Monday, March 30, 2015

It Is Not The Algorithm Or The Skills. It Is The Data

Today and in the future companies that gather and own data, usually about users, will reap bulk of the benefits. Companies that have a proprietary algorithm to mine data might have a temporary advantage. But that will not be a lasting advantage. Data science skills might sound very exotic today. But so was HTML in 1990 and Java in 1995.

If you think about data as the new oil, the countries who have oil reap lasting benefits. Think Saudi Arabia. The countries that have the technology to extract the oil can make some money charging for it. But the bulk of the income will go to the countries with the oil. if you want to invest in or work for companies, look for those who have the capability to collect and own data, even if they are not able to extract full value out of it today. They can buy such expertise or get help from outside to mine value out of the data and take actions based on it.

How Might Cloud Software Providers Use Predictive Analytics For Themselves

Predictive Analytics gives us insight into what might be about to happen in the near future based on insights derived from past data. This insight is useless unless we can do something about it.

For example cloud software providers can use predictive analytics to predict which customer may not renew the cloud subscription based on a number of factors.  They can combine user access information, support tickets, time to resolve support tickets and similar information to associate a risk value to every customer and determine whether a customer needs additional attention or not.

Most cloud software providers have account managers who are focused on ensuring good service for customers and whose performance is measured by customer renewal rates. In a company with thousands of customers, the account managers may have limited time and resources and may like to focus on customers who are not happy with the current service. They may also want to avoid annoying customers who are happy and do not want to be bothered with unnecessary meeting or phone calls.

Identifying a set of customers who might not renew the subscription and proactively reaching out to help them and ensure renewal will save a cloud service provider a significant amount of support cost, sales cost and avoid loss of revenue.

Similar models can and are being used to predict employees who are at risk of leaving the company, employees who are at risk of hospitalization among other things. Investment in a bit of prediction technology and expertise can save a huge amount of money for most organizations.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Predictive Analytics

Experts define Predictive analytics as the practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends.  Predictive analytics does not tell you what will happen in the future. It forecasts what might happen in the future with an acceptable level of reliability, and includes what-if scenarios and risk assessment.

This can be applied to the human capital management area to predict who might leave the company, who might have health problems in the near future, what kind of programs retain employees longer among other things. Having such an understanding, even if it it not very accurate, can save a significant amount of money for employers.

Since human capital management is moving to the cloud powered, in most cases, by in-memory technology that enables access to near real time data, predictive models can be used to analyze current data and historical facts in order to better understand employee behavior and to identify potential talent management related risks and opportunities for a company. It uses a number of techniques, including data mining, statistical modeling and machine learning to help analysts make future business forecasts.

A good book on this topic is "Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die". A good course on Machine Learning, one of the key topics in this area is available in Coursera.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SuccessFactors Integration Help On

Help information for integrating SuccessFactors to SAP ERP HCM, SAP ERP and 3rd party applications is now available from the URL You can also navigate to this site from

The information is organized by deployment models for your convenience.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Orchids In The Bellagio Las Vegas Lobby

I was in Las Vegas recently for the HR Insider Conference. After three days of talk about SuccessFactors integration, I took a couple of hours off to sketch the orchids in the Bellagio Hotel lobby. Nothing like drawing fine lines to focus your mind.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SuccessFactors Integration Product Manager

We are hiring a SuccessFactors Integration product manager who will be responsible for SuccessFactors to 3rd party packaged integrations. This product manager will be working in the platform product management team. If you are a product manager or a consulting colleague who want to be the global owner of this product, please email me your resume. If you have designed or implemented an integration between Employee Central and other applications, you will have an edge.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Book - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I read the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. It is a wonderful book and has already started changing my life significantly.  Although the book is categorized as a house keeping book, it could also be categorized under philosophy or psychology.

Ironically, I got rid of over 150 books, among other things, after reading this book. Tidying up your space has the same effect on your mind as meditation or exercise.

Complexity has not only crept into our work spaces, but has also crept into our lives and houses. At work, I think everyday about simplifying business and realized that I can't do it if I do not simplify my personal life.

The author suggests that discarding what does not give you joy is the best way to go about it. Once you take that mind set many clothes you own, many books on your shelf and many things in your cupboards start looking unnecessary.

Run Your Life Simple.

Two Books on SuccessFactors HCM

There are two books on SuccessFactors available for order at this time in The one by Luke Marson and Amy Grubb is titled SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM and focuses on the products and their features.  The second one by Venki, Donna, Prashanth, Chinni,Vishnu and many more expert contributors is about Integrating SuccessFactors with SAP and 3rd party applications. The integration book is also available from SAP Press.

When I visited the Amazon page today I noticed that those who bought the first book are already ordering the book on integration. We expected that. Here is some inside story on both the books. We wrote the book on integration while Luke and Amy wrote the second edition of the book titled SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM. Luke and I discussed the table of contents of the integration book and ensured that the book on integration complements the book on products and vice versa. In fact, Luke shared the chapter on integration from his book with me and I shared the table of contents of the book on integration and some chapters with Luke to ensure that readers of the books get full value for their money and time investment. The publisher and editors of both books also reviewed the content of both books in details to ensure the same.

The authors of both books are practitioners who write from experience. Each one of them has taken hundreds of hours from their busy schedules last year to generously share their wisdom with everyone. The integration book in particular is full of case studies for many possible scenarios. Get both the books for yourself or your customers. The books will serve your projects and your career for the next several years very well. If you are an SAP SuccessFactors account executive, reading the book and sharing it with your prospect will significantly speed up the decision making process.

You can read the preface of the book on integration here.

Packaged Integration Customer Has Completed Two Compensation Cycles

At the HR Inside Conference recently, I had a chance to meet the first customer who implemented the packaged integrations for employee data and SuccessFactors Compensation. They told me that they have already completed two compensation cycles after they implemented the compensation process integration. It is good to know that the packaged integrations are working well for customers.

Here is the current and planned packaged integrations as of February 2015.

When Is HANA Cloud Integration A Good Integration Technology Option for Talent Hybrid Customers

I met several SAP ERP HCM customers running SuccessFactors Talent Solutions at the HR Insider Conference recently. We discussed how they are integrating SuccessFactors Talent Solutions with SAP ERP HCM. I have been recommending SAP Process Integration (PI) as the integration technology option for Talent Hybrid customers. One such customer said that they are in the process of picking an integration technology at this time. When they asked their CIO to invest in hardware and software licenses for SAP Process Integration (PI), the CIO was not inclined to do so and did not give them the budget for various business reasons.  They do not use any other middleware technology on-premise either.

For this customer, I recommended SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI). For customers who do not use SAP Process Integration and have no plans to invest in an on-premise integration middleware technology, HANA Cloud Integration(HCI) is a good option. HCI does not require investment in hardware and software licenses because it is delivered from the cloud, and the customer pays only for the service during  the contract period, which is usually 3-5 years. The subscription fee can come from the HR team's budget and need not come from a CIO's budget. The cost of subscription is usually much lower than the total cost of ownership of an on-premise middleware technology.

Please note that this recommendation is for the Talent Hybrid scenario. You can learn about the three SuccessFactors cloud deployment options here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Another Reason Why HR Professionals Need To Care About Data Integration

I attended a very good presentation on healthcare reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act by an Ellen A. Feeney, VP Councel of ADP Healtcare Compliance. It was an excellent educational session. I was curious about the integration requirements that this reporting will require.
Ellen pointed out that while healthcare reporting is like W2 reporting, it is a lot more complex and requires data to come from HRIS, Payroll, Benefits and other systems. This is another reason why HR professionals need to care about integration between these systems. If this is not done the penalties are very steep. You can read more about this here

The reporting requires employers to collect social security numbers of dependents. This will require better security and robust integration between systems.

Here is a good infographic about health care reform from ADP.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Content Governance Model For Product Managers Using SAP Jam

The good thing about SAP Jam is the it makes it easy to create content repositories to collaborate. In the SAP SuccessFactors Integration Jam group, I manage, I kept the pages open for all participants. Almost anyone inside the company could add, edit, even delete content.

Image from
Ease of use and open policies sometimes leads to content proliferation, the same way rich soil in a garden invites weeds and unplanned growth. Such unplanned growth and unwanted content needs to be controlled when possible and removed on a periodic basis. Governance for a collaboration site is a bit like weeding an organic garden. You cannot use harsh pesticides and in some cases have to use hand weeding to avoid harming the plants that thrive there.

We faced the same problem last year with the SuccessFactors integration Jam group. So this year I wrote a governance document for asset creation and maintenance. I studied the content governance models of universities and read the best practices shared by various experts to come up with the model. I wanted to strike a balance between good content governance and too much bureaucracy.

Here is the document and its table of contents. I posted the governance document in the SAP SuccessFactors Integration internal Jam group. You have to be in the SAP network to access it. If you are a non-SAP Jam user and would like the document to use as a template, please leave a comment or email me.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...