6 Posts

BusinessObjects People Finder

By SAP BusinessObjects

If you follow the SAP BusinessObjects Innovation Center (" width="16"/>) you might have heard of the Social Network Analyzer Prototype(SNA). In essence it's a tool that gets fed with existing enterprise data of organizational relationships and "addressbook" type information and then exposes such information and relationships in a very intuitive & fast way.

Timo Elliott has written two excellent blogs describing many of the core features:

SAP internally we have an instance of the Social Network Analyzer Prototype that's commonly known as SAP People, it's availble for all ~50k employees through a direct link on our internal Portal homepage.

Besides this Social Network Analyzer (SNA) prototype, the SAP BusinessObjects Innovation Center has also released an iPhone app, called People Finder, which connects directly to any SNA implementation.

In the past few weeks I had the chance to test the iPhone app running against our internal SNA prototype implementation (called SAP People) and found the app to be very useful.

Wanted to share that experience with some notes and screenshots:

First of all here's some basic functionality:

(1) Logon screen

The default settings (when you download People Finder from the app store) are:
username: ncox
password: ncox
server URL:

However, if you have a local SAP BusinessObjects SNA (Social Network Analyzer) Prototype installation, you can also have the app point to your own server instead.

For all screenshots below, I had People Finder pointed to our own SAP internal prototype implementation (SAP People).



(2) Initial app screen after you are logged on

From here you can:

  • search for keywords (names, but also other keywords, locations, skills, projects etc.)
  • Show All data and explore from there or show your own information
  • navigate to your favorites
  • explore your search history



(3) Sample result screen

after searching for "lang"



(4) Typical "People" screen with all kinds of information

Many of the attributes assigned to me come in this case from already existing enterprise sources, however additional information such as keywords/tags, IM account names etc. can be easily added by any users themselves through the regular browser based SNA/SAP People client.



(5) Explore further

All the attributes of a person are at the same time "links" for further exploration, meaning they can be clicked on to forward navigate based on the respective attribute.
In this case I was clicking on "my" cost center, to find all other people assigned to the same cost center, the "choose an action" popup comes up automatically to iniate the search:



(6) Another Results screen

Obviously very similar to screenshot (3) in this case however this is all other people on the same cost center as myself:



More cool functions:

(7) Copy contact data to iPhone addressbook:

In this case I copied Marilyn's contact information, including her picture into the addressbook of the iPhone with just clicking the "Export to my iPhone address book" button:


(8) Call a person directly from People Finder

Any phone numbers displayed in the app can be clicked to call or send an SMS message.


(8) Sending an eMail

Similar to (7) and as expected any eMail address can be clicked to open the iPhone mail app and send an eMail to the respective person.



(9) Browing through entire organizations or large lists of people

Another really cool feature in People Finder is the ability to browse through large result sets of people and refine them as needed.
With this you can very quickly explore organizational (org unit, costcenter etc.) or geographical (Country, City, ...) breakdowns of larger people groups, also one the last screenshot below is a sample breakdown by keywords, which can be very handy to find experts on certain topics quickly.



Overall findings or conclusions:

  • Look and feel is iPhone-like which makes People Finder very intuitive to use
  • there's immediate added value to an SNA Prototype installation through exposing the data to mobile devices (iPhone OS based in this case)
  • with more information (skillsets, interests, short bio, freely maintained keywords etc.) People Finder could be extraordinarily useful to e.g. find experts for certain topic very quickly and reach out to them even from on the road
  • knowing the regular browser based SNA V2 interface, the functionality that I miss most in the current People Finder version is the visualization of peoples relationships and connections

Earlier today I was joking on Twitter with @viatorius (aka Matthias Wild) a fellow SAP colleague working in SAP IT Business Intelligence that my desk:
(See this picture of my desk)


looks somewhat like the "magic" desk in this ingenious real real-time computing video:


Joking aside, I've been using the iPad shown above now for a couple of days and even with missing flash support and no camera I still find the device amazingly simple and useful. As it gives access to applications running in a cloud or whereever, it actually really might be the closest you can get today to a desk environment that works as portrayed in the video.

While the iPad couldn't fully replace my computer at this point, it still comes quite close. For the last few evenings I left my computer in the bag and used the iPad exclusively as an evening/home computing device and it allowed me to do almost anything I need. On top of that yes, it is a great devide for gaming or educational games for kids also.

Wanted to share a few screenshots of things that in my opinion work great on an iPad:

Obviously being on SCN, we got to start with that. :-)

Reading SCN blogs through an RSS reader
My favorite RSS reader app is called Newsrack. RSS readers exist since a long time for iPhones/iPod Touches, Blackberries, Android etc. however the small screen makes it challenging to enjoy e.g. reading a blog.
With the iPad, it's a great experience all around:image


Of course you can do all your Google Reader reading through such an app, here's another "Newsrack" shot, it keeps track of what you read or didn't, you can share things through all kinds of means very easily:  image


So far only a handful of Twitter clients have made it to the iPad. Tweetdeck is one of them and it's a great one. TweetDeck for iPad is georgious and very intuitive to use at least in vertical mode. Horizontally I haven't fully understood it yet I think :-)

Here's how you would look at a Tweet in detail and be able to reply/retweet/favorite/eMail etc. the tweet:



Another Tweetdeck example of looking at an attached link, the link just opens up in the upper part of the screen, which is good enough to read most pages. You can open in Safari from here, which is helpful if you want to stay on this page/site for a while. Altogether very intuitive!



Of course you can eMail from the device. The last few days I've been doing lots of my eMail from this device and I have to say, it really works well to type even some longer thoughts on the iPad keyboard. If the device is connected to e.g. a corporate eMail account it integrates very well to your corporate addressbook or eMail folders you might have in your account etc. Another good one!



You can browse the web and again once connected to e.g. a company WiFi, you can browse the intranet as well. Basic certificate support is available and works. Here's an example browsing an intranet site:



Many other apps are just beautifully done and make great use of the bigger screen. Here's an example of WeatherBug, the map that it displays on the left can show all kinds of animation for temperature, rain, humidity and more. The right side has all you want to know about the weather today or in the next couple of days, great app!



Last but not least, of course yes, the iPad is great for games too. One of my favorites is Flight Control, it's great on the iPhone/iPod Touch, but even better on the iPad, it even has a multiplayer mode, where you can play it with two folks against each other on either one or two iPads:

Martin Lang

Want Fries With That?

Posted by Martin Lang Feb 7, 2010
Many blogs have been written and thoughts have been shared about Business and IT alignment. Here’s a few that I came across and liked in 2009 looking at Business and IT alignment from various different angles:
  • How to Cut Through IT Bureaucracy (Susan Cramm, author of "8 Things We Hate About IT", @scramm)
    … within every company, there is an IT department struggling with how to make business leaders love them while pushing the bitter pills of strategic alignment, value realization, integration, standardization, self-sufficiency, and risk management…

Based on my experience of having worked in the IT field for many years up until  recently, I think it's always good to look at and think about Business & IT alignment. It’s important to look at it from different angles, as the specific journey of Business & IT alignment will be different for different companies and company cultures and different individuals involved.
I wanted to share a different analogy of how Business and IT engagement often seems to work today, respectively how it should work.

Typical Business-IT engagement in a regular mid to larger corporation today:
Let’s say IT runs a restaurant and it happens to be pretty much the only restaurant in town, the “Business” comes in one night and sits down at the table.
They might have to wait a while for the waiter (part of IT) to show up, but let’s not talk about that. The waiter comes and asks the Business what they want.  Neither does he  give them a menu nor does he tell them about any specials, but comes only with a blank notebook eager to write down what the Business might request.
The Business is stumped a bit, they can’t immediately say what they want without having seen a menu or having heard any specials, so they ask for some more time to think about their “requirements”.
image Eventually the waiter comes back and the Business tells  her they’d like a Vegetarian Thali. Back in the kitchen the Executive Chef & Sous Chef, the Service Manager and some other waiters all come together discussing what the Business might have meant by  a “Vegetarian Thali”. They are say a nice Italian restaurant, specialized on homemade pasta and succulent meat dishes. They even  recently sent one of their chefs to Italy to learn more about how to perfect their risotto, that didn’t sell so well so far.
Now they got a big task to do to satisfy their customer who unfortunately hasn’t ordered anything they have much experience with.
So they Google "Vegetarian Thali" and needless to say find lots of pictures and recipes.
It’s too late to go to the market now, so they take what they can find and fix something up for the Business, that somewhat looks like a Vegetarian Thali.
To make a long story short(er), the customer remains somewhat disappointed, as the Thali doesn’t taste like they would have expected. They leave early and while they might come back eventually to give the restaurant another try, probably eat at home for a while.

Moral(s) of this story: (in no particular order)
For IT, the restaurant:

  • Think about your specialties and give your customer choices in form of a menu (yes with prices too).
  • Go to the market daily and find out what’s hot, understand the offerings and try to include things that are currently hot sellers on the market into your portfolio. Offer some of these specials to your customer too in addition to the standard menu.
  • Think about which of your offerings go well together to enhance the customer's experience (…”Want fries with that?” might not be the best reflection on this, but still in good restaurants, every waiter knows the entire menu and specials so well, that he can always recommend additional choices for a better experience (and a bigger sale!).
  • Never fix up anything for the customer, that you haven’t tried before yourself
  • While the Chef might carry more responsibility and might connect to the guests after Dinner for some feedback (given the guests don’t leave early) the folks who deal with the Business the most, the waiters, are typically not very high up in the hierarchy. Let your waiters feel how important they are and empower them to make decisions right at the customers table.

For the Business, the customer:

  • If you don’t get a menu ask for it.
  • Similarly ask for specials, most restaurants (and IT organizations) go to the market often and inform themselves what’s hot, even if the IT organization you deal with doesn’t do that much, they will start doing so if you are asking.
  • If you don’t get a menu, don’t order something you’ve seen somewhere else, determine what kind of food you are most hungry for; Let’s call it: describe your pain points.
  • Don't be hasty. If you don’t like your food, don’t leave early, tell them! They can do better.
  • Don’t wait with feedback for the Chef to come around, connect well to the waiter and give your feedback to him openly and often, they know how things work back in the kitchen and can make things happen
  • Don’t settle for bad meals, however and don’t start the blame game. Give feedback and describe what you are hungry for / your pain points in more detail.
  • In the rare case, that the waiter doesn’t believe the food is no good, let him try it right at your table.

Borrowed these first few lines from Jim Spath's initial and nicely done video response...

Craig Cmehil Year End 2009, sharing! earlier this week:

> The idea is simple using "rich" media so audio or video make a post talking about some of your professional highlights for 2009, we all have mountains of personal highlights I am sure so lets limit these to the ones related to your professional careers shall we? Post it here by the 31st!

Well consider it Craig's fault then, but I thought "why not" and tried to create a video myself. Haven't done any of these so far, this is kind of the first one. I'll make it a 2010 resolution to get better in all aspects :-)




And here's a picture of the mindmap I am using in the video, click on the picture to open the mindmap in another window, where the links will work etc.:image

Standard ERP 6.0 contains a functionality, that can reduce the workload of all travellers in your company significantly. Essentially this function connects online to a Corporate Credit Card Provider (e.g. American Express, Master, Visa etc.) and uploads all of your employees Credit Card statements on a daily basis. The traveller then indeed can use this almost "magic" button to copy his receipts into his travel expense report.

Check out this video to see this functionality in action:
(Please consider this a sample, of how this could look like. You might use different Credit Card Providers or different Exense types etc.)


Here's a few more links to further information on this functionality:

Sending eMails from an SAP NetWeaver based system is a very basic Standard functionality.

Sending appointments/meeting requests however, also directly from SAP NetWeaver is something more unique, but it’s supported nonetheless and can be very useful e.g. for

  1. Automatically Sending "vacation"/Leave of absence appointments back to the employee and his manager after vacation/leave request approval
  2. Automatically sending resubmission/follow-up appointments e.g. x days before contract expiration

This appointment was sent out directly from a regular ECC6.0 based System:
Outlook Appointment Sample

Find more information including sample coding in this article:
Sending Outlook Appointments and Meeting Requests Directly from ABAP Applications