IBM Innovation – A new bigger palette

My job is now IBM innovation as a SPEED Proof of Concept (POC) CTO. After 22 years a daily focus on SAP products starting with SAP Basis Training in 1993 on R/3 2.1 and making the SAP technology real for clients, I am now part of a team to accelerate IBM innovation. In the 22 years, of which 17 were with IBM’s SAP practice, SAP has done marvelous job of expanding from one black crayon (R/3) to a second blue crayon (BW) and then building up to riot of colored crayons. It was a wonderful journey of learning, great teams, wonderful adventures, many friends, and successful clients.

Now, as a SPEED POC CTO, I have not only crayons but every artistic media possible to help clients’ realize their digital enterprise via innovation. My job will be to pull together every element, those IBM has to offer, those in the market-place including SAP, those that the client possess, and the brain power in IBM to solve client conundrums with innovative capabilities. It is IBM innovation delivered with speed, velocity, and acceleration to empower our clients is critical. It is so critical that SPEED is not an acronym, but the name, the way, and the mode we work – hence an IBM SPEED CTO.

The SPEED POC team has already had some great successes. I hope to bring my knowledge of technology, architecture, cloud, analytics, mobile, social, security (CAMSS) and applications to the team. More importantly I want to bring what my clients have taught me, that cool, new or innovative is not important in of itself. It is only when cool, new and innovative opens new business capability that drives new business does it matter. I have 3 simple rules I follow when working with clients that I will continue to use.

  1. Understand the client’s real problem and why it is important
  2. Clearly, concisely, describe the proposed solution to the client’s problem
  3. Articulate why IBM is the best choice to deliver the solution

There is no doubt that joining the digital enterprise ecosystem is a critical theme (see last blog on S/4 and digital ecosystem) for IBM’s clients. I’m looking forward to helping IBM drive it with SPEED as a SPEED POC CTO.

So this blog will shift away from a SAP-centric focus to an IBM-centric focus on technology, but the technology has only been a portion of the discussion in this blog. I hope you choose to follow. I promise to be just a forthright as before with you. Thanks.

SAP S/4 HANA must be the Digital Enterprise Ecosystem Hub to succeed

120px-Crystal_Project_webSAP has the greatest opportunity to succeed or fail with S/4 HANA. The success or failure will be based around the ability to easily, simply, quickly and cheaply integrate into each company’s Digital Enterprise Ecosystem. S/4 HANA’s core value today is about running your transactions (OLTP) on an analytics (OLAP) system enabling real time analytics on the data in your SAP system. The real-time analytics capability is not enough to take the risk of going to S/4 HANA. SAP must go far beyond its comfort zone of building a great business system to building in an unparalleled ability to participate in the Digital Enterprise Ecosystem directly to and from S/4 HANA.

The value and the power of the Digital Enterprise Ecosystem can not be ignored and is becoming well understood by companies today. The following quote is just one illustration.

In 1990, the top three automakers in Detroit had among them nominal revenues of $250 billion, a market capitalization of $36 billion, and 1.2 million employees. The top three companies in Silicon Valley in 2014 had nominal revenues of $247 billion, a market capitalization of over $1 trillion, and only 137,000 employees. From McKinsey – Competition at the digital edge: ‘Hyperscale’ businesses.

SAP can not afford to play favorites in the Digital Enterprise Ecosystem. SAP claims openness, and in many cases they do adopt generic open standards, but there has always been a better, easier, simpler, faster and far cheaper way to integrate to other SAP products. In today’s API driven world, this is unacceptable. Being the hub of the Digital Enterprise Ecosystem means simple, easy, native, real-time API driven integration to every major SaaS system.

SAP needs to start with most recognized SaaS solution on the planet, SalesForce. Next they need to hook up Workday their dreaded rival to SuccessFactors and then they should just keep going down the list based on what SaaS solutions SAP clients are using with no prejudice. SAP execs should go ask your clients for their wish list and put it in S/4 HANA immediately. Certainly they should enable their own excellent SaaS products like SuccessFactors. While this strategy may be non-intuitive in the pre-ecosystem world, it is THE requirement in the new one.

What happens if SAP does not open S/4 HANA to the Digital Enterprise Ecosystem? The S/4 HANA will succeed as a modest upgrade. Companies will have to find overwhelming new, required processes in S/4 HANA (Simple Finance, Simple Logistics, …). At this point, every process is now being reevaluate and potentially rethought. The most likely scenario is migrating that process to a more agile SaaS solution. SaaS enables participating in the Digital Enterprise Ecosystem and adopts to the inevitable changes in business and technology. The changes like mobile, new currencies, new laws, rise texting, IaaS, etc. produce more gain than highly optimized process system than the more rigid on premise solutions like SAP ERP.

Simply put, if SAP S/4 HANA doesn’t become become 100% open to all SaaS players, companies will continue to tear apart the monolith ERP system and push its functions out to much more nimble SaaS solutions. The existing ERP systems will be put on life-support, made highly stable, and programmed around until they become useless and atrophied (see McKinsey’s A two-speed IT architecture for the digital enterprise).

SAP is in a great spot as companies are recognizing the power of the Digital Enterprise Ecosystem. It is my sincere wish that SAP recognizes they need to be the premier player in that Ecosystem and become the hub of their client’s Digital Enterprise. After 22+ years working with SAP, I know they have the talent and I know the companies that have believed in SAP deserve it.

CIO – Is it the pinacle of corporate IT?

The top of the IT hierarchy is the Chief Information Officer (CIO). I always thought my career zenith was to become the CIO of a major corporation, but I’m no longer convinced that it is the top IT slot or that I’d want the role or title. In many companies I see the CIO and all of IT becoming the keeper of the old IT legacy systems no one else will support. In fact I frequently observe the business going around the CIO and IT. At IBM, we now have non-IT execs coming directly to IBM without anyone from IT. My goal remains to help companies forge their future and not shovel coal into the old steam boiler. While the shift away from IT involvement is not 100%, it is real danger for IT departments if they don’t change.

First, technology is MORE important than ever. No significant business can function without it – period. Second, companies are spending more on IT every day. Third, IT is often not called IT, but companies can’t live without technology and they probably will not let the IT department run it (at least initially – spoiler alert!). Fourth, no one is business can afford to be ignorant of technology and more and more, business leaders are truly IT savvy.  Gone are days of execs having their admins’ print their e-mail, carry it home in a briefcase, then red pen it at night and have the admin respond in the morning.

At the same time, Non-IT execs, Line of Business Execs (LOB Execs), are now able to purchase the systems they require for their business function often in isolation or near isolation from the IT department by procuring SaaS solutions. The LOB even gets modern, mobile, automatic upgraded system. After all, why does the LOB need a giant monstrous ERP system when all the LOB exec wants to do is implement a system to call on my customers, procure some materials, manage my employees, etc. Without IT, LOB can go set up the system and all they need is minimal data to get going. Then the LOB can pay for as much or as little service as the LOB needs. The LOB has a 1:1 relationship between the cost of the service and the outcome of the service. The Hardware, Software, Support, and all upgrades are included, too. If the LOB doesn’t like the result, they drop the service.

Unfortunately this is not reality for very long as IT systems do not work in isolation, even if they are initiated in isolation. Eventually, the CRM system will need to understand the client orders and annual spend. Eventually, the Procurement system will need to tie to the finance system. Eventually, the HR system will need to tie to payroll, finance, security, etc. because people work everywhere in the business. Eventually, the C-level execs like the CEO, COO, and CFO will want to see the big picture across the business and if every system is in isolation, it is going to be very difficult to get the big picture.

Clearly, IT skills are required. So why is the CIO not in the discussion? Why is IT so often considered difficult to work with, a barrier, and a failure to the business? Unfortunately, most IT professionals start their answers with “NO”, why you can not get the request done, or why it will harm the system. IT professionals seem to only perceive the risk to IT and not to the business and even when they do perceive the risk, they don’t communicate to the business in terms the business can understand. Established businesses, both IT and business, often miss the opportunity that new technologies, new capabilities, and changing business environments present. Failing to understand the risk of not changing, not seeing the intersection of business and technology, lets companies like AirBnB, Uber, and Amazon take over markets that were considered unassailable. Seriously, why didn’t the cabs have a mobile app first? Doesn’t it make you laugh now when you see the “download our mobile app” tattooed on the back of every cab.

Start by realizing that the IT department does not have a lock and ownership of all the technology assets of the company. You might, but it will just make others like LOB execs want to go around you given that technology is required for any and every business function. Become an enabler of the business with technology even if it means consolidating, eliminating, or re-implementing the older systems to enable the newer capabilities. I recognize that this is difficult. Often those systems were built on your labor, sweat, and blood. You can’t keep stacking pieces on top of weak foundation. You have to get the business to partner with you so you can jointly move the company forward.

paceseter graphicThere are some very practical ideas in 2011 CIO study from IBM that you might take to heart. Even better, take a look at what happens when the business and IT come together around implementing Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security (CAMSS) is series of reports from the IBM Center for Applied Insights. The best companies, pace setters, continue to win in their markets. Can you help your company become a pace setter?

Maybe I am still interested in being a CIO, but not the Chief of the NO team. If I could be the CIO who could enable the business with technology, it wouldn’t be bad job. If I could make my company a pace setter that would definitely be a cool job.

How the Inernet-of-Things (IoT) is consuming me!

I just made an important recognition that I am node connected to the Internet-of-Things (IoT) via my life modem (a.k.a. smartphone). It serves as modem from my analog life to my digital representation and out onto the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Most of recognize that our smartphone records our life in a digital format. In essence it is a modem. Modem is short for MODulate / DE-Modulate which is process of converting an analog signal to a digital one and back. Our phone takes our analog world we perceive with our senses and puts it and more into a digital representation on our smartphone. I may want the info off the IoT, but it needs me.

Great article and image of the IoT from Forbes.

While I used to love to spend time getting to know someone by pouring over someone’s albums (yes, large vinyl disk), tapes, DVD’s, or CD’s, now all I really need to see is there smartphone. Here are some things I might find out just scanning the smartphone.

  •  All your contact information and maybe some of your affiliations based on apps installed
  • Your communications, duration, and frequency with via SMS, e-mail, and voice
  • Your communications, duration, and frequency with apps (snapchat, twitter, etc.)
  • Your locations throughout the days and weeks in the past (GPS)
  • Your plans for the next day, week, month and even year (calendar)
  • What travel services you frequent even w/out opening up the apps (travel apps)
  • Who your friends and acquaintances are and their personal information (every social app and website, communication logs)
  • What you like and dislike in the public space
  • What time you go to bed and get up (alarms, clocks, accelerometer)
  • What music, video, and games you like
  • What publications, blogs and websites you frequent
  • And even more…

All this information is poured up onto IoT plus you enhance it with social data. A few examples are I use Weather Underground for weather and confirm my weather experience up to every 15 minutes. I drive around with Waze or MotionX GPS consuming, entering, and confirming incidents, traffic, traffic cameras, and police cars. In each of these cases, what is the sensor – ME! I spy a traffic accident. I feel cold. I see a fire. I like a song. Have you noticed NetFlix gets quoted on the stats it keeps on us and our viewing which could be via mobile. Other mobile apps have become the authority and regularly report out our behavior, too. We, via our smartphones have become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, source of data for the IoT.

Why does it matter? While I had come to recognize I could get typical sensor data from the IoT like temperature, humidity, amount of fuel, etc on my smartphone, I had not realized how much it was two way street. I was consuming IoT data, but the IoT also consuming me as it needed a human touch and senses and my mobile device is the interface and translator into the digital world. It may explain why IoT’s rise of prevalence seems correlated to mobile devices although the technologies are analogous. It also makes me think different about relationship humans will have with the IoT and why it may become pivotal in our next chapter of technology advancement. Maybe he who controls the IoT might control more than just “things” since we are all jacked in via our smartphones.

Even if I haven’t convinced you are a node on the IoT and that it is important concept, I hope you’ve decided to increase the security of smartphone with a longer, more secure password given that it is digitally you.

I do think our next chapter of technology advancement will be socially even more disruptive, but that will be in my next blog.

Crash Course – How to build a career at a consulting company

cloudubq:

Great overview of how to work in the consulting field.

Originally posted on Vijay's thoughts on all things big and small:

I left the world of system integrators and consultants a few years ago – but even today, the question I get asked the most is “how do I grow my career in consulting at my big name employer?”.  I thought I will post some of my thoughts – from my own experience in big consulting houses, as well as watching several others go through their careers from close quarters.

There are many ways to do this – so don’t think of it as “check these boxes and you are done” :)

1. Be the go-to guy in the company for something

This is the starting point – you need to be much better than everyone else, and willing to help everyone, for some unique topic that is in demand. This is how bosses know that you even exist in the company. The topic can be some technology, power point skills…

View original 1,706 more words

Rest In Peace, John Leffler !

cloudubq:

Admirer, fan, hater, friend, foe, peer, or employee, there was no one who didn’t respect John Leffler in the SAP business. He was a force that built a services business empire first at PwC and then at IBM. He will be missed.

Originally posted on Vijay's thoughts on all things big and small:

My wife and I got engaged this day 13 years ago . She had to leave early for work and I called her as soon as I woke up to wish her happy anniversary. As soon as I hung up, my phone rang again. It was my friend and ex-colleague Jen from IBM. She was in tears and she gave me the shock of my life – that John Leffler is no more !

A huge flood of memories have been going through my mind since that call. And the sense of disbelief has not fully left me yet. I had spoken and exchanged texts with John late last week. Dhanya and I had saved the bottle of champagne John had sent us for Christmas for a special occasion. We had met in Phoenix a few months ago for a nice dinner (that is where this photo was taken – sadly…

View original 1,451 more words

Here is to SaaS-cess in 2015

Living on your past successes is the road to ruin. Change is inevitable as the sunset. Whether you see it or not, it sets. The tree in the forest falls causing vibration of the air even if you are not there to perceive it as sound. In 2015, you will see the beginning of the end of on-premise software and systems including ERP systems like SAP.

Clients are no longer willing to buy the infrastructure, software, and services to implement business functions. There will always be a special market for special software, but it no longer necessary for core business functions. Even if business pays a few more pennies on the dollar, they want to buy the service directly and more and more vendors have entered the market with realistic scope and depth of function of business services that running very large businesses on SaaS based solution is possible.

It is not a flatline Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) argument. It is all about speed and velocity of change in technology and in business. Whether it is reacting to technology change like “electronic payment” or business conditions like “extremely low cost of oil”, it is necessary to react and react swiftly. SaaS based systems are better able whether it is because the SaaS system you are one rolls out upgrades without sympathy, something the IT department could never get away with, or because you can switch to another SaaS provider due to more standardized interfaces and a more universal user interface (UI) that requires less training. SaaS solutions provide the velocity and agility not found in on-premise solutions.

While the on-premise system looks like a promising TCO as its 5 year cost may be lower than the competing SaaS system, it falls apart when the inevitable change occurs. The on-premise system TCO is based on the idea that the 3 to 5 year roll-out will occur with limited change, but that change always occurs and in half decade it can be dramatic change. In fact change is the only consistent truth you can bet on on.

Next you’ll argue SaaS doesn’t have enough functionality. That is a limited truth for now. It is rapidly changing as the SI’s plunge into the market to fill the gaps with extensions that verticalize each SaaS solution or extend each solution via internal options (using named spaces in the application) or external options such other cloud based systems. It becomes a question of SaaS agility and velocity vs. on-premise optimization; however, optimization fails massively when the conditions of the system that was optimized changes, and again change is inevitable.

The question for each of us to answer is how will SaaS based systems change your job? If you are functional, what is the SaaS based system that will eclipse your on-premise role and skill set. If you are technical hands on, will you work for a SaaS vendor or will you move to area that is still in demand like architecture or network. IT is still in high demand, maybe higher than ever as technology is not just required for business, but the very fabric of business. Everyone who works on business software needs to evaluate your future based on the inevitable change brought by SaaS.

In 2015 software and especially ERP software will evolve due to change. With change, we have the three choices: move, adapt, or die? You can go to part of the world where on-premise is still new, you can learn how SaaS will impact you and update your skills, or you hang on for dear life hoping everyone else changes their way. As for the latter option, I’m not hopeful. Your success in 2015 is by recognizing the shift to SaaS just like knowing the sun has gone down even though you were stuck in the office.

While we are on New Year’s resolutions, do try to get out and see the sunrise or sunset with someone you love just a few times in 2015. Here is to true success for you, your friends, and your loved ones in 2015.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/6e7/33204986/files/2014/12/img_0015.jpg

A quiet sunset Christmas Eve (24 Dec. 2015) over the Cape Coral, FL canals.