I’ve not blogged or written for a while, but I figured it was time to start again. No promises on the regularity of posting appearance. I’m not a comet. 

Deliberate, consistent customer engagement drives most product enhancements. There is a profound skill in listening to a specific customer need, and turning it into a design that solves not only that customer’s need, but that of other customers too.  This is why product managers should spend lots of time talking with and listening to customers and prospects.  This is partly why I’m on first name terms with most of Lufthansa.

However, it is important to remember customers are not the only source of ideas. Listening to your own engineers is fundamental too. In the rush to be customer centric, it is easy to ignore the innovative ideas from your engineers. 

 I’m looking forward to SAP D-Code. 

We need to celebrate the maker,  as my mate James Governor puts ii. That is in essence what the D-code event will be all about. I’ll be attending the German event, at the sport arena, and then on campus.  There are other events across the world. (Bangalore, Shanghai, Palo Alto…)

At FKOM in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago, I renewed my respect for the scale of the SAP sales machine, but engineering is what makes SAP what it is.  

Some of the engineers I work with will be demoing stuff they are proud of to a massive audience of their peers.  While over the years I have grown comfortable and vaguely competent at talking to a large audience, I know it takes a lot of courage for those not used to it, often in a second or third language, to get up and present. 

Having played a bit with a PI Raspberry over the holidays, I saw the moment of magic when my kids actually figured out how a computer really works. That instant when the command line becomes a gateway to something special. Code is cool. 

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While D-code is about the broader SAP engineering community, I think it is also important to foster innovation and experimentation on a smaller scale. SuccessFactors has a strong tradition of internal Hack days and demo jams in our San Francisco office, and we are doing the same in a couple of weeks time in Heidelberg. We are bringing together the engineers from the cloud team and the on-prem team. I’m really looking forward to see what comes out of this. We are taking this seriously, as we have roped in the best demo jam MC in the world, Craig Cmehil, and are making use of the the new ultra-hip Apphaus in Heidelberg (I sense there is a subtle homage to Walter Gropius in the Apphaus name, but I’ll explore that another day). 

I hope to see many of my engineering colleagues at the event. It will be a lot of fun, and I fully expect that the ideas that emerge will be finding their way to customers soon. 

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Hello all,

Yep, it will soon be time for that HR tech thing again, October 7-9. Vegas nochmals. I reckon I’ll be there, just not as a speaker, now that I’m on the vendor side of things. Bill runs a fine show, and as this is his last one before retirement, I’m looking forward to him buying me a drink for the first time ever. 

Just use the Promo Code OTTER13 (all caps) when you register online www.HRTechConference.com<http://www.HRTechConference.com> to get $500 off the rack rate of $1,895. The discount does not expire until the conference ends on Oct. 9.”

SuccessConnect starts directly after HR Tech, also in Vegas. So no excuses.

 

 

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The first week in the office in St Leon Rot has been all about listening and learning. I’m spending my time getting to know people, product and processes. It is a surreal mix of familiar and new, of different and similar. Lunch is the same, but many things have changed.

What has surprised me the most  is the speed at which product decisions are made. I sat in on the call that reviewed what was built in the last release and I was flabbergasted as to how much happened in 90 days. I also listened in the on the first sprint call for the next release. Lots happening. Much less hierarchy, more autonomy.

The let’s get done attitude is contagious, and it has seeped into the SAP colleagues I have met this week. I see a spring in the step inside SAP that was largely missing when I last worked here.    The quarterly release business sharpens the mind.  Less powerpoint, higher velocity. Some of this is due to the cloud delivery model, but there is a cultural element too.

I like. I have much to learn.

Today is my last day at Gartner.

The last 5 1/2 years have flown by. I have learnt more than I imagined I could, and probably forgotten more too. I’ve done over 3000 inquiries, written over 100 research notes, led several magic quadrants, attended 100s of Research communities, spoke at numerous conferences and strategy days.  I’ve worked with fascinating colleagues, users and vendors from around the world.  I consider many of them to be friends, even though we have met so rarely in person.

It has been a blast, and I will look upon my time at Gartner with a deep fondness.  The way Gartner has handled my departure only increases my respect for the organization.  I expect to see Gartner’s HCM research grow from strength to strength.

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5 years of conferences.
So if it has been so good, why change?  As an analyst, you advise, you can suggest and you may even influence markets. That influence gave me a tremendous sense of satisfaction and respect for the responsibility that the role brings. But for the past few months I’d begun to wonder whether I wanted to remain an analyst for the rest of my career or not. I wasn’t really sure, but I felt a nagging itch. It took a while, but I have figured out what that itch is. It is the itch to build something.
This weekend I will be getting on a plane to Sapphire, the SAP annual conference,  not as a Gartner analyst, but as a SuccessFactors employee. I’m going to be the product manager for Employee Central. You can see the welcoming press release here.
I’m nervous, as I will need to learn a whole new raft of skills. I’m excited for the very same reasons.
Some of you reading this will know that I worked for SAP before joining Gartner, so you may be wondering why join SuccessFactors, which is part of SAP?  Here are my reasons.
  1. I reckon this is the most exciting job at the most exciting company  in HCM technology today.
  2. More broadly, HCM technology is the most dynamic place in application software now. What happens in HCM today will shape enterprise applications for the next 20 years. The investment, focus and market landscape is fundamentally different from where it was 5 years ago.
  3. Successfactors very rapidly developed a market leadership position in Talent Management software, and they have the opportunity to do the same in cloud core HRMS. Combining SAP’s deep experience and massive presence  in core HRMS and Successfactors will make for a powerful combination.  I think I can help make them work better together.  I understand  some of SAP’s strengths and weaknesses, its culture and how to get things done.
  4. There is no better salesforce in enterprise software. When aligned, is remarkable.
  5. The leadership team at SuccessFactors and SAP have very clear idea of what they would like me to do. I have seen too many analysts be hired into strategy roles, and then whither on the vine of large vendor politics. It is crystal clear that my fundamental job is to lead the team building Employee Central. This will be a massive challenge. I look forward to the learning curve.
  6.  In the 1995 Klaus Tschira, one of the SAP founders, impressed me so much with his vision for HR technology that  I convinced my wife that we needed to move to Germany. There is much in that vision that still needs to be built, so in a sense I have unfinished business with SAP.
My day today is tinged with feelings of farewell, but I can’t wait to start my new role .
To my colleagues at Gartner, I’ll reiterate my thanks for 5 fabulous years.
To my new colleagues at SuccessFactors and  SAP, thanks for the lovely welcome.

Continuing my attempts to bring Shakespeare into as many posts as I can….

Let specialties be therefore drawn between us,
That covenants may be kept on either hand.

(Taming of the Shrew  II. i. 127-8)

A couple of weeks ago, I presented at the HR Technology Conference in Chicago, the topic being SaaS Contracts:  how not to get ripped off.  I made an animation to start the presentation, as talking about contracts can be a bit dry.

 

If the embedded version doesn’t behave,  watch it here.    My goal was to show the naivete of the typical buyer when dealing with a smooth salesperson. In the space of about 2 minutes, the buyer makes at least 9 major blunders. See if you can spot them. It is supposed to be funny, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

A week or so after the event I did a podcast  on the Bill Kutik Radio Show, where I go into a bit more detail.  Have a listen here.  I’m not a lawyer, so this doesn’t constitute legal advice, but I’m saddened by the ignorance on the side of the buyer, and the willingness of the seller to exploit that. That is business, I guess.

Or as Camillo said in   The Winter’s tale:

You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.

Also we have a lot of research on how to buy cloud/SaaS solutions.  Gartner clients should definitely check out Alexa Bona’s  research. Whether buying or selling, getting a fair contract is best in the long run.

(I’m very impressed with the Xtranormal tool for animation. I checked with their legal folks on usage, what a pleasure to deal with them).

Got an email today, as one does.

 I’ll just cut and paste it here.
If you work in software and you haven’t donated to Bletchley Park then you really ought to.
I bought the signed hardback, but then I think Sue is cool.  She knows:  Computer Science, WWII coding,  and Stephen Fry.

Hello there!

(Firstly thank you so much if you have already supported my book, you are wonderful :))

If you know me, you probably know that I’ve been involved with Bletchley Park for some years now. In 2003 I went there for a BCS meeting and fell in love with the place. In 2008 I started a campaign to help raise awareness of the amazing contribution of the site and the more than ten thousand young people that worked there during WW2.

In 2008 Bletchley Park was in financial difficulty. I wanted to raise awareness and gain support for the people that worked there and make sure that Bletchley Park would be there for my children and their children to visit, to help them appreciate the tremendous war effort and the contribution that it has made to us enjoying the peace we live in today. The work carried out there has been said to have shortened the war by approximately 2 years, saving millions of lives.

Fast forward four years and things are looking much rosier for Bletchley Park thank goodness, they have received funding from various sources including the Foreign Office just last week.

Lots of people have suggested over the last couple of years that I write up what happened as a book, and I’m delighted to announce that I have found a fabulous publisher called Unbound to help me do that.

I’ll be telling the story of the campaign that I started and also the amazing campaigns previous to that, during one of which the only way to save the Park was to get the trees listed. Crazy!

So, please sign up to buy my book, I get to see the names of everyone who buys, so don’t think you can get away with pretending you have bought it ;))

..and please do encourage your networks to buy the book too, someone said to me just the other day that they thought that raising awareness of Bletchley Park has also raised the profile of women and computer science in the UK, how cool is that?

Thanks for your support, the campaign that I started would not have worked if it weren’t for the thousands of people that got involved and played their part.

Here’s the link, please have a look and pledge your support, remember, I’ll be checking the names of supporters….

My book is currently funded to 76% (in just 4 days) but we still need another 24% to make it happen…

10% of all profits from the book will go to Bletchley Park.

Take care and see you soon,

Sue

 

cross posted on my work blog)

Readers of this blog will know that I am an avid but plodding cyclist.  It gets me away from the desk, and means I can bore for Germany on components, frames, cadence, altitude and the like.

I sometimes run, and recently an old school friend bet me that I couldn’t run 10K under 50 minutes by the end of September. Not being one to ignore a challenge, I took him on.  

Running used to be a simple affair.  But in order to go for a run, I “need”

a) my minimalist five fingers running shoes.

b) a  fully charged iphone

c) headphones that don’t fall out my ears

d) heart rate strap

e) strava run application.

f) the right spotify play list.

Measurement has changed running. I know exactly what heart rate to run at and at what pace per minute.  It takes me at least 10 minutes to get out the door.

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is one of the most abused scientific principles, but it applies here.  My efforts to measure running has changed my running.

What has this got to do with HR systems?

I have noticed a  trend from vendors to include a field called Flight Risk into their talent management systems.  I reckon this isn’t a good idea.

1. 99% of HR systems don’t have accurate enough data to remove false positives

2. The data to really predict flight risk isn’t in the HR system.

3. Telling someone who isn’t a a flight risk that the system thinks they are one will make them into one.

4. Managers will react differently to the same data.

5. It will taint other, more accurate results.

 

To assume you can build an algorithm to predict whether a person is likely to leave their job or not based on the shoddy data in a talent management application is arrogant and irresponsible.  Vendors’ crude attempts to measure human intentions will create unintended consequences, most of them bad.

 

In case you are wondering, I won the bet…

 

 

 

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