What's New

Smartphones Losing Ground to Digital Voice Assistant Devices in Homes, Accenture Survey Finds

Accenture News - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 07:59
NEW YORK; Jan. 8, 2018 – Consumers who own in-home digital voice assistant devices are using their smartphones less often for entertainment and online purchasing, according to results of a new survey from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
Categories: What's New

RegTechs Join Accenture's FinTech Innovation Lab London to Develop Solutions for Wave of Regulatory Challenges in 2018

Accenture News - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 05:00
LONDON; Jan. 8, 2018 –  RegTechs, start-ups offering technology solutions for financial firms’ regulatory challenges, will join Accenture’s sixth FinTech Innovation Lab London in their own dedicated stream for the first time.
Categories: What's New

Enhancing SAP’s Digital Story in Australia

SAP News - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 11:30
Nothing puts fear into the retail industry like the entrance of a global heavyweight digital disruptor. Amazon entered Australia just ahead of the Christmas shopping frenzy, and industry pundits are quick to declare the death of retail as we know it.

But SAP sees it differently. As Colin Brookes, president and managing director for SAP Australia and New Zealand says, “Amazon’s entry into the local market sparks a new era in digital engagement across all industries.”

In November 2017, SAP launched its third Digital Experience Report in Australia, a research initiative that measures organizations’ digital performance according to what their consumers think. Investigating nine industries through a sample size of 11,000, it is an in-depth assessment of digital performance in the market, allowing analysis at the national, industry, and even individual-brand level.

“The research shows us that only one-third of Australian consumers are actually delighted by their digital experience, how they interact with a brand digitally during the discovery, purchase, delivery, and support of a product or service,” Brookes says. “There is a gap: 69% of Australians are either unsatisfied or ambivalent with the digital experiences brands deliver in the market.”

“Not only is there a gap, what the findings show us is that this gap has very significant implications on business performance, particularly on customer loyalty and advocacy,” he adds.

That smaller percentage delighted with the digital experience are 3.5 times more likely to remain loyal to a brand than those unsatisfied. Additionally, those delighted with the digital experience gave their brand an average NPS score of 64%, while those unsatisfied were scathing in their detraction with an NPS of -47%.

The results varied significantly across brands and industries. But the main take away according to Brookes? “There’s a huge opportunity for SAP to show customers the way to superior digital experiences and through those experiences help them improve customer loyalty and advocacy.”

Backing Up the Path to Digital

According to a Frost & Sullivan study, 98% of Australian executives claimed they were executing well on their digital strategy. But when those executives were asked to share evidence of this, they couldn’t. SAP’s Digital Experience Report provides the ultimate evidence of digital performance: not according to the executives and not according to SAP, but according to the end consumer. “At the end of the day, only the end customer’s interpretation of digital value matters,” Brookes says.

In 2016, then president Adaire Fox-Martin commissioned the research across 10 markets, highlighting the various levels of maturity of digital across the region. But the fundamental story remained the same:

  • There is a gap between what consumers expect in a digital experience and what brands are delivering.
  • That gap matters, significantly impacting loyalty and advocacy
  • Organizations can do something about it by re-imagining their processes for digital engagement

Point three is of particular relevance today, as new technologies spark new ways of engaging with customers. Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more can work in the back and foreground to deliver drastically better digital experiences. Netflix, for example, the top performing brand across all industries in the report, has attributed US$1 billion annually to the application of machine learning. This technology drives greater loyalty among Netflix’s customers through algorithms recommending videos.

“The hyper-local, brand-level findings of the report paired with the value our solutions deliver, especially in the days of SAP Leonardo, create fertile ground for meaningful discussions with our customers,” Brooks says. “The report validates and enhances SAP’s digital story. It offers our customers insights that no competitor can match. With the arrival of Amazon in Australia, entire industries need to lift their game, and we’ll be right here to show them how.”

Simon Gomes is head of Media Relations for SAP Australia and New Zealand

Categories: What's New

Will Procurement Be the Hottest Job of the Decade?

SAP News - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 10:30
The future of procurement is all about people, networks, and principles.

From moleskin to fishing rods, Cirque du Soleil is a company that procures a lot of strange stuff because of the nature of their business. The bungee costumes worn by the performers of the Mystère production, for example, each have over 2,000 hand-glued sequins. Sourcing everything from crystals and buttons to logistical services around the world is a herculean task, running 24/7, 365 days per year. Automating processes and making the right procurement decisions saves time and money, so Cirque du Soleil implemented SAP Ariba to lighten the administrative burden.

But what does the sourcing team do with their time now that their old jobs have been replaced by automated processes? For one thing, they focus more on negotiating with suppliers, letting the system handle the processes and people handle the decisions.

Strategic Spending

Regardless of where they’re based or what they do, companies around the world need to make faster and more strategic sourcing decisions to retain a competitive edge. Etihad Airways, for example, morphed from regional player into the fastest growing airline in the history of commercial aviation. To deal with such growth, the company needed to consolidate systems, streamline their source to contract process and improve integration of new suppliers. Again, people played a key role.

“At Etihad, we realized we had to completely change the way we procure and source,” says Tracey Tops, a business analysis manager who helped transform procurement and supply management at Etihad Airways with SAP Ariba.

“We operate on a massive scale dealing with 28,000 suppliers and over 70,000 purchase orders per year. Previously, procurement was an inward looking, gatekeeping function with limited stakeholder engagement. To move from a governance style function to a value adding one, we needed experienced project leads, executive sponsors, change champions and plenty of training. Now, our buyers are business enablers engaging with all stakeholders to deliver the best value based on trustworthy supplier information.”

Next-Gen Buyers and Sellers

There are two aspects of procurement that will never go away, people and processes.  Buying and selling is a human interaction. Traditionally, the buyer side of an organization is spend conscious. It’s a process driven B2B world, where the focus is on cost savings and margins, in other words, serious and tedious.

The sales side of the house, on the other hand, is cool and exciting, because it’s where you see the money. It’s all about doing business, driving revenue and engaging with customers. That’s changing.

“Today’s buyers and sellers come from a generation of people who need to touch what they buy. They are used to family shopping excursions,” says Mohammed AlKhotani, president of SAP Ariba Marketing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). “Millennials however, are using technology to get things done quickly.  Today, machines are making decisions about what to buy and when to buy. But that doesn’t mean jobs will vanish! It just means jobs will change.  Procurement always was and always will be about negotiation.”

Procurement and Principles

SAP Ariba is the Facebook of procurement – it’s where companies connect to do business. Buyers and sellers can collaborate, transact, and access a vibrant digital marketplace with millions of trading partners around the world. Automation takes the burden of administration off the buyers’ shoulders and frees them up to think and act more strategically in a much broader ecosystem.

For example, SAP Ariba’s online auctioning tools are widening networks and making the buying process more dynamic. Buyers can compete to obtain goods or services by offering increasingly higher prices, or in a reverse auction, the sellers compete to obtain business from the buyer and prices decrease as the sellers underbid each other. After the auction closes, buyers can simulate scenarios to find the best possible options based on specific criteria and data before making a final decision.

Equally exciting, buyers can embed rules to ensure the buying process is compliant with their procurement policies, putting procurement at the heart of fair trade and sustainable supply chains. A study by Cone Communications found that nine in 10 consumers expect companies to not only make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues.

Today, many enterprises have green initiatives driven in part by the commitment of global stakeholders to the UN Sustainable Development Goals to transform the world. For many suppliers, compliance is not a luxury; it’s a business necessity. Goals like responsible production and consumption, decent working conditions, gender equality all trickle down into the supply chain.

“People want to associate with companies driven by principles,” says Mohammed AlKhotani. “Business networks provide transparency and insight into the supply chain enabling companies to take a stand and drive ethical behavior.”

So when it comes to saving money and doing good, procurement can be a game changer in the years ahead.

Follow me on Twitter: @magyarj

This story originally appeared on the SAP Community.

Categories: What's New

Faurecia and Accenture Join Forces to Reinvent Onboard Experience for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Accenture News - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 02:29
PARIS; Jan. 5, 2018 Faurecia (EO.PA), a leading global automotive supplier, and Accenture (NYSE: ACN), a global professional services company, today announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding for a five-year collaboration to accelerate innovation for mobility services.
Categories: What's New

SAP Names Alex Atzberger as President of SAP Hybris and Barry Padgett as President of SAP Ariba

SAP News - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 13:00
WALLDORF SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced the appointments of Alex Atzberger as president of SAP Hybris and Barry Padgett as president of SAP Ariba.

SAP Hybris solutions comprise the omnichannel customer engagement and commerce business at SAP that helps companies move closer to their customers by delivering a consistently great experience at every touchpoint, channel and device. The SAP Hybris solution portfolio includes innovative offerings for commerce, marketing, sales, service and revenue. Ariba Network is the world’s largest, most global business network, used by more than three million companies in 180 countries to transact nearly $1 trillion in commerce on an annual basis.

Atzberger is a 13-year SAP veteran who has been serving as president of SAP Ariba for the past three years. Formerly chief of staff to SAP CEO Bill McDermott and head of SAP’s fast-growth markets business, Atzberger has helped to position SAP Ariba offerings as the industry’s leading business network and procurement solutions, furthering the digital transformation agendas for companies such as Ford, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Ferrero, Lenovo, Saudi Aramco, Nielsen, Broadspectrum, LATAM Airlines Group and many others.

Atzberger takes the reins of the SAP Hybris business from co-founder and former president Carsten Thoma, who is stepping down from his position to return to his entrepreneurial roots and pursuing his personal passion of founding, supporting and investing in entrepreneurs and startups. Atzberger will work alongside hybris AG co-founder and current head of engineering Moritz Zimmermann to expand and grow this expansive portfolio.

As Atzberger transitions to SAP Hybris, Barry Padgett will step into the role of president of SAP Ariba. Padgett joined SAP through the acquisition of Concur, where he served for nearly 20 years in a variety of positions including chief product officer. He spent the last two years serving as president of the SMB Solutions Group, the company’s business area for small and midsize businesses, expanding the reach of products such as the SAP Business ByDesign solution and SAP Business One application. As president of SAP Ariba, Padgett will also have oversight of SAP’s business network strategy, charting the future of this important growth area.

“Positioning these proven leaders, both with deep customer empathy and a business vision rooted in a beautiful customer experience, will have a tremendous, positive impact for customers worldwide,” said Robert Enslin, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and president of Cloud Business Group, SAP. “The business acumen and expertise both Alex and Barry bring to their respective roles, coupled with the engineering innovation agendas already underway, will greatly advance SAP’s leadership pursuits in the areas of procurement, customer engagement and commerce.”

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

Media Contacts:

Karen Master, +1 (412) 297-8177, karen.master@sap.com, ET
Michael Baxter, +49 151-171 9 6185, michael.baxter01@sap.com, CET

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Categories: What's New

Year One at the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator

SAP News - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 12:30
To transform great ideas into even greater value, startups are collaborating with SAP product owners, developers, and sales employees in the areas of IoT and digital supply chains.

Data is the new gold. And in innovative spaces in Berlin, Germany, and Palo Alto, California, SAP is mining that gold daily as it builds up one of the world’s most important new frontiers: the Internet of Things (IoT).

The race is on for a global opportunity that is transforming the world by the second. And since its launch one year ago, the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program is leading that race, bringing SAP customers, IoT products, and technology entrepreneurs together into a dynamic, global ecosystem.

Facilitating Brilliance

The SAP IoT Startup Accelerator team facilitates; the entire ecosystem innovates. The program is attracting veteran SAP users like global salt producer Kali und Salz (K+S), which came to the accelerator looking for a real-time tracking solution for its logistics operations. The company was eager to tap into the innovation of Synfioo, a young startup company in the accelerator program. Today SAP, K+S, and Synfioo are working closely together to produce an end-to-end solution that offers real-time estimated time of arrival (ETA) functionality seamlessly across the entire SAP landscape.

“We’re uniting SAP ERP and SAP Transportation Management with a powerful new level of innovation. It’s adding new depth and breadth across our entire portfolio,” says Franz Hero, senior vice president and head of Supply Chain and Logistics Development at SAP. “By adding Synfioo to SAP Transportation Management, we’re creating an incredibly valuable, end-to-end solution that excites and delights our customers.”

Accelerate to Innovate

The SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program is part of SAP’s plan to invest $2.2 billion in IoT by 2020. The Berlin- and Palo Alto-based initiative works with startups and customers to innovate globally in the IoT and digital supply chain business domain. Co-creation with startups, SAP products, and customers is central to the program, which was awarded “Best Newcomer Accelerator 2017” by Capital magazine. A proof of concept with a joint value proposition stands at the core.

1,000 Ideas a Day: Attracting the Best Startup Talent

From the very first day, startups begin their journey with SAP as a fully-fledged business ally. Getting into the accelerator program is a competitive process. Participants are hand-picked from a jury composed of accelerator team members and IoT product owners. Once startups are accepted, they collaborate one-on-one with SAP product owners and developers, as well as SAP sales.

“Solutions that develop together, work together. Solutions that work together, succeed together,” says Bernd Dittrich, developer for the IoT product SAP Transportation Management. “That’s the whole idea behind the accelerator’s deep collaboration and engagement model. It’s how we get to new, real-world, end-to-end solutions faster.”

Accelerator teams have become extraordinarily adept at finding the best startups. A keen eye and omnipresence means that SAP is able to scout, discover, and recruit the very best. Consider attenio. Today, the manufacturing software startup and accelerator participant is revolutionizing the way workers assemble their products. What began as a PhD research project in the shipbuilding business has become a game-changing, supply chain manufacturing solution. It uses augmented reality to significantly reduce the time it takes to build and launch a large ship.

“SAP really pushes us, our ideas, and our technology,” says Dr. Fedor Titov, CEO of  attenio. “The ability to combine attenio with the SAP Digital Manufacturing Solutions unit is helping us scale our customer base. At the same time, SAP benefits from attenio’s digitized, paperless manufacturing process and augmented reality knowledge. It’s a win-win situation.”

Fresh Entrepreneurial Capital: Cherry-Picking the Best New Ideas

The SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program’s ability to attract the world’s most promising, relevant startups puts SAP and its customers in an enviable position. Customers are more willing to adopt new technology because the prorgram is backed by SAP. The company’s sheer size, installed customer base, and business insights mean that SAP and startups can scale quickly together. At the same time, startups have an instant marketplace to validate their ideas. It all adds up to a virtuous cycle of innovation.

“Startups are given the time and resources to fully develop and integrate their ideas with SAP,” says Eva Zauke, vice president of IoT and Digital Supply Chain at SAP, and head of the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator in Berlin and Palo Alto. “The SAP lines of business get access to new technology that has already been voted ‘most likely to succeed.’ The startup’s idea is then quickly integrated as a ready-to-launch, fit-for-purpose solution that either fills an SAP portfolio white space or adds depth to an existing SAP solution.”

Successful accelerator startups like Loginno are a case in point. Co-founder Shachar Tal’s startup promises to revolutionize the way companies monitor shipping containers on land and across the ocean. A clever combination of a patent-protected sensor and patent- pending geo-spacial algorithms make that possible. The solution, on-Schedule, built 100 percent on SAP Cloud Platform, can tell customers the real-time situation and global location of their shipment, including whether anyone has tampered with the shipping container. The increased efficiencies promise to recoup more than $50 billion for the logistics chain, insurance, customs, and homeland security.

“It was, and still is, one of our best experiences with a corporate,” says Tal. “With the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator team’s close support, we were able to produce our dream product and build it on top of the logistics industry’s No. 1 platform.”

Sweet Spot: Achieving High Return, Low Risk

The ability to attract the best talent and invest in the best ideas allows SAP customers to achieve a high return on their innovation investments with less risk. Rather than recruit and evaluate ideas at their own peril, SAP customers can instead benefit from the “intelligent human interface” of SAP experts and developers who vet and integrate new innovation. It all adds up to more immediate, tangible value.

In today’s highly competitive business environment, that matters. SAP customers find themselves in a hyper-competitive environment, in which three-month innovation cycles can mean the difference between winning or losing industry leadership.

For SAP customers, having a proven, highly refined solution like Synfioo helped them solve tough challenges without heavy, up-front investment. The transportation management solution juggles hundreds of complex variables like ferry schedules, weather, road traffic, and train station congestion. It shows transportation planners the best way to move their time-sensitive shipments forward and provides ETA information in real time. When things do not go as planned, the planner can quickly develop routing alternatives and communicate with all parties.

“SAP IoT Startup Accelerator makes leading-edge innovation a high-return, low-cost investment for customers,” says Alexander Waldi, senior vice president and member of the SAP Germany management team. “It enhances existing SAP solutions with new startup technology to make them more agile. SAP has already completed a first trial-and-error phase. That gives our customers the chance to tread complete new paths with their data, software ecosystem, and business model to try out innovations. It’s a liberating mind shift.”

Valuable Outcomes, Rich Experiences

One year on, the accelerator has demonstrated how SAP innovation can be stretched and challenged in profound and healthy ways across all job descriptions and disciplines. Because by enriching its innovation and talent pool, SAP continues to discover new ways to make existing offerings even more valuable to customers.

“SAP IoT Startup Accelerator is part of a dynamic process where all sides — SAP business, customers, and startups — add value to one another,” says Zauke. “They get a broader perspective. And that opens up new business ideas and models. It’s more than great products. It’s a new way of thinking as well innovation. And that’s providing us with rich experiences from all sides.”

Categories: What's New

Are Your Workplace Apps Overloaded?

SAP News - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:30
In the interactions I’ve had with HR professionals, I’ve come to respect the challenges of the profession. Their role is to take a very complex system of processes and tools and simplify the concepts so that their customers – the company’s employees – can understand and use them to make decisions, manage careers, and engage with the organization.

This is a huge challenge, especially when you take into account the role of human capital management (HCM) technology and the multiple screens required in order for employees to have access to HR tools “whenever and wherever they need them.”

Today’s employees have considerable expectations around having constant access to workplace technologies; they come to the job already mobile-savvy due to the apps they use outside of work, which are quickly setting the standard for workplace apps. However, the terms of “whenever and wherever” are outdated, oversimplified mis-characterizations of how mobile software should work. A great user experience, not an over-abundance of capabilities, is one of the key factors ensuring employees will use and enjoy a mobile app.

In my experience, workplace mobile apps often fall flat when it comes to engaging employees because the mobile experience hasn’t been thought through. Many times, mobile features are treated as a checklist, and the assumption is that if a feature is available on the desktop or web platform, it must be made available on mobile. Frequently, I’ve been asked to make mobile work exactly the same as the web platform, at times even getting so granular as specifying the same number of clicks or taps. While general consistency between mobile and desktop platforms is a good thing, the fact is that from the user’s perspective, these platforms are different. Forcing one platform to conform to the other without consideration to how users interact with each is exactly the opposite of providing a great user experience.

At SAP SuccessFactors, our mobile design stems from one key question: What is it that the user wants  to do on mobile?  We’ve found that ultimately, people are not going to use mobile devices to execute every aspect of HR, the way they might use a desktop. But we also know that given how pervasive mobile devices are in our lives, there are some processes and connections that are actually enhanced in a mobile environment—and these are the very ones we focus on incorporating into our app.

First, consider when people typically use their mobile devices. While there may be times when you are stuck at an airport and are forced to work on a mobile device for an extended period of time, this is typically not the usage pattern for mobile software — we are far more often checking our phones during the “in between” moments. We use our phones while in line at Starbucks, and while on the elevator on our way to our next meeting. Most of these interactions are not lengthy.

At SAP SuccessFactors, we’ve spent considerable time understanding the HR processes that match this style of interaction, making them ideal for a mobile environment. Creating a new job requisition with lots of fields probably doesn’t make sense on a phone, but reviewing the job requisition and approving or sending it back for further edits might, and this ultimately informs our thinking around the job requisition capabilities we provide in our mobile app. An app that facilitates easy, intuitive completion of these “in between” activities is ultimately better aligned with how people use the device they are performing them on.

Consider also how people interact with the mobile device itself. On iOS, users swipe up to access the Control Center to turn on airplane mode. On Android, users swipe down from the top to access their Settings to do the same. Anyone who has lost a phone still on contract and were forced to temporarily switch from iOS to Android or vice versa understands the frustration these small differences can cause for the user experience. When workplace mobile apps are not designed to the standards of the mobile platform, this has the same time-consuming and frustrating effect.

The SAP SuccessFactors Mobile app is designed not only to align with when and where people typically use mobile devices, but also how they interact with their operating system of choice. This includes bringing platform-specific features such as 3D Touch from iOS, Android Fingerprint biometrics, and Apple Face ID (coming soon to your iPhone X) into the SAP Successfactors mobile solution. From the perspective of HR these may sound like inconsistencies between our Android and iOS offerings. But from the perspective of your users, these small touches ensure the mobile app is intuitive, familiar, and enjoyable to use.

For a long time mobile was simply thought of as anytime, anywhere access to all aspects of a solution. But the truth is, mobile can’t and shouldn’t be an exact copy of what we enable people to do at their desks. A mobile app is far more effective when it is an extension of the desktop solution, enabling the activities and tasks that make sense in a mobile environment and that match when, how, and why people use their mobile devices.

The SAP SuccessFactors Mobile app is designed to engage 100 percent of your workforce and keep them captivated, enabling instant, actionable access to the processes, data, and information that matter the most when they’re on the go.

Martin Cheng is director of Mobile Product Management for SAP SuccessFactors

Categories: What's New

2028: What Work Will Look Like a Decade from Now

SAP News - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 10:15
Experts met recently at the SAP Innovation Center in Potsdam to weigh in on the future of work.

Predicting the future is risky business. You never really know if you are going to get it right. While experts may not agree on exactly how work will change in the next decades, there is growing consensus that “we find ourselves at the edge of another industrial revolution,” according to Professor Sabine Kunst, president of the Humboldt University, Berlin.

“Advances in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Big Data are already profoundly shifting all aspects of society — how we work, connect, organize politically, and learn as human beings,” she continues.

Predicting the future is risky business

What to anticipate, how to manage these changes, and how to ensure humans do not get left behind is what business leaders, researchers, academics, policy makers, and innovators met to discuss at the recent SAP research round table on the Future of Work at the SAP Innovation Center in Potsdam, Germany.

Hosted by SAP’s Future of Work team, the event was designed in collaboration with TÜV Rheinland, a leader in technical services for testing, inspection, certification, and training, together with INQA (Initiative New Quality of Work), which aims to improve the quality of work in ways that benefit companies and employees. The research round table explored how “new work” requires reimagining how we organize work, how leaders lead, and how we incentivize people, build skills, and gain knowledge throughout a lifetime, while connecting people with jobs that do more than just sustain them financially but also have meaning and value.

Participants from large as well as small and midsize companies wrestled with these themes in a world café format designed to challenge experts to come up with real-world solutions that can be supported by smart software.

Everything that Can Be Automated Will Be Automated

“We are facing a future where almost everything that can be automated will be automated”, according to Guenter Pecht-Seibert, head of the Future of Work team at SAP. “So anticipating emerging jobs, in-demand skills sets, alternative organizational structures, and disruptions to current educational formats is critically important not only for companies, but for society as a whole.”

With the pace of digitalization accelerating, the pressure to innovate and find novel solutions to never-before-seen problems is increasing. In 1958, a Standard & Poor’s 500 company could hope to be around for an average of 61 years. Today, they only survive 18 years on average. Why? Because 20th century structures don’t meet 21st century needs for more agility and innovation.

Management practices and organizations as we know them today were established at a time when low levels of automation, a poorly educated workforce doing manual tasks, and stable mass markets had businesses focused on increasing production and efficiency. At that time, hierarchical management practices enabled a few educated people to instruct others on how to complete tasks effectively. Traditional educational institutions, like schools and universities were the gatekeepers of knowledge.

Today, a highly-educated, highly-mobile and increasingly-networked workforce is poised to experience a degree of automation like never before. Barriers to knowledge and skill-building are falling as people across the socioeconomic spectrum access high-quality digital content. Yet our management practices, educational institutions, and organizational structures — not to mention the software systems that support them — are deeply rooted in those hierarchical 20th century ideas about the best ways to structure work, motivate people, and build skills.

What will need to change to create more agile and innovative organizations?

Will Managers Become Obsolete?

Participants imagined a future where organizational and team boundaries become more permeable. They chewed on the provocative question of whether leaders will be obsolete in the self-managed organizations of the future. They concluded that the future needs a new breed of leaders: those who are enablers, creating just the right conditions for information to flow and creativity to flourish. Transparency will be key. Trust in people and in the decisions they make will be an essential prerequisite for leaders. The ability for leaders to let go of aspects of the decision-making power they hold today will be crucial in teams where highly skilled and competent individuals collaboratively look for solutions to complex scenarios.

Here’s where software comes in. Today’s structured, regular reporting tools will give way to more ad-hoc, decision-support tools that make business data accessible across levels and organizational boundaries. Instead of equipping only top executives with the knowledge to make smart decisions, systems will enable teams to make decisions in alignment with the business strategy.

This requires a deep understanding of the business strategy across the organization. Situation rooms, war rooms, digital boardrooms — all once the purview of top execs — will need to be standard tools for self-managed teams, linking them to the real-time, contextual information they need for wide-ranging decisions.

As decision-making abilities shift from individual managers to teams, documenting those decisions will become imperative. What was the basis for this decision? Who was involved in this decision and what was the context? Once again, software’s role is obvious. Participants expressed the need for software that provides all the data and information necessary for the entire decision-making process.

As teams gain decision-making power, it will become more important than ever to staff those teams with the right mix of people who bring the just the right skills and perspectives. “Competent people make competent decisions” was a guiding principle that participants defined. Therefore, solutions for defining which competencies an organization needs, identifying people who have them, and matching those people to roles was yet another area seen as being more important than ever in future — an area where software will be essential.

Technology Is Changing Fast; Education Needs to Keep Pace

The future requires us to let go of established mental models, especially when it comes to learning. According to Markus Dohm, executive vice president of Academy & Life Care for TÜV Rheinland, “We need to get away from seeing life being neatly dividing up into three parts: we go to school, then we work, and then we retire. This assumes that learning happens in the first phase and prepares us for our entire working life, when actually we need to be learning throughout our lifetime. Education needs to be built around new models that recognize gaining knowledge and skills throughout a lifetime is the new normal.”

Gaining knowledge and skills throughout a lifetime is the new normal

Participants were challenged to think about a future where human creativity will become the key creator of economic value as routine tasks become automated. They were tasked with exploring the skills people who work in more self-directed ways need and how education and competency-building approaches must be retooled to provide those.

Clearly, a goal they shared in common was the need to bridge the gap between the competencies people have and the competencies organizations need. They discussed strategies for mapping skill requirements of individuals to the skill requirements of organizations, and the options software can provide. They questioned traditional ways of creating competency profiles manually, and explored new approaches that use Big Data processing options to automatically propose competency profiles.

According to Norbert Koppenhagen who heads Future of Work Research at SAP, “We are exploring options for building an intelligent personal career and learning assistant to guide individuals throughout their lifetime, by automatically proposing competency profiles matching people’s learning needs with the most appropriate skills-building opportunities, like peer-learning, mentoring, and online sources.”

While online learning options have been around for decades, the group explored why barriers to accessing online learning still persist in certain professions and how they can be overcome.

Nobody really knows what the future holds. But we do know that imagining that future is a tried and true way of preparing for change and ensuring that we can influence the direction that future takes.

Under the leadership of Guenter Pecht-Seibert, the Future of Work team at SAP helps organizations transform from the industrial age to the information age by becoming more purpose-led and self-managed. They conduct research, product development, and go to market for cloud business applications.

Categories: What's New

SAP’s 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Accomplishments — and the Road Ahead

SAP News - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 11:15
With the close of another year, we are presented with an opportunity to assess how far we’ve come in the pursuit of a culture of inclusion. By many measures, SAP has been successful in building a workforce that reflects the world around us — driving our growth in large part because we all support one another and our diversity of experiences, perspectives, and skills.

Just last month, SAP was honored to receive two accolades: Based on feedback from our employees, Glassdoor named SAP America as the 11th best workplace in the United States and the No. 1 best workplace in Canada, and we were recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 20 companies doing the most to create a diverse and inclusive culture. This is the second consecutive year we have made the list, and the effect doesn’t wane. It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized and an important validation of our efforts.

This is in addition to dozens of recognitions this year, including:

It is certainly rewarding when others acknowledge and validate that we’re building something quite special. That said, it’s equally important that we recognize there is still a lot of work to be done. We operate in an industry that is in its relative youth, and we’re seeing rapid growth by early stage companies that don’t have the benefit of the decades of leadership that SAP has. We have a responsibility to continue to serve as an example, to not rest on our laurels but to push for greater equality, diversity, and continued respect for each other. And I know we will.

I’m incredibly proud to come to work each day and be surrounded by people who are passionate about what we do and who have come together as the fabric of our culture of inclusion. I look forward to building upon last year’s success, reaching more diversity and inclusion milestones in 2018, and strengthening our position as the employer of choice in North America.

DJ Paoni is president of North America Sales at SAP.

Categories: What's New

How to Become a Major Player in China – and Stay One

SAP News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 10:15
To “innovate in China for China and the world” requires more than strong engineering power.

When politicians visit large international fairs, they carefully decide who they honor with their presence. So when Mr. Miao Wei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, and Mr. Ying Yong, Mayor of Shanghaistopped by the SAP booth at the China International Industry Fair (CIIF) a few weeks ago, it was another confirmation for the growing role that SAP Labs China plays in the country´s economic development.

Celebrating its 20th birthday this November, the third largest lab in the global SAP Labs Network has become a thought leader in many technology topics, from Industry 4.0 to cyber security.

“A few years ago, it was impossible for us to get a meeting with a mayor or a minister. SAP was not really on the radar of Chinese government officials,” says Ruicheng Li, the managing director of SAP Labs China. “Today, when there are discussions about manufacturing, digitalization, or security, we are seen as a major player in China”

Manufacturing Super Power

China has become the world’s manufacturing powerhouse. In 1990, China produced less than three percent of the world’s manufacturing output when measured by value; by 2017, it produced more than 25 percent. To remain competitive, China has realized that it needs to take its manufacturing industry to the next level by reducing overcapacity and costs, increasing the quality of the products and improving productivity and sustainability. In addition, consumers are demanding individual, high-quality, but inexpensive products within shorter periods of time.

“CIIF is a great opportunity to demonstrate, how SAP can help China upgrade its manufacturing sector through digital solutions and how we co-innovate with leading robotics manufacturers, high-speed data infrastructure companies, and other software firms in China,” says Ruicheng.

At CIIF, the largest industry fair in China with more than 2,500 exhibitors, SAP showcased – among others – three solutions to the government officials and the public: SAP Digital Supply Chain, SAP Intelligent Product Design, and SAP Smart Manufacturing.

There wasn’t time to go into much detail at the booth with the minister and the mayor, but the SAP Labs China leaders brought the message across that SAP can be a natural partner to support and power two major Chinese initiatives with its digital solutions and latest technologies in the area of Industry 4.0:

  • The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): The Belt and Road Initiative (also known as “One Belt, One Road”) is a development strategy proposed by China’s President Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network. The routes cover more than 60 countries and regions from Asia to Europe via Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia and the Middle East, currently accounting for around 31 per cent of global GDP and around 34 per cent of the world’s merchandise trade.By 2050, the Belt and Road region aims to contribute 80 per cent of global GDP growth, and advance three billion more people into the middle class.
  • Made in China 2025: “Made in China 2025” is an initiative to comprehensively upgrade Chinese industry. The initiative draws direct inspiration from Germany’s “Industry 4.0” plan, which was first discussed in 2011 and later adopted in 2013. The heart of the “Industry 4.0” idea is intelligent manufacturing, i.e., applying the tools of information technology to production. The goal is to comprehensively upgrade Chinese industry, making it more efficient and integrated so that it can occupy the highest parts of global production chains. The plan identifies the goal of raising domestic content of core components and materials to 40% by 2020 and 70% by 2025. Among the 10 priority sectors are “Automated machine tools & robotics,” “New energy vehicles and equipment,” “Power equipment,” and “New advanced information technology.”

These and several other strategic initiatives enacted recently show that China has put a very strong focus on digitalization and making its economy future-proof. At the same time, the country is aiming to boost its domestic IT industry and fostering a number of globally competitive internet and IT companies.

Joe Chang is a partner and co-lead of technology and investments for Eight Roads Ventures in Greater China and an expert in enterprise IT. He is convinced that “China will inevitably become the world’s IT market and IT companies cannot win globally without China.” Predominant reasons for him are a huge digital consumer base, a culture of fast new technology adoption, ubiquitous mobility, and a lack of legacy infrastructure as well as the Chinese government´s push for a consumer and more service-oriented economy. This will require new technology solutions to deliver, Chang says.

He adds that “it will be increasingly important to be aware of what’s happening in China to stay on top of technology trends.” Such as artificial intelligence. “Given China’s massive pools of data, the country will increasingly become a hub for A.I. development and investment,” he says. In July, China’s State Council issued guidelines on developing A.I. inside the country and set a goal of becoming a global innovation center for the technology by 2030.

Not to forget an ever-increasing pool of talent —  not only do millions of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduates enter the Chinese job market every year; according to Chang, the country’s IT companies have also been pushing hard to attract the best talent from Silicon Valley, mostly Chinese scientists who study and work in the US.

SAP Labs China’s Innovation Journey

For Clas Neumann, head of SAP Labs Network, Chinese companies have already emerged as global tech leaders. Neumann has been involved in SAP’s business in China since 1995, when the company founded a subsidiary within the Tsinghua University campus in Beijing. At that time, he was responsible for creating SAP’s first China-specific version of the ERP solution SAP R/3. Neumann has also been instrumental in the development of SAP Labs China which was founded as the “SAP Developent Center China” a few years later.

Neumann recalls: “Our first 10 customers, after we entered China in 1995, were from a group of large joint ventures between foreign multinationals and Chinese conglomerates. Today, the vast majority of our customers are Chinese companies.”

IT giants such as Alibaba, Tencent (“WeChat”), Baidu, Lenovo, and Huawei belong to the growing group of partners and customers SAP is doing business with.

Strong ties to the corporate sector as well as to Chinese research institutes have enabled SAP Labs China to transform into a global development hub which innovates “in China for China and the world” and which fosters a vibrant ecosystem for driving co-innovation.


Many years of intensive relationship building have also led to a change of perception of SAP among policy makers. During CIIF, Neumann was invited to deliver a keynote at the “Made in China 2025 International Cooperation Forum.”

He used the opportunity to further strengthen the ties to the Chinese government officials: “SAP has a golden opportunity to be an important key player in the transformation of Chinese industry. We invested in the past and now we have what it takes: excellent visibility, the best products and great innovation capabilities in our labs.”

This story originally appeared on Business Trends on the SAP Community.

Categories: What's New

Thinkers: Author Bob Johansen on Leading in Chaotic Times

SAP News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 09:15
To get an idea of just how volatile and chaotic the future business environment could become, look no further than the toll from Hurricane Harvey, which lashed the Texas coast for four days in August.

The storm broke decades-old records for tropical rainfall. It forced tens of thousands of people out of their homes, many with no idea when or how they would return. It caused petrochemical explosions and fires, shut down oil refineries and rigs, and sent U.S. gas prices rising. Analysts predicted that the storm would become the most expensive in American history, wreaking as much US$190 billion in damage and lost productivity. Businesses, hospitals, airports, and ports were shut for days.

In the following weeks, Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria decimated entire Caribbean islands, leaving millions without power, thousands homeless, businesses in complete limbo, and entire populations with uncertain prospects. The impact of these storms will ultimately reach beyond the regions that took the physical brunt of them in the form of lost sales and higher costs for suppliers and customers of the affected businesses.

Natural catastrophes won’t be the only contributors to chaos in the next decade, says Bob Johansen, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California. Johansen has been an applied futurist for more than four decades. In his new book, The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything, he says that the speed, frequency, scope, and scale of disruption from global climate change, cyberterrorism, pandemics, and more are likely to increase in the next decade—with few clear patterns to the upheavals. Most people, business executives included, are not prepared for the extreme dilemmas they will face in the years ahead, Johansen argues.

This emerging world will demand new kinds of leaders: those who are very clear about where they are going but very flexible about how to get there. They will need to navigate through disruption while providing the direction necessary to make it tolerable, even motivating, for the people under them. To be convincing, leaders will need to face their own fears and learn from them.

Neither flexibility nor resilience will come naturally. Johansen offers advice for how to rehearse for the future and develop the skills to navigate the high-risk realities ahead.

Q. You argue that the future will be so dangerous and difficult to understand that most of today’s leaders will be ill prepared to succeed.

A: The whole premise of the book is that we are going to be operating in a future that will be a lot more complicated, a lot less certain, and a lot more dangerous. Enduring leadership qualities like strength, humility, and trust will still be important, but the future will require new literacies in order to thrive.

The word I find myself using a lot is scramble. For at least the next decade, the world will be in a scramble; many things that have been stuck will become unstuck, and there will be an unusually high number of unintended consequences. It will be an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world—VUCA, to use the military term developed by the U.S. Army War College. VUCA situations have always challenged leaders on a local scale, but not on the global scale that they will experience over the next decade thanks to our interconnected world. Climate disruption, cyberterrorism, and pandemics, for example, will take place to degrees previously unimaginable.

But there are ways to deal with a VUCA world. Vision, understanding, clarity, and agility –a “positive VUCA”—are the foundations of the new leadership literacies that I propose. They provide a process to take advantage of the scramble, enabling leaders to navigate the future in positive and practical ways.

Leaders are going to encounter things they’ve never seen before. If you want to lead in that kind of environment, you have to practice. You need safe zones where you can immerse yourself in simulated VUCA in order to figure out how to manage it.

How can you simulate uncertainty and chaos?

That’s essentially what a video game is: an environment in which players can be safely scared in the interest of developing their own readiness and resilience. In games, individuals can confront their fears and learn to play through them in a low-risk setting. It’s an immersive learning experience. I believe that gaming—the ability to enter and operate within emotionally laden first-person stories—will evolve into the most powerful learning medium we’ve ever had.

Do any businesses use immersive games as a leadership development tool?

Healthcare providers and first responders conduct a lot of training using simulation, but I have not seen a single company take this approach enterprise-wide. The simulations that are popular are more often designed to help people navigate present-day challenges than to prepare for future possibilities.

The most advanced real-life immersive learning experience in fear engagement I’ve ever seen is at the U.S. Army’s Fort Irwin National Training Center in the Mojave Desert. It’s a soldier’s last stop before heading off to war. I observed a two-week long, 24-hour-a-day war game complete with real tanks, aircraft, and enemy actors. It’s like a massive real-life video game. It’s designed to be harder than real warfare so that anything you confront in actual combat will feel familiar. Those soldiers develop strategies to succeed in very chaotic situations. It’s an extreme example of the value of voluntary fear engagement.

How can companies encourage leaders to have experiences like those of gamers or soldiers?

Video games are intense. Fort Irwin is extreme. There are other ways to challenge yourself with immersive experiences. Living in a foreign country where you’re unfamiliar with the language, the people, and the cultural norms is a form of immersive learning—one that I’d encourage all leaders to undertake.

When you get that awkward feeling in the pit of your stomach, that’s a key indicator that you’re in a learning space. Unfortunately, most senior leaders avoid such learning experiences; they don’t want to be uncomfortable or embarrassed.

But if you push past the discomfort, there’s another phenomenon that happens when you’re in a deep learning state. Activities that are risky and hard to accomplish can ultimately stimulate a sense of discovery that has a natural flow to it. There’s an energy you get from overcoming the obstacles. Overcoming obstacles is meaningful, and everyone needs a sense of meaning if they’re going to thrive in the midst of the scramble.

You say that in a world of constant disruption, leaders will need grit. Can you learn this?

Absolutely. In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, former McKinsey consultant and inner-city schoolteacher Angela Duckworth described it as “the tendency to sustain interest in an effort towards very long-term goals.” The people who will succeed in a shape-shifting future will be full of grit, hope, and optimism, and it will be up to leaders to keep people that way, seeing adversity and change as opportunities more than challenges.

Some characteristics of grit are endurance, optimism, creativity, and courage. These qualities can be developed well through immersive learning. And that should be the ultimate goal of voluntary fear engagement. When you’re immersing yourself in these experiences, you do it not just to increase your adaptability; you’re building grit. Resilience will be necessary but not sufficient for the leadership demands of the future; grit will be required.

This story originally appeared on the Digitalist.

Categories: What's New

Cloud BI: The Time Is Now

SAP News - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 10:15
Data and applications are now being used as platform and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offers. Now is the time to start thinking about business intelligence and analytics in the cloud.

According to the BARC (Business Application Research Center), 43% of the 370 participants who took part in the “Cloud BI and Data Management” user survey at the end of 2016 are already operating a component of their data management and BI architecture in the cloud. This shows almost 50% growth against the 29% recorded in 2013. Although this figure is not entirely representative, as it only includes experimental usage of individual components, it nevertheless shows a clear trend. It should also be added that adoption is radically higher in North America (48%) than it is in Europe (32%).

Why Using Cloud BI Solutions Is Increasingly Attractive

  • Generally speaking, cloud adoption has increased significantly, not least because the infrastructure of cloud providers can now also meet the requirements fulfilled by a guaranteed data storage in a data center.
  • With the growing number of cloud-based systems, the amount of original data in the cloud is also on the increase, which is ideally analyzed using BI Software as a Service. This refers to operative systems such as SAP S4/HANA, as well as data warehouse systems such as SAP BW/4HANA.
  • The maturity of many BI solutions, Software as a Service, means they can now be deployed in even larger scenarios. In developing the strategic BI SaaS “SAP Analytics Cloud” tool, SAP has also tackled the integration of BI, planning and predictive analytics in a tool.
  • Users now have the flexibility to implement “hybrid” scenarios, in which BI tools, BI servers and databases can either be used in the cloud, or combined with on-premise. A good example here is the SAP Analytics Cloud, whereby data does not need to be copied into the cloud, but can only be shown as metadata in the browser.

The Diversity of Drivers in the Cloud

For most companies, flexibility is paramount. In this day and age, who can reliably predict user figures, data volumes or load profiles at the start of a project? The leasing model for the software, the technical scalability and the elasticity of data storage and computing power are attractive prospects, just like the speed of implementation.

Currently, data warehouses and classic BI tools such as dashboards and reporting are being implemented in the cloud. However, the study also reveals increased interest in ad hoc analysis and exploration. It also shows that small and midsize enterprises currently use more components in the cloud than large enterprises do (see Figure 1). The usage of public cloud offers has also grown dramatically, as well as the deployment of hybrid solutions from the public and private cloud.

Figure 1: Deployment of BI and data management components in the cloud according to size of the company (BARC study “Cloud BI and Data Management” 2017, n=170)

Of course, businesses are also confronted with a multitude of challenges when preparing to migrate to the cloud. Adjusting to new and unfamiliar systems, as well as evaluating and implementing security and data protection requirements is often difficult. The legal aspects, such as drafting contracts, also pose a challenge. The biggest technical problem is often down to the performance of the systems which can be inadequate for the transfer of data and when requesting information.

Yet the usage achieved through cloud BI and data management tools stands in comparison to these challenges, as confirmed by 166 system users (Figure. 2). The top priority is reducing the company’s own hardware and infrastructure costs, followed by scalability with regards to users and data volumes. A third of our study participants named low administration costs as one of the greatest user aspects of cloud BI, followed by reduced implementation time.

Figure 2: Benefits achieved through implementation of cloud BI and data management components (BARC Study “Cloud BI and Data Management” 2017, n=166)


Offers for BI and data management in the cloud have made sufficiently good progress, and companies are now considering them for implementation. New tools such as SAP Analytics Cloud are not yet as functionally advanced as long-standing on-premise solutions, but they are already transforming good approaches such as BI integration, planning and predictive analytics, and supporting “hybrid” scenarios, in which data must be copied into the cloud. In contrast to the organizational, functional and technical challenges, the cloud-based BI solutions nevertheless offer strong usability, flexibility, cost-saving potential and scalability. It is therefore worthwhile for companies to properly inform themselves about the offers.

Categories: What's New

Why Technology Alone Is Not Enough: Part 2

SAP News - Wed, 12/27/2017 - 11:15
Previously, I focused on trust as the basis for everything we do. In this second part, I would like to discuss the topics of ethics and purpose.

Digital Ethics: The “How”

In the digital age, the topic of ethics is arguably now more relevant and important than ever before. It is a subject that throws up many questions that are often very difficult to answer. Certainly, no one person has the solution to the most fundamental ethical challenges that come with, for example, technological trends such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Ethics and Technological Change

The topic of autonomous driving is one of the most obvious and discussed examples of this. Here we run into potentially unsolvable ethical dilemmas, such as the well-known “trolley problem”. This is the reason why autonomous cars, for example, should not be empowered to make such decisions based on individual attributes of the potential victims.

In the business world, there are many AI-related questions that also include ethical aspects which – while not a matter of life and death – are nevertheless important and need to be addressed.

Ethics in the context of technological change involves finding and redefining behavioral standards for new kinds of interaction. It is not only about adapting to, but also shaping, new standards. These standards could be for a technology itself or an ecosystem. Companies can no longer drive disruptive innovation on their own. The more individuals and companies team up, the more diverse the ecosystem is.

What holds partners together are the mutual benefits they gain from working together, and this is also the mechanism through which we can embrace a common ethical understanding of how to collaborate. Viewing every stakeholder as a partner within a wider ecosystem helps me to view questions and challenges from a different perspective, be it in conversations with colleagues, customers, or “traditional” partners.

A broad range of ethical standards obviously already exist, from adhering to confidentiality and obeying legal frameworks to – on a more abstract level – putting people and accountability before profit. Additional ones will be needed in the digital world as roles change with the advent of emerging technologies.

Machine Learning as an Enabling Technology

With the help of machine learning, we can optimize processes and assist employees in their everyday life. This automation will free humans from tedious, repetitive tasks and allow them to focus on higher-value work using their creativity and ability to solve complex problems.

Only automation can help tackle the challenges of the sheer volume of data and transactions. Humans – in contrast – can and should supervise enterprise systems, handle the exceptions, and explore new opportunities.

Consequently, new technologies require us to develop a new understanding of the human’s role and work in a highly automated and connected world, and, therefore, new or adapted ethical standards as well. This means, in turn, that ethical discussions and aspects need to be an integral part of AI-related innovation projects.

Answering the question of which specific decisions can be made by machines is absolutely crucial, as is defining the right use cases and areas for AI in an enterprise environment. In a second step, we need to be aware of the fact that huge amounts of data can also be biased. As a result, people will continue to be at the center of critical analyses and decisions. The technology augments and enables, but the responsibility remains firmly in our hands.

Societal and ethical concerns related to AI need to be addressed openly from industry, policy and academia – with the goal to agree on common standards that are aligned with existing frameworks and therefore ensure new technologies will be accepted broadly.

Overall Purpose: The “Why”

In addition to these two aspects, a company’s sustainable success is also tied to a bigger purpose that functions as a guiding star in today’s complex and hyper-connected world. This means we need to find ways to effectively manage increasing complexity, rethink today’s business, and consequently move organizations forward, while at the same time still considering the impact on society. I firmly believe that in today’s world, the former cannot succeed without the latter. We need to look beyond the current innovation curve, the pure technology shift, and the concrete product innovations we bring to the market. We need to create meaning out of it.

From Trustful Relationships to Ethical Standards to Purpose-Driven Innovation

As AI enables the focus to shift from completing repetitive tasks towards enabling creativity, organizations and employees alike agree that job satisfaction is one example of how a company’s success depends on more than just strong top and bottom line figures. Another one is the deep impact businesses have on society.

Thought leaders from academia, industry, and politics discuss how organizations can identify meaningful goals and many institutions, including SAP, have announced their commitment to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), spearheading an advanced organizational culture and mindset. These goals are a strong foundation that can help unite industries in pursuit of a better world.

However, truly purpose-driven companies must also consider an additional third pillar – the economy. When a company has a clearly stated reason for being, it can ensure every job it provides directly supports that reason. And when a company knows its true purpose, it can turn to frameworks such as the SDGs to help ensure it conducts business responsibly and in ways that support the greater good.

Companies understand that trust-based relationships with their stakeholders and society as a whole are vital. Acting in a purpose-driven manner, companies’ behavior inevitably also has an effect on entire ecosystems: Employees, customers, suppliers, business, and technology partners.

Relationships within these ecosystems will evolve into partnerships based on more equal terms and similar values built on a foundation of trust and ethics. They turn towards a purpose that puts their common basis on a higher level. The whole ecosystem must operate within a shared value system to foster trust and a responsible approach to business.

Business should see the goals of a strong purpose and profitability not as contradictory, but rather complimentary aims that together have a greater impact.

From Theory to Reality

In the world of software engineering, one interesting example of purpose-driven thinking is that of sustainable programming. Sustainable programming is all about designing and developing software with the most efficient use of computing resources. When we consider the phenomenal number of business transactions taking place every day in enterprise systems around the world, this optimized use approach would obviously scale up to have a huge impact. Put simply, efficient software uses fewer resources and energy in every respect and throughout the entire value chain.

Purpose-driven co-innovation projects between partners from different industries also aim to have an important impact on the world as we know it.

One such example is the innovation project Cargo Sous Terrain, in which the partners are working on developing a completely new transport system for goods in Switzerland by building a new underground route exclusively reserved for goods transportation. The goal is to connect cities and logistic hubs by 2030. Developed by companies for companies, it’s not just business that will benefit, but society as a whole: less traffic on the roads, faster and more efficient logistics cycles, and the consequent resource and energy savings.

With this purpose-driven innovation approach, technology is just the enabler, the ecosystem is the driver, and it is not only the companies but also society that benefits. In short: This positive outcome on all sides makes the effort and investment worth it for everyone.

Innovating and coping with change today requires a high level of flexibility, agility, and creativity – which also means new ways of doing business need to be tested. We will see new forms of engagement that build trust, new required norms for business ethics, and a purpose-driven mindset that ensures everyone benefits. There are still many challenging questions to be answered, but the solid foundation of a purpose puts us in a strong position to find convincing and effective solutions.

This story originally appeared on Business Trends on the SAP Community.

Categories: What's New

Maintenance Notification: January 10, 2018

SAP News - Tue, 12/26/2017 - 15:28
Due to maintenance, the following services will not be available.

Date: 2018/02/10 (Saturday)
Time: 15:00-22:00 JST (14:00-21:00 SIN, China) (7:00-14:00 CET)

  • External sFTP server apj.sftp.support.sap.com will be unavailable
  • Sapserv 7/9
    • Problem analysis and / or service delivery on customer systems
    • Transfer Early Watch Alert data
    • Data exchange via SAP Note Assistant
    • Service connection reservation
    • Customer messages via Solution Manager
Categories: What's New

SAP Continues Quest to Bust Data Management Myths

SAP News - Tue, 12/26/2017 - 13:00
Earlier this year, SAP set out on a mission to better understand the biggest challenges organizations face by the ever-increasing complexity of data environments with the goal of passing along our findings to you.

Check out our Data 2020: State of Big Data study for results from more than 500 IT decision makers from enterprise-level companies representing several countries.

Today, we challenge you to test your knowledge with the launch of The Big Data Bluffing Game, a 10-part quiz designed to gauge just how well you know your stuff while simultaneously shedding light on some of the most common misconceptions in data management. Some topics you can anticipate tackling include:

  • How much do regular data check-ups impact the health of your data?
  • Which departments rank highest as data management stakeholders?
  • And, where does the most challenging data to manage reside?

The quiz is a fun way to see how you stack up on your Big Data knowledge but the challenges are real. These are all-important questions to ask as companies’ struggle to manage and extract real value from complex data landscapes. In the last two years alone, more data has been created than in the previous 5,000, and this explosion of data has led to the proliferation of systems. The difficulty of overcoming these data silos and combining Big Data with data generated by enterprise systems and partners prevents businesses from being agile and capitalizing on the full value of data.

So study up, take the quiz, and don’t forget to challenge your colleagues for office bragging rights!

If you don’t fare so well, be sure to review the Data 2020: State of Big Data Infographic, based on the results of a SAP commissioned a report surveying  IT decision makers from enterprises- across the globe. And if you feel that your organization could benefit from a more consolidated, simple and highly scalable approach for data sharing, pipelining and governance, check out SAP Data Hub.

Categories: What's New

SAP Leonardo IoT: Working in the Warehouse of the Future

SAP News - Tue, 12/26/2017 - 10:15
“Nobody wants to push a cart in a warehouse, humans are much better at many other things.”

Ángel Hernández of the Silicon Valley startup Fetch Robotics knows that. Franz Hero, responsible for Supply Chain Development at SAP, agrees. Find out how the two companies work on the warehouse of the future.

After having met only a year ago, at the SAP Infoday for Warehouse and Logistics, Hero’s team worked on integrating the Fetch Robotics’ solution to SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM) to increase the efficiency in warehouses.

Hero knows every step from supply chain planning to supply chain execution, transportation management and warehouse management. When he met the Fetch Robotics team, which offers a fleet management software and move goods from A to B in warehouses with no landmarks or any external devices, he could picture the increase of efficiency in warehouses right away.

Robots in Warehouses: How It Works

“We have quite a few use cases where autonomous guided vehicles or autonomous vehicles are used in warehouses in combination with EWM. For example, in the SAP warehouse in Walldorf,” says Hero. Hernández adds that orders are now geolocalized within the warehouse. By making use of the business intelligence provided by the SAP EWM, the robot goes straight to the next pick or the packing destination without any human intervention. Pickers can now be more efficient since they do not waste time on the transport after they have pulled an item from the shelf.

Solution and Cooperation Benefiting Both Parties

“We basically don’t know anything about the order in theory. Therefore, working with a company like SAP brings a lot of value for our end customer,” Hernández explains.

By getting insights from the SAP system and combining them with the Fetch technology, it makes orders and transportation completely transparent.

Making a technology work for tens of thousands of customers and warehouses is something a large company like SAP can offer. Besides that, Hero sees many more benefits of the partnership: “It’s always inspiring to work with startups because of their speed and the ideas they bring into large organizations.”

The Next Big Thing in Warehouses

Looking at warehouse management, Hero does not expect the “one big thing” that will change everything. In the next five to ten years, he sees the challenge with swarms of robots that need to be orchestrated. However, it’s also important to take a closer look at the of buildings architecture: “With robots becoming more and more intelligent, they will include the complete warehouse system and organize themselves.”

Hernández offers yet another perspective: “For me it’s to remove those dull tasks that nobody wants to do. Nobody wants to push a cart in a warehouse, humans are much better at many other things.” His vision is to keep up with human needs and remove tasks that do not need their intellect. “Maybe removing the risk of driving a fork lift and instead let a robot take care of that.“ Having robots do the full autonomous picking process is something we will see in the near future, as the startup is already working on it.

RK Logistics, Fetch Robotics and SAP – Robots are The Future.

Learn more about SAP Extended Warehouse Management.

SAP IoT Startup Accelerator: Make your IoT vision come true!
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This story originally appeared on Business Trends on the SAP Community.

Categories: What's New

Creating a Culture of Innovation at Deutz

SAP News - Mon, 12/25/2017 - 10:15
More than any other sector, the auto industry is facing unprecedented change. Germany’s Deutz AG is a 150-year-old company that these days specializes in commercial vehicle engines. To help it meet the challenges of digital manufacturing, it joined a five-day innovation workshop with SAP — with surprising results.

Even established companies at the top of their industry struggle with the digital transformation. For answers, they turn to a vast and confusing array of technologies and the capabilities they offer. Yet digitalization’s fundamental questions have little to do with technology itself. They are: How can a company become more efficient and therefore more competitive? What are the business models of the future? And: What are the returns on investments in digitalization?

The 2020 Road Map

Abderrazzak Askaoui, who became Deutz’ CIO at the end of 2016, put digitalization at the top of the company’s 2020 road map agenda: “We want to bring innovation into the company. We have to find the solutions that will make Deutz even more competitive and fit for the future.”

After day one of the innovation workshop, Frank Hiller, CEO of Deutz, had no doubt that his company had made a good decision in choosing SAP: “We have found the right sparring partner to get us ready for the digital transformation.”

The kick-off SAP and Deutz had originally planned turned into a five-day workshop to identify the best solutions. It had the backing of Deutz’ entire management board. The partners invested the time in discussing fundamental issues such as what processes will look like in each part of Deutz’ business in 2020, what the company needs to do to get there, and what its priorities are.

Off to an Encouraging Start

The workshop began with a general innovation kick-off at which Deutz’ strategy, the agenda for the five days, and SAP’s method were presented. Deutz’ CEO and CFO were both at the kick-off. They, and the CIO, encouraged the 50 or so participants to: “Think about what Deutz needs to do differently for it to continue to thrive in the future.”

They all agree that: “We need change. SAP is here to look at our processes with us, to challenge us, and to bring in new ideas.”

This was enough to get everyone talking as equals and to unleash a sense that anything was possible. “Deutz’ managers were so fascinated by what was going on that they didn’t want to wait until the fifth day for the closing presentation. So they showed up again the next day to join in as well,” says Vasyl Glynyanyj, one of the workshop facilitators.

The Right Structure for the Right Outcomes

In a company like Deutz, digitalization affects practically everyone. This is why management was keen to get as many employees a possible involved in producing a well-devised digitalization strategy. Each business department had selected eight people from across the hierarchy and agreed to have up to three people from SAP, including the moderators. This approach paid off. Different departments attended on different days to give everyone sufficient time to come up with their particular vision.

Each day had its own topic, and every day started with a brief and inspiring demonstration in which SAP presented a specific example of innovation for the business department in question. Then the attendees focused on clusters of topics Deutz had identified, each of which had a fixed timeframe. The business department described which processes it could support today and where it needed to innovate to meet Deutz’ plans for new revenue streams and greater efficiency. SAP presented potential solutions at process level for each block of topics.

Adopting a New Approach

The next step was for everyone to assess the significance of the main topics to Deutz’ strategy and the investment each would entail. The findings from this discussion were used to place the topics on a value map. This made it much easier to prioritize the eight to ten key business topics for the road map at the end of the day and for everyone to agree with the decisions.

In this brainstorming exercise, Deutz’ employees had to generate creative, unconventional approaches not rooted in the status quo. For instance, sales and service teams are very much involved with the Internet of Things in connections to engines, IoT use cases, connectivity, and integrated with SAP’s ERP solutions. The workshop participants took a close look at efficiency and transparency in the services, and at the variant configuration.

The logistics team explored internal logistics, transportation and storage space planning, and how to connect suppliers. HR topics covered included talent management, time management, and recruiting.

A Resounding Success

“Over the five days we spent with Deutz, we discussed at the highest level which topics customers must tackle first as they go digital,” says Adrian Langlouis. “We followed the customer engagement methodology to come up with innovations, prioritize them, and produce a road map. Working together as well as we did is really rewarding. And, as always, I’ve learned so much from and about the customer. This will be extremely valuable when we implement the road map.”

Deutz’ entire management board came to the final presentation of the workshop findings and was impressed by them. Three weeks later, Deutz and SAP met again to turn the findings into a broad road map.

Everyone at the workshop found it inspiring and encouraging, especially because it was about Deutz’ processes, not SAP products. Discussions were kept strictly on track to avoid getting bogged down in operational details. So that everyone concentrated on the task hand, laptops were left the office. There was no seating either, which made participants interact in a more agile and dynamic way so that they were ultimately more productive.

At a review of the workshop, all the participants agreed that it had sparked a radical rethink at Deutz. SAP was not just a software vendor, it was a partner that talked processes, they said. The innovation workshop was the idea of Deutz’ CIO. His plan to get started on digitalization with SAP shows that the ‘I’ in CIO stands as much for innovation as it does for information. And innovation is what Deutz needs to become a digital business.

Categories: What's New

Why Strategic Plans Need Multiple Futures

SAP News - Mon, 12/25/2017 - 09:15
Uncertainty is here to stay. By imagining multiple destinies and working back to the present, companies can prepare for anything.

When members of Lowe’s Innovation Labs first began talking with the home improvement retailer’s senior executives about how disruptive technologies would affect the future, the presentations were well received but nothing stuck.

“We’d give a really great presentation and everyone would say, ‘Great job,’ but nothing would really happen,” says Amanda Manna, head of narratives and partnerships for the lab.

The team realized that it needed to ditch the PowerPoints and try something radical. The team’s leader, Kyle Nel, is a behavioral scientist by training. He knows people are wired to receive new information best through stories. Sharing far-future concepts through narrative, he surmised, could unlock hidden potential to drive meaningful change.

So Nel hired science fiction writers to pen the future in comic book format, with characters and a narrative arc revealed pane by pane.

The first storyline, written several years before Oculus Rift became a household name, told the tale of a couple envisioning their kitchen renovation using virtual reality headsets. The comic might have been fun and fanciful, but its intent was deadly serious. It was a vision of a future in which Lowe’s might solve one of its long-standing struggles: the approximately US$70 billion left on the table when people are unable to start a home improvement project because they can’t envision what it will look like.

When the lab presented leaders with the first comic, “it was like a light bulb went on,” says Manna. “Not only did they immediately understand the value of the concept, they were convinced that if we didn’t build it, someone else would.”

Today, Lowe’s customers in select stores can use the HoloRoom How To virtual reality tool to learn basic DIY skills in an interactive and immersive environment.

Other comics followed and were greeted with similar enthusiasm—and investment, where possible. One tells the story of robots that help customers navigate stores. That comic spawned the LoweBot, which roamed the aisles of several Lowe’s stores during a pilot program in California and is being evaluated to determine next steps.

And the comic about tools that can be 3D-printed in space? Last year, Lowe’s partnered with Made in Space, which specializes in making 3D printers that can operate in zero gravity, to install the first commercial 3D printer in the International Space Station, where it was used to make tools and parts for astronauts.

The comics are the result of sending writers out on an open-ended assignment, armed with trends, market research, and other input, to envision what home improvement planning might look like in the future or what the experience of shopping will be in 10 years. The writers come back with several potential story ideas in a given area and work collaboratively with lab team members to refine it over time.

The process of working with writers and business partners to develop the comics helps the future strategy team at Lowe’s, working under chief development officer Richard D. Maltsbarger, to inhabit that future. They can imagine how it might play out, what obstacles might surface, and what steps the company would need to take to bring that future to life.

Once the final vision hits the page, the lab team can clearly envision how to work backward to enable the innovation. Importantly, the narrative is shared not only within the company but also out in the world. It serves as a kind of “bat signal” to potential technology partners with capabilities that might be required to make it happen, says Manna. “It’s all part of our strategy for staking a claim in the future.”

Planning must become completely oriented toward—and sourced from—the future.

Companies like Lowe’s are realizing that standard ways of planning for the future won’t get them where they need to go. The problem with traditional strategic planning is that the approach, which dates back to the 1950s and has remained largely unchanged since then, is based on the company’s existing mission, resources, core competencies, and competitors.

Yet the future rarely looks like the past. What’s more, digital technology is now driving change at exponential rates. Companies must be able to analyze and assess the potential impacts of the many variables at play, determine the possible futures they want to pursue, and develop the agility to pivot as conditions change along the way.

This is why planning must become completely oriented toward—and sourced from—the future, rather than from the past or the present. “Every winning strategy is based on a compelling insight, but most strategic planning originates in today’s marketplace, which means the resulting plans are constrained to incremental innovation,” says Bob Johansen, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future. “Most corporate strategists and CEOs are just inching their way to the future.” (Read more from Bob Johansen in the Thinkers story, “Fear Factor.”)

Inching forward won’t cut it anymore. Half of the S&P 500 organizations will be replaced over the next decade, according to research company Innosight. The reason? They can’t see the portfolio of possible futures, they can’t act on them, or both. Indeed, when SAP conducts future planning workshops with clients, we find that they usually struggle to look beyond current models and assumptions and lack clear ideas about how to work toward radically different futures.

Companies that want to increase their chances of long-term survival are incorporating three steps: envisioning, planning for, and executing on possible futures. And doing so all while the actual future is unfolding in expected and unexpected ways.

Those that pull it off are rewarded. A 2017 benchmarking report from the Strategic Foresight Research Network (SFRN) revealed that vigilant companies (those with the most mature processes for identifying, interpreting, and responding to factors that induce change) achieved 200% greater market capitalization growth and 33% higher profitability than the average, while the least mature companies experienced negative market-cap growth and had 44% lower profitability.

Looking Outside the Margins

“Most organizations lack sufficient capacity to detect, interpret, and act on the critically important but weak and ambiguous signals of fresh threats or new opportunities that emerge on the periphery of their usual business environment,” write George S. Day and Paul J. H. Schoemaker in their book Peripheral Vision.

But that’s exactly where effective future planning begins: examining what is happening outside the margins of day-to-day business as usual in order to peer into the future.

Business leaders who take this approach understand that despite the uncertainties of the future there are drivers of change that can be identified and studied and actions that can be taken to better prepare for—and influence—how events unfold.

That starts with developing foresight, typically a decade out. Ten years, most future planners agree, is the sweet spot. “It is far enough out that it gives you a bit more latitude to come up with a broader way to the future, allowing for disruption and innovation,” says Brian David Johnson, former chief futurist for Intel and current futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “But you can still see the light from it.”

The process involves gathering information about the factors and forces—technological, business, sociological, and industry or ecosystem trends—that are effecting change to envision a range of potential impacts.

Seeing New Worlds

Intel, for example, looks beyond its own industry boundaries to envision possible future developments in adjacent businesses in the larger ecosystem it operates in. In 2008, the Intel Labs team, led by anthropologist Genevieve Bell, determined that the introduction of flexible glass displays would open up a whole new category of foldable consumer electronic devices.

To take advantage of that advance, Intel would need to be able to make silicon small enough to fit into some imagined device of the future. By the time glass manufacturer Corning unveiled its ultra-slim, flexible glass surface for mobile devices, laptops, televisions, and other displays of the future in 2012, Intel had already created design prototypes and kicked its development into higher gear. “Because we had done the future casting, we were already imagining how people might use flexible glass to create consumer devices,” says Johnson.

Because future planning relies so heavily on the quality of the input it receives, bringing in experts can elevate the practice. They can come from inside an organization, but the most influential insight may come from the outside and span a wide range of disciplines, says Steve Brown, a futurist, consultant, and CEO of BaldFuturist.com who worked for Intel Labs from 2007 to 2016.

Companies may look to sociologists or behaviorists who have insight into the needs and wants of people and how that influences their actions. Some organizations bring in an applied futurist, skilled at scanning many different forces and factors likely to coalesce in important ways.

Do You Need a Futurist?

Most organizations need an outsider to help envision their future. Futurists are good at looking beyond the big picture to the biggest picture.

Business leaders who want to be better prepared for an uncertain and disruptive future will build future planning as a strategic capability into their organizations and create an organizational culture that embraces the approach. But working with credible futurists, at least in the beginning, can jump-start the process.

“The present can be so noisy and business leaders are so close to it that it’s helpful to provide a fresh outside-in point of view,” says veteran futurist Bob Johansen.

To put it simply, futurists like Johansen are good at connecting dots—lots of them. They look beyond the boundaries of a single company or even an industry, incorporating into their work social science, technical research, cultural movements, economic data, trends, and the input of other experts.

They can also factor in the cultural history of the specific company with whom they’re working, says Brian David Johnson, futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “These large corporations have processes and procedures in place—typically for good reasons,” Johnson explains. “But all of those reasons have everything to do with the past and nothing to do with the future. Looking at that is important so you can understand the inertia that you need to overcome.”

One thing the best futurists will say they can’t do: predict the future. That’s not the point. “The future punishes certainty,” Johansen says, “but it rewards clarity.” The methods futurists employ are designed to trigger discussions and considerations of possibilities corporate leaders might not otherwise consider.

You don’t even necessarily have to buy into all the foresight that results, says Johansen. Many leaders don’t. “Every forecast is debatable,” Johansen says. “Foresight is a way to provoke insight, even if you don’t believe it. The value is in letting yourself be provoked.”

External expert input serves several purposes. It brings everyone up to a common level of knowledge. It can stimulate and shift the thinking of participants by introducing them to new information or ideas. And it can challenge the status quo by illustrating how people and organizations in different sectors are harnessing emerging trends.

The goal is not to come up with one definitive future but multiple possibilities—positive and negative—along with a list of the likely obstacles or accelerants that could surface on the road ahead. The result: increased clarity—rather than certainty—in the face of the unknown that enables business decision makers to execute and refine business plans and strategy over time.

Plotting the Steps Along the Way

Coming up with potential trends is an important first step in futuring, but even more critical is figuring out what steps need to be taken along the way: eight years from now, four years from now, two years from now, and now. Considerations include technologies to develop, infrastructure to deploy, talent to hire, partnerships to forge, and acquisitions to make. Without this vital step, says Brown, everybody goes back to their day jobs and the new thinking generated by future planning is wasted. To work, the future steps must be tangible, concrete, and actionable.

Organizations must build a roadmap for the desired future state that anticipates both developments and detours, complete with signals that will let them know if they’re headed in the right direction. Brown works with corporate leaders to set indicator flags to look out for on the way to the anticipated future. “If we see these flagged events occurring in the ecosystem, they help to confirm the strength of our hypothesis that a particular imagined future is likely to occur,” he explains.

For example, one of Brown’s clients envisioned two potential futures: one in which gestural interfaces took hold and another in which voice control dominated. The team set a flag to look out for early examples of the interfaces that emerged in areas such as home appliances and automobiles. “Once you saw not just Amazon Echo but also Google Home and other copycat speakers, it would increase your confidence that you were moving more towards a voice-first era rather than a gesture-first era,” Brown says. “It doesn’t mean that gesture won’t happen, but it’s less likely to be the predominant modality for communication.”

How to Keep Experiments from Being Stifled

Once organizations have a vision for the future, making it a reality requires testing ideas in the marketplace and then scaling them across the enterprise. “There’s a huge change piece involved,”
says Frank Diana, futurist and global consultant with Tata Consultancy Services, “and that’s the place where most
businesses will fall down.”

Many large firms have forgotten what it’s like to experiment in several new markets on a small scale to determine what will stick and what won’t, says René Rohrbeck, professor of strategy at the Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences. Companies must be able to fail quickly, bring the lessons learned back in, adapt, and try again.

Lowe’s increases its chances of success by creating master narratives across a number of different areas at once, such as robotics, mixed-reality tools, on-demand manufacturing, sustainability, and startup acceleration. The lab maps components of each by expected timelines: short, medium, and long term. “From there, we’ll try to build as many of them as quickly as we can,” says Manna. “And we’re always looking for that next suite of things that we should be working on.” Along the way certain innovations, like the HoloRoom How-To, become developed enough to integrate into the larger business as part of the core strategy.

One way Lowe’s accelerates the process of deciding what is ready to scale is by being open about its nascent plans with the world. “In the past, Lowe’s would never talk about projects that weren’t at scale,” says Manna. Now the company is sharing its future plans with the media and, as a result, attracting partners that can jump-start their realization.

Seeing a Lowe’s comic about employee exoskeletons, for example, led Virginia Tech engineering professor Alan Asbeck to the retailer. He helped develop a prototype for a three-month pilot with stock employees at a Christiansburg, Virginia, store.

The high-tech suit makes it easier to move heavy objects. Employees trying out the suits are also fitted with an EEG headset that the lab incorporates into all its pilots to gauge unstated, subconscious reactions. That direct feedback on the user experience helps the company refine its innovations over time.


Make the Future Part of the Culture

Regardless of whether all the elements of its master narratives come to pass, Lowe’s has already accomplished something important: It has embedded future thinking into the culture of the company.

Companies like Lowe’s constantly scan the environment for meaningful economic, technology, and cultural changes that could impact its future assessments and plans. “They can regularly draw on future planning to answer challenges,” says Rohrbeck. “This intensive, ongoing, agile strategizing is only possible because they’ve done their homework up front and they keep it updated.”

It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen in the future, but companies can help to shape it, says Manna of Lowe’s. “It’s really about painting a picture of a preferred future state that we can try to achieve while being flexible and capable of change as we learn things along the way.”

Dan Wellers is global lead of Digital Futures at SAP.
Kai Goerlich is chief futurist at the SAP Innovation Center Network.
Stephanie Overby is a Boston-based business and technology journalist.

This story originally appeared on the Digitalist.

Categories: What's New

Diversity in SAP Marketing: A Very Special Project

SAP News - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 10:15
Among the SAP employees in the Marketing EMEA & MEE organization, 38% belong to the so-called Generation Y.* Sammy Driessen is one of these young professionals, beginning her career at SAP in 2016.

“When I joined the Dutch team, the vibe was great. There were many experienced colleagues who were totally open, professional, and helped me learn a lot,” says Sammy, describing her start in SAP Marketing. As a program manager for retail and consumer products, she felt “100% involved — I do everything from planning to execution and connecting with sales. I had the possibility to grow very fast.” Today, Sammy is responsible for marketing in supply chain, IoT, and SAP Leonardo.

Taking on a challenging first job in a global corporation can be quite exciting for many young professionals. But being asked by the local managing director to take on a special project on top of this would be even more so! The SAP Netherlands management team was planning to set up a program for bringing together young professionals in the market unit and Sammy, along with a colleague from the Customer Engagement team, was asked to become one of two young professional ambassadors — an exciting opportunity that the talented marketer gratefully accepted.

“In the role, we first set up a plan together with the managing director and management team, then got some budget approved, and started to organize the first get-together for all young professionals in our organization,” Sammy explains. These young professionals are a group of approximately 60 people under the age of 30 from all different departments.  “We decided to be a bit more inclusive than only sticking to SAP’s official definition of early talent, as this would have comprised only five people in the Netherlands.”

Aside from many informal meetings for lunch and coffee, the community gets together onsite in S’Hertogenbosch once a quarter to engage with the local leadership team, get to know each other, and do group activities like bowling or even bootcamp with Dutch marines. And selected interdisciplinary sub-groups of the community work together on questions raised by the management team, such as how to optimize the recruiting process for young talents.

For Sammy, all of this means extra work in addition to her role in marketing, but she finds the time worth spent: “It’s so rewarding to see the trustful and fruitful relationship we have established within the community. And it is invaluable for my personal development because of the visibility and networks. It gives me a lot of energy!”

In turn, this energy, network and inspiration is useful for Sammy’s day-to-day job: “I work in a position that I really like. I go to work every day with a big smile and have a good balance of fun and learning. Marketing’s role is changing and as young professionals, we can be change ambassadors within the organization. I try to always think one step further, think out of the box, and try to communicate with my audiences in a new way, especially via digital channels.” A great example of this is the Run Live Truck, which was a huge success in the Netherlands and initiated by young professionals.

When asked about her learning and an advice she would give to other young professionals, Sammy is quite clear: “I learned that it’s most important to be yourself and work on your visibility inside the whole organization, not just your own department. I encourage everyone to think out of the box, be committed, go forward and pitch your ideas, and things will work out.”

*A generation is defined as identifiable group that shares birth years, age, location, and significant life events at critical developmental stages. Generation Y includes birth years 1980-1994 (definitions vary).

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