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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.

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

 

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Filed under Big Data, Business Analytics, Change Management and Leadership, Cloud Computing, Digital Content Strategy, Innovation, Marketing and Social Business, Millennial Worker Shift, Mobile Society, Operations, Strategy, Technology

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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SAP NetWeaver Gateway PAM – A New Productive Approach for Microsoft Users

I was happy to participate at the recent SAP TechEd US in the product roll-out of the new  SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft, or SAP Gateway PAM.  What is SAP Gateway PAM and why is it important?  From a forthcoming white paper, some specific background:

Today’s labor force is different. Knowledge workers demand easy and transparent access to critical business information in order  to complete their jobs. As such, line of business owners must take responsibility for their own employee retention. Business users, particularly the Millennial workers (generally considered those born between 1979 through 1999) who are making up more and more of the workforce, grew up learning how to play and fun was part of their learning pedagogy and educational upbringing.  So line of business owners need to make work fun and easy and for this IT must be in partnership with the business.  Whether it is via on-premise , on the cloud or mobile applications, business information must be quick and easy to access in order  to complete day to day operational tasks, and done so in a secure, easy to maintain manner across the entire enterprise software landscape.

Knowledge workers also have a tendency to prefer to work in teams rather than alone. As such, performance management systems which place much of the emphasis on independent contributions will give way to more team-based and group performance approaches.  Despite these trends, research has shown that line of business owners have a “hazy understanding” of what is needed to address this shift in worker business practices. This “lack of clarity” on the part of line of business owners is partly because knowledge work involves more diverse tasks than does production or clerical work which can be procedural and repetitive.

Since knowledge workers spend half their time on interactions, research suggests that companies should first explore the productivity barriers that impede these interactions. Common barriers may include lack of clearly defined expectations and outcomes, competing information sources for executing work tasks, and basic information accessibility issues.  The work environment itself may pose a barrier, whereby overly structured processes and systems deter knowledge workers executing tasks in team-based environments.

With this shift in worker behavior, performance metrics are hard to come by in knowledge work, making it challenging to assess how effective particular individual knowledge workers may or may not be against poorly defined goals and objectives.  Against this backdrop, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many companies settle for “scattershot investments” in staff development and corresponding IT systems and processes rather than to consider a cohesive environment that clearly supports knowledge worker behavior.

In recent years, many companies and research firms have taken a hard look at the need to increase accessibility of critical business information that exists in SAP Business Suite solutions and SAP data structures like HANA and BI across lines of business and functions in its many customer organizations.  By studying the demand for information  and the use modes of that information, SAP has determined that there is a “gap” between the accessibility and the use of business critical information.  In an ideal situation, all workers should be directly connected to the SAP back system to access information directly and quickly in order to execute processes efficiently. However for the majority of SAP customers only 25% percent of the business users are directly working on the SAP systems.  Given that over 400 million users access Microsoft Outlook.com email services and 1 billion Microsoft Office licenses currently exist worldwide, it is easy to see how a typical SAP customer would have business access to Microsoft based productivity like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Excel.  In addition, these business users are increasing their day to day consumption of business critical information via mobile channels, with more and more information consumed via smart phones and other mobile devices.SAP believes that by 2018 over 50% of business users will access SAP business critical information via non-native user interface (UI) modes, further increasing the need for broad integration between SAP Business Suite and Microsoft environments.

In response to this need, SAP has developed a solution that provides an extended set of tools and connectors to easily create bi-directional communication between the SAP Business Suite stack and Microsoft platforms in a secure, development friendly approach.  Called SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft (NetWeaver Gateway PAM), this new platform builds on the recent design improvements of the overall NetWeaver release with additional pre-configured extensions specifically for use in Microsoft application environments.  Using .Net programming options via its Design Studio and open data (OData) protocols, developers already familiar with the Microsoft stack will be able to quickly develop new and enhance existing extensions from SAP Business Suite applications directly into Microsoft user environments via Gateway PAM.  As such SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsot becomes a single, unified and fully secured platform to bring the SAP and Microsoft environments  together in the lowest integration cost model developed to date.

SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft (SAP Gateway PAM) allows for easy integration for Microsoft productivity tools such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio.  Through the use of pre-configured extensions into these applications, workers connect to critical business information stored in SAP Business Suite solutions in a low-cost, highly transparent manner.

Ning-Jing Gao from the SAP Information Worker Unit interviewed me on the SAP Technology channel after I had an opportunity to review the release materials. Watch the full YouTube interview, below.  This is a next big step towards seamless UI and data integration between SAP Business Suite and Microsoft productivity applications.

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KXEN brings SAP Analytics to the Business Analyst Community

This week in Las Vegas I held a number of executive interviews as part of my role with the SAP Business Influencer community at TechED.  I’ll be posting on the SAP Community Network with abstracts here to link to the full content.  

This week at SAP TechED, the KXEN team was in full force both demonstrating the continuing value of the brand which SAP acquired last month and also their new SAP employee badges after cutting over to their new teams inside the SAP Analytics group earlier in the month.

According to Saravana Chandran, Senior Director for Advanced Analytics, SAP had good position with the up-market visualization space with its Lumira product and relatively good penetration in the statistician and data scientist market with its predictive analytics tools.  What KXEN brings to the table is the middle ground of business analysts who look for trends and forecasts as part of their day to day activities but who are not overtly looking to dissect the data into complex and reusable algorithms like statisticians.

“The vision of SAP Analytics is to reduce the data to decision latency, operationalize predictive model, and bring predictive analytics to broad set of users – beyond the data scientist while being open and flexible” claimed Chandran in my business influence interview this week at SAP TechED.  “Customers can leverage predictive models and extend the usefulness to the end user across all levels of expertise.  So you can democratize analytics and overcome the skills gap in today’s environment” where either the data is too complex (requiring more data scientists) or the application to simple to drive real trends and value to business decision making.  Chandran claims that due to the skills gap currently in the market, for every $1 spent on solutions an additional $99 is spent on services needed to use those solutions productively.  In today’s world you need to hire data scientists or bring in service providers to perform necessary analysis over time, pricing many companies (even large enterprises) out of the predictive analytics space.

To read the full article, including an embedded YouTube interview with Chandran and KXEN VP of Product Management Marco Casalaina, visit the SCN posting.  Thanks to Chandran and Charles Gadalla for their time to sit together and talk about predictive analysis at SAP TechED.  Follow my other SCN postings via my SCN profile page or Twitter (@william_newman).

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Day 2 #SAPTechEd Live Blog

Here at SAP TechEd I’ll be mixing up a few blog posts with the streams from the day’s events as they occur and as announcements made. Follow me here and on Twitter (@william_newman).

Yesterday’s flurry of announcements around the new and open capabilities started strong in the morning and continued into the evening with a 10-year birthday celebration of the SAP Community Network.  Congratulations to Chip Rodgers and his team for a vibrant knowledge exchange!

A summary of key announcements, with links to be added as and when they become available:

  • Integration of the Hana Enterprise Cloud Platform with Hadoop, SaaS, with scalable sizing with multiple on-ramps for companies of all sizes depending how they would like to amortize their IT assets (or not).
  • SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 releases this week.  Lots of clean up and deeper extensions for mobile processes.  SMP 3.0 is the first release where mobile processes do not need to explicitly connect to back end business suite applications, since they are able to update the table directly.  Don’t have that process in business suite? It’s okay as long as you have good mobile data governance.  (Addresses the classic joke scenario: hey doctor, when my arm heals can I play the violin…. good because I wasn’t able to before … Now SAP customers can build apps to handle processes not found in their Business Suite environment, unencumbered by other enterprise architectural constraints I outlined in one of my earlier articles.) Also better control of renegade or so-called “zombie apps,” forgotten mobile apps from old BYOD and other development efforts still running and still consuming data.
  • Netweaver Gateway’s new release leveraging Open Data (oData) protocols allows for a fresh look at Microsoft integration.  With the new NWG Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft (called Gateway “PAM”) services can be delivered directly to Microsoft applications without the need of a server broker on the Microsoft side.  Lower TCO with higher accessibility to SAP operational data through Microsoft product environments, including a near-term SP1 release to connect Excel.  Plug-in friendly.
  • Cloud convergence became clearer.  Sven Denecken presented an update to the cloud roadmap and it is clear the SuccessFactors underlying architecture which is LOB-driven will be primary with modules reflecting Business Suite applications in ByDesign (ByD) will build on that architecture.  SAP has determined that its cloud EA footprint doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition.  This is good news for current and future SAP customers looking to migrate some business processes or entire operations to the cloud.

More information updated here as and when it becomes available.

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Day 1 #SAPTechEd Live Blog

Here at SAP TechEd I’ll be mixing up a few blog posts with the streams from the day’s events as they occur and as announcements made. Follow me here and on Twitter (@william_newman).

[1115] Just wrapped up the Executive Q&A with Dr. Sikka.  More of the key points.  Best quote: “If HANA was a little girl, Hadoop would be her big pet elephant.”

[0920] Discussing game-changing application examples and how business is being re-invented.  Major announcements are now behind us like the end of the fireworks show.  I’ll be taking a break from this blog until later… check back often for more updates!

[0915] Announcing 1776 Core HANA Systems on AWS. “Eliminating the tyranny of server limits” as Sikka goes with the American patriotic analogy. Also announces SAP HANA Infrastructure as a service (would that be HaaS?)

[0910] Now talking about the HANA ecosystem talking on the Intel partnership.  SAP and Intel announce Hadoop integration, as well as the new Z7 platform and 3x memory storage capacity.  So super radical fast even 3x faster.  Beyond human comprehension.  Here is a nice video from Intel providing some background on how it works.

[0905] Building extensions on top of SuccessFactors in the HANA Cloud.  Showing a Sports Reward Module where employees can select sports event tickets as a reward and recognition element.  That was cool.

[0900] Showing the business processes now in the HANA Studio used by DHL.  Without writing a single line of code you can generate a dashboard with KPIs solely pulling the data measures and a process aggregation.  That is pretty incredible.  HANA can build business critical apps in the cloud with the “data still living in the process.” New pricing model mentioned but not discussed.

[0850] Bringing in Franz Faerber from Germany.  HANA revenues and applications will double in the next several years.  Support from the HANA Academy and release of HANA SP7 (not in pre-beta, available in November).  Optimizing performance, OLTP features, vitualizations, and bringing the ABAP and HANA stacks “closer together.” The developer experience using the HANA Studio will be available without needing a separate workspace.  One unified workspace IDE on display, targeting a simple “hello world” app but shows the “scaffolding” and connections needed to immediately start programming.  Nice applause after the quick demo.  Well deserved, programming the basics must be a non-event in the app creation process.

[0840] Pretty frank acknowledgement of the core ERP “littered landscape” that SAP is currently dealing with.  NW Gateway product has over 7,000 clients over the world.  Great white boarding by Sikka.  He is in his element now.  Build new “seamless” applications for customers.  Every application comes under the bracket of one frame: the HANA extensible platform.

[0832] You know when you come to Vegas you never really know where you are.  You walk in and the sun is out and you walk out on your way to the airport and the sun is out.  > Darn funny line.  Speaking about finding a Burberry store and how they use an omnichannel personal experience where they remembered Vishal and his colleagues from a previous visit.  Amplify the reach.  That’s the “Tech” part of “Tech Ed.”

[0825] Sikka notes that everyone is building in-memory databases which is a good thing industry-wide.  Took a bit of a swipe at Oracle’s announcement last month at Oracle Open World by poking fun at the “pre-beta” in-memory offering.  Few in the audience were awake enough to pick up on that.

[0820] Warm welcome by Vishal Sikka, CTO and Board Member at SAP @vsikka, and guru “papa” of HANA.  A time of great fundamental transformation. Cites Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post as an example of how to rethink the business landscape.  Finally drives to his point: “great technology just doesn’t solve problems but it fundamentally changes things.”

[0815] After pumping us up we go into a big discussion around B Process logic of Doug Engelbart.  Interesting but I am emotionally dropping and looking for my coffee.  Hopefully context comes soon.

[0801] Are you kidding me? Jungle Love by The Time? I need to add that to my running playlist.  I am seat dancing now, fairly embarrassing…  Please start soon….

[0750] The warm up is a percussion-enhanced DJ, with perhaps the best rendition mix of Michael Jackson’s “Pretty Young Thing.” Eighties flashback, am I allowed to moon walk in the influencers section?

[07:00] Finished up my somewhat painful half marathon recovery run and typing out the buzz from the big data VIP event last night. Word was some interesting updates on the Hadoop and Hana offering and ecosystem. Also strong chance that the kxen merger is either finalized or will be finalized for announcement on Day 2

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What to Look for: Microsoft Accelerator to be announced at SAP TechEd

Having just cleaned out my gear bag from this year’s Detroit International Half Marathon in the D, I am with keyboard in hand providing a few snapshots of what to look for next week at SAP Tech Ed.

First there will be more on Hybris and omnichannel marketing.  A lot more.  Since the announcement earlier this year a number of partners have come forward to address key scenarios.  This came up in my recent SAP Radio spot in a conversation around purposeful millennial consumers and how companies can weave corporate responsibility into their consumer facing strategies.

More cloud competition and predictive analytics, specifically around the kxen acquisition.  The acquisition is scheduled to be completed this month and since we are in the quiet period we haven’t heard much about roadmaps or strategies.  This could change at TechEd if the “all clear” is given to consummate the deal.  Could be newsworthy.

The clever folks in the NetWeaver Gateway team are releasing a new Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft (PAM).  Why the buzz?  Unlike other joint ventures with our friends at Microsoft, the NW Gateway PAM is a bi-directional environment with plug-ins and add-ins to Microsoft Office leveraging open data (oData) protocols.  This allows direct connectivity with Microsoft platforms, without “double conversion” via a Microsoft system. Accelerators much like “starter kits” in other SAP products means developers have pre-built handles unlike other previous approaches.  SAP hopes to tap into the estimated 65% of the SAP customer employees who currently use Microsoft products but currently don’t access SAP enterprise data in their day to day tasks.

A number of sessions including a customer small group discussion with Dr. Pepper Snapple are planned for the NetWeaver Gateway and Duet Enterprise teams.  You can see a full schedule at their SCN post.

Follow me on Twitter (@William_Newman) for more updates throughout the week.

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Developing a five-part SAP ERM strategy

Organizations have faced an increasing number of challenges with internal processes and external supply chains in recent years, leading to a growing realization among companies that enterprise risk management (ERM) is a necessary business process in its own right. An organization should develop a sound SAP ERM structure using five key elements in the SAP solution suite, including SAP GRC and SAP Business Suite applications.

Examples of supply chain risk over the last five years can be found everywhere. The 2011 tsunami in Japan wreaked havoc on automotive companies worldwide, many of whom depended on vendors in that country. Disney left Bangladesh as a contract manufacturing base after a factory fire, and later a devastating building collapse, which Disney blamed on the government of Bangladesh for lack of regulatory oversight.

Image courtesy of University of California

At the same time, companies are giving more attention to ensuring correct transfer of internal funds internationally (known as SWIFT accounts) to meet increasing financial auditing requirements. Corporate and institutional governance boards are also taking greater steps to reduce the potential for large scale fraud and low probability, high impact risks also known as “fat tail” or “black swan” risks.

The Five Elements

SAP customers often get derailed on how to structure business process audits – such as financial audits – using the vast SAP Business Suite and GRC tools available to them. To make that happen, companies should consider five key elements to successfully build out a strong and cohesive ERM program.

To learn more about the Five Elements of an SAP ERM strategy, read my article in its entirety on searchSAP.com.

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SAP Inside Track: Align Risk Management Goals, Audits with Actions

This week I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the joint SAP Inside Track Toronto and ASUG Ontario chapter meetings.  My presentation on the topic of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) using the five key elements of SAP Business Suite – including a case study on internal audit management – attracted some attention.  The presentation is available now on Slideshare and will also be posted to the ASUG Ontario chapter event page.

I also took fourth in the annual “Canuck Hunt” contest at SAPPHIRE 2013.  Mark Richardson of the Ontario Chapter has a nice photo of me with my prizes orbiting in the twitterverse for reader amusement…  Thanks again Mark and the rest of the ASUG Ontario team for a great program.  See you all next week in Grand Rapids on June 27 for the ASUG Michigan chapter meeting!

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Can Supply Chain Visibility Save Lives?

My recent SCN blog post “Focused Brand Management via Supply Chain Visibility” has received nearly 1,000 views since it was posted earlier in the month following my interview with Markus Rosemann, Head of Supply Chain Execution at SAP during the SAPPHIRE Orlando conference.  It is provided here as an abstract to create visibility in non-technical circles so we can all consider if increased supply chain visibility can detect issues before they occur. Or kill. 

Read the full article on SCN under the Business Trends topic for Sustainability and Supply Chain.

Rena Plaza collapse (image courtesy NY Times, Reuters)

In the wake of devastating tragedies in Bangladesh and Paskistan over the past 18 months, OEMs are developing action plans and mitigation strategies to avoid collateral brand damage associated with poorly run and often dangerously unsafe external contract manufacturers.  During my recent podcast for the IXN (Episode IXN002 on iTunes) I was asked what is the top challenge facing global supply chains.  My answer was terrifyingly predictive: brand management and the impact it has on brand sales when a horrific event happens overseas.  Two weeks later, over 1,000 workers (mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers) lost their lives in the building collapse at the Rena Plaza factory in Bangladesh.  While the death toll rose, Disney was one of the first brands to pull out of the country, and the EU developed a memorandum of understanding that many appareland footwear manufacturers were voluntarily adopting.

This week at SAPPHIRE I sat down with Markus Rosemann, Head of Supply Chain Execution, LOB Solution Management, to discuss this problem.  Given the actions of the previous several weeks this issue is top of mind in supply chain operations and risk management functions inside, it was a familiar topic.

Integrated supply chain issues for brand management is a critical success factor because as Rosemann put it, “you cannot lose on this front. How you integrate with your partners is a growing need, not only the process and order level (for example, who was manufacturing on Bangladesh and what percentage of your portfolio), but also the need for the supply network to create visibility.” While this has been an issue for years, the impact on brand management today creates a new need to track and trace supplier activity so companies can protect their brand.

Social and sentiment analysis can also play into that from a demand signal management perspective. Social plug-ins can see the sentiment analysis on brands, platform, and customer preferences. So what does this mean having a true voice of the customer in the wake of a horrific supplier event?  According to Rosemann, “that is finally changing, best margin is not the only driving force” in industries such as apparel and footwear. “This is an area that we see changing in the market place – demand patterns which are changing, and this can all be viewed inside real-time analytics. We see this as a huge opportunity to leverage the power of HANA, for massive data which can be analyzed and understood. From this, information can be pushed onto strategy, supply planning, and then sourced.  This is the real integration and opportunity for a real time supply chain.” I agree and none too soon.

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