Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quotes by Eric Schmidt At Mobile World Congress 2012

These are some quotes from Eric Schmidt’s Mobile World Congress keynote that caught my attention.
  • Developers are engineers of human freedom
  • With information comes power and with power comes choice for people.
  • Technology is a leveler. The weak will become strong and those with nothing will have something.
  • 40 countries engage in some kind of online content censorship. Up from 4 ten years ago. All these efforts will fail. People will always find a way to circumvent censorship.
  • Technology is not an isolator. Technology is a connector.

Some statistics he shared.

  • There are 7 billion people in the world. 
  • About 2 billion people are connected to the Internet. 
  • 1 billion have smart phones.

Jobs2Web and SuccessFactors

Jobs2Web is now part of SAP. I have admired the product for sometime now. It is very promising.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Professional Profile Of An Employee

The professional profile of an employee is a window into a person's capabilities, experience and work. In the past it was only possible to see a, usually outdated, record of what a person claimed they did.

With today's technology and work habits, a person's profile could be a window into what a person is working towards, what a person is working on and who they are working with. This kind of a profile is useful for a person and for her colleagues. For the person, it is a mirror of their behavior.  For her colleagues, it is a window into her behavior.

I believe that we will see professional profiles in the enterprise that reflect what a person actually does. Not just what a person claims to have done. There will be little need for verification. Reputation will replace or significantly reduce the need for verification. People working with a person will signal the capabilities of the person via participation and active feedback.

Multiple business applications within an enterprise will feed empirical evidence into and derive evidence from this new profile. This professional profile of a person will have credentialed information and empirically acquired information.

We will see such profiles in the enterprise in 2012 or 2013. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Tribute To Those Who Ask You About The Tools You Use

Every day we come across well meaning people who ask us about the tool we use when they see an interesting piece of work from us. E.g. "Nice photograph, what camera did you use?" I made this one for all of them.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Informal Learning For Those Who Don't Use A Computer

A significant portion of the world's workers do not work in the knowledge industry. For example, people who work in the mining industry and utilities industry may not always use their computers to get their job done. However there is a heavy need for training in all industries in the world. In some cases this training needs to be delivered to where the person is rather than bring the person to a training room.

The video capture feature in SuccessFactors Jam mobile application enables people who are not computer users to create training content, share it, search for it and consume it from their mobile devices. The process is so simple that any person who users a smart phone today will be able to post, share, search and consume content. They will even be able to register their appreciation, and discuss the content by entering their comments from their mobile devices.

I made a quick video to show how this can be done.

Some key things to note are
 1. A person can create and post video content from a smart phone.
2. The content is searchable from the the company's learning management system
3. The content is searchable and viewable in a mobile device.
4. Viewers can indicate the value of the content by viewing it, liking it or discussing it.

The Democratization Of Rich Content Creation

I have been in the learning content creation business for more than fifteen years. I always faced one problem - the lack of availability of rich content creation tools for everyone in the company. Although there were good tools available for content creation, they were normally licensed to a few experts in the training department. Meanwhile the content experts created their content on PowerPoint. No wonder we ended up with 60% of the world's training in PowerPoint format. Content creation tools were also restricted to people who knew how to use a computer. A majority of the world's workforce does not use a computer and this majority was denied the opportunity to create and share learning content.

So I was particularly excited to learn that SuccessFactors Jam makes rich content creation tools available for everyone in the company, even those who do not use a computer. Here is a video of how it works.

This video shows how the content is optimized and streamed to mobile devices. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Converting Strategy Into Action

The Stanford University - Center For Professional Development recently invited me to participate in their course named "Converting Strategy Into Action". Since I am working on multiple projects with the new colleagues from SuccessFactors, I thought it might be a good opportunity to go back and revisit some of the core concepts of execution. I accepted their invitation. It was a good experience.

Image from

I had an opportunity to listen to Prof. Raymond E. Levitt and share some of my experiences with him. He discussed the origins of planning and execution and shared many stories from his days working on large mission critical construction projects. He also touched upon a case study of agile development at One particularly interesting conversation was about how execution is moving from a 1.0 world to a 2.0 world. I also got to listen to some war stories from colleagues who work at Intuit, Microsoft,, and BMC Software.

The Culture Egg
One of the concepts that stuck in my mind was the culture egg of a company. I came away wondering about these things. What kind of a culture egg does SAP have? What kind of a culture egg is required for a company to be a differentiator vs a cost leader. Is it possible for a company to have multiple dominant cultures? Will major acquisitions alter the culture egg of a company significantly?

I am definitely going to use this concept when I look for my next project or next job. I think it is also possible to predict the success or failure of a company's strategy by looking at its culture egg.

From the course material provided by SCPD

If you would like to get a taste of this program, the book 'Executing Your Strategy - How to break it down and Get It Done" is a good guide.

What Got Your Here Won't Get You There

I am listening to a book by Marshall Goldsmith named "What Got Your Here Won't Get You There". It is a good book that talks about the need for successful people to change the way they do certain things.

The one that caught my attention was 'Active Listening'.
After I read the book, I started paying close attention while in meetings and conversations. I was appalled by the number of senior people who focus on their smart phones rather than the conversation. I wondered why they were there if they are not interested in the conversation?

In smaller conversations I noticed people started checking their watch the moment another person started to talk. It is a subconscious signal that says "I am interested in telling you something. But I have no intention of listening to you".

Marshall takes the example of Bill Clinton who is very good at the art of active listening. He makes the other person feel like he or she is the only person in the world while having a conversation with that person.

The second habit that caught my attention is the "Overuse of "No," "But" or "However".
I have seen this at work way too often. There was a colleague who used to sit next to me and almost always said. "No. I agree." I used to wonder why one earth would he say "No" when he agrees and has the wonderful opportunity to say "Yes" to make the other person feel appreciated.

The book helped me understand some of my shortcomings and recognize the shortcomings of a few people I interact with. I highly recommend the book. It will make you a better professional.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

David Meyer On CubeTree, Now Called SuccessFactors JAM

David Meyer, the executive who headed SAP Streamwork talked about CubeTree, which is now called SuccessFactors JAM. SAP used the product even before SuccessFactors bought the product and renamed it SuccessFactors JAM. Since there is a lot of discussion about both the products, I thought it might be interesting to hear what David, who drove the design and development of SAP Streamwork thought about CubeTree.

This is how SuccessFactors JAM is positioned now.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cisco's Research On Changes In The Workplace

My colleagues and I at SAP conducted a similar research and found more or less the same attitudes at work.

SuccessFactors Jam and SAP Streamwork

Yesterday, I wrote a post about my manager following me on SuccessFactors Jam. It caught the attention of a few experts, whom I respect a lot, from the area of enterprise social collaboration. I thought I will put down my thoughts on this topic as a user of both products. I suspect this is going to be a very hot topic for discussion inside and outside SAP.

SAP Mentor Richard Hirsch asked me why I used Jam instead of Streamwork. I really don't know. I am a big fan of both Streamwork and Jam. Perhaps we found Jam to be more suitable for this type of collaboration. May be it was a gesture of openness towards our new colleagues from SuccessFactors.

Ethan Jewett said that Jam is more like Yammer. Yes. Jam does feel a lot like Yammer. One key difference is that Jam is integrated with Plateau Learning Management System already. A company that uses Jam, slowly and steadily gathers a catalog of crowd sourced learning content that can be searched from the learning management system. Jam is starting to address the 80% of learning which was never supported or tracked in an organization.

Jam also has rich content creation tools built in. I  believe it democratizes the creation of rich content within an enterprise by lowering the barrier for adoption. I experienced this first hand when product teams from both sides used Jam's rich content creation tools to improve efficiency and speed up learning. Product managers from both sides demonstrated the respective products to each other via web conferencing tools. Since time zones and schedule did not allow everyone around the globe to join, product managers recorded the sessions using inbuilt recording and sharing tools. I was able to watch the recordings even on my iPhone with remarkable clarity, because the video content was optimized for delivery on mobile devices.

It is reasonable to expect more integration with other human capital management and other enterprise applications. I suspect such integration will get investment because Jam is a significant additional revenue source and provides excellent value for customers who use them.

Yammer has four million users. I believe that, with the right attention and investment, it won't be difficult for Jam to reach the 15 million users who use SuccessFactors today.

Jarret Pazahanick and Sameer Patel said that this kind of collaboration could be the future, if used properly. I agree wholeheartedly. I already see a clear determination to bring context to collaboration among my product management colleagues. That 'Discuss Button' that Sameer Patel always talks about is going to show up in many places in Enterprise software. I suspect the button will be named 'Comment' rather than discuss.

A product tends to reflect the product team's philosophy. It is worth looking at how both the products are promoted.

Note: I want to point out that I am not a part of either product teams. My observation is merely as a user of both products and as a person interested in collaboration in the enterprise.

This is how SuccessFactors Jam is positioned

This is how SAP Streamwork is positioned

My Manager Follows Me On SuccessFactors Jam

A few weeks back teams from SAP and SuccessFactors started working together and exchanging information. The teams used SuccessFactors Jam to bring people together, share content and get things done. A lot of work needs to be done when two large companies come together. Time was of the essence and there is no scope for delays. I had an opportunity to be part of some work streams. My manager was part of a few other work streams. Other executives I work for were also part of multiple activities. Several colleagues from different parts of the country and the world had to get to know each other quickly and get things done by clear deadlines.

To keep track of what each other is doing, we followed each other. So when I create a piece of content, share an update, make a public comment or upload work that I did, my followers can see what I am doing. Since my manager follows me in Jam, he has up to date insight into what I am working on even before we met for our periodic conversations. When we met, the conversations were about high value agenda items instead of mere status updates.

I noticed an incredible amount of informal learning, peer to peer learning and on-the-job learning. Even though I believed in the theory, it was good to have a ring side view of the role of an informal learning platform in post merger activities of two large companies.

Not everyone is comfortable with such an open work style. But, based on my conversation with customers, i found out that a significant portion of the work force is comfortable with such a work style. 

Here is an introduction to SuccessFactors Jam 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Proliferation Of Activities In Collaboration Tools

I noticed that many people now-a-days use collaboration tools such as Streamwork, JAM, Sharepoint etc, where they can create a work space for the activities they do. I also overheard people starting to complain a bit about the number of activities they are part of and how they are not able to keep track of which activities are important and which ones are not. It is starting to sound a bit like email.

There is a need to organize these activities in a meaningful way. One way is to let people organize it by the goals they have set for themselves. It is important to know why you are doing what you are doing everyday. Unfortunately none of these collaboration tools are connected to goal management systems. An interesting area for innovation. I am going to think about this for the next few days.

David Ludlow Articulates The Plan For Career OnDemand

David Ludlow spoke recently about the plans for SAP HCM and SAP Career OnDemand with ASUG News. He articulated the priorities and the plan forward for Career OnDemand. This is the excerpt from the ASUGNews site.
There is, in reality, another area of overlap in Career OnDemand, a SaaS talent management application SAP’s been developing. Further development has been stopped at this point, pending the acquisition, Ludlow says. Development has continued on what was planned in the “first wave” with customers participating through SAP’s co-innovation program. If SAP decides not to develop that application any further once the acquisition goes through, it will take the learning and the content from work with those customers and incorporate it into other software.
“We’ve learned a tremendous amount,” Ludlow says. “In the event [Career OnDemand] is not taken forward, we want to leverage as much of that as possible.”
I am pretty excited about the opportunity to take the concepts validated using Career OnDemand to more than 15 million users from over 3000 customers who use SuccessFactors today. I have a lot of respect for all the SuccessFactors product management colleagues, who built an industry leading performance management product that customer love.

I am also very excited about JAM, the collaboration platform of SuccessFactors that is integrated with the learning management system already. It has support for group activities and HD Video. It also has robust collaboration building blocks that can be shaped into valuable features. I wrote about my exploration of JAM recently.

When products with such phenomenal reach, powerful ideas validated by ten of customers and smart people with a combined industry experience of more than 100 years come together, the result is going to be magical. Customers are going to be the ultimate winners. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SAP Travel OnDemand is now available for customers

My colleague Shruti Yadav, the product manager for SAP Travel OnDemand informed all of us yesterday that SAP Travel OnDemand is now available for customers to buy. The solution is simple and has mobile and tablet interfaces. The team took a people centric approach, avoided unnecessary features and has built a good solution with a clean interface. I look forward to using it. Ray Wang observed that this product has the potential to become SAP's first consumer product.

Shruti mentioned that among the initial adopters of Travel OnDemand, there are customers with 60,000 users and customers with 25 users. The solution is built to handle big and small customers.

The home made video below shows a demo of the iPhone and iPad apps. The video was made by some of my colleagues. Looks like they had fun making the video.

Monday, February 13, 2012

People Centric Thinking For People Management Software

When we started the research for the next generation people management apps two years ago, we started by talking to more than 100 people around the world. None of them had anything to do with SAP. They were friends, family, students, working moms, retirees entering the workforce and so on. Based on the research we picked certain personas to focus on. The college student entering the workforce was one such persona. We called her Lisa. The trailer picture and the video below will give you some insight into how the team went about building people centric DNA inside SAP.

My product management colleague Anke, who is a very skilled writer and story teller, captured these personas in video format to share our findings with the world. Our solution management team considered this research important for world, not just for SAP customers. So they decided to share the research via YouTube with everyone, including other people management software providers. Here is a video capturing Lisa's career aspirations, expectations from her employer and work style. I hope you enjoy it.

The other videos are posted on YouTube. Check them out.

We are working on taking this research across all people management applications. It is going to be an interesting few years. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Profile in SuccessFactors JAM Is A Pin Board For Your Work

I have been exploring SuccessFactors JAM and the profile it provides for a few days now. The Profile feature provided by JAM is interesting. It is not just a place where information about me is stored. It is also a place where evidence of my work is surfaced. JAM surfaces all the work I share publicly, on my profile. For example, when I share a document, a presentation, an article, an image or a video, on my wall or in any public work space within JAM, it shows up on my profile.

Colleagues who look up my information not only get to see my organizational information, but also get to see my work. Colleagues who want to look up a document that I shared can simply search for my name and then look at the documents section to see what is there. This is a more natural way to sharing and finding information rather than creating a folder or a work space.

Another important thing is that my profile will continue to exist even after I leave the company. So people who succeed me in my job will be able to look up my profile and see the associated resources which contain some of my knowledge and experience.

Suddenly the person is at the middle  instead of a document or a file. In the future, I suspect such information about a persons works will be organized and presented in interesting ways.

One important thing to note is that I have complete control over what is displayed in my profile for others to see. Only the documents that I choose to make public within the company's walls are made visible to my colleagues. The documents and files I share in private work spaces stay private.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oracle Wants To Empower Employees To Manage Their Careers

Oracle's acquisition of Taleo was expected and was well reported and analysed by many leading analysts such as Bersin and Ray Wang. When I read the Oracle press release, I noticed the focus on empowering employees to manage their careers. Last year I spoke to more than 120 people from around the world and asked them what is their top most priority at work. All of them said that managing their own performance so that it advances their career is their top priority.

I am glad to see Oracle focusing on this as well. After all, employees care about their career more than they care about HR transactions. Adoption and the success of all future people management technology will depend on how well it enables people to manage their work and how well it helps them get ahead in their career. The focus on people by both SAP and Oracle is a welcome change in the people management software industry. There is tremendous opportunity to innovate in this area. We are just getting started.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

More Context Not More Features

I have been talking to a number of experienced product managers who develop and sell OnDemand collaboration systems to line of business buyers. They shared an important insight with me. They could not convince their buyers about the value of their products until they added functionality that brought business context into the collaboration tool.

Software providers who are selling to the IT department, such as the providers of SharePoint, IBM Connections and Jive,do not have to worry about context, at least to make the sale. Once the sale is made, they can rely on partners to build integration with business process applications.

If you are the product manager of an OnDemand collaboration tool, you need to make a decision. Are you selling a general purpose collaboration tool to the IT department competing against vendors such as Microsoft, IBM and Jive or selling to the line of business folks who expect business context to be built into the collaboration tool right from day one.

If your plan is to sell to the line of business folks, you need to put context first and features next. For the record, I will put my money on collaboration tools that put business context into the core of their products.

Using Twitter To Build A Crowd Sourced Learning Catalog

I share a lot of information on twitter that will be useful for my colleagues at work. I cc them on twitter with their twitter handle when I can. However there was no easy way to seamlessly make that information easily available to everyone in my company who might be interested in what I am sharing. I also got into an interesting situation where people who follow me on twitter had a better idea about my interests and capabilities compared to my manager, colleagues and executives. I was more visible outside the company than inside the company.

SuccessFactors JAM solved that problem for me. Today I connected my twitter account with my JAM account with a few clicks. When I share my thoughts or links on twitter, all I need to do is add the hashtag #jam to it and it shows up on my wall in JAM. My colleagues who work with me on specific activities see my updates. Colleagues who have chosen to follow me on JAM, even though they may not be working with me today, also see my updates.

A few interesting things will happen now. 

a. Colleagues searching for information in the learning management system will start seeing this content in their search results. This content and links become a useful crowd sourced learning catalog for my company.

b. The next time a staffing person or recruiter searches for specific skills and people, I will show up in their search results. My chances of finding future projects that match my interest and skills just got better.

c. JAM also tracks the clicks on the links I share. I can see how many times a link that I shared was viewed by my colleagues. This is every useful feedback for me and useful for the search engine that determines the value of the link that I shared.

Balsamiq To Visualize Your Story

I have been using Balsamiq to visualize my stories for a while now. I like to use it particularly to prototype my initial thoughts as a smart phone application. It is almost as fast as sketching and provides the right amount of tools and constraints. Here is a story I sketched using Balsamiq for a fictitious doctor patient collaboration application called Doctor's Place.

Sketch your stories as a mobile app using Balsamiq

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Feeds Or Pages

When we showed early prototypes of how a collaborative human capital management solution might look, we got some good reviews from customers. However customers cautioned us that there are groups of people in every organization who do not like to consume information as feeds. They prefer a static page of information from where they can navigate to the content of their choice. We made a note of this requirement.

Yesterday my colleague Joydip Das mentioned to me that he was able to address this problem using SuccessFactors JAM. He created a group activity for sharing content and updates with a team of people. Most of his colleagues in that work group wanted all information listed clearly when they enter the group activity.

Joydip switched the view from Feeds To a Wiki page where he organized the information in a static page format. His colleagues were pleased. This might be a small thing. But it is things like these that enable the adoption of a collaboration tool. Adoption is key to the success of any collaboration tool.

Images from the Economist and

Is A Group With One Member Really A Group?

Today, I wanted to created a workspace in SuccessFactors JAM to test some features privately. The only way to create that workspace was to create a group with just one member - me. That did not make sense. So I wondered why a workspace is called a group in JAM. When exactly will a person click on that button name "Create Group"? After a bit of pondering I concluded that people click on the "Create Group" button when  they want  a workspace to do something on their own or when they want to do something together with others.

When I click on the "Create Group" button, my focus is on getting something done. If I need someone's help to get that something done, I may invite more people and they may join the workspace.  The purpose is to get things done - not just forming the group.

I wonder what everyone thinks about this.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Video In SuccessFactors JAM

I use video to share concepts and convey thoughts with my colleagues around the world. I also use video for training purposes. I have been using Vimeo and YouTube for my videos so far. I recently started using SuccessFactors JAM to share my videos with colleagues inside and outside the company. I like the way my videos show up on my wall in JAM. My colleagues and I can discuss the video. I can track views.

Uploading videos
I uploaded videos captured with  my Sony Camcorder and my iPhone.

Uploading video from a mobile phone
Uploading video from an iPhone via 3G wireless worked well in JAM. This is great for capturing short updates after a meeting or capturing training videos while away from a desk.

Video in the context of everyday work
Video is already a critical business tool used for regular business communication.  JAM provides tools to seamlessly bring video into day to day work. With cameras in laptops and mobile phones, there is very little barrier today for videos to play an important role in everyday business communication, information sharing and training.

Considering that the video hosting site Vimeo costs about $60 a year per person, the video in SuccessFactors JAM is great value for money. You can use if for free.

Here is a screenshot of how video appears as part of regular updates in JAM.

Friday, February 03, 2012

SuccessFactors JAM - Company Specific Groups

I have been using SuccessFactors JAM for collaborating with SAP and SuccessFactors colleagues for a while now. I believe in keeping my work as transparent as possible. So I let any member of my JAM work groups invite anyone they think should view and contribute to the work we are doing. However some of the work we do is confidential and no one outside SAP is allowed to look at it. JAM lets me be as open and nimble as possible within the company without compromising the confidentiality of my work.

When I create a group in JAM I can specify if this is a company specific group or a cross company group. I can also specify if group members can invite others to join the group. For company-confidential work, I pick the 'company specific group' option while allowing any group member to invite other SAP colleagues to the group. This improves the agility of the team and keeps it nimble. At the same time, it also restricts the members from accidentally inviting people outside the company to the group.

This feature helps me ensure that there is enough freedom and openness in the work group while confidential information is not leaked outside the company.

Many partners and customers reached out to me and said that they are not familiar with JAM. JAM is a free product. You can start using it here.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

We are in a quiet period and cannot talk much about what is going on with SuccessFactors. But a picture is worth a thousand words. Is it not? 

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