What’s In Your Business Network?

Chris Rauen

What’s In Your Business Network?Business networks have come a long way since the first EDI messages were sent via telex before being converted into computer data.

Today, electronic documents are exchanged securely over the Internet, and many networks have built-in business rules that bring intelligence to the network. This is the advantage of the next generation business network, and driver of the networked economy.

Consider the transformational impact of these networks on invoice processing. With an EDI network, you could exchange electronic invoices, but there was no way to validate that the data on the invoice was complete and accurate. The invoice got to accounts payable quicker, but often would not get through AP quicker.

Today, the best e-invoice networks employ business rules that automatically check for errors and exceptions before an invoice posts to your ERP or financial system. This presents a huge advantage for organizations burdened with manually resolving these problem invoices.

Invoice error and match failure rates vary. I recall one research report showing that 15% of invoices on average contain some kind of error or exception. Then, there are the anecdotes, such as a recent conversation with a large Fortune 500 company. During that discussion, I was told that the order-invoice match fail rate was close to 60%.

Regardless of where you fall in this area, one thing is clear. The costs to resolve invoice errors and exceptions aren’t cheap, ranging from $20 to $200 or more per invoice. That’s where the invoice validation via business rules can make a huge difference.

What’s more, the network that expands its scope to include the exchange of electronic purchase orders and related documents (order confirmations and advance ship notices) simplify invoice validation and create a more compelling business case. As invoice management is part of a larger procure-to-pay process, the ability to handle these related documents in the same network adds to the business process improvements and cost savings while improving compliance.

So as you look to tap the empowering capabilities of today’s business networks, know that all networks are not created equal. Carefully assessing the network validation rules is an important step in the evaluation process.


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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Transform Or Die: What Will You Do In The Digital Economy?

Scott Feldman and Puneet Suppal

By now, most executives are keenly aware that the digital economy can be either an opportunity or a threat. The question is not whether they should engage their business in it. Rather, it’s how to unleash the power of digital technology while maintaining a healthy business, leveraging existing IT investments, and innovating without disrupting themselves.

Yet most of those executives are shying away Businesspeople in a Meeting --- Image by © Monalyn Gracia/Corbisfrom such a challenge. According to a recent study by MIT Sloan and Capgemini, only 15% of CEOs are executing a digital strategy, even though 90% agree that the digital economy will impact their industry. As these businesses ignore this reality, early adopters of digital transformation are achieving 9% higher revenue creation, 26% greater impact on profitability, and 12% more market valuation.

Why aren’t more leaders willing to transform their business and seize the opportunity of our hyperconnected world? The answer is as simple as human nature. Innately, humans are uncomfortable with the notion of change. We even find comfort in stability and predictability. Unfortunately, the digital economy is none of these – it’s fast and always evolving.

Digital transformation is no longer an option – it’s the imperative

At this moment, we are witnessing an explosion of connections, data, and innovations. And even though this hyperconnectivity has changed the game, customers are radically changing the rules – demanding simple, seamless, and personalized experiences at every touch point.

Billions of people are using social and digital communities to provide services, share insights, and engage in commerce. All the while, new channels for engaging with customers are created, and new ways for making better use of resources are emerging. It is these communities that allow companies to not only give customers what they want, but also align efforts across the business network to maximize value potential.

To seize the opportunities ahead, businesses must go beyond sensors, Big Data, analytics, and social media. More important, they need to reinvent themselves in a manner that is compatible with an increasingly digital world and its inhabitants (a.k.a. your consumers).

Here are a few companies that understand the importance of digital transformation – and are reaping the rewards:

  1. Under Armour:  No longer is this widely popular athletic brand just selling shoes and apparel. They are connecting 38 million people on a digital platform. By focusing on this services side of the business, Under Armour is poised to become a lifestyle advisor and health consultant, using his product side as the enabler.
  1. Port of Hamburg: Europe’s second-largest port is keeping carrier trucks and ships productive around the clock. By fusing facility, weather, and traffic conditions with vehicle availability and shipment schedules, the Port increased container handling capacity by 178% without expanding its physical space.
  1. Haier Asia: This top-ranking multinational consumer electronics and home appliances company decided to disrupt itself before someone else did. The company used a two-prong approach to digital transformation to create a service-based model to seize the potential of changing consumer behaviors and accelerate product development. 
  1. Uber: This startup darling is more than just a taxi service. It is transforming how urban logistics operates through a technology trifecta: Big Data, cloud, and mobile.
  1. American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO): Even nonprofits can benefit from digital transformation. ASCO is transforming care for cancer patients worldwide by consolidating patient information with its CancerLinQ. By unlocking knowledge and value from the 97% of cancer patients who are not involved in clinical trials, healthcare providers can drive better, more data-driven decision making and outcomes.

It’s time to take action 

During the SAP Executive Technology Summit at SAP TechEd on October 19–20, an elite group of CIOs, CTOs, and corporate executives will gather to discuss the challenges of digital transformation and how they can solve them. With the freedom of open, candid, and interactive discussions led by SAP Board Members and senior technology leadership, delegates will exchange ideas on how to get on the right path while leveraging their existing technology infrastructure.

Stay tuned for exclusive insights from this invitation-only event in our next blog!
Scott Feldman is Global Head of the SAP HANA Customer Community at SAP. Connect with him on Twitter @sfeldman0.

Puneet Suppal drives Solution Strategy and Adoption (Customer Innovation & IoT) at SAP Labs. Connect with him on Twitter @puneetsuppal.



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How To Prepare Your IT Landscape For The Digital Economy

Sei Drake

Remember Tom Cruise’s 2002 movie Minority Report? Set in the futuristic world of 2054, the film featured self-driving cars, autonomous manufacturing robots, and multimedia advertising billboards that broadcast personalized messages to individuals as they passed by. What seemed like science fiction in 2002 is now a reality, with personalized and targeted social media and marketing, smart technologies such as robotics, autonomous vehicles, and 3D printing – not to mention digital machine-to-machine hyperconnectivity of the Internet of Things (IoT). Digital transformation means that all of these things will become the norm in the next few years. The future of many enterprises will depend on their ability to embrace these technologies and innovations.

Over the last two decades, many companies have built large, complex IT landscapes to support traditional business processes. The legacy systems in these landscapes were not designed for the age of Internet hyperconnectivity and the resulting high data and transaction volumes. Extending these landscapes to support new, digitally connected processes and models will further complicate IT landscapes and inhibit business innovation and agility.

The architecture of the digital enterprise will not only need to support Big Data and analytics, but a host of other things. It must also use the datastream from evolving digital technologies to trigger actions and alerts in new and existing business processes, enabling increased revenue, improved customer experience, enhanced supply chain efficiencies, and innovative business models.

To keep pace with rapid change, businesses like yours need to do three things:

  1. Simplify your IT landscape.
  1. Transition to modern platforms such as cloud-based solutions and a “digital core.”
  1. Build innovative business solutions using the latest digital capabilities to  strategically differentiate from both current and future new competitors.

Yet most organizations lack the skills to tackle these tasks alone. So who can best help you navigate this shift? 

Support for a strong foundation 

Surprise! Your best choice may be the support organization of your enterprise software and solutions provider. Over the past 15 years, many enterprise support organizations have evolved beyond providing reactive break/fix support to acting as an architectural quality advisor that can oversee the complete software lifecycle. The support provider is a smart partner for both proactive landscape simplification and co-innovation initiatives.   That’s a fundamental shift driven by the market forces of this “new normal” of digital transformation.

Support providers tend to be close to their customers, understanding their existing technologies, business processes, and revenue models. And because software solution providers often lead in the introduction of new solutions based on the latest innovations and technologies – such as IoT, cloud, robotics, autonomous cars, and 3D printing – their experienced support teams can architect solutions that will give you a strategic and sustainable advantage over your competitors.

The proof is with customers. For example the Global Service & Support organization at SAP is working with a Fortune 100 chemical company on an IT simplification initiative. After numerous mergers and acquisitions over the years, this company needed help consolidating four unique IT landscapes into one. What is an overly complex, burdensome infrastructure will be a simplified, modern solution architecture.

SAP is also working with a large energy distribution company to co-engineer an innovative Big Data, IoT data management solution. The solution is structured to deliver fast, responsive analytics from a data store of 120 terabytes of smart meter data. The utility will use predictive analytics to anticipate demand, allowing buyers to make smarter wholesale energy purchases. In the future, this Big Data and analytics platform will be extended to support innovative solutions for the utility’s customers.

Minimize risk and maximize outcomes 

Working with support organizations to simplify and innovate offers clear benefits, too. These teams are naturally close to their development organizations. They understand cutting-edge technology and they have direct access to the best talent for building new solutions. Support organizations also have extensive experience working in high-volume, high-velocity transaction and data environments.

Because they already know your business and your technology infrastructure, partnering with your software and solutions support provider can reduce risk. Remember that support organizations are measured on their ability to help their customers succeed, not on maximizing billable hours. In a world of “outcomes-based” solutions, that’s a true win-win for all.

When building innovative solutions, support teams develop in short cycles, conduct proof-of-concept exercises, and take steps to minimize cost and risk. And they can do all of this while helping you continue supporting your traditional business operations, looking for opportunities to optimize processes, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.

We may not be able to predict what innovations and new technologies will exist in the year 2054, but we know that there are technology advancements available now that will have a significant impact on our world. Work with your enterprise software provider’s support organization and start planning your digital transformation.

Click here to learn more how Global Service & Support can provide support services to help you prepare for the digital economy and realize rich value.  Visit us at


About Sei Drake

Sei Drake has been helping SAP customers for over 18 years as a solutions expert and architecture advisor. In his current role as a Co-Engineering Architect in the Global Service and Support organization, he helps customers build innovative, industry leading capabilities with SAP technologies.

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