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SAP Business Trends

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October is arguably the best time of the year to be in New York City. The leaves in Central Park are a million hues and the air momentarily belies that fact that it’s turning late in the year. nycoctober2.jpg

The shops of Manhattan are also bustling in late October. Fine retailers like Burberry on 57th Street that run the SAP HANA platform, know what will look good on your significant other before you even walk in the door to make a surprise purchase.

So why wouldn’t a bank branch have a better idea about the individual needs and preferences of individual customers? After all getting to know your customer is critical in any industry. Well in NYC this October, banks are going to have that secret unlocked for them at the SAP Financial Services Forum, which will take place at New York City’s Ritz-Carlton from October 21-22, 2014.

Attendees will learn first-hand about achieving a 360-degree view of customers using actionable intelligence that helps a company sell the right product to the right customer-at the right time….and via the right channel. That particular microforum is entitled, Omnichannel-The Strategy to Drive Optimized Client Satisfaction and Efficiency- and is all about digitizing a bank to improve and enhance the customer experience.

Another microforum that will be focused on the rapidly changing nature of how people make purchases is entitled,-New Trends and Opportunities in Payments and Business Networks.  

The forum will also feature discussions designed to help you with the challenges you face in banking, capital markets and insurance. Sessions will focus on process innovation, turning analytics and data into actionable intelligence, and finding new and innovative ways to drive revenue and run more efficiently.

With sessions focused on business issues specific to your every line of business, the discussions will focus on:

  • Disruptive technology trends opportunities for you to simplify and innovate
  • Ways to build your business to run better for your customers
  • Ways to simplify and streamline operations for comprehensive finance and risk management

This October in New York City you will discover how your peers in banking and insurance are leveraging the power of today’s cutting-edge technologies to gain a competitive edge.

And could there be a better setting for a pumpkin latte and watching the leaves changing than in Battery Park, perched on the southern tip of Manhattan Island facing New York Harbor?


Put the SAP Financial Services Forum New York City on your agenda today.

Date: October 21-22, 2014

Location: Ritz Carlton Battery Park
                 2 West Street
                 New York, NY 10004 

That’s the question many Fantasy Football team managers were asking leading up to this week’s round of gridiron battles – and with “Johnny Football” and his long-awaited NFL debut, this week was destined to shake things up in the Fantasy Football world.


And it did…let’s have a quick look back;


  • Robert Griffin, Jr III “fell” into place with another injury, certainly causing some hiccups in fantasy teams across the country and leaving RGIII in limbo for the season.
  • Carolina Panthers slotted Greg Hardy into the inactive list before Sunday’s home opener.
  • A right knee injury for Ryan Matthews of the Chargers may send some fantasy team managers back to the SAP Player Comparison Tool to evaluate trade options and free agents
  • Even seemingly small injuries can send people scrambling – that’s what fantasy team managers who have A.J. Green on their roster are dealing with.  A possible broken toe sent him to the sidelines early, and now we wait to see what the next step for A.J.
  • Defenses aren’t immune to the injury wire either.  For those that have the Buccaneers defense, there is going to be a tough hole to fill with Gerald McCoy’s defensive tackle position up for grabs if his hand injury turns out to be serious.  Maybe a second-stringer can steal the show here?


Week 3-Tweet7.png

Alright, back to second-stringers.  Who are the ones you should be watching for week 3?  Which ones sit on a free agent list, ready to get on the proverbial “field”? Which ones are going to steal the show if you take a chance on them?


Momentum is a powerful thing in the NFL, which is why I’m turning back to some sleepers from Week 2 (thanks ESPN) that you may want to consider for Week 3:


TE: Larry Donnell, NYG – with 11.4 yards per catch this year so far, he’s a definite first down machine.


QB: Philip Rivers, SD – coming off a strong week 2 with 284 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, Philip just might be the one to slot in for week 3.


RB: Alfred Morris, WAS – with RGIII out due to injury, the running game for the Redskins just might be where you want to place your bets.  Week 3 could be a good opportunity for Alfred to open it up.

If you prefer players that like to surprise, then a height-challenged RB: Darren Sproles, PHI could be your man – at just 5’6” he delivered tall-man receiving results with a career-high 152 receiving yards on Monday night during week 2.  The sky could be the limit for this guy.


WR: Dez Bryant, DAL – Apparently, his shoulder isn’t causing too much trouble as his week 2 performance showed, with 10 receptions for 103 yards and 1 TD.  It may be worth the gamble as they go head-to-head against the STL Rams in Week 3.


In business, like in sports, you sometimes need to give opportunity to “second-stringers” to gain advantage over the competition.  Innovation, strategy, and roll-up-your-sleeves hard work from eager colleagues can be the difference between capturing an opportunity and seeing it slip through your fingers.


As a leader, identify these second-stringers, train and develop them, and always look for opportunities to get them in the game.  Good talent sitting on the bench is no talent at all – and like the SAP Player Comparison Tool for Fantasy Football, employee analytics, and learning platforms can help you develop your starting lineup.


Here’s to second-stringers.


Since Fantasy Football clearly isn't going away any time soon, check out the Player Comparison Tool on NFL.com to make those difficult lineup decisions for you. Just think, it'll do all of the research, so you can focus on increasing your productivity at work. And while you're at it, follow me on Twitter @ryanmarketing13.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”― Mahatma Gandhi

It’s 12:30am – again. I’m getting too old to pull these 18 hour days. But it’s been a labor of love these last 6 months, pulling together a program here in Palo Alto for chief data officers . It all culminates on September 17th in Palo Alto: the MIT Chief Data Officer Forum West.


I’m deeply inspired by the experiences our speakers will share about how Big Data and Internet of Things-enabled initiatives are being used to make the world a better place. Our speakers in the morning include Peter Norvig from Google, Rich Wang and Yang Lee from MIT, Monica Martinez Canales from Intel, Dr. Mark Wright from Stanford School of Medicine, and Kip Compton from Cisco. They will talk about initiatives based on using data in innovative ways --  not only helping organizations operate and compete better, but enabling them to tackle huge life changing issues like personalized medicine, how the drought affects the social fabric in agricultural communities, to empowering citizens of developing countries through access to the internet. I feel very grateful for their time and contribution of their expertise.


The afternoon agenda is structured as breakouts to get into thoughtful, maybe even provocative, discussions on how to build world-class teams in a Big Data world, the structural organization of the office of the CDO, how CDOs can be do'ers instead of just strategists, and assessing readiness for Big Data initiatives. Again, I’m grateful for our moderators, including Joseph Bugajski, managing VP of Gartner Research, Ravi Mikkelsen, CEO of jobFig, Mark Johnson, CEO of Gavroshe, and Imran Siddiqi, senior principal at SAP.


The CDO role is still in its infancy with most organizations but the problems have been there for a long time. These CDO’s are  characterized by an ability to span business units and functions, leap political boundaries in a single bound, and bravely pioneer the wild frontiers of technology like Big Data and Internet of Things. It is with MIT along with some friends of data, who are diligently working to increase the numbers of CDOs as well as elevate their status within organizations.


Why all this effort for the CDO? A recent article in MIS Quarterly Executive by the MIT team reveals that organizations with a top executive responsible for data management perform better than those who do not.


Then I read a statistic that only 0.5 percent of all data is ever analyzed in the blog post Big Data: Creating the Power to Move Heaven and Earth in the MIT Technology Review by my esteemed colleague Manju Bansal.


Put these factors together: the amazing things that can be achieved by applying the newest technology and approaches on vast and varied data, the underutilization of data, and the need for a c-level data champion, I am convinced that the CDO is the right cause. So if the MIT CDO Forum West on Sept 17th helps a CDO move the needle, then my sleep is truly a modest contribution.

When was the last time you ‘triggered’ an event in your life? As human beings, our triggers tend to be limited to our big life decisions - leaving a job, travelling around the world, getting married, starting a family or a new business, or buying a house etc...


Sales Blog Trigger Events 272576_h_srgb_s_gl.jpg

For companies, however, trigger events occur far more often and are typically less personal to the organisation – diversifying into a new market, restructuring the business, appointing new management teams, investing in a new region etc. In the B2B context, these triggers can mean sales opportunities if you are able to engage with prospects in a timely and contextual way.


Trigger events are important because deploying sales capital at just the right inflection point can be a game changer in your sales process.  Research shows that Best-in-Class firms who deploy formal trigger event tools to their front line sellers close more business (Tweet this), have increased customer loyalty, better sales forecasting prowess, and a higher percentage of individual success among sales team members.


Most switched on sales people are already doing this for themselves on some level or another, and typically in a rudimentary, zero cost/low cost way, through Google Alerts, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But this tends to be a result of individual endeavour rather than an enterprise wide initiative, and many of these social media tools require you to pay for the more advanced benefits to get meaningful insight. Hence, it’s better for both you and your organisation’s overall sales performance to incorporate trigger events into the formal sales process at an enterprise level. After all, going social is the new virtual currency of almost every B2B marketing and selling conversation today (Tweet this).


There’s a reason why trigger-event users are more than twice as likely to report their sales intelligence as being extremely accurate: they incorporate the latest, breaking-news style content into the view of the prospect, the account, and the market. It’s the old adage, ‘knowledge is power’ (but only if it’s passed on to the relevant sales teams!)


Tailoring the flow of sales intelligence filtered down to the needs of a territory or to an individual sales rep, is an enviable advantage to have, especially with today’s informed and expectant customer. It’s also tied to Best-in-Class performance and trigger event support. The hard truth of today’s competitive climate means sales are on the back foot, trying to engage with informed and empowered buyers. Sales organisations need to act on two important fronts: through changes to the business process, and through deploying and leveraging new technologies. If you’re not already incorporating the powerful tactic of trigger-events, chances are your competitors soon will be. Let that be a trigger for you.


This is the first in a long line of blogs around 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.

In May 2014, SAP announced the launch of a new program that aims to enable professors and students at universities and non-profit research institutions to advance their academic research and work with SAP using the in-memory platform for real-time computing, SAP HANA.


On September 1, 2014, Ahmed Alawaji, one of SAP’s HANA experts based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, joined SAP University Alliances under a 6 month fellowship supporting the HANA Innovation Platform @ Universities Program where he will be leading the roll-out in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Ahmed has been with SAP for three years where he is today responsible for analytics and big data.

Ahmed ALAWAJI.png


The program is being rolled out globally. Universities have the opportunity to cooperate with the recently announced Big Data Innovation Centers at University Competence Center (UCC) locations. These will enable a vibrant community of research using SAP HANA. Universities and non-profit research institutions that partner with a Big Data Innovation Center at a UCC location will be designated as SAP University Alliances Innovation Labs.


To learn more, please contact SAP University Alliances.

APJ: uap_apj@sap.com

EMEA: uasupport@sap.com

Latin America: uap.la@sap.com

North America: uap.na@sap.com


And follow SAP University Alliances on Twitter @SAP_UA.

Today, if you walk into a local supermarket in the south-western part of Moscow, you won’t find French cheeses, beef from Poland, and fish from Norway any longer. Almost a month ago, on August 7th, Russia banned imports of a wide range of U.S. and European foods in response to Western sanctions. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev outlined such imported products as beef, pork, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk, and other dairy products subject to the one-year ban. Among the countries that no longer will export to Russia are the U.S., Canada, 28 European Union countries, Norway, and Australia.



For some European food producers and farmers from France and Greece, the loss of the Russian market may lead to sad consequences, especially now, during the falling prices and Europe's slow economic growth. As for Russia, the list of products should not hit ordinary Russian consumers too much. But as some economists foresee the ban on imported goods could backfire by driving up domestic food prices, at least in the short term.


However, Russia’s Prime Minister was not concerned about it, as the Guardian stated. “I am sure that our market will be filled with fresh quality Russian products, which anyway many Russians prefer to the imported ones,” Dmitry Medvedev announced.

According to RosStat, in 2013, the prices on the agricultural produce in Russia went up 26,3 %. Now the question arises whether or not Russian agro-industrial complex is ready to produce enough crop, vegetables, milk, meat and other produce to feed its people, taking into consideration the fact that agriculture in the country builds only 4,4% of the GDP providing jobs for 10% of Russian citizens.


To picture in what condition the industry is today, here is the overview of Russian agro-industrial complex in comparison with the leading developed countries, according to Newsru.com:

  • Infield crop capacity is 2-3 times lower than in Middle Europe
  • Labor productivity in 8-10 times lower than in other developed countries
  • Imported goods take 40-70% of the market with meat taking 25%, fish – 24,6%, and milk – 19,2%
  • 70% of people lives in the cities. Between 2000 and 2003 over 3 million people left villages
  • More than ¾ of the land in Russia is risky for agricultural activities and needs special agro-technologies and equipment due to weather climate.



In spite of all the above facts, agriculture is one of the prioritized and the most promising fields for the government. According to Newsru.com, by 2020, the country plans to invest in it up to $54 billion (2,28 billion Rubles). It’s quite obvious that the industry should seek for internal resources and use innovative methods to revive its infrastructure. To achieve this goal with success, it’s vital to leverage modernized processes on all stages of the industry, from the production of agricultural machinery to new planning and forecasting methods.

As an overachiever in its field, SAP can offer Russian agricultural industry innovative and trusted technologies and solutions that will lead the country to an ultimate success. In 2012, the company invested 25 million Euros to localize its solution to suit the market due to the country’s focus on local consumers. With the upcoming opening of the first data center in Russia (approximately in November 2014), SAP has gained trust not only among local businesses, but also got a support from the government.


Aiming to implement something more global than just the improvement of the agro-industrial complex, SAP targets innovation oriented to the future. Integration and usage of IT solutions in agriculture have quite a potential. The latest agricultural tendencies like hardening of the requirement on product safety, quality control, and tracking leveraging technologies along the chain make both local farms and national distributers actively use such innovations as precise farming that includes sensor technologies, GIS GPS control, controlled GPS data right from the fields and farms. All these tendencies involve dealing with big data in real time.


In fact, Russia is full of big data:

  • It has 10% of the world’s infield!
  • Russia takes the third place in the world in crop export
  • and the fourth place in wheat export


The ability to manage mountains of big data can not only help farmers to make more precise   decisions and optimize resources, but also save expenses and predict the future. SAP’s partnership with Rostselmash is a living proof to this. Rostselmash, one of the world’s leaders in agriculture, includes 13 branches in Canada, Russia, the US, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and exports its products to 26 countries in the world. Over the last 10 years, the business has used SAP CRM and SAP ERP technologies to fully control finance, logistics and integration processes of the company. Now, Rostselmash’s managers with the help of SAP mobile solutions have the opportunity to serve more clients using SAP CRM web interface and going to more locations.



Analyzing big data becomes vital in the agricultural industry. However, not only bid data needs to be analyzed in the agro sector in Russia.  The weather is one of the most important factors that determines the harvest and can’t be controlled by the mankind. However, it’s in the power of people to figure out its consistent patterns thanks to historic retrospection and long-term forecast. Analytical solutions provided by SAP HANA platform can not only momentarily analyze years of meteorological data, but also minimize negative influence of weather conditions, both currently and in the long run.


Such analytical solutions as SAP Business One, SAP my Agri, and SAP ERP are the leaders in IT integration in Russian marketplace. For instance, SAP’s partnership with Rusagro is one of the most promising projects. Since 2013, one of the biggest farming and produce company in Russia, Rusagro has successfully integrated SAP ERP solution in running the business from targeting marketing to data analytics, and finance. As a result, the KPI is improving and the client data base is growing.


The President of Russia Vladimir Putin is confident that the agro sector in the country has a high potential. “The industry shows good dynamics. As a result, we’ve managed to provide ourselves with local produce thanks to farmers’ hard work.”

No doubt, the agro-cultural industry is one of SAP’s main interests in Russia. With introduction of the world’s best practices, the company is able to assist the country’s agro-cultural complex and make it more self-sufficient and competitive.

The reaction to the ASUG survey about HANA, resulting in, amongst other things this blog and this response, has got me thinking. The problem seems to be that SAP have what they think is a great product, but their customers/potential customers don't all see it the same way. I'm not sure that the fix for this disconnect is a blog that says, "How can you not see this?" and then goes on to list the many ways HANA is better than anything else. In fact, maybe the answer is to not talk about the product at all.


A long time ago, well 8 or 9 years ago, I used to read with great interest a blog called "Creating Passionate Users" by Kathy Sierra. Sadly, she was hounded off the Internet in 2007 and the blog stopped in 2007. There's a lot of great stuff in there and if you have time, do go and read the archives. You'll be glad you did. The point here, and the reason for the title of the blog, is that Kathy believes the best way to market a product is not to market the product at all but to market how the product makes its users feel.


If you are trying to sell a camera, don't market it based on how many pixels it has or how noisy the sensor isn't, and don't compare it to competitive products and say how much better it is. Those things don't matter. What matters is how the potential customer will feel about the photographs they take using your camera. Market the feeling, not the product. Or in terms more appropriate to the world of enterprise software:


"If you want to do something that's going to change the world, build software that people want to use instead of software that managers want to buy." (Creating Passionate Users: What Users Really Want)


How does that apply to HANA? We've heard a lot over the last few years about how it is revolutionary, how it is so much better than its competitors, how it is just, well, awesome. How it is a Porsche compared to my current horse. And maybe it is. But I like my horse. If you are going to try and sell me a Porsche to replace it, don't tell me how much faster it is, or about the aircon and airbags. Tell me about the buzz I'll get from driving it. Tell me how once I've driven it once I'll never want to get out. Tell me that even though I might only travel short distances now, a Porsche will open my eyes to opportunities further afield so I should still consider it. Let me test drive it and experience it for myself.


Don't tell me how great HANA is, but how great my business will be when I'm running HANA. Tell me about the new opportunities it will give me. Make it easy for me try it and see for myself - I'm more likely to believe me than you, after all.


"Remember, it doesn't matter how your users feel about YOU, all that matters is how they feel about themselves as a result of interacting with your product or service." (Creating Passionate Users: You and your users: casual dating or marriage?)

social-media.pngSocial selling is one of the hottest buzzwords in the technology market. Unfortunately, social selling is usually misunderstood as navigating the sales process using only tools like Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook. While technology can help, social selling is about building stronger relationships with potential buyers, based on an authentic sense of empathy and a deep understanding of the problems they face.

Even if they don’t use social technology, good salespeople already know that creating a connection with the client is essential for success. In real life (IRL for social types), connections are usually made on some common value or some shared demographic. This is why salespeople spend so much time establishing a personal relationship, not just selling their product.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have shown that incidental similarities between a buyer and seller are enough to establish a personal connection and increase the likelihood to purchase. Incidental similarities include a wide range of events: a shared first name, birthday or birthplace. In the words of one of the professors:

Those incidental similarities can actually shape the situation in terms of your desire to buy and associate with the product or company, your attitude toward the product. It overflows onto the purchase experience — even though, rationally, it really shouldn’t.

Incidental similarities create a sense of connection even though they are superficial and common. Yes, common. For example, in a group of 23 people, the chance two people have the same birthday is greater than 50%. Many companies already exploit this opportunity:

Employees at Disney theme parks and Hilton Hotels wear name tags emblazoned with their hometowns, the researchers note, and many fitness centres display detailed biographies of their personal trainers, right down to the high school they attended.

Social technology can be used to discover the incidental similarities. So, if a sales rep points out he roots for the same sports team as you do, it’s probably not an accident. And chances are you’ll spend more than you originally expected.

That’s the science of social selling.

This blog was originally posted on Manage by Walking Around on September 7, 2014.

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

unhappygenxer.jpgFrom huffingtonpost.ca: Why Gen X is Unhappy and Hates Working. This caught my attention, partly because I am a Gen X’er and partly because I am inundated with all things Millennial. Articles like this make me wonder if mid-career professionals are being overlooked for the shiny new generation.

Much has been written about attracting and retaining Millennials, and it makes good business sense to want to appeal to the next generation of leaders. Conversely, many of my Boomer peers are being groomed for top leadership positions, and this, too, makes sense.

The gap, it seems, is the lack of attention and support companies lend mid-career employees.

Gen X is the least understood group in the workforce today. They have been ignored because of the many brilliant boomers before them and the magnificent millennials who followed them. These people are your bread and butter, they have worked through more recessions than their parents or grandparents ever did.

The author mentions a study (no details were provided) that found Gen X’ers are unhappy and companies are at risk of losing them if they decide to try the entrepreneur route.

When we reviewed the data from 300 participants, we found that that Gen X feel they just going through the motions of collecting a paycheck. When Gen Xers aren't thriving they aren't great culture keepers. They leave, many become entrepreneurs. The most successful entrepreneurs are in their Forties or Fifties. This means your organization will, in short order, lose not only your boomer-aged culture capital that is retiring but your Gen X cultural capital.

Given today’s tough economic landscape, I’m not convinced there will be a huge Gen X exodus from corporations to entrepreneurial ventures, but it could become more likely when the economy improves. If companies continue to overlook Gen X’ers, mid-career professionals will have to make a choice if they want to increase job satisfaction. They either have to get creative in paving their own paths or look into starting their own businesses.

On a final note, I often write in generalizations when I write about trends. I understand this trend does not reflect the culture of all companies. I hope all my Gen X readers are fortunate enough be shocked that this happens at all! I'll leave you with one final quote:

It was once said that when you are 20 you think everyone is talking about you, when you are 40 you don't care who talks about you, you go for it, and when you are 60 you realize that no one ever was talking about you. ~Author Unknown

[Image source: wikipedia.org]

What is so special about ApplePay?


Other mobile wallets have struggled to gain traction, most famously Google’s failed attempt.  And the day before the ApplePay announcement, Pymnts.com quoted American Express executive Josh Silverman essentially calling their mobile wallets a failure.  In his opinion, “the swipe isn’t especially broken”…in other words, how much easier is it to tap your phone than to swipe your card? What does that save you, 5 seconds? Big deal!


I believe he is spot on…But I think his statement also misses the point entirely.


Google wallet, Amex wallet and others have failed so far because they have attempted to “fix” the card swipe by replacing it with a phone scan or tap that is really not much different.  There is simply is no burning platform in consumer card payment around the inconvenience of swiping a card….it’s just not that big a deal.


When it comes to security, however, the entire industry is on fire!   (Hello Michael's, OfficeMax, Target, Home Depot, etc...).  Security is most certainly a big deal!


It is a less sexy aspect of ApplePay that is actually the central feature that might just finally move the needle on replacing plastic cards.  Because ApplePay is not just removing the swipe from the point of sale, it is removing the card number and security code altogether.


Here’s the relevant feature as explained on NPR:


“Google has a mobile wallet that stores credit card information. But Apple does not do that. Apple Pay stores a unique ID that's scrambled up with encryption inside a locker in the phone….When you want to make a purchase, the phone communicates with the bank to get a token. The phone gives that token to the merchant…And even if the token gets stolen, it's just for one-time use. It's not good for your next purchase or for the black market” (emphasis mine).


In the age of the Networked Economy, there is no reason why sensitive consumer card or bank account information should proliferate on every single point of sale device we use to make transactions. The same holds true for payments in B2B context.   Why should every electronic ACH payment (in the US, for example) require that a paying company collect, manage and maintain sensitive vendor bank information?  While not as prominent an issue as consumer card data, the risk is no less real.


As ApplePay is attempting to remove payment risk for consumers, AribaPay is removing payment risk for B2B payments ….by substituting a non-sensitive proxy number at time of payment.  Now, I’m not saying that ApplePay took our idea (or our naming convention)…I’m just saying that it is a process waiting for a solution in both the B2B and consumer payments world.


Apple’s idea with ApplePay to replace the card number with a non-sensitive proxy number that enables the sensitive information to be stored in a single, secure location away from the prying eyes (and code) of hackers, is a brilliant use of the Networked Economy…and a potential game changer.


Posts about millennials are everywhere. They all are like Buzzfeed lists, such as 10 Things To Know About Millennials, Checklists for Millennials at the Workplace, 5 Thing Millennials Really Want and so on. The posts are repetitive and they all assume that millennials mostly think alike. Some of them are worthwhile reading. Others are mostly wrong because they are bent upon proving that millennials are vastly different than previous generations.

Are they different? Yes, just as you and I might be in terms of what we like or dislike. But they are not a different species as some blogs would make you believe. Yes, they want a better world. Yes, they want positive change and are willing to work towards it. But twenty-somethings in every generation have pushed for change. In fact some of the biggest changes we ever saw was in the early nineties when the Cold War ended, the Berlin Wall came crashing down, and Europe entered a new phase of prosperity and development. Or let us go even further back to the 40s after the Second World War taught the world the horrors of violence. Young people then, as now, pushed for a peaceful Europe that would never again go to war. Their leaders, older than them, listened. Europe today has been at peace for years.


Young people were also a huge factor in important changes in the United States. From the students at Berkeley who protested against the Vietnam War, to those in Washington DC who marched with Martin Luther King Jr, young people have been at the forefront of change. So it is not that millennials are the only generation who are pushing for it - young people always have. That is true also for climate change. Many in the older generations did not care for it enough, but there always were activists who fought for it despite limited research on the topic at the time. Some might say that today's younger people seem relatively subdued in comparison.



The main difference between millennials and younger people of the same age group in earlier generations is that they have incredibly more access to information which in turn makes them more powerful change agents than earlier generations. Their motivations, desire for progress and innovative streak is similar to what we have seen in the past. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were both powerful agents of change starting in their 20s and then changing the way we work and communicate. Howard Schultz changed the whole concept of consuming coffee when he founded Starbucks. They are far from being millennials and yet, they are top innovators, and their products are loved by millions, including millennials.



The Difference


So what is different? Certainly not the desire to see change, and make it happen. But there is one significant difference in the way they are pushing for it: internet and social media. These are the most powerful tools ever available to us, and they are making creative use of it. From fighting for gay rights to climate change, they are making their voices heard and forcing leaders to listen. News media has adapted to channel their opinions, from sites such as Vice News, to apps like Flipboard and Instagram. Communication has become much more visual, and sharing is instant be it on Twitter or Facebook. So the tools have changed, and with that expectations of young people who now want to accomplish more in quicker time.


Should they be therefore treated differently at the workplace? Yes, by having supervisors who understand the internet and social media well. That is easier said than done. But ultimately, good career growth will depend in part on the kind of relationships millennials develop with their colleagues and bosses. And that will be smoother if everyone is on the same wavelength. For instance if one of them suggests using Instagram as part of a promotional campaign, their bosses should be able to analyze correctly if that would work and not summarily swat the idea away.


Some people maintain that millennials are very politically correct. Certainly they are, more than earlier generations, who might find this development boring. But that is a natural consequence of the world finally respecting the rights of people who were previously marginalized. And in this context millennials are surely ahead of earlier generations who perhaps could have done better.

Some believe that millennials would be motivated more by purpose than money. Again there were many in previous generations who would fit that type, for instance, anti-apartheid movement participants, or Greenpeace protestors. And certainly not all millennials or even a majority think that way - else we would not have seen the same craze for banking and lawyer jobs as in the past.


Talk in their language


Younger organizations are obviously more adept at working with millennials, in part because their founders are in their 20s. Startups with their open workspaces who utilize newer forms of communication through apps and mobile devices appeal to millennials who have grown up with iPads and iPhones. And that is key to making sure they are productive at the workplace - talk in a way they understand.


At SAP, CEO Bill McDermott has led from the front in engaging millennials by first trying to understand where they are coming from. Other organizations which are popular with millennials, such as Google or Facebook, have given millennials greater space to collaborate and explore ideas which can then be turned into winning products or services.


Millennials are not homogenous


Origins are important. Not every country's culture is the same. In Middle Eastern countries there are hundreds of thousands of young people who would love to preserve at male-dominated society, just as there are those who want a more open, equitable society. In Egypt, there were millennials who wanted change - and those who wanted to reverse it. In Pakistan there are millennials who are challenging conservative beliefs, and then there are those who oppose any change. Millennials everywhere don't think alike. But here is the hopeful part - in more open societies, millennials have consistently adapted faster to new technology and devices, thanks partly to their ease of use. And they have been vocal in demanding a more honest, equal, and representative society. We can see this in North America, in Europe and in several developing countries.


So here's what it boils down to: millennials are not an unique species. This age group has always had their radicals, the activists and change agents fighting for a better world. If their energy and creativity is channeled properly, by giving respect to their opinions and ideas, we can see bigger changes happen, and quicker than ever because technology now allows it. And millennials know how to use it.

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smallmillennialblogl.jpgMore so than any other type of workers, millennials want to make a difference in society through their work, are willing to toil beyond the exhaustion point, and always have one foot out the door—or not. I’ve been in Las Vegas at SuccessConnect 2014 this week where I had a first-hand look at a report released by Oxford Economics with support from SAP. It provides a new perspective that seems to refute some of the most commonly-held beliefs about what millennials in the workforce want from their jobs, their bosses, and their companies. The study, entitled “Workforce 2020,” is based on feedback from over 5,400 executives and employees in 27 countries. The findings may or may not be surprising to those of us working and living with millennials every day.


Myth 1: Millennials care more than non-millennials about making a positive difference in the world through their work.


Research Findings: Just about one-fifth of millennials and non-millennials alike cite making a positive difference as important to their job satisfaction. In fact, competitive compensation matters most to everyone. Sixty-eight percent of millennials and 64 percent of non-millennials cite compensations as an important or very important benefit. What’s more, 41 percent of millennials (higher than 38 percent of non-millennials) say higher compensation would increase their loyalty and engagement with the company.


Myth 2: Achieving work/life balance is more important to millennials.


Research Findings: Again, the non-millennials are slightly ahead on this one too. Thirty-one percent of non-millennials say work/life balance is more important versus only 29 percent of millennials.


Myth 3: Finding personal meaning in their work is more important to millennials.


Research Findings: Actually, finding personal meaning is slightly more important to non-millennials (18 percent) than millennials (14 percent).


Myth 4: Meeting income goals is less important to millennials as long as they are learning and growing.


Research Findings: Millennials prioritize meeting career and income goals first, followed distantly by learning and growing. Interestingly, when it comes to job satisfaction the most important thing for millennials is meeting career goals (35 percent), while non-millennials cited corporate values that match their own and meeting income goals as their biggest priorities (both at 30 percent).


Myth 5: Millennials are more likely to plan on leaving in the short-term.


Research Findings: Millennials are no more likely than non-millennials to leave their jobs in the next six months. However, women of all ages are more likely to leave than men, and they express more job dissatisfaction than men.


That’s not to say there are no differences between age groups. More than two-thirds of millennials want informal feedback from their managers at least monthly. Less than half of non-millennials expect feedback that often. Millennials are also relying more on formal training and mentoring to develop their skills. Only seven percent of millennials have experienced most of their professional development through networking.


The point is it behooves employers to separate myth from reality as they engage with all workers. For example, this study also found that companies may not understand what their employees really want from them—regardless of generation. Employees of all ages ranked competitive compensation and bonuses or merit-based rewards as the most important benefit. Yet less than 40 percent of executive respondents say their company offers competitive compensation.


Yes, millennials are different from other workers. But so is every employee depending on a variety of factors including age. Everybody’s jumping on the millennial bandwagon and well they should—they are the future. But this study might give everyone pause before accepting so-called collective wisdom. Listening to what workers really want and responding with realistic options could provide the path to a more well-informed future.


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In today's networked economy, the cloud-based business network is a great differentiator. As commerce networks such as Amazon and eBay have changed the way consumers buy and sell, today we're seeing a new generation of collaborative networks embraced by businesses. The ability of a networked enterprise to streamline operations, improve collaboration with trading partners, enforce compliance, and better manage working capital presents business advantages that can't be achieved in a disconnected business environment.

Not all business networks are created equal, however. Some networks have a regional or industry focus, while others have a narrow specialty such as invoice processing only. For organizations looking to achieve world-class results from a business network, here are nine things to consider.

Know the difference between a network and a portal. 

While most business networks feature a supplier portal for real-time access to documents and data relating to transactions, the portal is not the network. A true business network is not restricted to one-to-one or one-to-many connections. It connects many buyers and many suppliers. If your “network” requires a separate log-in for each customer, it’s not a true business network. A true business network enables buyers to connect electronically with many existing suppliers already on the network. With no need to build the network from scratch, buyers can achieve results quickly. For suppliers, the ability to connect with tens or hundreds of customers from one network account is a major advantage, as is the ability to use the network as an e-commerce channel to land new business.

Configure smart invoicing rules to drive touchless processing.
Validating invoice data before posting for payment is essential to streamlining the procure-to-pay process. A business network offering a broad set of business rules that any business user can configure is key, enabling you to virtually eliminate the processing of invoice errors and exceptions. With the right business network, you can apply business rules to set line item unit price tolerances for order confirmations, set or ignore country-specific invoice rules, allow suppliers to send invoice attachments, make the requester responsible for ensuring the appropriate accounting on non-PO invoices, and much more. If an invoice violates a rule, that invoice is automatically flagged and sent back to the supplier for correction and re-submission. What results is a smart invoice process where you can achieve 98% or greater straight-through invoice processing.


Move beyond invoice management.

The real potential for transformation comes from the ability of a business network to enable trading partner collaboration not just for invoice processing, but also for management of related documents such as catalogs, contracts, purchase orders, order confirmations, change orders, service entry sheets, freight line items, advance ship notices, payment status, and payment remittance. This means that, from one platform, in the cloud, you can streamline essential collaborative business processes from procurement through payment. At the same time, you can improve compliance by driving more orders off catalogs and simplifying the matching of invoices to purchase orders, contracts, and service entry sheets.


Improve your ability to manage non-PO invoices with contract invoicing.
Invoice processing breakthroughs over business networks can extend to the management of non-PO invoices, which are often the most difficult, and costly, invoices to process. An advanced business network can provide valuable support for non-PO invoices by allowing you to match these invoices against—or create invoices from—a contract.


Don't limit the spend coverage.

If a network handles transaction processing primarily for products ordered off catalogs, that will cover only a small portion of your total spend. A true business network must address other spend categories such as complex items and services and recurring third-party services. The devil is in the details, so make sure you probe into how the network handles the complicated matching and validation these service spend categories require.


Five down, four to go to complete the "cloud nine." Next week, we'll look at the other keys to collaborating over a business network. Until then, take some time to learn more about the networked economy.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the evolution of the analytics market and in particular, the growth of data visualization as an interesting part of the ecosystem. From my point of view there are very few companies on the planet that don't have the ability to connect to data, analyze it, and share the information.



The market is massive, and there are easily accessible solutions ranging from SAP BusinessObjects (with the largest market share in the world) to open source BI solutions, all of which are pervasive. It's a very competitive market. And in general, technologies like SAP BusinessObjects deliver what large enterprise organizations want - high scale analytics for the masses vis-a-vis reporting, dashboarding, self-service query, and so on.


That said, it's obvious that technologies like SAP Lumira and those offered by Tableau address a base of users who want to quickly download a tool to query data and apply beautiful visualizations to that set of information. Why did the emergence of these tools take place given that the art of querying data has been around for a while?


I think there are a number of factors weighing in here, ranging from the business user's need to having quick access to data (unencumbered by IT), to the shift in types of data people need to access. What I find fascinating is that the issues around data haven't changed regardless of how the information looks. You could fly through your data in 3-D, but if your sales are terrible, that won't help you change how your company operates. This little quip is just my way of saying that analytics isn't just about looking at data - it's about acting on it. That's what SAP and BusinessObjects have espoused doing for decades!


It's not lost on me that SAP needs to lead on data visualization as well as business intelligence/analytics overall. SAP Lumira is the heart of our data visualization strategy. You can go to www.saplumira.com and download the desktop tool for free. If you want to share reports via a secure server, you can get access to that tool on the same site. You can even publish reports using SAP Lumira Cloud instantly as well! (Also free!) The experience is great and easy to access.


While Tableau may position itself as a company that understands how to make it easy to access software, SAP is focused on where the puck is headed. Visualization approaches like Infographics and secure information techniques like trusted data discovery help make SAP Lumira a better option for individuals, departments and companies. Period.


** Here's my countdown of the Top Ten reasons why SAP will deliver the best data visualization experience to our customers today and going forward:



10. We offer complete and secure agile visualization capabilities on mobile:   With over 1 million downloads so far, the SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI app provides the flexibility to visualize information while maintaining security and control for your data.



9. ACT on your data with performance management:   Let's say you've "visualized" some data and discover that you don't have enough inventory to meet demand. Your options are more limited with Tableau, but with SAP Lumira, you are able to take action with SAP's performance management solutions with just a click of the mouse.



8. With SAP Lumira, you’ll be the iron chef of data prep:  You can prep your data with a complete set of data manipulation capabilities in SAP Lumira. These allow users to easily and intuitively combine multiple data sources, create calculations, convert fields, filter, and more. Go even further with enterprise information management solutions including data integration, master data management, and information governance.



7. Bring enterprise BI and departmental BI together:   Break down departmental data silos and gain agility with trust by combining data discovery with SAP Lumira - all while maintaining security, governance, administration, management, and trust with the BI platform . See why Forrester Ranks SAP ahead of Tableau and Qliktech in the 2014 Agile BI Wave.



6. Build on what you already have:   With 45,000 customers using SAP BI technology, there's a pretty good chance you can take advantage of your existing BI investments by connecting directly to Universes and SAP Business Warehouse with SAP Lumira.



5. The next generation of visualization is with infographics:  What makes a visualization tool better is... better visualizations! The other thing that makes it better is ease of use. Think about what you do when you create a visualization using a data discovery tool. You cut and paste the charts into Microsoft PowerPoint. Why waste time doing all that? Tell your own story instantly in SAP Lumira with interactive infographics. Create the craziest visualization you can think of with custom visual extensions with D3. Go even further with integrated partner solutions like ESRI map integration. This is all flat out better in SAP Lumira.



4. We have predictive analytics for all types:  You can take advantage of integrated advanced analytics without needing a degree in data science. Visual discoveries bring predictive capabilities into SAP Lumira to help users uncover hidden insights they would have never known. You're literally a right mouse click away from being smarter.



3. Shift your focus to the "future" when using analytics:  The real value for business analysts is found using predictive/lead analytics, not lag reporting. You can't drive your car effectively by always looking at your rear view mirror. Use the larger windshield to look forward! You can put the results of predictive models in the hands of business users - in a way that makes sense and in their language – with SAP Lumira. Extend the visualization capabilities in SAP Lumira with more advanced analysis with SAP Predictive Analysis, including R library integration and support for custom predictive models.



2. Bring together a complete picture for BI – not a bunch of disparate departmental POV’s on your company:   Data discovery is one aspect of a BI strategy, but is it everything? How are you meeting the needs across the areas of reporting, dashboards, applications, and data discovery? Take advantage of the most complete portfolio of BI solutions on the market to address the needs across the organization from developers, IT, administrators, analysts, and decisions makers.



1. We make sure you don’t compromise:  You can grow your BI solution as your business grows and invest in a data discovery solution from the leader in business intelligence.


Connect with Steve on Twitter @nstevenlucas

brazile.jpgThe gender gap is one of technology’s most deep-rooted challenges. Only three percent of tech start-ups are founded by women. The percentage of female computer science majors peaked 30 years ago – five years before I was born. Although women make up more than half of the workforce, they hold just 25 percent of jobs in tech and computing. In response to recent pressure, major companies like Apple, Twitter, and Google have disclosed their diversity statistics amid tepid acknowledgments that the results are disappointing. “We have a long way to go,” admits Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook.


But we’re on the right track, as I was reminded at last week’s WNBA Inspiring Women Luncheon. The even honored the many groundbreaking female leaders who work tirelessly to create opportunities for women in technology, sports, politics, and beyond. These women are truly shattering glass ceilings—as well as glass backboards, joked WNBA President Laurel L. Richie.


The event’s honorees included WNBA greats – including Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn and Becky Hammon, the first full-time and paid assistant female coach in NBA history – as well as female leaders from other sectors. The WNBA Inspiration Award was given to political strategist Donna Brazile, the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign and current adjunct professor, author, commentator, and Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee. Her passion to get young people to vote and strengthen the political system from within aligns perfectly with the WNBA’s commitment to work, community, and female empowerment.


“We’re not looking to replace any man,” Brazile told the audience. “We’re just asking you to scoot over and make room.”


Still, the tech sector is one area where men seem particularly slow to scoot. Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, shared her mission of reaching gender parity in computer science. Women today represent 12 percent of all computer science graduates, while in 1984 they represented 37 percent. Girls Who Code aims to reverse the trend by exposing young women to computer science and engineering, sparking passion from a young age. According to Saujani, her organization “is more than just a program. It’s a movement.” (SAP has funded Girls Who Code in the past.)


This key to this movement is showing girls that technology doesn't have to be a “boy” thing. Business, politics, and athletics all benefit from the diversity of opinion that comes from equal gender representation. And amid the public debate about how to fix tech’s gender gap, some changes have been made. Most tech companies (including SAP) have made commitments to gender diversity, President Obama recently appointed the first female CTO of the United States, and recent studies have found that there is no gender gap in tech salaries.


The future seems bright. Even among the incredibly impressive honorees at the luncheon, the star attendee may have been Mo’ne Davis, the first girl to earn a win and pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history – bringing new meaning to the phrase “throwing like a girl.”

SAP was a gold sponsor of the event and powers wnba.com/statistics.

Do you want to learn more about diversity and how it's changing the Future of Work? Get the latest curated content here.


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