dreamstime_xs_25042790.jpgPersonally, I avoid spreadsheets. Well I try, but somehow one always creeps back into my daily work. As a writer, I’m drawn to words not numbers. I envy people who can both write artfully and do math in their head; but alas, I don’t have the talent for math or spreadsheets.

 

Throughout my career, I’ve worked with people who loved spreadsheets. You know the type—their spreadsheets are works of art, full of beautiful colors, macros, and complicated formulas. They even try to keep people like me from messing up the spreadsheets with mandatory drop-down lists for choosing the data. But somehow, I always make a mess of the spreadsheet, leaving me scrambling to fix it to avoid the wrath of my colleagues or manager.

 

I often hear that some of our customers are equally challenged by spreadsheets. This made me curious about what it would take to push people away from their beloved spreadsheets and entice them to use an automated system. So, I examined every analytics customer testimonial on SAP.com that mentioned spreadsheets and two things became very clear to me:

  • People change when they realize they have to transform processes in order to keep their financial house in order. However, they also know that growth and new opportunities depend on better tools for uncovering, the information necessary to make the right decisions.
  • More often than not, the catalyst for change comes from leadership needing faster, more accurate budgets and forecasts. Somehow during the budget or forecasting process, when the spreadsheet(s) were passed around, errors snuck their way in and numbers didn’t make sense when analyzed. It would take weeks, sometimes months to get a report that was trustworthy, and by then it was time to start the next reporting cycle.

 

Below are two of my favorite automation customer success stories—they’re worth the read.

At CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardees), the finance team manually collected financial data by emailing spreadsheets to all contributors and then consolidating the information. It took days to aggregate and create forecasts and weeks to consolidate and create budgets. they wanted to spend their time analyzing the data and looking at the business as a whole, so they automated. Automation has cut CKE’s budget cycle by one-third.

Iberiabank wanted to support fast market expansion, but manual forecasting through spreadsheets was slow, and limited to a few key decision makers. They needed their entire executive team and lower management to have access to forecasts. After they automated, management could quickly determine what new products and services they needed to offer at the lowest risk, and time spent on forecasting was reduced by one-third. What a coincidence that both of my examples achieved the same result.

What about you? Have you had a love/hate relationship with spreadsheets? Do you have a great story about a spreadsheet control freak? Or do you know someone, like me, that wrecked your perfect spreadsheet? Inquiring minds want to know.

273964_l_srgb_s_gl.jpgSo you’ve created the next hot product or service that everyone will love but you have no money to take it to market. How do you find the right venture capitalist (VC) to help build a leadership team, hire staff, develop the vision and keep the lights on? The latest episode of SAP Radio dives deep into this sweet and sour topic by gleaning insight from VC veterans.

 

“Go west,” suggests Chris O’Connor, co-founder and CEO at Taptera. “The Valley's VC climate is still the best in the U.S. and the world.” When it comes to new IT products, Chris said it’s imperative to have a pretty face (User Experience) to get attention. “The old desktop solution isn't very sexy with VCs", he said.

 

Chris brings up a good point. In this age of innovation, competition is fierce and full of “me too” products. So how do you differentiate?

 

While it’s no doubt important to have sexy user experience be it cloud, mobile, virtualization or gamification, the market rewards qualities that are scarce, said Gaurav Tewari, Executive Director at SAP Ventures.  “As an investor, I am looking for game-changing, disruptive businesses with management teams who possess the knowledge, imagination and conviction to successfully execute upon a bold vision.”

 

Leadership’s ability to build and maintain relationships with investors is critical. “When you're raising money it’s important to remember that you're recruiting a team member,” said Sanjay Parthasarathy an investor and CEO and Founder of Indix, “If you wouldn't hire them into your company, why would you want them as an angel or a VC? When the VC’s ego is valued higher than the funding, it’s better to look elsewhere.”

 

MR Rangaswami of SandHill.com took a business view on the goals and longevity of a start-up. “In these frothy financial times, how many entrepreneurs want to use the strategy of a company that is ‘Built to Last’ versus ‘Built to Flip’?”

 

Flip your dial over to SAPRadio here to hear producer/host Bonnie D. Graham speak with these experts. Feel free to Tweet your comments using #SAPRadio or comment below.

 

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Apple's right: K-12 schools are embracing the iPad, as this Google Map of tablet rollouts show.

 

My kids returned to school this week. They attend a suburban elementary school built only one year ago. Everything there is beautiful and state-of-the-art - with the glaring exception of its computing technology. Not only does the school still use computer labs, but they run an outdated platform, as I discovered after quizzing my son:

 

Me: "Do you know what operating system the PCs in the computer lab run?"

 

Him: "Umm, I think it says XP when I turn them on?"

 

Me: "What?!? That OS was introduced two years before you were born!"

 

Him: "Wowwwww, that is old."

 

My mind reeling, I quickly decicided I needed to: a) get involved in the PTA RIGHT AWAY; b) find out what schools are moving forward, not backward, towards tablets and e-textbooks.

 

Through the magic of Google, I found more than 120 schools, school districts, and colleges and universities that are deploying tablets to students for the first time this fall.

 

shutterstock_83335729

Credit: ShutterStock.com

 

My list is no doubt an undercount. 1.5 million American students and 1,000 colleges worldwide use iPads (see this infographic by MDG Advertising). Meanwhile, I can only find deployments that make the news - a difficult ask since rollouts of Android tablets tend to attract much less attention from the press.

 

Still, I've done my best, and have created a map in Google for you to browse. You can zoom in and out and click on the blue points to find out more about each deployment (including iPads as well as Samsung and Amazon Kindle Fire tablets), including the original news reference or web link.

 

If you do not see an embedded map below, please click on this link.

 

I've added the larger deployments - San Diego Unified, Rochester Minnesota, Mansfield County (Texas) and others - to another blog/chart listing the 100 Largest iPad Deployments Worldwide today.

 

I also plan to take a closer look at some of the trends in the new school deployments in a coming blog. 

 

If I've missed any deployments, please e-mail me at ericyolai@gmail.com or tweet me at @ericylai.

 


View School iPad & Tablet Deployments, Fall 2012 in a larger map at Google

 

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As part of its ongoing Mobile Insight series, SAP is holding two webcasts in September with experts who can help companies in distribution or utility industries reduce costs and boost sales. Click on the links to register:

 

Sept. 19th - Fuel Competitive Advantage in Wholesale Distribution Using Mobile Solutions

 

Sept. 26th - Mobile Applications for Streamlining Utility Services

Android often gets criticized for fragmentation. But the connected car market has it beat by a mile, with literally dozens of competing telematics platforms, each with its own code and quirks for developers to wrestle with.

 

At the Charged: Electric Vehicle Symposium Silicon Valley held last week on SAP's Palo Alto campus, I learned a few things which left me unoptimistic that things are changing anytime soon.

 

The good news: carmakers are eager to garner more apps. You have Nissan, which is introducing the 8th generation of its NissanConnect system that includes integration with Google local search and Pandora music. Or BMW, which is working with developers on 100 apps today for its car computing platform. And there's even this juicy rumor about Tesla Motors and the telematics system in its Model S Sedan that I heard from a source at a rival electric car maker.

 

 

shutterstock_94203646

Credit: Shutterstock.com

 

Usually, as a particular market matures, platforms tend to consolidate around a few winners. That creates scale and helps enable the hockey-stick-like growth of ecosystems that we're witnessing today around iOS, Android and, potentially, Windows 8.

 

That sort of consolidation isn't happening with cars. If anything, the number of platforms is continuing to expand, as automakers continue to create different platforms for different models.

 

"We're really at the ground floor," said Kal Mos, senior engineering director at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America. "I'd compare it to the early years of the PC and the Internet."

 

For would-be developers, that means extra work and less potential revenue. Would you rather invest your time building an app with, at best, several hundred thousand potential customers, or several hundred million?

 

Conflicting Efforts To Unify Market

 

As I've noted, the way to create scale and attract developers would be for carmakers to de-emphasize their own platforms in favor of established mobile ones.

 

Indeed, there are two main new efforts to do just that.

 

(Some commentators brought up QNX Car, which is used as an underlying platform by a number of carmakers. QNX is for in-car head units, not for mobile-car integration, though the latest version does allow mirroring of mobile devices. Also, QNX, as BlackBerry PlayBook owners know, doesn't have a deep base of apps today like iOS or Android.)

 

The first is led by Apple, which wants to integrate its iOS devices more deeply into the existing computers of each automaker. The 'Eyes Free' technology would allow drivers to control apps via Apple's Siri voice-recognition feature, or via steering wheel dashboards.

Apple usually keeps all news close to the vest, including partnerships. Here is a rare example of it appearing to do the opposite. According to Fast Company:

At WWDC, Forstall promised that "a number of auto manufacturers have already committed to delivering eyes-free Siri integration in the next 12 months." Yet of all of the automakers that Apple featured (Mercedes, BMW, GM, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda), just a few could confirm they were indeed working on delivering the technology within that timeframe. One automaker even seemed unaware that Apple had held an announcement.

"We haven't seen the statements attributed to Apple and we have nothing to announce at this time," a Chrysler spokesperson said by email. When pressed, the spokesperson would only add that "Chrysler does not comment on future product plans."

The second effort is a technical framework called MirrorLink that would define how smartphone and tablet apps are displayed and controlled via an in-car touchscreen. Created by the Car Connectivity Consortium, MirrorLink is backed by 75 companies that represent 70% of the car market and 60% of the smartphone market (including major Android makers Samsung, HTC and LG).

 

MirrorLink's interoperable standard would make it easier and faster for mobile developers to write car-friendly apps. The Samsung Galaxy S III isNokia had the first mobile device to support MirrorLink (followed by Samsung with its Galaxy S III), while Sony has released five MirrorLink-compatible car audio head units.

 

The problem is that there are key holdouts, including major carmakers like Nissan ("we're not on the Consortium at this point, though we're keeping an eye on it," said Koji Doda, research and partner manager for Nissan North America), mobile platform vendors like Google and Microsoft and the biggest holdout of all, Apple.

 

Too Much Empowerment?

 

On a technical level, one source claimed there are two potential negatives with MirrorLink: its Android-centricity (despite Google's lack of official involvement with MirrorLink), and the narrow bandwidth channel defined by MirrorLink between device and car screen, which could hurt multimedia apps. 

 

Even carmakers that are officially supporting MirrorLink express ambivalence over ceding control to mobile devices and potentially degrading its brand.

 

Car makers "have to take responsibility for everything that appears on the car," explained Alex Keros, manager for advanced vehicle and infrastructure policy at General Motors Corp.

 

Others are ambivalent about MirrorLink because it hampers their ability to innovate.

 

"Often times it's the slowest party that gets to define the spec," said another source, who also decried the resulting reliance on fragile mobile devices.

 

"If you're in Los Angeles and leave your smartphone in your car on a sunny day and come back, see what works: [the car computer] or the smartphone," he said.

 

It appears that most carmakers, including Mercedes-Benz, which is a leading backer of MirrorLink, plan to continue to hedge their bets. That means investing in both their own car platforms as well as augmenting integration with, while maintaining control over, smartphone apps.

 

No wonder that even developers like Barney Pell, CEO of parking payment app QuickPay, thinks it will take 5 to 7 years before these apps are truly integrated into cars in meaningful way. For mainstream mobile developers, that means one less market to write for in the near-term.

 

***********

 

Are you an executive in operations, field service, supply chain management, engineering or manufacturing who wants to make his remote and mobile workers more productive? Then consider joining SAP and IBM on September 6th, as they host a luncheon at Fleming's Steakhouse at nine cities in the East and South of the United States. Check out if they are coming to your town.

smallshermanhandshakes_gl.jpgAttributing human qualities to everything from animals to inanimate objectives to corporations seems like a pervasive trend these days. We eat honest food, watch dogs in business suits do funny tricks on YouTube, and adjudicate that corporations are people.

 

For now, let’s take the food off the table and put the animal back in the doghouse. Let’s talk about humanizing corporations. This isn’t about politics. I’ll leave that to the pros in Washington, D.C.  At the risk of stating the obvious, business has been hunkered down for an awful long time. It was understandable in the thick of the economic crisis several years ago. And I’m not saying the situation is completely rosy anywhere, or that some sectors aren’t in a deep crisis still. What I’m thinking about is the obligation companies have to make this better—for the people who need it most.

 

I spoke recently with Andrew J. Sherman, senior partner at Jones Day, who helped author a white paper that suggests large corporations could create jobs by loaning cash to small and mid-size companies. Netted out, the reasoning behind the white paper is simple. Smaller companies are engines of job creation. U.S.-based corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash. Find a way to bring the two together and it’s a win-win.

 

Sherman is pretty smart guy. He teaches at Georgetown University, and has written 23 books on business growth, notably how to use intangible assets. That’s important because the crux of the problem is that small and mid-size businesses in today’s services-based, technology oriented world don’t have the tangible assets that banks traditionally require to secure loans. Their greatest assets are the brain power of their founders and the unrealized intellectual property of their innovations. Minus tangible assets like expensive equipment or huge manufacturing plants, they are effectively locked out of capital markets. Think of what could happen if these companies had access to a loan fund of pooled monies from the corporations that can afford it.

 

Small and mid-size companies could build their businesses. In doing so, they’d hire more people who would produce more innovative products and services that improve people’s lives. Meantime, large corporations would be able to put unused cash assets to work. In taking action that benefits everyone, corporations would also be living up to some of their legally defined qualities. After all, the ability to creatively solve complex problems is a uniquely human trait.  

On Business Innovation site, we are delivering the top blogs, news and featured content on business innovation for professionals looking to grow and gain a competitive advantage. We cover hot topics and thought leadership on mobile applications, cloud computing, big data, real-time analytics and the top challenges facing executives and leaders in sales & marketing, finance, human resources and much, much more.

 

Each week, we will curate and publish the top 10 posts of the week on business innovation from across our content categories. We hope you find these articles valuable, informative, and interesting. Enjoy!

 

Top Terms to Know: Big Data, Cloud, Analytics, Mobility

By Jen Cohen, @jenz036

 

Beef up your tech vocabulary with terms in these four top markets. The lingo you’ll learn in this post will guide you through some of the main concepts so you can keep up in the conversation.

 

 

Real-Time Data Analytics: On Demand vs. Continuous

By Jen Cohen

 

Don’t get left behind while others are in real-time. Now, more than ever businesses are focused on the immediate implications of data and monitoring it often to stay abreast of what is happening – whether it’s on demand or continuous.

 

 

Mobile and Big Data Come Together to Drive Right Time Experiences

By Milja Gillespie

 

Ever filed a complaint and waited 6 weeks to hear back? In today’s age, this slow customer service response time is unacceptable. Businesses must be utilizing mobile and big data to drive right time experiences.

 

 

The Business Value of Cloud Computing

By Lindsey LaManna, @LindseyLaManna


While your CFO and CIO may already know the basics around cloud computing, do they know the value it can bring to your organization?

 

 

How Mobility Will Change Your Customer Relationships

By Michael Brenner, @BrennerMichael

 

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years, smartphones and tablets are now the platform of choice for consumers and businesses. Make sure you understand why your business should be crafting an effective mobile strategy with new systems of engagement.

 

 

Predictive Analysis: 7 Reasons You Need It Today

By Michael Brenner

 

Predictive analytics give you a leg up on the consumer, enabling you to learn from experience by extracting information from data and then using it to predict future trends or behaviors. Armed with this information, you can make smarter decisions and take thoughtful action with your target in plain sight.

 

 

The Dark Side of Big Data?

By Elizabeth Gaines, @EAGaines

 

You’ve all heard it, there is significant potential in big data. However, it may end up a double edged sword if your data handlers commit any of these seven deadly data sins.

 

 

The Content Marketing Bucket List

By Michael Brenner

 

Content marketing is every marketer’s topic of discussion over coffee. With so much noise, declining response rates, and increasing outbound marketing costs, this bucket list helps you prioritize and clear the clutter.

 

 

Exploring The Mobile Innovation Council

By Ian Thain, @IThain

 

As previously address by Ian, a Mobile Innovation Council should contain 10 to 20 key members such as skilled representatives from your company, and all chaired by a CMoO (Chief Mobility Officer). If your business has a MIC, make sure it is in control of these key responsibility areas.

 

 

Data Centers Are Up To Big Data’s Power Challenge

By Irfan Khan

 

Data growth is relentless, and at first data center managers were hesitant if their machines could keep up. Now, innovation in the data center is breathing new life into these once inefficient storage centers.

Diital Marketing.pngThis topic aired on SAP Radio’s Coffee Break with Game Changers August 25, 2012. This date is not significant for any particular reason except to underscore that we are now in the 21st century.  Marketing as we have known it for the last few decades is experiencing a rebirth and we are already in the third trimester. SAP Radio producer/host Bonnie D. Graham got the scoop from three experts to learn more.

 

It’s no longer about pushing products in a simple one-way conversation. “Companies need to start incorporating contextualized content into the e-commerce experience to leverage the Internet as a dynamic and profitable sales, marketing and service channel”, stated Glenn Conradt, VP of Global Marketing at CoreMedia.

 

And to whom should companies be targeting these contextualized e-commerce experiences? Scott Liewehr, President and Principal Analyst at the Digital Clarity Group (DCG) says, “The future of digital marketing focuses as much on marketing to pre-existing customers as it does on marketing to prospects.” Customer loyalty is a huge factor for companies who hope to grow, according to Liewehr.

 

SAP’s Jamie Anderson, Global Marketing Director, CRM Web Channel & eCommerce Solutions, shared a timely point of view he read on the eConsultancy blog, “eCommerce is dead! Long live distributed commerce.” This sounds dramatic, but the reality is customer experiences span multiple channels and companies must be consistent across all points of interaction. 

 

Clearly, there’s great anticipation for the birth of Digital Marketing and the due date is now!

 

Listen to this lively show here and feel free to share your comments below or Tweet them using #SAPRadio.

 

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lionpreygl.jpgAsk most people for an example of brilliant innovation and the answer is more than likely to be the iPhone or iPad, and rightfully so. But innovation isn’t just about the latest product to rock our universe. As high wow factor technologies like in-memory computing and enterprise mobility become the norm, it’s clear the business challenge is much more than finding budget for them. To innovate with impact, companies need to focus on what I call the innovation long tail. This long tail consists of all the strategic planning, intelligent decisions, and heartfelt behaviors of everyone in the company to achieve one goal:  innovation.

 

Businesses are increasingly focused on innovation management.  Jackie Fenn, VP & Gartner Fellow says, “I’m actually spending more time on innovation management than I ever have before. That reflects a growing trend within companies to look much more deliberately at how they innovate along with the technology itself.”

 

Makes sense to me. It’s no revelation that producing breakthrough products is hard work. These days, getting the budget to purchase them can also be a monumental task. But figuring out who to buy innovative products from, and writing the check is only the surface view. Just as important are the blood, sweat and tears that go into figuring out the what, why, where, when and how. What kinds of innovations are needed? Why do we need them? Where do we expect them to lead us? When should we take action—or not? How will we measure success? It’s an ongoing process, part fact-finding, part evaluation, and always revelatory.

 

Getting the answers to these kinds of questions requires a commitment to innovation that extends far beyond project-based product implementations. The genuinely innovative business never stops asking questions. As good as we are, how can we be better? What hasn’t been thought of—by our customers or our competition? Where can we find the best partners to help us clear the next hurdle? The essence of innovation is having the people and structures in place to make sure it works for the company and its customers.

 

Understandably these activities behind the scenes don’t get as much attention as flashy product launches or patent lawsuits. Yet without the long tail, innovation sparks and dies fast. It’s a Herculean team effort. Companies like Apple, Google, and my own, SAP, create working environments to help smaller teams come up with brilliant ideas. Many of those ideas have morphed into technology solutions that have changed the world already. Innovation works when it extends into every aspect of the company, and is embodied in what every person does across the organization. The long tail may be quite a handful but if you can grasp it, innovation is sure to follow.

This month, the earliest examples of using images to communicate were confirmed to be on the wall of a Spanish cave known as El Castillo. According to the Associated Press, tests show that the red sphere and handprints painted on the wall date back 40,000 years, making them the oldest in the world. These early paintings provide additional evidence that people are genetically wired to respond to visual communication.

 

Volumes of scientific research support this idea by confirming that people retain graphical information better than text.  In fact, the old adage “the words went in one ear and out the other” is actually true.  A study by the U.S. Federal Government found that 83% of human learning occurs visually and people retain only 10% of what they hear (versus 65% of what they see and hear).   This is because words are processed by a person’s short-term memory, whereas visual images are etched into the long-term memory.  Anecdotally, this makes sense because we know, for example, it’s easier to learn how to draw a circle when someone shows you than if someone attempts to explain it verbally. Psychologist Steven Pinker, who has written extensively about the brain confirms, “We are visual creatures, with a third of our brains devoted to vision.”

 

Migration from Text to Graphics

The power of visual communication, combined with the growth of technology, has lead to more and more information being presented in graphical formats.  Today’s computers and sophisticated software can quickly convert thousands of data points into easy-to-interpret visuals. Consequently, word-intensive media like newspapers are declining in usage, while video sites like YouTube are growing exponentially.  Visual learning specialist, Stuart Murphy, explains that today’s generation of users are “comfortable online, well-versed in video games, eager consumers of graphic novels, and have become naturally reliant on the language of visuals to transmit and convey information.”  In response to this increasing demand for visual communication, 3-D visualization technology has been developed, which transforms all types of information into interactive graphics or videos.

 

3-D Visualization Technology

3-D visualization tools, currently used mostly by corporations, take data from in-house programs, such as CAD, PLM, manufacturing execution systems (MES), or ERP systems, and combine them with ultra-sophisticated visual software to create amazing, comprehensive 3-D images. These images have a variety of advantages, in addition to improved comprehension, that help companies streamline operations. For example, visual graphics can be universally understood and eliminate the need to duplicate information in multiple languages. page1.pngThey are also highly leverage-able, which means visual graphics can be used by anyone, in any department, without IT assistance. From visual repair and maintenance handbooks to prototype development, 3-D visual communication is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the corporate world. In the words of award-wining scholar, Robert E. Horn, “Visual language has the potential for increasing ‘human bandwidth’ – the capacity to take in, comprehend and more efficiently synthesize large amounts of new information.”  It is the way people expect information to be conveyed today and closely aligns with how human beings have always taught, learned and shared.  Modern research and ancient history concur; using images is simply a better way to communicate.

home.jpgDear Depressed Homeowner,

 

Ready for some good news? Try this on for size:

 

“While the general U.S. economy continues to struggle to make gains, for the first time since the end of the recession, housing may actually make a significant contribution to economic growth in 2012, a welcome change to affairs for an otherwise struggling economy.”

 

The above excerpt comes from CoreLogic’s August MarketPulse Report which provides insight into the current and future health of the U.S. economy with emphasis on housing and mortgage metrics. CoreLogic knows a thing or two about big data – they retain one of the largest and most comprehensive U.S. real estate, mortgage application, fraud, and loan performance databases in the world. And that’s why I don’t take lightly these four reasons they think the U.S. is heading for a housing recovery:

 

  1. This fall, the housing market may avoid the slide that has occurred each of the last three years because of an improving balance between supply and demand, declining REO sale shares and a slowly declining foreclosure inventory.
  2. A lower likelihood of foreclosures flooding the housing market is beneficial because the market is more likely to absorb the inventory without dramatic changes in price.
  3. Many borrowers in both the boom and “rust-belt” markets lack the means to prevent serious delinquency due to their limited ability to refinance at a lower mortgage interest rate. Policies designed to offer options for borrowers to lower their interest rates further can help decrease the flow of future delinquencies.
  4. The current share of non-distressed sales is at its highest level since August 2008, positively impacting home prices, and is a sign of real improvement in the housing market.

 

So there you have it. Some very promising news for the housing market and the economy. But how exactly does CoreLogic make their data so easy to understand for its thousands of customers? As previously mentioned, CoreLogic gleans accurate market insight from its powerful data repository which is built upon public record, proprietary, and third party data sources. But that’s only part of the company’s big data equation.

 

According to Asif Rahman, Director, Application Development at CoreLogic, the company makes sure that no matter what customers are looking for (i.e. evaluating a mortgage investment portfolio, new home loan, neighborhood sales comparables or a tenant application) they will find the information they need in a recognizable format. CoreLogic also relies on the power of SAP to keep data-hungry customers coming back for more.

 

“SAP is a valued partner of CoreLogic,” said Rahman. “We continue to leverage SAP’s database technology to power Analytical Applications used by our customers with demonstrated success.”

 

Are you seeing signs of life in the housing market?

 

I’m not a realtor, nor do I play one on TV. But my Twitter home is always open @TClark01.

(Corrected 6 PM PT, August 21, with information provided by Avaya.) 

 

Consumer appeal has been the most important factor in the business tablet war to date.That's because the vast majority of tablets used for work - five-sixths, by one estimate - have been brought in by workers via their employers' Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. It's why the iPad has dominated.

 

It's a simple equation, but it vexes the IT snobs and command-and-control traditionalists. How has this [UGH] gadget, with its va-va-va-voom looks infiltrated THEIR HOUSE so quickly?

 

Intellectually, they might understand that we're in an era of increasing Consumerization of IT (CoIT), and that they need to stop thinking that they get to call all the technology shots. But old habits die hard. So as a reminder, let's look at what happened to the 2011 wave of tablets that thought the pathway into organizations was via the IT manager, not the worker:

 

BlackBerry PlayBook - It came from IT favorite RIM and delivered the Canadian company's vaunted manageability and security. But delays by RIM to deliver its trademark e-mail experience on the PlayBook (and other apps), as well as cut the price to a competitive level, has hurt the popularity of the first iteration of this device.

 

Cisco Cius - Another vendor well-liked by IT, Cisco's entry featured some powerful videoconferencing, networking and security options. And its nod towards CoIT was to run the Cius on Android. But the tablet itself was homely and underpowered. And the options were pricey. Cisco stopped supporting the Cius less than a year after its launch.

 

Avaya Flare - With its $2,5001,999 list price tag and positioning as a "desktop video device" integrated with (Avaya) desk phones, Avaya couldn't have expected many consumers to buy the Flare. What it probably didn't expect was how few enterprises would. Avaya has since wised up, abandoningcontinues to offer its proprietary unified communications hardware, but I suspect the market is warmer to the Flare Experience unified communications apps (list price: $190/user) in favor of pushing Flare video apps running on iOS, Windows and (in 2013) Android.

 

 

Tablet War 2.0 - the Battlefield Shifts, Slightly

 

A new wave of tablets are set to hit the market and challenge the iPad in companies and other large organizations. The vendors behind them have learned their lessons: appealing to IT is not enough. They get that for the foreseeable future, there will be two channels into the enterprise - BYOD (employees buy and own) and IT (company buys and issues). To be successful, they need to cater equally to both.

 

At the same time, there is a growing realization that poorly-managed, overly-liberal BYOD programs can cost companies more than they save. These vendors are hoping that IT will start reasserting itself and restrict employees who wish to Bring Their Own tablets to a limited menu of IT-approved ones.

 

For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 released earlier this month. It follows its successful, smaller predecessor which proved that millions of people dislike touchscreen keyboards enough to go stylus. Besides being excellent for artists (and Palm Pilot nostalgists), the Note 4G also suits field workers who must accurately fill out long forms or questionnaires while on the go.

 

 

 

 

Like this guy.

 

Credit: ShutterStock.com

 

For IT managers, the Samsung Note is like other recent Galaxy-class devices, running a more-manageable, secureable variant of Android through the Samsung Approved for the Enterprise (SAFE) technology. Features include on-device encryption, Cisco and Juniper VPN, Exchange ActiveSync and more. Also, it’s much easier to fix than an iPad!

 

SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann, who carries a Galaxy Note himself, says it's one of the most-requested Android devices at SAP. "I see more and more internal users, especially executives, going for the Note," he said.

 

Or take Hewlett-Packard, which strongly hinted last week that rumors that its coming Windows 8 tablet will be enterprise-oriented, with a stylus, enterprise dock and sunlight-viewable screen, are true. 451 Research's Chris Hazelton believes the HP tablet could even come with an optional semi-rugged to fully-rugged keyboard.

 

And then there's Microsoft, which IDC predicts will build 3 million Surface tablets running both Windows 8 and Windows RT, and other Windows 8 tablet vendors, including Asus (Tablet 600), Acer, Samsung (Series 5 & 7 Hybrid PCs), Dell (Latitude 10) and Lenovo (ThinkPad Tablet 2).

 

Arriving in late October, Windows 8 tablets may cost as little as $600 and $700, sport optional or integrated keyboards, be backwards compatible with existing Windows applications, and, crucially for IT pros, be compatible with Microsoft's stack of systems management software.

 

Not a Return to Days of Yore

 

Some hope that this will be the start of Microsoft's takeover of the tablet space, just as it slowly but eventually dominated the business PC space with Windows. Others hope this will be a re-ascendence of command-and-control IT, which favors corporate deployments and the standardization on a single platform, presumably Windows, for better management and control.

 

I think that ship has sailed.

 

Companies aren't going to dump iPads and Android tablets wholesale. These tablets have proven their usefulness in many companies under many different conditions, from sales enablement, field service, meetings, accelerating internal processes and more. Their devices too much of a bargain ($199 Nexus vs. a $700 Windows 8 tablet?) and the platforms just too rich with apps.


 

Credit: ShutterStock.com

 

Also, the growth of iPhones and Android smartphones at work continues unabated. Why would employees be content if they allowed to use iOS or Android with one kind of mobile device but banned with another? Rather than abandoning BYOD, companies will learn to use the right Mobile Device Management (MDM) software to create the right security policies and keep costs under control.

 

Don't get me wrong: Windows 8 tablets will certainly appeal to many consumers and companies. But I just don't think that most organizations will be willing to turn back the clock. Standardization is an unattainable utopia. The average enterprise already supports three or more mobile OSes.

 

Don't forget that Apple is upping its enterprise game. It revealed in an SEC filing this month that it plans to incorporate fingerprint sensor technology from its recent acquisition, AuthenTec, in its products as soon as possible. Presumably, that would mean embedding fingerprint sensors for secure authentication into the iPhone and/or iPad. This could smooth in-person retail payments made using wireless NFC (Near-Field Communications) technology, as well as "be handy in large business or government agencies where security is paramount," wrote CNET.

 

Apple - and Google, for that matter - also continue to open up more APIs to third-party MDM and MAM (Mobile Application Management) vendors so that they can continue to improve their security and manageability.

 

Bottom line: enterprises should not expect Windows 8 to herald a return to one platform uber alles (i.e. PCs AND tablets). Enterprises should expect to support iOS, Android and Windows 8 if they want to optimize worker performance - and morale.

Death of a Salesman/SFA
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On August 15, 2012 SAP Radio featured three sales experts who all agreed that sales force automation (SFA) is dead. The problem with SFA is it is set up to drive efficiencies of the sales team not for the benefit of the customer. “Sales is the most broken of all business functions,” declared Bob Nicols CEO of AXIOM a Sales Force Development company. And he’s right. To be a successful, global sales force the focus should be on transformation. That means forgetting the 90 day sales cycles and tying sales processes to the demands of Wall Street. The customer comes first. But it’s not an easy or short road.

 

“Transformation, like a leopard’s spots changing, happens seldom and slowly,” said Kimberly Senior, Executive Director, Professional Development for AT&T Business Solutions Sales organization. “The key to success in driving any type of transformation is committed, focused, disciplined incremental improvement over time.”

 

It was SAP’s Nicholas Kontopoulos Senior Director of Global CRM Marketing who shocked the audience declaring SFA dead. His view is that mobility, big data and social business are the tools of today’s successful sales warrior.

 

Many questions - from financial comp plans to universal incentives and globalization - came in from the live audience via Twitter. Each sales expert handled the questions on-the-fly and also served up a dire prediction into 2017: “transform your sales force today or die quickly.” The experts argue that transformation can propel a company’s status from approved vendor to trusted advisor. Certainly a position of strength.

 

Listen to the show here and feel free to tweet your comments with #SAPRadio or post them below.

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2012 should henceforth be known as The Mobile Games, as tablets, apps and SMS all made a huge impact on athletes and spectators alike.

 

For competitors, apps and tablets were instrumental during both training and the actual competitions. Many gold medal winners openly credited their iPads for their success.

 

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For spectators worldwide, mobile was a hugely popular channel for viewing and keeping track of the two week games. 12 million people watched the Olympics on the BBC via smartphone or tablet. 

 

At American broadcaster NBC, 10 million people watched the Olympics via its mobile site, while 11.2 million and 3.7 people used its two Olympics apps, Live Extra and NBC Olympics.

 

According to Google, 50% of the searches for the Olympics came from mobile devices.  Finally, texting by Olympic spectators, tourists and United Kingdom residents spiked during key moments at the games. Indeed, text and tweet traffic was so heavy that early on it temporarily overloaded at least one data network.

 

(It should be noted that official 2012 Olympic communications services provider BT, Vodafone and O2, owned by Spain's Telefonica, told Reuters they did not experience any network problems.)

 

So what were the most texted-about events? According to Sybase 365, an SAP subsidiary which helps deliver more than 1.8 billion messages daily (and has helped deliver 2 trillion messages altogether), there were six moments:

 

      

M2M_1 (2).jpgBy 2020, there will be more than 50 billion connected devices – which means M2M revenues could reach $948 billion, according to Ericsson and Machina Research. For communication service providers (CSP) the M2M opportunity is huge, but like anything else in business, the opportunity is directly proportional to their degree of involvement with it.

 

Beyond Connectivity

 

Providing connectivity for M2M services is a promising revenue stream, but the real value for CSPs lies beyond connectivity and differentiating via end-to-end M2M solutions. Offering connectivity for transportation providers and then an additional “analytics-as-a-service” to help customers glean valuable insight from the data is one example.

 

M2M communication will also challenge the way CSPs do business by introducing the Telco 2.0 ecosystem, characterized by multi-sided business models. CSPs will be at the epicenter of an ecosystem with a large number of upstream and downstream partners including content providers, individual software vendors, cloud infrastructure providers, consumers, enterprise customers and vertical industries. To be successful in this ecosystem, they will need an infrastructure to tie in all stakeholders and enable and monetize services.

 

The M2M infrastructure should fulfill four basic functions:

  1. Data Analytics to process the data collected from connected devices and provide necessary insight
  2. Device and Connectivity management to secure devices and the data on them and to keep them up-to-date with the latest applications and upgrades
  3. Application Support for creating and enabling applications that run on connected devices
  4. A flexible Billing system to accommodate new and evolving business models.

 

Besides providing the infrastructure, CSPs need to approach the M2M opportunity strategically with a clear action plan in mind. The solutions across various industry verticals are diverse and must meet industry specific requirements and standards. CSPs need to have a clear road map for the industries they want to target to earn ROI. In the near future, automotive, healthcare, utilities and transportation and logistics industries have the highest revenue-generating potential, making them the best targets.

 

Although M2M solutions tend to be industry-specific, CSPs can be more efficient by reusing the four basic functions mentioned above across all industry verticals. A framework fulfilling these functions provides CSPs a launch-pad to win in the M2M communication space every time they approach a new customer or industry.

 

Here are examples of CSPs that are committed to the M2M market:

  • Verizon’s contribution and then complete acquisition of nPhase
  • AT&T’s numerous partnerships with Jasper Wireless, KORE telematics, Axeda DCX and Trimble
  • Deutsche Telecom’s collaboration with Intel for providing tool-kit to developers and application providers

 

Clearly, the M2M opportunity is up for grabs and CSPs need to act now to be successful and sustainable in the hypercompetitive telecommunications market.

 

To learn more about the exciting possibilities of M2M capabilities, please click here.

 

 

Bill Simmons, aka the Sports Guy on ESPN/Grantland, is probably my favorite writer on the planet. In the last decade, I've read more words by him than anyone besides myself.

 

There are several reasons for this. His stuff mostly appears on the Web. Like every guy I know, I stopped reading actual books around the time DSL replaced AOL. Simmons also writes incredibly long. His trademark mailbag columns, where he answers his readers' off-kilter questions, are 10,000 words of Jack Kerouac-style-stream-of-consciousness - if Kerouac had a MacBook and grew up obsessed with 80s movies and the Red Sox.

 

Finally, Simmons has a gift for spinning fantastical theories that make total sense despite not being grounded in anything resembling scientific rigor, like his 16 Levels of Losing (rating the psychic pain of fans depending on the scenario) or The (Patrick) Ewing Theory (teams play better after losing a superstar).

 

One Simmons-ism that I find particularly applicable to tech is his notion of something being, not over-hyped, not under-hyped, but properly-hyped. It's like the Gartner Hype Cycle, but applied to jocks, as they go from overhyped college star to underhyped, struggling young pro to properly-hyped veteran.

 

james.jpgTake Lebron James. When he was a high school freshman with a bodybuilder's physique, he was already overhyped. The hype only grew when James skipped college and instantly became an NBA star. By year 4, though, James began taking heat, from nitpickers who latched onto his (occasionally) poor dribbling and (relatively) weak 3-point shooting, to critics who pointed out his inability to win an NBA championship.

 

When he messily switched teams, gave up his Alpha Dog status to teammate Dwyane Wade, and still failed to win a championship in his first year, the naysayers seized on every opportunity to call him a choke artist, a waste of talent, a loser. By the end of that season, James was stupendously under-hyped.

 

Then what happened? Not only did James win the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the third time, but he finally carried a team to the championship this past June. That's the sort of season that anyone not surnamed Bird, Jordan or Bryant can only dream about. But it's a requirement for a player with the nickname King James to live up to his billing, answer his critics, and, finally, reach the state where his achievements match the hype.

 

The iPad is the LeBron James of tech. Like LeBron, it is incredibly successful (85 million sold in 2.5 years, 70% of the tablet market) and incredibly hyped.

 

Only in one area could you argue that the iPad is underhyped, and that is in the enterprise. There's no shortage of critics charging that the iPad is incapable of 'real' business work, that it's not manageable and insecure, and that it will be dead meat once Windows 8/RT comes out.

 

For sure, some companies stumble when they blindly jump onto the iPad bandwagon. Like the enterprise that returned 40% of the 14,000 iPads earmarked for its managers because, according to a Gartner analyst, "they don't have a clue what to do with them."

 

In other organizations, the iPad has simply failed to make a dent. In the City of Minneapolis, an attempt to encourage iPad deployments and BYOD usage resulted in just 170 of its 3,600 workers using them, according to a recent article in CIO magazine headlined, "Is the iPad Over-Hyped in the Enterprise?" Still other organizations like Seton Hall University are consciously eschewing the iPad in favor of Windows 8 tablets.

 

Personally, I think it's great that stories like these are emerging and being aired publicly. No CIO would expect a unplanned ad hoc deployment to succeed. Why should iPads be any different? And if you combine super-strict BYOD policies along with super-tight budgets, as happened in Minneapolis, would you expect many workers and managers to bring/deploy iPads?

 

Not the Holy Grail

 

The critics are right: there are many things that the iPad isn't. It isn't the Holy Grail of mobility. It isn't the Jesus Tablet. It's not even a 100% laptop replacement.

 

But the facts are this: 94% of Fortune 500 companies are rolling out or testing iPads, according to Apple. Thousands more have deployed them. And some of these deployments are massive: 32,000 by Korea Telecom, 26,000 by the San Diego Unified School District, 18,000 by the United States Air Force, 11,000 by United Airlines, etc.

 

For many companies, the iPad is proving to be a useful business tool that is as easy to manage as Windows PCs and secure enough for top-tier banks. In others, it is a wedge for the next generation of technology to make its way into enterprises. It is an enabler for many companies to overcome the inertia of naysayers to experiment with scenarios where tablets can make add plenty of value (like field service, like sales, like meetings, like healthcare, like HR and general worker productivity). And it is helping companies earn real ROI today.

 

It's not only possible to reconcile these opposing views and facts, but desirable that we do so. To ignore one or the other would be to over-hype or under-play the iPad. To properly hype/assess the iPad, we need to match expectations with reality, link hype to actual impact.

 

Want to see some more examples of companies improving their operations using apps and tablets like the iPad? Check out the infographic below created by the SAP Mobile team, which references companies like Vodafone, CSC, Asian Paints, Charite Berlin hospital, Verizon Wireless and Standard Bank of South Africa:

 

crystalblogl.jpgMy response to people who talk about real-time information as if it’s the newest innovation on the planet is always the same: where have you been since 1998? That’s the year I discovered the joys of SAP Crystal Reports, and how real-time data can solve tough business challenges. I remember it well, the day I met the clients I’ve come to view as among the most challenging in my entire career so far. As communications manager at a high technology public relations firm, I managed four or five teams, totaling about 20 people who worked on various client accounts. While my background had primarily been in business-to-business, I hadn’t delved too much into high tech. It was a whole new world of market trends, products, and services I needed to learn fast. I’ll spare you the details of the hours I spent deciphering a kaleidoscope of acronyms and cut right to the chase with two words: Crystal Reports.

 

Perennially on overload, completely disorganized, and no doubt pressured from myriad senior management demands, my clients established the ground rules of our relationship immediately. The drill was, every single day, sometimes more than once, this client wanted to know how many hours the agency had billed, to what projects, and what the balance of the spend looked like. Would another project break the budget? How could they possibly have spent so much in just seven days? Exactly what was the agency team doing to earn such huge amounts of money? This is on top of dozens of ad hoc requests throughout the day, sent directly to junior team members bypassing me altogether.

 

Don’t get me wrong. Having been on my own as a communications pro for many years, I was motivated by a rock solid service ethic. This was my valued customer, and I would meet their needs. Once I realized that this job had nothing to do with creative thinking and writing but rather, understanding the numbers to manage the resources, I was fully on board--armed with Crystal reports, that is. I began looking forward to logging into the system to generate reports weekly, daily, and yes, often hourly. With the click of a few buttons I easily unraveled the mysteries of where the money went.

 

This kind of access to information made ‘day of reckoning’ meetings, at the end of the month to justify the billings, relatively pain-free. After all, the numbers don’t lie. And, since I’d kept the clients informed throughout the month, there were few surprises.

 

Fast forward to 2012. Not much has changed in the past 14 years. Managers still need immediate data to run the business well, whether they manage goods or services, or have to meet the demands of customers inside or outside company walls. SAP Crystal Reports celebrates its 20th birthday this year having evolved to offer once again, the latest innovations including mobile. The only difference now is we call it real-time software. Back then, I called it my life-saver.

SAP Radio Coffee Break with Game-Changers Logo-121211.JPGWhen we look at the business benefits of technology we typically measure success in savings of time and dollars. But, what we often overlook is how innovations in Machine to Machine technology (M2M) are enhancing our lifestyles and even making the world a safer place.

 

On August 8, 2012 SAP Radio host Bonnie D. Graham described M2M as “the promise of a world of connected devices, where machines of all types and sizes can autonomously communicate with each other.”

 

From smart cities, smart grids, GM OnStar, wireless health tracking, and more “Real-world examples exist; it’s not just theoretical,” said Jason Sumner senior editor with the Economist on SAP Radio. But can machines connect with themselves and execute complex actions without human involvement? No, said Joe Dignan, Chief Analyst at Ovum; “M2M needs a human 'guiding mind' somewhere in the interaction.”

 

Yet despite successful examples of M2M including the great technological successes at the London 2012 Olympics, Fergus O’Reilly, Chief Solution Expert for SAP said “most companies I talk to underestimate just how significantly the move to M2M will affect their people, processes and systems.”

 

The M2M conversation is deep and fascinating. Get the whole story on SAP Radio here.

 

Additional information:

 

plane.jpgI know you’ve heard of tree huggers, but have you ever heard of server huggers?

 

I’ve heard this term used to describe businesspeople who refuse to sacrifice their departmental application or database to the (presumed) greater good of cross-company integration.

 

Maybe it’s because the application they are using does more than the one they are being asked to replace it with. Or perhaps they are worried that they will lose access to the data they’ve taken for granted until now. Or maybe they just live by the old “knowledge is power” maxim and don’t want to share.

 

Regardless of the motivation, data and application ownership are big issues when the goal is to integrate a smaller world into a larger one. The tragic failure of U.S. Intelligence agencies to integrate and share information prior to 9/11 is the most dramatic example.

 

But there are others—including one that we should nip in the bud before it becomes an issue: data sharing among the various entities that manage airplane Maintenance and Repair Operations (MRO).

 

Putting all the data together into one place could do a lot of things, as I’ve discussed in this post on Forbes and in a post recently on SCN. Flights could be more timely, more fuel efficient, and most importantly, safer. That’s worth weeding out the server huggers.

 

As our SAP airline industry experts, Wolfgang Ullwer, Sameer Deshpande, and Phil Te Hau told my colleague Stephanie Overby and me recently, the aircraft manufacturers originally positioned themselves as the ones to handle all the data because they could potentially look across a wider set of data than any individual airline. But air carriers—who maintain airplanes from several manufacturers—naturally prefer a single solution for their fleets.

 

Yet it’s important that we take a step back from both those possibilities and consider what would be best for flight crews and passengers—not just the companies involved. There’s a lot at stake here. Here are some of the issues that are emerging as the industry starts to work through the problem:

 

  • Malware threatens control systems. Some next-gen aircraft may have network vulnerabilities that would allow passengers to access control systems, according to the FAA. Airlines, software makers, and aircraft manufacturers are working on data filters and segregation (which have been deployed for military aircraft) in firewalls and physical separation of networks to isolate critical data and address the security concerns of transferring data from back-end systems back to the aircraft. But the issues are not solved yet.
  • Who pays for the data? The greatest benefits will be achieved if historical data on each aircraft model are collected not just across each airline but industry-wide. But the costs of gathering that data could be significant. Who pays for that? And who benefits? Ultimately, air carriers may be willing to pay for services based on the data. Boeing and Airbus, for example, both provide fleet-wide analysis of the data collected to airlines via the cloud. But who’s going to put all that data together? It’s an issue for governments and the industry to decide.
  • Current networks can't handle the data volume. Airlines today are very careful about what data they offload from on-board systems, extracting only the data necessary for manufacturers to address engine issues and structural health management services. That’s because the data being generated by the airplanes is already overwhelming. Ideally, all airport control systems would have wireless connectivity so that the airlines and MRO providers could set up private networks specifically for MRO data transmission. They don’t. The traditional Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) used to deliver information from plane to ground may not be able to handle the data volumes. While real-time broadband downloads would be ideal, air carriers and suppliers are testing cell phone connections and other workarounds for data transmission.

 

What do you think? How have you made data sharing happen among multiple organizations in your experience?

twitter+writer+final.jpgWe’ve all heard a horror story or two of someone famous tweeting before thinking and violating “Twitter Etiquette”, heck most of us have “unfollowed” someone that was just too boring, arrogant, wordy, hashtag-happy, or just plain rude.

This blog isn’t here to catch and criticize those violators, or praise those HANA Hero’s worthy of the Tweet Week Top 5, but instead to spread their content for all to see.  So what makes a top tweet?  Simple, just provide something of value:

1. Customer Stories
2. Humanistic stories
3. Fun Facts/Humor
4. Latest News
5. Competitive Intel

Feel free to make my life easier and increase your chances of becoming a "Tweet Week HANA Hero" by sending me your tweets @airsomers.  And without further hub-hub…

Here are the Top 5 Tweets of the week. Happy Tweeting!
       
3 Billion + Records on SCN!  Sounds like a job for HANA to me.
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Stanford students sought SAP out more than other sponsors to include Facebook & Google!
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If there was an Olympic race for speed in computing, HANA certainly gets the gold!
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Ants, Halo, HANA - What do they have in common?  Swarming power in numbers.
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The coveted english recordings of China Sapphire - thanks Nancy!
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Like many of you I suspect, I feel two things while watching the Olympics: awe from these incomparable athletes, and inspiration to go out and play more and train harder.

 

I haven't yet been able to turn that inspiration into perspiration, though. At the beginning of the summer, I tore my Achilles Tendon while playing tennis (that's the same injury that left China's 2004 Gold Medal hurdler Liu Xiang hopping to the finish line earlier this week). As a result, I've spent the last two months on crutches or on my butt.

 

All I've been able to do is obsessively read about the training regimens of Olympic athletes. In my dreams, I incorporate quick-recovery ice baths and hyperbaric oxygen chambers into my future workouts. Or I fantasize about having a world-class coach and a high-tech training center replete with high-speed cameras and motion sensors at my disposal.

 

Fortunately, there are also a bunch of apps whose cost (free to $10 a month) belie their value to Olympians, many of whom won gold medals with their aid.

 

 

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Coaches for the U.S. Olympic diving team used the PowerChalk app to immediately review video in order to aid in their real-time feedback.

 

Diego Barbieri / Shutterstock.com

 

For skill-based sports - think diving, gymnastics, golf, tennis, etc. - practice makes perfect. Enter video analysis, which has evolved plenty since I was in high school and used an 8 mm camera to tape myself hitting against the tennis ball machine.

 

Today's apps like SwingReader, Ubersense and Coach's Eye let you shoot video on your smartphone or tablet, and then immediately watch your form in slow-motion or side-by-side with other practices. You can also scroll back and forth with a swipe of your finger, draw lines and compute the angle of your golf, baseball or tennis swing, and even share videos with an avid community of other pro or weekend jocks. Here's SwingReader:

 

swingreader

 

SwingReader comes in a free Lite version and paid versions ostensibly targeted at golfers and baseball players. That doesn't stop John Geddert, head coach of the Gold Medal-winning U.S. women's gymnastics team and personal coach of Olympian Jordyn Wieber, from using SwingReader along with Coach's Eye, according to Reuters:

 

"You can see form and execution errors, legs apart or knees bent," explained Geddert, adding that the apps helped him diagnose why a gymnast at the Olympics was not being credited for an element in a routine and make immediate adjustments.

 

SwingReader for golf and baseball each cost $2.99 and work on iOS devices. An HD iPad version of the golf app costs $4.99.

 

Four-time Olympic sprinting medalist from Trinidad and Tobago, Ato Bolden, uses Coach's Eye when he consults as a coach for NFL players. It "is unlike anything that’s ever existed. It allows me not just to tell a guy he had his head or hands out of place — now I can play it back instantly," Bolden told the Mashable blog last month. "I resisted the iPad bandwagon until the new one came out and I had to have the absolute first batch, but it’s transformed the way I coach and broadcast."

 

UberSense, which is owned by the same company that makes SwingReader, is used by the U.S. women's volleyball team to review practices and games. The gold medal favorite, the U.S. women's team is as of this writing in the semi-finals of the competition. UberSense's web site also features testimonials from U.S. national coaches in distance running, cycling, and bobsledding. UberSense costs $4.99.

 

Coaches for the U.S. swimming team, which took home many handfuls of medals from London, use an underwater camera to take video footage that they review with an $0.99 iOS app called VideoPix.

 

National performance advisor Russell Mark said it helps the swimmers master aspects of their technique such as their starts and turns.

Aaron Dziver, one of the coaches behind Canadian synchronized diving bronze medalists Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, is also a fan of VideoPix.

"We can look at the actual technique we're trying to modify in the diver and very quickly show them what they're doing and have them try to focus on a corrected execution," he said.

 

The U.S. trampoline and tumbling team used a free iOS app called Instant Replay Camera, while the coaches of the U.S. Olympic diving team uses one called PowerChalk. Diving coach Drew Johansen credits PowerChalk for being "a huge part of our synchronized teams winning medals.”

 

Unlike the aforementioned apps, PowerChalk comes in PC, Mac and Android versions in addition to the iPhone and iPad. Reportedly also used by major league baseball teams, Powerchalk has a free limited version and a pro version costing $10 a month.

 

The Training's The Thing

 

There are nearly 14,000 consumer fitness apps by one estimate - and that's just on iOS. So there's no shortage of fitness promising to help you build the body of an Olympian. But here are some of the ones actually used by Olympians.

 

TrainingPeaks bills itself as the "the ultimate training & nutrition software." It comes in both athlete and coach editions, and lets users upload data such as heart rate and power from their workouts from nearly 100 digital devices, or type them into any Web-enabled computer, smartphone or tablet.

 

TrainingPeaks is used by Gwen Jorgensen, who finished 38th in the triathlon for the U.S., and Sarah Haskins, an American triathlete who competed in Beijing and just missed out on qualifying for London.

 

Another app, MapMyRide, is used by U.S. Olympic cyclists to help plan practice rides and record their training logs, one U.S. national coach told Reuters. The app comes in free and $2.99 versions and runs on iPhone, Android phones and BlackBerries equipped with GPS.

 

To ensure that they recover from those bodybreaking workouts, some Olympians use sleep monitoring gadgets that track how much they move at night, which translates to a sleep score displayable on an Android or iOS device.  The U.S. Olympics women's cycling team used the Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile app. As someone who's had trouble sleeping well recently - which, ironically, may be caused by my iPhone - I'm strongly considering the Zeo.

 

U.S. men's cyclists, meanwhile, were reportedly using Dexcom glucose monitors in conjunction with a mobile app to track their blood sugar levels.

 

Are there are any other training or fitness apps that you've used that you would recommend?

As far back as 3rd century B.C., there is evidence of business trading networks and routes that dealt in spices, gold nuggets, cocoa and salt. The Silk route in Asia and the Amber road in Europe not only allowed trade of goods but also fostered exchange of ideas and cultures creating an environment where businesses survived and thrived based on the strength of these networks.

 

As old trading routes have given way to new ones, Business Networks have substantially evolved as well. Today, people think of Linked In as a business network where professional information is exchanged with colleagues and business acquaintances. While people and relationships are core to any network, Business Networks retain a much broader value chain that includes suppliers, manufacturers, customers, financial institutions, government and regulatory agencies and the people within each of them.

 

Companies are doing a lot more trading with their networks due to globalized supply chains, but a large majority of the repeatable interactions are now automated. For example, Apple does not need to meet in person with Foxconn, its manufacturer, every time it places an order for thousands of new devices. A simple electronic order completes this notification. Most large companies use business applications like ERP to help enable flow of information with external Business Networks.

Business Network.jpg

For a Business Network to achieve its ultimate goal – enable the exchange of data and information between people and businesses to make them more efficient and productive – several things need to align, thus making them one of the most interesting and technologically complex problems to address.

 

In this upcoming series of blog posts, I plan to explore what the key pillars of a Business Network are, how companies can integrate their business processes with a Business Network and what the future of Business Network looks like. One of the key questions I plan to address is what technological components are needed for a company to participate in a Business Network.

 

Whether looking to understand how to use a Business Network to better manage your Operational Complexity or to start your journey using a connectivity solution, stay tuned to this space. Also be sure to check out the top 10 reasons for simplifying your B2B with SAP.

 

Follow me on Twitter @siddharth31

bizcustblogsl.jpgDrinking my coffee one recent Saturday morning, I was slightly startled by a headline in the weekend Review section of the Wall Street Journal entitled, “The Customer as a God.” Religious considerations aside, I was at once attracted and repelled.

 

But the snarky headline belied the author’s main premise that customers have more power than ever before. And, that power will only grow with the advent of vendor relationship management, a new field that promises to fully empower customers in taking full control of their information. In doing so, the author argued, we’ll break free from the tyranny of siloed privacy policies, multiple loyalty cards, and apps that would change our lives forever--if only we could connect all of our own “big data” to suit ourselves.

 

No doubt framing any situation as an epic struggle, in this case evil business v. vulnerable customer, attracts readers. But it got me thinking. Delivering a more personalized experience is the whole point of managing big data. What’s more, businesses that don’t put the customer first rarely stay intact long-term. I would argue that many successful companies are using not only technology, but practices behind the scenes to design products and services that make customers happier.

 

Case in point is the quiet revolution that’s well underway at SAP, otherwise known as design thinking. In talking with diverse teams in China, India, Germany, and Palo Alto, I’ve concluded they have one thing in common: they want to figure what customers really want by talking with them. What I found most interesting is that designers in the past didn’t necessarily talk with the people who would be using our software. IT departments took the lead in scoping out customers’ demands. Maybe that made sense in earlier times. These days design thinking has changed all that. The buffers are gone. Customers are more assured of getting what they want because they’ve had actual conversations with developers about how they work, their struggles large and small, and the business goals they’re trying to achieve. The dialogue continues within the development team itself. They’re using a process deliberately structured to extract ideas based on the unique expertise of each member. The customer rules while creativity flourishes.

 

Yes, the relationship between businesses and customers has changed and will evolve with new technologies and practices. But the networked, ‘always on’ world is too big for any of us to go it alone. No one group reigns supreme. Companies and customers have to work together.

nongfuspringpicture.jpgNongFu Spring is the largest drinking water company in China, with assets over 10 billion yuan.  With its implementation of SAP HANA in August of 2011, the massive beverage company-with plenty of data- has been able to accelerate essential processes by up to 300 percent. After almost one year of success under SAP HANA, NongFu Spring is working with the software to develop a new mobile application so staff members can have real-time data access on-the-go.

 

 

Before sticking with HANA, it took more than a day for NongFu Spring to access its point-of-sales and channel sales data.  As a leading beverage business with copious amounts of incoming data-often related to inventory and freight-this made it nearly impossible for NongFu Spring to develop and display up-to-date business insights and take action accordingly.   With an Oracle data warehouse, NongFu Spring faced challenges largely attributed to slow processing of the immense amount of data that it acquired throughout its operation.  NongFu Spring needed faster processing of its information in order to make quick decisions that generate successful business.

 

 

NongFu Spring and its CIO Patrick Hoo recognized the value of the SAP’s emerging in-memory database HANA in August of 2011.  Although NongFu Spring intended to merely test the software, Hoo announced that NongFu Spring would adopt SAP HANA into its day-to-day operation just a few weeks after testing began. “We are so satisfied with the operation and speed of the entire implementation,” Said Hoo.  The CIO of NongFu Spring found that SAP HANA performed as a comprehensive and sophisticated database solution to the big data challenges that NongFu Spring encountered while operating under Oracle. 

 

 

NongFu Spring’s customer base data took two or three days to analyze prior to 2011, which often slowed business accomplishment and hindered quick decision making.  With the in-memory database that SAP HANA has provides, however, NongFu Spring can retrieve data about their customer base in as little as five seconds.  NongFu Spring’s adoption of HANA changed the dynamics of the corporation; with data production accelerating by 200% to 300% and efficient business logic calculations, which are key to the success of NongFu Spring, producing at much faster rates.  These technological upgrades are vital to the success of NongFu Spring.  By having data available two to three times faster, HANA-run NongFu executives can make quick decisions based on both market and customer behavior. 

 

 

Freight calculation procedures and functions took 24 hours to execute prior to Hoo’s partnership with HANA and are now completed in as little as 37 seconds.  With faster freight data processing, Nongfu reduces its account reconciliation process and the costs associated with it by one whole day.  HANA-run NongFu Spring operates with a reduced potential for mistakes as well as a reduced maintenance cost, benefiting NongFu Spring as a company as well its bottled water consumers. 

 

 

Patrick Hoo now seeks to extend the benefits of in-memory data through HANA via a mobile business solution.  Recognizing the benefit of having access to real-time data through HANA software, NongFu Spring has been developing mobile applications that are set to be deployed on various mobile devices like Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry. 

 

 

Mobile applications that run on SAP HANA, like those in development by NongFu Spring, will allow sales teams and executives to receive and analyze retail store information whenever they choose. Mobile devices running on HANA can also provide location data to manage the efficiency of direct sales, track daily work, and monitor performance, which clearly simplifies employee workload and reduces the cost inflicted on companies such as NongFu Spring.  These HANA-run applications will enable NongFu Spring staff members to have access to real-time data on the run and will surely facilitate better business for companies employing them.

shared.jpgWith the SAP Shared Service Framework software, the SAP's Global HR organization consolidated its shared services into a single infrastructure. As a result, Global HR has made processes leaner and now gives SAP employees greater transparency into their interactions with HR and HRdirect, an important internal channel for HR services. The organization can also use the installation to show customers and prospects the power of this software within a global company with tens of thousands of employees around the world.

 

Joerg Staff, HR's chief operating officer (COO), sponsored the project that led to the installation of SAP Shared Service Framework within Global HR. "With this rollout, we could address significant improvement needs from our customer and the internal HR team," he explains. "We expect the changes to become clearly visible and have tangible impact on all employees using HRdirect. And considering the frequent sales support activities of the HR teams, we are very excited to be able to demo the latest SAP technology. Our customers are very interested to see how SAP runs their HR processes and how our products support this. They naturally expect us to be on the latest releases having all innovations implemented."

  

Bringing faster help closer

 

With the previous solution that HR used, employees might have been stuck opening multiple tickets through the HRdirect process for a single issue: one for the initial query, then a new one for each follow-up question.

  

Thanks to the new software, employees can simply reopen a single HR ticket whenever they require further clarification, with the same HR employee helping each step of the way. Also, when employees confirm their tickets, they can immediately participate in an online survey to rate their satisfaction with HR's service. (Previously, the survey would come via e-mail a day later when the issue was no longer fresh in a person's mind.)

 

Another new feature: In aligning with all other service lines at SAP, the full name of the HR colleague who handled the ticket will be visible to the person who submitted it. In the past, employees would only see the first name and initial of the last name of the HR processor who worked on that particular ticket. By giving the processor's full name, Global HR hopes to make the experience more personal, removing any anonymity and maintaining transparency throughout the entire process.

 

At your (shared) service

  

SAP employees aren't the only people who benefit from the implementation of SAP Shared Service Framework. The software should also make life easier for the hundreds of people in HR's shared services centers: centralized locations staffed with HR professionals who respond to regional HR questions.

 

For one thing, the solution has shortened overall process times by cutting back the number of fields in which HR employees need to enter information. HR experts now enjoy faster workflows with fewer clicks and less typing, so they can turn around tickets more quickly — another plus for all SAP employees. And since reopened tickets will go back to the same HR professionals, the experts will already be familiar with the initial issue. They won't need to do research to get caught up on a problem that another HR colleague might have addressed earlier.

 

A leaner ticket tool isn't the only improvement. HRdirect employees now have a softphone solution too. Through a special headset, they can make and take calls with their laptops. This means they don't need to be in a services center to process tickets and chat with SAP employees. Independent from desk phones, they can flexibly work from a home office.

 

Keeping up with the competition

 

Although HR installed SAP Shared Service Framework, an SAP shared services center may handle much more than human resources — particularly a multifunctional shared services center that covers the responsibilities of several departments, such as finance and administration. It's not uncommon for employees to contact these centers with questions about travel and other topics that don't fall under HR. The leaner systems allow HR professionals to handle these requests more quickly as well, even if it's just a matter of putting the employee in touch with the right expert.

 

Over time, the scalability of the solution may make it easier to bring to other departments as well. And to other companies. Smaller acquisitions often bring new staff to SAP, and SAP Shared Service Framework allows HR to serve more with less. Put another way, the company can grow without increasing HR administration for each acquisition.

  

Acquisitions make SAP more competitive, but for the HR organization, competition comes in a different form: seeing how it measures up against other HR teams.

 

SAP's Global HR organization participates in external events and compares its own efficiency against industry benchmarks. When administering cases — handling everything from answering questions about vacation balance to responding to concerns about pay — HR can now show a decrease in end-to-end duration: the total period from when the ticket opens to when it closes. And that's not just a decrease compared to HR's previous performance for a similar case; it's a decrease compared to industry standards.

  

Showing how SAP runs SAP

  

SAP Shared Service Framework is just one part of the overall implementation — albeit the largest one. The solution runs on top of a Sybase database, and the SAP HANA platform speeds up the reports. Elsewhere, HR executives can use a mobile app on an iPad device to check up on operation results, running analytics on everything from number of active tickets to process times.

 

Collectively, SAP CRM, SAP Shared Service Framework, SAP HANA, and other SAP offerings deliver a perfect storm of SAP ingenuity. Members of the sales team can bring customers to the shared services center and demonstrate the latest SAP technology working efficiently on a global scale.

 

"We are now able to show our customers that running SAP software for shared services centers makes their business better," says Jutta Schneider, head of Field Services for DACH. "We are hosting several customer visits to our BSCE [Business Service Center Europe] location in Prague each month — including many global players doing business in the EMEA region and beyond. They will be excited to see how our newest technologies can drive shared services centers that administer over 55,000 employees."

 

SAP employees should be excited as well, Joerg adds. In his eyes, these latest installations score a definite win-win for the company.

   

"This project is transforming the way SAP delivers HR services to employees," Joerg says. "It increases customer-centricity and efficiency of HR services. It will help achieve greater transparency and faster time to value for both SAP HR and the employees."

Twenty miles from Manhattan, New Jersey's Seton Hall University is offering about 2,500 students, including all incoming freshmen and junior students, the choice of either a Samsung Series 7 tablet or Samsung Series 5 ultrabook running Windows 8 Release Preview version, as well as Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phones.

 

The laptops and tablets will be updated to the official RTM (Release To Manufacturing) of Windows 8 after its release on October 26.

 

Seton Hall is going all-in on Microsoft. It's also using Office 365 for education for e-mail and other collaboration. While I think the school's move has some short-term merits, I also think it unwisely bucks long-term trends because of a false assumption.

 

Here are the good things. Apart from Microsoft, all of the relevant vendors are within an hour's drive of Seton Hall. The North American headquarters for Samsung and Nokia as well as AT&T's historic headquarters are all less than 50 miles from Seton Hall's South Orange campus (AT&T is the main systems integrator).

 

samsung series 7

Samsung's Windows 8 tablet is a great piece of hardware that also happens to cost more than twice as much as an iPad.

 

Also, as a "First Wave" beta tester of Windows 8, Seton Hall is receiving "great support" from Microsoft, CIO Stephen Landry told CIO magazine.

"We had a list of what we thought was wrong. And the patches came. That gave me comfort. And 99 percent of our issues were resolved with the Windows 8 Release Preview. It was ultimately enough of a game-changer for us on tablets."

 

Seton Hall seems to have done its due dilligence. As you can see from my iPad deployment list, as well as Seton Hall's own SHUmobile information page, it has experimented with Nokia smartphones, Amazon Kindles, iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablets.

 

From those tests and more, Seton Hall officials say they chose Windows 8 because:

 

1) Windows 8's strong enterprise features, including its manageability via Active Directory and Group Policy;

 

2) Problems distributing apps to large groups on the iPad;

 

3) Apple's lack of enterprise-wide warranties for its iPads, making the process of getting support cumbersome, according to Landry.

 

Bucking BYOD and Other Trends

 

But there are also tactical disadvantages of going Windows 8. Based on list prices, deploying 2,500 Samsung Windows 8 tablets (the lower-end one is $1,100) would cost the university about $1.5 million more than buying the same number of $499 iPads ($2.75 million versus $1.25 million). That's a big chunk of change.

 

Now, Seton Hall may hope that by standardizing on Windows 8, it will be able to save money by avoiding the need to invest in new management software.

If you are a large enterprise that is married to Microsoft technologies such as Active Directory and System Center, as Seton Hall apparently is, that might be possible - but only in the short run.

 

Think of the overwhelming preference of consumers and enterprises, especially schools and universities, for iPads today. Apple sold 1 million iPads for educational use its most recent quarter. Or the huge popularity of Android smartphones.

 

While Seton Hall students will love being handed free hardware, my guess is that they will quickly tire of having to lug multiple phones or tablets around in their backpacks. And they won't be happy if their iPhones and Google Nexus tablets are treated as second-class citizens compared to Windows devices, actively blocked or even hunted down as security risks.

 

Any of those moves smack of the command-and-control management style that is going out of vogue among CIOs in favor of the user-centric one that accomodates BYOD, the Consumerization of IT and other trends. Try to go that route, and a CIO risks creating an enduser revolt that would look something like this:

 

workers flags

 

 

So if restricting devices and apps is not the way to go, what to do? Well, you'll probably want to add multi-platform Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Enterprise App Platform (MEAP) software in order to manage and control the iPads and Android devices hitting your networks.

 

In terms of features and power, most MDM and MEAP software are true peers with one-platform solutions such as System Center or RIM. This includes Android, provided the right MDM software and hardware are deployed together.

 

Ultimately, my view is that Windows 8 will be a great platform and will have many fans. But it will only be ONE of several technologies that enterprises will need to manage and support in the modern age. Enforcing a single-platform mobile strategy is both quixotic and wrong.

bigpoint.jpgHave you been following the incredible momentum of SAP HANA and the top trending news of the NBA? Not being a sporting fan, I was intrigued and wanted to understand the reason for the excitement. What I discovered is quite remarkable: The NBA has 4.5 quadrillion segments of statistical data and with SAP HANA it can potentially offer real-time analysis to millions of fans. Not just the basic historical analytics but also advanced predictive analytics. The bottom line is that NBA fans can now become immersed in games like never before.

 

 

So how can you re-energize your business with SAP HANA just like the NBA? Here are a few examples featured in the SAP HANA use case repository that might inspire you.

 

  • Real-time offer Management: The challenge with on-line gaming is how to monetize products to generate revenue.  Bigpoint is a gaming company that offers Battlestar Galactica Online which has over 250 million registered users with over 60 online games generating 5000 events per second during a game. Using the speed of HANA they can analyze player behavior patterns to deliver personalized context relevant offers thus enabling them monetize their products and generate revenue.


 

 

  • Genome Analysis: The challenge with treating cancer is that we each have a very unique response to the disease and its treatment. With three billion base pairs that make up the DNA present in humans, Genome analysis is not only critical to diagnosing and treating patients but also requires huge volumes of genome data to be analyzed very quickly. MKI is an organization that offers cloud-based genome analytic services and can use the speed of HANA to provide results of analysis to doctors before the patient leaves the hospital at the end of the day.


 

 

  • Offer Performance Management. The challenge for Telco’s is today is combatting customer churn and non-renewal of lucrative multi-year subscriber contracts. Increased creation of promotional offers is just part of the answer. They also need to understand what is adopted or rejected by the subscribers in real-time. T-Mobile is able to use rapid analytics with HANA to quickly fine tune current and future campaigns.  

 

 

When it comes to the exciting possibilities of SAP HANA, the sky is the limit. Do you have an idea? Don’t delay, share your use case today.

 

Follow me on Twitter @rukso

Lai1.jpgWhen it came to letting students choose a major, my college put the liberal in liberal arts.

 

You could be like me, and be on track for one degree for your first two years, before switching halfway through your junior year (and still finish on time). You could be like my masochistic friends who exercised their left and right brains by double majoring in a humanities AND a science. The more esoteric - "Japanese Literature" and "Molecular Biology," for instance - the better.

 

Or you could be like my pal who somehow convinced THREE departments to grant him a piece of paper.

 

And then there were my friends who ended up going the "inter-disciplinary" route (we would've called it Mashing Up Majors but DJ culture wasn't big yet). Sometimes they were pre-existing tracks: "Philosophy, Politics and Economics" was one, or "Science, Technology and Society."

 

My more free-thinking friends, though, created their own majors by cobbling together their favorite classes from multiple departments, picking a thesis advisor enthusiastic about their genre-breaking interests, and then giving it a fancy name. "Linguistics and History of the Third World," anyone? However dismissive I might've been sometimes, I also envied the fun and passion for learning they brought to each and everyone of their classes.

 

I was reminded of all this while attending the SAP Innovation Day at its Palo Alto campus on Thursday. As is well-known, SAP sees its business as having five distinct 'pillars' - its core business applications plus newer areas such as mobile (Sybase and Syclo), analytics (BusinessObjects), database and technology (Hana) and cloud (Successfactors, Business ByDesign and Ariba).

 

Individually, each of these technologies can have a huge positive impact on companies. But SAP and its partners are also mashing up technologies to create tailored solutions that promise greater ROI for enterprises, while delighting end users.

 

As Sven Denecken, vice-president for co-innovation with the SAP cloud business unit, put it: "All cloud solutions should be developed for mobile first. Or mobile should be brought to the cloud."

 

Take SAP Personas, a coming initiative to let corporate workers easily customize the UI of their SAP enterprise application. This is aimed less at expert users who long ago memorized all of the default fields and commands of a particular SAP application, and more at vast majority "of occasionally-connected users who want a radical new user experience but with consistent workflows," said Denis Browne, Senior Vice-President and Head of Imagineering at SAP.

 

According to Tom Rodden, director of applications at Varian Medical Systems, allowing end users to revamp their screens helped reduce both user complaints and actual mistakes, and made them faster at using the app. Read this blog or this Slideshare presentation to learn more.

 

Or take the way SAP is helping organizations crunch data in unprecedented ways. The NBA will satisfy stat hounds and fantasy league players by delivering game and player statistics in real-time using multiple SAP software, including Hana, BusinessObjects and BusinessObjects Explorer.

 

According to Amit Sinha, vice-president at SAP, there are 37 startups using Hana in innovative ways ranging from helping online game operators offer personalized deals to players to firms improving airport security.

 

(Pictured: SAP will help satisfy NBA stat hounds who absolutely must know at any given moment how many Assists Per Game Dwyane Wade has.)

                                                                                                                                                                         

Lai2.jpg

For example, take cloud-based social media analytics firm NextPrinciples is using Hana to instantly analyze the Facebook 'likes' and tweets of customers inside a retail store, so as to arm salespeople with information they can use on the salesfloor.

 

Or Taulia, which is letting suppliers analyze risk every single time it extends credit to customers. That allows them to create more accurate payment terms - credit terms are usually based on a customer's overall risk, which may outdated or based on dollar amounts and other conditions that don't apply in a particular scenario, said Joe Hyland, a senior director at Taulia. By helping companies create more precise loans to customers, Taulia's Hana-powered cloud application can help them  boost revenue and minimize losses.

 

Another way SAP is encouraging innovation doesn't involve a product. In Stanford professor Jay Borenstein's Computer Science 210 class this spring, students created an application under the mentorship of a Silicon Valley vendor. Borenstein says he was mildly surprised to find that SAP was actually sought out more by students than FaceBook, Google and other sponsors.

 

That proved smart: the five students mentored by two SAP employees - mobility strategy vice-president Tony Kueh and retail principal Carol MacKenzie - built in one semester a social shopping Web site called Boutique.ly. A sort of Pinterest that rewards pinners with cash or digital currency every time one of their friends or followers buys something, Boutique.ly was chosen by other computer science students as the best project.

 

Some of the students behind Boutique.ly are continuing its development in a VC-sponsored incubator while seeking seed money, according to Kueh.

 

Besides preaching the merits of gamification and design thinking to its customers and partners, SAP is applying them in-house. See this video on SAP's consumer mobile apps unit, App Haus, which tries to go from concept to finished app within 90 days.

yankee.jpgI recently took my family to a New York Yankee game. Even though it was hot and humid, and my kids were cranky, I still had an amazing time. There’s not a bad seat in the house, the staff is friendly and helpful and when the going gets too hot, there’s plenty of shady shelter available. This same attention to delivering a great guest experience embodies the SAP Suite Level within Yankee Stadium, where yours truly nabbed an exclusive tour.

 

My New York Yankee tour guide first leads me to a nearby elevator where he points out the first instance of “SAP Suite Level” branding, clearly engraved both outside and inside the elevator. Stepping off the elevator and into SAP’s Suite Level, it feels bright, clean and airy. “SAP Suite Level” welcomes guests above a large door.

 

Doors play a major branding role throughout the SAP Suite Level.  In addition to the 64 different suite doors, there are various entrances/exits throughout the level to think about. There’s also the SAP Suite Lounge and SAP Board Room – the latter is a spacious meeting room situated off the lounge with tall windows that overlook the Gate 4 entrance to Yankee Stadium. All clearly labeled with SAP branding.

 

Plenty of subtle touches are sprinkled throughout the SAP Suite Level that ties together the obvious branding elements. Intriguing New York Yankees factoids are situated outside each suite door. Small SAP logos remain static on flat screen TV’s. A kiosk in the SAP Lounge allows guests to play out statistical baseball scenarios (yes, it runs SAP software). SAP is printed on SAP Suite Level tickets.


None of it feels obtrusive. SAP and the New York Yankees have done a masterful job of humanizing the SAP brand by weaving it into a high-traffic area that’s home to one the most iconic franchises in the history of sports.

 

"We are very excited about our expanded 2012 partnership with SAP,” said Michael J. Tusiani, New York Yankees Senior Vice President, Corporate Sales and Sponsorships. “It is a fully integrated relationship - from the entitlement of our Luxury Suite Level and prominent signage to promotional rights and premium hospitality."

 

Now that’s what I call a home run.

 

 

(View the slideshow from my tour right here)

Sapphire_Keynote_Snabe.jpgSAP SAPPHIRE NOW was ranked as the Most Innovative Event of 2012 by BizBash, defeating the TED Conference and Oracle’s OpenWorld.

 

BizBash drew attention to the innovations that make SAPPHIRE NOW an unmatched experience and highlighted SAP’s visionary approach to state-of-the-art hybrid events. In particular, with the SAP Virtual Events Platform and through the use of social media, SAP provides its customers and partners with the freedom to “experience” SAP events including SAPPHIRE NOW anytime, anywhere. People who weren’t in Orlando in May don't have to miss out, as there is still time to take part in SAP’s flagship event via SAPPHIRE NOW Online.

 

“It’s incredibly gratifying to be recognized as the Most Innovative Event of 2012 beating out both TED and Oracle OpenWorld,” said Jonathan Becher, CMO.  “SAPPHIRE NOW is a revenue-driving event but it’s also a perception driver.  We want people to walk away saying, ‘Wow – I didn’t know SAP did that.’  Our goal was to bring SAP’s innovation to life and this honor is evidence we succeeded.”

 

Event Continuum

 

Every year, SAP welcomes thousands to experience SAPPHIRE NOW.  Although the physical event takes place in Orlando, SAP broadcasts keynotes, campus theater presentations, and interviews with customers and analysts to the SAP ecosystem worldwide. With online content and eight SAP Ambassadors reporting from the show floor, the event experience extends far beyond the confines of the Orange County Convention Center. 

 

There is no “closing time” with SAPPHIRE NOW. While those in Orlando headed for home after three days, SAPPHIRE NOW continues to teem with life as customers, partners, and employees access an array of on-demand content through SAPPHIRE NOW Online.

 

Scott Schenker, Vice President of Global Events, explains: “72 hours is the old model. The new model is that SAPPHIRE NOW is always up. Accessing components of SAP events on sapphirenow.com and YouTube is just as easy as locating aged news stories and viral videos on the web.” 

 

Part of SAPPHIRE NOW’s attraction is its ease of use. Navigation is easy within the SAP Virtual Events Platform as one can quickly zero in on content about a specific software product, or watch a customer interview again. There are a lot of user-friendly options. For instance, one can take a cue from previous attendees and check out the most viewed content.

 

SAPPHIRE NOW has achieved impressive viewership. In May alone, over 75,000 customers, partners, and co-innovators came together in person, online, and through social media to discuss, discover, and employ the business technology that SAP provides.  With over 100 million social media impressions including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube tracked to date, the SAPPHIRE NOW experience continues connecting SAP’s worldwide audience.

twitter writer final.jpg
We’ve all heard a horror story or two of someone famous tweeting before thinking and violating “Twitter Etiquette”, heck most of us have “unfollowed” someone that was just too boring, arrogant, wordy, hashtag-happy, or just plain rude.
This blog isn’t here to catch and criticize those violators, or praise those HANA Hero’s worthy of the Tweet Week Top 5, but instead to spread their content for all to see.  So what makes a top tweet?  Simple, just provide something of value:
1. Customer Stories
2. Feel good humanistic stories
3. Fun Facts/Humor
4. Latest News
5. Competitive Intel
Feel free to make my life easier and increase your chances of becoming a "Tweet Week HANA Hero" by sending me your tweets @airsomers.  And without further hub-hub…

Here are the Top 5 Tweets of the week:
Happy Tweeting!
       
I can see this number doubling and then quadrupling in no time!
tweetweek1.jpg.png
Jocks & Geeks unite for all of the fans to cheer!
tweetweek2.jpg.png
Gotta love replacing the bad guy, it never gets old!
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Code Jam at NSQ! Even as a non-technical guy, this article resonated
tweetweek4.jpg.png
The “ear to ear” smile of HANA’s proud father!  Looking forward to the english replays.
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SAP Radio Coffee Break with Game-Changers Logo-121211.JPG“The winners in retail today are retailers who understand that the customer calls the shots,” stated Christine B. Whittemore live on SAP Radio July 25, 2012. And she is dead-on with my experience. What she’s saying is social-minded customers are probably not sharing the bells and whistles you crammed into a tiny widget, they are more likely sharing the experiences they had (good and bad) dealing with your company’s customer service, web site, warranty program or product quality. SAP Radio host Bonnie D. Graham set-up the conversation saying, “Today, it’s tougher than ever before to turn customers and prospects into loyal evangelists for your brand.”

 

Hard sell marketing tactics are a turn-off for social media savvy consumers and they are far ahead of the curve when it comes to knowing a product’s features and functionality. And even before your product hits the market, consumers may know a lot about it, as was the infamous case recently with the iPhone left in a bar. An extreme case for sure, but it underscores the tenacity of the social-minded consumer.

 

There are many products with good functionality, but what gives one retailer an advantage over another?  In the social space it’s education, communities and service, according to recent SAP Radio thought leader panelists.

 

Customer loyalty factors are also in play as described by Mark Johnson, President and CEO of Loyalty 360.

 

Lisa Joy Rosner, Chief Marketing Officer at social intelligence company NetBase, supports the power of the consumer seeing the social market from the flip side, also known as customer to business (C2B).

 

Brian Kilcourse, Managing Partner at Retail Systems Research, brought a wealth of data to the topic of brand management and customer experience.

 

Jon Wurfl, Retail Solution Principal at SAP, gave sage advice to retailers on how to convert “tire kickers” into evangelists.

 

Listen to the full show here and feel free to Tweet your comments to #SAPRadio.

 

What was your best and/or worst personal retail experience? Sound off in the comment section below.

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