Talking GRC and the office of the CFO gang at Sapphire.

I’d mentioned to Mark Crofton that I was thinking about doing a couple of podcasts from Sapphire. He suggested that I chat to his boss,  Denise Broady.  Denise runs the the Office of the CFO team in the US.

I worked closely with Virsa in 2005, helping roll it out in Europe, so it was great to catch up with Amit Chatterjee (SVP GRC) at Sapphire in a bus and then later in a taxi. This solution set  has really moved on since the Virsa deal, and SOX is not the main focus today, by any means.  It is a pity we couldn’t squeeze in a blogger’s corner session, but for Vienna this is a must.  I’d love to see Amit, JamesDennis and Vinnie having tea.

The office of the CFO is a sound and sensible sales move, long overdue in my view. At SAP we are good at talking product and technology, but we need to get better at addressing the business. With the Office of the CFO, we have combined GRC, eSourcing, and  Corporate Performance Management into one overlay sales team. 

My personal view is that over the last few years with Netweaver, ESA, ESOA etc, we haven’t focused enough on the business user. All this platform stuff is important, but it did tend to drown out the businessy side of the equation. As usual, Hugh provides a cartoon. (It is aimed at Microsoft, but I hope he doesn’t mind me borrowing it here)

 

 

Talking to CFO’s is what my group does at SAP here in Europe, so I’m sure I’m be talking to Amit and Denise about this more in the future. We work closely with his group already, but I think there is a lot more we could be doing.

GRC got a lot of buzz at Sapphire last year. This year it got slightly less PR noise, but the solutions are doing really well on the market. 

Corporate Social Responsibility is a big interest of mine, and I’m pleased to hear we are getting some product out there to help. We aren’t the only ones who see this a growth market.

I need to figure out more about the Cisco stuff and the Acorn partnership. (This stuff all relates to that PhD I’m supposed to be writing, but I seem to be blogging instead)

Denise and I did two recordings, one on GRC and the other on the office of the CFO. My recording and interviewing skills leave much to be desired, but I hope that the content is interesting. Hearing about Kimberley Clark significantly reducing audit fees is goodness.

By Vienna I hope to be a little better at this! I have an evil plan with Mr Craig Tarantino Cmehil brewing. It will involve at least switching off the mobile phone while recording.

update: Mark has beaten me to it in posting the recordings. I was planning to get all this stuff in itunes, etc, but I’ll get around to that later.

In other news I’m off to see Bob Dylan live tonight..

 

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Rio Tinto, SAP, talent management and youTube.

At Sapphire I had the opportunity to listen to Mike Ryan talk about Talent Management at Rio Tinto. For those of you that don’t know, Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest mining companies, with operations all over the world. The boom over the last few years in commodities has been good to  mining companies like Rio Tinto  and has led to a tremendous demand for mining engineers. We software types think that we have a tough time finding developers, but mining engineers are a rare breed.(I know a couple) This makes talent management a high priority.

It is well worth heading over the the Sapphire site and watching the webcast of Mike’s presentation. The scope and breadth of the project is impressive. Mike is  positive about SAP, but made the most witty comment of the conference when discussing SAP GUI. You will need to watch the show to find it.

Jim from Gartner provides a good summary of the presentation, picking up on the three key points. (it was nice to meet him at Sapphire too)

1.Understand the business need.

2.Focus on the process first, then the technology.

3.Analysis is where the value is.

I went to the Rio Tinto site to get some stats for this post, and I saw that they have created a  youTube channel.  which you can access from the front page of their corporate website. Here is an example on mining technique innovation.  

Well done Rio Tinto, I’ve not seen this done anywhere else. Earlier this year I tried to get some of the SAP corporate videos on youTube so that I could link to them on my blog, but I was told this was a no-no.  I’ll  be pointing them to the Rio site. 

I’m not a marketing expert, but surely we should publish the Sapphire highlights on youTube?  Instead, if you want to find a presentation you need to log on through a walled garden and then search for the presentation.  The search isn’t particularly good, and I couldn’t find away to link directly to the videocast from here. Over the years Sapphire has delivered  great content, It is a pity that it is buried in the depths of the SAP website though. This requires a different kind of mining engineer.

After the talk I met Mike at a dinner hosted by Mark Ingram from ERP-Solutions (more on that in another post). My cricket prediction went horribly wrong, and I discovered that my friend Marita has worked on the Australian side of the implementation.  When Mike is next in London, I hope to catch up with him there.

 

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Meeting Dennis – bloggers at Sapphire Atlanta

Over the last year or so I’ve got to know Dennis via blogging, email and the phone. It was good to meet him at last. We disagree quite often, but we agree often.  Life would be boring if everyone was as ERPy as I am.

(photos: courtesy Dan Farber)

Dennis played a key role beforehand and at Sapphire in helping coordinate the enterprise irregular blogger requests. From the SAP side Mike and Stacey did a fabulous job in arranging the executive access and giving the bloggers free reign. Bloggers (Brian,Jason,and Dennis) talking with Zia Yusuf and Hasso Plattner.

I wanted to avoid posting too much “it is great to blogging and have bloggers at Sapphire post”, but seeing Scoble link to Oracle’s blogging status made me smirk.

So, why doesn’t Oracle get any respect? I can’t remember when they did what JD did — link out to people and join the conversation. I can’t remember getting an invite to any Oracle blogging event…

Oracle has a lot of excellent employee blogs (respect – several of them are on my feed!), but I’d  not heard that the management provide the sort of access, freedom and support that SAP has done.  Instead of plastering the Atlanta underground with Oracle posters, that money would be better spent in developing a blogger relations programme.

Dennis is sometimes critical of SAP, but I’d rather have criticism from someone who has clear insight into what we do than one who doesn’t. I’m convinced the more access we provide, the less there will be to criticise (I’m baised), but most importantly, the more valid and valuable the informed criticism becomes. (I’m going all cluetrainy again)

Hugh will be pleased to know that The Blue Monster also made an appearance. The blue monster series is goodness. I wish Hugh was doing this here, not at Microsoft.

 

I also met Cote, Jason, Jerry, Robin, Jason, Brian, Dan, Dan, Ed and Niel for the first time. 

I look forward to seeing Dennis in Vienna, and there will be a number of other bloggers from the Enterprise Irregulars and elsewhere there. I’m yet to meet Charlie, David, and Vinnie in person.

 

 

 

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Henning’s Kagermann’s keynote.

I’d planned to “live blog” Henning’s keynote, much in the same way as I have done Hasso’s and Leo’s. I wrote it, but I then got talking to a customer or two, and it seemed too late to post it after that.  I’ve pondered a bit on it, and here is a more grammatically consistent attempt to look at themes in Henning’s talk. I’ve also read some other commentary on the speech now. Have a look at what Cote, Dennis, Dan, Joe, the other Dan have to say. Cote’s mind map is especially useful. You can also see the speech somewhere on the SAP website. (In my view it should be on youtube too)

Joe reported:

In his speech, Kagermann observed that collaboration between businesses is the only way to achieve innovation and differentiation in today’s blazing fast business culture. Companies must look outside their organizations and more effectively collaborate with their business networks. For this to occur, IT must provide a flexible, adaptable and ever-evolving infrastructure that allows continuous improvement without disruption to core processes.

Dan Farber provides a thoughtful analysis.

Kagermann laid out SAP’s roadmap, which leads increasing toward a more pure enterprise SOA platform and ecosystem. “You have to build the right infrastructure to mesh different systems into one performing network, integrated into distributed, heterogeneous environments. It’s about speed through process automation and in reaching down into automation layer—the vision of the silent transaction.

He also reports

Based on the adoption of SAP ERP 6.0 (formerly MySAP 2005) and NetWeaver, Kagermann declared that the mass adoption of enterprise is underway. SAP ERP 6.0 adoption rose from 225 in April 2006 to 2,547 currently. NetWeaver adoption has grown from 5,881 to 13,068 production environments year over year to date, he said.  SAP expects 75 percent of customers to move to SAP ERP 6.0 by mid-2008. (this is from an ASUG study)

The big words for me at Sapphire were collaboration, community and co-innovation. These came out loud and clear in Henning’s speech, the demos of Harmony and other social computing developments point to a focus on collaboration. As with the other executive presentations,  Henning made extensive reference to SPN, BPX and ASUG. Goodness. These guys rock.

Henning laid out the roadmap for the next few years, reflecting that we have delivered on what he promised 4 years ago. He stressed that he wants to be transparent about our plans so that customers can plan with confidence.

(photo courtesy of Dan Farber see Flickr tag Sapphire07)

The term Business Network Transformation made its appearance.  I think this term has legs, and it will help a lot to wrap all the SOA talk into something more businessy. It would be easy to be cycnical and say that this is just B2B rewarmed, but I think it is fundamentally more than this.  Enterprise software needs to adapt and thrive in the hyperlinked organisation. (Ha! I had to get the cluetrain in somewhere)

Some of the other  soundbites that stuck with me

 “silent transaction”.

“Innovation happens at the edges”

“Integration can’t be dictated from the top”

and from the CIO at Dow.  “Architecture isn’t boxes, it is the lines.”

Henning also positioned GRC well, I don’t have the exact words here, but it is was something on the lines of Management in a network world needs to be risk adjusted. I’ll expand a lot more on GRC in another post, and I have a podcast coming up on GRC. The SAP- Cisco partnership is interesting. More to figure out here.

I like it when our executives talk about customers. Nike, Standard Bank (nice South African mention), GISA, DHL,Valero and Dow all got a mention. (He also mentioned a chocolate maker, but without revealing who it was)

 

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(great pic from Marilyn Pratt available via flickr tag sapphire07)

Tim Murphy from the Design Services Team did an excellent high speed demo of some of the enterprise 2.0 developments going on here at SAP. 

The slides are so much better than they used to be. Many of us at SAP  will be infliciting these on folks for the next year, so to the team that worked on them, well done.

Like many SAP watchers, I was hoping for more details on A1S. All this NDA stuff really tiresome. At least I got to hang out with some of the A1S solution management team on the side.  They really do exist but they were on some secret mission. I could tell you but then I’d need to use a neutraliser  (I’m not quite sure how this fits in with my transparency riff earlier!)

 

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The future of HR systems and thinking?

Dennis Moore came around to the bloggers corner at Sapphire and talked to us at length about Duet, Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise Search and co-innovation. (more on these later)  He kindly let me record the session, and I’ll be posting that as a podcast series shortly.  Dennis Brown  came along and did a detailed Harmony demo, which I missed. Bummer. (see what Dennis Howlett has to say here – what is with this Dennis thing? I’ve met more Dennises this week than in the rest of my life put together)

Robin comments on the co-innovation model and how it is changing software  development.

Yesterday at SAPPHIRE, Dennis Moore from SAP Labs came by to talk to the bloggers about “co-imagineering” — the dynamic interchange that lives and breathes on the SAP Community networks, SDN and BPX.  Where development used to be an aggregation of specs, cascading into the product like a “waterfall”, the networks are permitting a kind of give-and-take product development that, if nothing else, reduces the cost of services.  The vision: communities which develop products, software which is available as a service, solutions that are more fully utilized, greater customer satisfaction and higher levels of engagement, and then, dancers, we start all over again

 

Harmony looks really cool. It is live in SAP Palo Alto, and once it rolls out in Walldorf I’ll be dead keen to get using it.

Dan from Colgate-Palmolive, currently on a co-innovation fellowship at SAP in Palo Alto, wrote.

Finding others to help in these new ad hoc teams is easy with Harmony. Harmony is a mySpace/LinkedIn kind of application for the enterprise. It is already running at SAP and I’ve already had some hands on time with it. The interface is very good, has a consistent UI and well done graphics – the whole package looks highly, well unSAPish. The current version only has the mySpace component but I hope they plans to add the other components, wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, etc. This is SAP’s first foray into the social computing side of web 2.0 so no surprise the offer is limited. On the live SAP site you already have started to see interesting groups form like Basketball leagues and Live Music Lovers, not a huge value to the enterprise’s bottom line but happy workers are more productive workers.

I hope to see Dan blogging more on his SAP experiences. I’ve enjoying getting to know him at Sapphire.

Photo from the flickr stream sapphire07. (thanks Dan Farber, who also comments on Harmony)

 

Jeff Nolan, who alas, didn’t make Sapphire had this to say. I’m not close enough to the product to comment, but I’d suggest that this is the year when SAP starts to take the learnings of SDN as a platform, Harmony etc and ships some wicked social computing stuff.

I don’t really want to comment on the details of Harmony etc here. I’ll come back to that once I’ve had more contact with the solution.

You may be wondering why I labelled this post the future of HR systems.

Dennis Moore said something that really jelled with me.

I’ll paraphrase:

HR systems today are all about capturing what the company wants to store about me. (grade, performance, salary and so on) HR systems in the future will capture what I want to tell the company about myself.

My questions to the HR folks reading this. What are you doing about social computing and networks? They are changing organizations as I write this. Will this pass the HR function by, or will you embrace it as a means to meaningfully connect with employees and their aspirations?  The time is now.

 

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The name game. My My.

I’m pleased that the “my” prefix to SAP product names has been dropped.  I’ve never liked it, even when it first came out. Now it seems really dated, but not so dated that it could have some sort of retro appeal.  Calling products by years is also really dumb, especially when they ship in a different year.  So mySAP ERP 2005 is now called SAP ERP 6.0 (I think)

Dan Farber picks it up here

Yet changing names causes unnecessary confusion, and wastes everyones time and money with renaming exercises. Think of all the brochures,websites  technical documentation  that need to be altered, not just at SAP but also frfor partners and customers.  Searching the web and places like SDN is made harder. Transparency suffers. In Orwell’s 1984 Winston Smith had the job to change words and delete unwords… he would easily be a VP here.

We throw words like component, features and engines recklessly. My request to the naming police. Keep it simple, keep it consistent.

Dan, Ed, Craig and I invented a game at one of the evening events at Sapphire called SAP naming conventions. It is a shameless derivation of the BBC classic just a minute.

And as The Minute Waltz fades away…please talk for 60 seconds on a random subject without hesitation, deviation or repetition.

And as the ERP RAP song fades away…please list SAP’s release names in chronological order, without hesitation, deviation or repetition.

I won’t play the podcast here, but perhaps we will need to rerun it in a quieter environment.

“why is everything numbered differently?”

“Is it a component is it a feature it a platform?”

“what is ECC 6.0, I’ve got 4.6c”

“Netweaver 7.0?”

“what does the s in Netweaver 2004s stand for?”

Actually perhaps we could run it like the university challenge. We could play consultant vs the marketing department.

“A starter for 10.”

“fingers on the buzzers.”

“SAP’s HR solution has had several names. For 10 points give me at least 3 of them.”

” SAP HR, mySAP HR, mySAP HCM, mySAP ERP HCM….”

 

I was relieved when the naming folks didn’t follow the trend of flickr. Then we would be calling everything RP again. (RP was the name of the HR solution in R/2)

At this rate next Sapphire we ought to have Prince singing. (sorry I should have said. prince symbol.svg ,The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, TAFKAP, or simply The Artist)

Seriously though.

Simplicity was at the core of Hasso’s keynote and  SAP developers are hard at work to make our software easier to use. Yet we can’t expect customers to believe that we take simplicity seriously if our naming conventions and changes confuse everyone. Let’s leave fashion to our customers like Hugo Boss, Espirit, Orsay, French Connection and Kenneth Cole…..

I hope that with A1S just down the road the naming will be simple but most importantly consistent.

 

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