Jan Grasshoff

Love one another or die

Posted by Jan Grasshoff Dec 27, 2012

A lot of us talk about diversity in terms of statistics or activities, but we need more than just awareness to make a difference. To me, diversity means taking on the mindset that we must love one another or die. Watch my video blog to learn what I mean and how diversity helps bring a better world for all of us.



Do you agree that diversity drives creativity and innovation? What are you doing to promote diversity in your team or organization and what are the impacts of your actions? Please share your ideas.


Learn more about what SAP employees are doing to support diversity in the workplace, check out the It Gets Better: SAP Employees Film.

“Companies that have embraced the future have been rewarded,” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said on Mad Money, highlighting SAP’s forward-thinking mindset -- and rising stock price. “The company’s last quarter -- it was fabulous -- it was the best third quarter in its history.”


Predictions 2013 Big Data 12-26-2012-AThe 40-year-old enterprise software provider is also poised for a bright 2013 thanks to the past year’s initiatives, including:


  • SAP HANA’s market blitz
  • Focus on mobility with integrating Sybase
  • Acquisition of cloud computing powerhouse Ariba.


Walldorf-based SAP does not even seem to be weighed down by faltering European economies.


“If companies have less revenue, they’ve got to reset their core space, and they’re going to have to do more with less,” SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott told Cramer last month. “Software from SAP is going to help them do that.”


The Data is in the Details


The doubling of the world’s data every 18 months holds tremendous potential for SAP in 2013.


“Big Data could be huge this year,” Barry Trailer of CSO Insights told SAP’s Bonnie D. Graham during last week’s 2013 Predictions episode of her weekly Coffee Break with Game-Changers. “But people have to figure out how to use it.”


Indeed, enterprises must quickly and efficiently sift the good, useable information from the torrent of irrelevant data that inundates them. But that is often difficult for organizations to do, as The Financial Times pointed out this month, especially when so many vendors seem confused themselves.


“It’s probably a good idea to manage that Big Data and have that crystal ball for the enterprise, which is SAP HANA,” McDermott told Cramer. “You bring all the data -- structured and unstructured -- into main memory so you can Google your data.”


Predictions 2013 Big Data 12-26-2012-BIt may sound elementary, but many employees around the world cannot easily search their own organizations’ databases the way they can browse the Web via search engines at home. The remedy stems from SAP’s 2012 innovations in its in-memory database platform, not to mention cloud, mobile, applications and analytics.


“There’s a lot of evolution in HANA,” SAP Executive Board Member Vishal Sikka told SAP TV. “It’s like this little girl that I have who is running so fast, and we are just trying to keep up with her.”


Ready To Run


For 2013, Sikka and his crew may have to accelerate to the clip of the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice.


Fantasy Football for the NFL will be run on SAP HANA in the cloud,” McDermott told Cramer, peering into his own crystal ball. “Now you’ve got people getting immediate answers to their questions; you get your favorite players; you pick your favorite teams; NFL wins the game and you’re a happy fan.”


But reaching the end zone isn’t likely to stop SAP in 2013.


“It’s not done,” Cramer said of SAP’s surging share price. “It’s got room to run.”


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McDermott on CNBC’s Mad Money” by SAP TV


Questions raised over power of big data” by April Dembosky, Richard Waters and Emily Steel


Review 2012: A Truly Amazing Year for SAP” by SAP TV

watch 2013.jpg

It is customary in all forms of communications to do a year-end review and predict what is coming up in the New Year. Normally you get someone’s top 10 predictions, but that stale model was too tame for Bonnie D. Graham, host of SAP Radio’s Coffee Break with Game-Changers. Instead, she proved that she was up to the task of presenting listeners with a grab-bag of 70 predictions from 14 experts in the span of one smart, provocative and high-energy 57-minute show. Her guest experts offered hand-picked game-changing trends in business and articulated how technology enables better business processes from the back office to the field - including mobility, social, localization and globalization (retooled as ‘Glocalization’ by SAP’s Sven Denecken), big data vs. good data, collaboration and culture, and so much more. No matter your interest, you are sure to hear a meaty prediction that could change the course of your company, your industry or your career.


The list of experts is a Who’s Who of analysts, influencers, researchers and consultants. Savor their predictions here.


And tune in for part 2 December 26th at 11 am ET.



List of experts in order of appearance:


Emily Jasper

William “Bill” Newman

Anneke Seley

Bob Nicols

Sven Denecken

Roy Illsley

Cindi Howson

Tom Suder

Jesús Hoyos

Bill Tallent

Christine B. Whittemore

Rob Harles

Stuart Ravens

retail.jpgBusinesses involved in the e-commerce sector may have already experienced good results in the last few weeks, as new figures have shown the popularity of this channel in the UK is on the rise, with firms seeing record sales.


In fact, statistics published this week by IMRG and Capgemini showed November was the biggest ever month for e-commerce, with the sector reporting total sales of £8.4 billion - a 18 per cent year-on-year increase and a 25 per cent rise from October.


And the good news for online retailers is this strength is set to continue. Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said the figures give a clear indication of what can be expected for the year's peak shopping weeks in December.


As a result of the high demand, many firms may have been able to benefit from cloud-based management software that can help them keep control of their operations and give them the agility they need to respond to the spike in popularity of e-commerce.


These tools are able to manage all aspects of a firm's processes, from the supply chain to customer relationship management, so will surely be particularly useful to retailers that need to ramp up their operations quickly in response to the higher than expected Christmas demand.


However, businesses shouldn't think now the peak shopping says have passed, the opportunity to make sales is gone. IMRG estimated that 2012 will be the biggest year ever for post-Christmas online shopping, with 126 million visits to UK e-commerce websites expected to be seen on Boxing Day alone as people seek out bargains.


This will be a 31 per cent increase from the same day last year and even outpace the recent record-breaking Cyber Monday by 14 million visits. Therefore, it's vital you have the right software solutions in place to manage your ecommerce businesses if you want to take full advantage of this anticipated rush.


A total of £472.5 million is expected to be spend online on Boxing Day, but it was also noted many people will not even wait this long, as IMRG stated £307 million with be spent over the internet on Christmas Day itself.



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272690_h_srgb_s_gl.jpgNew research has revealed a large amount of the information generated by businesses around the world is being wasted as companies are not analysing it adequately.


The 2012 Digital Universe Study, conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) on behalf of big data specialist EMC, revealed that in 2012, it is expected users around the world will create 2.8 trillion gigabytes of information.


Of this, IDC estimated around a quarter could deliver real-terms value to companies if it is properly tagged and evaluated - with this set to rise to a third by 2020 - but much of this potential is said to be going unused.


In fact, only three per cent of the data collected is tagged and prepared for manipulation, but even among this, just one-sixth is actually reviewed fully. This means just 0.5 per cent of all data generated is analysed.


Therefore, there's great potential for businesses to boost their operations in this area and achieve results that can be used to identify where improvements can be made. As the study found that by 2020, 40 per cent of data is expected to be stored or processed in the cloud at some point, firms may benefit hugely from cloud-based software packages that feature built-in analytics solutions, such as SAP Business ByDesign.


Jeremy Burton, executive vice-president of Product Operations and Marketing for EMC, was quoted by the Guardian as saying: "As the volume and complexity of data barraging businesses from all angles increases, IT organisations have a choice: they can either succumb to information-overload paralysis, or they can take steps to harness the tremendous potential teeming within all of those data streams."

This potential will be seen in the fact investment in analytics technologies is set to grow to $16.9 billion (£10.39 billion) by 2015 - a five-fold increase from 2010.

However, firms looking to make the most of this also need to be careful, as the need for robust security measures will grow over the next few years. Currently, IDC noted around one-third of data is classed as private, custodial or confidential and therefore requiring tough security measures. However, this is set to increase to 40 per cent by the end of the decade.



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273909_l_srgb_s_gl.jpgThe next 12 months is set to see a fundamental shift in the way firms use enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology, which will lead to suppliers reassessing their offerings.


This is according to analyst at Forrester Research China Martens, who said 2013 is set to be a good year for businesses looking for these tools due to a range of new deployment options and a wider range of applications.


She observed one key trend is that there will be greater opportunities for companies to access cloud-based ERP solutions. This could be highly useful to many firms, as this can help boost agility, improve efficiencies and cut costs much more than more traditional tools.


Ms Martens said the demand for this has been reflected by the fact ERP vendors are going "all in" with their commitment to cloud technology. At the centre of this will be software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that could help businesses take better control over all aspects of their operations. This market was fleshed out in
2012 with a greater range of solutions and this is set to continue into 2013, the analyst predicted.


One key area within this is likely to be SaaS financials, which Ms Martens identified as a market that is set to be in high demand from enterprise customers of all sizes.


"While some organisations may never move their financials to SaaS, others will look to fully replace on-premises apps with SaaS," she said, adding that a third option for some larger firms is a hybrid solution, where cloud tools are used at the divisional or
business unit level, with corporate headquarters retaining on-premises


The third key trend picked out by Forrester as likely to have a big impact in the coming 12 months is social collaboration and engagement. In the past, these tools have tended to be little more than 'Facebook for enterprise' solutions, but 2013 is likely to see vendors doing more to offer unique features that are better able to help employees across all areas of a business work together on projects to meet a common goal.

An off-duty law enforcement officer averted further bloodshed last weekend when she stopped a gunman in a San Antonio cinema. The shooter had already wounded two people and fired upon a marked police car when the officer took action, according to San Antonio Express-News.


Situational Awareness 12-20-2012-A.jpgThe yet-to-be-identified officer recognized signs of trouble from outside the theater, evaluated the safety concerns of innocent civilians around her and took appropriate action. All the while she displayed keen situational awareness, detecting anomalies early and acting fast to prevent disaster.


“Situational awareness is essential for police officers,” Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told SAP TV. “It’s extremely important for them to have access to real-time data so that they can prepare, plan and perform.”


This is especially true when employing situational awareness to protect millions of people at once, such as deterring threats at the London 2012 Olympic Games. It can also be useful in the wake of tragedy.


Time is of the Essence


Situational Awareness 12-20-2012-B.jpgAn Oklahoma state trooper stopped one of the Oklahoma City bombers for a routine traffic violation less than 90 minutes after the devastating attack in 1995 (pictured). The bomber soon drove away free and clear because the trooper had no way of knowing whom he had stopped.


Today he would have.


SAP Situational Awareness can help agencies improve their available information to sense, predict and act in real time. It facilitates rapid decision making with technology that includes:


  • SAP HANA: provides insight from massive amounts of incoming public safety data
  • SAP Business Objects BI: delivers information to command-and-control centers
  • SAP Sybase Mobile platform: makes data accessible to police officers and first responders via mobile devices, helping them to better anticipate and respond to rapidly evolving situations


These real-time decision-making capabilities can expedite dissemination of disaster information. One common picture can emerge between all levels of an organization -- and between all agencies involved in the response. And first responders can act more effectively to save lives, reduce harm and minimize loss.


An Ounce of Prevention


“Police officers on the ground are there to prevent and detect crime,” Andrew Watson of Greater London’s Metropolitan Police Service told SAP TV. “We should be giving them as much information about the situation they’re in as they need.”


Getting all of the relevant information to prevent crime requires collecting and analyzing far greater amounts of data very quickly. Joining people, process and information can help security agencies deliver a higher level of safety and security to their citizens.


Technology companies must present the data to authorities in a way that they can best use it. SAP does so graphically.


Graphic Crime Scene


Situational Awareness 12-20-2012-C.jpg“Real-time intelligence can curb a terrorist threat or attack,” according to Parmananda Thangjam and Rukhshaan Omar in a use-case of SAP’s Anti-Terrorism Squad solution (pictured). “The objective is to [neutralize] the terrorists with real-time intelligence and 360 degree vigilance.”


Law enforcement agencies can analyze how a specific terrorist outfit operates using real-time information about terrorist attacks anywhere in the world via this SAP technology, which is similar to that used in the company’s Situational Awareness solution. Further study of terrorist violence can help authorities avoid future attacks. So can better control and coordination of real-time information over secure mobile networks.


“The ability to run reports in minutes rather than hours -- or the ability to generate responses to simple queries in seconds rather than minutes -- is where the Big Data tools really come into their own,” MPS’ Watson said. “If it makes policing more efficient and more effective, then it makes London and the other places we police safer.”


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Real-Time Situational Awareness” by Rukhshaan Omar and Gonda Marcusse


Defence & Public Security Analytics” by Parmananda Thangjam and Rukhshaan Omar

small2kznfund_project.jpgThe holiday season is replete with children’s gifts in big boxes to be opened on designated days. KZN Science Centre in South Africa has an entirely different idea, focusing instead on giving children the lifelong gift of a better education. KZN aims to help South Africa develop the talented technology, math and science graduates that this emerging economy needs. It’s not an easy task in communities where 92% of schools have no library.


From its educational center in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, KZN begins with the youngest children. With support from SAP, KZN launched the Early Childhood Development Centre that educates underprivileged children ages one to five. Activities include both teacher training and curriculum development.


“This is really about the future,” explains Candice Potgieter, CEO of KZN Science Centre. “We’re helping make sure that disadvantage learnerswill go to primary school with the same skill set as their more advantaged peers. Together, we are planting the trees for our future generations to enjoy the shade.”


SAP also sponsors Community Days that include employee activities. “Having SAP volunteer their time to teach and interact with people in rural areas shows them the fun side of science. This can motivate children to choose science and math as core subjects in their later years at school,” says Potgieter.


The KZN Centre will have hosted over 100,000 visitors by yearend. Parents, teachers, and children, from pre-school through university-level take part in a variety of activities to make learning about technology, science, and math more fun. These include video-based interactive exhibits and workshops featuring the latest laboratory equipment—something they can’t get anywhere else. Participation opens a dialogue between the Centre and families that has led to scholarships at local institutions of higher education for many children who might otherwise not have attended college.


For 2013, KZN plans to visit some 6,000 schools in the province. SAP employees provide not just funding for the travel and other expenses, but just as important volunteers who help open students’ eyes to the wonders of science and technology. Science kits provide equipment to study everything from biotechnology to waves. Homework assistance helps bring every student along.


Oh, and KZN does have a special holiday program. Until January 13, children can take part in a variety of mini science workshops that explore interesting science reactions like Bubble Mania, Liquid Rainbow, Test Tube Volcanoes, and A-Mazing Race. The objective is to get kids experimenting with everyday items and become a “Scientist for a Day.” Programs like these may not be easily wrapped up in a big box but one thing is clear. Learning is one gift that truly lasts a lifetime.


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Trying to Make Sense of a Senseless Crime

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of your manager?


Alright, alright.  Keep the expletives to yourself.  This is a public forum.


Jim Collins, author of From Good to Great, would likely tell you that if “humble” and “willful” don’t make the list, your organization might be settling for “good enough.”  Collins and his team of researchers examined the performance of 1,435 good companies over the course of 40 years to find that only 11 of them became great, meaning they garnered stock returns at least three times the market’s.  Those that did were the companies driven by “Level 5” leaders – leaders who blend the paradoxical combination of deep personal humility with intense professional will that is channeled for the greater good.


Chade-Meng Tan, one of Google’s early engineers and later its Jolly Good Fellow (seriously), distilled the essence of good leadership – and personal happiness – into one key concept: compassion.  So how do we get men excited about compassion?  Meng says that compassion can be both fun and profitable for an organization and its employees, which means that it can be attractive to everyone.  He breaks compassion down into three key components that are linked to Collins’ Level 5 Leadership:




Now before we go railing against our managers, Meng encourages us to search inside ourselves.  He shows us that compassion is organic and usually starts with one or two “regular” employees and quickly grows into something bigger.  It’s contagious.  The impact an individual person has, even in his or her day-to-day tasks, is often more profound than we realize.


In a culture where the inmates run the asylum, each individual must take responsibility and exhibit the qualities of a leader to drive our collective success.  Maybe that’s what it takes to move from great to best.  In work, as in life, no one is going to hold you accountable.  The choice is yours.  What will you do?


Slide taken from Chade-Meng Tan's "Everyday compassion at Google."  2010.  http://www.ted.com/talks/chade_meng_tan_everyday_compassion_at_google.html


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Christmas postcard, 1911Last year, I reported on the complex logistics surrounding Santa’s Supply Chain. This year, I want to unwrap the broader business model of Jolly St. Nick and how he miraculously delivers the goods year after year.


360-degree View: “Children of all ages”

Like all successful businesses, Santa built his around the customer, in his case “Children of all ages.” He was the first global business to segment his customer base with a 1:1 marketing strategy that involved talking to customers individually (usually sitting on his knee) to get a real time demand signal. Santa was also one of the first to use social channels to get a true 360 view of his customers. That’s right boys and girls, even Santa is on Facebook and twitter. How else could he know if you are sleeping, awake, bad or good?


You better watch out… for new channels

Social media isn’t enough. Santa is always looking for new channels to enter in order to remain competitive. I hope he’s aware that online retail e-commerce spending topped $1 billion for the first time on Black Friday 2012, and all estimates suggest Cyber Monday sales will also set new records.  According to the Adobe Digital Index, online shopping on November 26th — Cyber Monday — grew 17% from last year to hit $1.98 billion, approaching $2 billion for the first time.  Mobile transactions grew 100% from 2011 to make up 22% of all Cyber Monday sales.  But good Old St. Nick has kept up with the times. You can access him via the C2S (Child 2 Santa of course) channel  at: santa@santaclaus.com. That said, his preferred “down the chimney” channel has yet to catch on with other companies.


Be good to your business, for goodness sake

Santa has an unblemished reputation for “delivering on the promise” and delighting the customer. With a firm deadline to hit (December 24th) there is no margin for error. A study by CMO Council of the global top consumer brands found that only 4 out of 10 top brands retains 50% or more of their “highly loyal” customers. Yet Santa defies these odds. In fact, I have yet to see a twitter rampage about poor customer service. The sentiment analysis about Santa is always overwhelmingly positive.


Big data: Naughty or nice?

But how does Santa actually maintain such an accurate customer database? A recent IBM study reports that 2.5 quintillion (17 zeros) bytes of data are produced every single day, and that 90% of world’s available data has been produced only in the past two years.  With over seven BILLION records, his “Naughty OR Nice list” is a festive example of “big data” at its best.


HR in the “North Pole”

Santa’s HR package is probably very good. He appears to have a tireless and loyal workforce (the Elves) with almost zero turnovers (Buddy the ELF did leave for personal reasons). However, I would imagine that this hiring policy leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to ethnic diversity. Could Santa be “sizeist”?  The influx of staff required to lead up to the holiday season must be an HR nightmare.  It was recently reported that in preparation for Cyber Monday and the holiday season, Amazon has hired an additional 50,000 employees to work in its 40 fulfillment centers across the country. If Amazon needs that many people, how many Elves would Santa need?  And as “Santa’s little helpers” are also dispersed around every mall, shopping centers and

department store around the world, I am sure that he must be leveraging an HR system “in the cloud”. 


Festive Finances

Santa’s financial health is one of biggest business mysteries. I have never seen a bill or an invoice from Santa. Have you? From what I can gather, he gets paid in “milk and cookies” and sometimes the occasional carrots to feed his reindeer.


The Jolliest Manufacturing and Distribution Facility

Santa’s manufacturing and distribution facility (the North Pole) is believed to be the largest single manufacturing plant in the world. With the global population now surpassing 7,000,000,000 people, of which around 35% are children, it averages over six million presents every day of the year. As a result, inventory of billions of end products are built up towards the peak season (Christmas) creating the ultimate warehouse management and make-to-order challenges.



A Demand Driven Sleigh

Based on this sheer volume, Santa must deploy a demand-driven approach, as he requires visibility into real time demand signals, some of which are truly real time as he picks up the “Dear Santa” letter at the foot of a chimney.

This brings me to the logistical and fulfillment challenge of visiting every customer / location combination in a 24-hour period. By leveraging different time zones, it is a 31 hour delivery run. I have calculated that Santa has the task of optimizing a transportation route that visits 822 homes a second on Christmas Eve. This means he is averaging 3,000 times the speed of sound!


With only one driver for the “miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer” he obviously turns a blind eye to Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules. This is not to mention the challenge of an aging driver workforce, as Santa is rumored to be well past retirement age (1700 years old).


Obviously, Santa has a quite unique business, that nobody has managed to replicate. He has been a leader for hundreds of years. From one “believer” who hopes he continues for many more…


Happy Holidays,




Follow me on twitter: @howellsrichard


This story originally appeared on www.forbes.com


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Jonathan Becher

The Hot Hand Fallacy

Posted by Jonathan Becher Dec 17, 2012

In sports and in gambling there is a mistaken belief that a player who is performing better than normal will continue to play well, even if the odds suggest otherwise. This belief is especially strong in basketball. Players who have made several shots in a row are considered to have a “hot hand” and encouraged to continue to shoot – even to attempt very difficult baskets they normally cannot make.


A variety of scientific experiments have documented the fallacy of the hot hand in basketball. A player may make many shots in a row in the short term but his performance will eventually return to his long-term average. The law of statistics is not suspended.


Similarly, when gamblers are on winning streaks, they keep betting or even increase their wagers to take advantage of their good luck. Like in basketball, gamblers ignore statistics and mistakenly believe they are more likely to win a future bet because they have won previous ones.

Ignoring statistics while gambling is referred to as the Monte Carlo fallacy.  The name derives from a 1913 incident in which black came up a record 26 times in a row in roulette.

"[There] was a near-panicky rush to bet on red, beginning about the time black had come up a phenomenal fifteen times. In application of the maturity [of the chances] doctrine, players doubled and tripled their stakes. This doctrine leading them to believe after black came up the twentieth time that there was not a chance in a million of another repeat. In the end, the unusual run enriched the casino by millions of francs."

The Monte Carlo gamblers invented all sorts of reasons to explain the long run of black, failing to appreciate that each appearance of black was a random occurrence.


Amusingly, the hot hand and Monte Carlo fallacies can lead to contradictory conclusions.  Imagine a gambler who bets on his lucky number and wins several times in a row. Under the hot hand fallacy, the gambler believes the number is likely to come up again and continues to bet on his lucky number. However, under the Monte Carlo fallacy the same gambler would believe the streak is likely to end and stop betting.

Obviously both predictions cannot be true at the same time but this contradiction is overlooked by most. It’s a reminder to us in our daily lives – emotions often overrule facts.


It’s not a gamble to follow me on twitter @jbecher.


This blog was originally posted on Manage By Walking Around.

doll3.jpgThe horrific acts of violence committed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT are nothing short of heartbreaking. As a father of three young kids, I struggle to fully comprehend what the parents who lost their children must be going through.  How could I possibly help ease their pain in a meaningful way?


In the interest of “being at your best when things are at their worst,” my wife and I decided to throw caution to the wind and put our professional skills into action. As a former event planner and current Girl Scout leader, my wife knows how to tackle the logistics and coordination needed to mobilize an army. And I know how to pitch in on the communications side.

After a few Facebook posts, e-mail blasts and phone calls we had more than enough manpower and supplies from our community in Mount Olive, NJ to make about 1,000 “worry dolls” for the students of Sandy Hook. 

A worry doll is a small, colorful doll, made from wooden clothespins. It is traditionally made in Guatemala.  If a child has a hard time sleeping due to worries or fears, they are supposed to hold and talk to the doll and place it under their pillow before going to sleep. The doll is thought to worry in the persons place and helps the child sleep peacefully through the night.

More than 100 people from our community came out last night, ranging in ages from 5-75, boys and girls, moms and dads, grandparents, town officials, scout leaders, athletes and more.  It was a beautiful and emotional experience to see so many people come out to help us reach our goal of 1,000 dolls in less than three hours. Three surrounding towns heard about our event and contacted us to see how they could help and coordinate a similar effort.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it will be impossible to make any sense from this senseless crime.

But my faith in community has never been stronger.

Top_Gun_96456980_215752c.jpgAs we saw from my earlier post, there are many iconic brands, products and logos.


But what does it take to become iconic?  For starters, a great design - like RayBan aviator glasses – certainly helps. A great design, however, involves much more than just drawing on a piece of paper. The designer also needs to consider:


  • What material will the sunglasses be made from?
  • Will the sunglasses be comfortable to wear?
  • What material will be used for the frames and lenses?
  • Can the design be manufactured?


In short, the designer needs to think like an architect.  When an architect designs a building, all materials must be considered, i.e. glass for the windows, the structure of the floor and exterior wall supports. Sometimes the architect figures out how the building process will occur and if specialized cranes need to be developed.


Pitt.jpgThanks to Apple product launches, every day consumers are now aware of the integration between design, function, and manufacturing. For instance, Apple is quick to point out that the design of the iPhone 5 “beautiful” and precision-engineered to include the complex curved edge design, the color selection of the back, etc.


The challenge for iconic brands is they can’t be a one-hit wonder.  They need to survive the test of time.  They need to evolve their designs, yet stay true to their target audience.  RayBan has done this very successfully.  Top Gun (pictured, top) was filmed in 1986.  Ocean’s Eleven (pictured, left) was filmed in 2001. Styles changed and in each case RayBan led the way.



What other criteria are important to designers to create iconic brands?

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Did you know that by 2015, 37.2% of the total workforce will be mobile? That is 1.3 billion people. So how do enterprises respond to this mobile workforce? By making everything accessible on the go, just make sure your enterprise isn't being left behind.

“People got a bit lax,” Queen Elizabeth II said last week of the time leading up to the financial crisis. “Perhaps it was difficult to foresee.”


Regulation with Teeth 12-17-2012The U.K.’s monarch also lamented that her nation’s Financial Services Authority “didn’t have the teeth” to curb risky business through 2008. And dental enhancements for global banking regulators continue to be a favorite topic from Brussels to Washington, D.C.


Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank and The Financial Times’ recently-named Person of the Year for 2012, advocated broader authority for the European Union following a breakthrough arrangement on Thursday. Eurozone finance ministers hammered out a deal to make the ECB the region’s central banking overseer.

“The ‘single supervisory mechanism’ (SSM) is just the first, and easiest, step in a banking union plan designed to prevent a repeat of the financial contagion that dragged down banks and sovereigns in the debt crisis,” The Financial Times said. “The next phase -- agreeing on a common resolution authority to oversee the orderly winding down of insolvent lenders -- is likely to be even more fraught.”


Technical Difficulties


But slow progress is still progress, as supporters of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act know all too well. November’s election made clear to Republican lawmakers that a repeal of Dodd-Frank isn’t going to happen, so they’re turning to “technical corrections” of the regulatory series meant to rein in financial-crisis-causing behavior of too-big-to-fail banks.


“As the act was moving toward passage its Democratic authors, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, said there would be a future bill to make corrections,” reporter Cheyenne Hopkins wrote, brilliantly describing the situation in her Bloomberg article last week. “Dodd-Frank critics had hopes for a technical corrections bill even before the law was signed by President Barack Obama.”


But what constitutes a technical correction is in the eye of the beholder, as Hopkins noted. Dodd-Frank proponents see technical corrections as a way to hone and enhance its regulations, while opponents attempt to co-opt technical corrections in order to undermine the entire system.


Fighting for the Little Guy


But massively ambitious regulatory schemes for too-big-to-fail banks -- Global Systemically Financial Institutions (GSIFIs) -- are creating a laundry list of non-revenue-generating compliance requirements. Such obligations strain small banks, according to Dwight Utz, president and CEO of Engelhard, N.C.-based ECB Bancorp.


He and his board recently decided to sell the company.


“The regulatory environment played a role in that,” Utz told Finextra this month. “It’s an expense that I’m not sure a lot of people outside of the industry understand.”


Picking Up the Slack


Small banks are the ones that should have picked up the slack when big banks failed in 2008. Federal bailouts saved GSIFIs from themselves, and it would be tragic if the regulations meant to keep GSIFIs in line helped destroy small banks that played by the rules.


It would be equally tragic if Dodd-Frank lost its teeth and a similar financial crisis played out again. Here’s hoping that no one technically correcting Dodd-Frank gets lax.


Related Articles:


Queen talks of ‘lax’ bankers and ‘toothless’ regulators behind financial crisis” by Gordon Rayner


Draghi’s rallying cry for new EU powers” by Michael Steen and Lionel Barber


Technical Fixes Prompt Suspicion From Dodd-Frank Backers” by Cheyenne Hopkins

working.jpgIn the current environment, people are relying more than ever on the internet as their first - and in many cases only - port of call when interacting with a company. Therefore, it's vital to have systems in place to control a brand's online identity and ensure these customers are well cared for.


Demand for online solutions can be seen in the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping. A recent SAP survey revealed this is particularly important at this time of year, with 92 per cent of those who have made an online purchase in the past six months having done so in the last four weeks.


But increased use of the internet is also being seen in how consumers get in touch with companies. Whereas in the past they may have made a phone call or send an email to register a complaint, nowadays social media is playing a key part in this.


More than half of people (56 per cent) said they would share news of a poor experience with a firm via these channels, with this rising to 65 per cent among those aged between 18 and 34.


However, a total of 59 per cent of people stated they would also talk about a good experience through social media, which shows there is great potential for companies to improve their reputation if they have the right strategy in this area.


The survey noted speed is an important part of this, as 52 per cent of respondents said brands need to respond directly to a complaint, with 28 per cent saying this should be done within an hour. Almost half of people (48 per cent) said consumers should not have to wait more than half a day for a response.


However, this is not the only factor brands need to consider. While 67 per cent of people said this is highly important, 73 per cent rated the quality of a response is a factor in whether they will be satisfied with the company's handling of their issue.

Others important elements were personalised responses, cited by 72 per cent and commitment to a follow-up (69 per cent).

mobile1.jpgThe increasing demands of Generation Y to stay connected wherever they are and use only a single device for all their personal and work activities could present a challenge to IT departments.


This is according to networking specialist Cisco's latest 2012 Connected World Technology Report, which revealed just how important gadgets such as smartphones are to individuals aged between 18 and 30. It claimed nine out of ten make checking their handset for new text messages, emails and social updates a key part of their morning routine, while 29 per cent of people said they look at their device so often they lose count.


Cisco said the extent of some people's compulsion is so serious that over 40 per cent of people would experience withdrawal effects if they didn't have access to their device. But it's not just personal lives that are being affected by this, as the connected technology increasingly makes its way into the workplace.


"People check for work updates and communicate at all hours from every place imaginable. Time is elastic:  For Generation Y there are no clear markers between 'the workday' and personal time - both blend and overlap throughout the day and night," the firm stated.


This could be a challenge for IT bosses, particularly as most people said they don't want to be switching between personal and work devices, but would rather have one gadget for everything.


It also found smartphones are beginning to rival laptops as the single most desired device by Generation Y, with many people favouring these as they're seen as more versatile, as well as being more compact.


What this means for business leaders is they have to have secure solutions in place that can be accessed anywhere at any time, regardless of the device an employee is using. This is where cloud-based tools come in, as this gives people access to data and applications wherever they are.


Tools like SAP Business ByDesign cater to this by coming with built-in mobile capabilities that allow its comprehensive suite of cloud applications to be easily viewed on any device.

mobile.jpgIn one of my recent post on TOP 3 Key Success Factors For a Comprehensive Knowledge Management Strategy I elaborated on how to define your strategy, how to cluster and structure your content and last but not least how to implement a knowledge management (KM) governance model in order to keep your content up-to-date.


However, when looking at recent Mobility Enterprise predictions (see Computer World article), one major pillar should be added to this definition: Mobile Availability. What is your mobile strategy for a comprehensive KM solution?


When looking back into 2012 being responsible for services sales enablement at SAP, most often field colleagues asked me the following question: “Can I also use your presentation material on my mobile device?”.


That was actually a good question, as our primary goal within the enablement team is to provide assets that the field can use during a customer meeting. And once colleagues are accessing information and knowledge more and more remotely from their mobile devices, was at first a real challenge for the team.


Following two key observations at least from an sales enablement perspective:


  • Mobile Application: Think about developing a mobile application for your field/sales force. Think about what they needs during a typical sales meeting and develop your app accordingly. Also consider the different formats being used on mobile applications.


  • Mobile Ready Assets: Create your assets when being stored on a central KM system in a way that field colleagues might also use them on a mobile device. This sometimes a little extra work for your team. Check if your KM infrastructure also provide this option of downloading assets.


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A Christmas Carol poemTwas the night before mid-terms, and all through the quad,
Not a coed was stirring in old Ha’vard Ya’d.
Modems and networking cables were tucked away with some care,
In the hopes that a real live girl might one day visit here.


Dustin and the gang were half asleep on their beds,
While visions of Microsoft job offers danced in their heads.
And I at the keyboard, and Eduardo hoping we don’t get caught,
Had just settled down to hack into who is “Hot or Not.”


A ruckus interrupted the code I’d been writing,
I hoped against hope it was another Natalie Portman sighting.
Away from the computer, to the roof I ran fast,
Forgot to put on my pants and fell flat on my ***.


Toward the edge of the roof I got as close as I dare,
As I stood up there freezing in my Spidey underwear.
I looked all below for her entourage to appear,
But was greeted instead by a sleigh and 8 giant reindeer.


No more Jager’ for me, was the thought that came quick,
When out from the shadows leaped out ole’ St. Nick.
I screamed like a girl, and felt like a *******,
As Santa stood by laughing, “Scared ya - didn’t I, Zuck!”


To the reindeer he cried, “On Hoffman! On Dorsey, Williams, and Stone,
On Kevin Bacon! Come Thiel and Parker ‘fore my timeline gets blown.
With a wink he adds “Normally I’m with 10, this year I’m at a loss,
As I had to fire my twin reindeer - Those whiny Winklevoss


“I can see you don’t understand their names, by the look on your face,
Each is named after a whiz kid who will change the human race.
I am anxious to tell you, but can you put on a robe,
This thing I call ‘social’ will be known round the globe.”


“The telephone is passé, mail to slow,
Email’s a bore and just doesn’t curl my toes.
We need something revolutionary, but as easy as riding a bike,
Something that will let everyone know when you are single, and what things that you ‘like’.”


“As I share all my secrets for social success,
I have a present for you, before I digress.”
From his bag pulled a book “it’s for us to discuss,”
It was Coding for Dummies: How to in C Plus Plus.


Then he leaned close so only I could hear,
Whispered softly with his voice right next to my ear.
“You’ll be rich! You’ll be famous! Fast cars, hot wife,
Millions of geeks will envy the great Zuckerberg life.”


With a twinkle in his eye and a wink of his nose,
There was a quick flash of light and then I knew all that he knows.
Someday I will own California; other’s opinions won’t mean a damn,
I will have enough money I can buy Instagram.


I can’t wait for YouTube – videos of cats are my interest,
But I will have to watch out for the motherf--ers from Pinterest.
And how to defeat Hoffman – it will be a battle of wits,
I raced downstairs to wake Moskovitz.


As he hopped on his sleigh, and we said our “good night,”
Then I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight.
“Now here is where you can help me as I am feeling the snub,
Next time you see him, remind Fincher he still owes me for ‘Fight Club’.”


Happy Social Holidays Everybody!




To learn more about how things REALLY happened, follow Todd on Twitter @toddmwilms or connect on LinkedIn. I hope everyone has a little bit of fun this holiday season!

In SAP.info, we bring you a feet-on-the-ground look at what is driving Brazil’s IT market in our interview with Valdinei Santana, director of organizational development at Pelissari, an SAP partner in the region. You won’t want to miss this frank, firsthand assessment of Brazil’s up-and-coming IT market: What are the Opportunities in Brazil? 


For Pelissari, a leader in SAP consulting professional services in southern Brazil, the fast-moving market provides not only abundant opportunity for growth, but also an opportunity to showcase its unique approach toward infusing quality management techniques throughout its corporate culture. Based in the southern city of Curitiba near the Atlantic coast, Pelissari employs more than 300 people and serves a broad range of customers, including well-known corporations such as Renault, Nissan, Randon, Positivo Informática, Whirlpool, and Marisol.  


Founded in 1999, the company has built up a culture of commitment to its customers and employees alike. In 2009, it was named on Brazil’s list of Great Places to Work, a highly coveted achievement for employers and a reflection of employee satisfaction within the workplace. That year, Pelissari also won an SAP Award of Excellence for having the most satisfied customers in Brazil, based on the results of the Annual Clients’ Survey of Satisfaction, undertaken by an independent institute.


More recently, the company added the SAP Active Quality Management (AQM) accreditation to its list of achievements. AQM, available through the Partner Quality Program at SAP Partner Service Delivery, gives partners the tools and resources needed to establish a quality framework within their organizations to ensure success in customer projects by managing project risks and maximizing benefits. Based on the SAP 10 quality principles, the program promotes customer satisfaction, while helping partners grow their SAP business.


The AQM accreditation follows regional recognition Pelissari has received for its first-rate quality management practices. Santana explains that the company not only strives to meet stringent quality management standards at the project level, but it also deems quality management as an integral force in shaping the future of the organization by ensuring its leadership structure is well equipped to handle new challenges. Santana says, “We believe not only in quality management, but quality of management.” As he notes, this simple change in words makes a tremendous difference in approach. “From the very beginning, the awards we earned were given based on the quality of our managers and our skilled technical staff who are committed to excellence of delivery.”


Pelissari works very closely with SAP Partner Service Delivery through programs aimed at growing its SAP business. In 2011, it set up the first Partner Center of Expertise in Latin America to offer high-quality support services to its customers based on SAP best practices. In 2012, Pelissari also became an SAP software solution and technology partner when it brought to market its certified tax solution SOFICOM. Success like this requires steadfast teamwork. “There is a really great partnership between Pelissari and SAP,” says Cristina Todeschini, the SAP partner services advisor whose job is to support Pelissari in developing their SAP business. “The team is always working hard on the initiatives we suggest.”  


You might also like:


The Real Deal on Partner Enablement


Podcast: Partner Success with SAP Partner Service Delivery


SAP.info feature story: What Are the Opportunities in Brazil?

Brad Borkan

What Makes a Brand Iconic?

Posted by Brad Borkan Dec 14, 2012

harley.jpgWhen you think of an iconic brand, what comes to mind? 


For example, if I said, “motorcycle”, what do you think of? 


For most people, it’s a Harley-Davidson motorcycle (or perhaps a scene from the 1960’s film Easy Rider). Founded in 1903, Harley’s have maintained their distinct sound and design. The Harley-Davidson logo is also a popular tattoo design.


What you envision is determined by whether you think in images, sounds, feelings or words. Regardless of your how you formed your mental image of “motorcycle”, it is most likely a Harley, right? 


How about other iconic brands?

  • Sunglasses: RayBan – think Tom Cruise in Top Gun or Brad Pitt in Oceans 11.
  • Cars: Porsche – distinctive European car designs since the 1950’s
  • Theme restaurants: Hard Rock Café with its distinctive guitar-shaped logo and over 120 restaurants around the world
  • Theme parks: Disneyworld
  • Soft drinks: Coca Cola - the #1 brand in the world, year after year.
  • Sneakers: Nike
  • MP3 players: Apple iPod
  • Electric guitar: Fender Stratocaster


Can you name other categories and examples?


In this short blog series I’d like to explore what it takes to become an iconic brand. From design, production, pricing and profitability, to marketing and staying ahead of the competition, how do iconic brands repeat this process year after year?


You might also like:


What Makes a Brand Iconic? (Part 2)


Harley-Davidson Goes Whole Hog with Customer Insight


Why Butterball is No Turkey on Thanksgiving


Are Brands Entering an Era of Truth in Advertising?


The Politics of Brand

No man or machine can predict exactly what a super storm such as Hurricane Sandy is going to do when it lands on a city like New York. A scary thought, considering storms seem to be getting more frequent and extreme around the world. But advances in technology are helping people and organizations prepare for, and respond to, natural disasters more quickly and efficiently than ever before.

As Sandy advanced on New York City, millions in her path braced for impact. With NOAA predicting extreme winds and coastal surges between six and eleven feet around the five boroughs, Mayor Bloomberg put the city on full alert. Evacuations were announced for residents living in flood zones, major transportation systems were shut down, and the city’s hospitals, clinics, and shelters awaited the thousands who were expected to seek refuge and medical care after the storm.

SandyVulnerabilityMap 300px.jpgOn the other side of the country, Direct Relief International, one of the world’s leading medical relief and disaster response organizations, was also closely tracking Sandy and preparing for action. Based in Santa Barbara, California, Direct Relief supports 70 clinics, health centers, and other public health institutions located in the identified evacuation zones around the NYC area.

Pulling together data from its own systems and sources such as NOAA, FEMA, the Red Cross, and local agencies, Direct Relief was able to map-out and pinpoint the partner clinics most vulnerable to the storm. Adding in data about the supplies it shipped to these clinics in the past enabled Direct Relief to quickly predict what specific materials would be needed at each clinic and to activate its response supply chain before Sandy made landfall. 

Using supply chain management software from SAP, Direct Relief has complete visibility into its medical aid inventory as well as the appropriate level of tracking and accountability required for distributing pharmaceuticals. Having such tight control over its highly regulated inventory has enabled Direct Relief to become the only nonprofit organization licensed in the U.S. to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states, greatly improving its ability to respond quickly and efficiently wherever disaster strikes.

After the storm, the first clinic to receive supplies from Direct Relief was the William F. Ryan – NENA Community Health Center located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Although crippled by the ConEdison transformer explosion that left most of lower Manhattan in darkness for a week, the clinic stayed open without electricity and did its best to provide critical services to the local community. “People in need come to us for health services and it’s our obligation to give back as much as we can,” said Kathy Gruber, Ryan-NENA Executive Director. “Even during a difficult time like this hurricane, when everyone else is shutdown, we feel it is important to stay open for the community,” Gruber explains. Backup generators enabled medical staff to treat some patients by lamplight, while other clinicians made house visits to those people without transportation.

When FedEx, a longtime donor to Direct Relief, arrived at the Ryan-NENA Community Health Center with Direct Relief’s emergency relief packages, word spread quickly around the distressed lower east side neighborhood.  Over 80% of the patients at the health center are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.  Before long hundreds of people were lined up around block, and within hours the personal care packs, filled with hygiene and nutritional products donated by corporate supporters - Abbott, Johnson and Johnson, Neutrogena, and Prestige Brands - were gone.  By the end of the day, over 500 patients had received some much needed supplies, and renewed hope, from a helping hand.


The next day, Direct Relief arrived at Newark Community Health Centers (NCHC) in New Jersey. Serving more than 19,000 patients each year, NCHC is one of the largest providers of primary care services for the uninsured and medically underserved populations in one of the country’s most densely populated cities. When FedEx unloaded Direct Relief’s 44 boxes of Ensure, PediaSure, Pedialyte, and ZonePerfect bars donated by Abbot, the health center staff were elated. Ready-to-eat food and nutritional products were one of their biggest needs as many affected by the storm didn’t have electricity to cook or refrigerate their food.

woman in clinic.pngDirect Relief also delivered desperately needed supplies to the Damian Family Care Center in Queens. Medical director Dr. Zamar Raza said that center’s biggest challenge has been maintaining a steady flow of medications to Samaritan Village – an affiliate facility that provides a residential inpatient drug treatment program. The pharmacy in Rockaway where patients are normally sent to get their medications was flooded.

Sandy also pounded Red Hook, Brooklyn, where the storm flooded the only community clinic with four feet of water and seriously damaged the medical equipment. Under normal circumstances, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center serves about 80 patients a day, mostly on Medicare or uninsured. With only small space heaters for warmth, clinic staff persevered, bundling up in their warmest winter clothes to provide continued care. When Direct Relief’s emergency shipment arrived, Bea Cordero, the clinic site manager, said the medicines and supplies seemed sent from heaven. Staff was especially excited to receive the nebulizers and medications needed to maintain regular care for their patients with hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and other chronic diseases.

In addition to medical supplies, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center will receive a $250,000 grant from Direct Relief and the National Association of Community Health Centers to help revive three of its Brooklyn community health centers. This is the first cash grant awarded from the Sandy Safety Net Fund, a special fund created by the two organizations to support nonprofit clinics affected by the storm. “I believe our new partnership with Direct Relief will help us get back up and running,” said nurse practitioner Jackie de Leon.

Throughout the week, Direct Relief’s post-disaster assessment team continued its outreach around the New York area. Using mobile technology the team stayed up to date on clinic shipments, essential contacts, and local event reports from Healthmap. To date, Direct Relief has made 27 large emergency deliveries (~30,000 lbs. of goods) to 19 community health care centers affected by Hurricane Sandy. In addition, Direct Relief has committed $1 million in cash and $25 million in medical inventories to support relief and recovery efforts in devastated communities along the East Coast and in areas of the Caribbean.

“Direct Relief is acutely sensitive to the needs of those who are most vulnerable in emergency situations, and we are working closely with partner nonprofit clinics and health centers in the affected areas to understand what is needed and to mobilize charitable resources to help address those needs,” explains Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief President & CEO.

By utilizing the latest technology to speed up the humanitarian aid supply chain, Direct Relief and all its collaborators are significantly improving the lives of millions of people who depend on essential care from community clinics during and after a crisis like Hurricane Sandy.




Learn more:



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I’m going to let you in on a little secret … I stopped working this year. 


Yes, I admit it. I haven’t been working. It’s not that I don’t have a job anymore. I do. In fact, I’m quite busy. But this job kind of feels like I’m doing something valuable- something ground-breaking, something – dare I say it – fun.


So what changed? What’s different? Reflecting on this question brought me to a single reason for my new breakthrough way of “working” – transitioning to a role directly aligned with my long-term career goals. I recently took on a new role at my organization – I shifted from developing marketing strategies for an area of our business to our HR business. Sure, this was an “out-of-the-box” move, one with a more internal focus.


Through my decision-making process, I kept coming back to the fact that this new role directly impacted the topics that make me tick, keep me up at night, and that I am passionate about: leadership, diversity, and people development. How could that be a bad thing?


Here are three things I did to get on this path of aligning my career with my passions:


1. Self-discovery – I’ve worked in all kinds of roles and in many industries. In my mind, I’ve been compiling a list of things I like and don’t like to do. I also frequently take assessments as they come my way so I can learn more about me – what are the things I’m good at and, even more importantly, the things that I need to work on if I want to take a different direction with my career. It was through self-discovery and writing my personal blog that I found my true passions.


2. Build a plan and make it happen – Once I understood the direction I wanted to take, I built a plan to get more exposure to these areas that aligned with my passion for leadership and diversity. I made it my mission to volunteer for every project and team at my company that I could. For example, I was especially interested in women in leadership so I volunteered for our local Business Women’s Network. I used my marketing skills, like community building, to volunteer and learn more about the organization. Now I’m part of their extended leadership team and get to impact the programs for women at our organization.


3. Let it be known! This was key for me. I made sure everyone I talked to, networked with and had coffee with, knew about my areas of interest. By talking to people, I was top of mind when projects arose and new positions opened up.


With the end of the year upon you, take some time for reflection. Think about the things that matter most to you. And maybe your New Year’s Resolution can include less work and more fun!


I’d love to hear how you find fun in your work.


This post originally appeared on Lead With Intuition.


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Solving the too-big-to-fail problem in banking just got international. Authorities could seize a Global Systematically Important Financial Institution (GSIFI) -- and dismantle it as appropriate -- under a joint plan by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Bank of England released Monday.


Too Big To Fail 12-13-2012“For many GSIFIs, this strategy holds the best possibility of preserving stability while removing taxpayer support,” wrote FDIC chairman Martin Gruenberg and BoE deputy governor Paul Tucker in The Financial Times. “It holds shareholders, creditors and management in a failed GSIFI accountable for its losses.”


Strong economic growth in in the U.S. and U.K. may provide strong positions to enact these reforms. Each country’s average long-term economic performance is on the rise, according to a study by Paris-based economic forum Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, also released on Monday.


This may make it sound as if all is well in trans-Atlantic finance. But it came to light this week that two of the U.K.’s biggest banks will pay record fines of more than $2.5 billion to U.S. regulators.


London-based HSBC will pay a staggering $1.92 billion to U.S. authorities, the bank announced Tuesday, settling even-more-staggering allegations relating to Middle East terrorist financing and Mexican money laundering. A day earlier, London-based Standard Chartered said it would pay $327 million to U.S. agencies -- in addition to $340 it agreed to pay New York regulators in August -- stemming from allegations of sanctions law violations and hindered government investigations.


Boarding up these institutions is not an option; at least not the way U.S. federal law enforcement might shutter a dry cleaner that served as a mafia front. Making sure that these banks keep liquidity flowing has to be a major concern for governments, especially this soon after the financial crisis.


Let’s not forget that these are still big banks -- too big to fail and too big to shut down.


Related Articles:


Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions” by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England


‘Too big to fail’ plan outlined by UK and US authorities” by Emma Rowley


UK banks hit by record $2.6bn US fines” by Shahien Nasiripour and Kara Scannell

knowledge.jpgWhen companies think about developing a company-wide knowledge management (KM) strategy, they are most often confronted with the following questions about where to start, what are the goals, and which knowledge needs to be managed.


Obviously, most of a company’s knowledge and information is stored on file servers, internal employee portals or still staying within individual’s email inboxes etc. When getting started with your KM strategy and approach you should have the following 3 key success factors in mind:


  • Define your strategy: before starting to invest into tools managing your KM, you should first define a comprehensive strategy about your future KM infrastructure. You should be clear about your business needs and business objectives. How can KM support your business in order to gain competitive advantage. With that in mind, you will be able to define a consistent platform for knowledge and information that is on the one hand side relevant as well as consistent.


  • Structure your information and knowledge: Once you have defined your strategy, think about how to structure your information and knowledge. What are the key contributors? Which information should be stored? Which information is relevant to which target group? Building up a KM infrastructure means, being relevant to your respective target groups, e.g. sale, marketing, development etc. When considering specific requirement in terms of what is needed, how to structure and how to find knowledge you will succeed in your efforts and investments.


  • Keep your knowledge up-to-date: Most KM infrastructures today suffering from being outdated. Old information is stored and no governance model is making sure to only have latest knowledge available. Therefore, most importantly, you need to make sure that implementing a governance model ensuring accurate, up-to-date and relevant data is in place.


At the end, consider measuring your business impact. Defining KPIs are important in order to justifying investments and man-power. Consider KPIs that are not only measuring consumption or click rates. Collect feedback from your stakeholders and ask them directly how it impacted their way of working and collaborating with the rest of the organization. Take these learnings and feedback in order to adjust your infrastructure.


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5 Things Every Business Needs

smallscibono5.jpgThere’s a lot of hand-wringing about the worldwide shortage of math and science experts. Sci-Bono is doing something about it in a big way.


Imagine a classroom filled with children who come from neighborhoods where the unemployment rate is upwards of 80%, poverty is the norm, and necessities like running water and food are not a given. Technologies such as computers or mobile devices, if they do exist, are obsolete. Even if they are present, teachers often lack the skills to understand how to use them. This is the situation that typifies the disadvantaged South Africa communities where Sci-Bono operates. As the country’s largest science center, Sci-Bono is also part of the provincial education department delivering science, math, technology and technical education across the school system for grades three to twelve. The center sponsors approximately 30 programs that educate and train over a quarter million students and teachers each year. With funding from corporate sponsors that include SAP, Sci-Bono has developed partnerships that literally change people’s lives.


David Kramer, CEO of Sci-Bono, explains, “IT illiteracy is over 90% in most schools in South Africa. We want to use technology to close the digital divide, and the support of an organization like SAP is crucial. Rather than get people educated and then using technology, we have to get technology to span the divide, and use technology to counter poverty and the lack of education.”


Getting things done is not just about writing a check. Kramer thinks that the hands-on support SAP employees and families provide to Sci-Bono during staff days is just as important, maybe more so. “We’re all about people. Each person from SAP who helps paint, garden, or even work with the orphans who visit the centers is a positive role model for these kids who are living in places with 70 to 80% unemployment rates,” says Kramer.


Sci-Bono began working with SAP several years ago when the organization became involved with the FIRST Lego League. This international robotics tournament challenges participants to build a robot to defined specifications. Historically popular with schools in only affluent South African communities, the competition now includes more entries from students in disadvantaged communities. Sci-Bono provides participants with transportation to and from the science centers where they can work on their entries, along with hardware and software, and team mentors who coach participants through the entire competitive process.


Kramer’s organization can be seen as an antidote to poverty and the apathy that accompanies it. But he remains humble despite Sci-Bono’s obvious achievements. “It’s not us that’s making a difference. It’s the fact that there’s something happening. By rolling up our sleeves and saying we’re here to help you, generally we see an improvement in those schools.” 

insight.jpgFor centuries, humans traveled the Earth’s seas, guided only by their experience in reading the stars, the temperature, and the currents. Rarely could they anticipate the unfolding often life-and-death situations they were steering into. Today, our ships travel the world guided by technology that scans present conditions and reads evolving water, weather, and seismic patterns. With such insight, captains can safely guide their vessels to any global destination.


Seeing Beyond Yesterday


Rarely can today’s business decision makers get the same type of insight. Rarely can they lead with the same confidence. Every day, unanticipated interruptions shake the most seemingly stable organizations. Markets rise and fall unexpectedly; supply chains break and prove unreliable; and political and economic systems are collapsing and changing our business and social landscapes.

It’s time for decision makers to stop wasting time analyzing last year’s results. This outdated data only shows yesterday’s shortfalls, gaps, and strengths. Such information fails to suggest future patterns. Leaders are left in the dark, unable to make accurate decisions and predict achievable outcomes.

Every day, more people are using mobile devices. And a larger number are relying on digital communications to carry out their daily lives. To help organizations leverage this Big Data to perform better and improve services to customers, technology innovators have developed a new generation of software analytics.

These advanced analytics solutions provide leaders with the insight to gauge the patterns driving business success. InformationWeek Executive Editor Doug Henshen explains this shift: “the old practice of following the money – using lagging financial indicators to guide a company’s decisions – [is] giving way to the forward-looking approach of following the data” (p.4).

Propelling Forward

In running advanced analytics software, organizations can see more than a simple trend analysis. They are looking beyond the structured data stored in relational and SQL databases. And they are tapping into open source-and-NoSQL data (aka Big Data) to mine exabytes of real-time tweets, status updates, and blog posts. It’s from this unstructured data that decision makers can distill the current and evolving patterns of thought and behavior affecting their customers, stakeholders, suppliers, partners, employees, and competitors. What’s these mean for organizations?

Retailers can track style trends to determine which sweaters to stock during the upcoming holidays. Car dealers can predict – using data on energy, economic, and employment news – which types of vehicles consumers will more likely want. Travel agents can see – from traditional and online media placements, magazine features, travel bloggers, and commercial development news – where customers are more likely to vacation. In fact, any organization in any industry can better understand the dynamics driving their supply, demand, and value chains. How? By supercharging their listening with the most advanced analytics software.

Charting the Depths

Why are online sales suddenly dropping? What are Facebookers and Twitterers saying about your company? How can your company become the business world’s next one-to-watch phenom? Is your organization effectively differentiating itself from its competitors? Which approaches are most effective for nurturing sustainable relationships with new customers, stakeholders, partners, and suppliers?

Advanced analytics cuts through the Web’s clutter. It reveals patterns that even the most astute researcher can easily miss. How? Advanced analytics tap into “real-time information from sensors”write Thomas H. Davenport, Paul Barth, and Randy Bean, “…at a more granular level…” And from this, the authors say, organizations better know how to “respond to changes in usage patterns as they occur.”

It is these responses which can mean the difference between a lost sale or a PR fiasco and a satisfied customer or a marketing homerun. What’s the key? Tracking customer sentiment on Twitter and market shifts worldwide. In these nuggets of data are the treasures sought. The art is looking at the patters and identifying the collapsing markets, new gaps, and emerging opportunities.

Leaders need to “embrace the viewpoint of all sectors,” says Public Squared’s Rich Tafel, “and see the bigger vision for all.” Only from this can they think differently and use this information to respond proactively. This is the crucial factor in turning a data pattern into actionable information – into strategies, tactics, and processes that enable their organization to create the disruptions which transform industries, marketplaces, and economies.

Is your company running advanced analytics? If so, what advantages has it been getting from its solutions? Has it helped leaders identify new business opportunities and make more accurate predictions? How could your analytics solutions better meet your needs?


This post was originally published by the author on SAP’s Business Innovation blog.

mobilesecurity.jpgHow did previous generations ever get anything accomplished?

Over the past twenty-five years, the span of a single human generation, we have transformed our communication and workplace behaviors. Complex activities that once may have taken weeks to finish can now be completed within minutes.

Unfortunately, our most advanced smartphones and tablets – and the data we create and share on these tools – arehighly vulnerable to cyber attacks. According to recent reports, black-hat hackers are increasing their attacks on mobile devices. This threat is garnering international attention.

“Political leaders around the world, including President Obama,” writes Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson, “have begun calling for a greater focus on [mobile security]… A typical security breach costs a business more than a half a million dollars to address in terms of cash outlays, business disruption, and revenue losses….” Fortunately, most IT security teams are developing strategies to eradicate this threat.

Building a Mobile IT Security Strategy

For most organizations, “the challenge,” writes IT security specialist Mark Bouchard, “is [understanding] how to enable productivity and mitigate the threats, vulnerabilities, and risks in a way that strikes the best balance and the lowest total costs.”

In a whitepaper authored for Websense, Bouchard – founder of the IT research and analysis companyAimPoint Group– details a three-tier plan that secures the two critical points: corporate data and mobile devices.

Implementing the Plan

But a sound IT security strategy is only the beginning. Organizations need to police their IT environment and educate mobile users. The first step is standard practice; the second is frequently overlooked or many times, poorly implemented – and often is the cause of much cybercrime.

When mobile users don’t understand usage policies, or worse, when these policies are inflexible to the point of interfering with productivity, users will most likely ignore the rules. And when they do, they are not simply making themselves vulnerable to attack: They are potentially putting an entire network at risk. How?

Most IT attacks result from user actions. To prevent cyber attacks, users need to change their patterns of mobile behavior. To help them, organizations can offer programs in self-directed education and group training; they can also develop clearly defined mobile-security policies and run top-level mobile IT security apps. These measures can help prevent cyber attacks. In the struggle to stop unauthorized users from gaining access to critical networks – and extracting and exploiting crucial business information – IT executives must use every option available to them to persuade their organization’s mobile users to both follow standardized policies and act vigilantly in protecting their data and guarding their devices.

Is your company implementing any of the strategic tiers that Bouchard suggests? Does it have clearly defined mobile usage policies? Does it offer user education? Does the organization’s culture continuously promote adherence to these policies?

This post was originally published by the author on SAP’s Business Innovation blog.

274620_l_srgb_s_gl.jpgDepending on who you talk to, the term leader or leadership can conjure up a variety of definitions. If you don’t mind, please indulge an Art History major undergrad and marketer by trade to make this simple, mathematical analogy:


You are responsible for managing people = You are a leader


For others the equation is much more complex:


Management of people or an area of expertise + behaviors like humility and agility + mindsets like emotional and inclusive intelligence + capacity for innovative thinking / ability to allow your ‘employees’ to lead  – fear of failure x corporate culture = Leadership


Why is the more complex equation more prevalent today? With major shifts in our environment from new generations of workers coming into the workforce, with a new set of expectations around collaboration and focus on a common good, to the rise of knowledge workers, to our own acquisition strategy, the world around us is changing. Success requires the ability to innovate – better, faster, and together – and the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The major challenge is that often-times that “culture” hasn’t been built or adopted to enable our managers to act as leaders.


According to Roland Deiser in a recent paper “Building Towers of Babel?” many corporations do this by creating corporate universities (CU’s). Oftentimes those CU’s set out with the ambition to foster strategic and organizational learning and to create an agile and resilient corporation, only to give in when facing the massive challenge of changing mental models and overcoming political resistance1. An interesting concept comes from EnBW Academy, founded in 2000, as the corporate learning platform for a regional German utility player. Their strategy to overcome corporate politics and mindsets was to include change management as a critical element of their learning process. The Academy became instrumental in developing a new shared vision for the company by facilitating workshops with hundreds of stakeholders.


So what do I think? Born or made? Born – absolutely. Made – entirely possible. Going back to my fuzzy math…


1 Developing Leaders, Issue 9:2012, “Building Towers of Babel”, Roland Deiser

FeedingAmericaPoster-R3-8-20.ashx.jpgWith the significant advances in agriculture and food production in the last century, you would think that fighting hunger was a more manageable challenge. But even in developed countries, limited access to food by the poor remains one of society’s most troubling problems.


I have to admit I did not realize the actual scope of that challenge before I recently came across the Feeding America story during my work at SAP. What astonished me was that - according to a recent US Department of Agriculture report - more than 16.6 million children or 22% of all American kids did not consistently receive adequate, nutritious food in 2011. In total, an estimated 49 million Americans live in food-insecure circumstances. 


It is reassuring though that there are many people in our society that care about the hungry and want to help - either by donating money or through volunteering. If you are working for a socially responsible company, you may have helped out already in your local food bank during a month of service. But did you ever ask yourself how those institutions organize operations cost-effectively and how they manage the pickup and delivery of food? Well, Feeding America plays a major role in that – and guess what? Technology is one of their key enablers to feed more people every year. 


Their story begins back in 1965. When John van Hengel, a retired businessman, was volunteering at a local charity in Phoenix, Arizona, he realized that one of the main causes of hunger is the fact that many of those living below the poverty line simply cannot afford to buy enough food for their family. One day, van Hegel met a woman who told him she often fed her children food she collected from grocery store garbage bins. The packaging was damaged or the item was near expiration, but the food itself was still edible. Inspired by this experience, van Hengel started to negotiate with neighborhood grocery store managers and persuaded them to donate unsalable food to charity. 


This was the birth of St. Mary´s food bank - the world’s first food bank. Several years later, van Hengel established an organization to centrally manage operations for the growing number of food banks across the nation and to support local charity organizations and programs. Today, Feeding America is the largest hunger relief organization in the United States, spanning a network of over 200 food banks. They are distributing the impressive number of 3 billion pounds of food to 37 million people each year. 


Kevin_Lutz_Feeding_America.JPGAt SAP, we recently had the pleasure of talking to Kevin Lutz, Senior Vice President of Technology at Feeding America, about his organization and the impact that technology is having on their activities. As you can imagine, managing the timely distribution of perishable food is not an easy feat – especially for a non-profit organization that relies on volunteers and donations.


“Technology plays a critical role in making sure the pick-up of donations from our retail grocery store partners is cost-effective and worthwhile." says Kevin.


In the past, our truck drivers had to manually fill in forms to document every item that they picked-up at a retailer or delivered to an agency, which then had to be loaded into our backend system for the inventory management.”   


“By implementing Enterprise Mobility, we are able to eliminate all that manual paperwork, allowing us to reduce the time and effort involved in moving food from its source to people in need”. Truck drivers now capture all items electronically on a mobile device that feeds the information directly into the backend system. This results not only in more efficient inventory management and route planning, but it also reduces administrative work for Food Bank employees – freeing up time that they can better use to serve the people in need. Kevin:


"With every dollar we save, we are able to serve 8 more meals. Using mobile technology helps us reduce our operating expenses, which will ultimately enable us to put more trucks on the road that can pick up and deliver more food.”


“That brings us closer to our goal of growing the food distribution to 5 billion pounds over the next couple of years and feeding all 49 million Americans in need.”


Follow me on Twitter: @SR_Kramer

Are people happier in California?


Almost everywhere I’ve visited, I’ve encountered the belief that people are happier in California. When pressed as to why, the most common explanation is weather. Since studies have shown that sunlight positively influences mood, perhaps everyone should move to CA – it might make the world a happier place.


Practicality aside, it turns out moving to California probably won’t make someone happier. The problem lies in the word itself. According to Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, there are two different ways of looking at well-being: current mood and overall satisfaction.


Mood and satisfaction can even be contradictory. An event or an object can improve your mood but not increase the satisfaction with your life. For example, buying a new car might lift your spirits for a few weeks but be dampened when the reality of paying the monthly bills sets in.


This is a specific example of what Kahneman calls the “focusing illusion.” We focus on improving our moods at a given moment, significantly overestimating the impact it will have on our future happiness and even ignoring factors which might actually matter.


As Kahneman says in the above video:

Nothing is quite as important as you think it is while you’re thinking about it. So the mere act of thinking about something makes it more important than it’s going to be.

While mood can be improved in the short term, life satisfaction is primarily influenced by goals. A series of experiments showed that people who, at age 18, reported money did not matter to them were happy at age 45 regardless of income level. However, 18-year olds who said money was very important to them reported being “miserable” unless they had high incomes.


This difference between mood and satisfaction explains why moving to California doesn’t necessarily make people happier. The warmer climate will likely lift your mood temporarily but the reality of your life eventually sets in. Wherever you go, there you are.


Following me on twitter (@jbecher) might make you happier.


This blog was originally posted on Manage By Walking Around.

smallleadershipblogl.jpgThere’s no dearth of bad boss horror stories. A quick Google search yields millions of hits for exposè articles, shocking videos, and snarky tweets about managers gone bad.  But incompetent leaders aren’t necessarily born that way. Neither are great ones. The challenge is figuring out how to bring out the best in whoever’s in charge. This is not a ‘soft’ topic. In an age of unprecedented rapid innovation and change, getting the most out of your people is pivotal to success. What’s more, the latest generation of young workers expects much more than a paycheck. They demand a connection to a higher purpose, something that only a great leader can provide. 


That’s the impetus behind a new EMEA manager communications program at SAP slated for 2013. Designed to groom would-be leaders for greatness, it’s based on one concept: bring the right information to the right employees at the right time. The strategy is to reduce ‘top down’ emails, and replace them with timely communication that matters most to each individual. Employees get information where and when they want it. It’s mobile and social. A mobile app brings real-time news to an employee’s iPad. Blogs encourage employees to engage with managers in ongoing, interactive discussions across locations. Online and in-person networking allows employees and managers to exchange experiences, promoting cross-departmental understanding.


Rebecca Nicholson is Director of Employee Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP AG, Germany. In an article recently published by Melcrum, she talked about why leaders need to make communication a priority.


“Employees view managers as role models, especially those who walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk, and are more likely to respect a manager who they perceive to take the leadership role seriously,” she said. Call it what you will—an open door policy, regular one-on-one conversations, or role modeling work/life balance. Nicholson believes every conversation with a manager should leave employees energized with a sense of direction, prioritization, and opportunity. Employees who know how their daily work impacts the company’s overall strategy are empowered to go the extra mile.


Although economic uncertainty persists, now is not the time to hunker down to preserve the status quo. Now is the time to nurture leaders whose articulation of purpose will make your company a mecca for top talent. Let’s move the Google conversation away from negative characterizations to programs that build strong leaders. Natural born or not, leaders are the lifeline to everyone’s future.

By 2014, there will be more than 70 billion mobile app downloads from app stores every year, according to Gartner. Also by 2014, a majority of companies will deliver mobile apps to workers via private app stores. Obviously, not all of these apps will be winners. So how do successful mobile app innovators balance risk and reward during this time of explosive mobile app growth?

Paul.jpgWhen it comes to mobile games, developers should put the game ahead of their search for funding, said Brian Provinciano, developer and CEO of VBlank Entertainment.

“Many great ideas lay dormant and never see the light of day because developers put all of their time into finding investors,” said Provinciano. “Sacrificing your evenings and weekends to build a prototype will eliminate a lot of the risk. If you’re not willing to put the time in to build your idea with the money in your own pocket, it will be hard to convince investors to believe in it.”

By practicing what he preaches, Proviciano’s Retro City Rampage became a #1 bestseller for the Sony PS Vita and was self-published on many other platforms thanks to the freedom that digital distribution offers.

“It may just be the best thing to happen to developers in the history of the industry,” said Proviciano. “Without a publisher, we can take more risks and create the games that we want to make without influence from a marketing department, investors or a producer on the other side of the country. Without the costs of manufacturing, distribution or shelf space, when all goes right, we the developers are rewarded with the majority of the revenue.”

SAP Makes Consumer Apps Play

What if you’re a global, multi-billion dollar software company like SAP? Are the risks and rewards associated with independent mobile app development relatable? Not quite, but the “can do” attitude still prevails. Funding is still a challenge and tapping available resources is key to mitigating risk, said John Astill, Development Architect at SAP who helped create SAP’s iOS app Paul Predicts.

“The challenge for us was to find the correct balance of SAP technologies that we could have access to very quickly,” said Astill. “Fortunately, SAP Netweaver Cloud was being rolled out at the same time we were looking at creating the app. We had a very short development timescale and it was the perfect tool for us to use and deploy quickly.”


According to Astill, fans of European football will have a lot of fun with Paul Predicts, inspired by Paul the Octopus who became famous for accurately predicting 100% of the soccer tournament winners in 2010. For SAP, it shows how easily an application runs on SAP Netweaver cloud. “It’s a great marketing example of how cloud can be used in a consumer-based scenario,” said Astill. “We want to extend the capabilities of the app to include predictive analytics to see how algorithms compare with real users. This is a heart and mind challenge where predictive analytics avoids the pitfalls of emotional attachment when predicting who will win.”


Beatshapers Breaks Out


At three years young, Beatshapers is a break out success story in the world of mobile apps. The company published Jet Pack Joyride, developed by Half Brick Studios, to the Sony Playstation Network. All told, Jet Pack has been downloaded over 35 million times across multiple channels.  Even though Beatshapers has developed other popular apps, success didn’t come easy, according to Beatshapers founder and CEO Alexey Menshikov who said the technological and marketing risks associated with mobile app start-ups are difficult to overcome.


Certain app technologies require better than “average” engineers who understand development knowledge and culture, according to Menshikov. And because the mobile app and game industry is “hit driven” there is always the possibility of losing your app’s special moment in time if a competitor develops a better app or game. There’s also the risk of not being discovered at all.


“It’s a crowded market – it’s really hard to be spotted by just releasing app so right now you need to have marketing 2.0, attract customers with viral actions and other creative approaches,” said Menshikov. “You need to have proper strategy otherwise there is a chance you’ll be spending a lot of money for nothing.”


Make it “appen” by following me on twitter: @TClark01


You might also like:


Curious How Mobile Technology Fights Hunger? Check Out the Feeding America Story

network.jpgFor those of us 'grey haired' or 'bald' enough to have witnessed the dot-com boom and bust days of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the word 'Marketplaces' (or 'Exchanges', as they were also known) brings up an acute sense of 'deja vu'. It brings up the vision of those heady days in the late 90s when the B2B marketplaces were sprouting up by the day, with promises of untold and unimagined riches and prosperity. It also brings up visions of the bust days when they fell like pack of cards having failed to attract customer participation, their costs far outstripping revenue and the resultant withdrawal of venture funds. The hard facts tell a compelling story. From more than 2500 B2B Marketplaces at the height of the dot-com era in 1999, the numbers fell sharply to only over 200 survivors by 2004.


It is probably only natural for many to ask the question - 'So what is going to be different now? How would the “Network’ enabled by the SAP-Ariba combination make any difference? The answer to these questions lie in understanding the structural differences between the ‘then’ and ‘now’ of business networks; the transformation that the B2B space has undergone under the aegis of globalization and virtualization of supply chains.


The ‘marketplaces’ of late 1990s were ahead of their times. An idea that seemed good but lacked the ecosystem maturity (outsourcing was still an evolving concept in the 90s), and the support infrastructure (standardized process and systems integration architecture that enabled participant interactions). Barriers to entry and exit into these public marketplaces were very low, while the costs of participating in the exchanges were very high (in terms of managing the enormous heterogeneity of master and transactional data structures for participating companies). This resulted in low ‘business value’ from these exchanges and even lower customer ‘stickiness’.


Over the last decade business models have evolved significantly. Company value chains now are far more complex than ever, spreading across the globe and beyond the four walls of the enterprise. The initial drive for attaining cost efficiencies through labor cost arbitrage (the China phenomenon) has very effectively led to realization of both scale and scope economies for most who have embraced these principles. Leaning out of inventories, lower manufacturing and supply chain costs, ability to focus and excel on core competencies have been the resultant business benefits. However, this global and virtual (suppler and customer ecosystem) model has given rise to a much stronger need for managing information interchange within and outside a company’s four walls. Being a part of a ‘business network’ with established standards for process and system interaction with trading partners is a very attractive proposition now. Very different from the loose linkages of the public marketplaces of the yore.


I believe this is the very reason why SAP-Ariba business network is such a winner. SAP-Ariba can provide and help in transforming the business networks of today and in the future. The foundational elements are already in place; market need to collaborate, Ariba’s network presence and SAP’s enterprise reach and standardized technology platform. Ariba is a leader in the business network software space with more than 730,000 companies in its network, connecting and automating more than $319 billion of consumer transactions across the world. On the SAP side, 63% of world’s transaction revenue is touching the SAP systems through SAP’s global customer base of more than 190,000 customers. SAP today is the technology platform of choice for leading companies.


Move over ‘Marketplaces’... Welcome the ‘Networked Economy’ !!!


272080_l_srgb_s_gl.jpgAs a youth I lived in a strict house, where television viewing was restricted to one-half hour per day (or a full hour for PBS programs). The reasoning was simple: television makes people stupid, whether by its predictably banal content, endless emissions of crass noise, inducing of lethargy, or exposure to cathode rays. Yet there is little evidence that television has much to do with causing smart or stupid. On the contrary, the eminent media theorist Marshall McLuhan demonstrated that television is a remarkable technology that, unlike any other, documents the world with great fidelity as well as shapes it.


Big data and analytics is possibly the only technology to emerge recently that rivals television’s ability to capture the world so thoroughly and panoramically, while simultaneously shaping it. Even as its scope and potential are still unfolding, McLuhan gives us an uncannily useful way to make sense of analytics, and to know what to expect.


“You know nothing of my work”


Make mention of McLuhan and you will often encounter strong opinions of his work, and sometimes of his character. Laboring in obscurity for many years, McLuhan became a pop-culture icon in the 1960’s and 1970’s through his rigorous analysis of contemporary mass media. Simultaneously panned and adored, his concepts of the medium is the message, global village, and hot and cool media are as widely quoted as they are misunderstood.


McLuhan was closely associated with the uneasy breaking down of the demarcation between high and pop culture, and thereby suffered numerous attacks on his reputation, ranging from characterization as a pretentious crank throughout his career, to a mercenary during his years of fame. His unique style was often dismissed as gonzo, and his wry cameo in Annie Hall confirmed what many thought they already knew about him.


After his death in 1980, McLuhan’s work descended into obscurity, failing to find widespread favor among fellow academics. Yet fortunately that is changing, as philosophers such as Graham Harman make a compelling case for reevaluating McLuhan’s work, particularly the tetrad of media effects. As we shall see, McLuhan’s tetrad applies far beyond popular media, challenging our notions of smart and stupid, and painting an exquisite picture of a world transformed by analytics.



Finally, a 2x2 table that is actually useful



McLuhan’s tetrad describes a set of four interacting effects that all technologies exert on their users and environments. The tetrad is presented inventively as MediaTetrad_Smaller.pnga 2x2 table turned inside out (diagram). Briefly, the four effects are:


  1. Enhancement: a technology amplifies or extends existing human capabilities
  2. Obsolescence: a technology supersedes human capabilities, making them obsolete
  3. Retrieval: a technology extracts formerly outmoded or obsolete capabilities and makes them relevant again
  4. Reversal: a technology is driven to a point that it overheats and can advance no further, thereby causing advancements to flip, or retrogress, creating new problems.


Rather than attempt an elaborated description of these effects, two classic examples might be more illustrative: cars and computers.


Cars enhance speed and mobility, but also privacy, as mobility no longer depends on others to make it feasible or safe. Thus, cars make obsolete the horse economy, including livery stables, wheelwrights, Stanhope manufacturing, muleteers, and coachmen. Cars retrieve the knight’s honor code of not backing down from a challenge by an equal, which partially explains aggressive driving behavior. And excessive use of cars has reversed the benefits it originally enhanced. Gridlock, traffic jams, and scarce parking all reverse the freedom of movement cars once enabled, a fact noted by the motorcyclist term for car drivers, “cagers.”


Computers enhance calculation, computation speed, and information access. They make obsolete all kinds of manual and administrative labor, along with certain kinds of media storage locations such as libraries. Computers have retrieved the mythologizing of numbers, attribution of mystical powers to mathematics, and cultivation of esoteric knowledge. The close association of computers with role-playing and fantasy gaming is a manifestation of such retrieval. Finally, computers reverse the order of events from sequential to simultaneous. For computer users, time is distorted such that “it is always now,” and activities become project-driven rather than time-driven. And as is all-too familiar, computers demand attention rather than freeing it up.


As these examples demonstrate, technology does not make us smart or stupid. But it does change what we regard as smart and stupid, sometimes with discomforting suddenness.


So what will analytics do to us?



Making us smarter about being smart (Enhancement)



Perhaps the most obvious effect of analytics is its enhancement of computation ability. Supercomputing power has been transferred from building-sized behemoths in elite laboratories, to boxes on desktops, to mobile devices carried in pockets. Analytics has also enhanced working memory, by increasing the amount of current information that can be stored in an easily retrievable place, which in turn allows its human users greater chunking, or clustering of pieces of knowledge around central themes.


Analytics also enhances higher order thinking skills such as judgment and evaluation, by producing results that enable keen comparisons and contrasts. Similarly, analytics enhances the higher order thinking skills needed to model data (abstraction and structuring), and translate it back to a human-readable form (visualization).



Execution is strategy (Obsolescence)



One of the limitations of pre-digital television was costly storage of programming content, which forced studios to discard recordings that at the time were judged lacking enduring significance. As a result, novelty game shows such as The Magnificent Marble Machine have been almost entirely lost, along with soap operas, and early sporting events. Though perhaps of dubious cultural value, such recordings are of incalculable value as archival documents into which the mind and soul of the times are preserved. Analytics combined with cheap storage make the need to discard data due to storage constraints obsolete. However, searching large amounts of data stored on servers is not like searching for books in a bookstore. Analytics requires deliberate inquiry, and so serendipitous discovery also becomes obsolete.


More subtly, analytics renders obsolete the need to infer results from incomplete data or samples. As amounts of data approaching entire populations become available, models become less predictive and more descriptive. As inference becomes obsolete, management methods that rely on it will likely be affected.


A likely casualty is strategic management, which attempts to map out the best course of action while factoring in constraints. Classic business strategy (e.g., the five forces) is especially vulnerable to losing the relevance it accumulated over several decades. With access to comprehensive data sets and an ability to leave no stone unturned, execution becomes the most troublesome business uncertainty. Successful adaptation to changing conditions will drive competitive advantage more than superior planning. While not disappearing altogether, strategy is likely to combine with execution to become a single business function.



Seasons in the sun, brought back for another season (Retrieval)



The Age of Science has made knowledge something that can be cultivated. However, as data proliferates into petabytes, fields of knowledge become too large to cultivate, and our ability to reap becomes proportionally smaller. Analytics therefore will likely become driven more by short- term resource needs rather than long term-planning. Thus analytics moves business professionals away from being cultivators, and retrieves the hunter-gatherer behaviors of our ancestors. We will become data hunters rather than data farmers.


Just as hunter-gatherers often lived in environments of natural abundance, businesses may have an abundance of data. But insight and action will likely proceed according to data availability, which may be migratory, periodic, and seasonal. In extreme cases, the environment may inhibit gathering data, in which case insight could become a feast or famine condition. Business activity may follow entirely new cycles rather than traditional business cycles, with perhaps less adherence to quarterly periods and more to seasons when the business environment is most fertile.


Analytics will also retrieve what historian Richard Hofstadter described as the anti-intellectual businessman, where management decisions are resolutely theory free. Instead of academic management theories and classic business cases, decisions and action will be informed increasingly by manager acculturation and practical knowledge. Motivated by pragmatism, managers will preside over an execution-driven business, as opportunities will become framed by the data and solutions that are immediately available.



Re-engineering the already reengineered corporation (Reversal)



Too many cars overload highways and create smog. Similarly, too much data and analytics create cognitive overload and data smog, both of which put great stress on our ability to keep our bearings. As our ability to manage cognitive overload decreases, business phenomena increasingly appear less rational, and we experience a reversal from higher order thinking skills to an orientation to recognizing organic shapes and patterns.


Much like our hunter-gatherer ancestors struggling to survive on the savanna, our preoccupation reverts to mesoscopic phenomena (i.e., size of an animal) that might be hiding in the bushes, rather than the microscopic/macroscopic phenomena (e.g., atoms and space) that we conquered through science. The need for sense making becomes immediate, and we will tend to deal with events through storytelling, ritualizing, superstition, and attributions to irrational forces.


While psychologically too much data reverses our rational behavior, organizationally it produces increasingly rigid rational control. Organizational activity becomes directed by algorithms, characterized less by judgment and more by reaction. An example is zero tolerance policy in law enforcement or school discipline. Likewise, the core of organizational culture becomes algorithms rather than values. Decision making autonomy is reduced, as jobs and business functions come to resemble computer applications. Consequently organizations become structured like a servomechanism aiming to maintain a steady state, reversing the flat, collaborative organizations developed over the past few decades.



“You don't like those ideas? I’ve got others”



So, does any of this sound even slightly abhorrent?


McLuhan would be pleased. When encountering disagreement, McLuhan often responded puckishly, “You don't like those ideas? I’ve got others.” Indeed, such sentiment applies here as well, as the four effects McLuhan described are by no means deterministic. Like television, cars, or computers, the effects of analytics are influenced by the innovative people who use it. Analytics can make us smart by helping us look into the future and adapt to it, or stupid by leading us to think it must unfold in only one way.


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Classic Rock, Analytics and the On-premise / Cloud Debate

Software providers sometime lacking in terms of sales enablement activities especially when providing enablement materials to license as well as services/consulting sales.



Both groups are relevant and important to the overall success of the companies in terms of revenue generation as well as customer retention and satisfaction. Within SAP we have build up a group of sales enablement specialists that is managing license as well as services enablement activities and have set this as their key priority. Following are some key observations as well as success factors which made this team successful:



  1. Know your target group: Being within sales enablement for the last three years, one of my key observations was that you need to know your target group. What are typical pain points when selling to the customer? What do sales expect in terms of sales enablement materials? What content do they need? Those are just a couple of key questions I personally faced during my job. Also, and this seems to be most important, you have to have a profound knowledge about typical sales processes and cycles.
  2. Be relevant: In my position it is always key to have a deep understanding, not only on specific sales processes, but also on the product or services. Having a good understanding about your portfolio, means to be relevant to sales as well as being a trusted advisor when it comes to creating relevant sales enablement materials. In order to gain this knowledge, regular trainings, following social media discussions are relevant to your daily job.
  3. Expand your network: Connecting with sales is key to your success. Keep in touch and connect with colleagues from the field. Learn more about their challenges, integrating them into your materials and – if possible – attend customer meeting to have a “live” feeling on what is happening in the market.
  4. Services is not the same as license: In terms of customer interaction, positioning, license sales cannot be compared to services/consulting sales. Having a holistic view in mind, makes your relevant to your internal sales colleagues. Build up your knowledge around your service and software portfolio.

On the Business Innovation site, we deliver the top blogs, news  and  featured content on business innovation for professionals looking to  grow and  gain a competitive  business 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 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!


Is The Cloud Ready For Data Warehousing?

Cloud – By Lindsey Nelson, @LindseyNNelson


You may be contemplating the cloud, and if you are thinking of how it will help advance your business intelligence analytics, here are 4 reasons how.


Mobile Marketing – The Elephant In The Room For Marketers

Sales & Marketing – By Steve Olenski, @steveolenski


This is (the fourth) year for mobile, but it's time for marketers to talk about the elephant in the room and get on board.


Analytics Could Save Social Networks As Marketing Tool

Analytics – By Irfan Khan


For a long time, especially in the Mad Men era, marketers and advertisers alike used their guts. Now with a more informed customer, analytics is outsmarting intuition and showing how you can leverage your social media data to reach your audience.


‘Bring Your Own Network’: More Security Risks Than BYOD?

Cloud – By Eric Lai, @ericylai


Eric brings to our attention the dangers of the network, as well as a new acronym we can add to our already lengthy list.


The Most Toxic Words In Marketing

Sales & MarketingMichael Brenner, @BrennerMichael


It's all about how you say it, and if your content isn't good enough to be behind that registration form it won't help you sell stuff.


The Emerging Social Enterprise: Catering to the Net Generation

Sales & Marketing – By Michael Brenner


The possibilities for success as a Social Enterprise are endless – as long as you listen to what the Net Generation is saying.


Myths In Risk Management — Exposing The Flaws Of Risk Heat Maps

Finance – By Bruce McCuaig


Bruce asks and answers how useful the frequently used heat maps actually are.


The Walmart Effect: 4 Best Practices For Dealing With That First Huge Order

Industries – By Christopher Koch, @Ckochster


So you're a small company who sells lollipops and Wal-Mart just called - they want 200,000 lollipops by Friday morning. What do you do with that big first deal?


Forrester: Top Marks For Windows 8

Mobile – By Sebastian Nikoloff


Sebastian gives us a quick once-over on the new Windows we've been waiting for.


5 Things Every Business Needs

Business Innovation – By Todd Wilms, @toddmwilms


It's not a broken record, big data is the biggest game changer for your company. With it you can reach a previously undiscovered level of engagement with your customer, especially if you have these five things.

OneDwall-e1354557629304-300x225.jpgEven though I am a 41 year-old male whose taste in music is far removed from the pop charts, I can’t seem to shake the Brit boy band juggernaut known as One Direction (1D).  In my defense, I’m a father of two young girls so like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, my eyes and ears are force-fed a steady diet of 1D’s sugary sweet anthems, magazine covers, posters and tee shirts. It was only a matter of time before I started chanting stuff like this in my sleep:


Baby you light up my world like nobody else,

The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed,

But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell,

You don’t know, Oh oh,

You don’t know you’re beautiful


(Note: If you’d like the aforementioned to be on a continuous loop inside your head, watch this. You’re welcome.)


Anyway, my relationship with 1D was taken to dizzying, new heights on a recent family trip to New York City when we paid a visit to One Direction World, a 9,000 square foot retail outlet conveniently located next to Madison Square Garden (where they are playing a sold out show tonight).  It was early in the day but a long line stretched outside the entrance and around the building. Images of the band members and their logo loomed large. In front of us, a gaggle of chirping tweenagers could barely contain themselves as one exclaimed:


“I’m gonna be ten rows away from them tomorrow, I’m gonna die. OMG, I think I’m already dead!”


How can a retail store possibly meet the expectations of these crazed fans?


Once inside, my doubts disappeared. Plenty of places to take pictures and scribble love letters on walls. A green-screen booth allows fans to record their very own 1D video. Custom posters means fans can insert their own picture against different 1D backdrops. Then there’s the merchandise, what seemed like hundreds of different items (my favorite was the 1D pajamas for a mere $100). The staff was knowledgeable and helpful and there was absolutely no rushing or pressure of any kind.


1D’s music might drive some of us crazy for the wrong reasons. But after surviving, er, paying a visit to One Direction World and seeing the fans interact with the 1D brand – I think these guys could actually teach us techies and business types a thing or two about customer centricity.


Scream, shout and follow me on twitter @TClark01.

Argh … I think I heard Charlie Brown say something as Lucy pulled the Small Business Saturday doormat from under his feet! Was Small Business Saturday a success? The National Federation of Independent Businesses, or NFIB, reports a success with consumers having spent $5.5 billion this past Saturday! Or, could it have been a bigger one that helped launch the beginning to a great 2013? I think some small business owners missed an opportunity today at Small Business Saturday. Yes, many small businesses saw a bump in sales thanks to American Express’ $25 credit (a great boon to shoppers). My take-away from my Saturday shopping adventure in the wonderful Main Street America location, Media, PA, was that some small business owners are not equipped to help themselves to compete against the big brands! I think that many looked at the great #SmallBizSat event as only a way to get people through the door vs. being a springboard to starting a ‘relationship’ and driving repeat sales. My observation is not an indictment, rather, a challenge to think of the big picture! If you are a small business owner, then you should embrace the day and use it as a kick-start for the holidays AND the year ahead! The NFIB reports that 36% of independent business owners consider that Small Business Saturday is the most important shopping day of the year compared to 24% saying that Black Friday holds that classification.

So, more about my shopping adventure today. I took a ride on the “Small Business Saturday (American) Express” today to Media, PA – literally a train from Drexel Hill to Media! While others visited the big box stores in King of Prussia stores and others visited the Delaware malls that did not support the local Delaware County economy in any way I ate and shopped at six small businesses today! And, it was Small Business Saturday event that motivated me! It was a great experience. I was motivated by the $25 credit, however, I trialed (e.g., Reconsidered Home -  nice!) a few stores and spent some cash in a few others (e.g., Local Home & Gifts), so Small Business Saturday lit my fire!


However, I am dismayed with the amount of small businesses who did not truly embrace this opportunity that American Express teed up for them. This was the event that should have kicked off Q4 and Q1 for every store owner. This event was so much more than some window flyers, QR code stickers and cool doormats. These were great tools to help the small business owner focus to get customers to buy more, buy more often and visit again soon! From under-trained staff to a lack of a bounce-back strategy there were many missed opportunities I saw today:

Staff Knowledge. Most staff at the six stores I visited did NOT know about the day or how to to explain how the credit worked (e.g., “Are you part of Small Business Saturday?”  I always recommend to small business owners that they train their staff on all frequently asked questions, or at least put this information in the “daily sheet” to be distributed on site or via email. (What you don’t have a daily sheet in place to train and inform your staff?)


Staff Customer Service. Small Business Saturday is the new Black Friday for small business owners! Every small business would benefit if each team member was trained on at least two phrases that welcome customers to the store (e.g., “Welcome to Quotations and Thanks For Stopping By On Small Business Saturday”) and when they leave (e.g., “Thank you for stopping by. Please follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/EarthAndState for new gift ideas”) Each team member is the face of every small business, so take advantage of each opportunity!

No Bounce Back Strategy. Only one store I visited (i.e., Earth And State) used a strategy to get me to return to make another purchase within ten days. This strategy was perfect!  They were one of the few businesses who seemed to understand the potential of new customers … get them to come back again soon! Every store needs to consider should a similar strategy to maximize the RFM – recency, frequency, money model. It’s a great way to maximize a day like Small Business Saturday!

Not Leveraging Social Media. Social media is the new language of the customer and it appears that many small business owners do not want to embrace it, event with the big brands looking to spend more on social media marketing in local neighborhoods in 2013. Not one store that I visited had a clear path to engage with them on social media, whether it was Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare. Customers are using social media as their new buying process language! In fact,  I checked in on Foursquare on every store and there was no mention that they were a Small Business Saturday participant (missed opportunity!) In fact, one business had a Facebook call out on their web page … and it linked to a developer page and NOT their own Facebook page.

If you have a question about each of these four observations please leave a comment on this post!

Some other related posts that you might find useful are:


So, Mr. Small Business Owner, I am your greatest fan! Don’t miss the opportunity to start to build a long-term relationship with your customers during a pack-them-in-the-store day like American Express’ Small Business Saturday! Instead of feeling like the mat was pulled out from under you when customers don’t return, use that mat to keep on welcoming back your customers time and time again!


Gerry Moran


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