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SAP buzzTRACKR: Hasso's head, HANA, and the invention of the fork

by Davin Wilfrid

March 25, 2011

by Davin Wilfrid, insiderRESEARCH

SAP buzzTRACKR is where insiderRESEARCH ranks the buzz quotient recent events and news items in the SAP world and beyond. The buzzTRACKR is unscientific, shallow, and potentially ridiculous. Its official title is insiderRESEARCH Insider Learning Network SAP buzzTRACKR 4.0, version for Internet.

For this week's installment of the SAP buzzTRACKR, we're introducing a new ratings system. The relative buzz score will be designated using our new proprietary Hasso scale, in which multiples of SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner's head are used to signify the buzz value of a given topic. 

Now let's go chew on some buzz:

FIVE HASSOS: The SAP sustainability report

When talking with SAP customers and partners, I often get the sense that sustainability the other s-word at some places. People often conflate sustainability with so-called "green" initiatives, as if the end-result of sustainability was to save a few barn owls or banana trees at the expense of the bottom line.

For the past few years, SAP has firmly insisted that sustainability is less about environmental altruism than about eliminating wasteful practices. The idea behind sustainability is that some types of waste are most easily spotted through a "green" lens, but the primary driver for eliminating that waste is to increase the efficiency of the business. As William Newman of Newport Consulting told me at the recent GRC 2011 conference, "green" principles aren't very different from "lean" principles, which have been a standard practice in manufacturing for decades.

Nowhere does this message get presented with more clarity than in SAP's periodic sustainability reports. The most recent version, released this week, highlight's SAP's own ability to reduce the impact of its business on the environment without hampering its ability to achieve growth:

Through a variety of actions, we achieved a 6% drop in emissions while at the same time delivering revenue growth of 17%. Our total emissions in 20101 reached a total of 425 kilotons, representing a drop of 25% from their peak in 2007.

A more specific breakdown gives further insight into our successes and where we see room for improvement. The examples below show what happened to our emissions in five key areas:

  • Electricity usage: 9% reduction
  • Corporate Cars: 1% reduction
  • Business Flights: 33% increase
  • Employee Commuting: 14% reduction

We also increased our purchase of renewable energy, which helped reduce our overall footprint by 11%.

It should also be noted that the current sustainability report is a master class in information presentation, from interactive charts and graphics to seamlessly embedded video and crisp data points.



Holder of last week's top buzzTRACKR spot, SAP's new in-memory analytics technology continues to captivate. I heard a number of customers and SAP partners at this week's SAPinsider SCM, logistics and CRM conference discussing the impact of HANA in future iterations of their businesses.

In fact, the buzz around HANA reminds me of the buzz around the original iPhone -- and for good reason. Just as the iPhone expanded our conception of what a phone could deliver us in terms of user experience and depth of engagement, HANA is allowing SAP customers to reimagine their own business processes untethered from the restrictions of "big data" and the complexity and performance issues caused by it.


THREE HASSOS: Certification debate

HR consultant (and HR Expert author) Jarret Pazahanick rekindled discussion over the role of SAP certifications on his blog this week. You can read the summary over there (be sure to scroll through the comments) but the jist is this: Many consultants and practitioners believe SAP's certification program is unnecessary and cumbersome. SAP maintains that certification programs are valuable tools to ensure that the market doesn't get flooded with know-nothing consultants.

To its credit, SAP has engaged with a group of five SAP Mentors (who call themselves the C5) to assess possible changes to the certification program. It's going to be a tough climb up a slippery hill, but it will be interesting to see if SAP can re-engineer the program to benefit customers, consultants, and partners alike.


WILDCARD: Cockpits

I'm sorry Mr. Airline Pilot, I won't call it a "flight deck." It's a cockpit. Always has been, always will be.



I got a chance to test my wits against IBM's Watson during a simulated game of Jeopardy this week at the IBM Innovation Center at our supply chain, logistics and CRM event. I was able to beat Watson to a few answers (for example, in the category "ancient technologies," I deduced that it was the modern fork that was invented in Italy during the 11th century), but final score was... well let's just say it was not very close at all. Later we played one-on-one basketball and I was avenged. 



After launching the latest version of its governance, risk, and compliance solution at the SAPinsider GRC 2011 event a few weeks ago, SAP formally announced the release of GRC 10 this week. As Scott Priest, editor of Financials Expert, wrote on his blog this week, th e GRC 10.0 release has generated an awful lot of attention -- not a terribly common occurence for a technology many view as a necessary (or worse, unnecessary) evil.

Here's hoping businesses are finally getting the message that GRC is more than just a compliance tool, but a full suite of integrated components that can drive real business value if implemented correctly.


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