What's New

What is Artificial Intelligence?

SAP News - Thu, 03/29/2018 - 11:30
Technology is already more advanced than humans in some areas. But how can businesses benefit from this? One term you frequently hear in this context is artificial intelligence (AI).

Machine learning is a form of AI which is already being used by many businesses. In this article, we answer some of the most important questions on this topic.

Artificial intelligence is the broader term for applications that see machines perform human-like tasks, such as learning, reasoning, and problem solving. One sub-field of AI, machine learning, teaches computers to learn from data and experiences, and constantly improve task execution. Sophisticated algorithms can recognize patterns in unstructured data records such as images, texts, and speech, and use them to make decisions independently.

Artificial intelligence is the broader term for applications that see machines perform human-like tasks. This includes machine learning, natural language processing, and deep learning. The general idea is to converge machines and significant functions of the human brain: learning, reasoning, and problem solving.

This type of learning makes natural language processing (NLP) possible, among other things. NLP is the processing of texts and natural human speech, as used, for instance, in Amazon’s Alexa voice service. Deep learning uses deep neural networks with multiple layers and a high data volume. It is currently considered one of the most promising machine learning methods.

The algorithm for deep learning goes deeper than NLP: The machine recognizes and assess structures, and improves itself through several forward and backward passes. The algorithm uses numerous node levels (neurons) simultaneously to make well-founded decisions. Examples of this can be seen in medicine: Deep learning helps identify early stages of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and can analyze a child’s DNA profile for genetic markers that indicate type 1 diabetes. In research, deep learning is used, for example, to evaluate thousands of cell profiles and their active genes, or particle showers created when proton beams collide in a particle accelerator. As this type of learning is able to solve complex, non-linear problems, it is also used in autonomous vehicles to correctly interpret complex traffic scenarios. Pedestrians, cyclists, weather, signage, and trees: the computer must correctly recognize and predict the behavior of all road users, taking all possible influencing factors into account.

When was artificial intelligence first created?

Once the potential of computers became clear in the 1950s, AI became a topic that captured many imaginations. In 1970, the “father of AI,” Marvin Minsky, stated that machines would be able to read Shakespeare in the near future, but this was not the case.

Computers were, however, celebrating success after success: first, for pure computing power. In 1997, a computer played chess with Kasparov, the World Chess Champion at the time, and won. In 2011, a computer won the game show “Jeopardy.” But it wasn’t until a machine played the Asian strategy game Go against professional player Lee Sedol, and unexpectedly won by 4 games to 1, that we first saw computers develop beyond pure computing power. Chess and Jeopardy only require a computer to understand questions and search for the appropriate answers in a database. But Go is much more complex. And it wasn’t just the speed of the computer that helped it defeat Sedol – the software was able to learn. A more advanced version of the software later taught itself the rules of the game from scratch and went on to win against its predecessor.

How do machines learn?

Machines learn either through training based on a dataset where the desired outputs are already known (supervised learning), or through algorithms that recognize patterns in data (unsupervised learning). They can also learn through rewards and punishments (reinforcement learning). This method sees the algorithm independently recognize whether learning components use the entire system (reward) or not (punishment). The data is either in a structured format, such as a table, or an unstructured format, such as a text, image, or language, as is the case in e-mails and social media posts. Machine learning can process all types of data, which is a huge advantage.

What areas can use AI?

AI is interesting for all industries that have large sets of data, for example, manufacturing companies where suppliers, sensors in machines, and the ERP system can deliver a high volume of data. In this case, self-learning algorithms support quality control and deliver forecasts for predictive machine maintenance. This is how companies can avoid production downtimes and minimize warehousing costs, to name just a few examples.

There are almost unlimited possibilities for using AI in the healthcare industry – from medical image analysis to robotic surgery. Every industry is currently generating ideas that often lead to significant increases in efficiency, as repetitive process steps are automated. This gives employees more time for creative and strategically important tasks. AI also leads to new business models. One example is if a company stops selling machines and starts selling their performance instead.

How do companies benefit from AI?

Artificial intelligence simplifies workflows, leads to more exact forecasts, and creates new business models based on data. It accelerates decisions thanks to better data, and increases the company’s ability to adjust to market changes thanks to real-time information and predictions well beyond human ability. As such, AI makes companies significantly more efficient, increasing their competitiveness.

How can companies use AI?

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), 94% of companies believe that machine learning opens up significant competitive advantages. This is not without reason. AI improves a company’s productivity and flexibility, and creates new business assets such as intelligent chatbots, used in customer service.

In this context, algorithms learn through direct contact with customers and react more precisely to their needs. SAP is also establishing intelligent processes, and offers services and applications to support its customers. They include:

  • SAP CoPilot, a digital chat assistant that asks questions and gives answers to help the user reach their goals.
  • SAP Service Ticket Intelligence. The application automatically categorizes service tickets, prioritizes tasks to be completed, and suggests answers to standard questions.
  • SAP Customer Retention predicts customer behavior.
  • SAP Resume Matching helps identify the most suitable applicants from a multitude of job applications.
  • SAP Brand Impact helps companies measure the influence of their brand and the effects of sponsorship and advertising investments. The solution records, for example, how often a company’s logo is used in a video, noting its position and size.

How does machine learning complement human ability?

Machine learning is particularly useful in activities where a person could make a mistake. Manufacturing quality controls are an example of this, as a self-learning algorithm can recognize even the smallest changes and predict their effect. Impressively, drones and satellites can be used to inspect long pipelines. Machine learning is also very important when it comes to data security, as it quickly identifies anomalies in transactions and processes, recognizes bribery attempts, and provides effective protection against hacking. It also simplifies daily tasks. If a train is canceled unexpectedly, an algorithm can readjust travel plans in a context-sensitive application. The customer can check online or in an app to see alternative routes which take them to their destination as quickly as possible even though the train is no longer running.

How can my company integrate machine learning?

Every company should know how machine learning can optimize existing solutions. You don’t have to be an expert in machine learning to use every intelligent application. Machine learning is already integrated into SAP products such as Concur and SAP S/4HANA and, using the SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation, every SAP partner or SAP user can connect and implement readily prepared services, and use their own models to create intelligent applications.

SAP Cloud Platform is the foundation for the development and distribution of all types of intelligent application, and for high-performance operation. As a result, machine learning technology is available and many companies have found approaches to use it effectively.

How will AI and machine learning influence the future?

Machine learning is good at processing structured and unstructured data. A world where machines interact without commands, carry out actions that are highly context dependent, draw their own conclusions, and adjust their behavior is certainly imaginable, and is partly achievable already. It unlocks valuable time for employees to concentrate on what’s important: creativity and innovation. But AI still reaches its limits when it comes to creating ideas. In future, digital assistants and bots will support us in our everyday lives. New organizational roles will be formed to demonstrate how humans and machines can successfully work together.

Categories: What's New

SAP Concur Provides Real-Time Visibility and Spend Control with New Budget Solution

SAP News - Thu, 03/29/2018 - 09:15
According to a recent Oxford Economics report, strong profitability and revenue growth are tied to effective cost control. However, managing spend is increasingly complicated. In the last 15 years, travel spend alone has doubled to more than $1.2 trillion.*

Employee-initiated spend is today the second-largest expense in organizations.** These are spending categories, ranging from entertainment, consulting, mobile roaming charges, home office expenses, and more, shifting to employee control. When this spend data is incomplete, inaccurate, or late, budgets mean little more than a number. Managers can’t be held accountable and poor visibility inevitably leads to poor business decisions, including the dreaded company-wide “budget freeze.”

To help budget owners effectively manage resources and make better decisions, SAP Concur has announced Budget, a new solution that makes budget data visible, near real time, and actionable. Budget synthesizes data from SAP Concur solutions including Expense, Invoice, Purchase Request and Travel Request, creating a comprehensive dashboard for spend – before and after it occurs. As a result, finance leaders, sales leaders, and project managers alike can see spending events unfold. Collectively, each employee making better decisions leads to better overall financials and strengthens the bottom line.

Budget empowers everyone to see what’s happening, anticipate risks around the corner, and take action – before it’s too late. It allows companies to move beyond one-size-fits all, after-the-fact monthly budget spreadsheets. It’s holistic and flexible, whether companies map budgets to employee hierarchies or to projects. Employees can finally be held accountable to eliminate overspending, while gaining autonomy to proactively adjust spend to seize unexpected opportunities. Key features include:

  • Easy-to-consume data: Regular budgetary discipline is easy when you can see performance dashboards on both mobile and web, and budget insights embedded directly at the point of expense or invoice approval.
  • Tailored to individual employee needs: For example, set your own predetermined limits on budget buckets, or auto-email alerts when budget thresholds are reached. Set up personalized budget sub-categories to track more granularly.
  • Gain corporate control: Customizable budget approval workflows, user permissions, and audit rules help maintain policy decisions across the organization.
  • Connect deeper into the organization by integrating with financial systems via a public API.

According to a recent Gartner report, CFOs need better technology to facilitate timely analysis and decision making, monitor performance, and inform business decisions using quality data.*** Traditional budget solutions lack the flexibility, organizational scale, and ease-of-use necessary to meet these business needs. These solutions focus solely on planning, doing little to help finance leaders empower budget owners to make informed decisions based on quality data in near real-time. With Budget, line managers now have access to timely, actionable insights that were traditionally available only to the C-suite. Appropriate for companies large and small, optimizing budgets is a universal opportunity.

Budget is a new solution available to customers now. For more information, visit the budget management area of the SAP Concur website.

Jessica Staley is vice president of Product Management for SAP Concur

*Global Business Travel Association
**Juniper Research
***Gartner-FEI Study

This article originally appeared on the SAP Concur newsroom.

Categories: What's New

Accenture MBA Innovation Challenge Supports Wounded Warrior Project® with Consulting Services

Accenture News - Thu, 03/29/2018 - 08:00
NEW YORK; Mar. 29, 2018 – A group of MBA students from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business was selected to team with Accenture (ACN: NYSE) to provide consulting support for Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a U.S.-based nonprofit serving this generation of wounded veterans.
Categories: What's New

Tea for Two with Alicia Tillman: Everyone is a Consumer

SAP News - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 16:30

Alicia Tillman, chief marketing officer at SAP, explains her marketing strategy in a Tea for Two video interview.
Categories: What's New

Succession Planning: The Solution to the Looming Leadership Gap

SAP News - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 11:15
It is undeniable: It is difficult to keep up with the amount of change happening these days. This is largely due to digital transformation and the evolving way in which organizations and their people get things done.

Human resources is specifically challenged with workforce dynamics that now include globalization, the need for data insights, operational cost cutting, turnover, competition for skills, and mobility… just to name a few. And, the workforce is now comprised of shifting demographics. Millennials are coming in and aging workers are sticking around longer than ever before. The result is a significant leadership gap in “the middle” of an organization that points to an increased need for effective Succession Planning.

A Looming Leadership Gap

Succession planning is one of the most critical areas to get right. In a “Leaders 2020” study sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors and conducted by Oxford Economics in 2016, the executives surveyed cited a lack of adequate leadership as a major impediment to achieving workforce goals. Only 35% of these executives said they have the talent now in leadership positions to sufficiently drive global growth. This translates into a significant leadership gap for organizations.

The Oxford study left us wanting to better understand what is contributing to the leadership gap, and what HR leaders are thinking about changing within their organization’s succession planning practices. So, we talked to HR leaders from various organizations who were attending SAP SuccessFactors’ annual SAP SuccessConnect customer conference in August of 2017.  We heard three key themes from these conversations:

  • The workforce is a-changin’
    The workforce is digital, comprised of five generations, and expectations are completely different. HR leaders are feeling the pressure to accommodate these changes within succession planning.
  • Data? What data?
    Organizations lack real time analytics and data insights to drive talent decisions, including building bench strength for the future.
  • The 9-Box is so “last year”
    Succession tools and calibration models need to modernize and evolve to keep up. Gone are the days of carrying around a binder full of spreadsheets and inconsistent methods of calibration.

Below, we share more about these themes, including things you should be asking yourself to ensure your succession planning strategy is a sustainable model for the digital age.

The Workforce is A-Changin’

The digital economy has placed unprecedented pressure on the business and HR. The workforce and its expectations are drastically different and will continue to change. The traditional approach of “replacement planning” for open roles or “moving up the hierarchy” won’t meet business growth priorities, satisfy employee engagement and development needs, or create a sustainable workforce. As you evaluate how to incorporate workforce changes into your succession strategy, ask yourself the following:

Have you identified your talent and skills shortage, and are you actively developing your people?
Gaps in leadership capabilities spell trouble for future growth. This leadership gap is growing wider and wider as existing leaders are not equipped to lead a global, diverse workforce, and the incoming millennial workforce does not yet have the skills and capabilities necessary to lead at these levels. It is imperative to include both the identification of future skills and capabilities needed, as well as development in your succession planning approach in order to narrow this gap. This is an opportunity to grow and leverage learning programs to actively grow your talent. Otherwise, an organization will struggle to proactively meet future growth demands.

Are you leveraging all five generations of talent?
For the first-time in history, the workforce is comprised of five generations working side-by-side. A new generation of executives is moving up through the corporate ranks. Millennials already make up the largest group in the workforce, and they hold nearly 20% of executive positions. In addition, people are living and working longer. We have never in history employed as many aging workers as we do now. Careers just don’t look the way they did before. It isn’t uncommon to see a millennial employee managing someone who is close to retirement. And, many organizations focus on just the millennials. However, it is more about the dynamics of these five generations, who have different levels of digital capability. There are meaningful differences in how these generations view technology, processes, and digital transformation. This creates an opportunity for things like cross-generational mentoring and greater diversity and collaboration. It calls for increased transparency about career growth and future roles.

Are you considering the evolved employee value proposition?
The relationship between organizations and employees is changing and greatly impacted by digital transformation. Today’s high performers have a better understanding of their own value and are heavily recruited, especially those with specialized skills. Next generation leaders expect more mobility across an organization, as well as transparency about their potential and career growth. Organizations are shifting to continuous performance management, and there is a need to manage individual differences in performance found across different employees working in the same group. Managing differences in employee contribution is critical to maximizing company performance. And employees are more comfortable now moving on from organizations rather than having a “lifer” approach to their career. The average tenure in a professional job is now just 6 years. Succession and career development play a pivotal role in this the “new” employee value proposition. A robust and transparent succession plan can help you retain employees, plan for future growth, and narrow capability gaps.

Data? What Data?

I often ask clients for HR data such as turnover, cost per hire, and headcount so that I can calculate the ROI of HR technology for them. I routinely hear the following: “Data…what data? We can’t get our hands on any accurate data. It would take us weeks.” Data is critical to driving a meaningful succession planning strategy. Organizations who leverage Human Capital analytics outperform those who don’t. Period. Rich analytics can impact stock returns, return on equity, and overall HR effectiveness. However, only 55% of executives say that their business and HR decisions are informed by data. We encourage you to think beyond numbers and stats on a spreadsheet, and consider the following to ensure you are using data as a catalyst and enabler in your succession efforts.

Are you using data to proactively build your leadership bench strength?
Succession planning and employee development can be enhanced through quantifiable metrics and benchmarking within your workforce development practices. HR leaders needs to know who their people are, what skills and capabilities exist or are lacking, and make key business decisions that are based on real-time, factual data. This is no exception for the data that drives a successful succession planning strategy. Gone are the days of large binders full of excel spreadsheets that are outdated as soon as they are printed. Modern succession planning should be leveraging technology, real-time data analytics, and data insights in order to build a bench that can help organizations grow and sustain their success. Organizations need to build a sustainable model that incorporates data into the methodology of building leadership pipeline. Don’t let your organization avoid utilizing data to drive decisions. This includes looking at data around flight risk, employee aspirations, mobility, and agility.

Are you incorporating your business and HR strategy into succession planning?
Organizations who are most effective at building a sustainable leadership pipeline incorporate their business strategy into their succession efforts. They look at growth targets, financial commitments, upcoming market expansion plans, etc. to then proactively structure their pipeline of talent accordingly. There is a significant difference between a succession approach that is more about replacement planning, versus one that is driven by strategic objectives, predictive analytics, and a focus on investing in future leadership talent now.

The 9-Box Is So “Last Year”

When considering the changes that come with digital and workforce transformation, carefully choose the calibration and assessment methods that enable this change and support succession planning. Calibration provides one of the most promising methods for improving the accuracy and value of performance management, succession management, compensation, and talent management overall. However, the value of calibration sessions depends on how they are conducted.

For example, one of the most popular succession planning tools utilized in organizations with both mature and immature succession practices is the 9-box model. The model measures current performance against employee potential, with the objective of showing you who your highest performing employees are and where you should invest in your talent. The 9-box is just one tactical calibration example (with potential strategic results) of the critical impact of digital transformation. When we asked HR leaders for their opinion about their succession planning tools and technology, we were intrigued to learn that all have either already made a shift to a more modern approach, or are on the cusp of doing so.

We suggest you think through the following when considering how to put the right tools and methods in place to enable strategic succession planning.

Are your succession calibration and assessment models adding value to your succession approach?
Our initial findings when talking with HR leaders is that while many organizations currently still use an older approach to calibration, the feedback is telling. Using the 9-box as an example, we heard that it doesn’t provide enough insight into existing workforce capabilities, or lack thereof. It is time consuming, especially if a company lacks the appropriate technology. We heard that many organizations lack the data and analytics to effectively complete a 9-box or other assessment of potential. The pace of change coming at us at the very least places significance on ensuring you have assessment methods in place that work.

A recent SAP SuccessFactors whitepaper focused on how to fairly and accurately assess employees using calibration, points out that every employee contributes different levels of value to the organization due to many factors. The use of consistent, transparent methods to assess and reward employee contributions is a key factor affecting employees’ perceptions of justice, fairness, and equity. The overall objective of an assessment and calibration model, whether it be a 9-box or not, is to measure employee impact, guide decisions around company investment in employees, and support the career growth, development, and retention of your employees.

What Does All This Mean?

It is no secret that having the right talent will drive sustainable success for any company. Replacement planning will no longer work. The leadership gap that exists has the power to cripple growth and put your organization at risk of achieving strategic priorities. It can also result in expensive costs related to external hiring, lower employee engagement, higher attrition, and overall talent management challenges. All in all, our research says that succession planning must be tied to business results, utilized as a way to empower and build leaders, and most importantly, tackle the pending leadership gap facing organizations across all industries and regions.

We urge you to evaluate your existing succession planning strategy, and ask yourself the following six questions:

  • What leadership gaps have you identified and how can you start to build and develop a pipeline of qualified leaders to fill these gaps?
  • How are you ensuring your succession bench is representative and inclusive of the five generations, as well as leveraging the skills, talents, mindsets, and backgrounds of your diverse workforce?
  • In what ways can you start treating succession planning as part of the employee value proposition for your organization?
  • What is needed for your organization to start leveraging data and predictive analytics to build your leadership bench strength?
  • How is your succession strategy linked to your strategic objectives and financial performance commitments?
  • Which of your current succession methods and tools (e.g. the 9-Box) are helping guide talent decisions, career growth, and development/retention of your employees?

We recognize that one size does not fit all, but the objective and importance of succession planning is unquestionable. So, put the big binder away and shift your thinking towards a modern succession model, supported by insightful technology and positioned to enable leadership growth and a sustainable workforce.

Find out the five key trends and actions that can help businesses of all sizes address the challenges of digital transformation. IDC and SAP SuccessFactors collaborated to create roadmaps to executing on the latest HR trends. Check out the roadmaps here.

Linda Devlin is an HR Strategy Advisor for SAP SuccessFactors.  With over 20 years in the Human Capital Management space, Linda works with SAP SuccessFactors clients to provide consultative support on human capital management strategies and alignment to HCM technology solutions. She partners with HR leaders to explore and identify HR transformation opportunities, and quantify the business value in terms of organizational and human capital impact. Linda also helps clients to assess their current state, analysis of future state considerations, roadmap planning and HR change readiness. Her HR background includes deep expertise in succession planning and leadership development.

Categories: What's New

Monitoring Floods with SAP Cloud Platform

SAP News - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:30
The region was on high alert all week; NASA, the Weather Channel, and all major news agencies warned of a huge category 4 tropical storm forming at top of the Gulf of Mexico and prepared citizens for an impending catastrophe.

Imagine having only 10 minutes to flee your home. Here, SAP employee Shibaji Chandra shares the story of how he built an app so he would know when his family was safe from floods.

It started raining the morning of Friday, August 25, and continued relentlessly as the storm neared landfall. Anticipating the calamity, people began stockpiling water, basic food, and so on from Wednesday onward. As a result, local market had already run out of water and other necessities by Thursday night.

Harvey is Here

It rained hard for three days, non-stop. We watched the news reports of flooding all over Houston, but to our surprise, the area of Katy where I live was not hit until Monday, August 28. That morning, the rain seemed to have slowed down, but before we could breathe a sigh of relief, a team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) came to our apartment and warned us that our apartment complex would soon be under water. Initially we thought it would be a temporary issue and that the water would recede in a few hours, so we didn’t consider evacuating.

The Great Escape

But it rained steadily all night, and to our worst nightmare, the reservoir near our apartment spilled over and flooded our entire apartment complex. On Tuesday, August 29, we were forced to evacuate our home, moving out on a rescue boat under evacuation orders from local authorities. Luckily, we have a good friend near downtown Houston whose apartment was not flooded, so we decided to take shelter at his place. Soon thereafter, three of my friends along with their respective families had to evacuate their apartments, too, and joined us at our friend’s apartment.

In Safety

There were four families (12 members) who had found refuge in my friend’s apartment. My good Samaritan friend had no dearth of effort to make the place comfortable, but the worry started building within us. There was little we could do at that moment apart from watch the news, pray for the best, and wait for the floods to recede.

Ray of Hope

Doing some research, I learned that the U.S. Army Corps has installed many IoT sensors, such as radar, press transducer, across the United States that monitor vital statistics such as water level, water body areas, and so on in near real time. Looking more deeply, I discovered some APIs from the U.S. Geological Survey that could feed me the data of these IoT sensors. Bingo! We started monitoring the data.

Checking JSON payload every 15 minutes is not very relaxing, so I decided to build an app based on SAP Cloud Platform. After all, when you have free Internet and three friends are snoring beside you, what else better to do at night? I started designing my app to monitor the reservoir near my apartment. And the next morning, I developed it.

This was very handy, as I could see the water level from my cellphone. Later I decided to transfer the same data to SAP Cloud Platform cloud portal.

This portal is currently set for the Barker Reservoir near my apartment only but can easily be configured for any other water body where the U.S. Army Corps has installed high-end sensors.

Hurricane Irma

Less than two weeks later, while we were slowly recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, another threat of a category 5 storm loomed over Florida. The phenomenon of hurricane and flood in its aftermath seems to be inevitable in certain parts of the country. So I decided to develop the app further and make the flood monitoring site more dynamic. Now you can enter your address and monitor the water levels of areas across the nation. Just follow these three simple steps:

  • Enter your address. The site will find and list the water bodies near you.
  • Select from the hit list.
  • The location is shown in Google Maps and the water level data is shown as a graph in real time.

Categories: What's New

SAP’s Lloyd Adams Named to PACT Board of Directors

SAP News - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:00
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced Lloyd Adams, senior vice president and managing director of the East Market Unit at SAP North America, will serve on the board of directors for the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT).

“As the leader for SAP in the East, Lloyd Adams will provide the PACT board unique perspective on how Philadelphia companies can and are innovating and growing in the digital era,” said Dean Miller, president and CEO of PACT. “SAP is one of the largest technology employers in the region, and we look forward to continuing to draw upon its expertise.”

“The Philadelphia market is booming, thanks in no small part to the work being done by PACT to bring together the entire business community to share ideas and support one another,” said Adams. “I’m inspired by the truly innovative work being done by companies throughout the region and am honored to play a role in contributing to the ongoing success of PACT and its members.”

PACT’s vision is to be the go-to resource for fast-growing companies and a driver of innovation in the Philadelphia region. It provides businesses and professionals with valuable content and connections to capital, coaching and customers that accelerate growth and success.

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

Media Contact:
Steve Collins, +1 (617) 335-5456, st.collins@sap.com, ET

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.
© 2018 SAP SE. All rights reserved.
SAP and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE in Germany and other countries. Please see http://www.sap.com/corporate-en/legal/copyright/index.epx#trademark for additional trademark information and notices.


Categories: What's New

Accenture Launches Cloud-Based Analytics Utility to Help U.S. Banks Improve Risk-Management and Other Functions

Accenture News - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 08:59
NEW YORK; March 28, 2018 – Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has launched a cloud-based data analytics utility to help U.S. banks improve and manage their risk-management and other activities more efficiently and cost-effectively than they could do on their own.
Categories: What's New

SAP Unlocks Its Broader Portfolio of Software and Technology to Partners for Greater Growth Opportunities with Customers

SAP News - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 04:00
WALLDORF SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced extended access for partners to the SAP software portfolio to provide small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) with fixed-scope packaged solutions at predictable prices.

SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions will be built and delivered by SAP partners and are structured to provide customers with a fast return on investment at high-quality standards.

The SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions represent a packaging strategy with three important pillars:

  • Packages based on SAP software together with a partner’s services and intellectual property – creating a unique and highly targeted value proposition based on a fixed scope and a fixed price offering
  • A rigorous qualification process, securing full alignment on the value proposition and validation of the partners’ ability to deliver
  • Exposure on SAP.com to give customers direct access to partner-packaged solutions and joint go-to-market activities with partners active in the SME segment

“The main goal of the new strategy is to offer customers a wider set of solutions to meet their individual requirements within an affordable price range,” said Karl Fahrbach, head of Global Channels, SAP. “As the SAP solution portfolio has grown with the addition of line-of-business solutions and is increasingly focused on the cloud, there is a need for a broader approach to solution packaging that is not only focused on enterprise resource planning software or limited to on-premise solutions.”

Partners can currently choose from a variety of SAP solutions to create their own unique SAP-qualified partner-packaged solution:

  • SAP Business ByDesign solution
  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP S/4HANA
  • SAP SuccessFactors solutions
  • SAP Analytics Cloud solution
  • SAP Leonardo capabilities
  • SAP solutions for customer engagement and commerce, including SAP Hybris solutions

Partners will benefit from new growth-centric benefits designed to improve success rates, including:

An infographic can be downloaded here. For more information, visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

Media Contacts:
Angelika Merz, SAP, +41 58 871-7216, angelika.merz@sap.com, CET
Erin Albright, FleishmanHillard, +1 (617) 692-0543, erin.albright@fleishman.com, ET

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.
© 2018 SAP SE. All rights reserved.
SAP and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE in Germany and other countries. Please see http://www.sap.com/corporate-en/legal/copyright/index.epx#trademark for additional trademark information and notices.

Categories: What's New

Concur Labs and Slack Partner to Bring Travel and Expense Bots to the Masses

SAP News - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 10:15
You asked, we delivered. The Concur bot on Slack has been the number one requested bot by our customers, so we’re thrilled to be making the Concur Expense bot on Slack available in beta and introduce a new Concur Travel bot on Slack.

We’re all about creating efficiencies and empowering people to do their best, most productive work. This is a perfect fit for our large enterprise clients, particularly those with infrequent users of Concur Expense who can now take actions directly in Slack.

Last year, during our private beta, we started with simple functions like requesting your itinerary and submitting an expense receipt. We’re excited to move the expense bot into public beta with a more robust set of features and functionality, and introduce a new travel bot coming soon.

You Don’t Need a Corner Office to Have a Personal Assistant

It’s all about simplicity and ease of use with the Concur Travel and Expense bots on Slack. Have a question about an upcoming trip? Need to upload a receipt for an expense report? Just ask a Concur bot on Slack.

For example, with the Concur Expense bot on Slack you can now receive notifications when you have an expense report to review and approve, and take actions directly from Slack without having to navigate away from the app you’re already using. The experience is fast and intuitive, and seamlessly integrates into Slack so you can continue working with colleagues and not be distracted by other applications.

Here’s what the @ConcurExpense and @ConcurTravel bots on Slack can do for you:

  • Approve expense reports: Get notified when you have an expense report to approve and resolve the report right from Slack.
  • Receipt reprieve: Upload receipts in your message to @ConcurExpense and they will be instantly saved to your SAP Concur account.
  • Expense report relief: For basic expenses, write a simple message such as “expense $15 for lunch” and the bot will automatically send this to your SAP Concur account.
  • Gentle reminders: Type a request such as “expense report summary” and the bot will deliver an overview of your latest reports.
  • Find your best flight: Type a keyword such as “search” and the @ConcurTravel bot will display flight search fields, allowing users to filter by destination, departure and return dates, fare class, preferred airlines, and more, right from your Slack conversation.
  • Book it, pay for it, and ensure you reap the rewards: Once flight selections are made, the bot will auto-populate your existing credit card on file and loyalty program information for seamless booking.
  • Itineraries on demand: Type “itinerary” or “trip details” and your upcoming business trip information will be sent right back to you, in channel.

Meet the Future You

On a busy day in the fourth quarter of 2017, SAP Concur processed more than 568,000 expense reports, saw 1.1 million receipts uploaded via Concur mobile, and more than 202,000 trips booked.

With more than 9 million weekly and 6 million daily active users utilizing more than 1,000 different apps available in the Slack app directory, Slack is the collaboration hub for the modern workplace.

Conversational interfaces will undoubtedly change the way you manage common business workflows. Think about the amount of time that will be saved when bots are booking and expensing on your behalf so that you can stay focused on changing the world.

The Fine Print

The Expense bot will be available soon to joint U.S. customers in the Slack App Directory and SAP Concur App Center. The Concur Travel bot on Slack is planned for release in the coming months and is a collaboration between Concur Labs, Concur Travel, and Hipmunk. Check out the Slack blog for more information about the @Concur bots and the Slack platform.

John Dietz is vice president of Concur Labs.

This story previously appeared on the SAP Concur newsroom.

Categories: What's New

SAP Honored for Support and Development of IoT and Digital Supply Chain Startups Worldwide

SAP News - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 09:30
WALLDORF SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced that the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program has been honored by the IoT Global Awards as the Startup, Business Development or Ecosystem of the Year.

Founded in December 2016, SAP IoT Startup Accelerator is a global co-innovation program for business-to-business startups that are innovating in the world of the Internet of Things (IoT). It helps startups grow and scale their business alongside SAP, its vast partner ecosystem and a global customer base.

The latest recognition validates SAP’s commitment to foster innovations throughout the connected world in the IoT, digital supply chain, manufacturing and asset management. The SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program has helped develop a wide variety of modern industry use cases for connected technologies, including:

  • Autonomous drones for inspections
  • Transportation monitoring, prediction and recommendations
  • Analytics and insights for industrial IoT
  • Robots working collaboratively with humans in warehouses
  • Shipping freight with integrated smart containers
  • Real-time monitoring with wireless, self-powered snap and play sensors

“Innovation in the IoT community involves a strong network of partners that complement our portfolio and drive customer success,” said Eva Zauke, head of the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program. “The startup community is an important part of our innovation in digital supply chain and with SAP Leonardo-based IoT solutions, and we are very proud of our accomplishments and developments.”

The IoT Global Awards recognize innovations in the IoT. The winners were formally announced at the Smart IoT London event. Judged across 12 categories by a specially assembled panel of 12 IoT experts and insiders — including companies such as KPMG, Accenture, IBM and Cisco — the awards attracted 149 entries in their inaugural year. They are cosponsored by IoT Global Network and CloserStill Media, organizers of Smart IoT London.

“I have been impressed by both the quality and quantity of entries to these, the inaugural IoT Global Awards,” said Jeremy Cowan, the editorial director and publisher of IoT Global Network. “The future of IoT will continue to be characterized by ingenuity and immense practical skill in turning this enormous opportunity into a reality that transforms lives and businesses across the world.”

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

Media Contacts:
Jim Dever, +1 (610) 661-2161, james.dever@sap.com, ET
Kathrin Eiermann, +49 6227 767029, simone.kathrin.eiermann@sap.comsimone.kathrin.eiermann@sap.com, CET

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.
© 2018 SAP SE. All rights reserved.
SAP and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE in Germany and other countries. Please see http://www.sap.com/corporate-en/legal/copyright/index.epx#trademark for additional trademark information and notices.

Categories: What's New

NatureSweet Uses SAP Ariba to Help Drive Meteoric Growth Rate

SAP News - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 09:00
If you’re not sure technology is forcing businesses to reimagine everything ‒ including procurement ‒ these highlights from a roundtable hosted by Karen Master, vice president of Communications, at the recent SAP Ariba Live event, will convince you otherwise.

NatureSweet Reduces Buyer Workload 30 Percent

As the largest fresh produce grower in North America, NatureSweet’s culture is built on the transformation of people’s lives. Matt Volker, vice president of Supply Chain at NatureSweet, explained why his company selected SAP Ariba Snap to support its meteoric growth rate and strategic sourcing vision.

“Innovation is core to what we do every day, from high tech greenhouses to how we invest in our associates. We selected SAP Ariba because we wanted to move fast at scale,” he said. “We’ve automated processes to not only move away from a transactional procurement team, but also collaborate more efficiently with our supplier network, from sourcing orders to payments.”

After going live with SAP Ariba in 14 weeks, Volker said NatureSweet has reduced its buyer group workload by about 30 percent. The shift away from tactical transactions has allowed the team to become more strategic, notably in expanding global sourcing opportunities.

L to R: Karen Master, VP, Communications, SAP Ariba; Julie Gerdeman, VP, Digital Transformation Organization, SAP Ariba; Marcell Vollmer, Chief Digital Officer, SAP Ariba; Matt Volker, VP, Supply Chain, NatureSweet; Shivani Govil, VP, AI/ Cognitive Products, SAP Ariba.

“We were able to shift our A players out of the procurement team to strategic sourcing to identify new growers,” said Volker. “That’s allowed us to take advantage of existing high tech greenhouses and acreage to grow our products, and at the same time, expand our supplier network into new markets, fostering economic development in areas that need it, especially Mexico.”

NatureSweet selected @SAPAriba to move fast at scale

Procurement on Brink of Unprecedented Change

Drawing from the findings of an SAP white paper entitled “Procurement 2025,” Julie Gerdeman, vice president of the Digital Transformation Organization at SAP Ariba, said procurement is reimagining everything from technology and resource allocation to people’s skill sets.

“We’ll be using intelligent, self-learning systems able to create much more highly personalized, consumer-like experience,” she said. “Companies have always want to do well financially. They’re now finding they can do well by doing good in the world. Procurement owns that sustainable supply chain, becoming the steward of corporate reputation and brand perception.”

In the hyperconnected ecosystem, Gerdeman said data was the new currency, with procurement using real-time insights, predictive analytics, AI, and blockchain to change the game with unparalleled speed and agility. She saw procurement itself transforming, demanding people with skills in corporate strategy, as well as data science.

Inside SAP’s Strategic Procurement Strategy

Case in point was roundtable expert Marcell Vollmer, chief digital officer for SAP Ariba, whose personal journey to strategic business advisor mirrored the transformation of procurement at SAP. Vollmer had been incubating organizational transformation projects when he was tapped to transform SAP’s procurement processes.

“Even though SAP had access to SAP Ariba solutions, everyone wasn’t already using it,” said Vollmer. “We automated 50 percent of our non-automated purchase orders and invoices, integrated it with our ERP systems, and freed up people for more strategic tasks. The experience of people ordering something internally was as easy as shopping on Amazon.”

Vollmer eventually joined SAP Ariba as chief procurement officer, then morphed into chief digital officer. “The future of procurement is strategic procurement, ensuring that you have a sustainable supply chain,” he said. “This is a totally new business model partnering with our line of business groups. We had to become collaboration managers, focusing on value-added activities to deliver on highly strategic tasks that contribute to the margin.”

Tech Makes Procurement Smarter

Shivani Govil, vice president of AI and Cognitive Products at SAP Ariba, continued the discussion, providing examples of how technology can automate simple, repetitive tasks for casual users, such as frequently asked questions. For procurement experts at the other end of the spectrum in more complex areas like contract negotiations, technology supports better decision-making by providing context from hidden insights and patterns in the data.

“You can stop people from having to chase orders or track down invoices, and free up their time to do higher-value activities like planning your sourcing strategy,” said Govil. “On a daily basis, AI is going to augment your workforce, making them work smarter. For example, if you have a category owner responsible for sourcing items, and through aggregated data and information they become aware that a price is dropping, they know it’s time to run a sourcing event to get better pricing.”

Looking ahead, Govil asked the people in the room to imagine procurement’s future when instead of ordering parts from suppliers, they procure a design and produce goods on a local 3D printer when the business needs it. Referring to a space age cartoon from the last century, she said, “The Jetsons are here today.”

Follow me: @smgaler

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Compliance Spending is Shifting to New Technologies as Threat Landscape Expands, According to Accenture Report

Accenture News - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 08:59
NEW YORK; March 27, 2018 – Faced with growing threats of ‘industry shocks’ such as cyber fraud, cryptocurrency, quantum computing and open banking, financial institutions expect to increase their compliance investments over the next two years as they seek new approaches to strengthening compliance capabilities, according to a new report from Accenture (NYSE: ACN). 
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Four in Five North American Bank Operations Leaders Believe Their Bank's Survival Depends on Updating Legacy Systems to Innovate Faster, Accenture Study Finds

Accenture News - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 08:59
NEW YORK; March 27, 2018 – Nearly four-fifths (79 percent) of operations leaders at North American banks believe that their bank’s existence will be threatened if they don’t update their technology to innovate faster and more efficiently, according to new research by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). 
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Global Center for Health Innovation and Accenture Form a Working Group to Address Opioid Epidemic

Accenture News - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 08:00
CLEVELAND; March 27, 2018 – The Global Center for Health Innovation (Global Center) and Accenture have formed a working group to explore data-driven solutions that better integrate the continuum of addiction services (first responders, ER and inpatient, outpatient, behavioral health) to improve treatment and move toward prevention. The group’s formation was announced at the Global Center’s second Executive Briefing, “The Role of Private Capital in Attacking the Opioid Crisis.”
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Accenture Names Irine Gaasbeek Country Managing Director for the Netherlands

Accenture News - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 04:00
AMSTERDAM; March 27, 2018 – Accenture has named Irine Gaasbeek country managing director for the Netherlands, effective June 1. In this role she will lead Accenture’s business and operations in the country, with a specific focus on growth by innovation and digital transformation. 
Categories: What's New

MintMesh: Unleashing the Power of Your Workforce as a Hiring Engine

SAP News - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 10:15
Even in today’s always-on, always-connected, automated business environment – and maybe because of it – the power of word-of-mouth referrals remains as strong as ever. That’s the theory behind MintMesh, a referral management tool now available on SAP App Center, which aims to actively engage employees in referring talent and reward them in the process.

I talked to MintMesh’s CEO and co-founder Sunil Chathaveetil to find out more – and share his story with readers of this blog series about the SAP App Center, the SAP digital marketplace where customers can find, download, use and buy solutions directly from SAP partners.

A Personal Network of Contacts as a Tangible Asset

My first question for Sunil: “What’s different about MintMesh?”

“We set out to build the world’s largest referral network,” Sunil said, without a moment’s hesitation. “And we’re doing it by helping people make use of their network of contacts in a positive and productive way, and make that network a tangible asset. A “warm introduction” of a candidate from a friend or colleague can result in hiring about 50% faster than through other channels, which can dramatically reduce the cost to hire. And employee retention is also significantly higher for those who are referred by friends. Yet referral sources are rarely recognized or rewarded in a meaningful way.

“MintMesh changes the equation,” Sunil added, and that point led him directly to describe the thinking behind the MintMesh name. “You have a lifetime of connections to support yourself and your friends. Those contacts are worth a mint as a ‘mesh’ – a network – of connected candidates and employers. MintMesh helps organize them into a talent community and essentially crowd-sources referrals.”

Here’s how it works. The employer creates a job requisition and publishes it via the company’s recruiting application — SAP SuccessFactors Talent Management, for example, although MintMesh is platform-agnostic. The software then syncs directly with the MintMesh mobile app. People within the trusted network of the employer – current employees, contractors, former employees, really anyone in the network – receive immediate notification of the job posting to act upon. The referral sources can use the app to share the job info on their social networks, so it goes viral; the social and professional network becomes one. And it’s simple to attach a resume and send it along via the app or email.

How the “Mesh” is Worth a “Mint”

Meanwhile, the MintMesh app allows the referral sources to earn points by making these introductions. “Employers can get creative about how to give the points value,” Sunil said. “They can offer cash incentives, gift cards, whatever they decide is a good motivator.” Plus, there’s a gamification aspect to it. People can use the app to earn “badges” and move up levels, a feature that’s especially effective in keeping the Millennial generation engaged. “As you use the app and start making referrals, you accrue status points within the community,” Sunil explained. “Being a referrer of note could open more doors for you as a trusted voice of endorsement.”

On the recruiter side, the MintMesh Desktop helps recruiters drive engagement with candidates using a portal that’s like social networking, and individualized for every candidate. Recruiters can track, schedule, email and text candidates from the application to improve their productivity and gain insight into candidate suitability.

I asked Sunil about how MintMesh got started. During his many years working as a consultant specializing in SAP software, he said he became aware of a gap in referral management, which was simply not an area of focus. Recognizing enormous untapped potential, he pooled his experience with two of his colleagues and saw the “white space” in referral management from a different perspective: the costly delays in moving critical projects forward because of a lack of timely staffing. And that is how MintMesh started.

The SAP Connection: “Amazing”

The TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York presented an opportunity to make a direct connection with SAP. Exhibiting at the conference in 2015, the MintMesh team got to talk with a couple of people from SAP who stopped by their booth. At the time, SAP was actively seeking marketable products from partners that could be built on SAP technology and offered on SAP App Center. The match was made.

And how’s that going? “The support from SAP is amazing,” Sunil remarked. “We have regular calls and exchange notes about what’s in the pipeline. And, for example, we just received a request to create sales collateral that the SAP sales team can distribute. It’s by far our best relationship with a partner.”

Bill Rojas is senior director of Digital Transformation and Partner Enablement on the SAP Digital team. Contact him on Twitter | LinkedIn.

Categories: What's New

SAP Predictive Engineering Insights Enables Digital Asset Management

SAP News - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 10:00
WALLDORFSAP SE (NYSE: SAP) has introduced SAP Predictive Engineering Insights, a cloud-based solution that creates virtual equivalents of physical assets to provide real-time, intelligent analysis based on sensor feeds.

Powered by SAP Leonardo, SAP Predictive Engineering Insights replaces the need for physical inspections with ongoing, live “digital inspection” and analysis. It combines a standard engineering methodology for calculating forces, stresses and fatigue based on sensor data with a high-performance 3D engine to provide visualized engineering insights. Customers can increase operational efficiency by connecting real-time engineering insights both to core business processes and to other SAP Leonardo–based asset management solutions, including SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service and SAP Asset Intelligence Network.

“Smart, connected assets are driving efficiency, performance gains and business improvements in a growing number of industries today,” LNS Research fellow Dan Miklovic said. “Making all of this possible is a digital twin that ties together engineering design models, predictive and prescriptive analytics, and collaborative performance and reliability insights. Going forward, companies leveraging these capabilities will be more profitable, and their smart, connected assets will allow them to better service their customers, leading to greater market share.”

SAP Predictive Engineering Insights builds on digital twin technology obtained from SAP’s acquisition of Fedem Technology to maximize the effectiveness of industrial assets by increasing availability and performance. The solution also helps equipment owners use Big Data analytics combined with simulations for live asset performance management. To view the video, visit here.

“This solution delivers on our Industry 4.0 vision for a network of digital twins to help our customers predict and improve asset performance and reliability with engineering insights,” said Hans Thalbauer, senior vice president for IoT and Digital Supply Chain, SAP. “We are enabling a virtual network for secure and distributed systems of record, real-time collaboration across the digital supply chain, new business model delivery and advanced analytics.”

SAP is designing its network of digital twins to synchronize in real time the virtual, physical, conditional and commercial definitions of assets and products. It is intended to help customers accelerate innovation, optimize operating performance conditions, predict service requirements, improve diagnostics and enhance decision-making throughout the value network.

To learn more, visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

Media Contacts:
Jim Dever, SAP, +1 (610) 661-2161, james.dever@sap.com, ET
Kathrin Eiermann, SAP, +49 6227 767029, simone.kathrin.eiermann@sap.com simone.kathrin.eiermann@sap.com, CET

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.
© 2018 SAP SE. All rights reserved.
SAP and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE in Germany and other countries. Please see http://www.sap.com/corporate-en/legal/copyright/index.epx#trademark for additional trademark information and notices.

Categories: What's New

Accenture Appoints Office Managing Directors for Calgary and Vancouver

Accenture News - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 10:00
CALGARY and VANCOUVER; March 26, 2018 – Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has appointed Paul Huizinga as office managing director for Calgary and Andrew Marchant as office managing director for Vancouver, effective immediately.
Categories: What's New

To Infinity and Beyond With SAP

SAP News - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 09:15
SAP not only has two contenders for a spot on the Mars One mission, Aerospace & Defense will also contribute technology to companies involved with current Mars projects that might help them reach the Red Planet and maybe change the world as we know it today.

If you’ve ever read Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff,” where he describes the incredible early beginnings of space travel, you realize that at the dawn of every new epoch, you need people who are brave (or crazy) enough to be the first to venture out into unchartered territory – even at the risk of their own lives.

Back in the 50s, this meant regular jet pilots pushing their machines and their own bodies beyond any limit to reach the edges of our atmosphere, before subsequently being squeezed into small capsules and shot up into space without knowing what exactly would happen. Needless to say that not all of them died of old age.

Jazz Fan, Scientist, Pioneer

Now here we are on the threshold of another epoch in space travel – the journey to Mars. After a period of disinvestment by national aerospace programs, partly due to some serious setbacks like the Challenger disaster, private agencies suddenly cropped up and unleashed a downright race to Mars. And they might be just in time, as the threat of our world’s resources being exhausted leaves us in dire need of alternatives and efficient ways of utilizing what is left. Doing research on Mars and exploring new technologies in this context might give humankind a new lease on life.

What might sound a bit overdramatic to most is actually already evidence for many scientists, like Adriana Marais, who is head of Innovations at SAP South Africa, holds a PhD in Theoretical Physics and deals with such lighthearted topics as quantum cryptography and quantum biology. Her mission is no less than to change the world by treading new scientific ground, which is why she applied for Mars One.

Adriana wasn’t even born into a family of scientists; in fact, she found school boring. When her ambitions to major in jazz music failed, she randomly leafed through the course catalog and chose the major with the most unintelligible definition — physics, which shows that she is definitely one for an adventure, a trait that seems to run in the family, as her ancestors, French Huguenots, escaped to the Netherlands and eventually took a boat to South Africa. Instead of settling for a solid career in research, Adriana chose the prospect of a one-way ticket to space.

“Moments after I decided to apply, a friend and I went to the beach and we talked about whether I’d miss the ocean.” Obviously not that much, as she never had second thoughts, something Adriana considers to be the most important prerequisite to participate in an open-ended mission where the journey itself takes seven months. Empathy is another crucial character trait. “But that’s one of the reasons to go to Mars, to try something new. The models for society, the legal and economic structures will be completely new.”

Mars will definitely also be a big social experiment.

One Small Step for a Hipster, One Giant Step for Mankind

The idea of going to Mars sounds like the whim of quirky entrepreneurs like Bas Lansdorp of Mars One, Tesla founder Elon Musk of SpaceX, and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, with his space agency Blue Origin, of whom at least the latter are not exactly known to be scientists. You just go because you can and because you enjoy pushing the limits. But even though the idea of populating Mars might sound like a giant scheme in self-promotion, it is of far greater significance than anyone can probably assess.

“The research that we’ll be able to do from Mars will have important implications for Earth,” Adriana is convinced. “Climate studies for example — we don’t model Earth’s climate very well, as we only have massive amounts of data from a single planet.”

According to Adriana, we might also learn how to utilize our remaining resources more efficiently, by learning about a material’s behavior on a molecular level within a different environment.

The people going to Mars will have to create their own biosphere, powered by solar energy — a huge challenge in itself. Oxygen has to be generated by splitting hydrogen and oxygen from the soil and water needs to be extracted from the ground. No drop can be wasted. Even the carbon dioxide from the air you breathe or your sweat will be recycled. Plants will have to be grown by moistening their roots, instead of watering them.

“Life on Mars will certainly be characterized by a deep respect for life. Every seed that sprouts its first leaf will be a celebration.” Something we seem to have unlearned here on Earth: “Humans are full of contradictions. They believe that life only exists on Earth, yet they treat Earth with utter disrespect.” Adriana’s biggest dream would be to find evidence for life on Mars, a planet that is still quite unknown. Nobody has ever dug deeper than a few inches.

Asteroids Might Not Kill Us But Be Our Next Resource

Climate change is not our only problem on Earth. We are overpopulated and every cell phone we throw away to buy the latest model contains 11 different precious minerals. Consumerism, nearsightedness, and our current economic system geared toward constant growth and quick profits chew away at Earth’s substance. “We lack long-term vision,” is how Adriana sums it up.

We need innovative ideas, and quickly. One could be a cutting-edge technology that is already heralded as the next trillion dollar industry (yes, even maintaining ourselves has to be profitable): asteroid mining. What sounds like science fiction could be a way to exploit resources, at least for space endeavors, maybe even for our terrestrial industry, without doing any harm, or so one hopes. After all, asteroids are just remnants of exploded stars.

While we only know them as moving targets that extinguish life on earth in movies, this flying debris contains the same materials found on Earth. So, theoretically, you could extract water and precious metals from them. Currently, two companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, officially explore asteroid mining techniques. Leaves us with the tricky question of space legalities. But that’s a different story.

Stargazing Might Make Sense for SAP’s Aerospace & Defense Industry

Other than potentially “sacrificing” two of its employees to the Mars One mission, SAP delivers the technology for many of the companies supporting space projects.

MineRP, a South African company providing software that can immediately calculate the profitability of a mining endeavor based on geology and fluctuating raw material prices, among others, is now running on SAP HANA, which reduces calculation time from months to minutes and closes the gap between technical and financial calculation, making things like asteroid mining a possibility.

The Aerospace & Defense industry provides customers like Lockheed Martin (Mars Basecamp), Boeing (NASA), Sierra Nevada (Dream Catcher spacecraft), United Launch Alliance, and the European Space Agency with the technology needed to handle their infrastructure and analyze Big Data, which is used for advanced satellite technology, launch systems for space rockets, or voice control technology for rocket workers.

SAP Africa is among the state and industry partners involved in a project to set up the world’s biggest telescope that will generate an unbelievable 160 terabytes of data per second. SAP obviously didn’t miss the bandwagon.

Should Adriana pass all upcoming tests and be among the first settlers on Mars, she hopes that her irreversible decision will help to change the planet she is willing to leave behind. If this unprecedented adventure will indeed be a puzzle piece in saving our species, it will be rewarding to know that SAP had some part in this endeavor.

If Adriana had one wish she could leave us with here on Earth, it would be to never stop questioning the world around us: “Otherwise we will arrive in a future that nobody planned, and nobody understands how we got there because we never stopped to think ‘What are we doing?’ Always question everything!”

The SKA (Square Kilometre Array) radio telescope is a “mega-science” project that will bundle many areas of cutting-edge technology to generate unprecedented amounts of data. Thousands of radio antennas in Africa and Australia will enable scientists to “take a listen” into deep space and gain a better understanding of how our galaxy was formed. It might also help us to learn more about dark energy and dark matter, and maybe even catch signals from life in outer space.100 organizations from 20 countries are helping to design and implement this program which should be completed in 2030.

Top image: Kate Shaw

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