Friday, June 27, 2014

One Of The Most Beautiful Integration Projects In History

I am working on a White Paper that is a document version of the SAP SuccessFactors Integration Strategy and Direction presentation that I am my colleagues share with our customers and partners. It articulates the direction and provides a bit more details for those who would rather read a document than sit through a 30 minute presentation.

In the document I talk about the trends I am my colleagues see in customers' journey to the cloud, how we are responding to the trends, every cloud deployment model we provide, the packaged integrations we are building for every deployment model, the recommended integrations technologies, the road map and the implementation services we provide.

I wanted to choose a cover for the document and wondered what might be a good image that captures the cloud, earth, the San Francisco Bay Area, where SuccessFactors is located, and integration. I decided on the Golden Gate bridge glowing in the evening sun with San Francisco in the background. After all it is one of the most beautiful integration projects in history.

A draft version of this document is now complete and is available for SAP and SuccessFactors colleagues in the Jam group Partners can access it from the Jam group

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Customer Concerns About The Cloud

I met a customer's HR and IT leadership team today to discuss their human capital management software needs. I started my conversation by mentioning that human capital management is moving to the cloud. Initially they were skeptical about the cloud. Their concern was not about data security. Their concern was mostly about their ability to customize the application to suit their needs.

I then explained the concept of Meta Data Framework to them and mentioned that they could customize cloud applications from SuccessFactors to a great extend. I also mentioned the HANA Cloud Platform, using which customers can build their own custom applications based on employee data stored in SuccessFactors Employee Central.

This significantly changed the nature of the conversation. At the end of the session, they were open to the idea of moving human capital management to the cloud. One of the leaders even suggested to his colleagues that it is time they revisited their view of cloud software.

It was an interesting day.

Big Data

I started reading the book Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think recently. It is a good book that explains what is big data and the reasons why it will fundamentally change businesses and our life. The book is not about the tools used to manipulate large volumes of data.

I believe every business leader and every product manager needs to understand what this means for their business and product. The triggered a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas in my mind. A good one to buy and read.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Unified Cloud Portal For Cloud and On-Premise Applications

On Friday, Ankur Bhatt, who is the head of the integration engineering teams for SuccessFactors and I were discussing the things that we normally do not talk about when we talk about integration. He showed me some of the work his team has done and the things he thought could be done. In the past one year the SuccessFactors user experience teams and the HANA Cloud Portal teams have done some interesting things.

The SuccessFactors user experience teams have done some interesting work with the Tiles feature in the Home page. SAP Mentor Chris Paine showed how you can do interesting things with the tile feature. The things he did even surprised the user experience team that built the tile feature. Chris showed that theoretically you can build entire HTML applications inside a tile in the SuccessFactors home page.

The HANA Cloud Portal team meanwhile has done some interesting work to make that product a viable option for launching both cloud product, both from SAP and SuccessFactors and on-premise products.

The HANA Cloud Platform is already integrated with SuccessFactors. This means that an employee's information and the SuccessFactors user experience theme will be available for apps built on the HANA Cloud Platform. While you can build applications on the HANA Cloud Platform, customers and partners can also build shell applications in the HANA Cloud Platform that actually point to applications hosted else where.

The SAP Jam team has done some innovative work with SAP CRM. Since SAP Jam can show up as a tile in the SuccessFactors home page, we can bring all these apps together into an interesting unified cloud experience. Ankur pointed out that it can be done today.

Technology is not the hurdle. Organizational divisions and licensing details may have to be worked out. I plan to spend some time looking into this in the near future. I believe these is good value for customers, if all these things come together seamlessly. A bit of cat herding might be involved. Should be worth a try.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

SAP Cloud Integration Strategy and Direction FAQ

SAP customers, who run SAP ERP on-premise, are adopting cloud solutions to take advantage of faster innovation, consumer grade user experience and lower total cost of ownership.

Lines of businesses such as human resources, procurement, finance, sales, service and marketing are adopting the cloud to respond to changing customer expectations faster without having to rely on internal information technology teams and undertake large high-cost, high-risk on-premise software implementations . They are also turning to the cloud because of the superior user experience that engages a newer generation of employees who expect enterprise software to function like consumer apps they use every day. For example, an industry that is struggling to attract and retain new college graduates can implement onboarding solutions that attract and engage a new generation of employees during the critical new-hire onboarding period.

Information technology teams are adopting the cloud because it helps them deliver solutions to their internal customers faster at a lower cost, while freeing up time and money to invest in projects that help the core business of their companies. For example, a banking customer that runs SAP for Banking can move human resource management, procurement and travel management to the cloud while retaining their on-premise software to run their bank.

Executives such as CEOs, CFO and CIOs are moving subsidiaries or newly acquired companies to the cloud and connecting cloud systems with their on-premise ERP to reduce the cost of information technology, gain better insight into the business, reduce the time it takes to integrate systems and culture of newly acquired companies.

When lines of businesses move their software applications to the cloud, they sometimes incorrectly assume that these applications are self-contained and need not talk to other business applications that may be on-premise and other supporting applications that may be in the cloud. Such an assumption is costly and may lead to the failure of cloud implementations. SAP studied thousands of cloud implementations and learned that on an average line-of-business cloud applications are connected to over 15 systems using at least 60 integrations. For large businesses this number could be in the hundreds.

SAP’s cloud integration strategy was developed in response to these challenges, desires and ground realities. While, SAP’s cloud applications are designed to provide complete self-contained functionality, they are also well integrated with a customer’s on-premise SAP systems to support end to end business process. SAP provides the necessary technology and content to connect its cloud applications to 3rd party cloud applications. SAP also provides a set of tools and technologies that enable customers and partners to build their own custom integrations. For customers who may not have the know-how, SAP provides fixed price professional services packages to implement the integrations.

This document, which I co-authored along with multiple product managers, articulates the strategy and direction of SAP and answers frequently asked questions. I am still putting the finishing touches on this document. If you are a colleague, partner or customer and would like to review it before I publish it, please leave a comment or send me an email.

A note about the cover. It is Rio, a beautiful place where you feel you are seeing the sky meet the earth. My tribute to the World Cup starting in Brazil today.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

SuccessFactors Competencies and Curricula Integration With SAP ERP Qualifications White Paper

SAP ERP customers in multiple industries use employee qualifications stored in the Employee Qualifications Profile in SAP to make day-to-day operational decisions. For example, a supervisor working for an SAP customer in the oil and gas industry, may refer to the Qualifications Profile of an employee in SAP before giving that employee a particular work assignment.

An employee acquires a qualification, in most cases, by completing a training program. These training programs are managed in a learning management system. Hundreds of SAP customers use SuccessFactors Learning, SAP’s learning management system in the cloud, to manage such learning. Before June 2014, when an employee acquired a qualification as a result of a course completion in SuccessFactors Learning, that information was not sent to the Employee Qualifications Profile in SAP.

In some cases changes in an employee’s qualification might come from a system that is not a learning management system. For example a performance management system could update an employee’s qualifications. Hundreds of SAP customers use the SuccessFactors Talent Solutions suite which has applications that influence or directly update an employee's qualifications. Before June 2014, when an employee acquired a qualification as a result of such an update, that information was not sent to the Employee Qualifications Profile in SAP.

The packaged integrations discussed in this document address this need. If you are a colleague, partner or customer and would like to review the document before it is published, please leave a comment or email me. I might be able to share the draft version with you.


Thanks for all your requests and inputs. The current version of the White paper is now available.

SAP SuccessFactors colleagues, please look in the Jam group You need to be in the SAP network. Search for the document there or see the Talent Hybrid page. Join the group if you are interested in the topic of SAP SuccessFactors integration.

SAP Partners, can access the document from  You need to be a member of the Jam group. Ask my colleague Lillian dot balenbin at sap dot com if you need an invitation. Once there, search for the document or look in the talent hybrid page.
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