Saturday, August 31, 2013

GROW - Why Brand Ideals Matter For Businesses And Individuals

I recently started listening to the book GROW - How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies. The author Jim Stengel argues that companies that have a larger purpose than just increasing shareholder value grow three time faster than others. Some of the companies he discusses are performing not so well now-a-days. BlackBerry and HP are good examples of such companies. That makes me think that ideals also need to evolve with time. What a company stood for 30 years back may not be relevant today.

Like most marketing professionals, he believes that a business is all about its brand. Despite all those limitations, his insight into the value of brands and ideals is useful to listen too.

I think brand ideals matter for individuals too. Having a larger purpose for everything I do and having a certain reputation certainly helps me at work. Investing in building such an individual brand ideal and conveying that to others is worth the effort.

SAP Jam Helps Your Create A Learning Marketplace

In their ground breaking book titled 'A Pattern Language", Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein  say that "Concentrated cloistered universities, with closed administration policies and rigid procedures which dictate who may teach a course, kill opportunities for learning". To me this sounds a lot like today's corporate learning management systems.

The authors of  "A Pattern Language"  go on to say that "The original universities in the middle ages were simply collections of teachers who attracted students because they had something to offer. They were marketplaces of ideas, located all over town, where people could shop around for the ideas and learning that made sense to them".

This to me sounds a lot like SAP Jam which breaks rigid barriers to learning and opens up the flow of knowledge. Any employee who has anything valuable to share can do so via a document, a blog post or a video. Any employee who is looking for learning opportunities can search for the right content and the right teacher. This design of SAP Jam is not an accident. The design team of SAP Jam has learning in its DNA. A lot of these features, particularly the video based sharing and learning features came from a product called Jambok which was created by a company co-founded my colleague Karie Willyerd, the former Chief Learning Officer of Sun Microsystems.

If you want to create a vibrant learning marketplace that unleashes learning and collaboration in your organization, consider SAP Jam. It will be one of the best learning investments you make.

Friday, August 30, 2013

People Watched Tutorial Videos For About 2 Minutes

For about five years now I have been posting tutorial videos on YouTube. I primarily post to YouTube so that I can embed those videos in my blog posts. When I explored that analytics recently, I found an interesting statistic. Almost all viewers watch the education videos I post for about 2 minutes.

I find this data very interesting because, for a while I have been trying to find out  the optimum duration for an educational video posted in an informal learning tool such as SAP Jam. When I asked my colleagues who watch the videos I post on Jam they told me that 7 minutes was a good time. But it evident from the analytics below that people consistently watched the videos I posted for about 2 minutes. The style of presentation and the type of  content I post internally in SAP Jam is similar to the ones I post on YouTube. They are all educational in nature. This might be an interesting input for all the SAP Jam customers.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gerbera Daisies In A Wine Carafe

I bought some daisies yesterday. Had to put them in a wine carafe because of their long stems. Made a pretty picture. Used different pencils to draw the stems. You can notice that the stems near the flower are dark. The portion of the stems behind the glass are light and the portion of the stems behind the glass and water are lighter. The more I sketch, the more I realize that sketching involves a lot of conscious decision making. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cloud Will Make Software Affordable & Help Grow The World Economy

When I first moved to the San Franscisco Bay Area from Minneapolis, I was put up in the DigitalThink corporate apartments in Jack London Square in Oakland, California. I could see the container ships load and unload at the Oakland port from the water front. It was interesting to see huge ships dock at the port and cranes go to work to unload the ship and load them again within hours.

What surprised me was the lack of people involved in the whole operation. I could hardly see any people in the dock. I wondered what happened to all the longshoremen who loaded and unloaded the ships and the waterfront culture we have read about in stories and have seen in movies. The Oakland docs were a bit boring in my opinion.

Longshoremen at Noon by John George Brown. Courtesy :
So when I ran into the book "The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger" by Marc Levinson, I picked it up and read it.

Mr. Levinson talks about the culture of the docks, which where in the middle of the great cities of the world like New York, San Francisco and Rotterdam. The longshoremen earned above average wages, even though work was dangerous and had unpredictable hours. They had to load and unload ships manually and the process was the most expensive part of the transportation cost.

The standardized container gradually eliminated this inefficiency and, after 20 years of legal and unions struggles, became the standard way to ship cargo around the world. This reduced shipping costs significantly,  made goods cheaper, created jobs in many parts of the world and grew the world economy.

But at the same time, docks did not need as many longshoremen. Factories did not have to be located near ports. Ports moved away from city centers to cheaper locations and the culture of longshoremen was transformed from brawny risk takers to high skilled very well paid machine operators.

When I read the book, I could not help think about the many similarities between longshoremen and the millions of information technology workers in the world. The tasks of corporate information technology teams that spend most of their time, installing and maintaining software will be shifted to few data centers around the world and will be made significantly more efficient than today by cloud technology. Corporations will still need high skilled information technology workers. But their jobs will be to perform tasks that make a corporation competitive, not just keep the software running.

The cloud is not just making things efficient. It used to be that only large companies of the world could afford enterprise software because of the cost associated with it. Cloud software is changing that. Cloud software is making enterprise software affordable to  millions of organizations that could not afford them before. A small company can rent the best people management software or the best mobile device management software for a few dollars per user per month. This is going to create opportunities for millions of people in every country in the world. This will grow the world economy and improve the standard of living for many.

The Future Of Management By Gary Hamel

I listened to the book 'The Future of Management' by Gary Hamel recently. In the book, Gary Hamel talks about companies that have defied conventional management practices and succeeded. One of the companies he talks about is a Brazilian company called Semco. I read the book written by Ricardo Semler, the CEO of Semco in 1996. His management approach influenced my thinking while I was at LearningByte.

In the book, Gary Hamel argues that management innovation is the most sustainable competitive advantage. More sustainable than product innovation and technology innovation.

Worth a read. Highly recommend it.

Orchids In A Pot

Friday, August 23, 2013

Who Are SAP Mentors And What Do They Do?

There is an SAP Mentor Monday session on SuccessFactors scheduled for August 26th, 2013. If you are wondering who SAP Mentors are and what they do, you can listen to Chief Community Evangelist Mark Finnern talk about who SAP Mentors are, what they do and what the purpose of the SAP Mentor program is.

Sapanese For The SuccessFactors Community - PI

Sapanese For The SuccessFactors Community - HANA

LinkedIn Is Getting Almost As Good As Twitter For Sharing

A few years back when I wanted to share a link with a larger audience who cares about what I write, I used to rely only on twitter. Some time back I integrated my Blogger and LinkedIn accounts so that all my blog posts on blogger will be automatically posted on LinkedIn.

I realized something very interesting. My professional network in LinkedIn, was sometimes very interested in what I had to say. Not only the first degree connection but also the second degree connections. LinkedIn analytics is starting to get better. I can see the reach of my posts within my first degree connections, my second degree connections and beyond.

I was surprised to notice that there were more views from 2nd degree and third degree connections compared to first degree connections. Will be interesting to see where LinkedIn takes this analytics feature.

Circles indicate first second and third degree connections

Sapanese For The SuccessFactors Community - MSS

Sapanese For The SuccessFactors Community - ESS

Sapanese For The SuccessFactors Community - ECC

Sapanese for the SuccessFactors Community - LSO

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

SuccessFactors for SAP Customers - The SAP Mentors Perspective

Since SuccessFactors became an SAP company, hundreds of organizations have adopted SuccessFactors talent solutions for their talent management needs. Many such customers have also adopted SuccessFactors Employee Central for their employee administration needs. SAP has announced an integration strategy and road map to help customers get the best out of both SuccessFactors and SAP applications.

Several SAP HCM Mentors and experienced SuccessFactors experts have been advising customers on the adoption and implementation of SuccessFactors solutions. They face real world problems and provide practical advice to customers on how to make their move to the cloud.

We are planning a session, as part of the SAP Mentor Mondays series, to bring some of these experts together for a valuable conversation.

Session Date : Monday August 26th from 9.00 a.m. PST to 10.00 a.m. PST.  No registration required.
Web Conference Link :
Phone Conference  Information  +1-866-312-7353  Participant Passcode:  170 133 7730
Phone conference information for all countries is at

Session Details
In this session a few SAP Mentors and experts will share their experience advising customers on adopting SuccessFactors solutions. They will also bring their implementation insight to table and discuss how they approached the implementation.

1. SuccessFactors Employee Central expert Jyoti Sharma will share her experience implementing Employee Central and connecting it to on-premise systems. Jyoti works for SAP and SuccessFactors partner EPI-USE. EPI-USE has completed over 12 SuccessFactors implementations in the areas of SuccessFactors Recruiting, Succession Planning, Performance Goals and Employee Central.

2. SAP HCM Mentor, Luke Marson will talk about his experience implementing SuccessFactors Employee Central for an SAP customer.

Jyoti Sharma and Luke Marson are the co-authors of the upcoming book, SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM.

3. SAP HCM and SuccessFactors expert, Venki Krishnamoorthy will talk about his experience implementing SuccessFactors Learning and connecting it with SAP ERP HCM.

4. SAP HCM and SuccessFactors expert Kellie Fitzpatrick, will share her experience helping customers move their human capital management applications to the cloud. She will share the stories of how some of her customers are making their move to the cloud and the decisions they had to make. Kellie is the CEO of SAP and SuccessFactors partner Symphony Consulting. Symphony Consulting has completed over 20 SuccessFactors implementations in the areas of Performance and Goals, Learning, Compensation, Succession,Recruiting and Employee Central.

5. SAP Mentor Jarret Pazahanick will join the conversation and share his insight.

6. SAP Expert Sharon Newton is kicking off an Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll implementation. She will bring her thoughts on how she approached the implementation to the conversation. Sharon is the CEO of SAP and SuccessFactors partner hyperCision.

7. SAP Mentor Prashanth Padmanabhan will kick of the session with a short update on the deployment options for SuccessFactors customers.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Master Data Integration iFlow Replaces 10 Custom Integrations

A few days back I had a conversation with Mr. Bill Kutik about the SAP SuccessFactors integration strategy and road map. I mentioned to him that the single master data integration iFlow supports the following SuccessFactors applications.
  • Goals, 
  • Performance, 
  • Workforce Planning, 
  • Succession, 
  • Analytics, 
  • Compensation, 
  • Learning
  • Recruiting, 
  • Onboarding 
  • SAP Jam
He observed that this one iFlow, which is a standard integration, replaces the need for 10 custom integrations for a customer who chooses to go with the SuccessFactors suite of applications. He asked me to make the arrow big and thick enough to convey the point. I did so.

If we were to put a conservative cost of about $50,000 per integration for building and maintenance over the period of the software, that translates to about $500,000 in savings.

If all the 12,000 SAP ERP HCM customers use this integration to connect to SuccessFactors, the integration has the potential to eliminate $ 6 Billion in integration costs. Not bad for a single integration. My colleagues who built the integration should be very proud of their work. I highlighted the integration in the road map diagram above.

After I shared this on twitter Naomi Bloom said that this is well done. I had to post it here.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Beyond Collaboration - Empowerment

Product managers of social collaboration products talk about improving productivity and enabling relationships. However they rarely talk about the role a social collaboration tool can play in empowering employees. Social collaboration tools have the power to bring out the inner entrepreneur in every employee.

When a social collaboration tool such as SAP Jam is deployed in an organization, it provides employees with a platform to showcase their work to a set of audience that cares about their work.  When my colleagues started using SAP Jam I suggested that they all treat their product pages like their store front. Many of them did so with enthusiasm. They got to display their wares. They found out who is visiting their pages. They got feedback about their work from those who actually cared about their work. They understood the popularity of their work or the lack thereof. Their internal customers started finding them directly and reaching out to them. Then I noticed something interesting. Those who took advantage of SAP Jam had better visibility within the company and got better projects and job opportunities within the company.

José Villegas Cordero - The Slipper Merchant 
Even though it is not the stated intention, technologies play an important role in disrupting status quo and bringing about positive change. Mobile phones did that to fishermen in India by cutting out middlemen. iTunes did that to music. Netflix is doing that to television. Craig's List did that to classified Ads. Amazon did that to Borders. The casuality of SAP Jam and other collaboration tools, in my opinion, will be the corporate middle manager. If your only expertise is supervising people, you should be scared. Very scared.

Using LinkedIn To Research Expertise In An Organization

We all know that LinkedIn is very useful for recruiters to find talent. LinkedIn can also be of help when you research customers and partners. For example, before I talk to customers about the SAP SuccessFactors solutions, I spend the time learning about their landscape. For example if I search for "SAP PI" and "Customer Name" in LinkedIn, I get a fairly good idea of their SAP PI expertise. I also search for other integration technology names to find out if they use other technologies. For example "BizTalk" and "Customer Name" gives me a pretty good idea about their usage of such technologies. If I need to understand the version of software they are in I search for "EhP5" and "Customer Name". Such quick searches sometimes save me several days of work and multiple email communications.

When I talk to customers, I openly tell them that I did this search and found out that they have expertise in these areas. Customers appreciate the fact I did my homework and add more insight. If I am wrong they correct me and provide additional information. It makes the conversation center around my customer's problems rather than the products my company wants to sell. It works. Give it a try.

This is a result based on a quick search I did about SAP customer and partner Infosys.

SAP HANA Cloud Platform For SuccessFactors

SuccessFactors cloud applications can be augmented by building cloud applications from scratch using the HANA Cloud Platform. Here is my colleague Aaron Au talking about it. There is a short demo of a sample application as well.

I believe that this is good news for customers who want to build custom applications to meet their needs and for partners who want to build a business creating applications for customers.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

SAP Jam Can Enable Management Innovation In an Organization

Earlier in my career at LearningByte, I created and sold elearning content for a living. The business of learning content creation and administration was very lucrative. Our revenue was about $14MM and we were valued at about $60MM when we sold the company. I am glad that there was no SAP Jam at that time. Our company would not have been viable had Jam been around.

Multimedia content creation was expensive.
Content creation was expensive, time consuming and beyond the reach of mere mortals. In those days only the high priests in the training department could have access to content creation tools. If a subject matter expert wants to create content, she needs to rely on the training content development team or pay a vendor over $ 30,000 to create an hour of learning content. The process took months and cost a lot of money.

Sharing content with a large audience to influence their thinking was near impossible.
The high lords of the learning management team need to approve your content and then another team needs to enroll users and market the content. By the time the content reached the audience, the content was stale, irrelevant and brought little value for the consumers of that content. Learning roll out was so difficult, that roll out of a good learning program got people promoted in an organization.

While emailing content to a specific audience was possible, the nature of the technology did not encourage people to share content widely and frequently. Email was also sees as an intrusive tool.

Such barriers ensured that learning and information sharing in an organization was hierarchical and top down. If you are not a cost center owner with a lot of money to spare, spreading ideas and influencing others was near impossible. With SAP Jam, these barriers are eliminated. Content creation tools, such as video creation tools, that used to cost hundreds of dollars per user per year are now available to every employee in an organization for practically no cost.

Content sharing and tracking technologies that used to cost hundreds of dollars per user per year are now a standard part of SAP Jam. You might think that SAP Jam is a good cost saving tool. That is true. SAP Jam provides the same value provided by a collection of tools that used to cost tens of millions of dollars per year.

Image courtesy
However, I believe that the true benefit is not cost savings. The true benefit is the way SAP Jam democratizes content creation and establishes a meritocracy within any organization that uses Jam. It breaks down barriers between teams and enables connections that were otherwise unthinkable. Any organization that uses Jam will see its organization model move from a hierarchy to a lattice. Such a change can bring about management innovation that fits your organization and help create a competitive advantage that is hard for competitors to replicate.

This management innovation is not going to be without friction. Any innovation will cause friction. This will disrupt entire departments, management structures, information flow and ultimately the way the entire organization functions. 

Taxis In Prague

Prague has a wonderful mix of the new and the old. Where ever you turn you see modern amenities in harmony with the old architecture. This a sketch of Taxis parked on a cobble stone street. You can see some street car cables on the top. I might spend some more time to finish the cobble stones later.

Sapanese for the SuccessFactors Community - EhP

Sapanese for the SuccessFactors Community - ERP

I have started work on a short book on SAP terminology specific to SuccessFactors. This is an excerpt from the work. Let me know what you think.

For many months now, I have seen my colleagues, customers, and partners in the SuccessFactors community get very anxious when they hear SAP terms. To mitigate their anxiety, I identified the terms they are most likely to hear, wrote an over-simplified definition of what the term means and shared it with them during my discussions with them. It worked. They do not panic as much as they used to. Some even mastered the terminology and sound like pros now-a-days.


“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”  - Mark Twain

It would have been easier to put together a long list of all the SAP terms and their explanations for people in the SuccessFactors community. But I did not want to take that route. I listened to the conversations in the community for over a year and picked the most relevant terms. The purpose of this short book is to familiarize my colleagues, partners and customers in the SuccessFactors community with SAP terms that they may hear from the SAP community. My intention is not to make you an SAP expert or to cover all the SAP terms you may hear. My intention is to pick the terms you are most likely to hear and explain it in the context of a conversation about SuccessFactors products.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Drawing a Big Picture For the Customer Helps More Than A Presentation

When proposing cloud or hybrid solutions to customers, I have learned that it helps to keep all your presentations aside and draw their future solution for them in conversation with them. When I get a chance, I construct the big picture in conversation with them in real time in a face to face workshop. A good understanding of the customers' current solution and their desired end state is a prerequisite.

Time and again when our pursuit teams conducted such sessions, we ended up with a happy customer and an even happier sales team. If you are a cloud product management, product marketing or solution consulting team, I highly recommend that you set aside your detailed presentations and try this approach. I call this methodology the solution architecture workshop.

Monday, August 05, 2013

10 SAP Terms People In the SuccessFactors Ecosystem Should Know

In early 2012 when my SuccessFactors colleagues spoke to SAP customers, they sometimes got thoroughly confused by the terms used by SAP colleagues, customers and partners. I told them that there is no need to panic and all they need to know is 10 terms to get a grasp of the conversation of an SAP team.

In most cases they did not even need to know what the words meant. They just need to be familiar with the word to recognize that it is an SAP term and they need to talk to an SAP HCM colleague. It worked out fine. Now-a-days, most SuccessFactors colleagues can recognize Sapanese, even if they are not fluent in them. These are the 10 terms we picked.

The explanations are oversimplified. Some of my SAP colleagues were even mildly annoyed with me for such over simplification. If there is enough interest, I might even publish a longer version as a book.


Adam Sells SuccessFactors Talent Solutions To SAP HCM Customers

Every month, in the SuccessFactors sales boot camp, I speak to a set of new SuccessFactors regional sales managers about the value of SuccessFactors solutions to SAP ERP HCM customers and the opportunity in front of them. I point out to them that while customers love the SuccessFactors solutions, it is important to explain to them how SuccessFactors applications and SAP ERP HCM applications can work together. I also talk about how, using the standard integrations available, customers can start using any SuccessFactors applications in conjunction with their SAP ERP HCM applications.

Rather than use standard slides I had promised them to create customized content that is tailored to their needs. I finally got around to doing that this week. I will post this content to HCM Exchange jam group and the partner exchange Jam group in the next few days. If you are a colleague or a partner and want a copy to review, please leave a comment and I might be able to share.

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