Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Atoms Are Becoming Bits

A while back my colleague Enric Gili pointed out a trend to me. He said that what used to be atoms is soon becoming bits. The fact that text, pictures, books, magazines, news papers, songs and movies have become bits is quite obvious. Less obvious is the fact that physical things such as clocks, calendars, calculators, and radios have also become bits. Even less obvious is the fact that sketch books, brushes, pencils, pens and cameras have become bits.

I had a first hand experience of this recently when I started sketching with a Samsung Galaxy Note using the Autodesk Sketchbook Pro app. I used to spend a ton of money on pencils, brushes and paper to sketch when I was in design school. Once I finished sketching I spent even more time and money on converting them into slides for my presentations and exhibitions. With drawing and sketching tools becoming bits, this process of creation and sharing has become easier. This does not mean the skill itself is becoming easier to master. You still need to understand the basics of drawing and illustration, know how to pick your brushes and colors and have a steady hand. But if you have the skills and the focus, the act of sketching has suddenly become more accessible.

This is an orchid that I sketched recently. Can you tell that it was done completely on a tablet without using  physical pencils, brushes, erasers or colors?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Prague In Pencil Sketches

I spent a week in Prague, a timeless city which has combined the old with the new, without losing its past. I spent most of the time visiting art galleries and appreciating the architecture. I decided to sketch some of the buildings and places I liked. When you sketch a building or a place, you develop a special relationship with it. You start to see the details that you normally glaze over and appreciate the history and the people behind it a bit more.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Jam Can Engage People Across Multiple Legal Entities

SAP and SuccessFactors organizations function as two separate legal entities, even though people from both organizations work together closely. This has its pluses and minuses. On the plus side SuccessFactors retains its cloud DNA without a larger organization influencing the way it does businesses. On the downside, this keeps organizational systems including HR systems separate, which makes it difficult for people from each organization to quickly look up each other.

The SAP Jam team and the SAP IT team got together and brought both organizations together in SAP Jam. Today, even though the organizations run two different HR systems, we are able to look up each other and understand where the other person works, who they work with and what they do. This is not a hypothetical situation that Jam could be used for. This is a real world problem that Jam is solving for SAP and Successfactors today. Imagine this. The shared organizational information in Jam alone saves every SAP and Successfactors employee who works with each other about 15 minutes a day. Apart from the time savings, it also speeds up business execution and decision making.

It got me thinking that SAP Jam can play a very important role in companies that have multiple legal entities or country subsidiaries running multiple HR systems. The SAP Jam and IT teams even know how to bring this data together, how long it will take, how much will it cost to implement and what the Dos and Don't are. I am sure that our customers will find this useful.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Video Can Play An Important Role In Goal Alignment

I work in the organization of Chakib Boudary, who is the head of corporate strategy and industry solutions at SAP. Chakib posted a video yesterday telling the hundreds of people in his organization our focus areas for the next three months. There were no multiple all-hands meeting for the various time zones. There were no hour long meetings. Just a 10 minute video where he clearly stated the areas we need to focus on, in the next three months. It helped me prioritize the things I am focusing on and helped me understand the significance of some of my assignments.

I like the video approach much better than conference calls in ungodly hours of the day, where executives share 10 minutes of substance and find something to fill the remaining 50 minutes of the hour just because they cannot call for a 10 minute all hands meeting. Most of the hour long all-hands meetings are usually unproductive and a waste of everyone's time. Not everyone can make it due to time and schedule constraints and no one watches an hour long video recording usually.

Then I started thinking about combining video with goals management. Apart from individual goals for every person, it might be a good idea for top executives to post short 7 minute videos every quarter or every month telling the whole organization what their focus should be for the next period of work. Because video can be watched on mobile devices easily and because people are used to watching short videos, employees might actually pay attention to what is being said.

I am not talking about a welcome video or a general update from the CEO. I am talking about senior managers telling their teams the 5 things they need to focus on. In fact it should not be very difficult to add this feature  to SuccessFactors goals management, since we already have video functionality from Jam integrated into the Business Execution Suite. Building it into the product is probably easier compared to developing leaders who have the clarity of thought and presence to tell an inspiring story via a video. Technology and design cannot fill that gap.

What did Chakib tell us? I cannot share all the details. But the video below should give you a clue.

Monday, November 05, 2012

SAP Jam Combines The Best Of Jam and Streamwork

SAP jam combines the best parts of SuccessFactors Jam for enterprise social networking, the SAP StreamWork application for social workflow and problem-solving as well as new capabilities. I am personally very thrilled about two of my favorite teams coming together. I got to see and use the new product in our internal production instance.

Today while I was working on one of my projects, I saw the link to a video where our Co-CEOs video talked about 2012 Q3 results. It was interesting to learn about the details without leaving the online workplace where I collaborate with most of my colleagues.

Here is another screenshot of how the updates page looks.
Apart from the standard updates, I also get nudged to look at popular content that is relevant for me, colleagues that I should follow and content that I might be interested in. Jam has been a smashing success for us internally at SAP and it is getting better by the day. Some of our best designers and engineering minds are behind the product.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...