Beyond The Hype: Business Results With Augmented Reality, Wearables, And More

Brent Cohler

First, our computers shrunk into phones. Now, they’re morphing into wearables – smart watches and glasses, a projected US $12 billion market according to BI Intelligence. When coupled with wearable for augmented realityinnovations in augmented reality (AR), 3D visualization, location-based services, and the plethora of sensor data these devices collect, there are endless possibilities to enhance existing apps or create completely new use cases.

Here’s an interview I recently conducted with two of the panelists from SAP – Josh Waddell, VP of Mobile Solution Management and Damien Murphy, Senior Mobility Specialist. These guys eat, sleep, and breathe mobile – keeping on top of each iOS update and new device release. They collaborate with SAP customers on a daily basis, helping these leading organizations determine which of these technologies they should implement, and how to do so most effectively.

So, let’s jump right into it with a bit of an icebreaker. What’s your favorite app today – pick one that highlights some aspect of these mobile innovations?

[Damien] One recent innovation that has caught my eye is a Kickstarter project called “Structure Sensor”. It is essentially an Xbox Kinect shrunk down to fit on an iPad. What I like about this is that you can now convert real world objects into 3D virtual objects. So why is this cool? Well, now that the real world is virtual, you can have virtual objects interact with the real world like never before. Then, combine this with vrAse (AR headwear), and you have a fully immersive augmented reality system that interacts with the world around you. Watch this video to see a demo.

[Josh] There are so many. The new IKEA catalog app with AR is really interesting, especially when you start thinking about the impacts it could have in terms of the bottom line for IKEA. The app allows you ‘see’ their furniture in your house before you make a purchase. There are several others out there that have a similar use case – trying on a pair of virtual sunglasses for example, but the potential benefits of reduced returns, shipping costs, restocking, etc…for IKEA have to be more exciting than sunglasses. Another AR app I really like the LEGO app just because I love watching my daughters play with it. They are both Legomaniacs.

All of these underlying technologies are exciting and sexy. As a result, they get a ton of news coverage. However, why do some take so long to become main stream – or some never do at all? For example, we’ve been hearing about AR for years, but its use is still not prevalent. Has it’s time arrived? And if so, why now?

[Damien] The reason Augmented Reality (AR) has started to gain more attention in recent years is because the hardware is now powerful enough to track 2D & 3D objects and render video, images and 3D at suitable frame rates on mobile devices to enable AR applications. Where we are now is a turning point similar to when the first iPhone came out which had far more CPU & GPU power than previous mobile devices and also boasting JavaScript support, making it more like a desktop than ever before. That was 6 years ago and now the iPhone 5s is 40 times faster than the first iPhone.

What about wearables?

[Damien] Google Glass was announced in 2012. However, today the population of owners is still quite limited – only a small community of about 10,000 innovators or developers who were lucky enough to be hand selected by Google, and who also paid $1,500. Is this something that will become a mainstream consumer device in the near term? I realize there’s a bit of a “chicken and egg” scenario here as there won’t likely be mass consumer appeal until there is a robust marketplace of apps, while at the same time, most developers won’t want to invest their time and effort until they know the audience exists.

[Josh] Having Google develop a wearable is great for the entire industry. Just their presence alone is generating buzz – establishing the accelerating the market. To a lot of people I speak too outside of work, Google Glass has already become the Kleenex of wearables, despite other name brand companies like Epson, Brother, and Samsung investing in wearables. But, you are right. Getting your handing on pair of glass, or any other glasses is not easy today. Even if you can get your hands on a pair, wearables that people will actually wear are still waiting on technology.

I personally haven’t made my mind up on the “chicken and egg” scenario. Certainly in some areas like fitness consumers are leading the charge, but opposed to other recent trends, I believe the enterprise will lead a lot of the adoption of glasses in particular. A guy who looks like he just left Dragoncon staring at you in the coffee shop – Creepy! The FedEx driver dropping off a package at your house or the HVAC repairman, utility employee, etc. – if they were wearing smart glasses to provide you with better service – it wouldn’t be creepy.

You have the opportunity to work on a variety of mobile apps across different industries. Tell me about one of the exciting projects you’ve been tackling lately.

[Damien] This has to be SNAP, a consumer app for the retail or consumer products (CP) industry. Think about buying a new piece of furniture or a new grill – something that requires assembly – and then coming home and having to endure the painful assembly process using print directions with hundreds of steps and terrible illustrations. SNAP revolutionizes this experience with a 3D interactive, step-by-step guide that is beautifully, and accurately, displayed on a tablet or phone. Plus we’ve built in many other bells and whistles that enhance the consumer experience.

I’ve had the opportunity to play around with some of those apps you’ve referenced – they are in fact very slick, and incredibly realistic. But, what does it take to get the models into the system. Seems like this would be prohibitive, applying this to a manufacturer with hundreds or thousands of different products.

[Damien] I had been working on some 3D apps on iOS when I first joined SAP back in 2011, and I felt like it could take a team of developers years to get all the things I needed to do in 3D complete. So I started to reach out to other people in SAP to see if there was a team already working on such 3D frameworks that I could leverage for mobile. To my delight I was informed we had just acquired a 3D company called Right Hemisphere. I reached out to them and learned that they would be releasing a 3D framework (SAP Visual Enterprise Mobile SDK) for mobile which we could leverage in our apps.

As soon as it was released, I downloaded it and had the perfect app to add it to. Just 3 days later, my app had 3D animated scenes and instructions included. Something like this would have taken me far too long to develop on my own, but using this new SDK, I was able to achieve my goal in a trivial amount of time. This then allowed me to scale from a single embedded 3D scene to a cloud based repo of 3D scenes which could be downloaded to the app on the fly. These advancements enable enterprises to distribute 3D data over the air to mobile devices simply & securely.

It’s definitely an exciting time to be involved in this industry. With constant innovation come new opportunities to throw in this device functionality here or add this sensor data there. How do you prevent overload – adding too much to an app so that it actually makes the app slow and clunky or just flat-out too confusing for the end user?

[Josh] I believe the impact of AR and the usability of wearables will really become an entire topic on its own. Today we are working directly with our customers, and their end users, to design these next generation user interfaces. We have been hosting a series of design thinking innovation academies with customers and in all of the sessions it has become immediately clear that while we are making great progress, in some ways we are just beginning to scratch the surface. Because we have not seen the widespread adoption of wearables, a lot of constituents that we anticipate will have influence, such as labor unions and state and local governments, have not really begun to think about the impact of the technology. This is fine of course, it just adds a little extra pressure to make sure SAP and our customers get it right the first time and stay focused on maximizing the benefits of the technology. While many of the benefits of a hands free working environment seem clear, we have stay focused and make sure we don’t, for example, replace the safety benefit of working with both hands with the safety risk of distracted drivers.

If you’d like to hear more about this topic…

Be sure to join us on November 20, 2013, for the Webcast Beyond the Hype: How Augmented Reality, Wearables, and Other Mobile Innovations Are Driving Business Results Today.

During this hour, Damien and Josh will cover:

  • What’s real and what’s hype when it comes to some of the latest mobile innovations
  • How to hone in on use cases that will wow users and drive business results – today
  • Five steps you must take to incorporate these innovations into your mobile strategy
  • Plus they will leave plenty of time for live Q&A

This blog originally appeared on the SAP Community Network.


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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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Why New Technology Has An Adoption Problem

Danielle Beurteaux

When 3D printing became a practical reality, in the sense that the actual printers became more efficient, less expensive, and more accessible to the average consumer, there was an assumption that the consumer 3D printing market was going to take off. We’d all have printers at home printing…. what? Our clothes? Toys? Spare organs?

That has yet to happen. 3D printing company MakerBot just went through its second employee layoff this year, driven by a market that’s developing much slower than predicted.

That same thinking is in play with a somewhat more prosaic technology – digital wallets. Apple Pay was released this year, as was Samsung Pay. There’s also Google’s Android Pay. During an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We are more confident than ever that 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay.” But that expectation has yet to be realized, at least vis-à-vis consumers.

Consumers aren’t using any of the digital wallets en masse. According to Bloomberg, payments made via mobile wallets – all of them – make up a mere 1% of retail purchases in the U.S. The reason is that consumers just don’t see a compelling reason to use them. There’s no real reward for them to change from SOP.

Both these instances highlight a problem with assumptions about mass adoption for new technology – just because it’s cool, interesting, and accessible doesn’t mean a market-worthy mass of people will use it.

Who is more likely to use mobile wallets? Emerging economies without a stable financial and banking systems. In those environments, digital payments present a more secure and quicker method for purchasing. These are the same areas where mobile adoption leapfrogged older technologies because there was a lack of telecommunications infrastructure, i.e. many never had a landline phone to begin with, and they went directly to mobile. The value-add already exists. (But there are also security issues, to which consumers are becoming more sensitive. A hack of Samsung’s U.S. subsidiary LoopPay network was uncovered five months post-hack. Although one was expert quoted as saying the hackers may not have been interested in selling consumer financial info but instead in tracking individuals.)

Here’s some interesting data and a good point made: mobile payments are most popular in situations where the buyer already has his or her phone in hand and the transaction is made even quicker than swiping plastic. For example, purchases made for London Transit rides are responsible for a good portion of the U.K.’s mobile payments.

Mass technology adoption is no longer driven simply by the release of a new product. There are too many products released constantly now, the market is too diverse, and the products often lack a true raison d’être.

Learn more about how creative and innovative companies are finding their customers. Read Compelling Shopping Moments: 4 Creative Ways Stores Connect With Their Customers.


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Leadership Is About Emotion

Meghan M. Biro

Make a list of the 5 leaders you most admire. They can be from business, social media, politics, technology, the sciences, any field. Now ask yourself why you admire them. The chances are high that your admiration is based on more than their accomplishments, impressive as those may be. I’ll bet that everyone on your list reaches you on an emotional level.

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

This ability to reach people in a way that transcends the intellectual and rational is the mark of a great leader. They all have it. They inspire us. It’s a simple as that. And when we’re inspired we tap into our best selves and deliver amazing work.

So, can this ability to touch and inspire people be learned? No and yes. The truth is that not everyone can lead, and there is no substitute for inborn talent. But for those who fall somewhat short of being a natural born star (which is pretty much MANY of us), leadership skills can be acquired, honed and perfected.

Let’s take a look at tools that allow talent to shine

Emotional intelligence. Great leaders understand empathy, and have the ability to read people’s (sometimes unconscious, often unstated) needs and desires. This allows them to speak to these needs and, when at all possible, to fulfill them. When people feel they are understood and empathized something, they respond PERIOD and a bond is formed.

Continuous learning. Show me a know-it-all and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a clue about being human. Curiosity and an insatiable desire to always do better is the mark of a great leader. They are rarely satisfied with the status quo, and welcome new knowledge and fresh (even if challenging) input. It’s all about investing in yourself.

Contextualize. Great leaders respond to each challenge with a fresh eye. They know that what worked in one situation may be useless in another. Before you act, make sure you understand the specifics of the situation and tailor your actions accordingly.

Let go. Too many people think leadership is about control. In fact, great leaders inspire and then get out of the way. They know that talented people don’t need or want hovering managers. Leadership is about influence, guidance, and support, not control. Look for ways to do your job and then get out of the way so that people can do theirs.

Honesty. Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about a so-called leader losing credibility because he or she was dishonest. We live in age of extraordinary transparency, which is reason enough to always be honest – your true mission will be revealed, your lies unmasked. But it goes way beyond expediency. It’s an issue that sets an example and elevates an organization. If you have a reputation for honesty, it will be a lot easier to deliver bad news and face tough challenges.

Kindness and respect. Nice leaders (people) don’t finish last. They finish first again and again. Ignorance and arrogance are leadership killers. They’re also a mark of insecurity. Treating everyone with a basic level respect is an absolute must trait of leadership. And kindness is the gift that keeps on giving back. Of course, there will be people who prove they don’t deserve respect and they must be dealt with. But that job will be made much easier, and will have far less impact on your organization, if you have a reputation for kindness, honesty and respect.

Communication. People’s jobs and careers are integral to their lives. The more your organization can make them a partner, the more they will deliver amazing results. This means, to the greatest extent possible, communicating your organization’s strategies, goals and challenges. This builds buy-in, and again is a mark of respect. People won’t be blindsided (which is a workplace culture killer) by setbacks if they’re in the loop.

Partner with your people. As I said above, people’s careers are a big part of their lives. That seems like a no-brainer, but leaders should have it front and center at all times. Find out what your employees’ career goals are and then do everything you can to help them reach them. Even if it means they will eventually leave your organization. You will gain happy, productive employees who will work with passion and commitment, and tout your company far and wide. This an opportunity to brand your greatness.

Leadership is both an art and a science. These tools are guidelines, not rigid rules. Everyone has to develop his or her own individual leadership style. Make these tools a part of your arsenal and use them well as you strive to reach people on an emotional level. Be Human. This Matters.



#Forbes , awareness

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