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This week I have the pleasure of presenting at the Mastering Supply Chain and Procurement Event in Johannesburg. It is one long trip from Boston, but so far, has been well worth it. I am surrounded by about 200 supply chain experts who all have a great perspective on the business challenges and opportunities that Africa has to offer.


This morning, I heard a great presentation from Karen Ramith from Richards Bay Coal Terminal (Pty) Ltd. What I found particularly interesting was the facts and figures that Karen shared about the opportunity the African Market brings to companies.


First of all, Africa is the 2nd largest contingent on the globe. In fact, Africa is larger than China, the USA, Western Europe, India, Argentina and the UK combined.


Karen put into perspective the sheer size of the opportunity when she explained that Africa accounts for just 2.4% of global GDP but has 16% of the world’s population. The population is expected to more than double (to 2.3 billion) by 2050. Karen described Africa as “the continent where growth potential exceeds that of most of the developed world”.


On the supply side, Africa is literally a “gold mine” (with 40% of the world’s gold reserves). It owns 30% of the earth’s minerals, and in Nigeria, the 10th largest oil reserve in the world. Not to be outdone, Africa also accounts for 60% of the globes cobalt, and 90% of the platinum reserves.


Facts from the presentation:


  • Africa is the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped continent with a continental GDP that accounts for just 2.4% of global GDP. Africa is the second most populous continent with about 1.1 billion people or 16% of the world’s population.
  • There are fewer people with internet connections in Africa than there are in just New York City.
  • Africa is the world’s second largest continent covering about 30 million square kilometers
  • More than 50% of Africans are under the age of 25.
  • The continent’s population is expected to more than double to 2.3 billion by 2050.
  • Africa has approximately 30% of the earth’s remaining mineral resources.
  • Nigeria has the 10th largest oil reserves in the world, and Africa’s biggest oil producer with about 2.2 million barrels produced every day.
  • The continent has the largest reserves of precious metals with over 40% of the gold reserves, over 60% of the cobalt, and 90% of the platinum reserves.  


I look forward to learning, and sharing a lot more in the next 2 days.


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“Win at the shelf!” is the rallying cry of today’s consumer products companies – and for good reason. Engaging in-store experiences at the store-shelf level attract more consumers and win more business than their humdrum competition down the aisle. It can also drive greater efficiency and improve customer service, resulting in higher sales volume, more revenue, and increased profitability, according to IDC Manufacturing Insights research.

But fickle consumers have more options than ever before. In fact, most people in the U.S. wouldn’t care if 82 percent of brands disappeared, analysis by Havas Media found.  So retailers are demanding highly targeted and tailored strategies from their consumer products partners. 


Meeting these escalating retailer demands – and capturing market share – require securing the best on-shelf availability and ensuring that products are priced, packaged, and merchandised to maximize the shopping experience. Achieving these daunting objectives is possible, according to an infographic by IDC, which summarizes the top retail execution objectives for consumer products manufacturers and how they’re accomplishing them. Here are my key takeaways:

What goes into great in-store execution?




The top attribute cited in the IDC infographic to support successful in-store execution is collaboration. Why so important? With better collaboration, consumer products companies can overcome challenges related to potential profit busters such as category complexity, retailer cost-shifting, and inventory shortfalls. One consumer products supply chain VP quoted in the infographic says, “Collaboration in the retail store is the best way we have of solving persistent out-of-stock problems in our high velocity brand categories.”


Your salespeople are key enablers of better collaboration. By working with store managers during store audits to ensure merchandising, price, and promotion compliance, check available inventory and process re-orders, and make decisions about displays and other merchandising decisions, everyone wins. The IDC infographic shows that effective execution of these tasks can help yield benefits such as better:


  • On-shelf availability
  • Price and promotion
  • Compliance and execution
  • Store-specific mix
  • Revenue per store
  • Merchandising execution and compliance
  • Revenue per salesperson


Shift from operational to strategic


Since responsibility to execute in the store effectively rests on the shoulders of your salespeople, it makes sense to lighten their load with tools that enable
them to work more productively.


Apps that streamline operational tasks such as managing store visits, placing ordering, and settling claims free your salespeople to focus on more strategic
opportunities. With the right tools, they can:

  • Quickly assess pricing and promotion compliance
  • Validate that product layouts and shelf presentations match planogram layouts
  • Conduct audits to capture various attributes for products and product categories in the store, such as the number of customer facings and shelf space


Performing these types of tasks help your salespeople get to know each retailer, its stores, and its requirements better. This knowledge can translate to bottom line benefits like maximizing consumer sell-through and profitability. In fact, a global food and beverage company told IDC, “Improving retail execution has improved our promotional compliance by close to 5 percentage points.”


Real-time insights make a difference for sales


The use of real-time data and analytics is completely transforming the way that salespeople engage with retailers, according to IDC’s report. Salespeople are using real-time insight into consumer buying patterns, pricing, sales volume, inventory, and any number of variables to inform on-the-spot decisions.  With this insight, salespeople can transform their role from pure in-store execution to trusted advisor to store managers.


Greater collaboration leads to better service for consumers


Successful in-store execution has the potential to increase revenue and reduce out-of-stocks while improving the shopping experience. Gaining high-value insights and making faster, more informed decisions can help consumer products companies improve collaboration with retailers.


This will ultimately result in better service, pricing, and product availability for the consumers. And it can profoundly enhance the odds that your consumer products company will win at the shelf.

The fact that we are more attracted to bad news than good news is well-grounded in science. Our emotional connection to bad news is deep rooted in the amygdala – the small part of the brain that governs our internal neurological wiring.  Through evolution, the human brain has developed and perfected circuitry that was primed to seek, intercept, and prioritize bad news over anything else simply as a survival instinct. Even though the chances of us being eaten by a jungle lion today is extraordinarily remote, this powerful circuitry still guides what we are drawn to see and hear.

Deeply connected to our emotions, bad or negative news is like a drug that stimulates the senses. It has also sold particularly well.

Over the last few decades, television and print outlets have used this knowledge with success. Motivated by their relentless pursuit of attracting more attention (eyeballs) to drive advertising revenue, they act as pushers and carriers of the “bad news drug” and exponentially add to the spiraling, vicious circle. According to some media studies, there are as many as seventeen negative news reports today for every one reporting of good news.

But in the new age of social media, we’re seeing an interesting duality developing.

Researchers have found that when it comes to social as a medium, while bad news gets massive amplification through media, people are much more likely to share good news over bad. In his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On”, Jonah Berger explains that with social there is a sense of “self” in sharing information with others. No one really wants to be seen amongst their friends or peers as a “Negative Nellie”.  Rather,  we prefer to be associated with more of a “Positive Polly”  brimming with thought provoking, interesting facts or, funny stories– i.e., things that make us “look good” in the eyes of others. It’s thus ok to be voyeuristic towards bad news, as long as it’s not coming from us.


If we apply this phenomenon to business, brands seeking to build a deep, emotional connection with their customers through social need to understand this new dichotomy and apply it as they craft their messaging strategy. Below are three scenarios and my point of view for each.

First, understand that negative news about your brand, emanating from others, particularly your customers (complaints, quality issues, corruption, or mismanagement) kills brand equity. With social amplification, this can happen in an instant -- with devastating effect.  When burned by bad news, companies spend years trying to build back their reputation (check out the list of the top 10 companies burned by negative press). No brand wants to be part of flameindex.com, a website that uses Big Data to provide a real-time ranking of the brands that are the most “in flames”, i.e., getting the most negative press right now.

My Point of View:  While most people associate social with outbound communication, social listening can be used to identify where the smoke might come from before there is a fire. The best way to counter is to act immediately and decisively before the bad news spreads. Own up to your mistakes. Fix problems. Be sincere and upfront. Respond personally and responsibly to complaints. Get your leaders in front of the news. 

Second, all is fair in brand love and war. The use of negative advertising or negative product placement to create a net positive for a brand won’t go away any time soon. Some do it by positioning their competitors negatively, and creating a contrast or differentiated position by presenting themselves in a positive light; others paint distressing situations like accidents, floods, famine, etc. and present themselves as the saviors. Politicians are masters at this approach.  Their campaigns often attack their opponent’s character flaws, or cite dire economic situations and impending calamities resulting from a competitor’s policies.  ; We are seeing these campaign style tactics gaining more traction within the tech industry (e.g. Microsoft vs. Google in browser wars).

My Point of View: For short term, time bound campaigns these tactics can be effective at getting mainstream coverage and delivering the desired outcomes to their proponents – such as getting a political leader elected to office.  However, this tactic can just as easily backfire if people sense malicious intent, or when brands lack factual evidence to support claims. When brands “go negative”, they should be careful to not let the negativity inadvertently reflect on their own brand as in this Domino’s Pizza example, where the word “failure” subliminally became associated with Dominos itself. Another extraordinary example where a negative perception was inadvertently created against its own brand was A&Ws third pounder burger campaign, which ultimately failed against Burger King’s quarter pounder because of a simple arithmetic misunderstanding by consumers.

Finally, in the longer term, remember that most people prefer brands that reflect aspirational and positive attitudes. Luxury brands have always created their premium standing in the market by appealing to exclusive, high end lifestyles and aspirations of consumers. But that alone won’t be enough to grow in the future of business. A recent Globescan study indicates that modern aspirational consumers are much more likely to do business with purpose driven companies – those that provide the aspirational table stakes associated with personal lives, but also act responsibly and in the best interests of society.

My Point of View: The future of your brand equity and its durability hinges on personal social sharing, where positive news shares and sells better.  With social in the mix, it’s more important than ever to develop a content strategy where you share positive aspirations, motives,   customer stories and engaging pieces of thought leadership supported with facts and research.  Paint a positive vision of what your brand stands for and how it promises a better future for everyone. Then create a movement where individuals can through simple, specific actions to rally support of the positive cause (example: the #icebucketchallenge) and let the magic of social sharing take over. 

How is your brand building equity using social?  What other challenges or opportunities lie ahead.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and insights.

Yesterday, I have attended a sales meeting with one of the region's biggest shopping center's Managing Director. He is very focused on the new trends and innovative products and offerings in retail business enabled by information technologies. Thousands of visitors, daily shopping experiences are captured by different methods and stored in traditional databases by using traditional software solutions.


On the other hand, they want to get rid of paper usage for more than 400 shops' administrative transactions. The approach for this purpose is to build a shopping portal which will enable all the parties to reach it from anywhere, anytime on any device. Besides this, portal should be the single gateway to for future demands such as ERP, Analytics and any other 3rd party solutions.


I really do not know what other competitors felt after listened to him, but really liked this complex and too demanding perspective. Because I have a great tool from User Experience point of view: SAPUI5.


I can easily develop and deliver, customer specific requirements which will be run on any device, support all known software, connectivity and platforms. Seamless integration with any database ( to keep their existing investment, today they have SQL Server), however their future roadmap is definitely keep big data and run predictive analysis. Addition to this they want to change their existing local ERP solution with SAP as well. The biggest challenge is their must-do rule is to enable these solutions run on one - single platform.


I felt my self very lucky as a Solution Architect, since I have HANA in portfolio. Great appliance, since great platform for my real-time applications or Database & Data Processing Services or Integration and Data Virtualization Service requirements or base for my ERP or Analytic solutions or finally Mission-critical Deployment Services.


Now we are preparing a proposal to cover not only their today's requirements but also cover their long term IT strategies partnership.


Finally thanks to SAP, I have definitely seen that, all roads to HANA, SAPUI5 and Cloud powered by HANA.





Moore’s law and the revolution in personal computing have seen HP’s products become ever faster and more effective. But to thrive in a changing world, they need to increase the speed of their business functions.


42-15304980_sRGBsmall.jpgHP, incorporated as Hewlett-Packard in 1947, is one of the oldest and best-known of Silicon Valley’s technology giants – but a pedigree is no guarantee against the rapid pace of change in the high-tech market.


Since releasing the first personal computer in 1968, HP has seen the technology market disrupted, and its competitors disrupted along with it, repeatedly. Dell has moved into private ownership after a difficult period. IBM sold its personal computer business to Lenovo in 2005, and added the sale of its x86 server business in 2014. And Apple has gone from the edge of an abyss to one of the most valuable companies in the world, driven by products unknown when Steve Wozniak, then an HP employee, designed the Apple I: tablet computers, digital music and smartphones.


The Drive to Innovate


To remain competitive - and to hold on to a leadership position in sales - HP needs to maintain a constant focus on innovation and improvement. HP’s R&D spending in the 2013 fiscal year was $3.1 bn, compared against $11.6 bn cash flows.


Speed and flexibility are vital to the success of a major technology manufacturer; components are produced and sent for assembly from multiple sources, and customers - whether individuals or businesses - demand a huge range of performance and price points. All the while, value and demand for products is affected by progress in key technologies - central and graphical processors, RAM and storage - and changes in the way technology is used.


Agility in research, design, procurement and production are the keys to successful innovation. For example, to reflect the changing way data is accessed online, HP has launched the “Moonshot” server range.  These “software-designed servers” are designed to be optimized through their software for particular purposes, rather than relying on third-party software running on commodity hardware. This is a new approach designed to increase efficiency significantly.


Innovation and In-Memory


HP’s supply chain and product range encompasses a huge number of different entities and objects: in Q4 of 2013, according to Gartner estimates, HP shipped 13,592,600 PCs, representing 16.4% of the total PC market, along with servers, printers and print produces, mobile devices and enterprise services.

To stay at the front of the technology industry, while maintaining their huge scale of operations, HP has to innovate not only its products but its processes. The use of in-memory technology to increase the speed of its operations is a forward-looking strategy.


In-memory computing has been described by Deloitte as “the future of computing”, in a report that highlights the four main potential benefits of moving information traditionally held in mechanical storage into fast-access memory: performance, by reducing analysis times from hours to potentially seconds, process innovation, by enabling the creation of wholly new applications taking advantage of that boost in speed, simplification of data models and flexibility to add data sources and modify the analysis, to run scenarios over and over in the time it takes to run a single analysis currently.


Using in-memory technology, HP plans not only to speed up their analysis by hundreds of times, but revolutionize the way analytics can be used: for example by giving employees the power to run at-will analysis of financial information and receive results almost instantly, rather than having to request reports from the Finance function and receive them hours later, or the following day.


As the speed and power of in-memory computing moves to more functions throughout 2014, such as order management, and more applications, including data visualization and mobile apps, its impact is expected to be seen by the company and its customers.  To see how HP continues to innovate, download the Bloomberg Business Week Research report “HP Paves the Future with Real-Time Insights”.

The practice of cooking with fire began over 250,000 years ago.  I wonder if our ancient ancestors would be surprised to learn how this simple act of survival has evolved into a quintessential backyard activity and a booming industry? According to a recent Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association (HPBA) report, 80 percent of households own an outdoor barbeque, grill or smoker with a majority (60 percent) using their grill or smoker year round. And while Weber, Char-Broil and Traeger currently retain a lion’s share of the outdoor barbeque market, Strasburg, Colorado’s Pit Barrel Cooker Company is quickly gaining an appetite for disruption with its simple yet innovative design.


BPhorseshoew.everything2_resized.jpgNoah Glanville, owner and president of Pit Barrel Cooker Company, said most of his customers were on the fence about buying a more expensive cooker, saw the rave reviews the pit barrel was generating or watched a few of the how-to videos on the company’s website and changed their minds. “We often hear feedback like, ‘I’ve never cooked anything before and you made me look like a pit master,’” said Glanville.


Rave reviews continue to heat up, and for good reason. The pit barrel cooker takes its simple design inspiration from the “Ugly Drum Smoker”, a niche, home grown product whose enthusiasts build their own cookers out of steel storage drums that produce “absolutely amazing” results, according to Glanville. “Everybody builds them in their garage and there’s never been a single manufacturer to hit the market that is consistent. I saw a huge window of opportunity.”


Glanville isn’t alone in his quest to simplify the customer experience. Companies like Apple, Google and SAP are eager to heed the call of their customers to simplify everything via user-friendly apps, devices and business processes.


Before Glanville could get cooking on mass-producing an ugly drum type cooker that can be pulled right out of the box that produces the same results as the pros, he still had to convince his wife on the idea.


“We invested every dime we had into it, maxed out every single credit card, did everything we could to get it going,” said Glanville who tinkered with 29 pit barrel prototypes before perfecting the final design. “Here we are, three years later and 100 percent debt free.”


From 2012-2013 Pit Barrel Cooker Company grew fives times in sales from $90,000 to $500,000. This year, the company is tracking to clear well over $2 million. Partnering with the likes of Kingsford, Amazon and other large manufacturers will help keep customers happy - and ensure Pit Barrel operations remain in the United States, an absolute must, according to Glanville.


“People are inspired by our product because we also provide a taste of real customer service. We have hundreds of e-mails from people saying ‘Wow, I can’t believe your customer service, it’s something you just don’t see anymore.’ That feedback has prompted me to make sure we protect that. If you call us and someone doesn’t pick up, we will call you back.”


Glanville’s passion for delivering top-notch customer service is powered by an unlikely ally: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). As a proud veteran of the Iraq war, Glanville said coming home and adjusting to normal family life after experiencing the rigors and horror of war proved to be an incredible challenge. But when symptoms of PTSD started manifesting in his everyday life, he found that starting his own business was the best medicine.


“A lot of folks I talk to that struggle with PTSD are embarrassed to talk about it and you shouldn’t be,” said Glanville. “The trick is to find someone you trust, lean on them for support and give back.”


Glanville said his company is considering a few charitable options and may one day try to employ those having a tough time transitioning out of the U.S. prison system. “I am living proof that you can serve your country, come back from a war and be a successful entrepreneur.”


Glanville said the pit barrel cooker is all about keeping things simple and having a good time with friends and family. One of the biggest brainwashes in the outdoor cooking community is that you need to spend thousands of dollars to have food come off the grill that is cooked to perfection. “That’s just not the case. The Pit Barrel is a fraction of the cost and it will absolutely smoke the competition, hands down.”


You might also like:

Simplify Everything: The Power of Design


Empathy Lines the Path to Simple


Accelerating a Culture of Innovation

While the U.S. may be seen as the world's hub for all things retail, a recent report suggests that this title may be a better fit for one of several countries in Latin America - if not the region as a whole.

In its latest Global Retail Development Index, strategic and operational services company A.T. Kearney found Chile to be the best country in the world when it comes to the growth and development of retail, supplanting Brazil as the top destination for retail expansion. In addition to Chile and Brazil, six other Latin American nations - namely Uruguay, Peru, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico - were also included in this year's Index.

Hana Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the GRDI report, indicated that many companies have learned from their past mistakes, as there were fewer failures.

"[Global retailers] have become much more adept and successful with their emerging market expansion," said Ben-Shabat. "E-commerce is also helping with global expansion as retailers are able to test a market and build their brand through e-commerce before they expand with brick-and-mortar stores."

Additionally, the report found that regional retailers are fast becoming some of the biggest movers and shakers among emerging markets, doing so by exploiting their nearness to neighboring markets that are more established.

Brazil still in Top 5
Approximately 30 countries were ranked in the GRDI report, and as with prior years, retailers from from Latin America were among the best in overall retail development. Chile finished ahead of Brazil, moving up from the second ranking in 2013. Meanwhile, Brazil's development index fell to No. 5. Three of the top 5 countries with the highest scores were Latin American countries and five of the top 15.

What accounts for the retail boom? It could be due to growth of the middle class. Based on statistics from the World Bank, 49 million Latin Americans received earnings between 2003 and 2009 that put them in a higher income class, Latin Trade Magazine reported. As a result, retailers have reacted by providing consumers with more products and services that they're not only interested in, but are also able to afford, such as electronics, high fashion and quality furniture.

With many retail companies that have grown or are set to expand, they need to be aware of the new laws in place that deal with electronic invoicing. For instance, in Brazil, e-invoicing is required for virtually every business that operates in South America's largest country.

Companies are continuing to turn to Hybrid Cloud solutions to solve these requirements -- SAP Brazil Nota Fiscal – Hybrid Architecture Overtakes On Premise and 100% Cloud Offerings

Remember when the New York Yankees were just a local baseball team in the U.S.? Of course you don’t.


No one does. The team has been a global icon for that long.


FC Bayern Munich 08-27-2014-A.jpg
SAP technology will help FC Bayern Munich’s coaches and players analyze skills and performance, focusing on each player’s strengths and weaknesses.

FC Bayern Munich is on a path toward similar worldwide recognition, but its evolution from German soccer club to international company involves big data -- both on and off the pitch.


One of Germany’s top soccer clubs, FC Bayern will enhance its all-around performance with SAP software that amasses and analyzes data about player health and performance, the companies announced last week. This three-year partnership follows on the heels of Bayern Munich using SAP CRM to tailor individual fan experiences via mobile devices.


“SAP has the technology to support three of our main goals: (1) optimize our business processes to facilitate our global expansion, (2) help our team stay fit and perform at their highest level and (3) give our fans the best possible experience,” FC Bayern’s Executive Board Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in ComputerWeekly.com last week. “Leveraging innovative technology, we want to permanently secure a global top position for FC Bayern.”


Did you notice that only No. 2 had to do with the soccer club’s athletes?


Making Global Expansion Look Easy


There’s a team within FC Bayern that must keep pace globally with the club’s competitors and meet its fans’ expectations, but this team isn’t made up of professional soccer players. It’s a business wing of the club that makes FC Bayern more than just a soccer club, but an international business.


“We have more than 300 million fans all over the world,” Jörg Wacker, an FC Bayern executive board member, told SAP TV. “We are trying to get better connected to these fans.”


FC Bayern’s 21st-Century strategy centers on loyalty to the club’s fans, Wacker told ComputerWeekly.com. Those fans inhabit the digital realm, so FC Bayern must heavily rely on technology -- putting the soccer club in stark competition around the world with other soccer powerhouses, such as Real Madrid and Manchester United.


That’s why you may soon see the number of FC Bayern fan jerseys rising to meet the club’s international rivals. SAP software will likely help the club more easily and effectively coordinate and organize its merchandise.


Optimal Software for Optimizing Performance


But FC Bayern’s main business is to win soccer games, so SAP’s solutions will also help coaches and players analyze skills and performance. Data-driven visualizations will help them maximize training, focusing on each player’s strengths and weaknesses.


“We’ll have a completely new digitalized world,” Rummenigge, FC Bayern’s chairman, told SAP TV. “It will be state-of-the-art in our club.”


Germany certainly hasn’t forgotten its national team’s victory last month in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. SAP Match Insights helped drive that success, crunching massive amounts of data helped speed up the German team’s game -- and get players to the goal faster.


FC Bayern hopes that its SAP software yields game-changing results too.


FC Bayern Munich 08-27-2014-B.jpg
Fans will be able use their mobile devices to access FC Bayern Munich players’ data and statistics, including shot speed, accuracy and distance.

Best Fan Experience


Simpler ticketing and stadium operations will help improve the fan experience. And fans will be able use their mobile devices to access players’ data and statistics, including shot speed, accuracy and distance.


“SAP can help us to reach FC Bayern Munich’s goals and to guarantee perfect service to everyone,” Rumennigge said. “Together [FC Bayern and SAP will] create new possibilities for the future.”


That type of collaboration lets FC Bayern -- and all of the other sports teams that SAP works with -- tailor the technology solution to its exact needs. In the United States, the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and other NFL teams have customized their own versions of SAP’s scouting analytics technology, as CNET noted last week.


Embracing and tailoring this technology for its needs will help FC Bayern set the stage for the soccer club’s continuing rise to global prominence.



Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher


More From SAP Business Trends:


How SAP Match Insight is Changing Soccer


Data Innovators in Sports and Entertainment: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim


SAP Offers a Full View of Customers from the Cloud at CeBIT 2014 [Video]

Remember the saying, “The only things that are certain are death and taxes?”


Let’s add the word “disruption” to that quote.


Every day, we see the impact of disruptive technology. Our lives have been turned upside with the proliferation of social networks like Facebook and Twitter while our work is enhanced via networks developed on LinkedIn and JAM. These networking applications/solutions give us the power to collaborate, create influence and be influenced.


The term Networked Economy sums up all these connections.  It’s a way to describe the interconnection of personal (P2P), business (B2B) and machine (M2M) based networks. Combine these networks with the power of mobile technology and you have the potential for disruption with increasingly compressed timelines.


Disruption Graphic.JPG


Ride sharing company Uber and room/house rental company Airbnb are the current poster children for the Networked Economy. These companies didn’t exist 7 years ago. Uber owns no vehicles and carries an estimated market capitalization of $18 billion; Airbnb doesn’t own any property and carries a market capitalization of $10 billion. Each company provides users with disruptive value and they continue to innovate with a new focus on the corporate market. These valuations are supported by the value they supply – just a few clicks on your mobile device and your ride from Madison Square Garden to that trendy bar in SoHo is booked and paid for.  Just look at the disruption to the status quo these companies have caused over the past few months. The headlines scream disruption with  taxi strikes in Europe, questions about housing shortages in San Francisco, and regulatory battles in Virginia and Philadelphia.

Embrace disruption, don’t protest

Banning and protesting this innovation will not work. In a recent post on WIRED, Marcus Wohlson suggests that Uber’s strategy might make itself too big to ban. Wohlson notes, “The most powerful political leverage comes in the form of popularity.” The cabbies in big cities across the world need to come to grips with the situation. The adage “adapt or die” does apply. USA Today writer, Michael Wolff, goes on to speculate that this “may be just the beginning.” Uber is now available in 40 countries across the globe and 6 out of 7 Continents. We can only speculate when Uber rolls out service in Antarctica.


As part of evolution, taxi specific apps like Curb, mytaxi, HAILO, and Taxi Magic are gaining traction to combat Uber.  This is innovation at its best! Disruption is spurring innovation, all for the benefit of the customer.


Whether you are a taxi driver, deliver groceries, rent cars, own a hotel, or maybe even work in Digital Marketing for SAP, it’s time embrace disruption or get run over. The power of the Networked Economy empowers individuals to become their entrepreneurs and leverage excess capacity, whether it’s a spare seat in your car or a spare bedroom in your house.


What are the boundaries for the Networked Economy? None, just constant disruption combining excess capacity, new capacity, the network effect (personal, business, machine to machine), sprinkle in some mobility and we have solutions for the ages.


Click here for the latest news, blogs and videos on the Networked Economy.


Follow me on Twitter @mmankow

smallMOOCsaugust2014.jpgThe polemic around MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) has largely died down as metrics replace opinions. The good news is there’s no dearth of opportunities to measure the efficacy of MOOCs as they multiply across the educational landscape, offered by everyone from private institutions to businesses such as SAP. With students and instructors headed back to school this fall, I thought it made sense to see what students themselves have to say. SAP recently conducted a survey of the 370,000 people who have participated in the company’s MOOCs on the openSAP platform since the program’s inception about a year ago, and the findings are illuminating.


Admittedly, SAP’s IT-focused curriculum represents ideal conditions for online learning to flourish, comprised of laser-focused topics relevant to participants, hands-on expert instructors, and highly motivated students at ease in virtual environments. Survey respondents, hailed from countries around the world with the biggest slice in Europe (49 percent) followed by Asia (25 percent), North America (16 percent), South America (5 percent), and Africa (3 percent). Most were developers and consultants (respectively, 35 percent and 32 percent), while the balance consisted of experts in support, services, education, sales, and line of business.


A whopping 76 percent of these participants completed all of the course content, a huge number in the world of MOOCs. Attrition is a major issue across courses held at institutions of higher learning, as I’ve written before.


It’s no big surprise that flexibility was the most-valued feature of these courses. After all, an accessible education is why more students are flocking to their own computer screens to learn. But to capture and hold participant attention, online learning has to be a breeze to use. According to these surveyed respondents, SAP’s MOOCs appear to have met the challenge:


  • 80 percent found the platform “easy to use”
  • 75 percent agreed “the course material is well-structured”
  • 75 percent “like the format of the openSAP video lectures”
  • 74 percent “like the delivery style”


New this fall are a crop of courses focused on application development and user experience (UX), offering developers a deep dive into SAP Fiori and the SAP HANA Platform. Also greeting participants this fall are a number of improvements designed to boost engagement. Participants can subscribe to discussions and receive notifications of new content. They will also be able to rate discussion forums, and will receive a personalized “My courses” overview of sessions they have enrolled in.

“MOOCs have become an ongoing learning process for SAP along with the people participating in these sessions. We’re finding the more we can provide an easy-to-use experience for students, the richer their experience will be, leading to even higher completion rates,” says Michaela Laemmler, Dean of openSAP University.

MOOCs are finding an appropriate place in education, whether delivered by schools or businesses. At the end of the day, it’s up to students to evaluate how they can learn best.


Follow me @smgaler


Related posts:

How MOOCS are Disrupting Education

Share Economy Comes to Education: Notes from the MOOCs Experiment

Students Issue Report Card on MOOCs

T-Mobile featured prominently at SAPPHIRE NOW 2014 earlier this summer. During the keynote, Kari Escobedo, VP of IT Development at T-Mobile, addressed the capacity crowd following a riveting video featuring CEO John Legere, showcasing the Un-carrier successes over the past year. tmobile1.jpg


T-Mobile’s efforts to get closer to their customers are emblematic of this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW Innovation, Simplification and Cloud themes.


The company with the fastest nationwide 4G LTE network in the United States is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless through both product and service innovations. SAP is redefining the way organizations handle complexity and simplification and the synergy was apparent during a presentation on device lifecycles through a global supply chain delivered by Andreas Sauerbrei, Director of IT Development at T-Mobile.


Sauerbrei is the person responsible for complex supply chain solutions yet his magnetic personality belies that of your average IT person.  During Sapphire Now he delivered a presentation where he discussed how T-Mobile is able to “Track and Trace” smart phones and tablets with SAP Object Event Repository and SAP HANA Sidecar.


The SAP Newsroom team caught up with Mr.Sauerbrei behind the scenes in Orlando and asked him about his thoughts on the themes of the day as well as the future. Below are his responses to a few “Run simple.” style questions.


What are your thoughts on Innovation?

“The key to innovation is having a partnership between the business side and IT. I’m more or less the face of IT to the business side. And that’s where SAPPHIRE NOW comes in, to learn what’s coming next and where your customers are going. We come back with ideas- for example, what we can put next in the Cloud.”

What does Track and Trace do for you?

“A key business factor is learning all we can about the lifecycle of devices. So for us it’s critical to have the ability to track those devices throughout their entire lifespan, from warehouse to the retail store, to when the customer activates or buys insurance. SAP Track and Trace immeasurably improves our visibility of the end to end lifecycle customer device.”


How does this help you “Run simple.”?

“The SAP Object Event Repository (OER) solution has allowed us to get even closer to our customer. Rather than pulling time consuming reports, T-Mobile representatives can spend time with the customer and better understand their specific pain points. This is great news for T-Mobile customers, as Track and Trace data is now combined with existing data to help cater to individual customer needs and preferences. Clearly we’re talking about better simplification here and our goal is simple too.”


What opportunities do you see with the Cloud?

“We’re looking at the Cloud in many areas across the board-from supply chain to CRM to Spend Management to email. So I think there will be a huge opportunity for Cloud in many areas including via Ariba. In fact, the connectivity that occurred between SAP and Ariba was a game changer for T-Mobile.”

As Andreas eloquently explained,with SAP OER and SAP HANA, T Mobile is also now better able to make device lifecycle management decisions and enable new capabilities for managing serialized assets include device tracking, streamlining device warranty processes and alert reminders for customers. They can also better monitor their network to track and measure process irregularities across many locations within their 70,000 points of distribution.


SAP Track and Trace all starts with a unique serial number embedded within each device during manufacturing that’s used at later key times with a simple scanning system. Retail associates now have instant insight into devices in the stores and the phones or tablets are now also easily tracked during the return and refurbishment process.


A few benefits of the SAP Object Event Repository solution include:

. Scalable platform for high volume, real-time events capable of processing more than one million events per day 10X faster.

. Single source of device related event data delivering enhanced collaboration and transparency across lines of business, channels and brands.

. Improved visibility of customer, logistic and device events such as receipts, shipments, trade -ins, returns and transfers.

. Exception based reporting, dashboards, alerts and workflow capabilities, including inventory aging, theft or loss.

America’s fastest growing wireless carrier is building on the idea that sophisticated technology doesn’t have to be complicated technology. As seen at SAPPHIRE NOW 2014, device lifecycle management simplification results in better outcomes and a closer walk with your customers, or when it comes to T-Mobile over 49+ million customers!


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Varian Medical Systems, a multi-billion dollar supplier of medical equipment, has recognized the vital importance of mobility to modern productivity – and is pushing ahead of the curve with a focus on mobile ROI.


42-45556274_sRGBsmall.jpgApril 2014 saw Varian Medical Systems install its 500th Medical Linear Accelerator, at the Red Cross Kyoto Daiichi Hospital in Japan. This was a milestone achievement for Varian, which has developed technology and equipment for cancer and other medical treatments as an independent company since spinning off from Varian in 1999. April also saw its market capitalization reach $8.50 billion.


Fitting its Palo Alto headquarters, in the historical home of the US technology industry, Varian understands that modern medical treatment is a challenge requiring excellent hardware and excellent software. Varian Medical Systems recently acquired Velocity Medical Solutions and its software product, which analyses large amounts of unstructured data into clinically useful information.


The challenge of mobility

The ability to access and interpret data – and access it anywhere – has the power to transform business and medicine. And, as mobile technology evolves, new uses will emerge. Last year, a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston performed life-saving surgery while accessing information on using a Google Glass head-mounted device.

The businesses making the tools doctors use may not be performing surgery themselves, but their ability to run effectively is a vital part of the modern medical ecosystem. And managing – or failing to manage – mobility has emerged as one of the greatest challenges to the modern information enterprise.


Bringing devices to work – and making devices work


In the enterprise, one of the biggest issues facing IT departments and managers is BYOD – bring your own device. Few could have predicted before the age of commoditized smartphones that workers at every level of business would not just be prepared to supply their own mobile devices, and pay for them, but would in many cases insist on it. Enterprises are working to overcome the security issues of BYOD by retooling their IT capacities, and developing dedicated applications to support their business.

BYOD is already well established across industry. The Gartner study “Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future” suggests that by 2017 it will not only be widely accepted that employees will bring their own devices to work, but 50% of employers will actually expect employees to provide their own devices.


The potential cost and complexity savings of employees providing their own technology, and managing their own data plans, are clear. Analysis by Cisco indicates that employees allowed to use their own devices spend $965 from their own pockets on an average of 1.7 devices. Currently, these devices are generally smartphones and tablets, but in the future may be wearable technologies or “smart glasses”.

The same study estimates that the value of a “basic” BYOD policy to businesses in the US can be found in up to 81 minutes of productive time returned to mobile employees every week, with a 37-minute benefit on average across the world.


The cost benefits of BYOD are initially found in hardware and contract cost savings. But the real value is found in productivity improvements – and in the acknowledgement that, in the business of the future, almost all workers will be mobile workers.


Measuring mobile ROI


Varian’s approach to mobile centers on measuring and maximizing mobile ROI – a figure many businesses have yet to define. Partnering with one of its technology providers, an analytics-driven approach to mobile technology allowed Varian to find the three most profitable applications in its mobile arsenal – measuring tangible and intangible benefits. Now, Varian is maximizing the benefits of those “hero” apps, to create a culture of mobile enablement and lay the foundation for identifying and deploying more mobile applications with strong ROI potential.


To find out which three applications are already saving Varian more than 13,000 person hours and nearly $1 million, and how they do it, download the white paper “Measuring Mobility at Varian Medical Systems”.

Water equals life. It’s really that simple.276186_l_srgb_s_gl.jpg


Yet according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, 768 million people in the world lack access to an improved source of clean drinking water. That’s roughly one in ten of the entire world population.


This tragedy is no more evident than in sub-Saharan Africa. There, more than eight of every ten homes don’t have running water. As a result, women and children often spend many hours each day hauling heavy containers from distant and sometimes suspect water sources.


But there has been progress in recent decades. The Water Project, for example, has been helping struggling communities in this parched region of the world gain greater access to safe water and proper sanitation for more than seven years.


And this year, the 2014 Best Practices for Oil & Gas Conference will join the fight.


Joining Forces for a Critical Cause

Oil and water? “It’s not as an unlikely a mix as you might think,” says Isabella Groegor-Cechowicz, Global Vice President of Oil and Gas Business Unit at SAP. “Managing the water brought to the surface during oil and gas operations has always been part of our industry. And these days there’s even a stronger focus on issues around water quality, conservation, and reuse.”


Through Wells for Water, the Best Practices for Oil & Gas Conference will start raising and donating funds to directly support the important work of The Water Project. This funding will help African communities dig wells, construct small sand dams, protect fresh-water springs, and learn more about proper sanitation and hygiene practices.


Improving Lives One Well at a Time

The impact of these projects is enormous – especially when existing water sources are miles away or full of water-borne disease that can make families sick.


Working locally, small drilling rigs can often reach life-saving water only 150 to 200 feet underground. Once sealed with steel casings and concrete – and equipped with a simple hand pump – the water in these new wells stays clean and can be consumed without any treatment.


In other geographies, like Central Kenya, wells might need to go down more than 900 feet to find suitable water. In these conditions, a specially trained crew and a much larger drill rig are required. These projects also demand diesel generators, large electric pumps, storage tanks, and associated piping to make the water accessible.


These deep wells cost up to US$30,000 a piece, but such larger systems can serve more than 3,000 people.


Access to clean, local water does save lives. A study by Stanford University analyzed data from 26 sub-Saharan countries and found a fascinating correlation. Cutting the walking time to a water source by just 15 minutes reduced under-five mortality of children by 11% and slashed the prevalence of nutrition-depleting diarrhea by 41%.


Let’s Not Wait for Peak Water

It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of clean water, and many experts see a growing global crisis. Author and environmental analyst Lester R. Brown has written that, “peak oil has generated headlines in recent years, but the real threat to our future is peak water.”


But access to clean water is already a problem for millions around the globe. “In developing countries, about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions,” notes Steve Morris, Managing Partner of The Eventful Group, citing statistics from The Water Project website. “That’s just unacceptable. By supporting causes like Wells for Water and The Water Project, we know the world can do better.”


Please join me at the 2014 Best Practices for Oil & Gas Conference in Houston, and follow me on Twitter @JohnGWard3.

In a business meeting several years ago, a colleague of mine asked, “What does success look like?” This question has resonated with me ever since. I use it as a sounding board to gauge whether I create that program, build this campaign or run an event. In this age of “Big Data” and “real-time computing,” the process to evaluate success has become a whole lot easier. But the question that helps me remains the same “What Does Success Look Like?” and I owe it all to the planning of an event.


Let me explain…


Years ago, I was looking after a partner for a high-tech company and I was helping with their customer event. Simon was a sought after presales guru. You know the type, almost annoyingly versed in every aspect of the product. As the account manager, it was my job to secure Simon as the star presenter.


Events are a great activity for generating business and our partners were encouraged and supported to do as many as possible. So, I arranged a meeting with the partner and Simon at our swanky headquarters to discuss the logistics over a couple of lattes and a macchiato.


At this point, I am feeling really good. The partner is happy because I delivered Simon and Simon actually showed up. We start off by discussing the logistics; what room to use, the agenda, how many sessions, etc. As we agree on the finer points of this event, Simon drops the bombshell. He asks THE question that should always be, but is very rarely asked, “if we run this event what does success look like?”

You could hear a pin drop. And then the back pedaling questions spewed forth: “What do you mean?” “Can you please clarify?” “I don’t understand the question!”


Suddenly the whole situation had changed. No longer are we having a nice friendly chat about the great event, the resources we will no doubt consume as a consequence, and how good everyone will feel about being part of it. Now we are under the proverbial spotlight entering into the realms of accountability. We are accepting that if we apply a measure, we can articulate our success, or on the flip side, heaven forbid, our failure!!!!


Interestingly, the more we focus on measuring success, the more relevant the quality of our research becomes. Today with the advent of “Big Data” and “real-time” computing,” it’s like adding a microscope to our toolkit. We can evaluate the data in detail to support our decision to run an event, or even support a decision not to run one if it won’t be successful.


It’s all about technology engineering success.


During that meeting, I thought to myself, “Thank you Simon,” as clarity forms in the room. Mentally everyone leans forward, eyes focused, on the edge of their seats. And we all get very serious, very, very quickly. You see, that one simple question raised the game.


One question was all it took. One simple, but very powerful question, to dramatically change the whole dynamics of the meeting and to ensure we focus on being productive.


From that day forward, I have used this question in every single business meeting and it has made a huge impact on my professional career and every project I have been involved in.


It could do the same for you; just try it, what have you got to lose!



For the past couple of weeks, it’s been tough to avoid following the viral success of the ALS ice bucket challenge. Literally thousands of people have been dousing themselves with buckets of ice water for a great cause and challenging others to do the same.


Among those accepting the ice bucket challenge are some of the world’s most powerful and influential business leaders. Leaders who have stood alongside their employees while being doused with ice-cold water include GM's Mary Barra, American Airlines' Doug Parker, Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Tesla and Space-X's Elon Musk, Disney’s Bob Iger, General Electric’s Jeff Immelt, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and others.


As you watch the videos of these leaders getting doused with water, you can’t help but notice an underlying tone. These are people who lead some of the largest organizations in the world. They’re always proper and “on-script”, yet for the few seconds as they cringe from the shock of the ice water, you see their humbleness and vulnerability. For those few moments, you see them as equal, you see them as “human”; as much a part of the team as anyone else.


At a time where employee engagement is at record lows while disruption and consequently change become the norm, the ice bucket challenge brings out a side of leaders that employees don’t see too often anymore. We live in a world of hierarchies and corporate jargon that often abstracts a leader’s personality in the workplace, though we should be doing the opposite: bringing out the authentic, yet sometimes vulnerable person. A human being who earns their place in leadership and goes to battle with the front lines.


Today’s most successful organizations compete on open and innovative cultures that are receptive to new ideas and change and can execute with speed and agility. With the talent war for a limited pool of top performers, promoting this type of culture begins with top-level executives who demonstrate consistent openness and responsiveness by humanizing their employee interactions and going “off-script”, showing empathy, compassion and creating an unobstructed flow of communications that builds an open and innovative culture.


While executive humanization isn't taught in MBA courses, a growing number of leaders are quickly realizing that humanizing their interactions with staff advances the pace of change, retains top talent, and instills important corporate cultural goals.


While you don’t need to spill a bucket of water on your head to earn credibility as a leader, now is the time to consciously take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are being as human as you can at work.


Are you consistently building mutual trust and credibility or are you viewed as unapproachable? The solution is both simple and hard – be human.


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