All posts by sandy

TD Bank at PegaWorld 2015

I attended a breakout presented by TD Bank (there was also a TCS presenter, since they’ve done the implementation) on their workflow system for customer maintenance requests – it’s a bit of a signal about the customer, and possibly the SI, that this is called “workflow” – and how they have implemented this using Pega. They started with PRPC 6.3 and there was no indication that they’ve upgraded to Pega 7, which would give them a whole raft of new functionality.

Customer maintenance requests include any non-financial transaction that a customer may request, such as an address change, which may be fulfilled either manually, semi-automatically, or automated based on Pega business rules. They’re measuring the ROI primarily in terms of improving efficiency (increased throughput, reduced processing time, reduced paper) and improving quality and regulatory compliance (reconciliation of work received and processed, data capture validation, identification of trends, better reporting to compliance). He did mention the improved customer experience, although mostly in terms of the call center/branch staff rather than the actual customer, but turned that back to branch efficiency and productivity. There was a mention that this would result in lower wait times for customers while they were in the branch making the request, but this is so far out of touch with the realities of customer experience these days, as evidenced by the keynote that we saw this morning with AIG and RBS. This was (I think) a technical presenter from TCS going through this part, but depressing in the lack of awareness of how far they are from understanding the customer journey. This is one of the dangers in treating internal stakeholders as the customer rather than having an awareness of the actual customer and their requirements: the internal operations customer is mostly motivated by improving efficiency and compliance, not making sure that their real customer isn’t walking out the door and goes to a bank that pays attention to their needs. We can’t throw away the concepts of efficiency and compliance, but I find in dealing with my banks (yes, more than one, because none of them give me everything that I need) that there are still too many processes that require my presence in a branch, a physical signed document or a call to a call center, when they have already authenticated me in so many ways online already.

They talked about their development process and some of the best practices and lessons learned: allowing time for visual screen mockups during inception in order to reduce rework later (they seriously didn’t know that?), participation from other groups such as application integration (?!), and including a Pega deployment architect to make sure that things get into production the right way. TD Bank has been using Pega for about eight years, and they seem to be rooted in older versions and older development methodologies. Definitely in need of some digital transformation.

I didn’t attend this session with the goal of poking fun at TD or TCS, but this is really an example of old-school (probably waterfall) development methods that is not going to give them big wins in the long run. It’s clear that there is very deep integration with their other systems, and a lot of use of the Pega CPM framework and rules, but also that there has been a lot of custom work here: PRPC used as an application development tool. This is pretty typical of what I have seen with Pega customers in the past, although their recent shift to providing applications rather than frameworks is an obvious strategy to move to less-customized solutions that can be deployed faster. For the customers still plugging away on 6.x, that might be more of a dream than reality.

PegaWorld 2015 Day 2 Customer Keynotes: Big Data and Analytics at AIG and RBS

After the futurist view of Brian Solis, we had a bit more down-to-earth views from two Pega customers, starting with Bob Noddin from AIG Japan on how to turn information that they have about customers into an opportunity to do something expected and good. Insurance companies have the potential to help their customers to reduce risk, and therefore insurance claims: they have a lot of information about general trends in risk reduction (e.g., tell an older customer that if they have a dog and walk it regularly, they will stay healthier and live longer) as well as customer-specific actions (e.g., suggest a different route for someone to drive to work in order to reduce likelihood of accident, based on where they live and work, and the accident rates for the roads in between). This is not a zero-sum game: fewer claims is good for both AIG and the customers. Noddin was obviously paying close attention to Solis, since he wove elements of that into his presentation in how they are engaging customers in the way that the customer chooses, and have reworked their customer experience – and their employee and agent experience – with  that in mind.

Between the two customers, we heard from Rob Walker, VP of Decision Management and Analytics at Pega, about the always-on customer brain and strategies for engaging with them:

  • Know your customer: collect and analyze their data, then put it in the context of their entire customer journey
  • Reach your customer: break down the silos between different channels, and also between inbound and outbound communications, to form a single coherent conversation
  • Delight your customer: target their needs and wants based on what you know about them, using the channels through which you know that they can be reached.

He discussed how to use Pega solutions to achieve this through data, analytics and decisioning; obviously, the principles are universal.

Chrome Legacy Window 2015-06-09 103539 AM.bmpThe second customer on stage was Christian Nelissen from Royal Bank of Scotland, who I also saw yesterday (but didn’t blog about) on the big data panel. RBS has a good culture of knowing their customer from their roots as a smaller, more localized bank: instead of the branch manager knowing every customer personally, however, they now rely on data about customers to create 1:1 personalize experiences based on predictive and adaptive analytics in the ever-changing context of the customer. He talked about the three pillars of their approach:

  • It’s about the conversation. If you focus on doing the right thing for the customer, not always explicit selling to them, you build the relationship for the long term.
  • One customer, one bank. A customer may have products in different bank divisions, such as retail banking, credit cards and small business banking, and you need to be cognizant of their complete relationship with the bank and avoid internal turf wars.
  • You can do a lot with a little. Data collection and analytics technologies have become increasingly cheaper, allowing you to start small and learn a lot before expanding your customer analytics program.

Alan Trefler closed out the keynote before sending us off to the rest of the day of breakout sessions. Next years, PegaWorld is in Las Vegas; not my favorite place, but I’ll be back for the quality of the presentations and interactions here.

These two keynotes this morning have been great to listen to, and also closely aligned with the future of work workshop that I’m doing at IRM BPM in London next week, as well as the session on changing incentives for knowledge workers. Always good when the planets align.

PegaWORLD 2015 Keynote with @BrianSolis: Innovate or Die!

Brian Solis from Altimeter  Group was the starting keynote, talking about disruptive technology and how businesses can undergo digital transformation. One of the issues with companies and change is that executives don’t live the way the rest of us do, and have to think of the shareholders first, but may not have sufficient insight into how changing customer attitudes and the supporting technology will impact their profitability, or even their ability to survive. “A Kodak moment” is now about how you go bankrupt when you ignore disruptive technology: not something that you want to capture for posterity.

Digital Darwinism

Customer experience can just happen by accident, or it can be something that we design in order to achieve a “higher purpose” of being customer centric. That doesn’t mean that we have complete control over that customer experience any more, since our brands are made up of what we put out there, and what other people say about us. Customer experience is not about what we say, but about what we do, since that’s what will be examined under the social media microscope. Altimeter’s research shows that almost all companies undergoing their digital transformation specifically because of customer experience, but that few of them really understand what the problem is. 67% of buyers’ customer journey is now done online, consulting 11 different sources for information even if they purchase IRL, and your online customer experience is the difference between surviving or not. Part of this is omni-channel presence, since almost none of those pre-buying search journeys happen on a single device. You can’t force customers to do business your way: you have to do it their way. And in order to do it their way, you have to understand what that is (that sounds kind of obvious, but may companies don’t get that). You have to think through the eyes of your customers: as Solis said, “Think like a customer. Act like a startup.”

Innovate or Die

Solis’ message, in short: if you don’t disrupt yourself, someone else will do it for you. Innovate or die.

Pega 7 Express at PegaWORLD 2015

img-pega-7-express-ui-snippetAdam Kenney and Dennis Grady of Pega gave us the first look at Pega 7 Express: a new tool for building apps on top of the Pega infrastructure to allow Pega to push into the low-code end of the BPM/ACM market. In part, this is likely driven by the somewhat high degree of technical skill that has traditionally been required to create applications using Pega, but also by the fact that customer experience is becoming a key differentiator, creating the need to create good customer-facing applications faster. Customer experience, of course, is much more than just the type of apps that you’re going to create using Pega 7 Express: it’s new devices and methods of interaction, but all of these are setting the bar high and changing customer expectations for how they should be able to deal with vendors of goods and services. Pega 7 Express is part of the Pega 7 platform, using the same underlying infrastructure: it’s (just) a simpler authoring experience that requires little or no advance training.

We saw an introductory video, then a live demo. It includes graphical data modeling, form building and case configuration, all with multi-device support.

IMG_7234Call it end-user computer (EUC), citizen computing or low-code model-driven development, Express is addressing the problem area of applications that were traditionally built using email, spreadsheets and local desktop databases (I’m looking at you, Excel and Access). I’m not going to enumerate the problems with building apps like these; suffice it to say that Express allows you to leverage your existing Pega infrastructure while allowing non-Java developers to build applications. They even include some badges for gamifying achievements – when you build your first app, or personalize your dashboard. Just-in-time learning is integrated so that you can see an instructional video or read the help as you need it, plus in-context guidance while you’re working.

IMG_7236In the demo, we created a new case-based app by specifying the following:

  • Application name, description and logo
  • Case type
  • Major phases (a straight-through process view)
  • Steps in each phase
  • Form design for specific steps – the data model is created behind the scenes from the form fields
  • Routing/assignment to reviewers and approvers
  • Milestones and deadlines
  • Device support

In part, this looks a lot like their Directly Capturing Objectives tools, but with more tools to create an actual executable app rather than just as input to the more technical Designer Studio development environment. We also saw customizing the dashboard, which was a pretty standard portal configuration.

IMG_7237As with any good Pega demo, however, Kenney went off-screen to “create a little data table” while Grady showed us the graphical form/case builder; they are definitely the masters of “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” during demos, where one person does the user-friendly stuff on-screen, while a couple of others do a bit of heavy lifting in the background. Lucky for us (unlikely for Kenney), he couldn’t connect to the wifi so we did get to see the data table definition, which was straightforward.

IMG_7239This does look like a pretty usable low-code application development environment. Like any other low-code model driven development, however, it’s not really for complete non-techies: you need to understand data types, how to design a form, the concept of linking case types and separately-defined data types, and how to decompose a case into phases and steps. It wasn’t clear from the brief demo how this would interact with any sort of expected case automation or other parts of the underlying Pega infrastructure: predictions, automated steps/service calls, more complex process flow or temporal dependencies, access control, etc. It’s also unclear any sort of migration path from Express to the full Designer Studio, so that this could be used as an operational prototyping tool for more complex development. They did respond to a question about reporting; there is some out of the box, and they will be adding more as well as adding ad hoc

Pega 7 Express was announced today, with the cloud version available starting today, with a 30-day free trial followed by subscription pricing; when Pega 7.19 rolls out to on-premise installations, it will also offer Express. They’re not really pushing it yet, but will start to roll out the marketing around it in Q3.

PegaWORLD 2015 Keynote: CRM Evolved and Pega 7 Express

Orlando in June? Check. Overloaded wifi? Check. Loud live band at 8am? Check. I must be at PegaWORLD 2015!

Alan Trefler kicked off the first day (after the band) by looking at the new world of customer engagement, and how both organizations and the supporting technology need to change to support this. He took a direct hit at the silos of old-school companies such as traditional financial services (“What *is* a middle office, anyway?”, a question that I’ve often asked), and how many applications and platforms fail to move them beyond that model: conforming (to how an application works out of the box) versus strategic (mix your own DNA into the software). Like many other vendors in this space who are repositioning as process-centric application development platforms, the term BPM (business process management) didn’t come up; Pega is repositioning as “CRM Evolved”. To be fair, Pega has always had a strong CRM (customer relationship management) bias, but it looks like they’re rebranding the entire business of their customers as CRM, from sales and onboarding through support and back into operations. This includes anticipating and operationalizing customer actions, so that you can respond to a potential problem before it ever occurs, and moving from conforming to strategic software in order to allow you to evolve quickly to meet those needs. He warned against implementing the Frankenstack, pieced together from “dead software products”, and decried the term BPM in favor of case management as how customer engagement and operations need to work, although arguably there is a lot of what we think of a traditional BPM implemented as part of Pega’s customers’ solutions.

We’re definitely seeing the BPM market (broadly defined to include dynamic and ad hoc process management including case management) bifurcating into the application development platforms such as Pega, and the more out-of-the-box, low-code process platforms. BPM is really much beyond just process management, of course: many of these platforms include mobile, social, IoT, analytics, big data and all of the other popular features that are being built into almost all enterprise applications. Trefler talked about Pega 7 Express – I’ll be going to a session on that after the keynote – which is a simpler user experience for application development. Having seen their more complex user experience in a few client projects, this is definitely needed to cut through the complexity in order to address the end-user computing/citizen computing needs. In other words, although they are primarily in the heavy-duty application development space, they also realize that they can’t ignore the “low end” of the market if they want to achieve greater awareness and penetration in their customer environments beyond the IT development group.

Trefler also talked about Pega’s vertical industry applications, and we heard from Dr. Mark Boxer from Cigna Healthcare. He discussed how they use Pega’s Smart Claims App, although we mostly saw a lot of futuristic videos of what healthcare could be like, including big data and gamification. Plus Apollo 13. It’s not clear how much of this that Cigna has implemented (presumably they are not working on the moon shot) although I know that some US healthcare companies are reducing premiums for customers who use wearables to monitor their health since it allows for early problem detection.

Don Schuerman, Pega’s CTO and VP of Product Marketing, took the stage to talk about their technology, with a big focus on strategic applications rather than the platform itself – Trefler did make a comment earlier about how their marketing used to be really bad, and I think that someone told them that applications show better than platforms – plus their cloud infrastructure. He was joined by Jim Smith, CIO of the State of Maine, who was not afraid to talk about BPM: he sees BPM plus agile plus legacy system modernization as the cornerstones of their enterprise strategy, underpinned by a cloud platform for speed and security. He showed some pictures of their filing cabinets, pending files in paper folders and other paper-based inefficiencies; it’s interesting to see that there is still so much of their digital transformation – and that of many other organizations that I work with – that is relying on getting paper into digital form, either natively (i.e., online forms replacing paper ones) or through image and data capture.

Brian Matsubara, head of Global Technology Alliances at Amazon, talked briefly about their Amazon Web Services offerings, and their partnership with Pega to create the Pega Cloud on which Pega 7 Express and other products are domiciled. I don’t need to be sold on cloud in general or AWS in particular since I trust critical business data to AWS, but there are still a lot of skittish organizations who think that their own data centers are better, faster, cheaper and more secure than AWS. (Hint: they’re not.) I just finished up the materials for a workshop that I’m giving in London next week on the Future of Work, and I agree with what Matsubara said about (public) cloud: it’s not just cheaper infrastructure, it provides ways of doing business that just weren’t possible before, especially consumer mobile and external collaboration applications. Schuerman stressed at the end that they need to help their customers make cloud strategic:

The keynote finished with Kerim Akgonul, SVP of Products, who discussed changing customer attitudes: customers now expect more, and will quickly make their displeasure public when the experience is less than awesome. He talked about their suite of applications – Marketing, Sales Automation, Customer Service, and Operations – and how decision-based Next Best Action predictions and recommendations are an underlying feature that drives all of them. The Pega Marketing application brings tools to help improve customer engagement, including next best action and 1:1 targeted marketing. Their Sales Automation application offers guided selling through the end-to-end sales process. Their Customer Service application uses case management paradigms and next best actions for guided customer conversations, while interacting with social media and other channels. Akgonul is always willing to participate in the on-stage highjinks: last year, it was a wild motorcycle ride, and this year it’s a wellness app on an iWatch and iPhone that tied in with a customer service agent’s screen, with some assistance from his colleagues David Wells and Don Schuerman. Fun, and drove home the point about how these technologies can be used to improve customer engagement: mobile, omni-channel, next best action, gamification and more. He wrapped up with a more serious, if somewhat breathless, look at some of the newer features, including offline mobile apps that can synchronize data later, pattern detection in real-time streaming data such as dropped calls, dashboard personalization, and the new Pega 7 Express lightweight application builder.

IBM ECM Strategy at Content2015

Wrapping up the one-day IBM Content 2015 mini-conference in Toronto (repeated in several other cities across North America) is Feri Clayton, director of document imaging and capture. Feri and I were two of the few female engineers at FileNet back during my brief time there in 2000-1, and I have many fond memories of our “women in engineering” lunch club of three members.

Clayton talked about how enterprises are balancing the three key imperatives of staying competitive through productivity and cost savings, increasing growth through customer centricity, and protecting the organization through security and compliance. With ECM initiatives, this boils down to providing the right information to employees and customers to allow them to make the right decisions at the right time. From and ECM capabilities standpoint, this requires the critical capabilities of content capture, content protection, activating content by putting it into business processes, analyzing content to reveal insights, and engaging people in content-centric processes and collaboration. Some recent advances for IBM: they have been moving towards a single unified UI for all of their ECM portfolio, and IBM Content Navigator now provides a common modern user experience across all products; they have also been recognized as a market leader in Case Management by the big analysts.

She did a pretty complete review of the entire ECM portfolio, including recent major releases as well as what’s coming up.

Looking forward, they’re continuing to improve Navigator Cloud (hosted ECM), advancing mobile capture and other document capture in Datacap, releasing managed cloud (IBM hosted) offerings for CMOD and Case Manager, and releasing a new Information Lifecycle Governance solution. They’re also changing their release cadence, moving to quarterly releases rather than the usual 1-2 years between releases, while making the upgrades much easier so that they don’t require a lot of regression testing.

IBM Navigator Cloud — the cloud ECM product, not the unified UI — has a new mobile UI and a simplified web UI that includes external file sharing; soon it will have a Mac sync client, and an ECM solution platform on the cloud codenamed “Galaxy” that provides for much faster development using solution patterns. There’s quite an extensive ECM mobile roadmap, with Case Manager and Datacap coming soon on mobile. The core content platform continues to be enhanced, but they’re also expanding to integrate with web-based editors such as Office 365 and Google Docs, and enhancing collaboration for external participants.

Case Manager, which is my key product of interest here today, will soon see a mobile interface (or app?), enhanced case analytics, enhanced property layout editor, simplified solution deployment and packaging, and more industry and vertical solutions. Further out, they’re looking at hybrid use cases with cloud offerings.

Good summary of the IBM ECM roadmap, and a wrap for the day.

IBM ECM and Cloud

I’m at the IBM Content 2015 road show mini-conference in Toronto today, and sat in on a session with Mike Winter (who I know from my long-ago days at FileNet prior to its acquisition by IBM) discussing ECM in the cloud.

The content at the conference so far has been really lightweight: I think that IBM sees this more as a pre-sales prospecting presentation than an actual informational conference for existing customers. Although there is definitely a place for the former, it should not necessarily be mixed with the latter; it just frustrates knowledgeable customers who were really looking for more product detail and maybe some customer presentations.

ECM in the cloud has a lot of advantages, such as being able to access content on mobile devices and share with external parties, but also has a lot of challenges in terms of security — or, at least, perceived security — when implementing in larger enterprise environments. IBM ECM has a very robust and granular security/auditing model that was already in place for on-premise capabilities; they’re working to bring that same level of security and auditing to hybrid and cloud implementations. They are using the CMIS content management standard as the API into their Navigator service for cloud implementation: their enhanced version of CMIS provides cloud access to their repositories. The typical use case is for a cloud application to access an ECM repository that is either on premise or in IBM’s SoftLayer managed hosting in a sync-and-share scenario; arguably, this is not self-provisioned ECM in the cloud as you would see from cloud ECM vendors such as Box, although they are getting closer to it with per-user subscription pricing. This is being rolled out under the Navigator brand, which is a bit confusing since Navigator is also the term used for the desktop UI. There was a good discussion on user authentication for hybrid scenarios: basically, IBM replicates the customers’ LDAP on a regular basis, and is moving to do the same via a SAML service in the future.

Winter gave us a quick demo of the cloud (hosted) Navigator running against a repository in Amsterdam: adding a document, adding tags (metadata) and comments, viewing via an HTML5 viewer that includes annotations, and more. Basically, a nice web-based UI on an IBM ECM repository, with most of the rich functionality exposed. It’s quick to create a shared teamspace and add documents for collaboration, and create simple review workflows. He’s a tech guy, so didn’t know the SLA or the pricing, although he did know that the pricing is tiered.

Making Yourself Invaluable: Content2015 Keynote by @markeaton7ft4

I’m usually not a fan of “inspirational” keynotes at technical conferences that have nothing to do with the topic, and just have a few of the sponsor’s buzzwords sprinkled incongruously throughout the presentation. However, this morning at the IBM Content 2015 conference in Toronto (part of a road show of mini-conferences), Mark Eaton — a former NBA Alll-Star who turned his experiences into a career in speaking and coaching — gave a keynote on making yourself invaluable on teams. Eaton played defense, so he know all about how teams work, and how you need to support others in order to make everyone successful rather than just making the glory moves yourself.

He presented four key things to creating a winning team:

  1. Make people look good (provide others with recognition)
  2. Know your job (narrow your focus, rather than broaden it)
  3. Do what you are asked to do (listen what others are asking for)
  4. Protect others (create an environment of safety and freedom to enable innovation)

His key message: to achieve lasting success, make others successful.

This isn’t necessarily a unique message amongst inspirational speakers, but he put a lot of detail into how this worked for him, and made us think about how it could work for us on our own teams. Made me  bit nostalgic for the days when I did run implementation teams, and got a lift from making my team members successful.

SapphireNow User Experience Q&A with Sam Yen

Wrapping up day 2 of SAPPHIRE NOW 2015, a small group of bloggers met with Sam Yen, SAP’s Chief Design Officer, to talk about user experience at SAP. That, of course, means Fiori: the user experience platform that is part of HCP and S/4HANA, and now the standard platform for creating user interfaces to SAP software. This means a shift for SAP developers (as well as customers’ developers), moving to an environment that includes disaggregated UI components and a responsive interface rather than the old-school monolithic static interfaces. It’s not just about learning some new tools: this also requires learning new design guidelines and interaction patterns. Although the new products (and customers) use Fiori for the application UI, there is a huge installed base of SAP customers using older UI platforms; as they migrate from the older Business Suite to S/4, they may not want to migrate all of their UI immediately, or they may want to modernize interfaces on the older suite using Fiori. SAP’s design efforts are focused on S/4HANA, but they can’t ignore the needs of the “classic” installations.

Version 2 of Fiori is in the works, and he showed us a demo video with more informative tiles that can scale from a tile within a desktop dashboard, to a smaller interface on a tablet, to a single tile interface on a phone or watch.

Yen talked about SAP’s journey in migrating the huge number of interfaces that exist for their products to Fiori, which is multiplied several times over for their customers’ custom interfaces. This is obviously not a 1:1 exercise since there is a lot of redesign of the entire experience, not just a straight migration, but they are up against the same modernization problem as any large software developer: hand-coding of these by experienced interaction designers can’t possibly scale to the size required to do a complete refactoring of the UI. He showed us [ALL THE COOL STUFF REDACTED BECAUSE I WAS STUPID ENOUGH TO ASK FOR PERMISSION RATHER THAN FORGIVENESS WHEN NO NDA WAS SPECIFIED].

A quick and informal Q&A rather than a prepared presentation, and my last session while on site in Orlando. I’ll be back in my own office by tomorrow morning, and will hopefully have time to watch Hasso Plattner’s keynote online to wrap up SAPPHIRE for me.

SapphireNow 2015 Day 2 Keynote with Bernd Leukert

SAP HANA functionalityThe second day of SAP’s SAPPHIRENOW conference started with Bernd Leukert discussing some customers’ employees worry of being disintermediated by the digital enterprise, but how the digital economy can be used to accentuate the promise of your original business to make your customers happier without spending the same amount of time (and hopefully, money) on enterprise applications. It’s not just about changing technologies but about changing business models and leveraging business networks to address the changing world of business. All true, but I still see a lot of resistance to the digital enterprise in large organizations, with both mid-level management and front-line workers feeling threatened by new technologies and business models until they can see how it can be of benefit to them.

S/4HANAAlthough Leukert is on the stage, the real star of the show is S/4HANA: the new generation of their Business Suite ERP solutions based natively on the in-memory HANA data and transaction engine for faster processing, a simplified data model for easier analytics and faster reconciliation, and a new user interface with their Fiori user experience platform. With the real-time analytical capabilities of HANA, including non-SAP as well as S/4HANA data from finances and logistics, they are moving from being just a system of record to a full decision support system. We saw a demo of a manufacturing scenario, where we walked through a large order process where we saw a combination of financial and logistics data presented in real time for making recommendations on how to deal with a shortage in fulfilling an order. Potential solutions — in this case, moving stock allocated from one customer to another higher priority customer — are presented with a predicted financial score, allowing the user to select one of the options. Nice demo of analytics and financial predictions directly integrated with order processing.

Order processing dashboard Order processing recommendations Order process simulation results

The new offering is modular, with additional plug-ins for their other products such as Concur and SuccessFactors to enhance the suite capabilities. It runs in the cloud and on-premise. Lots of reasons to transition, but having this type of new functionality requires significant work to adopt the new programming model: both on SAP’s side in building the new platform, and also on the customers’ side for refactoring their applications to take advantage of the new features. Likely this will take several months, if not years, for widespread adoption by customers that have highly customized solutions (isn’t that all of them?), in spite of the obvious advantages. As we have seen with other vendors who completely re-architect their product, new customers are generally very happy with starting on the new platform, but existing customers can take years even when there is certified migration path. However, since they launched in February, 400 customers have committed to S4/HANA, and they are now supporting all 25 industries that they serve.

As we saw last year, SAP is pushing to have existing customers first migrate to HANA as the underlying database in their existing systems (typically displacing Oracle), which is a non-trivial but straightforward operation that is likely to improve performance; then, reconsider whether the customizations that they have in their current system are handled out of the box with S/4HANA or can be easily re-implemented based on the simpler data model and more functional capabilities. Sounds good, and I imagine that they will get a reasonable share of their existing customers to make the first step and migrate to HANA, but the second step starts to look more like a new implementation than a simple migration that will scare off a lot of customers. Leukert invited a representative from their customer Asian Paints to the stage to talk about their migration: they have moved to HANA and the simplified finance core functionality, and are still working on implementing the simplified logistics and other modules with a vision to soon be completely on S/4HANA. A good success story, but indicative of the length of time and amount of work required to migrate. For them, definitely worth the trip since they have been able to re-imagine their business model to reach new markets through a better understanding of their customers and their own business data.

He moved on to talk about the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), a general-purpose application development platform that can be used to build applications unrelated to SAP applications, or to build extensions to SAP functionality. He mentioned an E&Y application built on HCP for fraud detection that is directly integrated with core SAP solutions, which is just one of 1,000 or more third-party applications available on the HCP marketplace. HCP provides structured and unstructured data models, geospatial, predictive, Fiori UX platform as a service, mobile support, analytics portfolio, and integration layers that provide direct connection to your business both on the device side through IoT events and into the operational business systems. With the big IoT push that we saw in the panel yesterday, Siemens has selected HCP as their cloud platform for IoT: the Siemens Cloud for Industry. Peter Weckesser of Siemens joined Leukert on stage to talk more about this newly-launched platform, and how it can be added to their customer installations as a monitoring (not control) layer: remote devices, such as sensors on manufacturing equipment, push their event streams to the Siemens cloud (based on HCP) in public, hybrid or on-premise configurations; analytics can then be applied for predictive maintenance scheduling as well as aggregate operational optimization.

Energy grid geospatial analyticsWe saw a demo based on the CenterPoint IoT example at the panel yesterday, showing monitoring and maintenance of energy distribution networks: tracking the health of transformers, grid storage and other devices and identifying equipment failures, sometimes before they even happen. CenterPoint already has 100,000 sensors out in the field, and since this is integrated with S/4HANA, this is not just monitoring: an operator can trigger a work order directly from the predictive equipment maintenance analytics dashboard.

Energy grid analytics Energy grid analytics drill-down

Leukert touched on to the HANA roadmap, with the addition of Hadoop and SPARK Cluster Manager to handle infinite volumes of data, then welcomed Walmart CIO Karenann Terrell to discuss what it is like to handle a really large HANA implementation. Walmart serves 250 million customers per week through 11,000 locations with 2.2 million employees, meaning that they generate a lot of data just in their daily operations: they generate literally trillions of financial transactions. Because technology is so core to managing this well, she pointed out that Walmart is creating a technology company in the middle of the world’s largest retail company, which allows them to stay focused on the customer experience while reducing costs. Their supply chain is extensive, since they are directly plugged into many of their suppliers, and innovating along that supply chain has driven them to partner with SAP more closely than most other customers. HANA allows them to have 5,000 people hitting on data stores of a half-billion records simultaneously with sub-second response time to provide a real-time view of their supply chain, making them a true data-driven retailer and shooting them to the top of yesterday’s HANA Innovation Awards. She finished by saying that seeing S/4HANA implemented at Walmart in her lifetime is on her bucket list, which got a good laugh from the audience but highlighted the fact that this is not a trivial transition for most companies.

Leukert finished with an invitation — or maybe it was a challenge — to use S/4HANA and HCP to reinvent your business: “clean your basement” to remove unnecessary customization in your current SAP solutions or convert it to HCP or S/4HANA extension platform; change your business model to become more data-driven; and leverage business networks to expand the edges of your value chain. Thrive, don’t just survive.

Employee disaster scenarioSteve Singh, CEO of Concur (acquired by SAP last December) then took over to look at reinventing the employee travel experience, from booking through trip logistics to expense reporting. For companies with large number of traveling employees, managing travel can be a serious headache both from a logistics and financial standpoint. Concur does this by creating a business network (or a network or networks) that directly integrates with suppliers — such as airlines and car rental companies — for booking and direct invoice capture, plus easy functions for inputting travel expenses that are not captured directly from the supplier. I heard comments yesterday that SAP already has travel and expense management, and although the functionality of Concur for that functionality is likely a bit better, the networks that they bring are the real prize here. The networks, for example, allow for managing the extraction of an employee who finds themself in a disaster or other dangerous travel scenario, and becomes part of a broader human resources risk management strategy.

At the press Q&A later, Leukert fielded questions about how they have simplified the complete core of their ERP solution in terms of data model and functionality but still have work to do for some industry modules: although all 25 industries are supported as of now in the on-premise version, they need to do a bit of tinkering under the hood and do additional migration for the cloud version. They’re also still working on the cloud version of everything, and are recommending the HCM and CRM standalone products if the older Business Suite versions don’t meet requirements. In other words, it’s not done yet, although core portions are fully functional. Singh talked about the value of business networks such as Ariba in changing business models, and sees that products such as Concur using HCP and the SAP business networks will help drive broader adoption.

There was a question on the ROI for migration to S/4HANA: it’s supposed to run 1,800 times faster than previous versions, but customers may not be seeing much (if any) savings, opening things up to competitive displacement. I heard this same sentiment from some customers last night at the HANA Innovation Awards reception; since there is little or no cost reduction in terms of license and deployment costs, they need to make the case based on what additional capabilities that HANA enables, such as real-time analytics and predictions, that allow companies to run their businesses differently, and a longer-term reduction in IT complexity and maintenance costs. Since a lot of more traditional companies don’t yet see the need to change their business models, this can be a hard sell, but eventually most companies will need to come around to the need for real-time insights and actions.