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SAP Cloud Computing

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10 things you should know about Travel and Expense Management. And why you should step up to the cloud to make business travel easier and more efficient for your employees and your back office.

 

(click on graphic to enlarge)

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We invite you to our free webinar on Sept. 10th 10AM CEST (EMEA Timezone). Register here


Or visit us online on www.sap.com/cloudfortravel

 

Want to read more blogs about Travel and Expense management? Click here

 

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SuccessFactors Metadata Framework (MDF)

 

SuccessFactors Metadata Framework (MDF) – is the new and upcoming Application Development Platform at SuccessFactors. Internally a number of SuccessFactors Applications like Employee Central, Time Off, and Position Management have been built on MDF. It has also been made available to external Customers and Partners who can use it to build their Customer Extensions.


In this blog we would like to share our experiences of building a sample application called "Asset Management System" through MDF. It should be noted that we didn’t have any prior knowledge of MDF before developing this application.


Asset Mangement System - Application Overview

 

Tracking and managing company assets (e.g. Laptops , Mobile  etc) is a business process that is often done by IT departments using separate systems outside of core HCM. The challenge is that HR often has no visibility to asset management or has to have separate integrations built to the system with the end users having separate log-ins and user experiences.


Through this App we showcase how the SuccessFactors MDF can be used to build an asset management application within the core HCM solution without the support of IT, expensive integrations and give the all users a consistent user experience governed by flexible business rules.


Broad use case

 

  • IT admin procures assets from the vendor
  • Manager / Employee needs to fill up the Asset Request Form
  • Asset Request needs to be approved by Manager
  • IT admin fulfills the Asset Request by issuing from stock available

 

Leveraging SuccessFactors Metadata Framework (MDF) to build application extensions

 

MDF offers solutions for all the three tiers – Data Model, Business Logic, UI that make up an application extension.


  • Using MDF we were able to quickly build the entities, entity relationships - the entire data model that was required for our  Asset Management System
  • MDF has an easy to use UI that allows us to define  objects, individual fields, field data types, associations
  • We  do not have to map the entities to a physical data table any more. No reason to write a SQL Stored procedure or SQL query. MDF manages all of that for  internally so all that we need to do is configure and define our objects. So we can define an entity and right the next minute start creating records for that entity
  • Creating entity relationships is also pretty easy. Also the data model is extensible. Hence we could easily build and extend these relationships as you go
  • Business Logic : Using MDF we could easily define the relevant logic, business validations, business processes through the Rules Engine and Workflow – including rules with multiple expressions
  • Role Based Permissions (RBP) and Security
    • Leveraging MDF and the Role Based Permissions (RBP) framework ,which is part of MDF ,we were easily able to achieve the required security and role permissions for the Asset Management application

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  • We also needed Approval Processes to be incorporated into the Asset Management app e.g. approval required from concerned manager for asset request . This was easily achieved using the MDF Workflow , which is completely configurable
  • To provide the user interface(UI) for our Asset Management system  -we could achieve it using the cool and simple Configurable UI. We could easily configure our UI Pages to display all the required information
  • The Configurable UI is a simple to use UI Designer that let us drag and drop fields, arrange relevant fields together, define a cool UI layout. It allowed us to map the UI Controls to the entity fields without a single line of code


Highlights: key benefits from MDF in Asset Management System Application

 

We would like to highlight the following Key Benefits from developing Applications using MDF.

 

  1. Control - Configuration vs Code. No need to engage technical IT teams or vendors. HR Admins can build extensions themselves
  2. Speed & Quality - Savings in time, effort & money because through MDF the team can bypass the application development cycle. No technical testing required. Only functional testing needed
  3. Consistency in look and feel and behaviors since MDF is the same platform used by SuccessFactors internally for application development as well as provided to customers / partners for Customer Extensions
  4. Simplicity - Ease of maintenance. HR Admins can change their extensions to keep up with their changing business processes and use cases
  5. Future Proof – Incremental updates to the platform would not disrupt customer extensions

 

 

In a matter of 10 days the entire application - Asset Management System was built from scratch by a team of 3 members, and demoed at SAP flagship event of SAPPHIRE. All the team needed was a 1 day training on MDF and reference materials - MDF implementation guide and other online resources.


If this was developed with custom development, without MDF, it would have taken approximately 6 weeks (assuming that the team was new to this development environment). As such, the development time was reduced by 2 weeks using MDF, which is a significant reduction of about 67%.


Summary

 

  • MDF is a complete application development platform that allowed us to build application extensions end to end, right from defining the objects to implementing the business logic to creating the UIs
  • MDF is very intuitive and does not require any coding skills for development. As such, it is a good development platform whose time has come
  • Any person with an initial MDF training and the MDF documentation ( like MDF Implementation Guide etc) can get on board and start building apps using MDF
  • In conclusion MDF is a perfect platform to easily build and extend SuccessFactors applications


Many of you are likely to have questions about what is included or available options with the SAP Simple Finance offering. As a Product Marketing Director for SAP's cloud based solutions that focus on the Finance Line of Business, I wanted to post a short blog providing a perspective of what your organization could use and benefit from with the SAP Simple Finance offering. I hope this blog will also encourage you to post more questions in the comments for me and the experts to address.

 

So, what exactly is included in SAP Simple Finance?


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Based on SAP HANA, SAP Simple Finance is a new offering consisting of a set of end-to-end finance solutions delivered as easy to consume, yet comprehensive value packages covering the capabilities of the SAP Finance Value Map (depicted in the above image). For maximum choice and flexibility, SAP Simple Finance is offered with subscription pricing and can be deployed as a managed service via the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. This set of finance solutions can also be connected to other cloud and on-premise applications in a hybrid deployment model, allowing customers to protect and extend their current IT investments. The set of solutions includes:

 

Base Package     
     (SAP ERP Foundation Extension, financials add-on for SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA)
Financial Planning and Analysis
     (including Planning and Reporting)

Accounting and Financial Close,

     (including Corporate Close, Financial Closing Cockpit, and Master Data Governance, Lease Administration by Nakisa)
Treasury and Financial Risk Management
     (including Treasury Operations, Treasury and Risk, Financial Services Network, and Commodity Risk Management)

Collaborative Finance Operations
     (including Receivables Management, Payables Management, Travel Management, and Shared Service Framework, Ariba Collaborative Finance)

Enterprise Risk and Compliance Management
     (including Risk Management, Fraud Management, and Audit Management)    

 

The offering can be connected  to the broad portfolio of public cloud applications from SAP for key lines of business such as human resources (HR), procurement, sales, service and marketing, as well as to the Ariba Network, enabling collaboration in the world’s largest trading community.

 

Common Questions:


I have heard others inquire if SAP Simple Finance is new code, or just a new provisioning of the SAP Value Map for Finance in SAP data centers. The answer is that SAP Simple Finance provides new code to customers in specific areas, for example in the financials add-on for SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and in the new and planned finance applications based on the financials add-on (e.g. SAP Accounting powered by SAP HANA and SAP Cash Management powered by SAP HANA, etc.). In addition, SAP Simple Finance also contains all existing SAP Finance solutions that are available for deployment in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. This provides consistent finance solution scope and capability independent of the customer’s choice of deployment.

 

Another frequent question is the choice of the word "simple". Simple is not the first thing that springs to mind when we talk about enterprise-caliber finance solutions. We chose the word "Simple" to draw attention that we can now bring simplicity across the most complex finance tasks with the SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA. SAP Simple Finance is also designed to provide the most simple experience for easy cloud adoption — from the discovery of the solution to the deployment, until the actual usage by finance users. By leveraging modern design principles, customers also have the option to deploy the SAP® Fiori® user experience for personalized, responsive and simple interactions across most common financial tasks.

 

Three minute Video on SAP Simple Finance:

 

I encourage you to watch this short video from SAPPHIRE NOW Orlando 2014 where Bill McDermott, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Executive Board SAP, and Prof. Dr. h.c. Hasso Plattner, Chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board, discuss what are the innovative benefits that SAP Simple Finance can provide your organization:

 

While all the enterprise-caliber capabilities of the solutions in the SAP Finance Value map are still available, the internal accounting architecture, analytical methodology, discovery, consumption, on-boarding, configuration, packaging, and extensibility are and will continue to be radically simplified. By delivering easy-to-consume, and simply subscribed value packages and progressively applying more and more cloud capabilities to the set of solutions over time, SAP recognizes that cloud deployment and consumption of enterprise software will be the "new normal". Yet, SAP is moving beyond simple cloud enablement with SAP Simple Finance. We are delivering on all the benefits of the cloud (e.g. ease of deployment and consumption, etc.) while not compromising on SAP's traditional strengths of enterprise caliber breadth and depth, high degree of automation, globalization and industry support.

 

Some concrete examples such as: Intercompany reconciliations on the fly, integrated planning, cash management, real-time analysis, and reduced data footprint are explained in this recent blog: SAP Simple Finance - A more detailed look.  That blog really brings to life how this offering combines the breadth of robust processes addressing complex business requirements with a simplfied, innovative and easy to consume environment.

 

In summary: SAP Simple Finance makes the most complex finance functions and tasks simple to consume and perform while delivering sophisticated capabilities.  I encourage you to watch the video and visit sap.com/simple-finance to learn more.

 

That's all for now, I look forward to your questions!

Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO once famously ranted: "What the hell is Cloud Computing?!"

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In fact, if you were to run a Google Search for "Larry Ellison Cloud" - it will be the first result returned, from almost 6 years ago.

 

However, we should not be mistaken as his rant was not due to dumbfounded unfamiliarity, it was due to the fact the term "Cloud Computing" was starting to become the latest buzz word, used by many software companies, and ultimately its definition had become fuzzy.

 

This caused multiple definitions of the word: "Cloud" in computing terms.  Ask five people to define "Cloud", you receive six different answers.

 

This post aims to dissect the term as it pertains to Public Cloud Applications and highlight the reasons as to why the market is being driven towards the Cloud.

 

Three Key Terms

 

There are three key terms to remember as it relates to the Public Cloud: 'Cloud' itself, 'SaaS' and 'Multi-Tenancy'.  Let's cover each aspect:

 

1 - Cloud

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction”

 

This is a fair statement. However has this model of application delivery not been in practice for many years, decades in-fact?  Client-Server applications, Application Service Providers (ASPs) and Browser-based applications have been around for a long time - are they not Cloud also?  According to the definition above, yes they can be deemed as so.

 

Of course, the Cloud deployment models add complexity to the definition.  Terms such as Hybrid Cloud, Private or Managed Cloud will be covered in future posts.

 

2 - Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

"Software as a service is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted."

 

Applications that can be subscribed are in use in our every day lives and are not uncommon. The SaaS model represents a significant shift in the way companies acquire and consume software applications.

 

Applications that traditionally may have only been available to large Enterprise companies are now consumable by small-medium businesses.  Rather than paying up-front for large enterprise licenses, companies can effectively subscribe to software on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis for a contracted period of time - on an operating budget as opposed to a depreciated capital budget.

 

This allows the Line of Business to gain significant value in obtaining applications that add strategic execution value - delivered efficiently as described within a previous post: Moving to the Cloud - What Changes with Consulting?

 

With that said, this is still nothing new. What is the true game-changing nature of Cloud?  Read on:

 

3 - Multi-Tenancy - Game Changer

 

Whereas the software architecture used by most ASPs mandated maintaining a separate instance of the application (including application and database layers) for each company, a true Cloud, SaaS application should utilise a multi-tenant architecture, in which the application serves multiple companies and users from a single code-line and database structure, and partitions its data and logic accordingly.

 

To clearly define Multi-Tenancy, we can use the analogy of a block of apartments:

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ComparativeAn Apartment BlockMulti-Tenant SaaS Application
ArchitectOne architect, used to design the structureDesigned by one software vendor. e.g.: SAP
DeveloperOne property developer, used to build the structureDeveloped by one software vendor e.g.: SAP
MaintenanceOne maintenance crew, used to maintain the building and associated servicesMaintained and supported by the software vendor e.g.: SAP
FoundationBuilt on one one foundationBuilt on a single platform e.g.: SAP's HANA Cloud Platform
StructureOne single high-rise structureOne single application - one code-line e.g.: SAP Cloud for HR
Utilities One utility infrastructure providing Gas/Electricity, Energy and WaterOne (or more) Cloud Vendor Data Centers providing power, processors, bandwidth, storage, memory and redundancy e.g.: SAP Data Center
TenantsMultiple tenants residing within one blockMultiple customers residing within one Multi-Tenant framework
ConfigurationsEach apartment is different due to internal layout, decor, flooring, appliances and accessories - configured to the tenant's requirementsEach customer's application instance has differing look and feel, branding, workflows, templates, forms and logic - configured to the customer's business requirements

 

It is a simple comparitive analogy however very effective, especially when we consider the benefits of the Apartment Block Tenant, the Multi-Tenant SaaS Application Customer and Software Vendor:

 

Key Benefits for the Apartment Block Tenant

 

  • Predictable Fees and Expenses
    • One moving in fee, and one recurring rental fee
  • Total Cost of Ownership and Time to Relaxation
    • It is cheaper, quicker and more efficient to rent an apartment, as opposed to buying or building their own house.
  • Flexibility
    • It increases the tenant's flexibility to move as and when their circumstances change - increasing size, decreasing size or moving to a new location.

 

Key Benefits for the Multi-Tenant SaaS Customer

 

  • Predictable Fees and Expenses
    • One initial implementation fee and one recurring subscription fee
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership and Faster Time to Value
    • It is cheaper, quicker and more efficient to subscribe to a SaaS application, as opposed to buying, installing and deploying or building their own software,  whilst delivering time-to-value. No IT hardware, hosting, perpetual licenses, or resourcing issues.
  • Increased Agility
  • Faster and Frequent Innovation
    • Always on the latest version of the application, benefiting from frequent and rapid innovations and keeping up-to-date with the latest technology, features and functions - typically all included within one recurring subscription fee.

 

Despite these benefits, companies may still have concerns about moving to the Cloud. We address the key concerns in this post, as part of the Moving to the Cloud series.

 

Key Benefits for the Multi-Tenant SaaS Application Vendor

 

  • Economies of Scale
    • As the SaaS Vendor does not have to build, maintain and support multiple application instances for every single customer (potentially thousands), a proportionate saving in costs is gained. Upgrades of every single customer tenant can take place in one day.
  • Research & Development
    • Due to the significant reduction in costs, the SaaS Vendor is able to divert investment into application R&D, delivering rapid and frequent innovation to their customers.  In addition, customers can contribute towards future innovation by providing feedback and ideas towards product strategy.  Should these ideas be applied, they would not only benefit the customer suggesting it, but every customer within the vendor's subscription base.
  • Infrastructure Scalability
    • True Multi-Tenant Architectures and Data Centers are built in order to scale.  Due to significant redundancy, the acquisition of a customer with hundreds, or thousands of users does not impact performance.  Simply by increasing hardware provisions (storage, memory, processing power, bandwidth etc), further scale can be applied to accommodate an expanding cloud user-base.
  • Barriers to Purchasing
    • With lower, predictable and transparent and financial commitment from the customer, less IT dependency and shorter time to value, typical customer purchasing bottlenecks and barriers are reduced.

 

Companies typically ask me how they can be sure an application adopts true multi-tenancy, in order to reap the benefits described: The question to ask a software vendor is:

"What % of your customers are on the latest version of your software?"


If the answer is less than 100%, it is not multi-tenant.


Combining the three key terms: Cloud (Remote computing delivery model), SaaS (subscription model), and Multi-Tenancy (economies of scale) provides significant differentiators against traditional on-premise applications and brings a multitude of benefits that is driving an entire industry towards the Cloud.


The next post of this series will delve further into why market momentum is shifting towards Cloud.

 

Kunal Pandya is a Senior Director at SAP, responsible for the Global Cloud Solution Center, enabling and evangelising Cloud to SAP's Partner Ecosystem.

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With rapid adoption and migration to the Cloud, comes changes to how we run and manage our businesses.


In this post, we look at changes for Cloud Vendors, and Reseller Partners as it relates to Consulting and Implementation Engagements. The key comparative areas being:


**EDIT** As quite rightly pointed out by one particular reader, I should clarify that the points mentioned below refer more so to Multi-Tenant SaaS applications than general Cloud:

 

AreaThe Traditional On-Premise ModelWhat Changes with Cloud?
FeesProjects are based on a one-time Time & Materials basis typically with  unpredictable costs of implementation.

Projects can be delivered on a Fixed Fee basis – thereby significantly lowering and providing predictable services fees.

Project Fees can also be billed on a recurring basis to cater for ongoing customer engagement and frequent innovation cycles.

DurationProjects can last for years.Cloud projects are measured in weeks, not months or years, providing a faster time-to-value.
LocationOnsite Consulting with associated additional expenses.With no onsite hardware with installed software, an effective virtual approach can be taken to streamline project costs and bottlenecks.
Software TailoringExtensive application customisation and associated ongoing maintenance costs.Focus on best practice, packaged Configuration versus customisation.
RequirementsStart with customer requirements and define a one-off solution.Start with customer requirements and always leverage best practices for reusability
Resource AllocationLarge Implementation teams varied and unpredictable experience levels – all billing the clientFocused team with functional depth and experience
UtilisationConsultants are incented to bill hours (and keep utilisation high)Consultants focused on implementing efficiently with high quality and customer satisfaction, and multi-task on multiple-projects.


The Cloud Subscription Renewal Model changes the game as far as Customer success is concerned. A customer centric approach is critical towards winning in the Cloud.


"68% of companies are more likely to have a marginal project or outright failure than a success due to the way they approach business requirements analysis"


          - Tech Republic


This places further emphasis on ensuring best-in-class solution delivery in order to maximise Cloud customer retention. 


Ultimately, the impact and knock-on effect of project implementation failure can be seen as one of the key reasons a company may choose not to renew their Cloud subscription.

 

Kunal Pandya is a Senior Director at SAP, responsible for the Global Cloud Solution Center, enabling and evangelising Cloud to SAP's Partner Ecosystem.


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"We have concerns about moving our applications to the Cloud"

 

This is a statement I have heard countless times from businesses large and small.  This post explores the key concerns, and addresses SAP's solution.

 

Concern 1: "Is the Cloud as secure as hosting applications in-house?"


Quite possibly the single largest concern about moving to the Cloud. The common myth with IT Security Leaders is that hosting software in-house, is more secure than hosting in a controlled Public Cloud. And this reminds me of a tweet I recently came across:

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The fact is, there are not too many companies in the world who have invested over 40 years of experience and expertise into security.  SAP's Cloud complies with the toughest and most vigourous certifications and independent audits.

 

  • Professional hackers are contracted to test and harden the infrastructure
  • Prospective Customers are able to review data centres - including certifications, and audit reports (under non-disclosure)
  • The largest banking institutions, government agencies and security companies are using SAP's Cloud today - this is by far the biggest ratification of the Cloud.

 

Operating a data center usually does not fall under a given company's core area of expertise. Increasingly, these companies are asking themselves which services should be run in the cloud. Ultimately, having invested €millions into it's data centres on a continual basis, SAP's Cloud Infrastructure is as secure, as if your company had an unlimited budget.

 

Learn more about SAP's Data Centers here: SAP Datacenter

 

Concern 2: "What does SAP know about the Cloud?"


SAP's Cloud consists of over 35 million paying subscribers.  There is no other Cloud Vendor on the planet with more paying subscribers to their cloud.

 

Typically, we think of Consumer Cloud applications such LinkedIn or Facebook who combined have over 1 billion subscribers - but how many of those subscribers pay for the service?  Not more than 35 million. We also think of companies such as Salesforce.com or Workday - again, not close to 35 million.

 

"But what does 35 million paying subscribers actually mean?":

 

No software vendor can reach 35m paying subscribers by accident.  In order to do so, they must have:

 

  • Best in Class Solutions
  • Best in Class Infrastructure
  • Best in Class Security
  • Best in Class Quality Assurance
  • Best in Class Partners
  • Best in Class PEOPLE

 

With YOY triple-digit growth in the Cloud, SAP is not only a leader in the Cloud, it is THE leader in the Cloud.

 

Concern 3: "Can customers in the same cloud view each others data?"

 

Multi-tenancy is a game changer, not only by providing significant economies of scale, but also increasing the rate of product innovation to not only match, but usually exceed customer's expectations.

 

In a public, controlled cloud, customers share a pool of computing, network, memory and storage resources. As these physical resources are shared, a common concern is that cloud customers are more easily subjected data dilution between customers using the same service.

 

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The fact is, it is impossible for customer data to be exposed to another customer within a multi-tenant controlled cloud environment - such as SAP's. Even while all customers share the same infrastructure and binary code of the application, the data is always kept separate in Memory as well as within the Database.  In-fact SAP's Cloud Applications have been built from the ground-up as multi-tenant applications ensuring strict segregation architecture and best practices.  Strong login credentials or even Single-Sign-On capabilities protect the regular access to the application.

 

Concern 4: "We must host our applications within our country's borders"


In light of the Edward Snowden revelations of widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency, the response from many IT Leaders will increasingly be that they are indeed uncomfortable with the loss of control over their data. In recent months, many countries have begun to explore mandating local cloud providers to ensure that domestic data stays in the country.


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This can be considered a show-stopper.  But is it?  I have heard IT Security Leaders raise this as a concern, but it's legitimacy can be questioned upon further detailed research.


The fact is, SAP's Controlled Cloud complies with the most stringent laws, certifications and data protection provisions. Data from cloud customers falls under the jurisdiction selected by the customer and IS NOT forwarded to third parties. SAP’s support services ensure that data protection is also maintained during required maintenance operations.


SAP's Cloud data is not stored “somewhere in the cloud,” but in clearly agreed-upon locations. SAP cloud customers specify in their contract which data center they want to use as the “data location.” No one has blanket access to the data, and comprehensive audits ensure that all technical and organisational measures are complied with and implemented.


Concern 5: "We just don't want to lose control of our applications"


Whilst the tide is turning, there will be companies and IT Leaders who are unwilling to take the leap into the Cloud. There may be genuine concerns, however I typically find this is more of an emotional response - especially in recent times.


We must be mindful of the fact that 'moving to a vendor's cloud' equates to outsourcing.  The traditional CIO and CTO's role is changing from being builders of business technology, to enablers and drivers of business strategy. The era of Cloud Computing, where the business leader brings new software and technology to the enterprise, means IT leaders need to hone new skills or risk being relegated to the role of IT order-taker.


In addition, due to the ease of adoption and consumption of Cloud applications, Line of Business (LoB) leaders are beginning to play an even bigger role in the procurement process.  IDC estimate by 2016, 80% of IT decisions will involve the LoB, and 53% of IT decisions will be lead by LoB.


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Because CIOs and CTOs face competition in such completely new ways, they have to be much more responsive and agile in proving their value and worth. They must be better intermediaries in dealing with the variety of cloud services available today, and add value by coming up with a more responsive set of services and better overall value for the company - aligned to corporate strategies.


This significance of this change can bring an emotional response against Cloud, and we must be mindful of this.


However, moving to the Cloud does not mean the end of in-house development. It is vital for IT leaders to understand that the Cloud is not entirely replacing internal infrastructure, but augmenting it. It is due to this, businesses may need greater application development expertise across a broader range of skill sets, not necessarily less. Internal software engineers and developers must possess skills that span both the cloud and on-premise resources, securing and leveraging the opportunities inherent with Cloud without giving up the traditional processes that differentiate and deliver competitive advantage.


The Cloud is here, and adoption and migration continues to grow at a rapid pace.  These key concerns must be met with empathy and a consistent, researched response in order to obtain the key sponsorship that will be required to support adoption.


Kunal Pandya is a Senior Director at SAP, responsible for the Global Cloud Solution Center, enabling and evangelising Cloud to SAP's Partner Ecosystem.


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276374_l_srgb_s_gl.jpgIs your company ready for the coming cohort of "Cloud Natives" ?


My daughter (16) saw me recently preparing yet another Powerpoint deck about Cloud. So she asked "Dad, like, what's cloud?". After stripping out the fragments of teenspeak, I launched on to one of my corporate pitches about cloud that I give , carefully explaining that the benefits of cloud have moved on from IT savings to flexibility and innovation.

 

Blank look. Nothing in her life is not cloud.

 

Teenagers live their life flitting between devices, leaving a trail of blogs, texts, updates, pictures, music and videos all over. The very idea of worrying about where data is stored, or how applications are constructed is as important to them as my knowing about how a carburettor works. To one generation, the corpus of knowledge that "everybody knows" becomes arcana that only a hobbyist would care about.

 

Talking about life BC (Before Cloud) requires us to discuss how applications are written, sold, and installed. Most teenagers have never even inserted a CD into a computer to install a piece of software. In fact my daughter is a bit hazy on the difference between a CD, an LP and a 78: they all seem equally antique. So having a discussion about Cloud requires a comparison with non-Cloud, and there are almost no examples of that in her life: she merrily uses GMail, DropBox, Tumblr, Picassa, Facebook or Angry Birds which seem to magically move from Tablet to Phone to Wii to Smart TV with all of the data. When we bought a new TV, we typed in a password and suddenly all of our pictures appeared on the TV. I was the only one impressed.

 

 

Apart from appearing hip to your kids (a lost cause in my case) what does this have to do with your decision on how to move to the cloud?

 

 

My daughter will be entering the workforce in 5 years: she will be one of the first cohort of "Cloud Natives" who will be joining companies ready to start work. If their first IT experience involves imaging a laptop, using shared drives, installing MS-Outlook plug-ins then they won't be happy or efficient. All of the systems of engagement that your employees use need to be understandable by a Cloud Native.

 

 

5 years isn't very long for an IT strategy. You need to assume that traditional on-Premise Client Server systems will be incomprehensible to a Cloud Native. Any IT roadmap needs to adjust to this reality: the transition is happening fast. You can't afford to miss out on the creativity and energy of the coming generation.

 

If you are not sure how to accelerate your path to the cloud, take a look at sap.com/cloud for ideas, inspiration and information on Hybrid Cloud approaches.

It’s summer time on the Northern hemisphere. Everybody there will be facing summer holiday soon, for most people the best time of the year – recharge batteries, enjoy time with the family, learn about new cultures, countries and locations or just hike in the mountains and enjoy wonderful views and clear air.

 

The anticipation is rising the closer the journey comes, but the list of things to do before leaving the office is still not empty. And between you and your holiday one last thing is left to do:


Your Travel Expense Report with the expenses of the past few weeks!

 

To make sure the reimbursement brings a welcome windfall during your vacation you have to submit it today!


Heck, it’s the same as the tax declaration but it’s not only once a year but every month – at least. And the family is waiting at home.


Why can’t this be as easy as being on vacation, enjoying the sun and the cocktail in your hand watching your wife reading a thriller and your kids cheerfully playing in the water?


A dream? It can be real! Can’t believe it?


So here is how you can make that dream come true: Instead of collecting all the paper receipts on your journey and put it in an envelope to not lose them, and weeks later trying to remember where they all came from – you directly take a picture with you smartphone, enter the amount and forget it. It’s automatically assigned to your journey. Instead of having a very long last day in the office, you only have submit your travel expense report with another few
clicks from the shuttle back home. That’s all!

 

Trade in unproductive time for your best time of the year!

 

Isn’t that a fantastic exchange rate? Your family will love SAP Cloud for Travel and Expense, too.

 

 


We invite you to our free webinar on Sept. 10th 10AM CEST (EMEA Timezone). Register here


Or visit us online on www.sap.com/cloudfortravel

 

Want to read more blogs about Travel and Expense management? Click here

 

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Hope you did tune into our first of a webinar series on...


It’s  Time to Embrace the Cloud and the Platform - Understanding SAP's Cloud Strategy


Not? Well, you might have missed the invite then ;-) Check here also for recording: ASUG.com - Events

 

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In session #1 Matthias Steiner, Sindhu Gangadharan and myself,  we focused on an intro to what we see happening in the market, how to address a business strategy supported by cloud and had a pre-view on 3 key topics - SaaS, PaaS and Integration.

 

We know that the move to the cloud must be a thoughtful evolution. Our strategy centers on leveraging the right mix of cloud, managed (= virtualized, outsourced, hosted, private cloud), and on-premise technology.  You have very specific challenges you are looking to solve, and very specific investments you want to leverage. The customers starting point on this journey will help define the mix that is right for you - and the focus needs to be on business outcomes.


You find the slides posted here:  ASUG Webinar on Cloud, PaaS and Integration (July 2014)

*Update* You find the recording here: Webcast Series: It's Time To Embrace the Cloud and the Platform - Understanding SAP's Cloud Strategy-20140722 1629-1

 

 

Session #2 will be all about the platform - and my distinct colleague Matthias Steiner

 

SAP’s cloud strategy spans across all three layer of cloud computing from Infrastructure-as-a-Service, to Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service.


While the first (IaaS) and the last (SaaS) are well-known and established technologies, the middle layer – PaaS – is still emerging. At SAP we believe that companies are well-advised to embrace all three layers to implement a successful and ultimately sustainable cloud strategy. SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is the Platform-as-a-Service offering from SAP and it plays a vital role in our vision for a winning cloud strategy in a hybrid IT landscape.

 

Sitting on top of the IaaS layer, cloud platforms provide both a design and run-time environment to develop new solutions or extend existing applications and run them in the cloud. That could be custom solutions used internally within your company or new cloud applications sold via the SAP HANA Marketplace (or other channels). HCP combines the full power of the SAP HANA platform with the ease of use and maximized outreach of the cloud. A comprehensive et of application services and APIs for the most commonly required functionality (e.g. Identity management, connectivity, portal capabilities, integration services, mobile and analytical services etc.) significantly reduce the cost of development as well as the time to market. And while there are no limitations of what once can develop with HCP we see three major usage scenarios:

 

  • Develop new line-of-business or vertical solutions leveraging the power of in-memory computing based on SAP HANA
  • Extend existing on-premise applications (e.g. the SAP Business Suite)
  • Extend existing on-demand solutions (e.g. SuccessFactors Employee Central)

 

In this part of the webcast we will introduce you to SAP HANA Cloud Platform and provide an overview about its capabilities. We’ll also provide some real-life customer examples of the three exemplary usage scenarios outlined above.

 

 

See more here http://hcp.sap.com and here http://scn.sap.com/community/cloud-platform and join us:

 

Exploring SAP’s  Hana Cloud Platform: The Foundation for Developing and Running Applicationsin a Hybrid IT Landscape

August
7, 2014 at 11:00 am ET

 

 

Session 3 - touches a key element for hybrid cloud deployments - Integration. Sindhu Gangadharan - #SAPTechEd 2013 Speaker of the Week


My colleague Sindhu Gangadharan will dive into the key area supporting hybrid cloud deployments - integration. Integration is key to achieve the Desired Business Outcomes from the Cloud. The approach to cloud integration needs to be as flexible and agile as your cloud applications and platforms. When it comes to the right approach to cloud integration in the era of hybrid IT, it's critical that the solution is able to seamlessly bridge the cloud and on-premise world.

 

As of March last year SAP brought to market HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) a service offered on HCP. HCI  is SAP’s strategic cloud integration solution for cloud to cloud and cloud to ground integration scenarios.  HCI is also enriched with  pre-packaged integration content for the different SAP Cloud LOB solutions like SuccessFactors, Cloud for Customer, Ariba etc.

 

In this part of the webcast we will look into the product capabilities of HANA Cloud Integration and how customers can very quickly go through a typical cloud integration project consisting of the following steps:

  • Discover from content catalog
  • Configure and deploy integration content into customer workspace
  • Monitor and operate integration scenarios

 

We will also look into some of the customer examples where customers have leveraged HCI and gone into production within a matter of few weeks of implementation time.

 

Join us:

 

Cloud Integration - The Cornerstone  of your Cloud Journey

September
23, 2014 at 11:00 am ET

 

 

 

And finally, at TechEd / d-code in fall you will have the opportunity to attend a full day pre-session. Check here: Home | SAP TechEd && d-code Las Vegas and join us on site:

 

Focus on the Cloud: Series Recap and an Insiders POV on SAP d-code (SAP TechEd)

October
8, 2014 at 11:00 am ET

 

http://www.sapteched.com/2014/usa/

 

Looking forward to see you on the webinars and in October SAP TechEd && d-code.

Follow us via @SAPCloud and the experts via @steinermatt , @gangadharansind and @SDenecken


Cloud is the business model of the future, but it comes in a number of different guises. Enterprises need to find the right mix – otherwise they could end up creating unnecessary complexity. Sven Denecken, Global Vice President of Cloud Solutions at SAP, shares some helpful tips.

 

 

 

To judge by the general buzz at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, one thing is clear: Cloud technologies have shifted from the realms of hype into everyday business reality. And the days of “Cloud 1.0,” which seemed to sound the death knell of every on-premise system, are numbered. Companies are looking very closely at how adopting cloud technology could boost their flexibility and broaden their options. When it comes to creating new processes and harnessing the potential of new markets, businesses should certainly investigate whether a cloud-based solution might not be a simpler and more scalable alternative to an on-premise landscape.

 

To ensure that they benefit from the advantages that cloud computing undisputedly offers – rapid business payback, speed, and ease-of-use – cloud technology visionary Sven Denecken advises companies to consider the following questions before making a decision. It could help them avoid some of the dreaded pitfalls – like unintended complexity.

 

Sven’s seven tips for preventing complexity are:

 

1. Software as a service: get user buy-in

 

No software innovation reaches users faster than a cloud application. Not even the tightest on-premise investment schedule can match cloud computing for speed of innovation. User experience is key to the acceptance of software from the cloud. Yet, as well as adhering to the design principles that reflect the way humans interact with software, cloud applications must also be consistent . That is, they must harmonize with the other applications deployed in the enterprise. After all, what’s the use of a great app that is easy to operate if it can’t communicate properly with the existing business processes?

 

2. Platform as a service: a good application needs a good platform strategy

 

By leveraging an innovative platform from the cloud, companies can continue to use their existing solutions, incorporate new add-ons, and develop new applications – without having to start from scratch every time. However, the risk here is that developers might be tempted to misuse the platform as a toolbox and to ignore the multitenant nature of the system as a whole. To take an example, salespeople need to be able to access revenue and financial key figures, purchasing data, and production status information without having to switch back and forth between programs.

 

3. Integration: clarify responsibility

 

Ease of use can be compromised if it is not clear who is responsible for a particular application or applications. This is especially an issue if an enterprise deploys products from several different software companies. But even if a variety of cloud products are in use, it must still be possible to run diagnoses and reports, collect measurement data, and deal with error messages across the entire product spectrum. This requires “consistent integration.”

 

4. Infrastructure as a service: bring applications to the cloud age

 

Cloud solutions require a well-designed infrastructure because it needs to “understand” the differing strategies that cloud providers adopt. Experience shows that companies tend to move to the cloud incrementally rather than in one giant leap. The main challenge they face is making their infrastructure cloud-enabled and innovation-ready, while simultaneously bringing their existing applications to the cloud age.

 

5. Security: keep the NSA affair in mind

 

Data security and privacy are today’s hot topics, not least because of the public debate and anxieties that have arisen in the wake of the NSA affair. SAP data centers comply with the most stringent security standards. So far so good. But companies also need clear policies that stipulate where data is stored, how it is transferred, and what happens to that data when cloud partners change.

 

6. Public cloud: multitenancy in the hybrid model

 

In this model, the cloud provider operates an infrastructure and offers customers access to applications over the Internet. The focus here is on cost-efficiency. Most enterprises’ software systems have a multitenant architecture. However, most public cloud providers aim to provide maximum scalability, which limits their customers’ ability to adapt their business processes. The more customer-oriented variant allows a broad spectrum of configuration options, but, in both cases, customers are generally prohibited from accessing the program code. If this option were available, it could create new levels of complexity by affecting delivery cycles, performance, and response times. A practical solution is to mix systems to create a hybrid model that ensures a high degree of scalability, a secure multitenant solution, and configurability. The perfected art of the public cloud makes it possible for customers to extend their systems without jeopardizing the vendor’s program code or slowing innovation cycles.

 

7. Private cloud: hybrid tops efficiency stakes

 

In the private cloud, companies profit from all the benefits of the cloud, but within their corporate firewall. A private cloud can either be operated internally or by an external cloud service provider. The important thing here is to know what level of innovation you can expect and what actual benefits private cloud brings to the business. In practice, the most common approach is the hybrid cloud model, a blend of public, private, and – as experience shows – traditional on-premise solutions.

 

Let us know what you think and follow us on twitter @SAPCloud and @SDenecken

 

 

 

__________________________

 

Originally appeared in SAPNews

On-premise, Cloud or Hybrid: which is the best cloud approach. It all depends on what type of invitation you get. The most welcoming invitation to the Cloud is "Come as You Are": simple, non-disruptive and fast time to value.

 

It is The Season in England: Ascot, Wimbledon and of course Weddings. Each of these comes with the classic English engraved invitation which specifies the time and place. But often, down in the bottom right corner of the invitation is the Dress Code. Just like the variable English weather, this is enough to set everyone into panic.Come as you are.gif

 

I don't get many White Tie invitations, but this involves renting "bib and tucker" (tails), and for your wife we are at the level of ball gowns and tiaras. The more common Black Tie allows the male to dust off his trusty DJ ("tuxedo") even if it is now a bit tight, but again your companion is probably shopping for new shoes, bag and other accessories. All very stressful. The best type of invitation is one that says Come as You Are.  An invitation to "Come as You Are" means that you don't need to buy anything new, you don't need to upgrade your shoes or spend time doing your hair. It is the most welcoming invitation.

 

We often see the same thing with the invitations we get to the cloud.

 

Some solutions require wholesale change to your business process to use the cloud: this will certainly cost time and money. In today's fast-moving business environment everyone wants access to cloud innovations but doesn't want to necessarily to sweep away all their IT investments. What you want is an invitation to "Come as You Are": in cloud terminology this is called a Hybrid solution.

 

Business Networks are a great example of Cloud Innovation which fit into your existing IT Landscape, allowing you to keep some processes in-house (perhaps General Ledger and Inventory Management) yet still accessing business partners in the Cloud. Once you have connected all your systems to the network, you can evaluate the next phase: migrating the apps themselves to the cloud. For SAP customers, you can connect your SRM, PM, MM, FI, VIM and SNC systems to the Network quickly, getting huge value from the additional collaboration.

Come as you are fragment.jpg

Come as You Are. No need for expensive or time-consuming upgrades to take advantage of the connectivity and innovation of the Cloud. You can learn more about SAP's Cloud solutions at http://www.sap.com/pc/tech/cloud.html

Jon Reed and I met in the hotel lobby in Orlando on the day after the Sapphire had ended and had an interesting talk about all things Cloud. We neglected to tape image001.jpgthis conversation so we wanted to try and duplicate this interaction.  Last Friday night (late!), we met online for a long conversation about SAP’s cloud activities.  We had started out with a structure / topics to discuss but as the conversation progressed, we moved in a variety of unexpected directions and covered a bunch of fun topics (Simple Finance / Simple Suite and the SAP ecosystem, Cloud Foundry and the HANA Cloud Platform, the HANA Enterprise Cloud and customizations, etc).

 

There is a video of us talking (not too exciting – just talking heads) but I suggest listening to the podcast instead of watching the video.

 

The relaxed / informal conversation is one that we would have in a brewpub after a long day at some IT conference.  The advantage of the podcast is that you don’t struggle to hear the conversation in a room with other patrons screaming for more drinks.   The only things missing were the cold beer and tasty bar snacks.

 

Here is the link for the podcast.

 

[Image Source]

At a recent SAP All Cloud Connect event, Sven Denecken (GVP Cloud Solutions) presented a session entitled “Making Change Your Advantage”) that included slides that depict some shifts in SAP’s Cloud strategy.  I’d like to take a quick look at a few of these slides and provide some additional insight into why I find them interesting.

 

SAP Cloud Portfolio

 

image001.jpg

Points of interest

  • SAP is moving from a very broad message (solutions in “HR, Customer, Procurement, Finance”) that was present as recently as Q1 2014 to a more specific message with new elements (“Supply Chain Management”, “SCM, PLM, Manufacturing”)  and more differentiated offers for other areas (commerce, customer engagement).
  • The inclusion of recent acquisitions of FieldGlass and hybris in the portfolio is an important addition and shows how the portfolio is evolving based on these purchases.  See Why is still missing but I don’t know if that acquisition has closed yet. My assumption is that it will be combined with hybris in the “omni-channel commerce” offering.
  • Currently, FieldGlass is only associated with Procurement offering.  I’d expect it to also be part of the HR offering along with SuccessFactors.
  • This is first time that I’m seen Manufacturing explicitly mentioned in the Cloud Portfolio.  There are already other active competitors in this area. I don’t know whether HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) Suite on Hana installations truly meet the requirements of this sector. I’d like to see a cloud-based version of MII.
  • I’m missing more of a focus on Industry (yes – I know CRM  on HANA for Industries is mentioned). At the Sapphire, the Industry Cloud was announced and I’d expect more industry-specific offerings. It could be that such offers originate from the ecosystem rather than SAP itself and thus aren't included in this slide.
  • The fact that Simple Finance is present in the HEC and the Public Cloud is a bit curious. I asked Sven about this on Twitter:

image002.jpg

 

You might well be seeing Simple Finance on Azure or AWS at some point.  It might also be the first application of a series of “Simple” applications that could use this deployment option.  It is however a bit curious that ‘Suite on HANA’ won’t have the same deployment option – it appears to be restricted to the Managed Cloud.

 

Differentiating vs Non-differentiating Processes

 

image003.jpg

 

Points of interest

  • Although I find the distinction between the two process types useful, I don’t know whether I agree in their association with a particular Cloud type (public vs. managed cloud).  I don’t understand why differentiating processes couldn’t be present in the Public Cloud. The definition of which processes are differentiating is also industry or perhaps customer-specific.  For example,  some companies (IT outsourcing companies?) might view, HCM as a differentiating process.  I also don’t know whether non-differentiating processes are so depicted based on the assumption that they are more highly standardized and thus more likely to be placed in a Public Cloud.  CRM.  for example, is described as being a non-differentiating process yet CRM on HANA is offered as part of the Managed Cloud.
  • Although the depiction of Managed Cloud and Industry Cloud together might be a bit confusing, the Industry Cloud would most likely be part of the HEC making the association more logical.

image001.jpg

As I read this tweet from blogger Naomi Bloom, I was reminded of various conversations at the recent Sapphire conference about the impact of customization in cloud solutions.  Although Bloom’s tweet focused on SaaS, many of my conversations regarding this subject involved the HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) – SAP’s Managed Cloud solution.  I wanted to take a quick look at this subject.

 

In describing the transition of OnPremise customers to the newly announced Financials Add-on for SAP Business Suite Powered by SAP HANA, Hasso Plattner depicted the importance of retaining customizations.

We carry everything the customer has deployed on [SAP Business Suite] forward. Just looking at accounts receivables within SAP, we have 44 different layouts in our shared services center. Our users have defined them. We cannot ask customers to redo such customizations only because we want to move them forward to Simplified Finance. Their old transactions work on the simplified data model.  That's the first transition we did. The second transition is that we've put in a new application and a new accounts receivable line-item display into the system that carry forward the customizations of existing applications. So when customers go to the new applications, they will still see their layouts and will not lose their customized views. [SOURCE]

Yet in the same interview, Hasso  emphasized the importance of a  high level of standardization in cloud environments – in this case, the HEC.

Any of the larger ERP system are dedicated -- that's what I call it instead of "hosted" -- because they have to be standard systems. That have to be much more standardized, otherwise we do not get economies of scale.

Since the “Financials Add-on for SAP Business Suite” is also available as “SimpleFinance” on the HEC, this inherent conflict between customization and standardization caught my attention.

 

As the most recent SAP HEC for Projects Service Description Catalog demonstrates, this conflict is not only restricted to the new SimpleFinance offering. There are a variety of other customizations which are possible in this environment – many of which are the responsibility of the customer.

image002.jpg

Other customizations, however,  can be outsourced to SAP for a fee:

image004.jpg

I have no idea about the costs associated with such support but I assume that it is customer-specific and could be relatively high if extensive customization must be supported in the HEC.

 

Since this HEC-based customization has a financial impact on solutions hosted in this environment, customers have an incentive to respond accordingly. Owen Pettiford describes one strategy to deal with this dilemma: customers must reduce their customization as much as possible when moving to the HEC.

Review all your modifications and custom code and remove as much of this as possible whilst upgrading to the latest enhancement packages and support packs that are required for the switch to Simple Suite (I believe this is EhP 7 for ERP).

Since these customizations are often regarded by customers as representing their differentiating processes in relation to their competition, there is often a reluctance to remove them in response to the provider’s standardization requirements.

 

If customizations of such HEC-based application are still necessary / desired, what options are present?

 

HANA Cloud Platform as customization platform

 

One possibility is the use of HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) as an extensions platform that will allow customers to “personalize your SAP systems.


There are business blueprints to help customers during the HEC-related migration and on-boarding process move the appropriate customizing to the new platform but the ability of the HCP to cover some of the desired customizations is new and largely unexplored.

 

The HCP will be useful to personalize Fiori applications using OData streams from HEC-located applications. Despite the understood euphoria associated with this scenario, I’m not sure if the HCP-based applications will be able to cover all the customizations that are possible in the Business Suite. Only time will provide best-practice examples of which HEC-based customizations can be moved to the PaaS.

 

The ROI of such transitions to HCP will be interesting to watch since the involved increased subscriptions costs if customizations remain in the HEC must be compared to the associated implementation / maintenance costs of a HCP-based solution.  SAP must be interested in this shift away from the HEC towards HCP to reduce customization-related friction in the HEC and the promotion of the HCP as extensions platform.

I’m willing to bet that in the future Facebook will be nothing compared to a social network platform that is dedicated to Things.  Internet of Things (IoT) has been a buzz in the IT industry and the manufacturing community for some time.  The struggle with IoT is that it is trying to find a great marketing message about how it will directly improve human lives.  The primary focus in magazine articles, blog posts, and IT water cooler conversations has been about how to make IoT matter for people.

 

No matter how evolved we as humans have become, our fundamental instinct is to measure what is good as it relates to human benefit.  Self-admittedly I have been thinking about IoT in terms of personal benefit as well.  And for that reason I’m finding myself a bit reluctant to be super excited about the Internet of Things.

 

I've been wondering though if there is a possibility of benefit greater than that of the human. What if, machines just want to talk with other machines?  In the same way as someone who I have never met might be reading this and we are in some way connecting through thought and sharing of ideas.  Could the machine want the same thing as it relates to information?

 

I know the immediate response might be to think about SkyNet from the Terminator movies, but that’s really not where I am trying to travel with this line of thinking.

 

For instance imagine a sprinkler system that today uses its own weather sensor to determine if it should turn off the sprinklers for the day due to rain.  Today that is a self-contained smart home device.  But if that same device was part of a social network and is listening to a local weather tower outfitted with sensors and also part of that social network, than it could make a decision based on a much more sophisticated rain detector.  Suddenly the sprinkler is making decisions based on information from a social network service for the Internet of Things.

 

When ZipCar came to the market everyone started to really understand the concept of the “Collaborative Consumption” business model.  Again focused on a human’s ability to find benefit from a community based service. So now take the same idea, and imagine a world where machines could be better, based on a collaborative consumption of information from other Things.

 

The argument here is that device intelligence could be extremely limited if contained to the domain of a single manufacturer’s IoT cloud intelligence.  If sensor information is shared by all Things, than the level of intelligence within the device or the device manufacturer’s network does not need to be as sophisticated and therefore that expensive.  By leveraging information from various sources in a collaborative social network, this will create tremendous product capabilities beyond what any one manufacturer could create on their own.

 

This would result in a reduction in the overhead for any one manufacturer when creating intelligent devices. So where is the competitive advantage? It’s all about user experience, customer service, and the ability of the manufacturer to intelligently take advantage of the social network.

 

IoT Social Network.jpg

Devices would send their sensor data to their manufacturer’s cloud and the IoT social network.  The manufacturer would be constantly analyzing data from the social network and from its device, resulting in intelligent instruction updates to the device.  OK I will give you this is highly simplified, but the idea is that a manufacturer will improve the device experience through a combination of information from the device as well as IoT social network.

 

Big data and analytics will be the centerpiece of this social network.  One might automatically assume the tech companies are going to be the best suited to provide this infrastructure and service, but I wonder if the manufacturing community in partnership can help create a platform. Whether a manufacturing consortium creates this or a tech company creates the IoT social network, it is clear that social networks will rule the future of IoT.

 

So I will end this post the same way it started by asking one simple question. Who is going to create the Social Network of Things?

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