Chủ Nhật, 31 tháng 7, 2016

Disruptive War Gaming: A Critical Tool for Today’s Innovators

The buzz: En garde!

The most successful companies anticipate — and often invent — the future before their established competitors do. The secret weapon of large Fortune 500s? They conduct competitive “war gaming” exercises to generate effective defensive strategies as well as innovative offensive growth strategies that proactively anticipate new services, products, and business models.

How can you harness this creative tool for your company’s competitive advantage?

The experts speak.

Bryan W. Mattimore, Growth Engine Company: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” (R. Buckminster Fuller)

Christopher Bishop, improvising careers: “The future has already arrived. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” (William Gibson)

Michel Sérié, InnoLifters: “…there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns.” (Donald Rumsfeld)

Join us for Disruptive War Gaming: A Critical Tool for Today’s Innovators.



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Thứ Sáu, 29 tháng 7, 2016

Celebrating the One-Year Anniversary of SAP Sports One

SAP today celebrates the one-year anniversary of the release of SAP Sports One, the first sports-specific cloud solution powered by the SAP HANA platform.

SAP Sports One provides a single unified platform to manage teams and players efficiently as well as handles analytical insights for performance optimization. The solution was well-received in its first year, with adoption by the German National Football Team (DFB), FC Bayern Munich, TSG Hoffenheim, FC Nuremberg, and Xolos de Tijuana, all of whom are co-innovating with SAP to create this next evolution of solutions for football teams.


SAP customers continue to reap benefits of sports-specific solution as two new functionalities are released


“SAP had a clear vision when it entered into the world of Sports and Entertainment. It centered on bringing four decades of rich-industry best practices and experience from all over the world into the dynamic and exciting world of Sports,” said Stefan Wagner, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Sports and Entertainment at SAP. “Today, we celebrate this important milestone and remain steadfast in our mission to ensure success for our customers and partners on the pitch and within their organization.”

The best teams in the world are using SAP

SAP Sports One was born out of a partnership between SAP and the DFB. After the DFB’s victory at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, SAP was called the team’s “12th Man” by the Wall Street Journal and credited as a major contributor to the win. The experience prompted SAP to expand the SAP Sports One scope and functionality and release it as a single product for sports teams, with the first iteration tailored for football. Current functionalities include Team Management, Training Planning, Player Fitness, Performance Insights, Scouting, and the recently released penalty insights function and SAP Challenger Insights.

The DFB have continued to leverage SAP Sports One since the 2014 World Cup. Earlier this month, the Penalty Insights function in SAP Sports One received media attention after the DFB defeated Italy in penalty kicks during the quarterfinal round of the 2016 European Championship. The tool provides goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches with insights into the tactical behavior related to penalty kicks of all teams and players competing in a tournament. The DFB have also used the SAP Challenger Insights tool to gain a competitive edge throughout the tournament. SAP Challenger Insights provides information on an opposing team’s characteristics, such as their offensive and defensive tendencies and their formations.

Teams outside of Europe, in the U.S. and throughout the Americas, are also starting to realize the value of SAP Sports One. Mexican-based Xolos de Tijuana is one such team. “The best teams in the world are using SAP,” said Ignacio Palou, Xolos de Tijuana Sporting Director. “The SAP Sports One solution will take us to the next level competitively and organizationally.”

SAP plans to roll out SAP Sports One for other sports, including ice hockey, in the coming months.

Top image via Shutterstock



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How Will Digitalization Disrupt Healthcare?

“We do healthcare like [it’s] the middle ages.” That’s how the current state of healthcare was described at the first SAP Personalized Medicine Forum that took place on earlier this month in Bonn, Germany.

To some, this statement may sound extreme.  However, when considering SAP’s goals of providing high quality healthcare to patients on a global level, the sentiment changes from one of perceived extremity to one of truth.

The main challenge with getting healthcare out of the “middle ages” is that doctors usually don’t have a holistic view on a patient’s personal and respective situation. Complex diseases like cancer require an individual approach to every patient according his or her exact biological and lifestyle traits. According to among representatives from political groups, healthcare organizations, health insurance, biotech, and pharma companies at the SAP Personalized Medicine Forum, digitalization has the potential to leap this hurdle.  Now, the big question lies in how the medical world will get there.

Putting the Human into the Middle

To understand the dynamics of health and illnesses, physicians and researchers need access to more data. How do genomes, proteomes, metabolomes, different medications, behavior, and the environment influence health or a disease? How does a patient’s state evolve long term after he or she left the hospital? Are there any similar cases in the world where we could learn from? With wearables and electronic health records, a big part of the desperately needed data could be generated already – it’s just a matter of sharing and connecting the data in an intelligent way that reveals medical insights.

A first move into this direction is CancerLinQ, a non-profit subsidiary of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). CancerLinQ connects and analyzes real-world cancer data from electronic record sources and combines the expertise of oncologists with big data analytics technology in one platform.

Fearless Collaboration

This means that the technology to generate, aggregate, and analyze big data on health is readily available. It is simply a matter of achieving what Uppsala University’s Magnus Peterson called “fearless collaboration.” There is not only a technical challenge of different data sources and formats, but also the issue of silos within the minds of researchers and institutions.  When asked what was the preferred solution to the problem of unwillingness to share data, attendees pointed to the “carrot-and-stick” approach.  Using this method, data would be willingly shared among researchers and other medical professionals if it was gained through public monetary support.

Of course there is also the other side, the patient. If patients suffer from deadly diseases, most of them will be willing to share their health data for R&D purposes – for the benefit of themselves and for future generations. But there may be other cases when patients are more protective of their sensitive personal health data. And here the solution again lies within the key message of the forum: consistently put the patient at the center, and go from there.

Giving the Data and the Power into the Patients’ Hands

While some issues were divisive among the audience, one aspect all members could agree on was that data security and privacy should be a priority when considering collaboration on health data. In that sense, the patient should be the sole owner of all of their personal data, and ultimately the one who determines what it be used towards.

It is pretty understandable if a patient does not want to measure and share health data “for free.” It is the responsibility of care providers, insurance companies, and the life science industry to provide a real tangible value for patients as a reward. The patient needs to understand what the data means and which conclusions can be drawn for the patient’s health and for a broader patient group. With that, patients can make educated decisions on what data to share with whom and when, and acceptance to do so will grow.

This would help the ultimate goal to move the conversation towards improved health rather than focusing on curing sickness only – which is the current status quo of modern medicine. On a side note, one example that proves that prevention is better (and more cost-efficient) than the cure, is Gesundes Kinzigtal, which translates “health Kinzig valley.” With their focus on health prevention, they receive an anticipated payment by insurers and they get a premium if total heath cost can be proven to be less than in traditional approaches – which, according to their website, seems to work out pretty well!

That being said, thinking from the patient perspective, giving them the power to collect and share health data in real time, and collaborating across institutions on medical research will lead to a big step forward towards value-oriented healthcare. Through this approach, the unexpected may be uncovered and it may contribute to developing new ways to focus on health – ideally before illness beats us.

What are your thoughts on precision medicine and value-based care? Please join the conversation in the comments below or on Twitter by following @SAP_Healthcare.
This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image via Shutterstock



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Can Your Business Sense What’s Happening In Your Industry?

Lately, I have been fascinated by the sharing economy and the opportunities it presents. And for that very reason, I rarely miss a chance to talk to an Uber driver when using the service.

Recently, I had the privilege of riding with a driver who has a passion for coaching kids’ soccer. Unfortunately, that vocation doesn’t pay very well, and he still has to pay the bills by taking on a second job. For him, this is the beauty of Uber. When he is ready to work, he turns on his driver-side app, and he’s immediately pulled into a pool of available drivers in his location. Whether he drives for five hours or just one, it’s up to him – his resource availability is his decision.

What allows companies like Uber to reimagine the traditional boundaries and value proposition of their industry? What can such a digital master teach you about leading a digital-based company? More important, how will you adapt to the emerging fluidity of traditional roles?

Time and again, three key characteristics come to mind when answering these questions and comparing our businesses to early leaders in digital transformation: Seamless, connected, and data-driven.

Seamless

Through digital technology, these companies offer a seamless, in-the-moment experience. Luxury products and services usually differentiate themselves through personalized or concierge-level services. However, digital technology can unlock value through the delivery of seamless experiences, processes, and access to information across the enterprise.

Take Uber, for example. The startup reimagined the luxury car service experience by making its automated process seamless. No dispatcher or customer service representative is taking your order and potentially writing it down incorrectly. That’s what people like about the experience: personalization through automation.

Connected

Seamless experiences can be achieved only when processes and the enterprise are connected to partners, things, people, and customers. For instance, Airbnb is bringing together all parties on a common transaction network to offer an entirely new experience in finding and fulfilling lodging needs. This reimagined process is created in the moment, based on the current state of the network ecosystem.

Data-Driven

Digital experiences typically rely on sophisticated data analysis and user design to filter through large volumes of information. Rather than presenting all status updates, the application shows only what you need to know now.

Consider your digital device. It can report the weather forecast, but it has the capacity to personalize how you relate to that information. The device can sort through your schedule and let you know that you may need an umbrella when you travel to your next meeting. 

A Live Business in Action

If we look at these characteristics in the context of a business that can sense what’s happening around it, we can see that there are no central planners involved. Remember my friend, the Uber driver? In his case, he advertises his availability in the supply pool when he taps on his driver app. Then, demand is automatically connected to Uber’s rider apps that see new supply come online. If there is a mismatch in supply and demand, prices go up automatically to even this out.

This all happens seamlessly, via a system that self-corrects based on ubiquitous connectivity and data-driven pricing. It truly is a business that senses what is going on around it and acts appropriately.

For more on the digital economy and its impact, check out the research paper “Live Business: The Digitization of Everything” on the Digitalist Magazine online.

Dinesh Sharma is the Vice President of Digital Economy at SAP.

This story originally appeared on The Digitalist Magazine as part of the 10 Weeks of Live Business series.


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Thứ Năm, 28 tháng 7, 2016

Silicon Valley Dispatch with api.ai: Say What?

Conversational experiences are all the rage. api.ai is perched in Silicon Valley, quietly building up a voice-enabled tech company that’s doing big things.



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Predictive Analytics: Seven Key Examples

Knowing before customers turn elsewhere, machines go down, employees quit: The ability to anticipate and drive better business outcomes is becoming a decisive competitive factor. That’s the benefits of predictive analytics in a nutshell.

Suppose a company wants to find out why it is losing customers, what customers it can propose additional products to, and which channels promise the highest sales rates. What does it do? It looks at performance in its various regions of operation, divides the customers into segments by product, and addresses the most critical issues at stake.

A telecommunications company with 20 products, for example, seeking to analyze 20 regions and 10 customer segments using 10 score types such as churn management, channel affinities, and upselling, would need to develop 40,000 predictive models to be able to “address the different constellations at a fine-grain entity level,” explains Sven Bauszus, global vice president and general manager of Predictive Analytics at SAP.

Quite often, though, companies don’t know what to do with the detailed information the data patterns ultimately provide them. “Customers have the sophisticated processes and modern technologies but then often lack the resources to verify the results effectively and incorporate these new findings into their operations,” explains Bauszus, pointing out that too many customers still lack an “end-to-end approach.”

BARC: Predictive Analytics is a Future Must for 94% of All Companies

Without a doubt, predictive analytics is major concern going forward. According to the German market research group BARC (Business Application Research Center), 42% of the 210 experts recently surveyed in DACH region rated the topic as either important or very important. And nearly all (94%) of the enterprises questioned were convinced of its importance for future business success. Companies that had already deployed predictive analytics in relevant projects particularly praised the improved planning reliability (48%), better management of processes, the opportunity to develop new business models, and better decision-making support.

Seven Practical Use Cases

Predictive analytics can support day-to-day operations in a variety of ways and, as Bauszus emphasizes, is “not limited to the industrial sector.”

1. Fraud detection
From duplicate or incorrect invoices to manipulated balance sheets – rules and algorithms automatically detect irregularities, and halt suspicious transactions for manual verification.

2. Forecasting service dates (predictive maintenance)
The goal is to “replace corrective or reactive maintenance approaches with more preventive maintenance strategies,” explains Bauszus. Algorithms constantly analyze the machines’ behavior in conjunction with historical data to calculate the most suitable time for the next inspection and to ensure the right spare parts are in stock when needed.

3. Reducing waste (predictive quality)
Parameter settings defined for each stage of production enables companies to identify and remove faulty products from the production line early on, thereby reducing waste. This presumes, however, that the company knows the appropriate steps to take in response to the sensor data patterns indicating the defect. For more information, see .

4. Spotting unhappy customers (churn management)
Imagine a mobile service provider. After a year of no complaints, its customer service center is suddenly bombarded with calls mainly from young tablet and smartphone users. The trend pattern warns us that those customers are at risk of leaving. Based on this insight, the service provider can now preemptively retain their loyalty, or prevent churn, by proactively offering targeted discounts or new service packages.

5. Identifying upselling potential
A customer who has already taken out car insurance might also need liability insurance. But which customers are best reached by telephone? Which respond more often to e-mail? Who prefers regular letter mail? And where would “upselling” be pointless? Algorithms analyze customers’ past behavior to calculate the individual upselling potential and the most worthwhile means of approach in each individual case.

6. Improving payment moral
Outstanding receivables from suppliers and business partners are a dilemma for any company. Because when too many claims are outstanding, your liquidity starts to suffer. However, every company at one stage or another has become familiar with the conditions under which their customers reliably pay their debts on time. Discounts for settling accounts particularly quickly are one such example. Predictive analytics takes advantage of this insight to enable efficient cash forecasting.

7. Retaining staff
Already five years at the company, top qualifications, never switched departments: There is nothing to suggest that this employee might be thinking about looking for a different job. A closer look at his resume, however, reveals that he has never worked for more than four years at any one employer, and that he’s recently started taking further training courses. A forecast model can predict the likelihood of staff movements and gives the HR department enough time to react accordingly.

Weed Out Noisy Data

The challenge in the above examples and in other areas of application is always the same: “noise reduction.” Bauszus explains: There is a lot of ambient noise in your day-to-day business data. The trick is to extract those sounds, or patterns, that are relevant to the business issue at hand. For example, to determine the ideal time for maintenance of a machine, data scientists first use regression models to gather and correlate the readings of hundreds of smart sensors. The data from the top 10 sensors, or key influencers, is then trended and analyzed to predict when maintenance should be performed.

With SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics, companies can choose whether they want to use the preconfigured automated forecast models or let their data scientists develop their own pattern recognition algorithms in expert mode. The standard solution serves as core starting point for predictive analytics. Fresh incoming data, for example in the case of certain target variables such as “fraud,” helps the system identify trends and patterns against past data, enabling it to continuously “learn” and leverage the insight gained. “As such, it [the system] provides forecast models representing the best compromise between training data sets and real data sets,” explains Bauszus. In expert mode, data scientists can set their own parameters, reuse existing SAP HANA libraries, and select algorithms.

Learn more from the following whitepapers:

Top image via Shutterstock



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Does the World Really Need Designers?

Design and designers are essential in creating a product – whether it is software, physical products, websites or mobile apps – that will be successful in the marketplace.

Designers should be integrated thoroughout the product planning and development phases. Many businesses however, have missed the fact that designers are the key ingredient in designing products that create desirability, usability and feasibility.

Learning the Hard Way

Even companies with a solid reputation for good design have occasionally overlooked this reality. For example, Google released Wave back in 2009. It was an online platform that was supposed to improve project collaboration. Do you remember how excited you were just to get an invite to use Wave? I know I was. Unfortunately, the user experience of the app was somehow forgotten by the developers. It was just too overloaded with features that no one knew what to do with the tool. From a design perspective, it was a disaster. However, Wave was just an iteration to one of their many amazing apps available today. Even Google gained experience through their learnings and continues to succeed.

Another hard lesson learned is from Apple. Prior to the success of Apple TV today, they attempted to produce computer/TV “hybrid” into one body called the Macintosh TV. It was released in 1993. The problem was the product was not a well-functioning computer nor a proper usable television. Macintosh TV had bit of an identity crisis. Due to its poor usability and the unattractive design, Apple only produced 10,000 units. Even a seemingly infallible company like Apple can learn from their mistakes and to become one of the most influential tech company to date.

These are perfect examples of “build everything on the checklist” but also cases in which the product teams failed to understand the true needs of the user. In general, Wave and Macintosh TV created excitement but possibly did not do thorough user research and so failed to deliver true value to customers. It is quite possible that they had designers from the very beginning of the process but both of the products feel like an experiment. In general, having designers deeply involved from the early part of the creation process is essential in uncovering what users want to do, why they would use it, and how best to use it.

The New Era of Modern Designers 

Designers are no longer just “pixel pushers”. Modern designers are problem solvers or, if you will, Design Thinkers. Therefore, designers are now more than ever a great asset to have on board from the beginning of the product creation process because modern designers:

  1. Understand the basics of human psychology, especially how people perceive and interact with their surroundings, and how that should influence the design
  2. Make design decisions based on proven UX methods (research to usability analysis)
  3. Involve stakeholders like CIOs, product managers, developers, designers, sales, marketing and end users right from the beginning to collect feedback to take appropriate design steps
  4. Believe that collaborating in a physically creative and functional place will have a positive impact on successfully designing a product
  5. Do not believe in designing the perfect product on the first try, but learn from failing early and often
  6. Are listeners. They collect good and bad feedback to iterate as necessary to create the best product design and experience possible
  7. Spend time with the end user to identify root causes
  8. Constantly reinvent themselves. They are always learning and are never satisfied with their current skill set
  9. Take care of their clients’ needs directly rather than through a manager
  10. Do not fixate on popular design trends but instead base it on user’s needs and research

Innovate, Not Stagnate

Until recently, more businesses have taken notice of this fact and started to invest in getting more designers involved early in the creation process. As more and more products come into the market, the emergence of new technologies and constantly shifting demands from customers, force businesses to ask questions like: How do you visually stand out among the crowd? How do you solve usability problems? Does the product’s user experience benefit the user?

With an overabundance of unusable or difficult-to-use products in the world, designers are needed more than ever to bring harmony to the design and overall experience.

The value of good design is the increased probability of success. Investing in designers for the future of your business will create innovation and help you become the leader in the market. Hiring designers may not save the world, but at least your products will look and feel great to your customers. But then again, a well-designed product can play a role in contributing to “save the world” (add wink here) after all. So to get the full value from great design, you need to hire designers.

What is your opinion on value of designers? At what stage should designers get involved? Tell us your thoughts in the comment, I would love to hear your perspective.

This story originally appeared on the SAP User Experience Community website.

Top image via Shutterstock



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Fraud in the Digital Era: Is It the Beginning or End of an Arms Race?

Thứ Tư, 27 tháng 7, 2016

2016 Olympics: The German Sailing Team is Ready for Rio!

The German Sailing Team is looking for gold during this summer’s Olympic games in Rio. SAP is helping them prepare.



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The NHL Connects Fans to the Sport with SAP

How to Fix Social Media Customer Service

A brand’s silence in social media is deafening.

Customers who tweet a brand expect a response. Over half (53%) want to hear back within an hour. And when the tweet references a problem, that figure jumps to 72%, according to a study by market research firm Millward Brown Digital.

Yet, the average response time for brands on Twitter is just over four hours – if they respond at all. As confirmation, a study by software company Simply Measured found that the response rate among Interbrand’s top 100 brands averages at just 42%.

Silence Is Met with Anger

Into this silent void flows anger. Sixty percent of customers who feel ignored by brands on social media are likely to share their displeasure, especially if they have a legitimate problem that hasn’t been resolved.

Unfortunately, anger thrives in social media. Research has shown that we tend to share happiness only with those close to us, but we are willing to join in the anger of strangers. That’s why public shaming on social media often draws a crowd that fans the flames with retweets, supportive comments, and Facebook likes. Before long, brands can have a PR disaster on their hands.

Response Is Ad Hoc

Most brands have seen – or even experienced – the potential harm of being late on social media and are putting people on the case. Businesses that employ at least 100,000 people now have an average of 50 full-time employees supporting social media. Yet given social media’s heritage as primarily a marketing medium, most employees in social media teams have marketing or communications backgrounds. They often lack the resources and knowledge to handle customer service issues.

Meanwhile, social media is generally not well integrated into traditional customer service departments. For example, just 33% of customer service centers provide social media contact channels, according to a survey by Deloitte.

Even when brands create designated customer support accounts on social media, service requests may still stream in on other accounts. As a result, responses are often ad hoc and disjointed across the organization, which contributes to slow response times.

Channels are Proliferating

The problems that businesses are having with social media are part of a larger issue: The need to respond to customers across an ever-increasing number of electronic communications channels. Besides social media, there’s chat, texting, smartphone apps, and many others.

Demand for service through these channels will only increase over time. According to a survey by IT services company Dimension Data, Internet and chat are Generation Y’s first choices for interacting with businesses – tying with social media and surging past phone calls, which finished last. The survey also predicted that digital communications – which account for 35% of interactions with customer service today – will overtake voice calls in the next two years.

A Strategy for Coordination

Rather than take a channel-by-channel approach to serving customers, businesses need a strategy for omnichannel coordination and integration. For example, social media is great for answering simple questions, but it isn’t the best channel for resolving complex issues. In these cases, businesses need a seamless process for shifting the conversation from social media to the call center, where a representative can help sort through the problem.

Omnichannel coordination isn’t easy. The various channels inside most companies are silos within their own technologies, processes, and leadership. Bringing them together requires technology integration, cross-silo coordination, and new business processes. But it’s the best hope companies have for ending the deafening silence in social media.

For more insight on how customer service is evolving, see The New Face Of Customer Service.

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight.

This story originally appeared on The Digitalist Magazine as part of the 10 Weeks of Live Business series.


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Thứ Ba, 26 tháng 7, 2016

How EcoReco Is Changing the Bay Area Commute

According to Reuters, the average American commuter wastes about 42 hours a year mired in traffic. The California Bay Area is one of the six most congested urban areas in the U.S., and traffic congestion there is growing faster than the region’s population and employment levels.

With increased traffic also comes increased pollution.  The negative impact that petrol-engine vehicles make on the environment is a grave contributor to global warming.  Therefore, interest is growing about electric scooters as a potential solution to the commuter gridlock.

A national household travel survey shows that 50% of American car drivers’ daily trips are only 3 miles or less, a perfect distance for travel by e-scooter.

From Startup to Success: EcoReco

Powered by a safe and eco-friendly rechargeable Lithium Iron Phosphate battery, the EcoReco scooter emits no air pollution or greenhouse gases during operation.

In a recent episode of #SAPTalks, host, David Trites spoke to Rob Dawson, Business Manager at California-based EcoReco. Rob discussed how EcoReco is adapting to digital business in order to change the way people commute.

Like many employees of small businesses, Rob wears many hats. He is a very busy guy, and a very passionate one as well. He is motivated to decrease the environmental footprint of Bay Area commuters while also bringing a little bit of fun and ease to their daily rides.

Adapting to Digital Business

In the early days of EcoReco, Rob ran the business using Gmail, PowerPoint, and Excel.  Sticky notes and markers were staples of his day-to-day routine.  Yet, suffering frustration and difficulty trying to manage EcoReco’s growing business this way, Rob knew that something needed to change.  Fielding orders, customer service messages, social media, marketing, and other facets of the business via email, sticky notes, and Excel spreadsheets, Rob knew this practice wasn’t sustainable for the type of business growth that he envisioned.

Susan Reynolds, Global Vice President of Partner Ecosystem at SAP, also joined this #SAPTalks episode and explained how SAP Anywhere offered EcoReco all of the business user elements it needed in one centralized snapshot. This cloud-based solution provides EcoReco streamlined customer service functionality, an auxiliary accounting system, and mobile functionality for offline transaction information when and where they need it.

Rob showcased that he can run the EcoReco business “live” with SAP Anywhere.  He opened the solution, live, while on the show and ran through all the different SAP Anywhere functionalities that EcoReco leverages.

Speed is Everything for Small Businesses

Rob mentioned that because 50% to 70% of all new business for EcoReco comes from “word of mouth” marketing, speedy, efficient business operations and customer service are critical to its business success. “Every moment saved is really valuable when trying to do ten different jobs at once,” said Rob.

With SAP Anywhere, Rob is saving precious time that he can now use in the field, promoting the benefit e-scooters have on the environment and commuter traffic.

Listen to the full #SAPTalks show with EcoReco here.

For more #SAPTalks shows follow me @CMDonato and connect with me on LinkedIn.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.


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Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP: Marion Ryan

Marion Ryan, Vice President of General Business in Asia-Pacific Japan (APJ) at SAP, unexpectedly discovered that a career in high technology perfectly aligned with her natural curiosity, love of travel and enjoyment of dynamic work environments.

Currently based in Singapore, Ryan has been with SAP for almost a decade, and manages the General Business group which has a team of over 200 sales representatives and 400 partners serving small and midsize companies in the APJ region. In this exclusive SAP News interview, Ryan talks about what she’s learned from managing teams since her very first job as a teenager, why her combined understanding of both coding and business benefits customers, and how family expectations gave her the confidence to go after anything.

What triggered my interest in how IT business systems make companies thrive was…

When I worked for a travel company that was installing an automated ticketing and booking system. I suddenly realized I had far more interest in implementing the system than I did in booking people’s travel plans.

I was attracted to a career in high technology because…

Being involved with IT projects allows me to work collaboratively with others to either solve problems or make something better.

My mother was a wonderful role model who…

Worked full-time with five children growing up and also found time to volunteer. She and my father set the bar high – we were all expected to participate in sports and do well in school, leading to university and a responsible career.

My parents gave me the confidence in my ability to…

Try anything even managing teams early on as a 16-year old working part-time at a supermarket.

When Ryan isn’t working, she enjoys many activities including indoor sky diving.

I thought I’d end up…

Transferring to law school until technology found me. I attended night school to earn my master’s degree in IT while working full-time at the Australian House of Representatives as the Assistant Director of Information Systems.

Learning coding gave me the ability to…

Appreciate the value of simple user experience masking a complex business process.

The most important thing that brought me to this point in my career have been… 

Mentors and champions who have encouraged me to take on new responsibilities.

Being in a leadership role at SAP gives me the freedom to… 

Exchange ideas and learn across cultures while challenging the status quo and helping generate revenue for the company.

If you have a roomful of men, you’re missing half the population and their insights. The more different voices at the table, the more complete the resolution to the problem will be.

What motivates me is…

Collaborating with a team to identify and achieve goals. It’s important not to confuse activity with outcomes.

SAP’s Marion Ryan: It’s important not to confuse activity with outcomes.

We can attract more women to high tech industry by… 

Starting at an early age. I have an eight-year old niece who I actively encourage to build simple apps. Some countries in APJ lag behind in their representation of women in IT. Adaire Fox-Martin, President of SAP APJ, recognized this challenge and created the Back2Work Program, offering project-based employment to professional women who have taken a career break and are looking to re-enter the workforce.

My dream assignment is… 

New York City. I first visited in the early 1990s, and it immediately felt like home.

I’m helping women achieve their dreams by…

Mentoring to develop our future leaders, including participating in the local Business Womens’ Network at SAP. I’m always looking for women interested in moving into sales.

Trekking-to-Tiger's-Nest-Monestary-in-Bhutan-with-friendssmall

Ryan (right) takes a break from work by hiking with friends to Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, the most sacred site in Bhutan.

The one app I can’t live without is…

What’s App. It’s the easiest way to stay in contact with friends and family worldwide.

There’s never been a better time for women to…

Pursue a career in high tech because the digital revolution will provide career paths with longevity and flexibility.

The technology I’m obsessed with right now is…

Cloud ERP because we have a massive small and midsize market in Asia that needs these innovations to simplify consumption and accelerate the delivery of new customer engagement models.

When I’m not working I relax by…

Hiking in Singapore’s nature reserves, snorkeling off the beautiful beaches of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, ziplining and indoor sky diving. I also never under-estimate the power of a good glass of red wine while enjoying a tranquil moment in the heart of the city.

Follow me @smgaler



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Manufacturing and IoT: Connecting All Things Unconnected for Market Leadership

Thứ Hai, 25 tháng 7, 2016

India Takes Next Digital Leap

“GST”: Three letters that spell dramatic change for India and for every company part of a supply chain in the world’s seventh largest economy.

They say that nothing is sure in life except death and taxes. India’s manufacturers can now add “digitalization” to that list. One of the biggest tax reforms in India since its independence in 1947 represents a huge leap in India’s quest to digitalize its economy.

What sounds like a humdrum affair – the introduction of a new Goods and Services Tax (GST) – sent shock waves through the corner offices of India’s manufacturing companies. GST will streamline a complex taxation process, save one-sixth of the world’s consumers money in the shops, and force the more than 10 million producing companies in India to reconsider how and where they build, store and distribute their products.

“GST is a cornerstone of the country’s digitalization efforts, and will cause a marked rise of digital usage in India’s businesses,” says Arun Subramanian, Vice President, Globalization Services, SAP Labs India. “While the larger conglomerates have business application software, there exists a large group of SMEs who either have no IT infrastructure in place to support their businesses or are in a very nascent stage.”

Data Scientists’ Dream

The basis of India’s new Goods and Services Tax is a tax office consisting of an IT backbone that digitizes everything online from registrations, determining and awarding credits, filing returns, payments to audits and disputes settlements. After being issued their GST registration numbers, companies will be required to upload sales invoice data into the massive system, operated by GST Network, a not for profit, private limited company. “Altogether, we’re talking about hundreds of millions if not billions of line items per month being entered into the GST Network,” says Arun Subramanian.

Arun_Subramanian_500

Subramanian

Since all tax data will be available in a digital form, the Indian government has a huge opportunity to analyze, forecast and manage the economy. For example, what would be the revenue impact by raising taxes, or how is the consumption of goods fluctuating?

Rethinking the Supply Chain

Because the final terms and conditions of the new goods and services tax will be decided right up to the law’s passing, there is still uncertainty among organizations as to its full impact. What’s clear, however, is that the new law will upend many manufacturers’ supply-chain and product distribution strategies.

Here’s why: Under the current law, firms benefited from setting up warehouses or distribution hubs in states where consumption was heaviest – other logistical arrangements were effectively penalized. “By elimination of the cascading effect of taxes on goods, especially in inter-state movements, the playing field will be levelled for producers no matter where they manufacture, store or sell their products,” says Rajamani Srinivasan, Head of Digital Enterprise Platform Channels at SAP APJ. “This will help reduce the overall cost of goods sold, thus entailing a lower price for consumers, and at the same time increasing profitability for firms.”

From Panic to Panacea

For over a decade, India has been moving towards reforming its indirect taxes related to goods and services, but reports in 2015 indicating the new government under Shri Narendra Modi was going to follow through with its plan put Indian CEOs and CFOs on high alert.

ManjushaNairSAP_500

Nair

“It was a bit of a panic situation for our customers who needed a solution for GST sooner than later,” says Manjusha Nair, Senior Director, Globalization Services, SAP Labs India. “We had a broad idea of what the law would look like, but no one knew the rules or the timeline.”

Waiting for the tax legislation to pass was not an option, so SAP, with over 5,500 customers in India and the market leader in enterprise resource planning software, immediately took a tactical step by engaging closely with its large customers and partners.

“The SAP Localization team amongst other developments, built a tool that facilitates migration to the required tax procedure and were able to show customers that the migration was not too complex,” says Manjusha Nair. “In addition, to scale the ecosystem enablement, we created an e-learning program on the code and configuration needed to make the migration, which was a pre-requisite for GST change implementation.”

To spread the word, SAP in India held the GST India Forum in May of 2015, inviting customers who were leading the charge to share their experience and challenges to over 1500 participants across its customer base.

Down to the Last Tweak

Richard de Souza, VP and Head of Corporate IT for one of India’s largest automotive suppliers Mahindra & Mahindra, feels ready for the new tax when it comes. His team supports 80 companies active in 18 different industries. “GST is a very major change, and will impact almost all of our companies,” says de Souza. Mahindra’s supply chain processes around two million components per month, a number which requires full integration and automation with respect to tax reconciliation.

RicharddeSouza_Mahindra&Mahindra

de Souza

Rather than develop a custom solution for GST, de Souza collaborated with SAP on a standard solution which can then be rolled out to multiple customers. “We refrain from any custom development unless it is absolutely essential,” he emphasized. “With the support of SAP, we built an application that matches its own purchases with the tax paid by the suppliers and reconciles it automatically. Any mismatches generate automated e-mail communications with suppliers.”

Richard de Souza says that there is a risk that the law may be different than expected and some additional time will be needed for his team to adapt the algorithms, but he’s not expecting it. “I hope that our preparations together with SAP have paid off and we will only need to make marginal tweaks in the system,” he concluded.Contributing to this story was Namita Gupta-Hehl, head of Marketing and Communications, Globalization Services, based in Walldorf.

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One Aspect of Climate Change Everyone Can Agree On

The topic of climate change has in many ways become as polarizing as politics and religion. It’s usually a good idea to avoid bringing it up at family gatherings, at work and especially on first dates.

The topic is almost certain to set off a “heated” ideological debate about whether or not humans are driving planetary warming.

However, one thing that hopefully everyone can agree on is that no matter what’s causing climate change, its impact is indeed very real. To help quantify things, NASA has provided a few facts on the vital signs of the planet. One aspect that is often overlooked is that the impact of a warming climate is devastating to farmers.  This fact can have major ramifications for the food supply around the world, as weather is the main determinant of yield and harvest. Therefore, any progress in helping to financially protect against future weather-related calamities will contribute directly to the betterment of mankind.

A company that’s dedicated exclusively to weather risk management is the French startup, Meteo Protect. They monitor weather and analyze its history to help businesses ranging from agriculture to the financial sector adjust their insurance models based on weather events. For example, the company helps wind energy utilities cover the risk of low average wind speed. They also protect food processing companies that buy commodities against the impact of weather on the growing of food. Succinctly, Meteo Protect provides companies around the globe customized insurance solutions to help offset the punitive financial impact of climate change.

Meteo Protect is a part of SAP Startup Focus – a program designed to help startups with successful proof-of-concept solutions in the Big Data, predictive, and real-time analytics space. They were recently a part of SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, Florida, where the CEO of Meteo Protect, Gabriel Gross, stated just how costly changing weather is: “The weather can cost two trillion dollars or 3.5% of world GDP. But small farmers can lose up to half of their revenue if the winter is too cold or too mild.”

As it measures and manages weather variability around the world, Meteo Protect analyzes enormous weather databases — both historically and in real-time — so the best existing technology is critical for company success. Serendipitously, co-innovation SAP Startup Focus program looks for innovation that exists outside of SAP, and consists of startups like Meteo Protect. The idea is to build solutions on SAP technology within an innovation ecosystem that bridges the more traditional enterprise world with the cutting edge technology that resides in the startup community.

Gross said that with SAP HANA, Meteo Protect found a system that is reliable and extremely fast, and helps continually analyze the individualized effects of climate change for each of their clients. Today Meteo Protect is running 100% on SAP HANA and tracking multiple data streams in real time.

Gross also believes that without SAP HANA, the company would not be able to produce insurance policies that are specifically targeted to each client’s needs in the most cost-effective way. Additionally, he stated that SAP HANA has saved the company time and money while “simplifying all of their IT infrastructure tremendously.”

He further added, “SAP HANA is really the core of our infrastructure.  We have cut processing time dramatically, and totally changed interaction times with our clients. To be able to inject all known history of weather into the system rapidly, and in a very secure way, has been a game changer for us.”

Clearly, the collaboration with SAP enables Meteo Protect to better calculate the “weather risk” facing any business in the world, and protect critical resources like food and energy supply from adverse weather conditions.

With so much at stake today, regardless of where one may stand on the root cause of climate change, finding innovation that helps offer all life on earth a more secure future is one area everyone needs to agree on.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image via Shutterstock



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Fallout From the Brexit: How Will It Impact You?

The outcome of the Brexit referendum took the whole world by surprise. It was clear that the financial markets were not prepared.

The global markets were pummeled, wiping out around US$4 trillion in two days. The bounce back was equally impressive, with more than 75% of the losses in the financial markets recovered within the next three days. One thing is clear: financial markets, political leaders, and CEOs are all uncertain as to what lies ahead as fallout from the Brexit.

It is possible that it will take 2-5 years to renegotiate the trade and security agreements between the United Kingdom, the European Union, and other countries. There are various reasons for these lengthy negotiations, which will drive a prolonged phase of uncertainty:

  • The United Kingdom, Germany, and France are the key economic pillars of the European Union economy. While the EU is the second-largest market in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), just behind the United States, a sudden withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU could have a devastating effect on the structural stability of the union.
  • London is the financial hub of Europe, with an enviable level of global reach and influence.
  • The United Kingdom, France, and Italy are the strongest military powers in the EU. The Brexit could have implications for the military balance in the region.
  • Security threats faced across the EU require more collaboration among its members to protect against increasing levels of terrorism and cyber-crime.
  • Pound sterling potential weakness could have a massive impact on every UK citizen. Already, some electronic manufacturers have increased their prices by 5–15%.

Much research was published prior to and after the Brexit vote, but the truth is that no one knows the real implications of the Brexit. Best-case scenarios may be a reversal of the Brexit decision or very friendly separation terms, with possible worst-case scenarios of separation of Scotland and Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and a shrinking of the European Union. It is clear that the next 2-5 years will be a period of great uncertainty, and companies need the agility to adapt to any potential scenario.

Business Leaders Across the Globe Should Consider This

In the digital economy, we are undergoing one of the biggest business transformations ever. Companies need to continue reimagining their business models and operational efficiencies.

CEOs and Corporate Strategy Leaders

With the Brexit, it’s critical to evaluate your business readiness to address challenges and exploit opportunities resulting from the changing economic market.

  • If the United Kingdom continues to provide a corporate tax haven, how do you take advantage of it?
  • Is your value chain resilient enough to cope up with large fluctuations in demand and supply?
  • How do you recalibrate your level of investment in the UK (manufacturing, logistics, etc.)?
  • How do you address EU citizens’ data privacy held in UK data centers?

Chief Financial Officers

It is almost certain that, with the Brexit, labor and tax laws will change, tariff agreements will be renegotiated, and corporate structures will be reassessed, driving significant, new complexity.

  • How do you minimize the cost of the additional complexity?
  • How do you optimize corporate taxes?
  • How do you hedge against increased volatility in the currency market?
  • Do you have agile business processes and technology to help you adapt fast and at low cost?

Manufacturing and Supply Chain Executives

This section is very relevant for companies with significant investments in manufacturing and logistics and a large customer base in the United Kingdom.

  • Do you have the simulation tools to optimize your manufacturing and logistics blueprint?
  • Can you optimize your manufacturing network to balance profitability and customer demand?
  • How do you mitigate the increased risk level in your supplier network?
  • How do you manage administrative complexity with minimum cost and customer service impact?
  • How do you reduce cycle time between demand signals and delivery of products and services?

Sales and Marketing Leaders

No matter how the Brexit impacts your business, the one thing every company needs to keep in mind is its customer experience.

  • How do you strengthen your go-to-market capability with new partnerships and innovative ways to access the entire European market?
  • Can you minimize currency fluctuation impact through more dynamic pricing?
  • Can you sense real-time changes in customer buying behavior or demand patterns?
  • What changes do you need to make to your disruption channel to secure customers and prospects?
  • What will be the impact of new tariffs and taxes on your sales and profitability?

Human Resources Officers

Labor law changes will definitely impact workforce planning, talent management, and organizational structures.

  • Can you quickly align your HR planning to the new corporate strategy?
  • Are you able to evaluate the impact of new immigration and labor laws on your workforce?
  • What is the talent acquisition impact once the United Kingdom exits the EU?
  • Can you quickly design and implement the right compensation and incentive programs that will neutralize the impact of external, non-controllable factors?
  • Are you prepared to change the setup of your European social partner bodies after the Brexit?
  • Do you have the right tools to test the robustness of your organizational model in the new EU setup?

Why SAP Is More Relevant Than Ever

Every company today needs to take advantage of digital technologies to adapt, thrive and manage uncertainty. SAP has diligently invested in the 21st century digital business platform of choice through disruptive innovation and strategic M&A investments. As always, we at SAP are ready to help customers turn uncertainty into opportunity.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image via Shutterstock



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Does Organizational Flexibility and Contingent Work Mean the End Of Succession Planning?

Companies that use contingent workers across the organizational hierarchy – from manufacturing floor employees to a rent-a-CFO – are clearly trying to stay as agile and flexible as possible to face the future demands of the digital economy. Right?

The digital economy is driven by innovation and technology. And as millennials and Generation Z begin to take over the workforce, the rise of contingent workers, robots, and artificial intelligence is destined to transform entire industries and bring organizational flexibility high on the list of executive priorities.

Does that mean that succession planning is a thing of the past? After all, if you are nimble enough to replace any person in the company hierarchy quickly, why take the long-term talent-management approach?

It’s Time to Rethink Succession Planning

Without question, the digital economy is driving the contingent workforce and the gig economy. However, it is also driving the rise of digital workers who are becoming intrinsic to a business’ success. Their technological knowledge and use of available tools create competitive advantage, organizational efficiency, and live decision-making processes across their organizations. While technology itself may be a big part of that equation, industry experience, corporate culture, organizational leadership, and management of new technology are also critical to a digital worker’s success. And for that reason, new contingent workers, who are brought in from outside company ranks, cannot instantly assimilate and adopt these components.

To make the most of this fast, ever-changing workforce, businesses should have a clear strategic direction, a compelling corporate culture, and a sense of leadership continuity to truly become – and remain – a successful Live Business underpinned by a digital workforce. Effective integration of a fluctuating contingent and digital workforce calls for management of this constant two-way flow of workers. In the end, that responsibility falls on the executive management team, and they can only achieve this if planned for ahead of time.

As it turns out, the leadership team and associated management skill set might be a problem, though. Recent research showed that 86% of companies believe that leadership is a top challenge. And if that wasn’t alarming by itself, a mere 10% believe that they have a good succession plan in place for the future, which seems to leave the vast majority of businesses with sub-optimal leadership and no clear plans to change that situation. To top this off, a Deloitte study showed that two-thirds of millennials are expressing a desire to leave their current organizations by 2020.

The potential for massive corporate leadership turbulence is clear – unless you plan for it, that is. As the pace of outside influences affecting your company increases, succession planning becomes the glue that can hold your business together through these pivotal changes. Yet, there are a few significant differences to consider.

  • Beyond the mere access to available talent, succession planning for contingent workers should provide measures to ensure cross-functional collaboration, quick ramp-up times, and cultural integration. This approach increases employee engagement and effectively leverages a constant flow of workforce insights coming from a myriad of old and new resources.
  • For digital workers who are critical to a brand’s success based on their ability to enable and make the right business critical, in-the-moment decisions, succession planning is all about reducing organizational risk. Not only does this bring talent continuity, but it also, in fact, ensures the long-term survival of the company.
  • Instead of determining the traits of your ideal leaders, McKinsey suggests focusing succession planning on the specific market and competitive context that new leaders will be facing going forward. With the advent of the next generations in the workforce and the digital economy, market context will be one of constant change and innovation. But, it will also be critically marked by a need for corporate continuity to pull all of the constantly moving pieces of the internal organization, ecosystem, and customers together in a cohesive way.

Even in the gig economy, workforce automation, contingent workers, and succession planning, if implemented the right way, will actually help drive organizational flexibility, employee productivity, and corporate identity. What are you doing to plan for the future of your organization?

Learn more about the rise of the digital worker and the future of work. Read the Digitalist’s executive research white paper “Live Business: The Rise of the Digital Workforce.”

Michael Rander is the Global Research Director for Future Of Work at SAP.

This story originally appeared on The Digitalist Magazine as part of the 10 Weeks of Live Business series.


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Thứ Sáu, 22 tháng 7, 2016

Keeping a Clear Head

The mindfulness training program Search Inside Yourself helps employees stay focused on the essentials even when they’re stressed.

You ought to just finish that off. Oh, and you really should answer those urgent mails. But the next meeting’s due to start pretty soon. Sound familiar? Our working days are often hectic. Time is at a premium, we’re constantly under pressure, and multitasking is the rule rather than the exception.

But if you do too many things at once, you don’t do any of them properly and you end up feeling bogged down and fed up. So what can you do when it feels as if a tsunami is crashing in on you? Stop for five seconds, close your eyes, breathe in deeply, and concentrate on breathing out again slowly.

It may sound banal. But it really helps. And it’s one of the exercises featured in the mindfulness training course currently being rolled out globally at SAP. Called Search Inside Yourself, the course has been used successfully at Google for many years and helps employees remain clear-headed, structured, and creative ‒ even in stressful situations.

Michael Jäger, project lead at SAP, took part in a mindfulness course recently after moving up from the waiting list. He wanted to learn how to distinguish better between what is important and what is urgent and to become more effective in his daily work. “The course has helped me focus better,” he says. “Mindfulness really clears your head and lets you approach your tasks in a more structured way.”

The short, simple exercises that characterize mindfulness have a far-reaching impact. In fact, neurological studies have found that regularly practicing mindfulness actually alters the physical structure of the brain. Practitioners of mindfulness have been shown to have lower gray-matter density in the regions of the brain that are responsible for stress and a higher density in the regions that control self-perception and empathy. “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in increasing our well-being and quality of life,” says psychologist and neuroscientist Dr. Britta Hölzel.

“Search Inside Yourself is a training, that really works,” said SAP employee Karola Schmitt. “Through the learned techniques and, above all, through mindfulness, I have more awareness for my fellows and can be more open and approachable with them. After the course, I felt strengthened and well equipped for new challenges.”

SAP initially embraced the concept of mindfulness in 2013 by offering pilot courses for employees and managers, first in the U.S. and then in Germany. The feedback was so encouraging that it expanded the offering. Since then, some 2,000 employees in more than 25 locations around the world have taken part in one of the mindfulness courses. More than 70 courses are planned for 2016 and there are already 5,000 names on the waiting list.

The beginners’ mindfulness course consists of bite-size chunks of theory and plenty of practical exercises. The course investigates topics such as the fundamentals of neuroscience, self-perception, and self-mastery. Participants learn to observe and direct their own behavior more effectively, to formulate their goals more clearly, and to increase their self-motivation. They also learn about emotional intelligence and about how to become more attentive and empathetic and to show more openness and attention to others.

Peter Bostelmann on Search Inside Yourself

Search Inside Yourself was introduced to SAP as a result of an employee initiative by groups in various locations who were interested in mindfulness. But the key impetus for developing an offering for the entire company came from Peter Bostelmann. An industrial engineer working in the field organization, Peter has been an exponent of meditation for 10 years and can testify to its positive effects. He took part in the first public Search Inside Yourself training course in San Francisco back in 2012 and was immediately taken by the simple, effective exercises it taught. “I was impressed by the clever way in which such profound effects appeared to be achieved so easily,” says the founder and current head of SAP Global Mindfulness Practice. “And that led me on to think that mindfulness would be a great thing for SAP, too.”

SAP Chief Learning Officer Jenny Dearborn recognized the potential of mindfulness training and raised the topic to the next level in her article first published in the Huffington Post. “Mindfulness can play a key role in the health both of employees and of the organization as a whole. But it does more than that. It enhances people’s sense of satisfaction and raises their motivation levels. Which is why this new kind of mental training is now firmly entrenched in our learning offering,” she says.

SAP’s HR director in Germany, Wolfgang Fassnacht, also recognizes the positive effects of mindfulness: “Focus and creativity are strengths that are essential for a fast-moving and innovative company like SAP.”

But it is not just within SAP that Search Inside Yourself is winning favor. German industrial giant ThyssenKrupp is considering extending its own mindfulness training courses, and SAP’s approach is proving a frequent and valuable source of inspiration. Currently, SAP is training employees and managers to become mindfulness trainers themselves – with the help of a growing network of mindfulness practitioners and local practice groups at many different locations. This means that thousands of employees worldwide will have a chance to attend the two-day course and reinforce their expertise in small groups at local level. Dr. Janin Schwartau, Head of Learning and Transformation at ThyssenKrupp, says, “SAP’s progress on developing its global mindfulness practice shows just what an innovative company it is. I am particularly impressed by the way SAP is using a network of internal trainers to roll the program out worldwide.”

Additional Resources

Top image via Shutterstock

 



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The Spin with Megan Meany: SAP Goes 3D, WEF

SAP TV Global Anchor Megan Meany has the latest SAP and tech news headlines.

 

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Scoring Beyond the Pitch with Coding Skills

Coding and corner kicks changing the game for underprivileged youth by offering chances and spreading passion for IT: This was the KickApp Cup Season 2015/2016.

Football summer in France: Portugal, the freshly crowned European Champion, is not the only team celebrating a victory. Teams from Brazil, India, Israel, Hungary, Germany, and the U.S. also got to experience what it feels like to be a winner.

The teams qualified for the KickApp Cup final taking place in Heidelberg and Lyon. The competition is an SAP Corporate Social Responsibility initiative that began a year ago. Six SAP development locations across the globe hosted the event, which was welcomed everywhere with great enthusiasm.

Engaging with Young People, Supporting Social Initiatives

How was this achieved? Take 180 highly motivated SAP developers and design thinking coaches, give them one vision in the form of a hackathon challenge, and provide a strong partner. The challenge: create an app that will help NGOs Run Simple and effectively.

SAP’s partner for the competition was streetfootballworld, an NGO whose mission is to reach out to underprivileged children, youth, and young adults by using football as uniting force and as a tool to drive social change. The umbrella organization combines more than 110 local football4good organizations across the globe to stay close to the young people they want to help.

Motivation for a Lifetime

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Exchange between the teams Brazil and Hungary.

The KickApp Cups attracted a total of 180 young participants who worked closely with SAP employees. They code together, have fun, celebrate, and play football.

Realizing that they can contribute to the creation of an app prototype in just a short period of time is a unique experience for the participants. “I can tell children and teenagers at home about my encounters and experiences at the KickApp Cup and motivate them to keep going. Everyone has a chance,” Flavio Souza from Brazil said.

KickApp2_2

At KickApp Cup, there are no days without football.

For him, and most of the other young participants, the trip to Heidelberg and Lyon was their first time ever abroad. 21-year-old Flavio started working at the age of nine to help provide for his parents and younger siblings because they could not provide for themselves. Despite the night shifts he spent on construction sites to earn money, he graduated with the best grades in his entire class.

Today, Flavio is a coach at the organization that supported him well when he was a child: Fundação EPROCAD. “Education is very important. And if you have aspirations, or a fixed career goal, then you won’t give up easily,” he says wisely.

For design thinking coach Bárbara Reis, the KickApp Cup was her first social project at SAP. She studied IT Management for Business and now works in SAP Partner Service Delivery. “It’s astonishing how fast the groups mingle and people create new contacts. Football really is the passion that connects us all. And even better, the young people simultaneously learn about the opportunities IT can offer them. It’s such an invaluable experience!” she says.

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Flavio Souza and Bárbara Reis at the Design Thinking workshop

Bárbara remained in close contact with the young KickApp Cup 2015 participants in Brazil, so her words come from her heart as she speaks about the friendships she has developed since then. With a renewed motivation to participate in social initiatives, she is planning to invite more young people to the SAP Labs Latin America in Sao Leopoldo.

Jürgen Griesbeck, the founder and CEO of streetfootballworld, is also impressed by this initiative: “The KickApp Cup for me is a perfect example of a meaningful cooperation between sectors. Here it’s the corporate sector and the civil society sector. Football acts perfectly as common language for both and the end product is actually something meaningful for the football4good community.”

SAP TV Correspondent Megan Meany featured the KickApp Cup on Spinterest:

After the Match is Before the Match

During the KickApp Cup final, the teams did not compete against each other. Instead they combined the best ideas from each app to design the ultimate football4good app, which was then presented at the streetfootballworld’s Festival 16, an official CSR event of the UEFA EURO 2016.


The football4good App

Many of the young participants have had to overcome big obstacles at a young age. During the KickApp Cup, they share their personal stories and talk about the obstacles in their social environments. The app could help football4good organizations across the globe address these problems by making it easier for individual organizations to cooperate through a joint platform. Its main features includes:

  • Availability online and offline
  • Collaboration within and between organizations
  • Tracking of players, games and reporting numbers for impact measurement

Thirty football4good organizations were invited to the premiere and the response was remarkable. “This is exactly the solution I’ve been looking for the past six months,” one U.S. delegate said. In fact, the app would be available online and offline and enable a broad collaboration within and between organizations. Tracking of players, games and reporting numbers for impact measurement is another essential feature.

The app design is open for additional features that can be added according to particular requirements of the local organizations. “A great idea. I was completely beside myself when I heard the app even works without internet connection,” was another voice from the audience.

The KickApp Cup final was a spectacular event, but one objective still remains: to turn the final app into a finished product. This will be decided on in the near future, and would unleash the next big challenge. As football players put it – after the match is before the match.

Photography by Brice Blondel and Kircher Photography



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What Artificial Intelligence Can Tell Us About The Future Of Business

Adaptive systems are a special class of open systems that are continuously evolving. They feature dynamic networks of agents that interact with each other and their environments.

Examples of complex, adaptive systems include ant and bee colonies, the stock market, and biological ecosystems, as well as human organizations such as political parties, companies, and cities. And because of its ability to shift and change, the behavior of the whole system cannot be predicted by just analyzing its parts in isolation.

So what happens when we reimagine a company more like an adaptive organism, rather than a stable machine? We can tap into an ever-changing array of stimuli to instantly decide on the best course of action.

Why Companies Can No Longer Operate Like Machines

In today’s knowledge economy, we tend to predict how a business is doing by measuring key components like sales, finance, and HR. However, this analysis would only be accurate if the corporate world is a closed system, which was the case years ago. Historically, we designed companies like machines. We constructed the organizational chart to divide large chunks of work and separate them from each other into finance, sales, operations, and so forth. We devised workflows that process inputs into outputs: raw materials into products; prospects into customers; and complaints into resolutions.

This kind of company – the divided company – needed separate functions. In turn, decision makers did not always have a sense of the larger environment they were working in. Over time, they became masters at handling tasks, but lost touch with the bigger picture. They were disconnected from customers and the overall purpose of the organization. Even worse, inelastic policies and procedures were needed so people could function efficiently without impeding on each other’s work.

In this case, the problem was scale. As the number of employees grew, the profit per employee shrank. Efficiencies of scale were offset by an increase in bureaucracy, which led to siloed and disconnected divisions and overhead costs that grew as the company expanded.

Eventually, the company reached a point where the cost of controlling such a business exceeded the benefits of new growth. The company became so focused on its internal structures and organizational chart that it lost touch with its customers.

AI Taps Into All of a Business’ Senses to Predict and Win 

To compete, companies should use advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to make sense of an exponentially growing volume of inputs. This approach allows two-way communication between humans and systems and the opportunity to take maximum advantage of low-friction capabilities.

Natural interactions that remove unnecessary aspects from our daily work lives allow us to seize the full promise of hyperconnectivity. These capabilities drive better ease of use, require less training, and accelerate time to meaningful insight. In essence, the rigid corporate machine of the past is transformed into a responsive organism – a connected company, so to speak.

A connected company is a complex, adaptive system that functions more like an organism than a machine. It contains a distributed network of brains, eyes, and ears everywhere – whether they are employees, partners, suppliers, customers, or assets.

When you design for a connection, you design for a company powered by people. But more important, you design for agility, robustness, resilience, productivity, and longevity – all characteristics of a Live Business. And when your company can respond dynamically to change, it can learn and adapt amid an uncertain, ambiguous, and constantly evolving environment, continuously learning as it moves forward.

For more on the digital economy and its impact, check out the research paper “Live Business: The Digitization of Everything” on the Digitalist Magazine online.

Dinesh Sharma is the Vice President of Digital Economy at SAP.

This story originally appeared on The Digitalist Magazine as part of the 10 Weeks of Live Business series.


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SAP Appoints Juergen Mueller as Chief Innovation Officer

WALLDORF SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced that Juergen Mueller has been named chief innovation officer (CINO) effective immediately. In his new role he will drive SAP’s innovation efforts across the company.

In this position Juergen Mueller, who is 34, will continue to lead the SAP Innovation Center Network and expand the company’s presence in the German capital as managing director of SAP Labs Berlin.

Operating from nine locations around the world, the SAP Innovation Center Network creates new growth businesses for SAP by pioneering new markets and disruptive technologies such as machine learning, blockchain and future enterprise applications.

Before joining SAP in 2013, Mueller was co-representative of Professor Hasso Plattner’s research chair at the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) for Software Systems Engineering in Potsdam, Germany. He holds a doctorate degree in IT systems engineering.

For more information, visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews. Follow Mueller on Twitter at @JM_SAP.

Media Contacts:

Benjamin Nickel, +49 331 97995-376, benjamin.nickel@sap.com, CET
Jessica Baxmann, +49 331 97995-412, jessica.baxmann@sap.com, CET

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.



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Thứ Năm, 21 tháng 7, 2016

Unpacking the Pokémon Go Phenomenon

Can Technology Become a Coach on Gender Intelligence?

When I talk to people about our product initiative at SAP SuccessFactors, which aims to support our customers to achieve a more inclusive work environment, I frequently encounter skepticism.

“It’s a matter of mindset, not technology,” many argue. Of course it would be naïve to believe that technology could convince people to take more equitable decisions if it was against their interests. But in my observation, the problem rarely lies in a conflict of interests. Most managers want to hire women and want to promote more women into leadership positions.

Despite the best of intentions, gender statistics have gone from bad to worse over the past decades. Hence, some people even question: “Is it fair to hold companies responsible for fixing inequity that is so deeply rooted into our society?” Whether fair or not is besides the point. As business leaders, we must care about attracting the best possible talent for our companies, and if we exclude certain groups based on gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation etc., we will not be competitive.

Also in light of the forecasted shortage of skilled labor, embracing an inclusive work environment is essential to business success. Scratching our heads over depressing gender statistics year over year is not exactly exhilarating, but we cannot afford to give in to resignation. Instead, we must find new ways of approaching the problem. As my colleague Brenda Reid stated, it’s time to raise the bar.

For decades, many companies around the world have been struggling for more gender equity, often with costly diversity programs, with little success overall. Why is this problem so hard to fix? I believe that unconscious bias is one central piece to the puzzle. Its poisonous power cannot be underestimated. Even if each occurrence of bias is subtle and we tend to shrug it off as “not a big deal,” many small biases summing up over time can amount to serious consequences.

This effect has been nicely illustrated in a simple computer simulation by Martell, Emrich and Robinson-Cox: “Gender Bias and its cumulative effect on career and organizations.” The first step toward fighting bias is to become aware of it. As long as I don’t know I am biased, it’s virtually impossible for me to change my behavior. This is one area in which technology can assist us: Help us detect unconscious bias.

A simple illustration is a real-life example of a calibration session with our management team: Each manager had initially rated their direct reports in terms of performance and growth potential, then we got together to discuss the overall result. On the performance axis, our initial rating resulted in an adequate females-to-males-ratio. On the growth potential axis, however, only males made it into the rating of “high growth potential.” The SuccessFactors calibration tool visualized this imbalance and prompted us to question our rating. The explanation given for why a woman was ranked as high performer but only normal growth potential was: “It takes two qualities to take on a leadership position: One is competence, and there is no doubt she is very competent. The other one is desire for a career, and that’s where I see the problem, she does not strike me as ambitious enough.” This brought about an interesting discussion: Are these high-performing women really less ambitious or do they just not articulate their ambitions in the same manner?

By surfacing this imbalance, the tool merely prompted us to reflect on our decision, identify unintentional bias which was rooted in a misinterpretation of their communication style, and correct for it before we finalized the decision.

In the meantime, these women took up leadership positions and it has been wonderful to watch them grow in their roles and shine.

With the advance of machine learning and text analysis, we can now tackle much harder problems such as bias detection in language. Technology can help us phrase job postings such that we do not accidentally repel those applicants that we are seeking to attract. It could expose inconsistent evaluations, e.g. when for the same behavior a man gets rated as assertive or headstrong and a women as bossy or aggressive; or a women as catty while she is just competitive.

In an ideal world, we would have the gender intelligence to correctly interpret differences in communication styles, and we would have shed our habits of applying different measures to men and women. But we don’t live in an ideal world, we are fallible humans. Technology can coach us to increase our gender intelligence, by sensitizing us, by guiding us towards more consistent, fair and measurable decisions. And it can do so on the job, at the time when the decision is taken, not only when the next statistical review comes around and the damage has long been made.

Join us at SuccessConnect 2016, I look forward to exchanging more thoughts and product ideas on this topic.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends

Top image via Shutterstock



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Could The Rise Of Digital Supply Networks Mark The End Of Labor Exploitation?

Thứ Tư, 20 tháng 7, 2016

Authentic Leadership Means Encouraging People

The NBA Experience Starts With Live Data

There are over 118,000 minutes of play in an NBA season. That’s a lot of data. But where does it all go? In the past, it lived in handwritten archives that were stored behind closed doors. Curious fans had to settle for the box scores in the newspaper, the next day.

While it doesn’t seem that long ago, those days are long gone.

The NBA has always considered fans a part of the family and is laser-focused on increasing the fan experience in a multitude of ways. But it starts with technology.

NBA.com/Stats provides fans with live data so they can capture all the stats they want, when they want. SAP has even taken those historic stats (70 years’ worth) and crunched that data into the SAP HANA database. Speaking of historic, we just witnessed one of the greatest NBA Finals ever. And we’ve seen all the basic numbers on points per game, rebounds, assists, etc. But the NBA stats page goes far beyond the basics. For instance, during the 2016 NBA Playoffs, did you know…

  • Klay Thompson led all players in distance ran with 60.7 miles
  • Kevin Love had the highest offensive rating (# of points scored per 100 possessions while on the court) with 117.8
  • While Amir Johnson led all players in FG% with 66.7%, Channing Frye actually led in True Shooting % with 79.1%. This advanced stat is a customized shooting % that includes an adjusted value for 3 pointers and foul shots made
  • LeBron James made a game-changing block with the championship on the line. He traveled 76 ft. in 3.92 seconds with a highest avg speed of 16.8 mph, and jumped 11.2 ft to block the ball

*For all players who played more than 12 minutes a game*

The NBA is on the forefront of innovation, and the fans are noticing. Engagement is up 65% and almost a billion people access the NBA experience. But the NBA is also leveraging technology in many other ways, on the back-end. Watch an enticing video from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to see it all.

Follow me and @SAPSports on Twitter

This story previously appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image via Shutterstock



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The New Face Of Customer Service

You’ve heard of Siri. You’ve probably even heard of Alexa. Now meet Amelia. “She” is an avatar dressed in a business suit, a virtual customer service representative powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

Amelia, which was developed by managed IT services firm IPSoft, can analyze and learn from vast amounts of data and make independent decisions without programmers getting involved – also known as machine learning. Amelia communicates with customers through chat, but is more highly evolved than most chatbots. For example, she analyzes customers’ writing by using sentiment analysis to gauge their emotions, her smile turning to an expression of empathy when the conversation turns negative. She also parses questions to probe more deeply into customers’ issues. If she can’t understand what customers are saying in one of 20 languages she speaks or senses that they are getting angry, she hands the call off to a human.

In a pilot test at a business that receives 65,000 customer inquiries a month, Amelia was able to handle 64% of requests successfully. And her impact on overall productivity was astounding: call times went from 18.2 minutes to 4.5 minutes, according to an article by Tech Insider. When you consider that automated transactions cost 25 cents compared to $6-$20 for live agent interactions, the savings are significant.

Bots Take the Drudgework

The implications for the 10 million people who work in call centers around the world are clear: rote, repetitive interactions with customers are going to chatbots like Amelia. But that may not a bad thing over the long run.

Working in a call center is tough. Wages are low, and turnover is as high as 45% per year. One of the reasons so many employees leave is because they become burned out doing rote, repetitive work. With bots doing the drudgework, humans could focus on higher-level tasks, making them happier and less likely to leave.

Meanwhile, customers are becoming more comfortable communicating with businesses electronically. According to a survey by IT services company Dimension Data, Internet and chat are Generation Y’s first choices for interacting with businesses – tying with social media and surging past phone calls, which finished last. The survey also predicted digital communications will overtake voice calls in the next two years; they account for 35% of interactions with customer service today.

Will Humans Be Replaced Entirely?

It’s likely that Amelia and her colleagues will become more competitive with humans over time as AI enters the mainstream and more businesses enter the AI race. In fact, chatbots are now embedded in Facebook’s Messenger app, for example.

Does this mean that humans will be pushed out of customer service entirely? It’s possible one day, but it’s unlikely to happen in the near term. Experts surveyed by Oxford University predict a 50/50 chance that AI will achieve human-like intelligence by 2040 to 2050.

Today, the Amelias of the world lack the ability to think outside the database. They are only as smart as their algorithms and existing data sets make them. They can’t use imagination and creativity to come up with new solutions to problems, and they can’t summon the kind of warmth and empathy that the best customer service agents offer.

Rather than look at AI simply as a way to replace employees, businesses should take a more holistic approach and focus on ways that AI and humans can complement one another to improve speed, which is customers’number one priority, according to a survey by software company Parature. By automating processes and making better use of employees in customer service, businesses can move a step closer to responding in the moment of their customers’ choosing – the true definition of a Live Business.

To learn more about how humans and robots will co-evolve, read the in-depth report Bring Your Robot to Work.

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight.

This story originally appeared on The Digitalist Magazine as part of the 10 Weeks of Live Business series.



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