For the SAP ecosystem, the 2013 conference and tradeshow season is in full swing. Here at SAPinsider, we just wrapped up our third batch of co-located conferences in Las Vegas and we're gearing up for our European SCM/CRM, HR, and BI/FIN/GRC/Admin events in Prague and Amsterdam. In between, many of us will shoot down to that little shindig in Orlando, the SAPPHIRE Now and ASUG annual conference in May.
I'm getting frequent flier miles just thinking about it. Whether you're an SAP employee, customer, partner, or influencer, you've probably bought a plane ticket somewhere in the past couple months.
But for those of you who couldn't make it to our US-based events this spring (or even those that could but couldn't catch the keynote presentations -- they were, after all, bright and early in Las Vegas) we've done you a favor and posted the keynote presentations here on the Insider Learning Network. Access to these keynote videos is free for all members of the Insider Learning Network.
Click here to watch the HR 2013 keynote "The Digital Transformation of People Management" featuring Debra D’Agostino, Editorial Director of Thought Leadership for Oxford Economics, and David Ludlow, SAP Group Vice President for Line of Business Solutions – HR
And as a reminder, if you did attend any of these events in person, you can download all of the presentation slides here on the Insider Learning Network. Just login and click on the "conference materials" button on the right.
The good news? The majority of companies are using social technology in their enterprise, a recognition that, as a technology, it's being taken far more seriously than it was a few years ago.
The bad news? Most companies aren't getting all they can out of social technology. According to Gartner, over the next three years, "80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology."
And McKinsey's take on the matter is only a few percentage points brighter. "While 72 percent of companies use social technologies in some way, very few are anywhere near to achieving the full potential benefit," McKinsey says, but at least emphasizes the upside. "In fact, the most powerful applications of social technologies in the global economy are largely untapped."
The ugly news? The IT organization might have some adapting to do if companies want to truly leverage social technologies. Because when you analyze some of the roadblocks between implementing a social technology and gaining its true value, the first thing you realize is you don't "implement" social technology at all. As Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell points out, by their very nature social applications are different. Their goals are different, their users are different and the method in which you select and share (not "deploy") them must be different. And when you consider that aspect, the traditional IT organization might not be the right organization to champion and roll out social technology.
"Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a 'push' paradigm," says Rozwell. "Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a 'pull' approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can't be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in."
(By the way, this infographic also provides some good data on the other roadblocks -- including where IT apathy ranks on the list.)
It's important to note that we're not talking about endorsing a shadow IT program here. McKinsey's Jacques Bughin makes this point in this HBR blog post by warning you can't "let a skunkworks social-media project get so far outside the mainstream that it can't make effective use of common platforms and other resources." (Bughin's post also highlights a couple great examples of how companies are effectively leveraging social technology in the enterprise).
But IT will need to relinquish some of the control it typically wields and let business-side users dictate the direction of social initiatives and even the selection of applications. Because the value of social comes from...well, socialization. People. Users. And a lot of them.
McKinsey sums it up well: "Ultimately, the power of social technologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the technologies themselves."
Over the course of the past month, we here at the Insider Learning Network have been interviewing some of the most knowledgeable SAP analysts and consultants in various areas of SAP to help you get an inside look at what to expect in 2013.
In late November our senior writer Ken Murphy interviewed Nucleus Research Vice President Rebecca Wettemann about the evolution of CRM and social collaboration. Listen to the podcast here to find out what you can expect in CRM.
Richard Hunt of Turnkey Consulting gave me his insights on what SAP GRC users can expect in 2013, including the possible role of SAP HANA in GRC and the development of some fraud management functionality SAP has referenced in 2012. Take a listen here.
Kellie Fitzpatrick of Symphony Management Consulting gave us the inside scoop on what SAP HCM users can expect to see in the new year. She discussed what areas of functionality SAP HCM users are considering putting in the cloud, which are the target areas for SuccessFactors integration, and how cost issues will drive the move to the cloud for SAP HCM users in 2013. Hear the full interview with Kellie here.
Who better than Dr. Berg to provide a glimpse into what SAP users can expect to see from the SAP BI and HANA perspective? He talks with our own BI guru Scott Wallask in this must-hear podcast.
In procurement, SAP users are eager to know the long-term benefits of this year's Ariba acquisition. To get the insider's perspective I interviewed SAP mentor Prashant Mendki here. While he agrees there are still a lot of question marks, Mendki says "In the short-term, SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (PI) and SAP Information Interchange OnDemand will definitely play a larger role at the technological integration level." Read more in the Q&A here.
And to get a broader supply chain perspective, I went to analyst (and former SAP employee) Bob Ferrari of Ferrari Consulting and Research Group. "In our view, supply chain organizations must embrace and augment capabilities surrounding resiliency and responsiveness in 2013," he told me in this exclusive interview, in addition to touching on the value of data and predictive decision-making in supply chain.
And last, but certainly not least, SAP Experts managing editor Scott Priest provided his own predictions, saying "For SAP, I think their focus will be less on acquisition (at least, on acquistions of the size of Ariba) and more on continuing to get their message out there. SAP will look to show more and more successful HANA implementations." Read the rest of his post here.
As always, we welcome your feedback. The Insider Learning Network is meant to be a forum for sharing ideas, opinions, and even predictions. You can post comments on any of these posts or put your own predictions up.
And above all, here's to a healthy and successful 2013 for all of us!
That was the way an IT contact I spoke with recently described the end users' enthusiastic reaction to its implementation of a new SAP application. Users were surprised by how much more they could do with the data they had available.
It's not the first time I've heard that type of phrase to describe the reaction from business users -- pleasantly surprised about what they could do with their new application. But after giving it some thought, I realized that might not be the reaction you want from business users. Why? Because it indicates that that users aren't thinking about how they can leverage data -- regardless of technology -- to its fullest potential. It means that only when the IT organization (and perhaps a high-level business leader) forced a new application at their users did the users start to see the value of their data.
If I were a CIO and I had just spent $x million to roll out a new application to hundreds of users, I'd want to hear people say "Now I can execute on those business initiatives I had planned but were being held back by poor visibility or technology." I'd want to know this new solution is exactly what the business has been looking for and not a surprise present delivered to them without their asking.
Is this unrealistic? No. In fact, a recent story in insiderPROFILESdescribes how Vodafone did this. The company's SAP ERP implementation was driven by clear business goals -- they knew what they didn't know and they knew what they needed to know it. The project head was a former business CFO, not an IT manager. And a business committee had final say on any scope or process change during the implementation. The result is an ERP implementation that is very closely mapped to Vodafone's business priorities and processes. No surprises--just well-planned technology selection followed by expected benefits.
So the next time your users are surprised at the benefits a new IT project brings, ask yourself if those are the benefits your organization really wanted or just a "happy accident" along the way?
No matter what your role in business, you've probably been told in some way, shape, or form that "the customer is always right." But let's face it -- it's not true. In fact, some customers are just a pain in the neck. You know the ones I'm talking about. No matter how hard you work or how much attention you give them, it's just not enough. They constantly change their mind. They hem and haw over the most minor details. They distract you from your larger or more loyal customers. And in the end, sometimes they wind up buying from your competitor instead.
It's maddening. We've all fallen victim to it at some point. And you know what? It's bad for business. In the time you spend serving that one customer, you could have served many other customers and brought in more money to your business. It's a resource drain. And in fact, in some cases, you may be losing money by serving that customer, depending on the cost to revenue ratio.
But what do you do about it? Do you analyze that ratio to decide if this customer is costing your company too much? Do you "fire" the customer? Or do you do take the "any money is good money" mentality and bend over backwards for these customers on the job (and probably scream about it at the top of your lungs in the car on your way home)?
Well there is a solution. (Both a "solution" in the traditional sense as in a concept to solve a problem and a "solution" in the SAP sense). The concept is called customer stratification and it's pretty much what it sounds like. You analyze your customers, group them into categories and then determine how much time and effort you should devote to each group to improve your company's profitability. Although it's not as simple as that.
For example, some customers may be something of a resource drain and spend very little with your company today, but they may have big potential in the future so the effort may pay off down the line (assuming your vocal cords survive those rides home). And determining the right amount of effort to dedicate to those customers today requires some true analysis.
So how do I know so much about customer stratification? The concept was explained to me in great detail by John Mansfield, Vice President of Business Development at industrial distributor Graybar, who just happens to be the cover story in the latest issue of insiderPROFILES. Graybar was introduced to the concept of customer stratification when a company executive read a groundbreaking piece of research compiled by Texas A&M and published by the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. From there, customer stratification became a companywide initiative including detailed training and technology development.
In fact, Graybar didn't simply buy into the concept of customer stratification as a way to improve profitability -- the company leveraged the data in its SAP ERP to gain real-tiem insight and is now co-innovating a new solution suite with SAP, which is powered by SAP HANA.
It's a unique and intriguing concept for many industries to consider. And frankly, the timing couldn't be better, as companies in all industries continue to seek to improve profits with limited resources.
And, oh, one more thing: it works both ways. Somewhere, right now, one of your suppliers may be considering your company in its customer stratification model and putting you into a box. So you might want to take a look internally to make sure you're not on the "resource drain" list as a customer as well.