Business Networks, Disruption and Judo

This is a repost blog from my LinkedIn account. Follow my LinkedInfluence posts on that channel.

I like to use the expression “business judo” with my clients in situations where disruptive forces attack the seemingly mature strengths of a business model. Large and mature organization which miss a disruption cycle at best require deep modernization to right-track growth efforts, in the worst cases miss the opportunity altogether and either need to leap frog ahead through clever innovation or decline like the infamous “inflection point” espoused by former Intel CEO Andy Grove.

A classic case of business judo is unfolding right before our very eyes in the tech space. Large ERP companies are battling it out not over on-premesis software applications but over cloud applications and revenues. But is this the disruption? Or is there a judo move at work that is less visible to the naked eye?

SAP’s recent acquisition of Concur on the surface is a head-scratcher on many fronts. At a disclosed purchase price of approximately $8B it appears to be a big push into non-organic and cloud-based growth by the company. Indeed, even Forbes greeted the news with some skepticism and suggested over-evaluation which led to a near-term drop in SAP stock price. This puts SAP on pace to keep up with Oracle with anticipated public cloud revenues for current year at $2.3B and $2B, respectively. (Ibid) On paper this looks like a keep up with the Jones’es move to show cloud growth on par with its strongest ERP-based competitor.

However, if you look closely at other recent acquisitions and internal transformation from SAP you will see a larger story emerging around the business network. The concept of a business network suggests that the more participants in the network offering cloud-based services and products, the more revenues can be generated in a captured marketplace. Think of Amazon with its Amazon Prime business network of an estimated 20 million consumers. In a B2B environment – which eventually translates to B2C in the value chain – the business network rules.

In 2013 Ariba (the purchasing and online commerce network now owned by SAP)had over 1 million trading partners in over 190 countries. With additional acquisitions over the years of SuccessFactors (HR and talent management), Concur (expense management) and other organic cloud-based systems, SAP expects to grow its cloud subscriptions to 50 million from 38 million currently. These levels are on par with Amazon and while not publicly available one wonders if the recent IPO-buster Alibaba could claim such subscription levels even with a broad audience base in mainland China.

So go-on ERP companies. Keep thinking the play is to increase cloud-based revenue earnings. Meanwhile companies like SAP will continue to grow its business networks and show us just how well it knows a few business judo moves.

In full disclosure these are my own views and are not influenced by corporate information not available in the general public domain or containing and forward-looking statements. My publicly obtained sources are highlighted in this blog for reader review.

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Keeping Fit While Traveling this Holiday Season

Over the passed several years, family and friends have made a number of suggestions around health and fitness that have made their way into my travel repertoire. Some have worked and others are perhaps more work for the gains based on my business travel schedule. While I have done well to keep the doctors complaining about my numbers, I also seem to have more energy and focus in my day to day activities. Whether you are traveling on business or home for the holidays these five tips will help you cope and enjoy your travel with renewed vitality.


1. Eat Deliberately.

We all have different bodies and those bodies – hate to tell you, Dear Reader – change over time. Which means those carbs (also sugars) we put away in our 20s have to be very well managed. Favor “greens and pro-teins” if over 40 and watch high cholesterol foods with high cream and egg yolk content. If you can swing being gluten-free (or even “gluten selective”) try it. That combined with limiting red meat to once or twice a week mean less blood flow to your digestive tract and more to your muscles including your heart (and your brain).

2. Eat Oatmeal for Breakfast.

The corollary to eating deliberately is to eat oatmeal for breakfast as often as possible. My friend is in his 70s and still hikes with the teenagers and keeps fit by this secret weapon. Oatmeal has the effect of non-gluten carbs for energy and positive cholesterol impacts for the heart. Add nuts or granola for a protein boost.

3. Get at Least 6-7 Hours of Sleep Each Night.

Executives across industries have become increasingly vocal in the need for sleep. Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer apologized for falling asleep during a meeting, giving off a less than professional appearance to her guests and colleagues. Whether you are traveling with the kids or overseas (or particularly both) get your shut eye. As a fallback take a nap but make sure it is real sleep and not just dozing to get precious REM time.

[Sub-corollary: If you don’t sleep, you need to eat.  Our bodies can adjust if you need to pull that all-nighter or you can’t sleep across the pond, just take a fourth meal at midnight.  Then get your nap the following day.]

4. Exercise at least 20-30 minutes at least three times a week.

As a distance runner I can throw all of the diet rules out the window when I am burning 3,000 to 5,000 calories a day. In the off-season (as around the holidays) I need to make sure that I can still exercise at more modest levels. Treadmill runs, hotel pool lap swims, yoga, or even brisk walks help keep the blood moving, increase circulation, and promotes high metabolism. The result: generally more energy for work and recreation.

5. Skip the Red-eye Flights

Bargain hunting for flight fares – which appear to be quite high relative to recent years – during the holidays is common practice. You take what you can get at the best fare to get to Grandma’s house in time for dinner. However early morning and late flights without significant time changes can really mess with your body clock and impacts both sleep and diet cycles (see above). If you can afford to do so, travel during normal waking cycles based on your outbound departure time. You will enjoy your travel experience and your family will too.

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Why Apple’s Announcement this week is More than Just About a New Phone

Apple (NASDAQ: $APPL) will make a splash this week with a number of new product and innovation releases.  In fact if you want to track the announcement you can subscribe to a meeting request and a countdown clock on the Apple website.  For those of us scanning the analyst reviews for trends and earnings directions, the event should reveal the largest one-day announcement of new Apple product in the company’s history.  The new phone, a new watch (these days the proper term is “wearable” since a wristwatch is so passe), and a new “phablet” – a large screen phone not quite the same size and use portfolio as the iPad – will all emerge.


According to Forbes writer Ewan Spence there is a lot of spectacle over this product release:

For fans and followers, journalists and analysts, to pop culture experts, celebrities, and late night chat show hosts, this Tuesday is going to be just like Christmas Day.

For me I am more interested in the location-based service and commercial wallet components that will begin to make their way into the full Apple line of products.  Most users have been accustomed to using apps to provide 2-D and 3-D barcodes to check in to airline flights, buy coffee, or secure reward points in loyalty programs.  This next step is akin to making your phone an actual commercial wallet where the funds are loaded into the wallet via smart chip and app to enable users to make purchases with appropriately enabled point of sale (POS) systems.

I have written about this topic as part of my coverage on #ConvergenceForces last year.  In my opinion, this is the most significant step of a tech vendor to date to really push that vision into a device-ready reality.

Comment or post below your thoughts on the Apple announcement.

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What happened after my TED Talk? I quit my job, wrote a book, grew my organization, and promoted a US postage stamp in Times Square

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Hannah Brencher carried a USPS mail crate with her when she spoke at TED@NYC. Photo: Ryan Lash Hannah Brencher carried a USPS mail crate with her when she spoke at TED@NYC. Photo: Ryan Lash

Hannah Brencher strolled onstage to give her TED Talk, “Love letters to strangers,” with a US Postal Service mail crate propped on her hip. And that mail crate full of letters turned out to be a metaphor for what happened next — a box of surprises and possibilities.

Onstage at Joe’s Pub in June 2012, Brencher told her story of writing love letters to strangers — yes, in her own handwriting — and leaving them on café tables, tucking them in books at the library, and sending them to anyone on the internet who asked. The project, which she began as a way to fight her post-college depression, took on its own life, so Brencher set up the website More Love Letters to help the letter-writing project expand to anyone who…

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If I Were 22 – Three Things I would Tell My Younger Self (Who Might not Listen)

As a LinkedIn influencer I was asked to write on the topic of If I Were 22, some words I might share with my younger self and things I was doing at that time.  This was a great exercise to bridge multi-generations of readers.  Follow all blogs on LinkedIn and Twitter at #IfIWere22.  Thanks for reading.

A lot has happened since I was 22 but I remember those and the immediate years afterwards with fondness. Graduating college. The first job. Living on my own out of school and moving to my own apartment. Water skiing the summers on Lake Havasu. Those crazy super bowl parties (it’s on during the afternoon usually on the Pacific coast). Volleyball each weekend in Hermosa Beach. Think the B-52s song “Deadbeat Club” – I lived that song each weekend replete with the 25c beers at the Poopdeck. Looking back on it now I lived a great dream.

If I did know what I knew now back then I would probably offer some kind advice to the young man I once was (knowing full well my younger self may opt not to listen to my advice). Here are the top three. Since my advice would have been good enough for my younger self I do try to offer it to my own grown children (and do my best to lead by example, albeit not always successfully).

To read my top three list, visit my LinkedIn post.  Photo courtesy of Zeta Psi North America.

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June 2, 2014 · 2:06 pm

Why Customer Engagement Matters – Customer Dynamics and Business Judo

My briefing on The Customer Edge with host Butch Stearns and colleague Matt Healey from Technology Business Research provided the post-game interview with SAP Insider CRM 2014 conference.  Some highlights may also be found in my LinkedIn post this week, including some thoughts around generational shifts around social marketing expectations and the business judo that needs to happen to give the power of the brand back to the customer.


Click on the photo to go to the briefing or select this link


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Changing Intended Human Behavior, and Liking It

More on my coverage of convergence forces, recently I interviewed a number of customers and executives at the SAP CRM 2014 conference in Las Vegas.  One of the big topics was the focus of location-based services, social, and predictive analytics to offer real-time perks to consumers who have opted-in for such deals.

I’m walking through the park with my wife and I receive a notification on my smart phone.  Because my wife and I enjoy a particular film festival, an offer comes to us for a free ticket with one purchase to an event happening in a nearby venue.  When we finish a lovely movie experience, we receive additional offers for a bite of dinner from three local establishments which we have frequented in the past.  We have taken a leisurely stroll in the park and extended this into a full day of entertainment and relaxation.

Science fiction? Hardly, as we saw this week at the SAP Insider CRM 2014 conference in Las Vegas the citizens of Montreal can live this experience every day with the use of the Societe du Transport Montreal (STM) application.  This location-based customer engagement mobile app identifies where the citizen is, how they can route from point to point inside the city’s transit system, and offer perks and offers along the way by participating establishments which the citizen may or may not already have a customer history with.

This was just one of several customer engagement (CE) scenarios that were discussed with applications across a wide range of product and service industries from public sector, to telecommunications, to discrete manufacturers. Unlike other location based services apps driven by big data where data privacy issues surrounding dynamic pricing my create societal concerns, this fully opt-in community-based approach works.

I am posting the STM promotional video here as well.  For my full report on findings from CRM 2014 check out my blog on the SAP Community Network (login required for comment).

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