Why You Need An In-Memory Action Plan

Timo Elliott

Get Ahead With An In-Memory Action Plan

This is a third post of a series based on a SAP-sponsored breakfast meeting organized in Sydney earlier this year with speaker Donald Feinberg, Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst explaining the “Nexus of Forces”: social, mobile, cloud and information.

In the first two posts, Donald covered why in-memory is disrupting everything, and why every organization will be running in-memory in 15 to 20 years time, and the business impacts of the new in-memory computing possibilities.

In this post, Donald explains why you should have an in-memory action plan — and how to create one.

These comments are based on my notes taken from the speech, formatted for legibility.

Why you need an in-memory action plan

Why You Need An In-Memory Action Plan

You need to change the way you look at IT infrastructure, applications, and the infrastructure that’s running those applications. Truly, with some of these new technologies like in-memory technology, there are no barriers, things that you can’t do. Words like “no we can’t do it” start to go away.

I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be cheap, I’m not going to tell you there’s not going to be bumps in the road as you’re doing it, but things that you really thought were not possible are possible now. Period.

What do you do in your organization to start to adopt or use some of the in-memory technologies? You are going to spend money on this. Whether the TCO is less or not, you still have to build your skills, you still have to buy applications, you still have to buy the technology and infrastructure and things like that.

Why You Need An In-Memory Action Plan

Build a business case first. Show the value of what you’re going to do. The return on investment may be long or may be short. We recommend short at first. Small projects with quick return on investment will get you more projects that are bigger and have a greater impact on the company. But you have to prove it first – that’s the key.

Assign a small team of people to look at this. Most companies don’t have a research and development organization in IT (the big ones do). But there’s no reason you can’t have one person looking at the things that are possible with the new technologies, looking at how they can make your current applications more efficient, or start to change how you use them.

So set up a CTO or department of the CTO that has somebody in there who’s just looking at the stuff that’s out five years or ten years from now, so that you will be ready to start to do projects with it when it matures to the level of risk that you’re willing to take.

Always do a POC, proof of concept. Do not just assume that because it looks good on paper it’s going to work for you. You need to test it with your data, with your applications, with your people.

Brainstorming. A lot of people don’t realize that your business unit people are much more IT-aware than they have ever been before. Brainstorm with them on what some of these things can happen, in the business, and how they can make use of it. Who has the budget today? IT? Or the business unit? So if you don’t do this, they’re going to do it anyway, and they’re going to implement the technology without IT. The big disadvantage is that the company doesn’t get the broad skill base that is necessary, and that technology is not shared across the business units. It’s much better to keep it in IT, not because you order it so, but because you are moving along in these new ways, with the business units and what they need.

If you believe what I’m telling you about in-memory technology, as being part of your future, it’s not too early to start to define a strategy for how in-memory is going to enter into your organization and be used.

You may decide that part of the strategy is “we’re going to wait two years to let it mature”. That’s fine, but start looking now at where it can fit and when within the organization, so that you’re prepared and ready to accept it when it comes along. If you’re an early adopter, start tomorrow. If you’re more risk-adverse, next year, the year after.

But at least understand the strategy for how this is going to fit in your organization, because as we believe, it IS coming, whether you want it or not, so you may as well start now to look at a strategy for where it’s going to fit in the future.

Questions and Answers

What would you reply to somebody who said “I’ve already got enough problems in my organization already”?

From a short-term standpoint, I can’t disagree with that.

But some of the new architectures and the in-memory technologies can maybe help you with some of the issues that you have today.

It depends on what the issues are. One of the issues a lot of people have is speed: my applications don’t run fast enough. So maybe there’s in-memory technology that can speed that up. Or maybe moving it to mobile will make it run faster.

Looking at the nexus of forces and looking at technology as a solution to some of your problems may actually help you short-term.

Cloud – maybe cloud can save you some time. I’ll give you a simple example: how are your development costs? Use the public cloud for that. Let your developers develop on an Amazon AWS.

Why is that good? Your people don’t have to set up the development environment. You make a phone call, and you have it. When the project’s done, you make another phone call, and not pay for it any more. You don’t have to go out and buy a server that then you’ve got to figure out what to do with after the development project is done. So there’s a place where cloud immediately can help you.

So some of this new technology is mature enough to solve some of your problems. And then, when you start putting your head together with the business units and start to have an impact on the competitiveness and the bottom line of the organization, that’s where you can really make a difference. Some of this technology may enable you, if you’re a retailer, to turn your inventory one more time a year. Is there any retailer that doesn’t want to do that? And not be out of something when somebody wants it?

If the business unit wants to be an early adopter, but the IT unit is risk-averse and conservative, how does the business user drive this change?

I’ve been around a while in this business. If there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over since I started in the 60s, it’s “IT has to communicate with the business”.  We’ve learned that lesson – that doesn’t work. Going out to dinner with your business liaison once a month and talking with them is nothing.

So one of the concepts that we came up with around twelve years ago, with respect to BI specifically, is the BI Competency Center. The reason that has worked is because it takes business people and IT people and puts them together, working together, not talking. So they make decisions together.

If I’m going to do a new project, all the business units decide what the priority project is. This is a concept that works. Some of your companies can’t afford to have full-time people in it, so you do it virtually: you have a meeting once a week. But they still manage projects, they still make buying decisions on products, they still set strategy for the company. The group should not be run by IT (which is hard to swallow sometimes) – but by the business unit. And most important: the CIO can not be the sponsor. It must be higher in the organization.

So if I’m going to have a “business technology competency center” where people from the business and the industry are going to get together to look at new technologies and where they may work, the sponsor has to be the CFO, the CEO, the Board, somebody like that. Then they will work together to do this.

Risk-adverse IT organizations are normal. You have a job to do to keep the lights on and you’re not going to do it if you take risks. It’s that simple – you’re not going to have a job if you take risks.

So how do you fit that with adopting new technology? Again, just like with the research and development with one person, you can take a couple of people from your organization as part of this “business innovation competency center”, sponsored by the CEO, so you can go hire some new people to do it if you need to, or move people over and backfill them.

They may take on a project with a business unit where you see tremendous value to the business, and you look at something that is, say, in beta. And you look at that technology to enable that business unit to be more competitive, more productive, more profitable, and it doesn’t affect the rest of your organization. You still can deliver the things you’re doing, because it’s “outside”. How do you get to that? You have to get senior management in the organization – not the IT organization – behind you. How do you get that? A small project, to demonstrate to them the value of this kind of thing.

Now one thing that comes to mind immediately: if you look at what’s happened in the past ten years with data warehousing – my area – every time there’s been a recession, database sales and data warehousing sales have dropped off. Except in the 2008/2009 worldwide recession, where every segment of IT was negative growth except DBMS, which was flat. In that environment, flat was positive.

Why? Because when the CIO came in to the CEO and said “I need more money to spend on my data warehouse” and the CEO says “are you nuts, with this economy?!”, you pointed to a flat screen on his wall that had key metrics of the business in “real-time” – for the first time, senior management, the CFO, COO, CEO, could physically see the value that information was bringing to their business.

If you can demonstrate physically to them the advantages of some new technology, then they’re going to buy into it and start to fund it. You can’t say something like “I want a new ERP package” – in an economy like 2009, that will get you fired for asking. But if you have some real strong value that you can demonstrate quickly or instantly to them, they’re going to spend money on it if they think it’s going to save money or help them. So that’s what you have to do. Lots of people say “only large companies can afford that” – but anybody can put it together with at couple of visionary people from the business units and one or two people from IT to put this together, and they can be virtual.

Pfizer is one of our BICC case studies. They have 150 people full time in the BI competency center: 75 employees and 75 consultants. Most people can’t afford to do that, and I’m not suggesting you do. But here are models in-between that make sense, that will fit in everybody’s budget.


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8 Technologies For Unified Communications

Daniel Newman

8 Technologies That Comprise Unified CommunicationsThe ability for businesses to communicate more efficiently on virtually any device is the catalyst for faster more connected organizations.

Today I wanted to share this post with this great community of business leaders and aspiring leaders to help you all better understand the future of business communication. And in case you are wondering, when I say the future, I really mean the now…Happy Collaborating!

If I was to ask you to give me a simple definition of Unified Communications (UC), how would you respond?

Almost an Oxymoron, a simple definition for Unified Communication eludes many of us because there is nothing simple about Unified Communications.

Tech leaders and Business leaders will argue fiercely on this very topic because technologists want to break down UC into the various technology Silos while executives want a seamless communication tool.

Both parties seeking the same, however the path for those planning Unified Communications is less clear because we all know…

The simpler the technology in practice, the more difficult the planning and implementation becomes.

So what are the pieces that comprise Unified Communication?

Here is the shortlist of the major components for a successful UC deployment.

  • Voice: Forever the staple of business communication. Access to a high quality voice solution needs to be at the very core of your UC strategy.
  • Video: The future of communication for the last 20 years, pervasive bandwidth is now making high quality video a reality, and further affordable. No Unified Communication platform is complete without it.
  • Instant Messaging: Chat may seem like child’s play, but in a world where we communicate far more over text, email and IM; businesses stand to gain from having an enterprise instant messaging tool.
  • Productivity Tools: Email, Calendaring, Contact Management, Web Collaboration, File Sharing and storage all have a place in the Unified Communication solution. Often via Outlook (or similar) the ability to connect your everyday tools is the future of UC.
  • Unified Messaging: The ability to get your Voicemail from anywhere via a simple email is a wonderful convenience and great for efficiency.
  • Presence: The ability to see from any device who is available, who is away and who is in meetings makes for faster companies as resources can quickly connect to one another to obtain needed support or collaboration.
  • Mobility: The “Anywhere Office” is a very real thing. Mobility gives the full toolset to users from an array of machines including your smartphone, tablet, PC or other. BYOD (Bring your own Device) has further pushed the mobile movement as more devices are being integrated into daily business operations.
  • Business Intelligence Integration: This is the last piece and perhaps one that is most often overlooked. But ask yourself this…How does your organizations communication tools integrate with business systems like CRM (Customer Management/Contact Center) and ERP (Accounting and Resource Planning)? Given the heavy use of these packages in day-to-day business, not being able to connect to your UC system makes them less useful than they could be.

So now that we know the pieces…making them work in perfect harmony is another story and ultimately the Link (not lync) between another failed tech rollout and organizations communicating over any medium from anywhere.

This article was originally written for EC3. The original post can be found here.


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5 Mindset Shifts Marketing Leaders Must Make

Michael Brenner

5 Mindset Shifts Marketing Leaders Must MakeWe all know that real change starts with a shift in thinking. And so we are winding down the Future of Marketing series (for now) with this post on the 5 mindset shifts marketing leaders need to make.

Previous interviews covered Social BusinessCreativityBig DataCustomer ExperienceThought LeadershipContent Culture, the Future of Search, the Science of Marketing, Content Brands and much more.

Today’s post comes from Velocidi CMO Margaret Molloy (@MargaretMolloy) and includes her coverage of the discussions at the recent CMO Club Summit.

With more than 100 CMOs in attendance, the agenda was packed with fantastic panels and superb peer-to-peer conversation. Though the lessons from the event were numerous, I believe that the key insights I gleaned were that there are five major mindset shifts that CMOs need to make today, or risk missing opportunities to deliver tangible impact.

1. CMOs must walk in customers’ shoes

MargaretMolloyTop performing CMOs consistently recognize that customer-centricity is more than a buzz word—they understand that having a first-hand knowledge of the end-to-end customer experience is critical. Katrina Klier (@KatrinaKlier) from Accenture, put it plainly: “Be a user, trier, tester. Don’t rely on the experience of others, get your hands dirty.” The benefits of this field-based approach are manifold. As Sandra Zoratti (@sandraz) from Ricoh pointed out: “The best way to give an idea a sense of urgency is to invoke the voice of the customer.”

As it relates to getting closer to customers, it was clear that big data was top of mind as a means to help marketers “walk in customers’ shoes” at scale. But while big data may serve as a new route to customer insight and behavior, it hasn’t yet fully lived up to that promise. Perhaps data alone is not the answer—intuition and action are required. Jonathan Becher (@jbecher), SAP, spelled it out, “It’s about big decisions, not big data.” I believe CMOs must walk in customers’ shoes (often), ask the right questions, and be guided by experience to deliver the right outcomes for their businesses, and their clients.

2. Firms need to differentiate through brand experience

This was a recurring theme throughout the conference. Cammie Dunaway (@cwd8) of Kidmania took it a step further by linking customer understanding to engagement: “True engagement is about changing customer behavior.” Mary Ann Fitzmaurice of American Express OPEN shared the impact of the Small Business Saturday initiative, a program designed to help small businesses: “Our customers love us because they know we have their backs.”

In addition, Jonathan Becher of SAP underlined the magnitude of this desired shift: “There are now more mobile phones in the world than people.” When we look at mobile and social together, it’s clear we are now in an “always-on” era. Becher emphasized the urgency of the situation: “Business will need to run in real time to facilitate personalized engagement with customers.”

Dunaway also offered a powerful analogy to illustrate the contrast between a customer and an advocate relationship to a brand: “The difference between customers and advocates is like the distinction between tourists and citizens in a country.”

In my view, to motivate customers to that level of devotion requires CMOs to deliver great experience at every customer touchpoint.

3. The CMO role is a great gig, but it requires major skills

The CMOs in attendance engaged in candid discussion on skills and careers. Tom Seclow (@SpencerStuView) of Spencer Stuart presented a case study with the message that CMOs’ tenure continues to climb as they become more entrenched in their roles and expand their influence across their organizations. However, he warned that: “Short-term thinking and focus on quarterly earnings is a big challenge.” Douwe Bergsma (@douwebergsma) of Georgia-Pacific laid out three critical requirements for the role: “CMOs need to be 1) scientists 2) storytellers and 3) army generals.” And if that wasn’t enough ground to cover, Maryam Banikarim (@maryamb) of Gannett told CMOs that they need to “have creative agility, be connectors, [and] use interpersonal skills.”

Despite the heavy responsibility, the mood about the CMO role was upbeat. Mark Wilson of Avaya captured the sentiment when he contended that: “There has never been a better time to be a marketer.” Terri Funk Graham, Chairman of The CMO Club Presidents Circle (formerly of Jack in the Box), made an assessment that resonated with me in particular: “The most important skill of a great CMO is courage.”

I’d like to add curiosity. Without curiosity you don’t ask the great questions that will inform the intuition and insight to fuel that courage—as well as all the other necessary skills listed above.

4. Marketing teams need to behave more like smart startups

The innovation imperative surfaced many times during the Summit. SAP’s Becher hammered home the importance of culture: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so fix your culture to make your strategy work.” Kidmania’s Cammie Dunaway also offered pragmatic analysis: “Changing organizational behavior, is as much about muscle memory as resistance.” Stephanie Anderson of Time Warner Cable, reinforced that point: “We need to continually train and educate internally.”

Nancy Smith of iRobot (@NancyDSmith) also offered practical tips based on iRobot’s rule: “Leave at least 5 percent of your budget for crazy stuff (aka experiments). Why not give everyone on your team an opportunity to do a cool project, to be a part-time intern?” On organization, Denise Incandela of Saks Fifth Avenue advised: “Create an environment that rewards innovation and rapid testing. Don’t say yes to every new thing, focus and do what your firm can do well. Think scalable programs.”

To me, this body of advice can be summed up in a simple idea: marketing departments need to behave more like high-performing startups. CMOs must embrace experimentation, fail fast, get close to the customer, reduce internal approval cycles, and focus on fewer, more actionable metrics.

5. The B2B versus B2C dichotomy is becoming irrelevant

CMOs drawing inspiration from an artist who's embraced change. (L-R) Katrina Klier, Stephanie Anderson, Cyndi Lauper and Margaret Molloy.

CMOs drawing inspiration from an artist who’s embraced change.
(L-R) Katrina Klier, Stephanie Anderson, Cyndi Lauper and Margaret Molloy.

We had a vigorous debate over dinner about whether the B2B/B2C divide was still meaningful. Jonathan Becher of SAP nailed it with his pithy insight: “Glass buildings don’t buy software, people do.” Although there are differences in tactics in B2B versus B2C models, the need to engage buyers with relevant content, in their vernacular, and in a timely manner is common to both B2B and B2C. David Newberry (davidnewbs“>@davidnewbs) of Pitney Bowes reasoned that: “The widespread availability of information means that all buyers are more informed than ever before.”

This erosion of asymmetry of information, the consumerization of IT, and the lower entry-point pricing of many products (e.g., freemium models) is compounding the need to think of all buyers as people—whether they are acting in a B2B or B2C capacity. Becher captured the shift well: “Marketing’s job is not to help sales people sell, it’s to help buyers buy.”

I left the Summit inspired, eager for the next opportunity to engage with colleagues, and in awe of the opportunity that we as CMOs have to drive real value for our businesses, and most importantly, our clients.

Did you attend Summit? What mindset shifts do you believe CMOs most urgently take?

For additional perspectives on the Summit, I encourage you to read these great posts by fellow Summit Bloggers Drew Neisser and Lana McGilvray.

Margaret Molloy is CMO at Velocidi, a full-service digital marketing agency. ( Follow her on Twitter (@MargaretMolloy) or connect on LinkedIn for additional insights from her CMO conversations.

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The post 5 Mindset Shifts Marketing Leaders Must Make appeared first on B2B Marketing Insider.


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Finance In Your Pocket: 10 Mobile Apps For Personal Finance

Ritika Puri

Finance in Your Pocket: 10 Mobile Apps For Personal FinancePersonal finance is a discipline where art meets science. Healthy balance sheets rely on creativity, forethought, and strategic planning. More so than spreadsheets and personal accountants, it’s mobile apps that have tremendous potential for shaping consumer behavior.

With one simple device, you can check your credit health, research financial best practices, and negotiate with car dealerships for your next vehicle. You can budget when you’re waiting for your doctor’s appointment, killing time on your lunch break, or commuting to work on the train.

When it comes to money management, consumers have never been more empowered with the resources and tools that they need to succeed. Here are 10 mobile apps that are leading the charge.

1. LearnVest
Cost: Free
LearnVest helps consumers take control of their money to live more fulfilling lives. To that end, the company has built a set of tools that helps consumers plan for the long-term.

The app comes with a 15-minute call with a LearnVest expert, the ability to connect all financial accounts, a goal-setting platform that monitors cash flow, and access to tutorials from money management experts and fellow-consumers. All consumer data is anonymous, and the app is backed with bank-level security.

2. CreditKarma
With a five-star rating across more than 5,000 reviews from iPhone users, the CreditKarma apps connects consumers with truly free credit scores. The mobile app comes with on-the-go credit monitoring, notifications when changes occur to your credit report, and a credit report card that explains the reason behind your score.

The platform also connects consumers with financial education resources to help empower informed decision-making.

3. Doxo
This app simplifies the painful process of managing household expenses. You can think of the app as a digital file cabinet where it’s possible to safely store digital documents, write notes, and snap photos of important documents.

The app provides functionality to help consumers connect with providers — in one place. You can click to call your utility company or quickly look up company Twitter handles, organize paperless bills, back-up your documents, or store copies of files in the cloud. The bottom line is that you’ll live more efficiently.

4. Mortgage Calculator (Zillow)
If you’re shopping for a home, you need to understand the ins and outs of your financing options — and especially for first time buyers, that process is both time consuming and daunting.

Zillow’s app simplifies the financing process by providing access to real-time rates and straightforward mortgage calculators. Users can understand their affordability, analyze historical trends, read lender reviews, and access promotional offers from lenders.

5. Lemon Wallet
Imagine what would happen if you lost your wallet  — ‘overwhelming’ does not even begin to describe the experience. Lemon Wallet helps consumers create digital backups of their most important cards.

Store your ID, credit cards, loyalty cards, and business cards — virtually everything in your wallet. Lemon Wallet stores user information in a cloud environment, so you’ll be able to access your wallet from any device.

Free is one of the most widely used and reputable money-management platforms on the market. The idea is simple — manage the moving parts of your financial picture from one place. To that end, the app can help you track your checking accounts, monitor bill payments, and track your budget.

Mint will automatically pull information from your various accounts, so there’s no reason to go through a painful, manual process. Mint will help you create customized budgets based on your actual spending activity.

7. BillTracker
: $1.99
This app helps consumers take control of their bills. Track due dates, amounts due, automatic payments, and confirmation numbers. A reminder system ensures that missed payments become a habit of the past.

The app also tracks complete payment histories, so that you’ll have all the data you need in one easy-to-follow list.

8. Expensify
Business travelers are well-aware that the expense report process can feel both time consuming and tedious. Expensify addresses that pain point by automating the process. Sync your app with your credit cards and bank accounts to log transactions as they happen.

Snap photos of receipts, log mileage through your GPS, and create PDFs of reports that you can instantly forward. The app eliminates the need to carry around receipts, track work-related expenses, and monitor mileage — invest your brainpower into your more lucrative ventures.

9. GasBuddy
More than 27 million drivers rely on GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas. Search by zip code and location, or contribute your own review — GasBuddy is robust because it relies on user reported data to find the best prices.

Coverage areas include the United States and Canada.

10. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
$60 & 34-Day Demo
YNAB helps consumers save by teaching for basic rules: give every dollar a job, save for a rainy day, roll with the punches, and live on last month’s income. This platform comes with more than an app — users have access to a suite of free live courses on topics including making your budget work, handling credit cards, and improving cash flow.

There you have it — 10 apps that are making the process of money management more efficient than ever. Mobile apps are an all-in-one personal support system, tracking tool, educational resource, and performance improvement plan. Give your bank account and paycheck a much-needed competitive edge.


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Why Female Quotas Won’t Cut It

Christine Putter

The EU has debated legislation that would require 40 percent of company board members to be women, but HP, Microsoft, Dell, and SAP have their own views about female quotas and promoting women in management.

France, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, and Italy have all introduced quota laws in recent years that require a certain percentage of boardroom positions to be held by women. Recently, the European Commission debated legislation that would require every country in the EU to set such quotas.

That would be a mistake, according Eva Faenger, Diversity Manager at HP Germany: “It’s true that the quota would be an important signpost for the direction we should be going in Germany. It would make sure the question stays on companies’ agendas and it would keep up the pressure for change. But it isn’t enough. Success will come from a sustained program of transformation, and a quota alone can’t achieve that.” Faenger argues for a holistic approach that in equal measure addresses the actual situation in the companies and the market, how people gain relevant experience and qualifications for jobs, how people act and think as individuals, and corporate cultures.

Nor does Microsoft support the quota. Brigitte Hirl-Höfer, HR Director with a seat on the Microsoft Germany board of management, told “Just to stay competitive, companies must do better in realizing the potential of women. They don’t need the law to tell them that. To boost the number of managers who are women, companies have to change their mindset. They must remove pay differentials, of course, but they must also actively develop and promote women and become more family-friendly all around.”

Consulting firm McKinsey & Company tends to a similar view. Its own Women Matter reports indicate that mixed-sex teams make better decisions. McKinsey wouldn’t express a view on the quota to – it doesn’t make statements on political issues. But actions speak louder than words: McKinsey’s spokesperson proudly told us about the firm’s new female leadership sponsorship program for women who are currently enrolled in their third semester or later at university, and for those studying for their doctorate.

The IT industry is right up there. For example, Dell started the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) in 2010 so women in leadership and women entrepreneurs could network together. In May 2011, SAP committed to raising the share of its leadership positions held by women to 25 percent by 2017 – from a starting point of 18 percent at the beginning of 2011.

This post is by Christiane Pütter.


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