An HR blog well worth a read….

Donald H Taylor, to give him his full title, has a fine HR related blog.  There aren’t enough HR folks blogging. We need more Donalds and systematic HRs

Donald has an interest in Human Capital reporting, as I do.

Via the Taleo blog, I stumbled across the latest Hewitt Research. It is great to see us getting to the point whereby HR investment decisions can be related to business performance.

Results showed that the flow of pivotal employees – defined as employees in the top quartile of their peers in pay progression – into and out of an organization is a strong predictor of changes in Cash Flow Return on Investment (CFROI[1]) and shareholder value. 

This is good for the accountants, but it is even better for the HR folks who have a modicum of financial savvy. Head into your next meeting armed with the Mckinsey Talent Study, the Watson Wyatt Human Capital index etc and your own data and blast them with facts.  


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Cognos and the cluetrain.

SAP and Cognos partner and compete.  But I’m impressed by the Cognos blogger  programme, or whatever they call it.  Perhaps it is because they stroked my ego, but I couldn’t help but blog this.

Hi Thomas,

I’m contacting you on behalf of Cognos with information we hope you can use. Vendorprisey is respected by the business intelligence and  knowledge management communities and we’d like to help keep you and your  readers up-to-date on what’s happening at Cognos. I’ve included links to  a video by Google, a Cognos podcast interview with Connie Moore of  Forrester Research, and another to the index of Cognos podcasts – a  great and growing source of interviews with innovators like Kevin Smith  of Google and Marc Andrews of IBM.

Video (1 minute): Google’s video about OneBox, part of the Google Search  Appliance, featuring Cognos CEO Rob Ashe on where BI meets enterprise search.

Podcast: Forrester’s Connie Moore outlines three kinds of workers in the new information workplace. Listen to the podcast to see if you’re a  dreamer, a problem-solver, or a doer.

Index of Cognos podcasts:

If you’d like more information about any of these, please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the right person at Cognos to get them  answered.

Lastly, would you mind letting me know where you’re located? Cognos hosts events around the country and if there’s one in your area, we’d  like to invite you to participate.

Thanks, and please let me know if you’re interested in learning more.

Pretty damn impressive. 

1. They are reading blogs. I’ve never written about Cognos before, but I have written about analytics. They found me.  Cool.

2. They are offering me information without telling me how to consume or distribute it.

3. They are using  Google video to distribute material.

4. Podcasting.

5. Execution. I then mailed them and asked them for the SAP related stuff, within a couple of hours I got an email with lots of great material. 

 It has more than a whiff of the cluetrain about it. 

  I for one am  getting really tired of  trying to decipher SAP press releases.    I studied Hegel at university and he was  dead easy compared to the typical SAP press release.  His sentences were shorter,  more coherent,  meaningful and lots more  fun.  Meanwhile, over at Microsoft….



A tale for all sceptics

Nicholas Carr adds yet another post to his growing collection of wikipedia commentary

I enjoy reading them, but I can think of many other things I’d like him to write about.

He notes…

It seems like we’re getting to the point where anyone who has gained deep enough knowledge of a subject to have developed a point of view on it will be unwelcome to edit Wikipedia

One section where I have found the Wikipedia entries to be extremely sound and well put together is the philosophy section.  I dabbled in Philosophy as an undergraduate 20 years ago and I find Wikipedia a useful source of info to make me seem more widely read than I am.  Sprinkle conversations with Popper and Pyrrho and soon you will have no-one to talk to.

I was going to comment on Nick’s site but his commenting feature was impersoning a French railway strike brilliantly. I’ll post it here instead.

I figured out why the philosophy bits are so good (this may be common knowledge but it only occured to me now) The other guy who helped start Wikipedia, Larry Sanger is a Philosophy PhD. 

I’m not sure if he  meant to be this  witty.

Pyrrho is said to have been so seriously bound to skepticism that it led to his own unfortunate and sudden death around 270 BC According to the legend, he was demonstrating skepticism while blindfolded when his disciples tried to warn him of a dangerous cliff he was headed toward. He refused to believe them, and thus his life ended abruptly. Others are skeptical of this claim.

My request to all sceptics, you know who you are. Write a happy post today.

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Press releases humbug

The blogsphere is awash with visions of the death of the press release.

Many of SAP’s press releases are not exactly gorgeous, hold- on- your- seat reading, but this one from Infor?  

Jim Schaper, Infor CEO, Issues Statement on SAP Strategy for Mid-Market

ATLANTA, January 24 /CNW/ – Today SAP issued a press release announcingits strategy to pursue the mid-market. Jim Schaper, CEO of Infor, a leading global provider of enterprise software solutions, issued the following statement in response.

“One has to wonder if SAP truly understands the mid-market or whether this strategy is solely an effort to detract attention from the slowing growth of their Fortune 500 base. Medium-sized customers do not want all-in-one products that need massive customization efforts to address their line of business. That approach is a relic of the past, when ERP implementations were akin to corporate open heart surgery. Infor has built a strong growing company on delivering solutions with industry experience already built in. The bottomline is that customers want more functionality, less complexity and the lowesttotal cost of ownership. That is not the plan we see from SAP.”

Infor Facts:

— Created in 2002; $2.1 billion USD revenue; 8,100 employees

— Infor has more enterprise software customers than SAP — 70,000

— Infor’s business model fills a void in the market by providing

customers, through acquisition and innovation, with proven, business-specific solutions.

— Business specific functionality and best practices are alreadybuilt-in to Infor’s solutions which speeds implementation and lowers totalcost of ownership.

— Industry experts recognize Infor for its lowest total cost of

ownership and business-specific experience

For further information: Wunderkind Public Relations Media Contact:

Justin Siefert, 404-601-3660 ext. 113

Buyers out there.  Does this make you want to buy their stuff?


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Wage slaves collaborate too

Just read Zoli’s post here, he takes on Stowe Boyd’s rant against IBM.

It’s become fashionable to beat up large corporations.  I understand the feeling; having done my time in the corporate world I know I’m not going back … but that said, not everyone is a freelancer, startup entrepreneur or just “old-fashioned” small business employee.  Most of today’s workforce are still corporate employees, and large companies produce most of our GDP, like it or not.

Thanks Zoli.

Stowe, may I be so bold as to suggest you should get a demo of the IBM product before you diss it?  Perhaps talk to Ed, or the chaps at redmonk 

This is what Stephen said:

With today’s announcement of Lotus Connections – née Ventura – and to a lesser extent, Quickr and Sametime, IBM’s is essentially informing enterprises of all shapes and sizes that a variety of social computing and collaboration technologies that achieved critical mass in the consumer market – e.g. blogging, social bookmarking and VOIP – are relevant to business users. Whether they recognized it or not

Could I suggest that you read James Snell’s post about what is going on inside IBM

Today IBM has what may very well be the largest corporate social networking environment in the world. We don’t know that for sure because there’s not a lot of great information out there about how many folks are actually using these technologies within the firewall. Here are some numbers: Our BlogCentral environment supports 25k+ registered users with over 3k+ “active” blogs. There are over 100k posts and comments with over 10k+ unique tags. Our dogear server has over 200k+ distinct bookmarks to resources both inside and outside the firewall and is generally more reliable at providing quick access to important resources than our Intranet search servers. Our activities server has over 11k activities with 69k+ entries and has 35k+ registered users. Generally impressive statistics, especially if you consider that use of the blogs, bookmarks and activities servers is entirely optional and there is no corporate mandate that Thou Shalt Blog or Thou Shalt Bookmark. Instead, a small group of people heard about it and started using it; they told some others about it and they started using it; then they told some others about it and they started using it… and it evolved from there. And it’s not just bookmarking, blogging, activities, and so on. We’re also podcasting, collaborating through wikis, tagging pretty much everything in sight, participating in internal “open source” projects, organizing “hackdays” and generally just having a lot of fun.

This seems pretty emergent to me. IBM is productising what they do in-house. With IBM publicly embracing these tools, it validates the market for everyone else. This is goodness…



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SAP Palo Alto, software design and Fred’s steak.

Some of you may have noticed my interest in things “design” over the last couple of months. I have been reading folks like Kathy Sierra , Diego Rodriguez, John Maeda and Bruce Nussbaum. This has led me to all sorts of interesting places on the web, including the Design Museum. 

Well, I’m on the fringes of a design project here at SAP, and I have spent the last week in Palo Alto at SAP labs. I’ve been immersed in discovering design led innovation, ideation, personae(s?), artifacts, use cases, and so on.

Design at SAP…

Over the past decade or so, we have received considerable and often valid criticism for an overly complex GUI experience. 

This isn’t good. To quote Dan:

I would argue that for the next generation of people who will soon ( < 10 years ) start to get into decision making positions at Fortune 1000s UI ease and flexibility will be nearly as important as all the process stuff already boiled into SAP software.

Fixing it.

A couple of years ago Hasso Plattner set up the Design Services Team (DST). The goal is to bring a stronger design ethos into our software development process. The team works with developers around the world to instill a user-centric design discipline. They also work to identify new design trends and provide expert services to other organisations looking to focus on the user.  Shock horror they actually work with real end users to see how they use our software. The team is multi-disciplinary, and many of the team members have a design background and come from places like eBay and Apple. Internal design missionaries, if you like.

It is alot more than just GUI…

This is what they mean by design thinking

The core values of Design Led Innovation:

  • Have an Outside-in Mindset
  • Use Empathy for Users & Stakeholders .Embrace diversity
  • Think holistically
  • Collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams
  • Generate many new ideas
  • Find & iterate alternatives
  • Fail early and often

Hasso has donated lots of money and time to design. He donated 35 million to the Stanford Design School and has also invested significantly in the Hasso Plattner institute in Potsdam.  I’ve blogged this here. The DST also facilitated the developer challenge- you can find more here.

This project – what I learnt.

We are working at dramatically improving a complex, messy, global, internal process at SAP, both from a process and  eventually from a product standpoint.  The workshop included internal end users, managers, solution management, design folks and me.

My job was to provide a look at the competitive landscape and to explore how social computing might impact the process. (I’m being a bit cryptic about what the process is, as the process owner would rather I’d not blog it)

As part of the project the DST is doing similar sessions with users from various industries and sizes in the US, Europe and Asia, some of them SAP customers, some of them not.

My key takeaways from the process.

It isn’t easy.


“Post-its” rock.


The rules. Not bad rules for any brainstorming process.

An aside:Jeremiah documented the process and outcomes live in an internal wiki, which in itself was an interesting  2.0esque validation for me. I spend lots of words pontificating on the power of the wiki, but actually seeing it used as a real time documentation tool, rather than just as a repository of record for documents created elsewhere, hit home

Thanks to Loren, several Mikes, Jeong, Erin, Jing, Matt, Peter, Pam, Vivien, Ben, Diana, Christoph, Harry, Ben and Jeremiah (sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone)  for an eye opening learning experience. And to Mike and Doree thank you for a wonderful evening and the introduction to Fred’s steak and Arrested Development. 

 In other news Jeremiah and I have a chat with James and Cote on Redmonk radio. I ramble on about the DST and ERP amongst other things.  It is weird listening to your own voice. I have neither the voice nor the face for radio.

For those that write SAP off as an innovation-free zone, I say watch this space.


Social media, politics, copyright, blogswarm and activism

  I’ve been pondering this post for a while,  I wrote most of this post  36,000  feet above the Atlantic on the way to Palo Alto in a luxurious Lufthansa economy seat, I figured I  might as spread out and rant on copyright and social media.

Social media as the champion of the small guy.

Social media loves to make a hero out of someone  who stands up to the “evil IP power” of traditional media.   Jerry Bowles, one of the leading bloggers on social media recently picked up on the case of Spocko’s Brain.  I’ll quote a big part of his  post Memo to Enterprises: Fire your Lawyers   as the background is important.

…was shut down by its Internet service provider, 1&1 Internet, after Disney ABC Radio complained that Spoko’s posting of audio files from KSFO, a talk-radio station in California’s Bay Area, violated the company’s copyright.

Spocko’s Brain had posted dozens of examples of KSFO right-wing morning drive talk show hosts, who are known for such tasteful exercises as enacting a mock electrocution of New York Times editor Bill Keller in a defective electric chair, calling for the execution of journalists they deem liberal, labeling themselves “pro torture, demanding that callers make fun of Islam and referring to Barack Obama as “Halfafrican.”  Spocko also sent letters to KSFO’s advertisers, inquiring if they really wanted their brands associated with the views expressed on the station, and inviting them to listen to program segment audio files posted on the Spocko’s Brain site. 

late December, Disney lawyers sent Spocko’s Brain and its ISP, 1&1 a cease-and-desist letter because of alleged copyright violations against the ABC Radio affiliate.   1&1 Internet took the site down entirely on January 2.

Once the dispute became public, much of the blogosphere rushed to Spoko’s defense and dozens of web hosts stepped forward to provide access to the disputed KSFO audio files.   The Electronic Frontier Foundation volunteered to defend the blog against legal action.  Some of the biggest and most widely read political and media blogs–like DailyKos–provided extensive coverage of the controversy and posted the disputed files, daring Disney to sue them. Selections were posted on YouTube.

These are fine and noble sentiments. Hats off to Spocko’s Brian, and to all the bloggers etc that have rallied to his support.  Zencabin provides a great summary of the traffic and the blogswarm.  

So, Disney is the evil empire, not only spewing unpleasant radio, but using copyright to stamp on the precious freedoms of a  blogger.   Clearly large media companies need to think  twice about heavy-handedness when dealing with bloggers. Score one for bloggers I guess.  Yes, but…hang on a moment…

It is easy to pick on Disney here, and beating up Disney is fair game when it comes to copyright issues.  The reprehensible nature of the material (at least from my standpoint) on the radio station  makes Brian’s actions seem very righteous and correct.  They may well be, but the legality of his actions, and those of Disney, are for the courts, not the blogjury,  to decide.

Where is the problem?

The problem here is not the lawyers, or even Disney, but the law itself.  It seems to me that copyright has lost its way.   Larry Lessig and many others can eloquently explain why, and suggest some innovative ways to fix it. 

But US copyright law was passed into statute by the elected members of the US government.  US  law as it stands today is a direct result of the interventions of those  elected leaders.  Lessig looks at the position in Washington after the recent Senate and Congressional elections.

Dems to the Net: “Thanks for the blogs. And please continue to get outraged by MoveOn messages. But don’t think for a second we’re interested in hearing anything beyond the charming wisdom of Jack Valenti. We appreciate your support. We appreciate your money. But come on — you’re all criminals. Don’t expect your criminal ways to be taken seriously by an institution as respected as the US Congress.”

My personal view is that copyright, rather than behaving as originally envisaged, to encourage and reward creativity; has become  a powerful tool to protect the business model of large media companies.  The media companies have done a brilliant job in lobbying to achieve this.  Check out chillingeffects if you would like to learn a bit more, and JP has  fabulous posts here and here. Read James on DRM as Communism and DR M as lard.

Politics and social media.

When Scoble and others cosy up to politicians and business leaders with podcasts, these are the issues they should be focusing on. 

Where was the question to Edwards about copyright?  “Sir,  do you believe that US copyright today encourages or inhibits creativity.”

Or even?

“If you want the vote of the bloggers, then you had better have a plan on DRM, copyright extension, fair use and derivative works!”

Politicians have been quick to grasp the power of social media for electioneering.  Jeremiah, over at web strategy,  highlighted Obama’s use of YouTube. 

Do these blog aware politicians have a position on DRM?

Organisations like the EFF need financial support, not just to bailout noble martyrs and fight individual cases, but to fundamentally improve the legal system.  If the rifle owners  can shape the gunlaw agenda, then it is high time that those that think copyright isn’t working get their act together. 

Apply the power of social media to bring about awareness and to help drive  real change. Vigilante behaviour seems cool when it is in a good cause, but it isn’t really.  




SDN, SAP and blogging yet again…

I’m on the SAP business flash subscription. This is a traditional push email subscription thingy that customers  and SAP watchers get.  It provides  links to press releases, marketing stuff,  webcasts, training courses and so on.  I’m guessing that most SAP customers have not become RSS junkies, so email subscriptions are a good way to reach these folks.  That said, you can also get it via this  RSS feed. (I’d prefer if this was abit more granular, but it is a feed at least)

I scanned the flash,  and was about to go on to other email, when I saw this.

Get a First Look at Project Muse: User Interface Blog Generates 32,000 Hits!
Read the second most-read SDN blog of all time! With over 32,000 hits, the Project Muse blog from Jeff Word of the SAP Product and Technology Group discusses the new interface through which SAP users can access any SAP application directly from their Macintosh, Linux or Windows client device. Also check out the related Project Muse demo and fact sheet

This is not the formal forum stuff on SDN, just the individual blog section there. This is a pretty good indicator of SDN’s relevance to SAP customers, it also makes the point that improving SAP’s UI is of interest to the customer base.

Within SDN blogging is taking off, with more and more folks contributing. (not all of it is brilliant and profound, but there is a lot of conversion going on.)  The wiki is growing too.  Also the lines are blurring between external blogging about SDN and “internal” SDN blogging.

Craig Cmehil recently posted this:

I often find myself reading through tons of blogs outside of the community here to find out what others have to say about the community here and I started to come across several bloggers in the outside world that not only talk about SAP but they talk about SDN as well.
One example I found was in his year end wrap up, Vinnie talks about SAP’s SDN: Such Delightful News
Another interesting way for you to track who is blogging about us is with a new little interesting “tag” we’ve started. You can find out more about this new way via our Wiki over here in the Community section – Blogging about SAP or via multiple other types of tags:
Technorati Tags: vinnie mirchandani, thomas otter, sdn blogger, sap
So if you are a blogger outside of SDN/BPX about SAP please add yourself to the list on the Wiki and be sure if you write a related post to use the “Technorati Tag” sdn blogger and keep them coming in 2007!

So, if you blog about SAP, why not go and add yourself to the wiki?  Even curmudgeons welcome. 

In other news, James Governor has written his shortest post ever.