What Would MC Hammer Do?

Morgan Sharif

A few weeks ago, I attended Silicon Valley’s annual Startup Grind and found myself along side a couple hundred others listening intently to MC Hammer for his entrepreneurial advice. Yes, you heard me correctly.innovation at a startup

We all listened to how this famous entertainer’s entrepreneurial background stemmed from a much earlier age. He opened up and described how he had sold baseballs right outside the Oakland A’s stadium as a young kid, and shared a story about his stint selling fruit and ice cream from a stand in Las ­Vegas.

Moving forward into his career as an artist, he discussed how he marketed himself and how his experience as an entrepreneur made him very successful. He spoke at length about being an early adopter of new and innovative tools to promote and market his music. There was a discussion of looking forward and embracing new innovations wholeheartedly while ignoring naysayers. He spoke about getting on board YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest because he saw the potential that these innovations brought to his businesses.

For the entrepreneurs and small business owners that filled the room, the message from MC Hammer was clear: Do not be afraid to become an early adopter when it comes to new innovations. Don’t get left behind.

Looking around me, I realized how fortunate the small-business owners around me really are. Today, small and midsized-companies are able to innovate and utilize technology to compete globally. With their small size comes agility, giving them the power to adapt far more quickly than their larger competitors.

That being said, a classic barrier to entry has always been the inability of a small to midsize company to afford the technology usually reserved for the large enterprises. As MC Hammer would sing, “You can’t touch this.”  Fortunately, this barrier is coming down and companies with small budgets are now able to afford big solutions. Big solutions that can scale as a company grows. I can only image how many of the my fellow entrepreneurs who attended Start-up Grind would benefit from these big solutions.

There are opportunities available now to move beyond these barriers, adopt the latest technology and and level the competitive playing field. If you would like to learn how you can afford big solutions for the small to mid-size company, please visit here.


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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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The Future Of Supplier Collaboration: 9 Things CPOs Want Their Managers To Know Now

Sundar Kamak

As a sourcing or procurement manager, you may think there’s nothing new about supplier collaboration. Your chief procurement officer (CPO) most likely disagrees.
Forward-thinking CPOs acknowledge the benefit of supplier partnerships. They not only value collaboration, but require a revolution in how their buying organization conducts its business and operations. “Procurement must start looking to suppliers for inspiration and new capability, stop prescribing specifications and start tapping into the expertise of suppliers,” writes David Rae in Procurement Leaders. The CEO expects it of your CPO, and your CPO expects it of you. For sourcing managers, this can be a lot of pressure.

Here are nine things your CPO wants you to know about how supplier collaboration is changing – and why it matters to your company’s future and your own future.

1. The need for supplier collaboration in procurement is greater than ever

Over half (65%) of procurement practitioners say procurement at their company is becoming more collaborative with suppliers, according to The Future of Procurement, Making Collaboration Pay Off, by Oxford Economics. Why? Because the pace of business has increased exponentially, and businesses must be able to respond to new market demands with agility and innovation. In this climate, buyers are relying on suppliers more than ever before. And buyers aren’t collaborating with suppliers merely as providers of materials and goods, but as strategic partners that can help create products that are competitive differentiators.

Supplier collaboration itself isn’t new. What’s new is that it’s taken on a much greater urgency and importance.

2. You’re probably not realizing the full collective power of your supplier relationships

Supplier collaboration has always been a function of maintaining a delicate balance between demand and supply. For the most part, the primary focus of the supplier relationship is ensuring the right materials are available at the right time and location. However, sourcing managers with a narrow focus on delivery are missing out on one of the greatest advantages of forging collaborative supplier partnerships: an opportunity to drive synergies that are otherwise perceived as impossible within the confines of the business. The game-changer is when you drive those synergies with thousands, not hundreds of suppliers. Look at the Apple Store as a prime example of collaboration en masse. Without the apps, the iPhone is just another ordinary phone!

3. Collaboration comes in more than one flavor

Suppliers don’t just collaborate with you to provide a critical component or service. They also work with your engineers to help ensure costs are optimized from the buyer’s perspective as well as the supplier’s side. They may even take over the provisioning of an entire end-to-end solution. Or co-design with your R&D team through joint research and development. These forms of collaboration aren’t new, but they are becoming more common and more critical. And they are becoming more impactful, because once you start extending any of these collaboration models to more and more suppliers, your capabilities as a business increase by orders of magnitude. If one good supplier can enable your company to build its brand, expand its reach, and establish its position as a market leader – imagine what’s possible when you work collaboratively with hundreds or thousands of suppliers.

4. Keeping product sustainability top of mind pays off

Facing increasing demand for sustainable products and production, companies are relying on suppliers to answer this new market requirement.

As a sourcing manager, you may need to go outside your comfort zone to think about new, innovative ways to collaborate for achieving sustainability. Recently, I heard from an acquaintance who is a CPO of a leading services company. His organization is currently collaborating with one of the largest suppliers in the world to adhere to regulatory mandates and consumer demand for “lean and green” lightbulbs. Although this approach was interesting to me, what really struck me was his observation on how this co-innovation with the supplier is spawning cost and resource optimization and the delivery of competitive products. As reported by Andrew Winston in The Harvard Business Review, Target and Walmart partnered to launch the Personal Care Sustainability Summit last year. So even competitors are collaborating with each other and with their suppliers in the name of sustainability.

5. Co-marketing is a win-win

Look at your list of suppliers. Does anyone have a brand that is bigger than your company’s? Believe it or not, almost all of us do. So why not seize the opportunity to raise your and your supplier’s brand profile in the marketplace?

Take Intel, for example. The laptop you’re working on right now may very well have an “Intel inside” sticker on it. That’s co-marketing at work. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 100 most valuable brands by Millward Brown Optimor, this largest supplier of microprocessors is world-renowned for its technology and innovation. For many companies that buy supplies from Intel, the decision to co-market is a strategic approach to convey that the product is reliable and provides real value for their computing needs.

6. Suppliers get to choose their customers, too

Increased competition for high-performing suppliers is changing the way procurement operates, say 58% of procurement executives in the Oxford Economics study. Buyers have a responsibility to the supplier – and to their CEO – to be a customer of choice. When the economy is going well, you might be able to dictate the supplier’s goods and services – and sometimes even the service delivery model. When times get tough (and they can very quickly), suppliers will typically reevaluate your organization’s needs to see whether they can continue service in a fiscally responsible manner. To secure suppliers’ attention in favorable and challenging economic conditions, your organization should establish collaborative and mutually productive partnerships with them.

7. Suppliers can help simplify operations

Cost optimization will always be one of your performance metrics; however, that is only one small part of the entire puzzle. What will help your organization get noticed is leveraging the supplier relationship to innovate new and better ways of managing the product line and operating the business while balancing risk and cost optimization. Ask yourself: Which functions are no longer needed? Can they be outsourced to a supplier that can perform them better? What can be automated?

8. Suppliers have a better grasp of your sourcing categories than you do

Understand your category like never before so that your organization can realize the full potential of its supplier investments while delivering products that are consistent and of high quality. How? By leveraging the wisdom of your suppliers. To be blunt: they know more than you do. Tap into that knowledge to gain a solid understanding of the product, market category, suppliers’ capabilities, and shifting dynamics in the industry, If a buyer does not understand these areas deeply, no amount of collaboration will empower a supplier to help your company innovate as well as optimize costs and resources.

9. Remember that there’s something in it for you as well

All of us want to do strategic, impactful work. Sourcing managers with aspirations of becoming CPOs should move beyond writing contracts and pushing PO requests by building strategic procurement skill sets. For example, a working knowledge in analytics allows you to choose suppliers that can shape the market and help a product succeed – and can catch the eye of the senior leadership team.

Sundar Kamak is global vice president of solutions marketing at Ariba, an SAP company.

For more on supplier collaboration, read Making Collaboration Pay Off, part of a series on the Future of Procurement, by Oxford Economics.


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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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