The Hockey Fan Experience Continues: Generations, Sharks, And Pucks Et Veritas

Fred Isbell

Being a hockey fan is a journey, not a destination. I did some cool things last season – my hockey fan experience included playing in a game against Philadelphia Flyers Alumni, attending a hockey game and skating in a rink in the middle of the desert in Arizona, and honoring the legacy of home-town Bruins idol Ray Bourque with a visit to Denver’s Pepsi Center and a skate at the Avalanche practice facility – all the while meeting countless hockey fans along the way.

When summer turned into fall in Boston, the glory of past excellence was all around the Warrior Ice Arena, the brand-new practice facility of the Boston Bruins. Stanley Cup Banners and the retired numbers of Bruins legends, including Bobby Orr, hang prominently from the rafters. An open skate and “meet and greet” with Bruins prospects and veterans inspired the fandom in everyone there. For me, talking with Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney, who played at Harvard before a long Bruins career, was just as cool as seeing rookie Rob O’Gara, a Yale defenseman who joined the team after graduation.  I would go on to cheer the Yale men’s hockey team in road games at Notre Dame, UConn, Boston University, Harvard, and Brown during the season and see O’Gara play for the AHL Providence Bruins – truly “Pucks et Veritas!”

Every year, I try to attend the match-up between the San Jose Sharks and the Bruins in Boston – far from the SAP Center where the Sharks play home games. I had to wait a little bit longer for this long-standing tradition than in past years – but nonetheless, it was worth it. It was a surprising 6-3 Bruins win days after they dismissed their long-time head coach.

I wore my San Jose Sharks number 19 teal jersey that night, honoring former Bruins’ captain (now Shark) Joe Thornton. A quick glance at the player stats for Thornton, courtesy of SAP analytics, showcases what an amazing career he has had. It was also great to see the amazing Brent Burns, a Sharks defenseman who could be the first defenseman to lead the NHL in scoring since the great Bruin Bobby Orr did decades ago. A feature a few weeks later on Burns and the NHL (“Insights from SAP”) impressively put Burns in the company of both Orr and Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey, who ironically ended his long and illustrious career as a Boston Bruin.

Caritas et veritas on the ice

While I love the thrill of professional hockey, my fandom is inextricably intertwined with the NHL’s commitment to community service and charities. For me, it is hard to top my experience on the ice at the charity hockey game last season playing for Flyers legend Brian Propp, joining a team assembled to take on the Flyers’ Alumni team in the 12th annual “NHS Goals for Giving” event. However, the announcement that the Flyers would have an alumni game against the cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins – as well as a reception to meet the Flyers legends playing in and supporting the game – came very close. My son Scott, whom I coached and drove to countless hockey games and practices, decided to come to Philadelphia with me for the event. Being a hockey fan truly crosses generations.

The event started with a montage of original jerseys worn by yesteryear’s Flyers players, as well as a chance meeting with Flyer Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent (my childhood favorite Flyer for life). Over the next two hours, Scott and I met and talked with an amazing array of Flyers legends: Bernie; Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, Reggie Leach, and Bill Barber of the “Broad Street Bullies” era; and Brian Propp and his linemate Tim Kerr, a Flyers 1980’s era scoring machine. More contemporary Flyers – including Simone Gagne, Gerry Desjardins, and Danny Brière – were also there, looking like they could still take a regular shift. I met with some of the Flyers legends I played with and against in last year’s charity game, including Bob “The Hound” Kelly, Joe Watson, Larry Goodenough, and Kjell Samuelsson. They gladly signed a picture of us along with Brian Propp from the 2016 NHS game, which I dubbed “the AARP All-Star Team,” and we all had a good laugh.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the day was seeing my son’s face when he met his idol, Eric Lindros. Scott told Eric how we used to read his biography at story time and how it became a school book report – several times, in fact!

Meeting Flyers great and hall of famer Mark Howe and the son of “Mr. Hockey,” Gordie Howe was very special to me. Mark loved hearing about my recent blog about his dad, who passed away last year, and how statistics and analytics prove he was the greatest player ever. All of this made me think back to when the Flyers were winning back-to-back Stanley Cups and more in the mid-1970s. Nothing has changed in the intervening 40-plus years, and the respect and bond between players and fans continue to be as strong as ever.

Generations and the fan experience

The alumni game between the Flyers and Penguins was played to a sold-out crowd and benefited the Ed Snider Foundation, honoring the passing of one of the Flyers’ founders. From the player introductions and homage to fallen Flyers players and colleagues to the opening face-off, the only word that could describe the day is “magical.” The game had players representing several generations and eras for both teams. While that in itself is impressive, the level of play was also very high. What looked like a Flyers runaway win early on ended in a 3-3 tie. Everyone in attendance left the rink with huge smiles. And of course, seeing Flyer great, ambassador, and friend Brian Propp introduced to an enormous ovation 15 months after suffering a massive stroke – and then skating and playing at a high level of play that simply defies logic – was an absolute thrill. Brian greeted the crowd with his signature “guffaw” and wave, and the place went crazy.

Being a hockey fan is something that passes from generation to generation – and sharing the Flyer magic and tradition with my son Scott is something that I will never forget. It’s not about logic, but it’s all about passion for our favorite teams, players, and special moments. Scott and I, wearing jerseys honoring Flyers legends Brian Propp #26 and Brian Boucher “Bouch” #33, were united with the 18,000 other fans that night in one magical moment. The magic of the hockey fan experience transcends generations and with amazing memories to last a lifetime.

So despite my steep challenge to top some pretty cool things last year, I think I did a good job adding to my fan experience this year. And best of all, the season is barely half done as the second season of the NHL playoffs awaits. Keep an eye on the NHL Network and NHL on NBC for lots more insights by SAP and much more!

Join Fred online: TwitterFacebookLinkedInsap.comSAP Services Hub


About Fred Isbell

Fred Isbell is the Senior Director of SAP Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP. He is an experienced, results- and goal-oriented senior marketing executive with broad and extensive experience & expertise in high technology and marketing. He has a BA from Yale and an MBA from the Duke Fuqua School of Business.

Data Analysts And Scientists More Important Than Ever For The Enterprise

Daniel Newman

The business world is now firmly in the age of data. Not that data wasn’t relevant before; it was just nowhere close to the speed and volume that’s available to us today. Businesses are buckling under the deluge of petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes. Within these bytes lie valuable information on customer behavior, key business insights, and revenue generation. However, all that data is practically useless for businesses without the ability to identify the right data. Plus, if they don’t have the talent and resources to capture the right data, organize it, dissect it, draw actionable insights from it and, finally, deliver those insights in a meaningful way, their data initiatives will fail.

Rise of the CDO

Companies of all sizes can easily find themselves drowning in data generated from websites, landing pages, social streams, emails, text messages, and many other sources. Additionally, there is data in their own repositories. With so much data at their disposal, companies are under mounting pressure to utilize it to generate insights. These insights are critical because they can (and should) drive the overall business strategy and help companies make better business decisions. To leverage the power of data analytics, businesses need more “top-management muscle” specialized in the field of data science. This specialized field has lead to the creation of roles like Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In addition, with more companies undertaking digital transformations, there’s greater impetus for the C-suite to make data-driven decisions. The CDO helps make data-driven decisions and also develops a digital business strategy around those decisions. As data grows at an unstoppable rate, becoming an inseparable part of key business functions, we will see the CDO act as a bridge between other C-suite execs.

Data skills an emerging business necessity

So far, only large enterprises with bigger data mining and management needs maintain in-house solutions. These in-house teams and technologies handle the growing sets of diverse and dispersed data. Others work with third-party service providers to develop and execute their big data strategies.

As the amount of data grows, the need to mine it for insights becomes a key business requirement. For both large and small businesses, data-centric roles will experience endless upward mobility. These roles include data anlysts and scientists. There is going to be a huge opportunity for critical thinkers to turn their analytical skills into rapidly growing roles in the field of data science. In fact, data skills are now a prized qualification for titles like IT project managers and computer systems analysts.

Forbes cited the McKinsey Global Institute’s prediction that by 2018 there could be a massive shortage of data-skilled professionals. This indicates a disruption at the demand-supply level with the needs for data skills at an all-time high. With an increasing number of companies adopting big data strategies, salaries for data jobs are going through the roof. This is turning the position into a highly coveted one.

According to Harvard Professor Gary King, “There is a big data revolution. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.” The big problem is that most enterprises don’t know what to do with data. Data professionals are helping businesses figure that out. So if you’re casting about for where to apply your skills and want to take advantage of one of the best career paths in the job market today, focus on data science.

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For more insight on our increasingly connected future, see The $19 Trillion Question: Are You Undervaluing The Internet Of Things?

The post Data Analysts and Scientists More Important Than Ever For the Enterprise appeared first on Millennial CEO.


About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

When Good Is Good Enough: Guiding Business Users On BI Practices

Ina Felsheim

Image_part2-300x200In Part One of this blog series, I talked about changing your IT culture to better support self-service BI and data discovery. Absolutely essential. However, your work is not done!

Self-service BI and data discovery will drive the number of users using the BI solutions to rapidly expand. Yet all of these more casual users will not be well versed in BI and visualization best practices.

When your user base rapidly expands to more casual users, you need to help educate them on what is important. For example, one IT manager told me that his casual BI users were making visualizations with very difficult-to-read charts and customizing color palettes to incredible degrees.

I had a similar experience when I was a technical writer. One of our lead writers was so concerned with readability of every sentence that he was going through the 300+ page manuals (yes, they were printed then) and manually adjusting all of the line breaks and page breaks. (!) Yes, readability was incrementally improved. But now any number of changes–technical capabilities, edits, inserting larger graphics—required re-adjusting all of those manual “optimizations.” The time it took just to do the additional optimization was incredible, much less the maintenance of these optimizations! Meanwhile, the technical writing team was falling behind on new deliverables.

The same scenario applies to your new casual BI users. This new group needs guidance to help them focus on the highest value practices:

  • Customization of color and appearance of visualizations: When is this customization necessary for a management deliverable, versus indulging an OCD tendency? I too have to stop myself from obsessing about the font, line spacing, and that a certain blue is just a bit different than another shade of blue. Yes, these options do matter. But help these casual users determine when that time is well spent.
  • Proper visualizations: When is a spinning 3D pie chart necessary to grab someone’s attention? BI professionals would firmly say “NEVER!” But these casual users do not have a lot of depth on BI best practices. Give them a few simple guidelines as to when “flash” needs to subsume understanding. Consider offering a monthly one-hour Lunch and Learn that shows them how to create impactful, polished visuals. Understanding if their visualizations are going to be viewed casually on the way to a meeting, or dissected at a laptop, also helps determine how much time to spend optimizing a visualization. No, you can’t just mandate that they all read Tufte.
  • Predictive: Provide advanced analytics capabilities like forecasting and regression directly in their casual BI tools. Using these capabilities will really help them wow their audience with substance instead of flash.
  • Feature requests: Make sure you understand the motivation and business value behind some of the casual users’ requests. These casual users are less likely to understand the implications of supporting specific requests across an enterprise, so make sure you are collaborating on use cases and priorities for substantive requests.

By working with your casual BI users on the above points, you will be able to collectively understand when the absolute exact request is critical (and supports good visualization practices), and when it is an “optimization” that may impact productivity. In many cases, “good” is good enough for the fast turnaround of data discovery.

Next week, I’ll wrap this series up with hints on getting your casual users to embrace the “we” not “me” mentality.

Read Part One of this series: Changing The IT Culture For Self-Service BI Success.

Follow me on Twitter: @InaSAP


How Emotionally Aware Computing Can Bring Happiness to Your Organization

Christopher Koch

Do you feel me?

Just as once-novel voice recognition technology is now a ubiquitous part of human–machine relationships, so too could mood recognition technology (aka “affective computing”) soon pervade digital interactions.

Through the application of machine learning, Big Data inputs, image recognition, sensors, and in some cases robotics, artificially intelligent systems hunt for affective clues: widened eyes, quickened speech, and crossed arms, as well as heart rate or skin changes.

Emotions are big business

The global affective computing market is estimated to grow from just over US$9.3 billion a year in 2015 to more than $42.5 billion by 2020.

Source: “Affective Computing Market 2015 – Technology, Software, Hardware, Vertical, & Regional Forecasts to 2020 for the $42 Billion Industry” (Research and Markets, 2015)

Customer experience is the sweet spot

Forrester found that emotion was the number-one factor in determining customer loyalty in 17 out of the 18 industries it surveyed – far more important than the ease or effectiveness of customers’ interactions with a company.

Source: “You Can’t Afford to Overlook Your Customers’ Emotional Experience” (Forrester, 2015)

Humana gets an emotional clue

Source: “Artificial Intelligence Helps Humana Avoid Call Center Meltdowns” (The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2016)

Insurer Humana uses artificial intelligence software that can detect conversational cues to guide call-center workers through difficult customer calls. The system recognizes that a steady rise in the pitch of a customer’s voice or instances of agent and customer talking over one another are causes for concern.

The system has led to hard results: Humana says it has seen an 28% improvement in customer satisfaction, a 63% improvement in agent engagement, and a 6% improvement in first-contact resolution.

Spread happiness across the organization

Source: “Happiness and Productivity” (University of Warwick, February 10, 2014)

Employers could monitor employee moods to make organizational adjustments that increase productivity, effectiveness, and satisfaction. Happy employees are around 12% more productive.

Walking on emotional eggshells

Whether customers and employees will be comfortable having their emotions logged and broadcast by companies is an open question. Customers may find some uses of affective computing creepy or, worse, predatory. Be sure to get their permission.

Other limiting factors

The availability of the data required to infer a person’s emotional state is still limited. Further, it can be difficult to capture all the physical cues that may be relevant to an interaction, such as facial expression, tone of voice, or posture.

Get a head start

Discover the data

Companies should determine what inferences about mental states they want the system to make and how accurately those inferences can be made using the inputs available.

Work with IT

Involve IT and engineering groups to figure out the challenges of integrating with existing systems for collecting, assimilating, and analyzing large volumes of emotional data.

Consider the complexity

Some emotions may be more difficult to discern or respond to. Context is also key. An emotionally aware machine would need to respond differently to frustration in a user in an educational setting than to frustration in a user in a vehicle.



download arrowTo learn more about how affective computing can help your organization, read the feature story Empathy: The Killer App for Artificial Intelligence.


About Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight. He is an experienced publishing professional, researcher, editor, and writer in business, technology, and B2B marketing. Share your thoughts with Chris on Twitter @Ckochster.


In An Agile Environment, Revenue Models Are Flexible Too

Todd Wasserman

In 2012, Dollar Shave Club burst on the scene with a cheeky viral video that won praise for its creativity and marketing acumen. Less heralded at the time was the startup’s pricing model, which swapped traditional retail for subscriptions.

For as low as $1 a month (for five two-bladed cartridges), consumers got a package in the mail that saved them a trip to the pharmacy or grocery store. Dollar Shave Club received the ultimate vindication for the idea in 2016 when Unilever purchased the company for $1 billion.

As that example shows, new technology creates the possibility for new pricing models that can disrupt existing industries. The same phenomenon has occurred in software, in which the cloud and Web-based interfaces have ushered in Software as a Service (SaaS), which charges users on a monthly basis, like a utility, instead of the typical purchase-and-later-upgrade model.

Pricing, in other words, is a variable that can be used to disrupt industries. Other options include usage-based pricing and freemium.

Products as services, services as products

There are basically two ways that businesses can use pricing to disrupt the status quo: Turn products into services and turn services into products. Dollar Shave Club and SaaS are two examples of turning products into services.

Others include Amazon’s Dash, a bare-bones Internet of Things device that lets consumers reorder items ranging from Campbell’s Soup to Play-Doh. Another example is Rent the Runway, which rents high-end fashion items for a weekend rather than selling the items. Trunk Club offers a twist on this by sending items picked out by a stylist to users every month. Users pay for what they want and send back the rest.

The other option is productizing a service. Restaurant franchising is based on this model. While the restaurant offers food service to consumers, for entrepreneurs the franchise offers guidance and brand equity that can be condensed into a product format. For instance, a global HR firm called Littler has productized its offerings with Littler CaseSmart-Charges, which is designed for in-house attorneys and features software, project management tools, and access to flextime attorneys.

As that example shows, technology offers opportunities to try new revenue models. Another example is APIs, which have become a large source of revenue for companies. The monetization of APIs is often viewed as a side business that encompasses a wholly different pricing model that’s often engineered to create huge user bases with volume discounts.

Not a new idea

Though technology has opened up new vistas for businesses seeking alternate pricing models, Rajkumar Venkatesan, a marketing professor at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, points out that this isn’t necessarily a new idea. For instance, King Gillette made his fortune in the early part of the 20th Century by realizing that a cheap shaving device would pave the way for a recurring revenue stream via replacement razor blades.

“The new variation was the Keurig,” said Venkatesan, referring to the coffee machine that relies on replaceable cartridges. “It has started becoming more prevalent in the last 10 years, but the fundamental model has been there.” For businesses, this can be an attractive model not only for the recurring revenue but also for the ability to cross-sell new goods to existing customers, Venkatesan said.

Another benefit to a subscription model is that it can also supply first-party data that companies can use to better understand and market to their customers. Some believe that Dollar Shave Club’s close relationship with its young male user base was one reason for Unilever’s purchase, for instance. In such a cut-throat market, such relationships can fetch a high price.

To learn more about how you can monetize disruption, watch this video overview of the new SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud.