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SAP Business Trends

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In the “old” days – 10 or 20 years ago – product innovation was one of the most important ways a company could gain a competitive advantage.


But today, believe it or not, it’s business model innovation that will push companies to leadership heights in their respective industries.


276386_l_srgb_s_gl_two folks.jpg

Almost every company that wants to bypass the competition is searching for ways to advance their efforts in business transformation. But few figured out the critical role that an innovative business model – one that drives every process, organizational structure, product, and service of the organization – plays into this.


And even fewer companies have a systematic approach to business models that can accelerate innovation. But they are quickly realizing that static and outdated models just won’t work anymore.

It’s time for BMDI


This is where business model development and innovation (BMDI) comes in. This beauty of this approach is that it’s iterative and agile – and it can be applied to any business unit or any size company.


BMDI, which is relatively new approach, can help companies be more responsive to market conditions and it also helps mitigate risks by validating underlying business assumptions and perhaps most importantly, economic viability. And it will help uncover new business opportunities not yet thought of.


Think “unit of analysis”


There are lean engineering and design thinking approaches that offer tremendous value, but they focus on product delivery and the human desire for it. The BMDI approach adds a new dimension, as it can capture the competitive advantage of a company. This added dimension, which combines a market-based view and a resource-based view, or a “unit of analysis,” can be the basis for a systematic development of business activities. And it can help companies build a meaningful and solid foundation to more soundly calculate business cases and develop business plans.


In addition, it allows for the full exploitation of ideas and capabilities for any type of business model needed in an organization – whether it’s for new innovation, or the adaptation of something already in place.


To explore BMDI, read “Business Model Development & Innovation: A Strategic Approach to Business Transformation,” which is on page 6 of the 360° – the Business Transformation Journal. You’ll learn more about agile and iterative business models, including the four key steps of the process, and how a company used BMDI to respond effectively to a new market segment.


360° – the Business Transformation Journal is produced by the Business Transformation Academy, a thought leadership network devoted to providing cutting-edge insights on innovation and business transformation. For more business transformation articles on the SAP Community Network, please visit the 360° – the Business Transformation Journal library.

DAM2.jpgAbout a year ago, my friend Lindsey and I spent three days in Amsterdam as part of a 10-day trip through Europe.  Departing by train from Germany, we knew the minute we stepped foot outside Amsterdam Central Station that this city was wonderfully different from any place we had traveled.  Our trip consisted of an excursion to the Keukenhof tulips, tall windmills, a bike ride along the canals, samplings of rich cheeses, museum visits, an unnecessary amount of French fries dipped in mayonnaise, and new friends from all over the world.  I only regret that we never took a picture in front of the famous I amsterdam letters.


danny.jpgTo guide our Amsterdam adventure, a work colleague connected us with his son, Danny—a student at the University of Amsterdam. Upon meeting Danny, I realized immediately that I limited myself by only considering schools in the United States.  Danny stepped outside of his comfort zone and experienced a new exciting culture every day – and it paid off.


Opportunity is endless at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).  Seventy thousand students call UvA home and with about 10,000 employees, UvA is the largest university in the Netherlands.  Seven faculties conduct teaching and research, covering over 300 programs and varying from fundamental to applied research.  Putting all their hard work into action, UvA staff members publish over 10,000 academic publications a year.


But even the distinguished and nationally recognized UvA has its challenges.  Managing data for 70,000 students is no easy task when running an outdated IT infrastructure. UvA strives to empower its students to be successful. To achieve that goal, the school needed high-speed data computing. To begin change, UvA migrated its existing SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) application to the SAP HANA platform, speeding its reporting performance from 30 to 5 seconds. UvA now runs SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and SAP BW powered by SAP HANA, allowing the school to spend less time on behind-the-scenes reporting and more time focusing on student success.


uva.PNGBert Voorberk, the director of ICT Services at UvA explains, “The big benefit for us is to now be able to explore the learning analytics department. SAP BW powered by SAP HANA is providing us that functionality. We were hampered by the old system. We couldn’t load any bigger reports. We couldn’t load anymore data. And now, by means of SAP HANA, we are able to go one step further. For us the next phase is learning analytics.”


Voorberk, explains, “The number of students that will not complete their studies is too high and that’s bad for the university, but it’s especially bad for the students that leave the university without a grade.  That’s where IT might help especially learning analytics. [It provides] insight into which factors are most important for study success so that we can help students tackle those problems and increase their chance of completing their study.”


In a world with many options, it’s easy to miss a chance at something great.  In the case of my impulsive college selection, I neglected to consider a foreign school and now realize that I missed out on what could have been an amazing four years of learning.  UvA wants to ensure that no student misses their chance of success.  With learning analytics in its future, UvA can select a focus area for students based on technological logic, helping them to better excel and prosper.


To adapt to the nature of millennials and the age of 24x7 social connection, UvA went mobile.  “Our students are used to a mobile world…so a year ago we started with the mobility first strategy…every data point is available on mobile devices,” said Voorberk.  By choosing new interfaces available via mobile solutions from SAP and SAP Fiori apps, UvA hopes that its SAP solutions will help to enhance its learning analytics department.


UvA takes great pride in its partnership with the city of Amsterdam. Since 1632, the university has placed great value in innovation, determination, and engagement.  Students like Danny are lucky to attend an institution that challenges them to think outside the social norm and put creativity, logic, and research to practical use.  Together with SAP, UvA can enhance the learning experience at a deeper level because it has the software it needs to run large learning analytic data reports in real time.  And although I missed my chance at a Bachelor’s degree abroad, it’s never too late to go for my Master’s in Amsterdam…and I’m sure that Lindsey and Danny will be eager to visit me.


To hear more about the University of Amsterdam and its engagement with SAP, watch this interview video with Bert Voorberk:


Follow my adventures on Twitter and LinkedIn.

This was the third in a 13-week series of highlights from the broadcasts of HR Trends, a special edition of Coffee Break with Game-Changers on the business channel on Voice of America Internet talk radio. Industry experts will be discussing a variety of topics that are trending in HR today, such as this one on technology in the workplace.  http://scn.sap.com/servlet/JiveServlet/showImage/38-113763-546689/Graham4-player-wide.jpg


Are we creating a lost workforce? One in which those with semi-skilled roles are left by the wayside? That was the topic of this week’s radio broadcast among expert panelists including Charles E. Firestone, executive director Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and Bill Briggs, Chief Technology Officer of Deloitte Consulting LLP. They were joined by Dr. Stephen Hunt, Senior Vice President of Customer Value at SuccessFactors.


How technology is changing people and their jobs

This week, the panelists offered several insights on how they see technology changing people’s jobs in the work place – and here, in no particular order, are a few of the most interesting ones.

  • Every company is a technology company. Technology is creating an unprecedented time of innovation – to the point where every company is a technology company. A company can’t separate its business or innovation strategy from its technology strategy.
  • Technology is changing faster than people are evolving. With each advancement, technology reduces some jobs while it creates others. And sometimes it does this in unimaginable ways. All of this is forcing people to change and grow faster, which can be an issue because not all people are wired for continuous learning.
  • The semi-skilled jobs are being eliminated. Technology tends to create jobs and fuel economic growth, but in the process, semi-skilled jobs are eliminated. This leaves two distinct labor groups – the highly skilled running the technology and the very low skilled in service-type occupations. This is creating a big gap, and unfortunately, it’s hard to move from one group to the other because the semi-skilled jobs are where people used to learn on the job.
  • More than technology is needed. The technology folks need core technological capabilities, but they also need design and artistry – taking STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to STEAM (with the addition of creative Arts). It’s all about creating the sparks of what tomorrow could look like, so it’s important to fuel creativity to find new questions to ask and new patterns not yet seen.
  • A leadership willing to take risks is key. Today’s leadership is risk-averse, with a keen focus on efficiency and shrinking budgets – and there is no tolerance for failure. But when companies advance towards things that can’t be anticipated, there is some natural risk involved.
  • Globalization is a major influence. Jobs will be lost to globalization because businesses can now take jobs to the person, rather than bringing people to the jobs.
  • Reskilling is a necessity. As technology continues to displace people and create new kinds of jobs, reskilling programs will be key. Soon people will be trained for jobs that are not even defined today.
  • The yin and yang of the five-year mark. Today, the average tenure in a job is five years (and getting shorter), but significant advancements take longer than five years to build, scale, and get out into the world. This creates a leadership challenge, and it’s creating a leadership style that runs companies through sheer force of will and relationship building.


The crystal ball: What will be trending around technology in the workforce in 2020?

Here are the predications from each expert on what the trends will continue to affect technology in the workforce:

  • Firestone believes that skilled and intelligent workers will leverage technology to a great extent, and consequently, prosper. The growing unskilled segment will lead to a greater divide in terms of income and wealth, which Firestone says is worrisome. He also pointed out that this is a global issue, and there will be a lot of new employment around the world in places where people will be elevated from extreme poverty.
  • Briggs predicts that the leading companies will reconstitute themselves dynamically as they understand, harness, and use new technologies to disrupt – and by doing so, they will become the new Fortune 100. He reiterated that companies need to take into consideration people’s passions and harness them to do work differently, giving them a chance to retool and reskill.  
  • In Hunt’s view of the future, the skilled laborers – of which there will be a shortage – will have a meritocracy, regardless of location, and life’s going to be really good for them. He also thinks that there will be little tolerance for bad management practices, because companies will need to effectively engage and retain these skilled employees. As to the unskilled, he’s “nervous,” as he believes there will be a growing number of disenfranchised people. But he’s optimistic, and sees technology being used to bridge the gap and “skill [the unskilled] up.” 


You can hear the full broadcast on the workforce and technology here, including more on the role of leadership in this challenge. Listen to other recent HR Trend Radio Shows, including ones on what baby boomers want and workplace collaboration here.

collaboration_definition image.jpegAs consumers, our lives have become highly efficient.  Personal networks like Facebook, Airbnb and Amazon.com let us learn, share and shop like never before. Collaboration, with vendors, with our friends and with our peers in online communities is simple, effective and usually even fun.

Yet business remains highly inefficient when it comes to collaborating with trading partners.  You see it every day.  Paper, phone calls, endless emails.  Basex research estimates that the cost of this inefficiency is $650B annually.  And that ignores the frustration, risk, damaged relationships and other qualitative effects.

The Networked Economy we now live in should address the inefficiencies for all, not just consumers.  After all, business networks now exist that tout similar benefits to personal networks and have promised to drive the next great wave in productivity improvements.

Yet, something is amiss.  For most companies, collaboration with their suppliers, customers and other trading partners remains highly inefficient.  Globally, productivity remains stagnant, struggling to achieve 2% in developed economies and decelerating in emerging markets.

So what’s going on? If the technology is now available and as easily enabled as vendors promise, why aren’t we seeing broad-based economic benefits?  Can individual companies actually reap the benefits and drive massive productivity improvements?  Have vendors and experts simply overpromised?

A new study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Ariba, entitled No Business is an Island provides great insight into the fundamental problem.  Companies have indeed embraced collaboration.  They do broadly view it as strategic, have made corresponding investments in people and are seeing benefits.

But, they are collaborating in a rigid, limited manner:

  • They have not enabled broad-based collaboration across the bulk of their trading partners.  It remains too focused on a handful of strategic partners.
  • Collaboration is limited to a handful of processes.
  • Collaboration is not being used as a strategic lever, to adjust based on market conditions to help companies adapt.

To realize the types of massive efficiency benefits in business that we have seen as consumers, companies must change their approach just as drastically as consumers have.  The baby steps most companies are taking guarantee a long, painful journey.

What should companies do to realize the benefits now?

  • Invest.  In your people AND systems to empower them. Its not an either/or question.
    • Systems:  You need to be connected to your trading partners to scale collaboration.  Connect your existing systems to business networks with a global community already there and that can easily onboard trading partners not yet there.  Ensure the network and your solutions support broad types of collaboration – its not just about exchanging documents.  Can they help you discover new suppliers / customers?  Can they provide new insights to help you make better decisions?
    • People:  The best systems in the world are useless if not adopted and used well.  Train your people on your systems and what is now possible.  Motivate them to adopt and improve their way of working.
  • Rethink your approach. Be brutal.  And be sure to look across functions.
    • Think through those processes that extend to your trading partners and how they should work.  Where are the bottlenecks?  What low value work is taking too much of your time?  How can you automate or eliminate those now?
    • Think about how new information available can help you work smarter.  For example:
      • Peer reviews to help you qualify suppliers.
      • eCommerce analytics to help you better serve customers and maximize profits.
      • How can you leverage your trading partners in new ways to drive value?  For example:
        • Crowdsource requirements to potential suppliers on networks, letting them bid not just prices but innovative solutions.
        • Mitigate their risk by paying early and increasing returns on your cash, or maximize your Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) by connecting to a 3rd party financing option your whole supply base can leverage.
  • Be flexible. Don’t establish fixed types of collaboration and stick with them through thick and thin.  Keep thinking of new ways to collaborate.  Expanding into a new market?  Tap your local suppliers and customers for advice.

In 1987 Robert Solow, the Nobel laureate in economics, quipped that ''you can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.'’ The massive impact on productivity growth from the PC was only felt starting in 1995.  Faced with a new wave of technological advances, in particular business networks, companies are again taking far too long to adapt their processes.  This is delaying broad-based gains.  Fortunately, this presents a great opportunity for innovative leaders to build a huge competitive advantage over their slow moving competitors.

To learn more about the benefits of today’s Networked Economy, read the full report

smallleadcliff.jpgThe war for talent is over. Talent has won. Those were the words of Peter Sheahan during his keynote that I attended at SuccessConnect 2013 earlier this month. Sheahan, Founder and CEO of ChangeLabs, was talking about how effective leadership is the single most important factor in keeping employees motivated, happy, and most productive. According to Sheahan, research shows that, “There’s no greater influence on employee behavior than the behavior of their manager.”


Think about it. When it comes to influencing employees, the attitude and actions of someone’s manager trump everything else; that includes company strategy, team structure, and performance ratings systems. Yet recent research from a global survey, fielded by Oxford Economics and SAP of over 5,400 executives and employees in 27 countries, reveals that companies are not prepared for the leadership challenges of the 2020 workforce.


That’s not to say that executives at most companies don’t count employees as their greatest asset. Everyone knows company growth depends on having top talent. It’s just that these same companies aren’t doing what it takes to build an unrivaled leadership juggernaut. The Oxford Economics research findings are unequivocal:


  • Forty-two percent of respondents agree that expansion plans for growth markets are limited unless the right leadership is in place. Yet only 35% say talent now in leadership positions is sufficient to drive global growth.


  • About half of executives say their team has the skills to manage talent or to inspire and empower employees.


  • Only 44 percent of executives believe leadership at their companies is equipped to lead their organizations to success.


Digging a little deeper into the findings reveals even bigger gaps between leadership readiness to meet future realities. Executives cited globalization, diversity, and millennials entering the workforce as top business concerns—51percent say these labor market shifts have great impact on their workforce strategies. But only 34 percent of executives agree that their leaders are prepared to lead a diverse workforce. Moreover, just 44 percent of employees say that leadership at their company can lead the organization to success; even fewer say their company is committed to diversity.


According to the same survey, that pesky new generation of workers otherwise known as millennials, need to be managed differently. Millennial survey respondents say they rely more on formal training and mentoring to develop their skills, and they want informal feedback from their managers 50% more often than older peers.


On the bright side, research like this can be a catalyst for change. Executives and employees, united in agreement that leadership is lacking, can also come together to drive company initiatives around leadership development. With the right technologies and programs, executives can engage what promises to be the most global and diverse population of employees in the history of work. They need software that makes succession planning not only a priority, but also easy. They can use workforce analytics to identify top talent before they’re caught short-staffed in key locations. On-line collaborative platforms and any-device HR software for performance reviews have unprecedented power to foster productive, ongoing conversations between managers and employees. The future may be unpredictable, but there’s no reason why companies can’t change leadership priorities now for higher-performance results tomorrow.


Follow me @smgaler

Most of us don’t like change. It tends to unsettle us, particularly if a situation changes abruptly. But as a sales person, change can often mean a short-notice sales opportunity - a nice bluebird for your pipeline. In the B2B world, these are typically known as ‘trigger events’ (which you may have noticed I talked about in my last blog post), a sub-set of sales intelligence. Essentially, these are real time changes in a social, economic or business context that can have an immediate impact on your marketing, selling or customer service interactions.


For example, if you’re selling B2B services such as executive coaching, and a client announces a major restructuring of its business or appoints new senior executives, these events trigger an opportunity for your company’s services. It may trigger a prospect to contact you or trigger an opportunity for you to make contact in a particular context, but the result is the same: opportunity.Change Trigger Blog 272429.jpg


But do triggers actually work when it comes to overall sales strategy and performance? The short answer is ‘yes’. Let me give you three reasons why (Tweet this).


  • First, we all know that B2B buyers hold more power, more insight and more control over the buying process than ever before, thanks to the contemporary, 24/7 data-driven culture we live and work in.  As sales people, we are expected to ‘know’ our customers and prospects, and anticipate their needs, behaviours and requirements. Aberdeen Group recently studied the effectiveness of trigger events. They found that 63 per cent of Best-in-Class firms currently deploy formal trigger event tools (Tweet this) (e.g. notifications, RSS feeds, alerts, posting/tagging updates etc) to their front line sellers, and as a result close more business, have increased customer loyalty, better sales forecasting prowess, and a higher percentage of individual success among sales team members.


  • Second, trigger events can help you align your sales intelligence with sales stage advancement. Trigger-event users are more in tune with the daily and real-time fluctuations of their markets, and therefore more able to define sales stages and deal advancements with far more data-driven accuracy.


  • Finally, it helps your timing. We all know that when sales and marketing teams are aligned they are more able to determine when a prospect should be passed on to sales and treated as a ‘hot lead’. Trigger events help you augment this approach to help determine the best next step for prospect engagement. It also helps you outsmart your competition. Aberdeen Group found that trigger-event users are 77 per cent more likely to provide competitive intelligence to their front line sellers (Tweet this).  In other words, the faster you know about a competitor’s weakness or new tactic, the faster you can capitalise on it.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that triggers are used in isolation. You obviously need to build relationships with customers and engage with them in a sustained and personalised way. But when it comes to the wider sales process, the fundamental goal of sales is to better understand, anticipate and engage effectively with customers. Trigger-events are just one small, but influential part of the broader orchestration of this process.  Ask yourself what was the last trigger-event you were able to capitalise on with a customer? (Tweet this) If you can’t think of one, chances are it passed you by unnoticed.

I'll be posting regular content on modern selling techniques so please stay tuned for more updates. I'd also love to hear from you, what's your opinion on this topic? Let me know in the comments sections below or send me a Tweet @kevinkimber.

For more information on this topic take a look at this research from Aberdeen Group.

Kevin Kimber,

UKI Managing Director, Cloud & Line of Business, SAP

Thomas Odenwald

Climate Week Roundup

Posted by Thomas Odenwald Sep 29, 2014

Last week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had invited leaders from government, finance, business and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions on climate change to the summit in New York. 300,000+ people marched on the streets of New York, accompanied by additional marches in 161 countries.


I was invited to 2 adjacent events from our partners CDP and PwC in New York. CDP’s announcement cut straight to the chase. Their new report claims to have some of the first proven evidence of a link between business leadership on climate change and a company’s profitability. The study shows that S&P 500 companies that build sustainability into their core strategies are outperforming those that fail to show leadership. ‘…Corporations that are actively managing and planning for climate change secure an 18% higher return on investment (ROI) than companies that aren’t – and 67% higher than companies who refuse to disclose their emissions’. One could hope that the study puts the long-debated question of whether sustainability undermines or improves financial results finally to rest.



Here some other highlights:



  • A major new declaration calling for a global price on carbon was signed by 74 countries and more than 1,000 businesses and investors. The declaration, released by the World Bank, has been signed by the likes of China, Shell, Dow Chemical, Coca-Cola and SAP SE. One missing signature: The United States



  • Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), teaming up with General Mills, Kellogg's, Unilever and 29 other major brands advocating for state and national climate and clean energy policies


  • The New York Declaration on Forests signed by more than 150 corporate, government, and civil-society groups outlines goals to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and eliminate it by 2030. Among the signatories: Unilever, Kellogg's, McDonald's, L’Oréal and Nestlé


  • APPLE’s Tim Cook saying '....the long-term consequences of not addressing climate are huge. I don’t think anyone can overstate that’. This is a follow-up on his comment during Apples last shareholder meeting, where he said ‘…..if you want me to do things only for ROI (return on investment) reasons, you should get out of this stock’


  • The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, built on oil money, announced together with 800 other institutions to divest from fossil-fuel companies. Total funds making that pledge reached $50 billion last week


  • Google followed Microsoft and announced also to leave conservative political group ALEC, citing its stance against government action to combat climate change. And just this week Yahoo and Facebook followed


  • The European Union’s 28 member states committed to a 20% emissions cut by 2020, followed by a 40% reduction by 2030


  • NYC's Mayor Bill De Blasio committed to reduce the City's greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050


  • France joining Germany in pledging $1bn for the Green Climate Fund


  • Seychelles president quoted saying ‘…..climate change on its current path is a crime against humanity’


  • Another 100 companies, among them IKEA and H&M committing to 100% renewable power usage by 2020


Unfortunately the big powerhouses were a bit vague on commitments. Examples:

  • UK: Cameron saying ‘…UK was ‘playing its part’ and was on track to cut its greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050’; but no new commitments
  • US: Obama said his government would announce new carbon reduction ambitions by next year and would meet its current commitment of a 17% cut by 2020
  • China: China said it would 'announce post-2020 actions on climate change as soon as we can to markedly reduce carbon intensity’



Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's, summed up the happenings saying ‘….riding back on the bus to Vermont, as tired as my feet are, I know one thing for certain. This was not just the end of a long day, but the beginning of a real movement….’


Lets hope he is right.

We are facing a transition that many believe to be more impactful to our economy than the industrial revolution. It will transform the way we live and work, how business runs, and how society functions – and it will do this in a time frame that is radically shorter than any other major economic transition in history.  This is the Networked Economy.

NE overview image.jpg


We are at the tip of the iceberg.  So, what does it all mean?


1.     Depending who you talk to, you might get a different answer.  In very simple terms, the Networked Economy is the hyper connectivity between people, devices and business.  Check out the world’s easiest-to-understand infographic for an illustration of the Networked Economy.


2.    You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand it.  Think of it in terms of five basic characteristics...


  • Everything is digitized – like wearable’s, crops, and soccer balls where we monitor and track every move
  • Everything is shared – think of how we book vacations, from cars to rooms to use only what we need and pay as we go for the time used and value received
  • Everything is connected - it’s hard to imagine driver-less cars that are guided by connected devices.  Every device, system and service we use is connected.
  • Everything is direct – instead of having cable TV, we watch our favorite shows on Hulu or Netflix on demand to bypass the middle man
  • Everything is personalized – getting tailored products or services when and where we want them


3.     The proliferation of sensor technologies will lead to exponential growth in the Internet of Things (IoT), which is the foundation for the Networked Economy.  Vala Afshar paints a grand picture of life with the Internet of Things.  And, another view… Cisco’s Joseph Bradley defines the Internet of Everything slightly different as the intersection of people, processes and data. He talks about how Barcelona used it to do everything from reducing
traffic congestion to offering free Wi-Fi through street lights.


4.     How do individuals prepare for the Networked Economy? Well, you are probably living it already.  You play a role in the Networked Economy, even if your alarm clock isn’t connected to your refrigerator which isn’t connected to your house security system which isn’t connected to the local police department.  Is this an exaggeration?  Perhaps, but reality soon enough. You’re a contributor to the Networked Economy if you spend time on Facebook connecting with old friends.  You’re a contributor if you use a fitbit or a Jawbone and share results with your trainer or doctor. You’re a contributor if you use a collaboration tool at work like I do or even one that you use for your child’s school.  You’re a contributor if you use Waze or other interactive traffic  applications.


5.     How do you get your business prepared for the Networked Economy?   In short, you need to do three things:


  • Activate: Connect your people, business partners, and asset resources
  • Optimize: Things like infrastructure, workforce, and services need to tie back to core processes and workflows that run your business
  • Transform: Taking advantage of the network effect to reinvent and automate processes in real time, simplify infrastructure and unleash human potential


How do the technologies of the Networked Economy – cloud, sensors, networks, and Big Data – translate into business strategy? Author Joe  Weinman offers four strategies for improving decision making, service offerings, customer recommendations, and collaborative innovation.


Hyper connectivity will drive the next phase of the world’s economy.  Everyone from individuals to business and society to devices are becoming interconnected in real time, leading to a way of life that is more collaborative, responsive, and efficient. And hopefully, more fun.


Join us for more conversation on the Networked Economy at www.sap.com/networkedeconomy.

Panel video replay title slide.JPGWelcome to Part 2 of our series on Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) trends.  This blog series is based on my participation and discussions with a panel of leaders at the recent Manufacturing Forum (replay video)


As we discussed in Part 1 of this blog series, companies are generating a lot more data;  the most successful companies are effectively leveraging that information to drive competitive differentiation, disruptive innovation and profitable growth.    Best in class companies are embracing data-driven-decision-making.


Most of our day to day business processes are "reactive" instead of "proactive".  Our businesses collect vast amounts of data.  Most of the time, it is too manual and time-consuming to sift through all of that data, looking into the past, drilling down to search for meaning.  Because anything meaningful that we do find, happened in the [distant] past, it is too late to take meaningful action.  I've heard many corporate leaders tell me that their organizations are "data rich, but information poor".  This is caused by latency - a delay to access the data in a timeframe this is most useful;  latency is also negatively impacted by the time and effort it takes to adequately analyze and visualize data.  This latency leads companies to run by intuition instead of by the factual data of what is actually happening now.  Imagine if the gas gauge on your car gave you data that was a week old.   Now imagine that your job is to use your car in a race to beat your competitors who are using their own cars in the race.  Although you might not need to look at that gas gauge at every second, when you do look at it, you need real-time accurate data from which to base your decisions.  Without it, you would have to guess at your level of gas.  If your competitors had an accurate real-time gas gauge, then they would have a massive advantage over you.  Companies that wish to drive competitive advantage are shifting away from using intuition to make decisions;  they are moving toward using real-time data driven decision making.  To achieve this, companies are rethinking their approach to collecting, accessing, analyzing and visualizing data.


Best run businesses recognize that Big Data is not just a technology initiative,  but rather, a business initiative requiring technical know-how.   Furthermore, they recognize that traditional approaches, traditional IT systems, traditional business processes, and skill sets simply weren’t designed to cope with the challenges and opportunities provided by Big Data.  Best run companies are changing their organizational attitudes about using information.  They are re-evaluating their IT infrastructure, considering big data technologies like SAP Hana.  And they are enhancing their data analytical skills. According to this Harvard Business Review article, data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century.  Now tell me that's not interesting.



But Big Data could also bring Big Opportunities for Manufacturers


Big Data has big impact on a number of industries, but especially on manufacturing.  A  McKinsey & Company's public report on big data ranked manufacturing as one of the highest industries in terms of the amount of data managed and potential for additional insight within that data.


McKinsey - era of big data - sensors and alorithms .JPG

Tata - big data global trend study - ROI example.JPG


Here are a few of the value findings for manufacturers that are doing more with Big Data.  We'll be discussing more on value in our next post.


10% estimated increase in revenue  (source: SAP Benchmarks)  


20-50% reduction in product development time (source:  Georgia Tech Big Data Research:  Manufacturing)




29% average ROI from Big Data projects in Manufacturing industry (source: Tata Consulting study, "Big Data Global Trends")


Achieved IF more data could be accessed and analyzed



In summary...

Data-Driven Decision-Making is the employment of:

  • Data analysis techniques
  • Big data technologies
  • Visualization methods


Resulting in

A shift from using intuition to make decisions, to using data to drive greater growth, increased productivity, and sustained competitive advantages


Part 3 of this series will be posted next week and will focus further on Unlocking the Value from Big Data, IoT and M2M.  In the meantime, you can watch the presentation and panel discussion I had with leaders from Cisco, Pitney Bowes, LNS research and SAP - upon which this blog series is based  here


Panel video replay landing page.JPG


You might also like:

Business Trends driving CEOs (Part 1 of Big Data Series)


Empathy Lines the Path to Simple


A Time for Founders


Accelerating a Culture of Innovation


Panel: Big Data in Manufacturing - How Leading Companies Are Driving Competitive Advantage


About the Author

Patrick Maroney is part of the SAP Global Hana Platform Center of Excellence. In this role, he works closely with SAP customers to help understand the impacts of business trends on their processes and the use of technology in order to help architect business improvements. Patrick has a background in industrial engineering and business transformation consulting. Since 1992, Patrick has been working with the management teams of leading companies on improving their processes and leading business transformation initiatives.


Futurologists predict by 2050 giant, trans-continental grids will seamlessly and efficiently provide most of the world’s energy needs. Sound farfetched? Three things will help make it happen. The need for clean, cost-effective energy will lead to more regulation. Advances in technology will enable nations to share power from abundant sources such solar energy through giant grids. And most importantly, energy companies are transforming themselves to manage energy more efficiently. One way energy companies can increase efficiency is to equip their field force with mobile solutions that help them get the job done better and faster. Click here to find out how innovative leaders like Australia’s Powercor, UK’s National Grid and Brazil’s Neoenergia are leading the way.



For more information, read about the importance of mobility for companies of all sizes in all industries as they engage with users and customers.


Here at the Services division of SAP, the world’s largest business software company, we are constantly committed to improving our employee engagement on Strategy. It's about understanding the particular overall strategy, translating it into individuals’ context and helping them to take appropriate action. We measure that as part of our employee satisfaction survey – due every September.


This year, we wanted to do something different than we usually have done. The idea of a comprehensive campaign came up.  I wondered about it myself: one campaign, 10,000+ employees, 8 weeks, during the summer. How on earth could that possibly work out?

It did. Even considering the potential distraction of the FIFA world championship. But just what made our summer’s Strategy campaign a success?


Our intent was clear, the content (ie the strategy) at our hands, and we knew what we wanted as outcome. Our main objective for the campaign itself was to reach all of our Services employees (yes, there are more than ten-thousand of them), to actively and repeatedly engage with at least half of them, and to improve our scores in the September employee survey.


We called the campaign Summer of Strategy, and it was built around four powerful building blocks:

  • enable: We knew we needed to recruit and enable strategy multipliers. This was done by careful identification and selection of the multipliers. We equipped them with the necessary procedures and assets. To ensure one voice, we ran live broadcasts to all of them.
  • engage: We provided networking opportunities in small-sized settings to discuss the strategy directly with executives. This was done by holding regular, determined weekly sessions. Ours were each Friday – arranged for each time zone and no longer than 60 minutes.
  • learn: To provide outside-in views on what will disrupt the services landscape, we invited though leaders and analyst to talk to our people every Wednesday for 60 minutes
  • have fun: As a gamification element, we launched a video contest where we asked for employees to create and submit their personal take on our strategy. We combined a popular vote and judge’s decisions to award participants desirable prizes like 3D printers, Google glasses, and an iPhone6.

In addition, the campaign was supported by a rich library of assets (such as flyers, presentations, flip-books, videos), a solid infrastructure and some rigorous program management experts.

What impact did we get? A stunning level of participation. Our first Summer of Strategy drove tremendous traffic and conversations around our campaign, we had record downloads of the assets I described, and we successfully engaged even more than the 50% we had originally targeted.

Overall, the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive with superb Net Promoter Scores. Below is a dashboard we used (I only omitted the bits of internal proprietary information, so as to be able to share it with here you).


So, now, looking back at the summer: What were the keys to make our campaign work? I think there were some critical success factors.

  • A defined Campaign. We deployed higher density, richer content, more variety, for a defined duration of time. That made people curious which promoted interest.
  • Strong Branding. Everything about SAP Service’s Summer of Strategy was branded by a unique, visual identity. This greatly helped instantly identify the campaign separate from the information flood of everything else.
  • Applied Proximity: This means we purposefully ensured our employees were exposed to leaders and content that directly relate and to which they can easily refer. This makes the action relevant, not distant and disconnected.
  • Gamification: We humans like things that a fun! And this approach works remarkably well even across topics you might not necessarily expect like strategy.


And now looking ahead to the future: What did we learn? We learned a lot. Specifically, the most important take-away is that you have to give a campaign the proper time to develop momentum.


We observed this through the growth in traffic, attendance, and especially during our video contest. Wisely, we had put the learning-track at the beginning of the campaign – which catapulted our success by helping us fill the time the campaign needed to build awareness and interest.


Additional lessons learned included the need to create scalable platforms for audio and video feeds due to the large size of our target audience; improved ways to successfully schedule and promote sessions; ways to better manage the campaign websites and how to better engage by layering the campaign with social media.


Is this then, an experience to be repeated? Certainly yes. The format delivered and was run with minimal creation and execution costs. A yearly cadence seems best suited, and I would not opt for a faster vacancy, as the effect would wear out and participation likely would dip.


So, with the fine-tuning as I have described, I look forward to gearing up in 2015 for another engaging, innovative and successful Summer of Strategy.

Direct Relief 20140920_151048_resized-600x159.jpg


The world’s worst Ebola outbreak is not subsiding. Current estimates from the World Health Organization indicate more than 6,000 people in West Africa have been sickened and 3,000 killed. Data shows the infection rate is climbing weekly and officials warn that anywhere from 20,000 to over 1 million could ultimately be infected if there isn't a serious increase in intervention and treatment.


As the crisis accelerates, things will certainly worsen before they get better. Not since the AIDS epidemic has the U.N. Security Council considered a health crisis to be, "a threat to international peace and security," and is now urging every nation to provide medical experts and supplies.


Monumental Challenges


The challenges to containing the crisis are enormous. Many of the sick in West Africa are in hiding, afraid to seek medical help. Some villages are violently rejecting attempts of outreach and support.  They are attacking clinics and volunteers, fearing the foreign aid workers are bringing the virus with them. Meanwhile clinics in other villages are so overwhelmed and under resourced they have to turn sick people away. Essential medical supplies and protective gear for medical aid workers are also in short supply.


Sierra Leon decided to confine its 6 million citizens to their homes for three days to give volunteers a chance to find the sick. The brave volunteers and medical experts helping to fight this crisis are working in dangerous conditions. Both physical violence and Ebola have already taken the lives of too many. This is a serious problem for a region that has an extremely low number of doctors to begin with.


The World Health Organization’s Health workforce data shows there is only 1 doctor per every 45,000 people In Sierra Leone. For perspective, the ratio is 1 doctor per 400 people in the USA. That means Sierra Leon has fewer than 150 doctors to care for its 6 million citizens. Losing any of these precious doctors will be a huge setback to the country’s limited healthcare system today and well into the future.


Doctors and volunteers from many other parts of the world have come to help fight the crisis. And as the epidemic worsens, more will be required. Unfortunately, signs of infection can take 10 days. That means the risk that these travelling workers will unknowingly bring Ebola back to their home countries is also rising fast.


Removing Complexity Brings Relief


Thankfully organizations like Direct Relief are working hard to help protect medical and volunteer workers in the field. “We must do all we can to prevent further human tragedy caused by this deadly outbreak and help countries avoid an even deeper setback than has occurred already,” said Thomas Tighe, CEO of Direct Relief.


So far, Direct Relief has sent eleven shipments, totaling more than 100 tons of emergency medication and supplies to Ebola hot zones in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and more is on the way. The protective gloves, masks, goggles, and gowns help prevent the virus from spreading through contact with infected bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, and saliva.


To ensure its humanitarian aid operations run smoothly and efficiently, Direct Relief relies on business software from SAP. “We are a humanitarian organization so all of our systems and data have a very simple purpose – to help people,” said Tighe.


In a crisis situation there is no room for additional complexity. People need to come together and make decisions quickly. Supplies need to be acquired, packaged, and shipped as efficiently as possible. “People require these materials to survive. Handling them in emergency situations requires the speed and precision to do it right and SAP has helped us do that to an extraordinary degree,” said Tighe.


The health and well-being of millions of people is on the line in West Africa. Ending this crisis is going to take the help of many who can simplify the complex. “If you have a system to organize and manage data, you can tackle bigger problems, which is what SAP enables us to do,” said Tighe.


To help Direct Relief fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa please donate here.

To learn more about how Direct Relief has provided over $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid using SAP software, check out this video.


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Bitcoin, a digital currency, is being used more regularly by several firms that operate out of South America, The Latino Post reported last month. However, because of the tighter regulations being implemented, it’s getting a lot of scrutiny.


PropinaBitcoin is one of the companies that’s aiming to provide consumers and organizations with more information about the digital currency.


“PropinaBitcoin is a free online service that allows Bitcoin users to print paper wallets that can then be left as tips at restaurants and bars,” stated CoinDesk, which reports on all things related to digital currency. “Those who receive the paper wallet then visit PropinaBitcoin’s Web site where they are given detailed instructions on how to retrieve the funds.”


But the finer details of the currency are being examined by Argentina regulators, according to CoinDesk.


“Argentina’s Unidad de Información Financiera has ordered financial services companies within the country to report all transactions involving digital currency,” the Web site noted.


Bolivia banned Bitcoin in June


An issue that the UIF is concerned about is money laundering, which involves using a legitimate business operation to hide illegal business transactions. This past June, El Banco de Bolivia -- Bolivia’s central bank -- announced that consumers and companies could no longer use Bitcoin because of the perceived security risks.


Nevertheless, Bitcoin businesses are taking shape in other parts of Latin America where the currency remains unregulated.


“Earlier last month, Uruguay-headquartered Bitcoin startup Moneero opened its debut wallet service to beta testers after operating under the radar,” The Latino Post quoted from CoinDesk. “As well, the region’s first Ripple gateway opened in June, bringing the payment network to seven local markets including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.”


According to CNN.com, the future of Bitcoin remains unknown. Because its use is unregulated in many countries, governments are concerned about some of the taxation issues to consider and price manipulation.


“Regulatory scrutiny is on the rise throughout Latin America, and we are seeing tax authorities place requirements on invoicing, payroll and now we are seeing it move into payments -- especially digital currency,” said Scott Lewin, president & CEO, Invoiceware Interational.


With the continued economic expansion across the region, multinationals needs to be aware of the changes to government regulations -- as they now affect virtually every business and financial transaction

Historically, much has been said and written about SAP being too big to care, too difficult to install and only appropriate for the largest companies. That was the mantra of its competitors' in the past and was built upon the perception of SAP 20 years ago. Times change, however, and SAP changed with the times. It recognized that it could and would create great software for companies of ANY size. The company that was once the mainstay of mega-caps is now the preferred path to Running Better for over 210,000 SME companies. Those who are informed and knowledgeable now recognize that the phrase "SAP is too large" is antiquated.


Today, 80% of SAP's customers are small and mid-size enterprises. Its platform was specifically designed to enable these businesses to adapt required technology to their specific business model. SAP recognized the need for speed and built full ERP platforms that can be installed and running in as little as a single day with the modular Business One solution, and 2 days to 2 weeks with other ERP solutions. In addition, the development team created a large menu of Rapid Deployment Solutions for specific requirements that can be available in as little as 9 days. Too long to deploy ... I don't think so.


SAP also recognized that it could leverage its unique global expertise to more effectively meet local business requirements. SME solutions now deliver products that deliver these valuable insights in 80 countries in 30 languages, Additionally, hundreds of applications from SAP partners around the world are also available to the most remote outposts such as Alice Springs, Australia to major cities in any region. SAP leveraged its knowledge and experience as the global software leader and specifically designed and built their SME solutions as only the #1 software provider in the world could. Living in the past is not an option at SAP. Leading their customers into the future is.


This future is obviously built around the Cloud and SAP has declared that it is and will continue to be the Cloud company based upon HANA. This statement is not to be taken lightly as it clearly spells out how SAP will continue to evolve. SAP has over 38 million Cloud users today. That is more than any other enterprise vendor. The SAP Business One Cloud on HANA solution includes that same functionality and available add-ons as their on-premises solution. This affordable alternative allows SMEs to free up capital for other uses and also delivers the added assurance that their data is protected in the most secure data centers. This real-time, in-memory platform is currently the operating system of choice for over 1,500 startups. They know that the choice of software at the beginning stages of their growth curve will affect their performance as they grow. That is why SAP was their obvious choice.


Today, when I hear someone trot out the old, stale "SAP is too big and unwieldy" claim, I look at the facts. Almost a quarter million SMEs choose SAP to run simpler and to run better. Installs occur in days or just a few weeks. Access to global expertise at the local level provides advantages only SAP can offer. Cloud-centric designs and implementation mean low cost alternatives and rapid time to use as a standard. It means that SMEs have a menu of choices that can be tailored to ANY size business. Why would they not look at SAP?

These days we are all talking about cloud offerings for Customers or Consumers, this is obvious, however, SAP is working intensively on the other side offerings for developers who are waiting to be discovered.


SAP Hana Cloud Platform is an enablement by SAP which helps developers or development companies to extend their current solutions and transform it into a cloud-based solution and then market and sell these solutions to 250,000+  customers worldwide with the SAP HANA Marketplace. This is something phenomenal for any local developer who has a dream to be a world-wide-known company.




This sounds good, but how this can be done?


SAP HANA Cloud Platform is an in-memory cloud platform which is based on open standards. HCP  provides many feature-rich, easy-to-use development environment in the cloud. The platform includes a comprehensive set of services for integration, enterprise mobility, collaboration, and analytics. This platform helps developers to build, deploy, and manage cloud-based enterprise applications. Those applications might be an SAP or non-SAP or on-premise or on-demand.


SAP HANA Cloud Platform supports you on JAVA, HANA, HTML5, SAP UI5. Any developer can use the SAP HANA development tools to create comprehensive and real-time analytical models and build applications with SAP HANA programme interfaces and integrated development environment. Any good idea can be realized and located in cloud rapidly may be in a week.


Please share this good platform as much as you can, more developers means more ideas, more offerings and more happy SAP users.






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