Saturday, March 30, 2013

Turning Off Feeds & Comments In SAP Jam Is Like Ordering A Cappuccino Without The Espresso Shot

A few weeks ago, one of my colleagues managing a Jam group asked me if we can turn of the feeds and comments functionality and lock down all the wiki pages in the Jam group. I was puzzled and asked why she would want to do that. She said that she did not want people changing the content, adding to the content or discussing the content. I was deeply disturbed by this line of thinking and even felt sad the whole day for no reason. I ignored this colleague's line of thinking as an aberration until I heard similar requests from a customer.

Contribution and conversation is the soul of any social business tool. Turning off comments and updates is like ordering a Cappuccino without the espresso shot. Without the espresso shot, it is just foamed milk.

I have seen consumers use products for very creative purposes and even surprise the designers of the product. For example, in Northern India it is very common to use washing machines to make mango flavored yogurt drinks called lassie. At least that is a innovative use of a product.

If a customer wants a web site creation tool or a file sharing tool with no conversation or discussion, they could use a document management system or a web site creation tool. SAP Jam is not the appropriate tool for that purpose. It is not even a creative use of SAP Jam.

Here is an HSBC commercial making fun of the Lassi makers.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Why Do We Keep Our Valuables In A Bank Locker?

Today morning, I got a chance to talk to a large group of SuccessFactors solution consultants and partners. One of them brought up the question of cloud security and mentioned that customers are concerned about moving their core HR data to the cloud.

That is a genuine concern. People want to have control over important information. This is not very different from our personal lives. We want to safeguard our valuables. But keeping our valuables closer to us does not mean that they are always secure. It might give us a sense of security and the belief that we can do something about potential intruders. But the truth is that bank vaults are more secure than any locker or vault that a normal house hold can buy.That is why we keep our valuables in bank lockers or vaults.

Where would you rather keep your valuables? In a bank vault or at home.

This translates to cloud security too. In a public customer session at HR Insider 2013 in Las Vegas, one of the SAP - SuccessFactors Hybrid customers announced publicly that their own security audit found that SuccessFactors cloud infrastructure was more secure than their own fire wall. This does not mean that cloud infrastructure cannot be hacked. A determined hacker can get into any infrastructure, the same way a determined thief can get into any house or building.

However the security measures deployed by cloud providers, including the measures deployed by SuccessFactors, are bound to be way better than most individual companies' security measures. Cloud providers also invest heavily in security and keep up with the advances, because their survival depends on it. I am not the person responsible for cloud security at SAP and SuccessFactors. But I hear from customers that they are realizing this fact on their own.

There are always bound to be exceptions to this case. Some customers may invest more on security compared to cloud providers for national security or other business reasons. But I am learning, from customers that I speak with, that for most organizations, data in a cloud provider's infrastructure will be more secure than data behind their own firewalls.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

SuccessFactors Compensation Integration With SAP HCM

A demo of the standard SuccessFactors Compensation integration with SAP ERP HCM.

A video of the integration demo created by our partners Coeus Consulting. You can hear @brandontoombs presenting.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Demo Of SAP and SuccessFactors Employee Master Data Integration

The Employee master data integration between SAP and SuccessFactors is the foundation required for any SuccessFactors application to work with SAP HCM. There are over 620 SAP customers using one or more SuccessFactors applications. Many of them built customer file based integrations.

Last year we built and released a standard integration using SAP NetWeaver PI. Customers have gone live with this standard integation already. Such customers have reported that they are happy with the faster implementation and real time integration available using SAP NetWeaver PI.

Partners such as Coeus Consulting, Infosys and hyperCision among others can implement this integration for you if you need help. Here is a demo from our partner Coeus Consulting. If you are a partner who is implementing this integration, please leave a comment and let everyone know.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

AES Talks About Integrating SAP HCM and SuccessFactors

AES is a Hybrid HCM customer. They run SuccessFactors for compensation among other things. The HR Director has some advice for customers considering a hybrid solution.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ever Wondered What ERP Is and How It Might Work In The Cloud?

This video was created some time back to explain ByDesign. I suspect the future of SAP cloud may not look exactly like this. But it is a great video.

SuccessFactors Recruiting Integration to SAP HCM Ramp-Up


I want to translate the above statement for you. If you are a SuccessFactors Recruiting Execution customer who wants to implement the available standard integration to SAP HCM, you can do so by signing up for the ramp up program. You can access the form from Service Market Place. You need to be a member of Service Market Place and log into Service Market Place  as an S-User for this.

To register for the ramp up you can go to this link http://ser­­om/rampup -> Ramp-Up Programs -> SAP Application Components -> SuccessFactors Integration 2.0 . If you scroll down, you can see the Nomination Form Link under “To Request the software” heading.

Phase I integration is part of the release. Phase II is planned for release later this year. 

If you have started implementing the SuccessFactors Recruiting Execution product, it might be a good idea to sign up for the ramp up and get the software. The Internal Rapid Deployment Solutions team and a couple of partners are also piloting the integration. If you are planning to start your implementation after June 2013, I suggest you wait for the general availability of the software and the results from pilot implementations.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SAP SuccessFactors Integration Training For EMEA Partners

We are opening up the integration training for SAP and SuccessFactors EMEA partners. Please send a list of the participants to be registered for these training sessions to

The courses are designed for partners who scope solutions, educate customers and implement solutions. These are not meant for professional services teams. But these courses will be a good primer for any team implementing an integration. If your title says Sales, Pre-sales, Solution Consultant, Solution Engineer, Professional Services Manager, you are probably a good candidate for these courses.

If you do not have an SAP background, make sure you attend course 1. It is designed by SAP experts to give you the foundation you need to earn credibility with an SAP audience.

All timings are 6.00 am Pacific Standard Time. That should be afternoon CET. These programs are open only for existing SAP SuccessFactors partners. This is not a Webinar. This is Integration training curriculum One.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SAP SuccessFactors Integration Training For US and APJ Partners

We are opening up the integration training for SAP and SuccessFactors partners. Please send a list of the participants to be registered for these training sessions to my colleague Suzanne, the Director of Partner Management and Enablement. Look at the image below for her email.

The courses are designed for partners who scope solutions, educate customers and implement solutions. These are not meant for professional services teams. But these courses will be a good primer for any team implementing an integration. If your title says Sales, Pre-sales, Solution Consultant, Solution Engineer, Professional Services Manager, you are probably a good candidate for these courses.

If you do not have an SAP background, make sure you attend course 1. It is designed by SAP experts to give you the foundation you need to earn credibility with an SAP audience.

All timings are 4.00 pm Pacific Standard Time. These programs are open only for existing SAP SuccessFactors partners. This is not a Webinar. This is Integration training curriculum 1.

Please email to register.

The same training is available for SAP and SuccessFactors colleagues as well, no matter what your background. Email me if you want to register.

Monday, March 18, 2013

SAP-SuccessFactors Is The Leader In Integrated Talent Management

Gartner says that SAP-SuccessFactors is the leader in integrated talent management. Another reason why talent management solution in the cloud is a good step forward for SAP HCM customers. You can access the full report at the Gartner site.

This is the path more than 620 SAP customers have chosen. It is also a good step towards full HCM in the cloud as and when you need it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

SAP Primer For The SuccessFactors Ecosystem

My colleagues and I have put together an SAP Primer for SuccessFactors colleagues both inside and outside the company. If you are a partner, please contact your partner manager. If you are an SAP or SuccessFactors colleague, please send me an email. The current sessions are scheduled in the last week of March and in the first week of April.

The objectives of the training

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Role of SAP ERP HCM in a Cloud HCM Landscape

Last Monday and Tuesday I worked with four North American customers to plan their HCM road map for the next 4 years. Two of the customers are planning to move their core HR system to the cloud in two years. They said something very interesting  They have over a hundred integrations in place between their OnPremise HCM system and other OnPremise software systems. These integrations cost them millions of dollars to build.

So they wanted to keep the current SAP ERP HCM system as it it today, even when they move core-HR to the cloud and treat their existing HCM system as a HCM mini master. Uwe Simon, SVP of active global support and former head of HCM development at SAP was there as well and mentioned that doing this should not be a problem. I also discussed this with David Ludlow, the head of SAP SuccessFactors HCM solution Management and he thought there should not be any policy problems with this approach. This will save those particular customers over $5 Million each in implementation costs when they move Core HR from SAP to SuccessFactors.

When existing SAP HCM customers move Core HR to the cloud, their existing HCM system turns into a mini-master OnPremise, preserving their investment in integration with other OnPremise systems.

I wonder what our customers and partners think. Do you see any concerns?

PS: The diagram you see above is the architecture for integrating Employee Central with OnPremise HCM. The interesting thing is that the SAP HCM never actually goes away even when customers move Core HR to the cloud.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Migration of Data is different from Integration

At HR Insider 2013 in Las Vegas, Donna Leong-Cohen and Frank Densborn gave an excellent presentation on Data Migration from SAP to SuccessFactors. Donna told me that a lot of customers confused her data migration session with a session on integration between SAP and SuccessFactors.

Data migration is a one time activity done when a customer moves from one HR system to another. For example a customer may move from OnPremise HCM to Employee Central. They may choose to move all their employee data from SAP OnPremise to Employee Central. They will use a standard professional services package provided by SAP to do this.

Integration is an ongoing exchange of data between SAP and SuccessFactors applications. For example integration of employee master data from SAP to SuccessFactors.

Not Near-Real Time. Real Time

Today my colleague Enric and I had a chance to see a SAP to SuccessFactors, master data integration demo from our partners Coeus consulting. They showed us how they implemented the standard employee master data and organizational data integration and how they used the standard integration, which we call iFlow, to move data from SAP to SuccessFactors in real time.

This is how it works. When a HR administrator makes a change to employee data, he or she can choose to immediately send the data to SuccessFactors. While it was possible to have near real time integration with the custom file based integrations that customers had, it was not real time. However, the SAP NetWeaver PI based integration makes it possible to send the data to SuccessFactors in real time. This is option 2 in the diagram below.

Choose Option 2 for real time integration
Even though this functionality has been available since November 2012 and we tested it internally, we wanted to see how customers and partners implemented it Now we have seen a few customers and partners implement the integration and move data to SuccessFactors from SAP in real time.

For several months I had been advising customers to stay on their custom-built file based integrations if they are happy with it. After seeing a few successful implementations, I think I will advise customers to move to the SAP NetWeaver PI based real time integration.

If you have a question about this you can ask @BrandonToombs

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Moving Talent Management To The Cloud Can Reduce Cost By 47%

At HR Insider 2013, SAP SuccessFactors Hybrid customer, Coca Cola Enterprises hosted a customer discussion. The key take away for me from the session was a fact shared by one customer. They said that they compared the costs of implementing and maintaining an OnPremise talent management system with a cloud based talent management system and found out that they can save 47% by simply going with the cloud version. This was a small implementation for about 500 people.

I have also heard from large customers with over 300,000 employees that their projected cost savings was about $60 Million over three years. I did not get a percentage from them. But I guess it might be close to 50% in cost savings compared to an OnPremise implementation. Such cost savings combined with innovation and agility are key reasons why I believe most organizations will move their talent management applications to the cloud.

For thousands of organizations the HCM picture will look a bit like this.

Friday, March 08, 2013

The Social Network Is The New Production Line

I have great respect for the business vision of IBM. I think that while other providers make a lot of noise about social business and big data, the leadership team and product managers at IBM understand the potential of corporate social networks and big data, and their possible impact on business, much better than others.

In a speech delivered at the council on foreign relations, IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty talked about how social networks are the new production line and how data is the new natural resource and the source of competitive advantage. You can read the full speech here.

This is the video where she talks about this vision.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Book On SAP SuccessFactors Hybrid HCM Solution

Luke Marson, Joe Lee and Jyoti Sharma are writing a book on SuccessFactors for SAP ERP HCM. The book is meant for SAP SuccessFactors Hybrid solution customers, partners and consultants. I have seen the table of contents and spoke to them about the content. They are covering every aspect of the hybrid solution including integration between SAP and SuccessFactors. You can still influence the content of the book. Let them know what they must cover.

You can pre-order the book at the SAP Press web site.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Even Defense Departments Are Considering Cloud Talent Management

Last week I had a chance to meet officials from the defense department of a European country to discuss their talent management needs. Naturally they had concerns about the cloud and asked me how they can move their talent management applications to the cloud while ensuring the security of their data. We had a very productive discussion.

While they may or may not move their talent management applications to the cloud in the near future, their desire to take advantage of innovation and costs savings that the cloud provides was very encouraging. I believe the day when all companies move talent management apps to the cloud is closer than we think it is.


I started reading the book Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Like all his previous books, this one is profound and thought provoking.

I think his concepts apply to the enterprise software industry.
I see this everyday when I speak to customers. There are customers who realize that change is coming and ask me how they can take advantage of the change and then there are ones that give me reasons why they are different and ask me how they can maintain status quo in their organizations.

With many disruptive changes going on in the industry, the companies and people who will gain are the ones who embrace change and gain from the disorder. Those who resist and hope for status quo to continue are bound to lose.

Is Your Technology People Savvy?

During my session titled 'Social and Mobile Innovations in SAP and SuccessFactors' at HR Insider 2013, I shared information about how SAP and SuccessFactors colleagues are using mobile applications and SAP Jam to improve efficiency, save money and improve employee engagement.

One of the customers in the audience mentioned that his colleagues are not technology savvy and may not use mobile applications and social collaboration applications. That comment disturbed me a bit. I think it is high time we stopped expecting our people to be technology savvy and start expecting our technology to be people savvy.

I believe enterprise software product designers need to think mobile first and make their products accessible at least to all the smartphone and tablet users of the world. SAP Jam team is already doing that. You do not have to be a regular computer user to derive value from Jam. With the upcoming release of the iPad version, Jam is going to be even more people savvy.

SAP SuccessFactors Mentor Exchange Jam Group

At HR Insider last week, I ran into a Aki Yamakawa, a SuccessFactors expert who has implemented several SuccessFactors products including Employee Central. Aki works for Dolby, an SAP SuccessFactors Hybrid HCM customer. I asked Aki about his plans for the future and he shared something very interesting with me.

He said that he is planning to share his deep knowledge of SuccessFactors with the SAP HCM Expert his organization hired recently and learn SAP HCM from that SAP expert. I thought it is wonderful that SuccessFactors and SAP Experts are helping each other to build their knowledge and careers.

I wondered if it might be a good idea to setup a Jam group called SAP SuccessFactors Mentor Exchange where SAP and SuccessFactors experts can find mentors. When I mentioned this idea on Twitter, several luminaries and renowned experts offered to join and share their knowledge.

Many experts supported the idea

The following people told me that they are willing to support. I am grateful for their help.

Jim Lundy, CEO of Aragon Research and former Gartner Vice President
Vijay Vijayasankar, Global Vice President of HANA Adoption at SAP
Parvathy Sankar, Director of Solution Management for Recruiting Execution at SAP and SuccessFactors
Praveen Kaushik, HCM Principal from Infosys
Jeremy Masters, Cofounder and Managing Partner of Worklogix
Brandon Toombs, HCM Forms Lead Architect at Comcast

To do my part, I created the Jam group and populated it with SAP SuccessFactors integration related documents that I normally share with customers and partners. The group is for people who have completed at least one SAP or SuccessFactors product implementation.

If you are interested, please leave a comment here or send me an email from your work email address and tell me about your SAP or SuccessFactors implementation expertise. My email address is firstname dot lastname at sap dot com.

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