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Will SAP HANA Lead to a Big Data Revolution?

December 17th, 2012 by

SAP HANA – Big Data

Lots of folks focus on HANA as a competitor to Oracle, and it is.  Even if HANA adoption and sales were to completely devastate SAP’s biggest competitor (Oracle) that would not be HANA’s biggest impact–, the HANA product has the potential to disrupt entire industries in the context of Big Data.

Unlike Big Data, I’ve been skeptical about the benefits and use of social media in the enterprise, writing about it in Why Social Media Marketing Success Is Elusive for Business and Social Media Fads and the Risk to the Enterprise.  On the other hand, Big Data hasn’t gotten anywhere near the attention even though it has a fairly clear business case.  Big Data has the capability to transform enterprises, organizations, and even entire industries.  We are not talking about abstract “build it and they will come” theories here either.  We are talking about a revolution in the way business is done.

Big Data will have huge impacts on customers, products, even whole regions of the world.  What do I mean when I refer to Big Data?

BIG DATA:  The ability to analyze large volumes of both structured data (like transactional data streams) AND unstructured data (social media, industry information, news trends, etc.) leading to market makers and market losers across virtually all industries.

This ability to synthesize structured and unstructured data streams with technology advances WILL transform companies and industries.
 
Over the next 5 – 10 years:

  • Computing power will continue to grow.
  • High speed memory processing (like in SSD drives) will improve.
  • Massive memory storage will come down in price.
  • In-memory database technologies will mature.

This “perfect storm” of Big Data know-how and technology advances will lead to the ability to identify:

  •  Subtle and even unknown market segments.
  •  Market and sales trends.
  •  Customer sentiments, needs, and wants.
    • Leading to new product or service opportunities.
  • Competitor strengths or weaknesses.
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Big Data will be part of the ERP iii [FN1] technology innovation driving customer focus related to customer acquisition, customer retention, and marketplace performance.  Big Data represents a business transformation shift in how business will be done in the future–, it represents a potential seismic shift in business performance in the marketplace.

The Big Data Revolution

The struggles are the semantics in how to synthesize the information and filter the nuggets from the noise.  Big Data allows you to understand what the keys are in terms of words, concepts, and ideas.  It then allows you to synthesize those keys with the various data sources.
 
In other words, how do you take the product sales information (transactional data), customer demographics (transactional), corporate market knowledge (unstructured internal), key word search (semi-structured internal and external such as with Google or Bing), with marketplace intelligence (unstructured external, including external social media), and innovate new or existing products and services?  That is the challenge that some folks are beginning to work on today.  That is the challenge that SAP’s HANA product enables for the future enterprise. 

Big Data means “Business Intelligence” will finally become, well, intelligent!

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[FN1]  For more information on ERP 3 see this comprehensive ERP treatise ERP vs. ERP II vs. ERP III Future Enterprise Applications.

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3 Development Phases for SAP Center of Excellence Maturity

May 14th, 2012 by
SAP CoE Maturity

SAP CoE Maturity

Before we get into the substance of HOW TO build a next generation IT organization that is integrated with business a quick review is in order.

Last week’s post on SAP Service Provider to Business Peer Through Center of Excellence Maturity proposed the direct maturity of the SAP IT organization.  The key principle is there are three stages or strata of Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization These stages create clear distinctions between SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery

This week is an overview of the development and maturity details to use SAP as a Change Enabler through SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership.  Please keep in mind this organizational development overview is just one component of the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence.  The need to continue your Steering Committee Governance for an SAP Center of Excellence cannot be ignored.  Properly formed and instituted your SAP steering committee is a key enabler for business to IT convergence. 

To achieve SAP IT Convergence Beyond Business to IT Alignment requires a senior leader change champion to make this a deliberate and accountable effort.  This is not intended to be a theoretical discussion but instead it is an action plan.  The entire initiative is as a project and needs a project plan, deliverables, key milestones, assigned resources, etc.   All of the structure and processes will need to be defined within your IT organization to move this forward.

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 1 – Internal Focus on IT Operations (Service Provider)

Internal focus is an “all hands on deck” effort.  If internal focus, or basic IT service delivery is suffering then everyone within the IT organization must work to ensure your systems are meeting business needs.  You will not gain enough trust of the business community to become a partner or peer until the basic infrastructure works. Some of the key development in this phase includes:

  • A skills matrix
  • IT staff training and development plans
  • Clear SLA requirements
  • Consistent and regular feedback and coaching

Typical activities for service delivery include:

  • Help desk functions
  • Data maintenance
  • Security and authorizations
  • Technical infrastructure (servers, system performance, database maintenance, network, etc)
  • System access (desktop, remote, mobile, etc).
  • Hardware procurement
  • Knowledge (information) base development (Wikis, SharePoint, collaboration tools, etc.)
  • Knowledge transfer to the user community (formal and informal training)
  • Super user development

Skills development focuses on SAP or technical domain competence

  • Application module specialties (SD, MM, PP, SRM, CRM, FI, APO, BObj, etc)
  • Programming languages (ABAP, Java, PHP, etc.)
  • Infrastructure (Cisco, routers, VOIP, IPv6, DHCP, LDAP, etc.)
  • SAP Solution Manager use
  • Effective presentation skills

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 2 – SAP IT Integration With the Broader Business Enterprise (Business Partner)

At this stage, depending on the size of your SAP or IT organization, there are 2 levels of leadership here: 1) delivery management, and 2) process management while developing methodologies, tools, templates, and controls.  A key part of the process management is the development of KPI indexes.  Typical activities for business (enterprise) integration include:

  • Requirements gathering
  • Blueprinting
  • System & solution architecture
  • Business case development (cost and value)
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Subject matter expert training
  • Super user training
  • KPI and PPI* development with analytics
  • Project management
  • Team and project leadership
  • Basic supervisory tasks
  • Mentoring, coaching, and staff development
  • Budget adherence
  • Sourcing and supplier management
  • SAP Solution Manager setup and maintenance for project delivery as well as BPM

Skills development focuses on project delivery and management.

  • Facilitation, meeting, and time management skills
  • Project management (training and certification)
  • Managing conflict
  • Supervisory & leadership
  • Negotiation skills
  • Organizational Change Management
  • Total Quality Management
  • Business Process modeling

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 3 – Strategic Development Around the Marketplace and Competitors (Business Peer)

Split development track for leaders – 1) product or service engineering support (i.e. the “innovation” track) or 2) sales and marketing (i.e. customer focus).  Typical activities for value added strategic technology convergence include:

  • BPI* development and analytics
  • Marketplace analytics with solution proposals
  • Customer analytics with solution proposals
  • Value analysis – ROI assessment and benefit compliance
  • Cost analysis – TCO assessment and cost savings
  • Business case review for strategic fit
  • Technology roadmap for system & solution architecture
  • System architecture integration with business process management
  • Program management
  • Program & project budget development
  • Project audits / QA’s
  • Mentoring, coaching, and development of level 2 participants
  • Vendor management

Skills development focuses on business drivers, marketplace competitive pressures, sales, and senior leadership.

  • Advertising principles
  • Business statistics
  • Market research
  • Sales management
  • International marketing
  • Sales models
  • Organizational development
  • Coaching and leadership
  • Delegation
  • Strategic planning

Conclusion on SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development

This analysis provides a framework for development of a world class, fully integrated SAP IT organization.  However, this framework only scratches the surface of a much broader and more important topic–, Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization.

Communication is One Key to Business and IT Integration

One of the most critical components of a change management program is not listed above in any of the bullet points – developing communication channels.  Maybe this is naïve of me but I would expect that actively and aggressively developing clear and open lines of communication between IT at all levels with the business would be assumed.  Developing an overall communication program and plans is a basic part of any change management initiative.

There is a significant amount of additional guidance for developing your SAP Center of Excellence in the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence.  A systematic approach, including key milestones to measure progress against are important elements to success.  To that end I hope this framework contributes to the dialog and direction of future SAP IT organization maturity.

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* An upcoming post in the future will look in detail at this concept of “KPI, PPI, and BPI” as Key Performance Indicators, Process Performance Indicators, and then finally Business Performance Indicators.




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Creating a Knowledge Centered Learning Organization

April 16th, 2012 by
R3Now Knowledge Management

R3Now Knowledge Management

This is a continuation of Business Transformation for IT Leadership and is part of a journey around Organizational Change Management Inside the IT Support Organization .  To achieve an active, vibrant, knowledge-sharing learning organization requires some baseline understanding of what your goals are.  You need a culture that produces, organizes, disseminates, applies, and then refines information (see the image to the left).

This leads me to the next key point of which few people who call themselves “knowledge managers” have much understanding of –, information management is NOT knowledge management.  But both information management AND knowledge management are critical components of a learning organization.   

Information is the vehicle, knowledge is the destination

What is Knowledge?

Knowledge is the application of information, in a particular context, coupled with experience -–, it is NOT in some system.   Information is stored in systems, knowledge is stored in people.  Bill Wood, 2006.

Creating a Knowledge Centered Learning Organization is Really Exciting! (In the Sales Material)

Lots of folks get excited about the idea and even the prospects of creating a learning organization.  Achieving a vibrant learning organization with a knowledge sharing culture can reap huge rewards for a company’s competitive position in the marketplace.

Even the Harvard Business Review has gotten on board and sells a few “knowledge products” of their own.  Their pitch suggests that creating a learning organization leads to competitive business advantage.  After all, when you have a workforce which learns and applies new knowledge, new techniques, new methods to addressing the marketplace you are creating competitive advantage.  It is more than a pitch however and can in fact make a significant impact on your business and organization.

A learning organization requires a social component (people), delivery architecture (technology), and a structured method to share information (process).  By transforming your SAP / IT Organization into a learning organization you are taking the first steps to bridge the gap between an enterprise focus and an external market or customer focus.

A learning organization requires motivation

The Wheels Fell Off My Learning Organization Bus

You’re excited about the possibilities, you announce your thoughts to your leadership, and you can hear a pin drop.  Except for Joe the brown-noser no one is jumping on your bus! Why should they?  It sounds like another fad, another task, something else to monitor.  It sounds like you’re talking about one of their worst fears and frustrations–, you’re talking dynamic cultural transformation and they’re hearing social media and more work.  Your managers are thinking “Have you lost your mind?  How do I manage all this social media stuff when I have to meet my other goals?”  My employees are already frayed, I have 2 employees going through a divorce, one of the two cries half the day and the other is despondent.  Their emotional weight and negative energy are dragging down two of my departments and now I have to play policeman around social media junk?

Get the Employees ON the Bus First (BEFORE You Start to Drive!)

Before you start promoting the idea of creating a learning organization it is important to do this in manageable and incremental steps.  The key is in making sure the key resources are ON the bus before you try to make the trip.  Otherwise it might be a pretty lonely trip with an empty bus!  It is important to get the broader business community in a more accepting posture for your SAP / IT organizational changes by using Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project 1

Lasting Change Begins at Home

As part of a 3 tier process for transforming your SAP or IT support organization you might begin with Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project 2 so the business gains greater application maturity.  As part of that internal focus it is just as important to address the How To Steps in the SAP Business Transformation Journey within your SAP IT organization.

The Right Information Right Now

The goal for the first phase is the right information right now within the SAP/IT Organization.  After the internal IT support organization is immersed in information sharing it can then be rolled out systematically to the other two key areas of the Enterprise and then to the broader marketplace.

Build the infrastructure to support a learning organization first

The right approach consists of three tiers which look like concentric circles.  These consist of creating a learning environment within the IT organization itself.  This must include both push and pull tools for collaboration and information exchange.  From there, the ability to build ad hoc and dynamic groups for decision-making, skills use, process insight, and other resource needs become the focus. 

This collaboration approach is the first step to ERP III – Is the Integration of Collaboration the Future of Enterprise Applications?  The three key phases to this organizational transformation include:

  • Make use of collaboration and social media tools within the organization
  • Deploy both push and pull information tools to leverage information resources
  • Create an internal employee skills base (like an internal LinkedIn)

Once the information sharing infrastructure is in place, then you can focus on creating an information consuming culture within your SAP or IT organization.  In other words, build the infrastructure to support a learning organization first!

High Level Steps to Build a Knowledge Based Learning Organization

  1. Build out the push / pull information infrastructure
  2. Make participation part of the goals / review / bonus structure
  3. Pilot this inside the IT organization
  4. Roll out to the entire IT organization
  5. Scale up and modify push / pull infrastructure.
  6. Pilot within a BU or business organization (i.e. begin to converge IT and the business)
  7. Capture lessons learned and adjust then roll out to the broader business community.
  8. Repeat the steps to roll out to the customer base…
  9. Repeat the steps to roll out to broader (possibly targeted) market segments



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