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The In-Memory Database Revolution

Carl Olofson

In-Memory Database RevolutionThis is a seminal moment in the history of database technology: a moment when the dominant paradigms for database management for the past 40 years are being challenged by new approaches designed to take advantage of changes in system power and architecture and shifts in the underlying cost structure.

We are seeing the convergence of very fast, multi-core processors, lower cost main memory, and fast, configurable networks with demand for extreme transaction rates, high speed complex queries, and operational flexibility. One area of software technology that has arisen in response to this convergence is memory-base database management.

Unlike disk-based database management, memory-based technology does not require optimization for disk storage, has no overhead for such optimization, and dramatically reduces the storage footprint while simultaneously delivering extremely high throughput rates.

Memory-based databases are optimized for manipulation in memory, with less frequently accessed data swapped out to disk. Not all memory based databases require disk swapping, however. The fastest form of this technology is that which holds the entire database in memory all the time; this is commonly called in-memory database (IMDB) technology.

The implications of this new technology are broad and varied. We are just seeing a glimpse of what may be done when all the data is managed in memory. Because reorganizing data on disk is slow and cumbersome, and because supporting alternate forms of access adds unacceptable overhead, disk-based databases have required fixed schematic structures that afford only a single mode of access, usually involving base tables, with views defined to offer a bit of access flexibility.

IMDB, on the other hand, allows data to be dynamically reorganized, and viewed according to multiple paradigms. As a result, an IMDB can handle on-the-fly schema changes, and in many cases can render the same data either in conventional relational table form, or as complex objects or documents as required.

Operationally, the implications are just as profound. Database administrators no longer need to spend most of their time pondering storage allocation, index definition, and scheduling unload/reloads for data reorganization and re-indexing.

They can, instead, concentrate on building data structures and renderings that address the business needs of the enterprise, and provide higher value support to applications and users; the kind of support that gains recognition and yields professional rewards.

A number of new database technology firms have emerged over the past few years, delivering IMDB products optimized for various workloads. Some more established firms have joined in, offering new IMDB technologies that promise to disrupt the database technology marketplace. One that is already making waves with its ability to mix transactional and analytic workloads is SAP HANA, part of SAP’s “Real Time Data Platform”.

The “old guard” vendors also are evolving their technology feverishly in an IMDB direction. Anyone involved in database technology from either a data or application management perspective would be well advised to learn about these companies and initiatives; they are the future of this business. Embrace the new paradigm, and plan for it!

For more information, listen to a replay of the webinar entitled “The Key to Running in Real-Time:  In-Memory Database Technology”.

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The Digitalization Of HR And Its Implications For Workforce Analytics

Mick Collins

In a Q2 2017 article entitled “Defining Digitalization: Creating a Common Vision,” Katy Connealy Weber and Michael Hanrahan of CEB’s Corporate Leadership Council indicated that in response to the increasing digitization of products, channels, and operations, fully 68 percent of CHROs “plan to prioritize improving the organization’s talent analytics capabilities.”

They also suggest that the deepening reliance on enterprise data will incent talent analytics teams to create an ecosystem of partners outside of HR, whose data will enable these teams to provide holistic guidance to the business.

This line of thinking is reflected in the new SAP SuccessFactors and Harvard Business Review study—HR Analytics: Busting Siloes and Delivering Outcomes—in which we suggest that the modern digital HR organization steps beyond the automation of HR processes and operations to take a top-down approach that starts with business challenges and then identifies workforce drivers and measures that impact the results. If HR can help managers ask better questions, perhaps we can obtain better answers, using data, and make better decisions.

It is the concept of decision-making that intrigues me and that also ties these two pieces of research together. Much of the investment that the Corporate Leadership Council expects CHROs to make will be on the structure of analytics — organizational design, teams, individuals, skills, and resources. In contrast, the SAP SuccessFactors study focuses on the process of analytics — how HR interacts and partners with business colleagues to affect a change in behaviors based on actionable people analytics.

It is a combination of both structure and process that leads to the holy grail of talent analytics: managers using data to change how they make decisions on their people.

So how to drive toward decision-making as the primary outcome of talent analytics?

As I wrote recently on the workforce analytics execution gap, I find this idea of a monolithic “business strategy” to be overly simplistic at best and useless at worst. Most organizations are a complex, fluid, and heterogeneous amalgamation of activities, many of which may loosely be defined as “strategy.”

Thus, to improve the likelihood that analytics projects focus on relevant, specific strategies, analytics teams (or the part-time compensation analyst who has been “volun-told” to drive the analytics agenda) could:

  • Deliver insights that address or alleviate a talent management “pain.” According to a 2014 PwC survey on Trends in Workforce Analytics, 70 percent of U.S. CEOs worry about how a shortage of people with the right skills will undermine their strategic plans. This would be a pain that analytics could certainly help to reduce (for example, the CEB Corporate Leadership Council report indicates that 56 percent of CHROs plan to focus their talent acquisition on much-needed digital skills).
  • Prioritize analytics on areas with high alignment to CEO concerns and limited visibility. Many organizations focus their initial measurement efforts on mature, process-driven domains (e.g., recruiting metrics) or those with high visibility and comparably simple data capture (e.g., turnover). As a recent Insights From SAP Workforce Analytics survey illustrated, some of the greatest opportunities for analytics are in Learning and Succession. Learning suffers from the challenge of massive volumes of data pumped into transactional reports only – as expanded upon in this blog – while Succession is generally approached from the perspective of the individual successors rather than a study of the aggregate portfolio, discussed further here.

With greater digitalization in HR, the function’s skill profile will also evolve. Of high priority will be skills related to digital strategy (understanding how systems connect to deliver integrated streams of data), data science, storytelling, and insights coaching (helping managers understand the decision implications associated with data analysis).

Digitalization is a brave new world for many HR functions, but the promise it holds for analytics, and better talent management decision-making, is too great to be ignored.

To access the HBR report and to learn more about how SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics together with SAP Digital Boardroom can help HR become a valuable player in strategic decision making, visit here. You can also learn more from customers and experts at SuccessConnect in Las Vegas taking place August 29-31 at The Cosmopolitan. Register here.

Source: CEB Corporate Leadership Council, CHRO Quarterly, Q2, 2017.

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Letting Transparency And Insights Lead The Way

Mohammed Karzoun

Excellence in governance is hinged on exceeding service delivery expectations of citizens while balancing fiscal health and overall efficiencies. A transparent and connected government that uses insights to guide decision-making fosters trust and helps governments achieve efficiencies across financial, social, and economic aspects of governance. 

Today’s information age is no longer about sole proprietorship of information and data. The more information is shared, the more value it adds. Sharing information represents transparency and encourages trust by offering ample opportunity for citizens to scrutinize and understand the rationale behind public service offerings.

Further, analyzing data yields insights, helping the government make informed policy decisions and step up against corruption, fraud, and lacunae in functioning. To achieve this effectively, I feel data is key to driving excellence in governance. Data, captured in real time and shared, enables a transparent and accountable environment and delivers significant insights for improved governance. 

Insights help governments deliver the customer promise

Citizens today are very demanding of governments, expecting open access to information, transparency of transactions, seamless interactions, and fulfillment of needs. The last decade has witnessed a greater focus on reforms in the public sector aimed at improving service delivery and enhancing the customer promise. A critical result of these reforms has been the necessity to treat citizens like customers and place their needs at the core of every decision, from formulating strategies to designing policies and execution.

Governments need to re-engineer their processes and use data-driven governance to enable this customer-centricity. And for this, technology can be a key enabler because the development of customer-centric models calls for customer insights—an evaluation of customers’ wants and needs, improving the customer experience and minimizing risks associated with service delivery.

Business forensics can help optimize government resource planning

Customer feedback can generate significant insights to help governments deliver on the customer promise. By understanding the needs of its citizens and putting in place mechanisms to address those needs or problems, a government sets the tone for achieving excellence.

Insights are not only necessary to deliver efficiencies to citizens. To achieve a fiscal balance and internal efficiencies, the governments’ interaction with its extended customer base of employees, suppliers, and partners also needs to be managed and resources optimized. Business forensics also deliver these capabilities to governments by helping generate insights needed to optimize the governments’ financial resources and react to economic changes.

I believe that SAP’s transformative technologies that leverage real-time analytics provide governments with real-time data and flexible reporting tools to gain deeper insights into areas of improvement across departments. This helps identify and minimize risk and ensure compliance.

Transparency drives accountability as silos give way to a connected government

Transparency syncs governmental objectives with project objectives. A transparent and clear understanding of governance strategy helps create this sync while balancing resource priorities to ensure that outcomes are timely and effective. This also helps the governments see the big picture and drill down into details for instant decision-making while having single version of the truth.

Transparency requires that department silos give way to a connected government. An integrated and coordinated governance model not only avoids duplication of efforts and resources but also eliminates redundancies in storing information and utilizing resources.

A connected government boasts better communication and coordination across departments, increases ministry-wide transparency, and enhances accountability across a decentralized environment. It holds to reason that government entities and departments that are accountable tend to be more agile, flexible, and efficient.

I feel an important enabler for this transparency and accountability can be setting service standards. By putting in place specific mechanisms to measure KPI’s and evaluate service levels, governments can become more responsive and achieve citizen happiness.

Keeping it real: Why real-time information is the cornerstone of transparency and insights

People no longer want to be told about what happened in the past and how; they seek real-time information. Real-time information and real-time analytics enrich both the government and its citizens with data, which leads to transparency from the perspective of citizens and converts into insights from the government’s point of view.

This open government partnership implies that the decision-makers can anticipate the needs of citizens and the needs of the economy on a real-time basis and make decisions on policies accordingly and on the fly. Such decisions increase reliability and consistency of financial and operational information.

Real-time governance enabled by technology provides the governments entities and their leadership with unprecedented visibility into the workings of the various departments, increasing accountability and enhancing opportunities for collaboration across functions. It allows governments to answer key questions in the moment, such as: What is happening now? Why is it happening? What will happen? Governments can move to the era of predictive analytics by collecting and relating their objectives in real time to make informative decisions for better future planning.

In conclusion, changes in citizen needs and expectations are a continuous process, and a radical one-time reform cannot suffice. Governments need to leverage technology to implement a mechanism that continually monitors insights and develops an institutional culture of improvement. At the same time, encouraging a data-driven transparent service delivery model can position governments well to achieve excellence by delivering on the customer promise.

For more on the role of technology in government, see A Duty Of Care In The Digital Government Era.

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Mohammed Karzoun

About Mohammed Karzoun

Mohammed Karzoun is the Industry Leader for Public Sector at SAP. He manages government, smart cities, healthcare, public security, defense, higher education, and postal services sectors across the United Arab Emirates and Oman. With 20 years of experience in primarily public sector transformation, Mohammed has been engaged with multiple government entities to help drive their strategies and digital transformation initiatives.

Running Future Cities on Blockchain

Dan Wellers , Raimund Gross and Ulrich Scholl

Building on the Blockchain Framework

Some experts say these seemingly far-future speculations about the possibilities of combining technologies using blockchain are actually both inevitable and imminent:


Democratizing design and manufacturing by enabling individuals and small businesses to buy, sell, share, and digitally remix products affordably while protecting intellectual property rights.
Decentralizing warehousing and logistics by combining autonomous vehicles, 3D printers, and smart contracts to optimize delivery of products and materials, and even to create them on site as needed.
Distributing commerce by mixing virtual reality, 3D scanning and printing, self-driving vehicles, and artificial intelligence into immersive, personalized, on-demand shopping experiences that still protect buyers’ personal and proprietary data.

The City of the Future

Imagine that every agency, building, office, residence, and piece of infrastructure has an entry on a blockchain used as a city’s digital ledger. This “digital twin” could transform the delivery of city services.

For example:

  • Property owners could easily monetize assets by renting rooms, selling solar power back to the grid, and more.
  • Utilities could use customer data and AIs to make energy-saving recommendations, and smart contracts to automatically adjust power usage for greater efficiency.
  • Embedded sensors could sense problems (like a water main break) and alert an AI to send a technician with the right parts, tools, and training.
  • Autonomous vehicles could route themselves to open parking spaces or charging stations, and pay for services safely and automatically.
  • Cities could improve traffic monitoring and routing, saving commuters’ time and fuel while increasing productivity.

Every interaction would be transparent and verifiable, providing more data to analyze for future improvements.


Welcome to the Next Industrial Revolution

When exponential technologies intersect and combine, transformation happens on a massive scale. It’s time to start thinking through outcomes in a disciplined, proactive way to prepare for a future we’re only just beginning to imagine.

Download the executive brief Running Future Cities on Blockchain.


Read the full article Pulling Cities Into The Future With Blockchain

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Raimund Gross

About Raimund Gross

Raimund Gross is a solution architect and futurist at SAP Innovation Center Network, where he evaluates emerging technologies and trends to address the challenges of businesses arising from digitization. He is currently evaluating the impact of blockchain for SAP and our enterprise customers.

Ulrich Scholl

About Ulrich Scholl

Ulrich Scholl is Vice President of Industry Cloud and Custom Development at SAP. In this role, Ulrich discovers and implements best practices to help further the understanding and adoption of the SAP portfolio of industry cloud innovations.

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4 Traits Set Digital Leaders Apart From 97% Of The Competition

Vivek Bapat

Like the classic parable of the blind man and the elephant, it seems everyone has a unique take on digital transformation. Some equate digital transformation with emerging technologies, placing their bets on as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Others see it as a way to increase efficiencies and change business processes to accelerate product to market. Some others think of it is a means of strategic differentiation, innovating new business models for serving and engaging their customers. Despite the range of viewpoints, many businesses are still challenged with pragmatically evolving digital in ways that are meaningful, industry-disruptive, and market-leading.

According to a recent study of more than 3,000 senior executives across 17 countries and regions, only a paltry three percent of businesses worldwide have successfully completed enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives, even though 84% of C-level executives ranks such efforts as “critically important” to the fundamental sustenance of their business.

The most comprehensive global study of its kind, the SAP Center for Business Insight report “SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart,” in collaboration with Oxford Economics, identified the challenges, opportunities, value, and key technologies driving digital transformation. The findings specifically analyzed the performance of “digital leaders” – those who are connecting people, things, and businesses more intelligently, more effectively, and creating punctuated change faster than their less advanced rivals.

After analyzing the data, it was eye-opening to see that only three percent of companies (top 100) are successfully realizing their full potential through digital transformation. However, even more remarkable was that these leaders have four fundamental traits in common, regardless of their region of operation, their size, their organizational structure, or their industry.

We distilled these traits in the hope that others in the early stages of transformation or that are still struggling to find their bearings can embrace these principles in order to succeed. Ultimately I see these leaders as true ambidextrous organizations, managing evolutionary and revolutionary change simultaneously, willing to embrace innovation – not just on the edges of their business, but firmly into their core.

Here are the four traits that set these leaders apart from the rest:

Trait #1: They see digital transformation as truly transformational

An overwhelming majority (96%) of digital leaders view digital transformation as a core business goal that requires a unified digital mindset across the entire enterprise. But instead of allowing individual functions to change at their own pace, digital leaders prefer to evolve the organization to help ensure the success of their digital strategies.

The study found that 56% of these businesses regularly shift their organizational structure, which includes processes, partners, suppliers, and customers, compared to 10% of remaining companies. Plus, 70% actively bring lines of business together through cross-functional processes and technologies.

By creating a firm foundation for transformation, digital leaders are further widening the gap between themselves and their less advanced competitors as they innovate business models that can mitigate emerging risks and seize new opportunities quickly.

Trait #2: They focus on transforming customer-facing functions first

Although most companies believe technology, the pace of change, and growing global competition are the key global trends that will affect everything for years to come, digital leaders are expanding their frame of mind to consider the influence of customer empowerment. Executives who build a momentum of breakthrough innovation and industry transformation are the ones that are moving beyond the high stakes of the market to the activation of complete, end-to-end customer experiences.

In fact, 92% of digital leaders have established sophisticated digital transformation strategies and processes to drive transformational change in customer satisfaction and engagement, compared to 22% of their less mature counterparts. As a result, 70% have realized significant or transformational value from these efforts.

Trait #3: They create a virtuous cycle of digital talent

There’s little doubt that the competition for qualified talent is fierce. But for nearly three-quarters of companies that demonstrate digital-transformation leadership, it is easier to attract and retain talent because they are five times more likely to leverage digitization to change their talent management efforts.

The impact of their efforts goes beyond empowering recruiters to identify best-fit candidates, highlight risk factors and hiring errors, and predict long-term talent needs. Nearly half (48%) of digital leaders understand that they must invest heavily in the development of digital skills and technology to drive revenue, retain productive employees, and create new roles to keep up with their digital maturity over the next two years, compared to 30% of all surveyed executives.

Trait #4: They invest in next-generation technology using a bimodal architecture

A couple years ago, Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of research, observed that “CIOs can’t transform their old IT organization into a digital startup, but they can turn it into a bi-modal IT organization. Forty-five percent of CIOs state they currently have a fast mode of operation, and we predict that 75% of IT organizations will be bimodal in some way by 2017.”

Based on the results of the SAP Center for Business Insight study, Sondergaard’s prediction was spot on. As digital leaders dive into advanced technologies, 72% are using a digital twin of the conventional IT organization to operate efficiently without disruption while refining innovative scenarios to resolve business challenges and integrate them to stay ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, only 30% of less advanced businesses embrace this view.

Working within this bimodal architecture is emboldening digital leaders to take on incredibly progressive technology. For example, the study found that 50% of these firms are using artificial intelligence and machine learning, compared to seven percent of all respondents. They are also leading the adoption curve of Big Data solutions and analytics (94% vs. 60%) and the Internet of Things (76% vs. 52%).

Digital leadership is a practice of balance, not pure digitization

Most executives understand that digital transformation is a critical driver of revenue growth, profitability, and business expansion. However, as digital leaders are proving, digital strategies must deliver a balance of organizational flexibility, forward-looking technology adoption, and bold change. And clearly, this approach is paying dividends for them. They are growing market share, increasing customer satisfaction, improving employee engagement, and, perhaps more important, achieving more profitability than ever before.

For any company looking to catch up to digital leaders, the conversation around digital transformation needs to change immediately to combat three deadly sins: Stop investing in one-off, isolated projects hidden in a single organization. Stop viewing IT as an enabler instead of a strategic partner. Stop walling off the rest of the business from siloed digital successes.

As our study shows, companies that treat their digital transformation as an all-encompassing, all-sharing, and all-knowing business imperative will be the ones that disrupt the competitive landscape and stay ahead of a constantly evolving economy.

Follow me on twitter @vivek_bapat 

For more insight on digital leaders, check out the SAP Center for Business Insight report, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics,SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart.”

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About Vivek Bapat

Vivek Bapat is the Senior Vice President, Global Head of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership, at SAP. He leads SAP's Global Marketing Strategy, Messaging, Positioning and related Thought Leadership initiatives.