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pushkar.ranjan

16 Posts

blackberry-10.png

 

I have watched the saga of Blackberry pretty closely over the past year. As players like Apple, Google, Amazon and now Microsoft have consolidated their story around provisioning solutions on a vertical stack from the datacenter to the device to provision end to end comprehensive solutions for their customers across the device, operating system, applications, application provisioning, clouds and cloud provisioning to help their customers derive maximum value out of their investment in the respective end to end cloud, players with a limited footprint like Nokia and Samsung have had to play with one of these players in terms of embracing the technology stack and ecosystem to further their destiny.

 

This has left Blackberry as the odd person out in this emergent thinking as it has a mobile device based ecosystem but the remainder of the pieces extending back to a robust cloud infrastructure and ecosystem to back up the device not exactly kicking into high gear.

 

So much so that the mindshare in the enterprise space that used to be Blackberry’s for the taking seems to have slipped if the face of the whole notion of bring your own device coming to the fore when it comes to the enterprise domain. You see a sprinkling of devices across the enterprise landscape be it Apple or Google supported devices. The common denominator being that all these devices also allow phone, messaging and surfing capabilities and due to the ubiquity of the ecosystem of developers across these platforms it might be easier for enterprises to float and complete projects on one of these device ecosystems to extend solutions that they need to run their enterprise smoothly as compared to any other device platform. Even a behemoth like Microsoft is facing this headwind as of date when it comes to being able to sell the Surface device and platform into the enterprise, let’s not talk about Windows based phone devices.

 

It is with this background that I ask whether it will benefit Blackberry to closely align itself with a player like SAP, Oracle or even Microsoft for that matter to help natively extend solutions that help run an enterprise like ERP, SCM and CRM onto its device and platform, maybe even bring back the playbook and articulate it as the enterprise solution tablet and make it part of the mix as well.

 

Here’s hoping that the Blackberry platform can find a purpose beyond the phone, messaging and surfing paradigm that seems to afflict the rest of the ecosystems and help reinvent the enterprise computing segment for the mobile age by making the mobile platform the centerpiece of articulating how enterprise solutions of the future can make the day in life of an employee, customer and partner better.

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This blog is an exploration of the emergent / established notion of provisioning information technology solutions to solve end user business problems in the consumer domain from an end to end perspective leveraging from a data center to the end user device and everything else in between.

 

Look at companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and now Microsoft. They have taken upon themselves to establish this mode of solution provisioning and make it the new normal. Microsoft is in a unique position to quickly penetrate enterprises and the business domain by articulating this mode of solution provisioning to end users and IT departments in the business domain.

 

Blackberry has the history of being a strong player when it comes to the mobile device in the business space but notions like bring your own device and the general malaise around very little device level differentiation among the major device vendors has allowed for a dispersion of other devices in the enterprise. The malaise being that the fundamental use case of a device happens to be phone, messaging and browsing. Nobody has really leveraged the device as a thick client is provisioning solutions and I am open to correction with specific examples from the business space.

 

I think that some of the following reasons have led to vendors controlling the complete stack from the datacenter to end user device:
• Providing the end user with a “branded” experience
• Ensuring predictability of the end user experience
• Providing a consistent experience
• Providing a “desirable” experience
• Ensuring a closed loop experience where tabs can be kept on the complete end user experience to ensure minimum jitter in the complete end to end experience, including the potential to study end user behavior, track and trace, and leverage the behind the scenes tracking and feedback to improve upon the solution offering proactively rather than wait for end user complaint.
• Rapid evolution of the offering based on some of the above reasons
• Ensuring the maximum leverage of the device as a thick client as and where possible
• Ensure that device and ecosystem switching cost prohibit the user from making a move to a different ecosystem
• Ensure a sticky user post buying into the ecosystem
• Blur the lines intelligently between the work and life persona of the end user

 

There are inherent challenges in provisioning this end to end solution offering in terms of
• The effort and cost involved in keeping up the end user experience
• The need for constant evolution to cater to the evolving tastes and preference of the user plus to beat back competitive ecosystems
• Ensure that the user is at the center of the decision making and not “coolness”
• Ensure that the mantra, “serve, serve, serve” is something that is constantly at the fore
• Pay obeisance to the governing principle that, “ a walled garden is only as good as the content within the walls of the garden”

 

These are some of the musings that I wanted to put forth to reflect upon this topic. The present day ecosystem wars will keep this space interesting and hopefully some player will emerge to take the mission seriously to the business domain and articulate something as powerful as has been articulated by different players for the consumer domain.

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Search and feed are established mechanisms of content consumption given the dominance of Google and Facebook. This post is about understanding how tags and #tags are a potential way of discovering content within a library over and above a search and feed based mechanism.

 

The first requirement is to be able to tag / #tag some piece of content comprehensively with the potential leverage of some “pandora” like capability.

 

I am thinking a scrape tool that understands all manner of content be it documents, pictures, videos and tries to analyze the content within and potentially the context as well if such information can be gleaned from the content under study.

 

Post the scrape, an intelligent engine goes to work to build a tag / #tag library on top of this piece of content / collateral and adds the tag / #tag dimension of information to this collateral.

 

As the library becomes bigger and more content / collateral gets into the mix, the tag cloud increases in size and renders appropriately on screen based on the prominence of certain keywords in the library of content and collateral.

 

After a point in time, an end user gets to access search, feed and a tag cloud based information search paradigm. The end user just keeps clicking into the appropriate terms in the tag cloud to create a drill down path and comes to a place where all manner of relevant content is laid out for them on screen for further consumption.

email death.jpg

 

This is a post that tries to depict a future where corporate entities could potentially rid themselves of email systems and harness the true power of social to eliminate communication and information dissemination inefficiency and do really high margin business.

 

I am looking at a social system that allows the following functionalities

  • Communities (employees, employee-partner, customers, public)*
  • Document publishing and storage (including protected sharing mechanisms)*
  • Discussion threads*
  • Rich media “conferencing” (group video, audio, messaging etc.) and broadcast
  • Voice based interaction on a small format mobile device
  • Search, feed, auto tagging, auto bookmarking, recommendations and process friendly interaction mechanisms to arrange and access content

 

I am an experienced community manager and I was leveraging a subset of the above functionality, because of functionality limitations on the social platform, to help our sales team sell a solution portfolio in the CRM domain.

 

Let’s dive a little bit into each of the above and how it impacts email in making it an essentially useless tool as compared to the benefits from a social toolset.

 

Communities

Social tools allow for the creation of communities of interest around a topic, project, action item, opportunity or any other such entity where a team needs to come together to bring something to a conclusion. They easily allow to pull people in and remove them as needed within a particular collaboration.

 

You can do it the clumsy way in email by having a boatload of people on the TO and CC line, but there is only one word to describe that scenario as compared to being able to create a community, AWKWARD!!!

 

Document publishing and storage

A social tool allows you to publish, store and distribute a document from a central, and if needed, controlled instance. You can even control who gets to download the document versus just read it on screen. To the extent even disabling screenshots if the publisher so desires.

 

Email provides you chaos in the name of document distribution, with size limitations, no control over who gets access to the document, where it gets forwarded, who modifies and recirculates the document leading to multiple versions of the document. In one word CHAOS!!!

 

Discussion threads

Social tools allow you to neatly lay out an argument and initiate a discussion around the same with multiple participants. You have a logical track of who responded to whom on the discussion threads and in case there is a functionality to thread discussions then you get to split out the discussion into appropriate sub threads to the original point under discussion.

 

Email offers “reply all” ;-) the best corporate tool ever invented to show personal worth and useful/less ness as the situation might highlight. In the face of even double digit reply all’s on a distribution list of say 20 people, your life just turned a shade of sick. One phrase, welcome to email HELL!!!

 

Rich media conferencing

As virtual organization permeate, this is a need of the hour and other than Google hangouts, I cannot think of any other social solution that has been able to tackle this issue quite so beautifully. I guess other social solutions will follow suit in coming up with their own version of Google hangouts including potential extensions in the way of on-stream translation, transcription; leveraging voice to text and ability to immediately save the conversation for publishing onto the remainder of the social network for the organization in the form of video and an intelligent transcription document, if needed in multiple languages.

 

One word to describe what email systems can help you do here, MIA!!!

 

Voice based interaction on a small format mobile device

This point tries to address the notion of how an end user interacts with the social system. Here it would help to have intelligent voice based interaction with the social software in case of small format mobile devices. Just imaging trying to read a full on word document on a mobile device or a PowerPoint document with font 10 text on a small screen of a mobile device. This simply means that as part of the social set up every piece of “heavy” collateral gets an attached video or audio file explaining what it is all about and then the end user needs to decide upon the mode of consumption. If they are in a rush then they might attempt it on the small format device, else they might wait till they get in front of a tablet / laptop / desktop format device.

 

As regards email you are stuck with whatever the email client can do for you on whichever format device you are on. I have yet to meet an email client that does justice to rich media content in an email client. In a phrase, you are OUT OF LUCK!!!

 

Search, feed, auto tagging, auto bookmarking, recommendations and process friendly interaction mechanisms

This point is the address the most common feedback that I have heard about social systems. Oh! It is too much information, a flood, a deluge are some of the kinder terms used. My suggestion to social software creators is to leverage one of the mechanisms to provide end users with content outlined above. The Google mechanism, I will let you search for whatever it is that you are looking for including tag. The Facebook mechanism, I will feed you what is relevant to you. Tag cloud based access and click through to help you narrow content down. Bookmarking based on rules that the end user has defined to help sift through the content of the social network. Machine learning based recommendations engine that again studies the access pattern of the user and tries to predict and recommend content of interest for an end user. The last but not the least is the business process tuned social network interaction for an end user, like a sales user is looking for a very specific type of content, more in the sales domain of information of the enterprise as compared to the research and development domain of an enterprise.

 

Email offers you a BIG BLACK HOLE!!!

 

What does all of the above mean for an organization?

You get a much more transparent organization. You get a much more team oriented organization, sometimes forced team work ;-) including helping the weaker person instead of running rough shod over them and “killing” them off. You get a politer organization (Link) as most of the “conversations” are held in a very public domain; anger is allowed and valid, but not at the cost of politeness and civility in the dialogue and debate. Problems have a higher probability of early identification. You get a much more democratic organization. You get a much more aligned organization. You get a much more bought in stakeholder pool, be it employees, partners or customers given the high degree of transparency. Trust goes up all around in the stakeholder pool.

 

Should I just replace an email system with a social software solution?

You might be wondering if just replacing an email system with social software and all evils will be cured automatically. NO. On top of the social software, you will need to put in place a team of connectors as HBR calls them. These people take the form of community moderators, or the wise men and women of the enterprise who have a finger on every important pulse within the organization and have only one KPI; “How to make the organization a piece of heaven on earth?” such employees have a vested interest in squeezing out the last bit of inefficiency out of the system and in my experience, most of the inefficiency arises out of simply bad communication.

 

HBR has a brilliant write up on the power of connectors at http://blogs.hbr.org/kanter/2009/11/power-to-the-connectors.html

 

The biggest grouse I have against email is that all the knowledge that is trapped in a person email inbox can never be tapped for the greater good of an organization. To add insult to injury, that knowledge is permanently lost to the organization once that person decides to leave the organization. A wise man once said knowledge is power.

 

“Email is the place where an organization’s knowledge goes to die”

 

So, here’s hoping that people who read this will take back some of the ideas and learning’s above to their organizations and potentially explore how social software would help make them run even better as compared to corporate email.

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In this scenario I am looking at the operations of typical small business being enabled with the leverage of solution(s) on a mobile device and powered by an application cloud at the backend.

 

I divide the operations into a few stages:
1. Inbound material logistics
2. Sales
3. Billing
4. Payment processing
5. Analytics to understand customers and promote further sales
6. Loyalty and coupon handling
7. Accounting and taxes

 

Inbound Material Logistics
Inbound materials have a certain seasonality associated with them and hence follow a broad general pattern until some disruptive event happens. Neighborhoods tend to have a certain profile associated with them and the businesses that serve these neighborhoods tend to fall in line and make the most of the opportunity to sell their goods and services accordingly. The device primarily provides an update to quickly check off goods received so that the back end system can update the numbers available for a certain good that is being sold / raw material to be consumed in the case of a restaurant.

 

Sales
Sales via a mobile device is becoming a rapid reality in the restaurant industry and once the price of mobile hardware comes in line with the pricing of a cash machine based infrastructure, my feeling is that small business and mom and pop shop retail will also follow. Bar code based scan shopping is a convenience that is being increasingly offered by many retail merchants. Billing is an activity that dependent on preferences of the end shopper can be made electronic or paper based and will need the use of either a printer attached to the mobile device itself or a standalone printer stashed away on the network in a convenient corner of the premises. The other premise is near field RFID based standards, but I do not have the commercial information to understand the cost vs. benefit impact along with technology challenges in achieving it.

 

Billing
This is a follow on from the capture of information around goods and services being bought and once the transaction is complete, a feed to the back end ERP infrastructure to update the transactional records for accounting purposes needs to be undertaken. Supply chain processes can be programmed on top of stock and inventory levels so that auto notifications based on rules can be triggered to suppliers. The analytics module also works on top of this transactional data to provide insight into various aspects of how the business is doing and can help answer some questions on the state of the business to determine feasibility and viability of continued operation

*Square seems to have some of these aspects covered off in terms of the offering of “Business in a Box”.

 

Payment Processing
This is a pretty hot topic in the mobile space because essentially what you are holding in your hand is a computer with a connection to the cloud providing for pretty rich functionality set that can be leveraged to easily achieve credit and debit payment over the network for goods and services sold to customers eliminating the needs for different infrastructure to process credit card payment. Think Square etc. another thing to consider for the cloud provider doing the ERP services for the small business in this post.

 

Analytics
This is an activity for the off hours for a business to get a more meaningful understanding of how the business is functioning as an ongoing concern. Analytics allow for the monitoring of vital signs that keep the business flourishing. The effectiveness of analytics is based upon the type and volume of data collected and correlated with. Here is where infrastructure provisioning by a big vendor like SAP can come in handy where due to economies of scale there will be disproportionate benefit to a small business.

 

Loyalty and Coupons
This is an emergent topic in the consumer space in terms of digital equivalent for the paper based mechanisms of yesterday. With the prevalence of location aware mobile devices in the hands of end consumers a lot of couponing and loyalty scenarios can be provisioned to pin point the situation of a customer and offer up an appropriate coupon to trigger a buy leveraging predictive capabilities. The small business can tie up with a vendor like SAP and offer up coupons to loyal and potential customers to get them to engage with the business and buy the product or service on offer.

 

Accounting and Taxes
This part of the offering takes care of collecting all the information up into a tax filing friendly format and providing added convenience in the face of the annual ritual. In case of available tie ups with government agencies and systems, this procedure could be further automated.

 

All of the above available at $X / month service price from the solution vendor.

neighbor care circle.jpg

 

 

 

This post is to try to understand if the following scenario of customer service / help is achievable given the state of smart device penetration in the masses.

    

  • Jane buys durable A
  • She registers durable A
  • Durable A comes with a help application for her smartphone
  • Jane indicates that she would like help in American English
  • At the time of registration she is asked if she is willing to provide help to other buyers of durable A via email / chat / voice / video call / in-person help
  • The application she install asks her for the following information and has some functionality to help it route help/service requests better to Jane
    • At the outset: comfort with spoken and written language (American English, Hindi, Arabic, et al)
    • The application allows for switching on and off of availability to help (email / chat / voice / video call / in-person) depending on what Jane is doing otherwise
    • Every three months: the application gives Jane a quiz to rate her level of expertise on the registered durable A

                

Six months have passed.

 

  • Jack buys durable A
  • Jack registers durable A
  • Jack also indicates that he would like to help other people out as he becomes better at using durable A
  • Jack installs the product registration infrastructure application
  • Jack indicates that he would like help in American English
  • For the life of him he cannot figure out how to use a certain feature of durable A and is looking for help
  • Jane happens to have indicated that she is available to help with durable A related questions from other customers via a phone call
  • Jack calls up for help regarding durable A
  • The call gets routed to Jane
  • Jack and Jane strike up a conversation
  • Jack is asked if he is willing to share his location with the person providing help
  • Jack feels safe in talking to Jane and says yes
  • Jane is asked if she would like to provide Jack her location
  • She feels safe in talking to Jack and provides her location

 

Actually the registration infrastructure based on previously captured information and current location tracking has intelligently concluded that Jack and Jane are in each other’s proximity. (Obviously this functionality has been explained to Jack and Jane by the application when they installed it on their smart devices, so they are not surprised about the prompt for giving up location information and infringement on their privacy)

 

  • Viola, Jane is in Jack’s neighborhood and could potentially walk over and help Jack in person if they mutually agree to do so in the ongoing phone conversation

 

Guess what, magic just happened and help arrived for Jack to solve his problem, in the form of Jane standing at his front door.

   

Would it not be interesting if this kind of solution could be provided in the name of customer service where the ecosystem of durable A customer’s help each other out.

   

Jane collects brownie points on the registration and help infrastructure for having helped out to get a potential discount at another purchase opportunity.

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Mobile is no longer just another interface to enterprise software but becoming the default for most roles, including back office roles that are not desk bound, think warehousing. In fact other than analysts, I do not know who in the enterprise will have desk bound jobs in the future.

 

A major disruption of classic business processes and business roles are around the corner for classical businesses and their way of doing business due to the mobile revolution. Think, ecosystem of Apple developers who are also sales people for their applications as well. Think, a delivery truck driver could potentially up skill to a sales rep; they are already intimate with the customer and have an ongoing relationship via their route. A warehouse worker could potentially up skill to becoming a telesales professional.

 

All of the above becomes even more achievable once organizations realize the power of voice and voice based interaction systems working via a mobile device, think Siri on Apple devices. Siri like functionality offers a voice based command and control interface leaving the rest of the body free to undertake other relevant activities and freeing up all other sense except hearing and sight, as needed to look at information in case it cannot be said out aloud in a natural language construct by Siri.

 

Voice on mobile is one aspect of the future disruption that enterprise software needs to very quickly get on board with.

car interactive.jpg

 

 

This blog is inspired by the ascent of voice based interaction systems coupled with “real time” business solutions in the technology space and how my life as a sales representative can be made dramatically better.

 

As a sales person running between customers, I already have a lot of cope with in terms of getting access to the latest and greatest information as regards a particular customer that I am about to meet.

 

Given the “real time” nature of business interaction, would it not be nice if “Siri” could feed me the latest and greatest Customer360 leveraging the context of the customer meeting that I am going to summarizing in the time available the key points that I should make while at the customer meeting including potential social interactions in wishing someone at the meeting with a happy birthday or similar “social” greeting over and above knowing which topics to quiz the customer on tailored to the context of the meeting and also knowing sticky topics to avoid in advance if said information is available.

 

The functionality I am looking at is based on:

  • As complete a customer profile as possible from
    • external social media,
    • 1:1 business meetings in the past,
    • transaction history,
    • outstanding service requests,
    • additional context derived from and enriched based on the previous information streams.

 

Understand the context of the meeting by understanding things like

  • how much lead time was there between the setting up of the meeting and the actual meeting
  • participants at the meeting
  • relationship hierarchies
  • social discussions in the public domain
  • products that have been bought by this group
  • products that have been complained about by this group
  • any potential “red flags”
  • size of business undertaken in the past with this group
  • trend of the business interactions like:
    • growing revenue,
    • growing frequency of meetings,
    • growing duration of meetings

 

Pick and choose the most important information threads to brief me about in the time that I have before the meeting, or prompt me to ask for a 5 min brief, 10 min brief or more in case there is a lot of time available before the meeting, likely not given how my real world looks like on a daily basis.

 

Interlink between my personal information manager and the backend Customer Relationship Management system serving up this content on my mobile device while I am in transit to the customer meeting.

 

As a sales representative I would love to get a handle on this kind of information before I walk into a meeting with a customer.

 

P.S. – I will ask my service colleagues to pen a similar requirements statement as a follow on to this thread.

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This is one of the soft targets that can be picked upon in terms of a business process that can be radically simplified and make the user feel significantly unburdened while getting lots of kudos for a CRM solution provider.

 

A visit report is a report that is generally filed by sales people after completing an interaction with a customer. Similarly, it is also something that can be filed by a service representative after providing service to an existing customer.

 

Say the end user is a sales person or a service person that just interacted with a customer.

 

The next action could be as simple as pressing a button on their mobile device and dictating a memo to an appropriate solution on the mobile device, all while driving to the next appointment with an appropriate hands free device in the mix. After this the device and a potential CRM backend communicate and complete the business process of finishing off the visit report.

 

The solution functionality that I am staring at is:
1. Voice dictation capture capability
2. Voice to text translation
3. Multiple language translation, if and as needed
4. Publishing the translated content onto the business social network within an appropriate context
5. Associating specific keywords in the text of the memo with appropriate business objects to build better context, for e.g. associate name of a customer with the rest of the master data record from the backend information repository

 

Is this really that difficult in this day and age of advanced computing available on the phablet form factor devices, that are only going to get more powerful over time?

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I am writing this blog as a silent observer on the sidelines of how beautifully SAP as an organization has been able to provide an atmosphere for innovative thinking within its walls and we have a flourishing internal social ecosystem and networks of practice and content in the social domain.

 

It all goes back to SAP, its value systems and the willingness to abide by them in providing employees the sense of freedom and individual responsibility that progressive societies aspire to.

 

The following are the values that SAP hopes to enshrine in its employees:

 

Success

We measure our success by our customers’ success. Commit to the success of customers, partners, colleagues, and SAP.

 

Accountability

We embrace accountability and always make good on our promises. Keep your word by executing on commitments we have made to ourselves and others.

 

Professionalism

We exhibit professionalism by consistently delivering quality work. Act with integrity, treat others with respect, pursue personal expertise, and execute with discipline.

 

Integrity

We are honest and fair and take responsibility for all our actions. Treat our customers and co-workers with sincerity and respect.

 

Teamwork

We value teamwork because it enables us to exceed our individual limits and share greater success. Take personal initiative in collaborating to achieve success.

 

Trust

We work for each other’s success and take personal responsibility for all of our relationships, be it with customers, partners, or colleagues.

I see a direct correlation between the above and the success of “social” within SAP.

 

Social forces openness and accountability follows, self-reinforcing the virtuous cycle. Professionalism is a given in the social domain where you leave pretty much a permanent mark for posterity, so you want to be remembered as someone on the side of good. The content that you create has to come from a place of honesty, without stealing copyrights and being original about thought that helped create the content.

 

Teamwork and trust are two pillars that help create and flourish a network of peers who leverage social to achieve disproportionate leverage and do the impossible.

 

I wrote this blog to give you a little insight into how and why SAP is such a next generation software solutions vendor headed to greatness and an eternity of its own definition.

social community.jpg

 

 

This is a collection of real world experience on why and how communities of practice work. Hope it benefits you as you go about setting something similar.

 

Depth of content

Publish EVERYTHING!!! Except the most ultra-sensitive material, I mean the stuff that could potentially take down your organization

 

Breadth of content

More and more and more of the above. Make everything available in a single information portal be it the creators, sellers and anyone else involved in the extended ecosystem that can have a positive impact on the destiny of the effort.

 

Speed of response

Be RESPONSIVE. Set KPI’s to get to questions asked within a specific timeframe and see to it that the KPI is met. Remember somebody is making an effort to ask the question and hence deserves a timely answer. You are both beholden to the quality of service provided by asking the right question and providing the right answer.

 

Interactivity

Leads to higher engagement instead of just information broadcast based interaction. It brings the human element into the mix. Pick a solution platform that allows for this when creating the community of practice.

 

Gamification

People like collecting badges and status and related schwag for a hard day’s work done so see to it that the platform has something to offer in terms of a convenient representation for degree of participation. People like the sugar rush, it is inherent in our psyches I guess to seek reward for honest hard work,

 

Mixed media resources

Don’t make it just about the written word, sounds and visuals go a long way in increasing the value of the information and entertainment provided. It again brings the human element to the fore.

 

Ease of access

Try not to make it a cirque-du-soleil body twisting exercise in trying to get access to the information offered. This turns off more people than you would believe. If it is a safe environment, then make information absolutely free.

 

Ease of use

Following on from the above, you want for it to be easy to use for the end information consumer. Extension onto mobile devices for the content offered is a big win-win for both the content provider and the content consumer. Think of offering information and content as providing a Netflix like consumption experience to the information consumer.

 

Last but not the least I have to obviously plug some SAP software that can help you achieve this goal and it happens to be Jam, the SAP SuccessFactors software offering that allows you to do all this at a drop of a hat.

 

Talk to us to find out more.

 

ENJOY!!! building your social community of practice.

I had the distinct pleasure of getting together with the Co-Innovation team at SAP some time back for a Fireside Chat and the following is some of what ensued at the said meeting.

 

In this Fireside Chat I had the distinct pleasure of talking to Sven Denecken, Head of the Co-Innovation program and Thomas Arends, SAP OnDemand Solutions, Co-Innovation & Communication at SAP, extending our boundaries of thought around our OnDemand portfolio of solutions offerings to the next level, where no other enterprise software organization has gone before.

 

 

 

Some of the discussion topics covered during this free ranging conversation to bring the world up to speed on Co-Innovation at SAP included the following points.

 

 

 

“Co-Innovation is a state of mind.” – Sven Denecken

 

 

 

What is the philosophy behind co-innovation?

 

  • Bring SAP development and customers closer together
  • Give customers the opportunity to influence solutions, before we even start coding
  • It’s a journey we all, SAP, customers, analysts, do together from first idea, thru development and the First Customer Success and Go-Live
  • We strive for a win-win for everyone. We build solutions the business users want to use, they did help and shape them. Our customers do get early access to advanced people centric solutions

 

 

How do you measure success?

  • Number of customer engagements
  • Input and feedback from customers reflected in the solution offering
  • Customers staying with us for the entire cycle from first idea, development, first customer success and go-live, and for the next wave to go thru the same cycle
  • Feedback from our development and product management organization, recognizing the value of customer feedback and on-going interaction in a co-innovation project

 

 

Do you feel a cultural shift at SAP towards co-innovating?

  • Today our product management colleagues are pushing us to bring more co-innovation customers into their development projects, because they see the value of on-going customer feedback and validation. 
  • A few years back we were encouraging everyone to embrace co-innovation and work closely with customers, and looking back now, it was a process to get to where we are today.
  • Switching from a model where you gather requirements upfront and then develop your solution, to an agile co-innovation model, where you have constant interaction with you co-innovation customers throughout the entire development cycle is quite a change, and it does take time.
  • You also have other parts of the SAP organization like the customer engagement initiative, providing a first line of support for product managers and developers to get started with solution specific customer interaction.
  • Jim Snabe is a big promoter of co-innovation, encouraging close collaboration with customers over and over again.
  • And looking at our newest member of the SAP family, SuccessFactors, this company has an incredible customer focus, and bringing their culture and
    our co-innovation approach together will be a big win-win for everyone.

 

 

Are there any recommended best practices?

  • Always shoot for the right mix and number of customers, don’t limit yourself to just one or two customers and go the danger of building a custom
    specific solution.  and make sure they fit the profile of the solution, like country, industry, size
  • Never stop to fill your co-innovation pipeline, you will have to talk to many account teams and customers to find the ones that have the right mind
    set, have an early adopter mentality, realize the benefits they can gain. Our experience is that you need a 10x to 20x pipeline to fill 5 to 10 customer slots for a co-innovation project
  • Start your co-innovation cadence as early as possible. The earlier you collect feedback by showing real working features and allow the business users to have a hands-on user experience, the better your chances to fix and fine-tune your solution, and do iterate on a frequent basis, that way you fix bugs before you even go to your test phase and you incorporate business user requirements to build a solutions they really want to use.
  • Co-innovation does offer a great opportunity to bring multiple parties like IT and business users into the same project, business users will provide you with great feedback, they are the ones who actually will work with your solution on a daily basis.
  • Use Design Thinking: it is desirable, feasible and viable
  • Go Lean: lean and agile development goes hand-in-hand with co-innnovation, for all parties involved

 

 

What are the benefits to Advisors, Review and Design Customers?

  • Early access to advanced user centric solutions
  • Elevate company profile/visibility as early-adopter / co-innovator
  • Gain 1st mover advantage – save time, gain financial benefits
  • Influence and co-define SAP solutions
  • Easy product adoption/fit across organizations, disciplines and users
  • Expand professional network - foster deep connections and trust
  • Better internal planning based on upcoming solutions
  • Leverage SAP design & development resources
  • Benefit from idea & info exchange

This video blog is an attempt at laying out a use case that can be fulfilled in one of multiple ways by leveraging different platforms and how SAP SuccessFactors Jam fulfills on multiple requirements to provide a comprehensive social solution to fulfill on the use case.

 

The use case is of social sales enablement.

 

The characteristics needed from an underlying solution are highlighted.

 

The previous state of problem solution fulfillment via multiple solutions vs. Jam solution based problem solution fulfillment is outlined and compared and contrasted.

 

The net of it all is that Jam is indeed a pretty comprehensive social solution offering.

 

solution manager.jpg

 

 

Ever wondered how an end user’s life can be made easier by helping them “discover” solutions deployed for use in the enterprise. How the life of an end user could be made easier by almost allowing them to do a natural language query about the information systems and business processes supported by solutions available in the enterprise. Why is there a need to find systems via cryptic three letter keywords still the norm when it comes to enterprise software and not a guided procedure like offering that leads to self discovery till you hit the wall of access privilege to the said discovered system?

 

Would it not be wonderful if the future SAP Solution Manager offering can provide this sort of functionality for end users along with capturing information about the state of the lifecycle of a particular solution deployment? With the changing nature of the workforce where highly computer aware and not just computer literate people entering the workforce in the future, a generation that is as familiar with the computer as they are with the air they breathe and the food they eat. Would it not be challenging for a solution provider like SAP to keep end users interested and coming back if this kind of functionality were supported by key solution offerings like SAP Solution Manager. It is not time that the solution manager offering emerged from its garb as an IT oriented offering to become a more end user focused offering as well.

 

The future infrastructure that manages solutions landscapes across a multitude of solution provisioning formats namely on premise, on demand, private cloud and public web needs to have this functionality of being able to even announce solution offerings to the end user and allowing for access to the same based on its understanding of the end user profile of work.

 

I feel that the future of enterprise offerings is to come out of the control framework of the IT department and make the end user empowered to articulate the specific needs from the solution a la iTunes for the enterprise as being spoken about by key SAP executives. iTunes allows the end user to be in control of articulating choice from among a multitude of offerings addressing the same subject and so also for enterprise problem solutions offered by information systems like SAP offerings. A solution like the SAP Solution Manager would be key in powering an iTunes like store format offering for an enterprise to enable end users to articulate choice when it comes to leveraging solutions make a day in their enterprise avatars easier.

identity management.gif

 

 

SAP has recently announced a three pillar strategy for addressing customer needs. On Premise, On Demand and On Device. Users of SAP systems in the future will expect a seamless experience across whichever user interface (mobile device, web browser, desktop interface) they choose and irrespective of which back end framework (on premise, on demand, public web, private cloud) is serving their business solution need.

 

SAP has also told the market that orchestration is the key to achieving this seamless interaction for the end user and this is the inspiration for the article.

Identity management is the front end of the orchestration framework as it directly deals with user provisioning. Users maintain their central identity for access to SAP systems via this framework and potentially this framework could issue relevant certificates to all the interfaces that the customer uses to access the SAP system, be it device based, browser based or desktop interface based access to SAP systems.

 

The identity management framework can be extended to cover access to solution offerings articulated by partners on the SAP backend and hence further extend the footprint of the offering among SAP users. This central framework could be leveraged to offer access to relevant public websites that have affiliations with SAP and people do not need to maintain multiple profiles across the web and their SAP managed identify and profile becomes their gateway to a lot of content on the web.

 

If SAP is to get to a billion users that are affected on a daily basis by an SAP solution offering then providing for an identity management infrastructure will help as one of the offerings that allows multitudes of people to get easier access to SAP partnered/provisioned solutions on the web.

 

Here is hoping that SAP takes massive strides in this space and becomes a global player in Identity Management as defined in the connected world that we live in today where a lot of web based offerings are trying to provide a seamless experience across different user interfaces be it mobile, web or desktop.

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