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Mika Tanner's picture

March 5th was a milestone in Bilot’s history. We headlined at SAP Innovation Forum as Platinum Partner for the first time. We have naturally taken part during earlier editions of this event, but now we decided to take center stage for a couple of reasons. The timing felt perfect this year – Antti Soini, who was the moderator throughout the day, interviewed me and asked the obvious question: why this time?

Firstly, the decision was intuitively a no-brainer, our gut said it was the right moment. Secondly, SAP’s strategy and our strategic direction are so well aligned, it was our moral duty towards our customers and prospects to speak up. Our consistent and continued pioneering in developing and deploying the latest SAP solutions has positioned us as one of the (if no THE) most relevant players in our market. Our value proposition resonates perfectly with our customers’ agendas and our vision is fully aligned with SAP’s strategy.

This year’s Innovation Forum was reportedly the biggest event in SAP’s history in Finland with an estimated 600+ participants at the famous Finlandia Hall, an Alvar Aalto landmark and the venue of numerous historical events. We kicked off the day with a VIP Breakfast session, where Metsä Group’s CIO Panu Hannula and SAP’s country manager Marika Auramo accompanied me in a narrative on today’s hot topics. Our customers, leaders of prominent companies interacted with us and prepared for the event’s agenda, saturated with interesting keynotes, presentations and demonstrations.

Our stand was well trafficked the whole day with open-minded prospects and happy customers who wanted to know more about our proceedings and latest innovations. Meanwhile, we had the opportunity to share the main stage with e.g. Onninen’s CIO Terhi Nyyssönen who presented, together with our very own BI sorcerer Antti Lyytikäinen, the latest on our joint SAP HANA crusade. Caverion also quoted our broad collaboration in their presentation regarding improved usability and efficiency with BusinessObjects and HANA.

The climax of the day was the show-and-tell demo IntoJAM, where four brave SAP partners (of the initial seven invited) showed-off their respective innovations which attempted to enrich the Taltioni personal health-file portal with as many new SAP innovations as reasonably possible. Our decorated demo-crew came up in record-time with a breath-taking, fully-functional and user-friendly solution combining SAP HANA, Predictive Analytics, Lumira, Hybris webshop (also mobile) and SAP UI5.

It was technically outstanding but also insightful as it unearthed a very plausible business opportunity for the ecosystem connected to Taltioni. The audience voted unanimously thumbs-up for Bilot, but the jury (with clearly separated views) voted (in contradiction with the given judgment criteria) another participant as the winner. The initial disappointment evaporated quickly when we heard that the consensus of the crowd was pro-Bilot.

Life after the SAP Innovation Forum is much the same as before. We continue on our steady course and look forward to working with our many new prospects and customers.

Mika Tanner's picture

I spend a lot of time talking with our customers’ decision makers, I meet regularly with peers and of course I keep an eye on analysts’ predictions and speculations. Technology trends and business trends are typically slightly out of sync as are hype and reality – and for the same reason. I sympathize with our customers’ challenges to make sense of all the buzz, trying to make educated decisions on their future IT landscape, when to invest, which software solutions to go for, with whom to partner with, how to buy. No decision is immune to the unexpected, making decisions is a discipline of combining probabilities and calculating risk.

We are experiencing really exciting times. Operational efficiency is now the norm, but no longer the center of gravity – eyes are set on topline revenue generating solutions, added-value services, new channels, harnessing digitalization to improve customer experience. And there is a clear shift from maintenance to development.

The office of the CIO became business-minded a while ago and now businesses’ increasing IT-acumen and a rapidly growing appetite for new solutions is putting pressure on shortening the innovation-to-profit process. Businesses are also finally admitting IT can bring genuine business benefits and even improve their competitive advantage. Business-driven-IT is finally here. Digitalization is a source of endless opportunity – it provides possibilities to engineer new business models, create net-new revenue streams, reach new customer segments, access global markets and understand and harness information in ways which were not long ago entirely unimaginable.

The ongoing shift of on-premise to cloud is accelerating. SAP’s recent announcement on their strategy will have ripple-effects, which have monumental proportions. The business critical nervous system, back-bone ERP, related core-business applications and analytics are now cloud-eligible. The migration has started and it will not end any time soon.
For today’s IT partners (formerly known as systems integrators), the situation has also changed. The set-up is increasingly polarized. Outsourcing of systems maintenance and routine services have been commoditized, service performance is excellent and supply is maturing. Developing new solutions on the other hand - providing the sought-after competitive advantage is not just based on software selection, but it is a cocktail of software, architecture, connectivity, deployment, access, presentation and customer intimacy. Those who can demonstrate they have genuinely internalized the customers’ business, those who benefit from the changing environment and those who can orchestrate the abundance of options into sustainable, customer-specific solutions will prevail.

B2BC is the new transaction. Solutions need to be fitted for the Business-to-Business-Consumer. New solutions need to respect platform guidelines and policies yet tailored to the individual need. Decision makers cannot wait for release-cycles or consensus-driven applications. Business agility requires responsive business IT solutions, easy access and easy consumption. Digital business applications need to be an experience.

For Customers, there is a paradox in this evolution. On one hand, what could be easier than just buying software as a service or as cloud-based solutions? Pay-as-you-go, scalable licensing, no shelf-ware…Sounds familiar? Even if there were no budgetary limitations or nobody cared about sunk costs, or gave a damn about who owns the data, or worried how to integrate everything with everything - the new era is maybe even more difficult to manage than the old nut-and-bolt IT. Partners play an increasingly important role as interpreters and advisors. Ones who can decipher hype and put it into a customer context. Ones who can navigate and network with the new ecosystem on behalf of the customer. Ones who have the guts to challenge the customers’ fixations with best-practices.

The boundaries between business, IT, partners and solutions are becoming fuzzier and more converged. This makes tomorrow interestingly different compared to today. It also means that tomorrow’s IT partners, real-time business digitalists, will need to qualify in many new disciplines just to survive, and excel in them to succeed. And the transformation has needed to start yesterday for those who aspire to lead the way.

Vesa Niininen's picture

Today in the face of increasing competition companies are looking for new sources of revenue and ways to build customer loyalty. Serving customers through multiple channels has become necessity for many businesses, but it seems that some companies are more successful in it than others. Based on my experience I share following three advices how to approach the area of commerce.

Provide Seamless Omni Channel Customer Experience. Whether you are running your sales through EDI, complex distributor networks, traditional store chains, field sales or online storefronts, it is important to support the customer journey consistently as it moves across these touch-points. Long gone are the days when a standalone e-commerce site with nice decoration and basic order entry functionalities was enough for customers. Real time business information is key: customer specific pricing, accurate availability information, rich product data, and detailed delivery tracking are just few required backbones of successful commerce solution. Add on top targeted campaigns and searchandizing for a personalized value proposition. To do this in an omni channel way, you need to integrate tightly and in real time with the underlying business processes and systems.

Optimize your supply chain. When implementing Commerce programs, you should consider changes that are required across the supply chain. Online sales has many advantages to traditional stores. For example you can provide larger and continuously changing product assortments with rich product information. While the amount of products and rich master data increases and product lifecycles shorten it is important to set up efficient Product Information Management tools and involve suppliers in the process to reduce maintenance unit cost. As the number of stock keeping units increases but sales per SKU probably decreases, you must analyze potential changes to physical delivery chain i.e. locations and stock levels of Warehouses. Also with less transactions happening in traditional stores they might need to adopt new roles as showrooms, distribution and training centers, returns process and after sales support centers.

Act on Big Data to Automate Processes and Decisions. How do you make smart or even automated decisions on new product offerings, pricing and campaigns? There is plenty of real time information available in your business systems, make use of it! Your Commerce platform constantly gathers information on customer behavior Social Media integrated applications can gather important feedback on new products, services and ideas. Traditional transactional systems are packed with data from the entire value chain. Implementing Decision support and process automation tools based on predictive analytics of real-time big data opens up new possibilties for efficient, smart management of commerce channels. Making this all happen might not be easy, but the required innovations exist already. Bilot is the market leader in SAP integrated Commerce and CRM area, thought leader in HANA and Analytics. We know how to leverage the latest innovations to drive business results. Come and see Bilot and our Commerce Driven solutions running with hybris, HANA, Cloud for Customer and Fiori in Innovation Forum. We are one of the main partners in SAP Innovation Forum 5.3.2014. Enroll here: http://event.clicideal.com/sap/nordics/edms/partners/SAP-Innovation-Forum-2014_FI_BILOT.html

Mika Tanner's picture

On March 5, 2014, Bilot will be taking the stage as Platinum Partner at SAP’s Innovation Forum. We decided to position ourselves in the front row, not so we can show off, but because we genuinely feel that our current and future agenda is very relevant.

Our roots are buried in an attitude of doing things positively differently and exploiting the newest technology, building to coolest solutions - provided there is customer value in doing so. Sometimes (admittedly very often) also just for the fun of it and for showing off.

Why is 2014 any different than other years? Why do we now feel and urge to be more exposed at SAP’s largest event?

The technology environment has been changing all the time and no new megatrends or hype-words have been revealed in the past months. What is so special about this year’s event – for us? One can feel the change in the climate of customer expectations. And a rumble coming from the shift of continental shelves on planet ERP. These anticipate a quake in enterprise software evolution which will affect pretty much everything. It will not result in just a single eruption of a single megatrend and it will probably not ignite something tangible or visible in the very near term. But it will commence an imminent and permanent change – not at all threatening, but rather full of opportunity and possibilities.
In the near term, I expect there still to be a very distinct change in our customers’ attitudes, in software strategies regarding deployment, acquisition, business focus and partnering. Our times amplify this change and we need to be prepared for this, well in advance.

SAP has successfully managed change for over 40 years, it has become a superpower in shaping the enterprise application development. Over the years, I hope to have learned to filter the relevant truths from their marketing hype, but also I have learned to trust that the direction SAP sets is mostly reliable in the long run. Being close to SAP, having it as a cornerstone of our long-term strategy and standing on the stage they build for us makes now more sense than before. The SAP Innovation Forum is very relevant for us in 2014….

http://finland.innovationbysap.com/

 

Mika Tanner's picture

And so a New Year starts to unfold – a Happy New Year to you all! The year begins with a flying start; customer deliveries resume from where we left off a couple of weeks ago, our backlog is plump and the demand horizon is promising. There are interesting new objects on our radar and a sweet wind of change is blowing gently. This kind of vibe is quite typical for us this time of the year.

We have been preparing the launch of our new organization during the course of autumn. It was communicated internally well before year-end. A working-group has been fine-tuning the practicalities and tried to ensure a smooth and frictionless transition.

Our new operating model has many changes but is by no means revolutionary. It is designed to provide a new and sustainable framework to support our strategic direction, it unearths new career paths and adapts our structures for continued growth. We aspire to continue focused growth where a long-lasting and differentiated value-based context overrides volume.

During the autumn months we extended our strategic horizon and outlined our plan with bolder strokes. We embarked on a rather substantial transformation program – proceeding with smooth strides yet in a determined momentum, listening carefully to our customers. And once again to ensure our relevancy and originality in rapidly changing home markets as well as abroad.

(Sitting, from left: Kristiina Burtsoff, Ismo Piispa, Mika Tanner. Standing, from left: Kristiina Sarén, Mikko Koljonen, Vesa Niininen, Joni Ahola, Soile Toivanen)

Our new management team will drive this transformation. Equally important is the contribution and actions of every single bilot in writing the new chapters of our success story. Bilot has always been an intimate company and we wish to retain a powerful presence also in times to come. You can get to know more about bilots on our website. Our ‘marketing-Iisakka’ Päivi interviewed our new management team which now introduces itself by answering to three questions:

1. Who am I and what do I do at Bilot?
2. What are my hobbies?
3. What is my new-year’s resolution?
________

1. Mika Tanner, as Bilot’s CEO you can blame me for everything, but the glory shall shine always on others. I have been at the helm now for soon three years and my responsibility is keeping the business running, ensuring the well-being of our company, securing business continuity and guaranteeing our strategic competitiveness. I am the chairman of our management team and manager for eight bilots. I have completed two university degrees (an MSc. in Forest Economics and an MBA), I have served a life-sentence at SAP and I’ve been a refugee for 15 years in the Middle-East, USA and France. I’ve known some of Bilot’s founding partners for almost 15 years.
2. My hobbies include activities which reinforce mental stability such as a variety of cultural stimuli and culinarism as well as sports which require an abundance of time and space, stretching from sea-level to higher elevation.
3. Family values, a sustainable future, doing one’s best, life-balance and seizing the moment structure my spiritual being. In 2014 I promise to try to do everything better than before – for my family, for Bilot, for the fellow bilot and for our customers I always give all I have. But I also try not to make empty promises.

_________

1. Soile Toivanen, my responsibility is finance and administration. I’ve worked for Bilot since 2009, I came in as the 42nd bilot, first as finance manager and as of last year I have been the group CFO. At home, I have a husband, a two-year old boy and two dogs.
2. My primary hobby is running about with my dogs, scuba-diving has become a rarity the past few years. When time permits, I read and sometimes when inspiration hits me, I also write.
3. I promise to take good care of myself, my work and my family – all in balance.
___________

1. Kristiina Burtsoff, director of human resources. I’m in charge of strategic HR such as talent and performance management, recruiting, employment affairs, managing the operative HR team and developing the HR function in general.
2. The most time consuming of my hobbies is soccer. I am the general manager of a girls’ soccer team and I also play myself, albeit less regularly, in a ladies’ soccer team. I have retired from competition level sports and nowadays I do sports just to feel good. A husband, three kids, a dog and our neighbor’s cat’s daily visit guarantee a steady level of regular domestic activity.
3. I promise this year (as always) to eat less candy and more vegetables. In addition, I will try to exercise all through the dark and cold winter, which has often proven to be hard to do.
___________

1. Kristiina Sarén, a mother of three from Espoo. My academic background is in economics (MSc. in Economics and an MBA). I have been at Bilot now for 18 months, I am Director of Sales and Marketing.
2. I exercise whenever I have the whim, lately it has been partner dancing. Relaxing includes reading detective novels and currently I passionately knit woollen socks. I also just recently started piano lessons.
3. I promise to exercise more regularly and to keep a healthy work-life balance.
____________

1. Ismo Piispa, at Bilot since 2009. In the management team I am responsible for the Microsoft ecosystem i.e. Line-of-Business Productivity and Collaboration. I am also MD for Bilot’s daughter company Bilot Concept Oy. And I am Bilot’s CIO.
2. In addition to spending time with my family, my colleagues and neighbors, most of my remaining time is spent boating, at boat exhibitions, at our summer cabin, playing golf, at the gym and enjoying culinary experiences. Aging has also permitted me to accept my orientation towards pop-culture such as movies, gigs, console games etc. at the expense of high-culture; musicals being the exception.
3. In 2014 I promise my son to be ”father-of-the-year” and to my wife I promise to be ”a perfectible individual”. I also promise to deliver upon earlier new years’ resolutions and finally, I promise that career-wise this year will be my all-time-best .
____________

1. Vesa Niininen, at Bilot since 2007. My family comprises my wife, an eight and five year old son and a nine year old west highland terrier. I am an engineer in industrial management and I’ve worked with SAP solutions since 1999 in a variety of occupations. As of 2014, I am responsible of the Competitive Advantage and Performance Solutions Line-of-Business. In brief, this business area provides solutions for sales and e-Services, sales management solutions, integration and usability solutions to support business processes for all end-user devices, architecture and integration consulting as well as service management solutions for SAP environments. I am also Key Account Manager for a handful of clients.
2. I play soccer a couple of times a week, I coach two minor-league teams and I passionately support Aston Villa and the Finnish national soccer team. I also possess a gym membership card, which I hardly find the time to swipe. On top of sports, I also read quite a bit and the past couple of years I have been busy with our house-building project which is finally about to transition to its maintenance phase.
3. I promise to take better care of myself and I aspire to be a better father, a better husband and a better friend.
____________

1. I am Mikko Koljonen. My domestic set-up is my wife and two kids, seven and five-year-olds. I have an MSc. in Econmics. I’ve worked for Bilot since 2008 during which I’ve held a variety of responsibilities. In our new organization, I am in charge of the Operations and Business Enablement unit and I am also Managing Director for Bilot International Oy. I have the privilege of working with a top-notch team to drive our international organization and on the group-level we run life-cycle services, project deliveries, quality- and process development, partnerships, product and service development and also the Bilot brand and image program. Prior to Bilot, I worked roughly a decade in central-Europe (Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels) in the Business-IT function, primarily in forest industry companies.
2. Most of my free-time is spent with my family. My hobbies include walking, golf, squash, skiing, swimming, reading, languages, travelling, architecture and culinary arts.
3. I promise to be actively present in everything I do and also that I increase the number of books read and that I play more golf.

Vieraskynä's picture

I’ve always liked following the football, because it’s hard to predict what will happen... as the bookmakers well know. So I’m not a betting man (in the football), but anyway:

Here I can exclusively reveal what will happen in the year 2014.

1. Both globally and in Finland, SAP Solution Manager (”SolMan”) will continue to grow and evolve in the SAP customer base. This is a safe bet, as for any organisation committed to ITIL and/or with SAP as an important component-set in its IT Service Portfolio, SolMan is the cost-effective and most ITIL-driven toolset on the market, as the independent ITIL-rating ”agencies” such as PinkElephant and Serview will happily inform you:

PinkElephant
Serview  [<- auf Deutsch].

2. Bilot will be the trusted SolMan implementation partner of its customers. Also a safe bet, as we have the most competent and ITIL-SolMan-oriented people who will make it all happen. We have many years of SolMan experience gained in a wide variety of operating spaces; we have SAP certified SolMan knowledge and ITIL expertise, and we have developed the know-how and best-practices to implement and run the wide and deep functionalities that SAP Solution Manager provides to both IT and the Business, to help them run IT in an E2E (SAP & non-SAP components), process-centric way.

The concept of IT ERP – “running IT itself like a Business” is gaining hold, and switched-on organisations are moving from the ad hoc world of Excel and emails towards implemented ITIL-processes that enable and realise IT ERP on-the-ground, meaning: SAP Solution Manager (see picture below).

3. The World Cup will be held in Brazil, and Scotland won’t win the tournament. To be fair, I don’t think the bookmakers would offer me odds on that last prediction.

Let’s see what 2014 holds… but I’m feeling confident all these bets are going to come in. Which is nice!

Blog writer is Dylan Drummond, SolMan Consultant at Bilot, originally from Scotland. He’s an ITILv3 Expert, who wants customers to move forward: from drawing nice IT-process diagrams to actually implementing ITIL in day-to-day work.
Vieraskynä's picture

This year I had an idea; I considered it an innovative idea as per this definition:

"The application of better solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs".

Good for me. Or was it?

Lots has been written about innovation: is your organisation ready for it? How can you be more innovative? A thousand books like little treasure chests just waiting to be unlocked to reveal the shiny gems of innovative knowledge within. Everybody wants that treasure, right? Course they do. Seems like innovation is the new frontier: rewards to be had for those brave enough to go out and explore.

Well I went out and explored, and in doing so, came back with what explorers get: something that may be regarded by others as being valuable someday (what did people think the first time an explorer came back with a live elephant? 'I can use that!! Oh, erm, perhaps not...shove it in a cage and keep it out of harm’s way. Oh look, we got ourselves a zoo!'), I got a few cuts and scrapes requiring attention, some moments of elation, some of despair, some humour, some indigestion and a fair bit of exhaustion. Sounds about right for an expedition.

But what I got most out of it was the experience, warts and all. Character building, useful experience. Stuff that, as my mother used to say, 'You only learn the hard way'. So let me share with you my experiences. Perhaps they will help you steer clear of the rocks (or at least recognise the splintering, cracking sound of a hull breach) as you embark on your own journey of innovation one day across the precarious seas of opportunity.

1) Innovation is not Immediately Invoicable. That just popped out of my mouth one day, and somebody else caught it. What you may think is a good idea is going to take time to refine, test out, bend, twist, reject, accept, retry and that process is going to make others wonder what the heck is you are spending your time on I mean, YOU know this is a great idea, right, but who else does? You have the gut feeling, that 'Hedonistic response' that you are on the right track, but how can you tell other people yet? 'But listen, it FEELS right...' It's still a work in progress, right? It's half-in, half out of your brain. You can't get rid of the conviction that you're on to something, but neither can you fully convince others that this is a good idea. At this stage, people are wondering when you will extract your head from that dark place where you stuck it and actually DO something that will make money. Which leads to:

2) You need a bouncer. Yep, best way I can think of it. If you're lucky, you'll have somebody to give you space and get others to back off as you struggle with the formative stages of your idea. Might be a manager, might be the organisation itself. Whatever it is, it's that someone or something that will give you space to try things out until they start to gel. If you can't get that, not all is lost; it just means you're going to have to spend time in skunk works. A 200 kg gorilla in a tuxedo is good; helps preserve the peace.

3) Adopt guerrilla tactics. Not gorilla. I don’t mean eat bananas. I mean employ the tactics of guerrilla warfare to get your idea accepted. Isolate individuals and get them on your side; sneak around furtively introducing the idea to people. Use the environment; mention the idea when hanging around the coffee machine, or when having a beer. Infiltrate that idea any which way you can. It’s fun.

4) Expect a rough ride. Not physically of course (well, hopefully), but definitely psychologically. Like being a policeman, you'll see the side of humanity that ain't so grand: the body language that says 'what a load'. The 'been there, done that' brigade (no you haven't, you just don't get this), the 'I have to listen to this but I'd rather not' expressions. You wonder how others cannot get so excited about the picture you made by connecting the dots, and you begin to ask yourself 'is this REALLY such a good idea?' (or you may ask your wife/partner/dog as needs and circumstance dictate). Worry not, we all go through this dark teatime of the soul. Pick yourself up, and head on to the next point.

5) Grow a thick skin. The thicker the better. Real rhino hide stuff. Stuff that buckshot from a gun would barely tickle. You'll need it. And when you do, please tell me how you did it.

6) Believe in what you are doing. If you don't how the heck is anybody else going to? This isn't about talking BS, it's about projecting confidence so people will actually LISTEN to you and start to believe in your enthusiasm. Don't doubt yourself. Well if you do, refer to point 3) and talk to the dog. Great listener, and won't diss you, especially around meal time.

7) Let others know you have an idea. There's no point in having an idea then mumbling and grumbling that nobody is taking you seriously when you haven't actually TOLD anybody. Let people know your idea, and listen to what they think. Otherwise you’ll wonder why your idea is being ignored. It isn’t; people don’t know about it. Duh.

8) Recognise serendipity, i.e. 'fortunate mistakes'. When chance actually works in your favour for once, pounce on it. The skill is in recognising it when it happens ('Hey, my toast fell butter side up! Why did that happen?') and spotting the opportunity ('Aha! Toast stabilisers!!').

9) Push, push, push. Having an idea is good. It's great. It's got one problem. It doesn't have legs, and it isn't going to go anywhere by itself. You’re going to have to push that baby to get it moving. Sometimes that's an uphill struggle, sometimes it picks up momentum and cruises along by itself. However, you are going to have to steer it and push as needed. There will be resistance in so many places that you have got to push hard to get that idea to its destination of Done Central Station. Expect blisters along the way.

At the end of the day, hold your head up and say: 'I tried'. Even if things don't work out, you will have gained invaluable experience by reflecting upon what went wrong (and what went right). If you don't try, nothing changes; the status quo is a dull place where nothing happens. Be proud of what you have done. Pat yourself on the back and look for the next opportunity. Bugger the naysayers; let them stew in their vat of lethargy and inaction. You did something and you weren’t afraid to take a few knocks on the way.

Only the bold go out and explore. But it's better than staying at home and looking out the window. Go for it ;-)

Blog writer is Anthony Bateman, a senior consultant at Bilot who thinks that technology is great, but currently only humans "do" creativity, and for that reason it is worth investing in the tools and techniques that empower people to release their creative potential.

Mathias Hjelt's picture

I bet you recognize the feeling – being uncertain about the optimal timing of important investments. Sometimes it may even feel like the constant development of markets, products and life in general is a curse and annoyance of huge proportions.

“I would really need to upgrade my phone – but, hold on, if I wait for X months, I’d get the new version which will be launched soon. It would be stupid to buy the old one now, right?”

“I would really need to buy a new house – but, hold on, if I wait for X months, the market can change in a favorable direction and I’d get a better price for my old house and get the new one even cheaper (likely, right?).”

“I would really need to launch a new e-commerce project – but, hold on, if I wait for X months, SAP will have a new solution out the door! I would look really stupid if I started a project on an older version.”

The challenge is, of course, that there is always going to be a bigger and bolder solution around the corner, so waiting for X+n months doesn’t help. It just postpones the agony of choice a bit.

Admittedly, SAP does have a habit of pushing out new solutions at quite a pace, sometimes cartwheeling at mindboggling speed. Some solutions go from hot to passé in no time, if you trust the marketing slides. For the individual CIO, responsible for making wise choices in terms of technology investments, this may be a nuisance and a source of uncertainty.

But for Bilot, it is a source of joy and excitement! Bilot has a track record of identifying new up-and-coming products even before they get incorporated in the mainstream SAP ecosystem. Every time a new solution of relevance pops up, we get our kicks out of digging into the solution, tearing it apart, analyzing it against competition and previous solutions, matching it for fit against enterprise architecture, and building prototypes around it in our lab (which, of course, houses a full set of field testing equipment, including SAP products such as ERP, CRM, HANA BO, etc..)

Then we take the knowledge gained, and assist our customers in doing the right choices, for solving real-world business needs – today, not X+n months from now. That’s what we do for a living – we’re in the business of making sense, when the market is in a state of constant change.

During the past 6 months, the market for e-commerce solutions for SAP customers has been in a tricky state. SAP announced and completed their plans to acquire hybris, the Gartner-praised leader in commerce platforms. In doing so, they also decided to terminate further development of SAP’s own e-commerce offering. More than enough excitement for customers trying to decide which horse to bet on in their technological roadmaps…

As with countless products before, eager  Bilots disseminated the hybris commerce suite, poked at its soul, and we were happy with what we saw. We were also happy to be welcomed with open arms by the hybris ecosystem. And needless to say, we are also happy to remain at the cutting edge and core of SAP e-commerce development.

Let us help you make sense out of the market situation, by plotting out your individual commerce needs against the join SAP/Hybris roadmap, which we in turn plot out against your SAP enterprise architecture roadmap and turn into successful projects. We won’t bring a crystal ball or a fortune teller to the meetings, just a good dose of sense-making, rooted in our long history of guiding customers through SAP innovations.

Read more about our eServices offering: competitive advantage for sales and customer service

Vieraskynä's picture

It is very likely that you don’t always pay special attention to your projects being in control, well managed and bringing you the much sought-after business benefits. You even might take it for granted that “someone” or “something” guides the project without knowledge on who this person / thing explicitly is. Sadly, however the lack of proper project management manifests itself after problems first start to occur. In the worst case e.g. in the miracle world of ICT the project is even continued still after its relevance for business has become obsolete and a corrective course should have taken many months – and hundreds of man hours – ago.

Research shows that a substantial share of ICT projects still end up in failure. For instance, according to the Finnish ICT Barometer 2012*) over 2/3 of the respondents estimated the ICT projects being over budget, behind schedule and not even delivering the intended business benefits.  The results are not exceptional – from elsewhere around the world similar results can be found**).

So how to manage projects better and ensure they bring you with the expected benefits? Is the solution to be found from the agile methods or other project management fads? Or can the lack of a proper project management tool even be the reason behind the harsh reality?
At Bilot we feel that the method is not to blame and the lack of a project management tool is rather an excuse than a real reason for non-successful projects. This is simply because project management isn’t rocket science. E.g. the method needs to not only be selected right, but moreover, understood correctly – and project management software is based on logic which any knowledgeable project manager needs first to understand before starting to use (like dependencies in scheduling).

This is not to say the project management profession is an easy one.  The key is to understand that successful projects don’t come in in time, on schedule and with the strived business benefits by themselves; rather with the help of a dedicated and professional person –the project manager – they at least have better odds to be successful. To sum up a few basic tips to getting and keeping your project on track towards success, remember the following:

  1. Assign a project manager. Ensure his/her dedication and professionalism; make sure he/she has an enough understanding of the content as well, in addition to administrative and people skills.
  2. Ensure your project has an owner. The owner should be the person responsible who can make decisions on the project and who finally is served with the benefits the project – if successful – brings.
  3. Ensure your project has a goal. This goal should be set by the project owner and understood in a similar manner throughout the – possibly cross-organizational – implementing team. This goal is the main thread of the whole project against which the project outcomes are evaluated to.
  4. Ensure you have a plan.  The plan should base on realistic estimates of schedule, costs and scope. A good tip is to check the facts with the implementing team first.  E.g. work rarely implemented by two different individuals is done on the same pace though the price would be the same for the task completion.
  5. Ensure follow-up. Changes in organizations, business and working relations are everyday challenges that most projects need to be balanced with. However effective partner-counter partner relations in both project administration and actual implementation are the key through which challenges can be dealt with. So be alert and communicate properly, check the changes and possible risks posed – and prepare in advance a plan B.

But – before getting ahead of yourself – remember that a lot is already done if you first find a dedicated project manager for the job – who also is knowledgeable of the points 2-5.

*) IT-barometri 2012, Tietotekniikan liitto ry
**) See e.g. Gartner 2012 June, research ID:G00231952

Blog by Leena Pettersson. Leena is a senior consultant at Business Solutions Consulting at Bilot with a background in SAP EPM area solutions. She has successfully run several projects as a project manager and possesses experience in both system and business consulting.

 

Janne Vihervuori's picture

It’s been a couple of weeks since our Bilot crew of 10 attended SAP TechEd 2013 Amsterdam. The clear difference in comparison to recent TechEd(s) was that the promises had turned by and large into concrete content and usable solutions as demostrated in the hands-on sessions. Even the keynote was a bit – no offense SAP – customary and did not involve too much of SAP’s top brass; Vishal Sikka sent his quick greetings via video. However, this “dullness” is by no means a bad thing, since HANA surely got its fair share of attention, and more, last year, so this means that the innovations have matured enough and do not require the grand show anymore.

Speaking of keynotes, top brass, a bit of hype and innovations, and because good old NetWeaver seems to be gradually fading away, I have to go down the memory lane 10 years back to TechEd 2003 Basel. I was among the fortunate ones in the audience to witness SAP’s Shai Agassi introduce a new concept, NetWeaver, in a two hour non-stop keynote fireworks that I consider the best presentation I have ever seen in within the IT industry, all due respect to a certain fruit company. I have always wondered what kind of a fuss this guy could have made with HANA… Anyway, now that NetWeaver seems to nearing the end of its lifecycle – the new marketing name is HANA – I have to say that the actual impact of NetWeaver was not that significant in the early years of its history. It was mostly a new way of arranging the integrated stack of SAP technology products, and adding in the web server dimension of course, but platform wise nothing really changed compared to the world of “R/3”.

Now, let’s get back to TechEd Amsterdam 2013. Regardless of hype or no-hype within the keynote, HANA was literally all around us as that one sleazy song goes. But the main thing is that we are dealing with a mature enough of a product that can deliver. The paradigm shift difference compared to the good old NetWeaver is that HANA is actually a platform capable of standalone functionality without utilizing the “old” SAP ecosystem. While NetWeaver – as a platform – in practice needed the SAP Business Suite to provide value, HANA you can just use, run it, as such and as a platform. NetWeaver was a standalone technology platform in theory, but in practice it was not. Please note that I am writing in the past tense in purpose for comparing the early life-cycle of both NetWeaver and HANA. NetWeaver will surely stay around for ages at various customers.

My personal TechEd session and lecture experience was a bit different than before. As TechEd goers know, one can reserve two hands-on sessions and queue for a stand-in place for other sessions in case there is room. I have usually done maybe three sessions, but this time I thought that I have listened enough of TechEd lectures, and I can read the slides afterwards, so I went all-in for the sessions: I thoroughly enjoyed all 6 of them this time, as that is where the real value of the TechEd lies.

My 6 sessions closed the loop around HANA, Cloud, Integration, Mobility, etc. The first session was selected as a baseline for all of the following sessions: since HANA was used in multiple ways throughout most of the sessions, one should first try to get some data into it, so I found myself preparing for HANA data loading scenarios with SAP Data Services 4.2 right after walking away from the keynote. This was followed by Cloud Integrating SuccessFactors, Mobilizing HANA with or without the SAP Mobile Platform, running Predictive Analysis, running Operational Process Intelligence and running to the Amsterdam Stadium to catch the Ajax-Celtic footy game.

If you read this blog carefully, you’d notice that I did not mention Big Data once. I saved it for last, and that was the topic of one of the few lectures I attended. It was about Real-Time Data Platform Integration with Hadoop, presented by Richard Soundy. This guy should have his own talk show, but I will leave you with just one remark he provided: “Large data is not Big Data”.

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