about now, but ones “of which we have not yet conceived.”


How is your workplace preparing for the opportunity?


Follow me on Twitter: @DearbornJenny

The very DNA of a corporation is to maximize shareholder value, not consumer value. The corporation’s need to sell product, and the competition nipping at their toes, theoretically ensures they do what is best for the customer. It’s the model our society operates on. And as a society we believe the ‘cost’ of damaged relationships will stop corporations from blatantly taking advantage of us.


Every day we trust the ‘customer is king’ mantra to protect us, with help from government regulations I should add. However, this only works if two important conditions exist:

  • As customers we know when we are being taken advantage of
  • There is healthy competition, giving use the option to switch suppliers


BUT how does this work when we can’t tell if we are being cheated? Based on research into the food supply chain, it doesn’t work well. A growing body of evidence shows just how bad it is:


And who can forget the horse meat scandal in Europe? Or what about the challenges Cadbury is facing in Malaysia right now? Researchers from the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario indicate problems exist in many food categories: meat, seafood, spices, coffee, tea, chocolates, natural health supplements, pet foods, and even cosmetics. Once food has been processed it can be nearly impossible to know what it is without DNA testing.


So how can consumers know what they are eating? The Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, as part of the international Barcode of Life project, recently released a solution for consumers. The primary goal of the LifeScanner project is to crowdsource the documentation of the planet’s species, with the help of easy-to-use DNA kits and an iPhone application. BUT consumers can use those same kits to sample their foods and send it in for testing.


With the help of LifeScanner we can now know when we are being taken advantage of. But that only addresses part of the challenge. It doesn’t answer the question, "Who is the culprit?" Take Cadbury as an example. I highly doubt Cadbury deliberately used porcine-based gelatin in their chocolate recipe instead of non-animal gelatin; it’s their brand on the line after all! Likely a supplier sold Cadbury a misrepresented product; or maybe it was one of the supplier’s suppliers.


The food industry is dealing with a supply chain based on trust. Finding the breakdown can be solved with technology. Integrating DNA-testing into supply-chain visibility solutions will shine a light into the deceptive practices of some suppliers. Every customer in the food supply chain benefits, most importantly the consumer.



Also posted on davidpjonker.com



From Merriam Webster Dictionary:


SIM . PLE     adjective

: not hard to understand or do

: having few parts: not complex or fancy           


Given the dictionary definition of “simple”, perhaps living simply could be described as eliminating all but the essential so you can focus on what’s truly important in life.

The super simple nursery rhyme, Row, Row, Your Boat advises to row gently down the stream, not up, granting us some valuable insight into simple living very early on. However, given today’s seemingly obligatory shackles of complexity, just how do we manage to row our boat down the proverbial stream?

Well the good news is there’s a new paradigm emerging. The belief is that, with new thought and a return to simplicity, we can defeat the complexity that relegates many to an endless pursuit where you never seem to get enough of what you don’t need.


The operative paradox is that, invariably we will all need to relearn simple. There will certainly be those around us who, entrenched in layers of personal and professional complication, will resist this change. In fact, as Voltaire famously said, “Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road."

Getting to “simple” requires only two objectives: The first is to determine the things that are truly important to you. And the second is to get rid of everything else. Once you have your list of most important things, make an honest assessment of your level of commitment to them. Here are a few suggestions as you head down the path to becoming simple.

Start by looking at your calendar. Get rid of those activities that don’t align with your “important stuff.” Make time with your important people in those new open slots and, as the dictionary definition of simple suggests, remember…”nothing fancy.”

HINT: Clean out closets together and donate anything that hasn’t been worn for a while to charity.

Simplify your professional duties. Focus only on the pertinent so you can excel and 86 the rest. Learn to use the two most powerful letters in the alphabet: NO.

HINT: Eliminating unnecessary meetings may be a good place to start.

Take a giant leap back in time with your usage of technology both at home and work. Social media and texting may be addictive, but they’re most often not simple.

HINT: Throw your smart phone in a drawer or desk for a few hours at a time.

Spend quality time with yourself. They say the road to introspection is best walked alone.

HINT: Watching complicated situations on TV doesn’t count. Instead, take a hike in the woods and then sit quietly for a few hours.


Implementing ideas like these will bring dramatic change to your life as well as your career. And you won’t be alone on your quest to simplify. In fact, companies like SAP are also determined to help people and businesses, “Run simple.” by battling the common enemy of complexity. As CEO Bill McDermott recently put it, SAP has a bold vision for the future of business. A simpler world, a simpler SAP, and simpler customer experience.”


But simplicity as an operating principle in your business and life is not a given-it must be earned. Bringing simple to your own life will require a commitment, but the battle will be worth it. As McDermott advises, “We can’t let complexity win.”

Simply join me on Twitter!

In this day and age we are bombarded with messages from IT Vendors saying that we need to be closer to the customer and "wow them".  We have to make sure we don't annoy anyone, because the masses will bring the pitchforks to social media and our brand will be ruined.  It would be great that a business would come along and instead of trying to be great, instead admitted they were mediocre at best?  Imagine this refreshing change of pace that would result in a more honest conversation with their customers.   Amazingly enough there a few brave souls trying to do just that.


Mediocre Labatories is a venture that performing experiments in e-commerce founded by the same folks that created woot.com at the expense of our free cash.  The current project meh.com is a deal a day site with a community aspect that also offers a unique twist.  You can actually downvote or say "meh" on the item that is sold each day for sale.  In addition to that there are the original old woot like features such as snarky narratives, shipping using the cheapest and slowest method possible, and deeply discounted junk for sale.  The site also offers a subscription service where instead of a being a "VIP", you are instead a very mediocre person.


If those were the only things that set the site apart then it would be unique enough but what's even greater the site chooses to ignore social media and e-mail.  The FAQ says like your friends and family and not businesses on social media.  They only offer e-mail support, because it's cheap and you should be talking to someone who really wants to listen to you instead.  It's a great point on why do businesses need to be "my friends" anyway.  However despite that message, there are forums and crazy stuff posted not really selling anything to make you want to come back and hangout every day.  This concept even has an analogue with how record stores have transformed from a transactional space to a community gathering space.


The question will be can a site like meh.com or the other experiments of mediocre labs be successful?  I must admit I'm already hooked and look forward to the next offering, regardless of whether I buy or not.  Is it possible for us to take the concepts from meh.com and use those wisely in our social interactions with customers?


I think even SAP could benefit by perhaps selling less in their communities(worry less about the transactions), allow for more polite negativity(downvote option please) instead of having trying to promote utopia, and let there be more playfulness.  In the spirit of being simple perhaps switching back to format that gives a community commons and less spaces/divisions to wade through.   You know instead of trying to have 300+ mini communities separated just try to build a single not so perfect community each day.

In a networked economy, innovation extends to invoice processing, and collaboration over a business network lays the groundwork for touchless invoice processing. How you get there will depend upon your current state of automation in accounts payable.


Path to Touchless Processing.jpgTo frame the discussion, let’s examine the following graphic (click on it to enlarge):


Note that the bar charts are not drawn to scale. Paper-based invoicing by definition is “high touch,” while the level of touchless processing from paper-free and imaging-enabled approaches may not be clear-cut. Your answers to the questions in the bar charts will determine your results from each approach.


Starting from the left – all paper processing—a common first step is to centralize invoice receipt. Equally important, though, is the decision made early on about electronic invoicing. With support from procurement, accounts payable, IT, and finance/treasury, you can put in place a strategy that accelerates your progress to a zero-touch environment.


Now, your invoice processing approach may combine a mix of these approaches at any point in time. Organizations that can shift more of their invoice volume to a smart invoicing approach—where network-based business rules validate invoice data before posting for payment—will fast-track their way to a zero-touch environment and achieve best-in-class benchmarks across many dimensions: lower cost of operations, improved compliance, dramatic discount savings, and an improved working capital position.


For more information on moving toward a zero-touch environment and current developments in accounts payable today, check out this recently published Ardent Partners report, E-Payables 2014: The Quest


To learn more about how you can achieve new business potential from the Networked Economy: Click here

Equestrians are the newest members of the SAP ecosystem who Run – or in this case, Ride – Simple.



Last weekend I ventured to Aachen, Germany to attend CHIO, an international equestrian festival where SAP was showcasing SAP Equestrian Analytics Software. I didn’t know what to expect; even though I have seen the tremendous impact of SAP sports solutions, from the World Cup to the NBA, I could not envision how we could support horseback riding.


I know my way around equestrian events – I rode many years ago at a much lower level, and my daughter currently competes in the US. It’s a challenging sport for fan engagement and one that lacks many technology players. But SAP showcased a digital experience at CHIO that engages fans and improves results for competitors.


The prototype visualizes the action on the cross-country course of the eventing discipline. A camera is attached to the rider’s helmet, and the software tracks individual routes, speed data, time gaps, and heart rates of both the horse and the rider. The data and video are merged in an interface that allows the spectators to experience the action from the rider’s perspective. The fan becomes a living part of the experience. SAP also introduced an ongoing trivia contest and a fan scoring app (SAP Audience Judge) so that CHIO attendees were constantly plugged into the action.


Watch video here.


The software has great potential for training and conditioning.  SAP is lucky to have German equestrian champion Ingrid Klimke as an adviser. Ingrid has competed in four Olympics, winning gold at both Beijing and London. And she says the SAP solution can really make a difference.



It comes down to quantifying intuition, she explained. Equestrians like Ingrid travel quickly through the cross country track – from 20 to 40 km/hour – and the riders control the speed of the horse and the path they take. It’s all very intuitive and success comes from years of practice and experience.


But this software can actually quantify the rider’s intuition with hard data analysis. From slight changes in speed to variations in routes, the data gives insight to help riders fine-tune training and be more precise on the course.


As a fan of riding and strong believer in the potential of technology in athletics, I was greatly encouraged by the excitement from Ingrid, her coach, and others at CHIO—including the fans. It’s another terrific example of how sports can demonstrate the power of SAP software, especially when our brilliant engineers co-innovate with world-class athletes like Ingrid. Even horses can Run Simple.


Customer service is a nonstop endeavor -- even when a company implements new software.


“Everything that we do from a technology perspective needs to be seamless to our customers,” Alfonzo Venturi, general manager for business information services at LeasePlan Australia, said in an SAP video. “We cannot afford to drop the ball.”


SAP MaxAttention with LeasePlan 07-24-14-A.jpg
LeasePlan Australia’s customers enjoyed nonstop customer service during the company’s massive ERP overhaul.

And nothing tipped off LeasePlan Australia’s customers when the fleet management services provider built and installed a cutting-edge leasing service ERP solution. The upgrade has since generated record-high satisfaction levels among customers, employees and suppliers.


But LeasePlan Australia had help.


Aerodynamic Business


“The decision to go with SAP Active Global Support was because we knew that AGS would give us the right skills, the right people at the right time,” Venturi said. “It allowed us to finish on time and on budget.”


AGS offers lifetime support to SAP customers via on-site support. The embedded team helps implement new technologies, improve operations and remove barriers to innovation -- all with minimal disruption.


“Just getting people on the road used to involve 60 people and six weeks of transactional paper-based work,” Spiro Haralambopoulos, managing director of LeasePlan Australia, said in an SAP video. “Now it’s a three-and-a-half-minute task that involves no people.


“And 90 percent of our transactions are done through an online portal using the SAP solution,” Haralambopoulos continued, “linking to 7,000 suppliers at the other end.”


Big Plans


LeasePlan Austraila is a subsidiary of a global vehicle leasing and management company with other subsidiaries that also have big plans. LeasePlan sponsors GT racing in Belgium; it will invest €35 million in Romania this year; and the company recently renewed its customer-centric focus in the U.K.


Asia is also in LeasePlan’s sights. And the company has the platform to make that expansion a reality, according to Venturi of LeasePlan Australia.


“With the support of the ActiveEmbedded team, who understands the Asian market, we’ll get there faster and better than what we would on our own,” Venturi said.


Everybody Wins


LeasePlan Australia’s customer service is likely to be another key differentiator.


“Customer Service is not just a service for the customer,” according to a recent poll on consumer management consultancy ICMI’s Web site. “It provides an invaluable service for the business too.”


LeasePlan Australia’s track record of providing nonstop service to customers while implementing its new Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution -- and the subsequent record-breaking customer satisfaction -- positions the company well for growth in new regions.



Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher


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Taking a page from the successful playbook of the private sector, the federal government has jumped on the cash management bandwagon and is encouraging large companies to pay their suppliers earlier. Dubbed “SupplierPay”, the initiative is a welcome new voice calling for improved access to cash for small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). By many accounts, SMEs are driving the majority of the country’s economic growth.


And as the White House clearly recognizes, it is fundamental to get cash in the hands of these companies to encourage and fuel this growth.


Some of the biggest names in global commerce have pledged their support for SupplierPay, including the likes of Apple, AT&T Coca-Cola, Ericcson, FedEx, Honda, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Nissan, Toyota and many others. But don’t expect the cash to start flowing immediately.


There are reasons larger companies take so long to pay suppliers, the root issues of which must be solved before significant progress can be made in opening the spigot.  And they revolve around three things:  opportunity, visibility, and capability.




Before an invoice can be paid, it must be received, evaluated and approved.   And the paper invoice processes that still dominate the world of accounts payable makes this really hard to do in a timely manner. According to the White House, “small business invoices go unpaid for 55-60 days on average and payments “past due” are increasing.”

To overcome this and create the opportunity to pay suppliers earlier, many companies are turning to electronic invoicing through which they can  receive invoices in digital format, filter them at the point of submission for common exceptions and errors, and automatically route and approve in less than three days on average.  Without the early approval of an invoice, the opportunity to pay suppliers early is a nice idea, but one that can never be achieved.




Simply creating an opportunity for early payment through an early approved invoice isn’t enough though.. To turn an approved payable into a win-win situation, both the buyer and supplier must have full visibility into the opportunity.  Business networks provide this visibility by delivering the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make the right decisions and drive the right results.


Take SAP’s Ariba Network, for instance. By providing single portal access to the entire payables process, the network gives finance and treasury functions within large paying organizations increased visibility into their payables liabilities and allows them to make more informed decisions on when to accelerate cash to suppliers.  In turn, their suppliers can see this now approved-to-pay receivable and make known to their customers that they would like to be paid early, in return for a slight discount to accelerate payment.  Without such visibility, early payment is merely informational, as players lack the capability to act on it.




Business networks enable this capability, providing a common platform for buyers and suppliers to collaborate across the entire source-to-settle process and enabling new capabilities that make the process more efficient..


Processes such as the Dynamic Discounting outlined above that give suppliers the ability to self-nominate for early payment, and their customers the benefit of earning a positive return on the cash they use to make that payment.  And emerging B2B payment products, such as AribaPay™ that combine network intelligence and cloud-based applications to eliminate paper transactions, provide better visibility into cash flow and produce rich remittance information that improves reconciliation processes for both buyers and sellers.



Supplier Early Payment a Win for all


The primary benefit anticipated by the White House in their new SupplierPay initiative is that small businesses will  have “more capital to invest in new opportunities, new equipment, and new hiring.”   This isn’t just a goal. It’s already happening. Take Mediafly, a Chicago-based startup that.  delivers a cloud-based platform and applications for content management and distribution on mobile devices to Fortune 500 companies.

When one of its clients – a major entertainment company - came to the company and said that it needed to transact business on the Ariba network, Mediafly began sending all its invoices electronically. And it proved to be a game-changing move.


“We did a test run with a purchase order and were able to go from quote to settlement in 14 days,” recalls John Evarts, the company’s Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer.  Generally, this cycle took Mediafly anywhere between 30 and 90 days to complete.


Then things got even better. By taking advantage of the dynamic discounting capabilities that this customer offered via the network, Mediafly was able to tap into the cash it needed to hire developers and get to the next set of features in its products, which accelerated revenue and ultimately generated cash.


Supplier access to accelerated cash flow in the form of early payment is critical to sustaining and building a growing economy.   And through initiatives like SupplierPay and innovative platforms like business networks, it can become not just a practice embraced by a select few, but a reality that delivers better commerce and economic growth.


Business Networks are a key component of the Networked Economy.  See more and join the discussion here.

wearables.jpgWhen you were a kid did you ever imagine that life someday would be like an episode of The Jetsons? If so, you’re in luck.

Forecast calls for 19 billion connected things by 2016, and the wearable technology sector is set to skyrocket from $3-5 billion in revenue to $30-50 billion over the next 2 years. The economic impact estimates as high as $14 trillion over the next decade (AllthingsCK.com). The products in beta and those already created are leading in the market. Fitbit fitness devices are available in 30,000 retail stores across 27 countries worldwide (Amazon published rankings). Google Glass expanded with Google Contact Lens. And the market for jackets that navigate, dresses that change color with mood, and bras that can track your heart rate are popping up everywhere.

Would you wear it? Below you’ll find five of the most interesting wearable techs currently on the market. What do you think?

1. LED Threaded Dresses

Forget about the domestic dispute between Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Solange for a second, and think back to the other guests that have attended the Met Gala through the years. Did you catch Katy Perry’s light up dress? The innovation geniuses at CuteCircuit were behind it, and Katy was glowing (no pun intended).

Watch Katy's interview here:

CuteCircuit is also the brain behind bride and groom outfits that digitally connect. They are made out of conductive silver fabric that creates a connection when the couple kisses, triggering a private message on the linings of their garments. If you really want to be the center of attention on your wedding day, put on an illuminated dress.

2. FitBark

Naturally if there is a FIT band to track human health and fitness levels, it’s only natural that humans would invent the same for their pets. Having a dog is just like having a child after all, right? With FitBark, a tiny smart activity monitor, you can better understand your dog’s health and behavior. You can share your pup’s activity report with her vet and compare her with other dogs also wearing a FitBark. The best part? FitBark can connect to human fitness trackers to ensure that the puppy is at least as active as its owner (or vice versa for those of you sitting in a desk all day).

3. Bras for Men

Just kidding, it’s not a bra, but it sure does look like one. European rugby pro, Trent Hodkinson ripped off his shirt to reveal a high-tech athlete-monitoring device made by GPSportInternational. Players base their recovery and training methods on the information provided from the unit. But if you thought Victoria’s Secret was pricey, this vest weighs in between $2000-$3000.  Maybe Seinfeld was onto something with “The Bro.”

4. GPS Jacket


Wearable Experiments created a jacket that actually navigates its wearer through New York City. The jacket works in tandem with an app to steer the wearer in the right direction. LED lights on the sleeve visualize the route and either the left or right sleeve vibrates when it’s time to turn a corner. If this jacket makes it main stream, imagine how much easier the life of a traveling student would be. Ditch the map and put on your jacket.

5. 3D Printed Make Up

Mink. No, not the furry creature seen hanging on your grandmother’s coat. Mink is the name of a prototype 3D printer created by Harvard grad, Grace Choi. Targeted to be the same size as a Mac Mini and under $200, Mink enables people to print make up (eye shadow, blush, lipstick… you name it) right from their home. The product targets girls 13-21 who are still experimenting with makeup and not loyal to any particular brand. It uses cosmetic-grade dye (FDA-compliant of course) printed onto a powder substrate. Choi’s main motive was to provide girls with access to makeup in any and every color because drug store selections tend to fall flat. To make a color, the device connects with a tool to find the hue’s hexadecimal number, and then prints it (Business Insider). Any color is possible.

Watch a demo here:


In addition to the five products listed above, wearable tech is everywhere. There’s a bracelet that controls body temperature; smart eyelashes; dresses that charge your phone; Nike sneakers that help you run faster and jump higher. The innovative ideas embodied in the Internet of Things are taking over the globe. Will you be seen wearing connected clothing?

The innovations and images listed in this blog were taken from Fashionably Wired.

Join the conversation on the Networked Economy and see more about wearable tech.

Join me on Twitter @CMDonato

This blog first appeared on LinkedIn.

It's amazingly hard to ask good questions.

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I've been in investigative mode over the last month; trying to understand the root cause of a performance issue and also designing a potential new business model. Both projects mean I've had to ask a lot of questions. And they also mean I have had to remind myself how to ask questions.


In my experience, the key to asking a good question is to know why you are asking the question. When people ask questions, they do so for one of three reasons:


  • They want a well-reasoned point of view
  • They want an opinion from an expert
  • They want a factually correct answer


That's right; people don't always want a factual answer to their questions.


As a result, asking a well-formed question is incredibly important - especially if the answer is a point of view or an opinion. Unfortunately, people usually ask questions which are unintentionally vague. Vague questions produce vague answers.


I had been looking for a memorable way to make the point about ambiguous questions when I re-watched the movie Die Hard with a Vengeance on a recent plane flight. The villain gives the good guys thirty seconds to telephone him on the number "555 plus the answer" or else a bomb will detonate.



The question is the well-known nursery rhyme:


As I was going to St. Ives,

I met a man with seven wives,

Each wife had seven sacks,

Each sack had seven cats,

Each cat had seven kits:

Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,

How many were there going to St. Ives?


Most people try to multiply the sevens to get to the answer. But, if you look closer, the passage never says the group is travelling to St. Ives. So the answer should be one: the narrator.


But wait. We don't know if the narrator is traveling alone so perhaps a better answer is at least one.


On the other hand, a plausible answer is zero. The last two lines of the riddle state "kits, cats, sacks, wives ... were going to St. Ives?" The narrator isn't a kits cat, sack, or wife, so shouldn't count as part of the answer.


Since the nursery rhyme is supposed to be a riddle, it's intentionally vague. But it makes the point. There is no factually correct answer so you can only have a well-reasoned point of view.


Ask better questions. Or as the French philosopher Voltaire said,


Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.


This blog was originally posted on Manage by Walking Around on July 20, 2014.

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