Sunday, April 22, 2012

Can Enterprise Mobility Reduce The Risk Of Heart Attacks

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal on the guide to beating heart attacks, especially among workers who are at a desk all day in front of computers. The article mentioned that a person should not be confined to desk for more than four hours a day. If you are reading this post, I suspect that you fall under the "sitting down for more than four hours a day" category. The article said the following

"Even regular exercise isn't sufficient if you're confined to a desk or a couch for the rest of the day. "

Image from the Wall Street Journal
The article went on to say that while regular exercise is necessary, it is also important for a person to move around during a regular work day rather than be forced to go back to a desk and sit down to get work done.

I realized that enterprise mobile applications accomplish a larger purpose that just connect people to their software tools while they are away from their office. Enterprise mobile applications encourage people to move away from their desk as much as possible. This is critical because we spend a majority of our day at work and the nature of our work tools determine how health or unhealthy we are.

Even if mobile applications encourage people to move around for a few minutes a day, their risk of heart disease drops significantly. I suspect that organizations that mobilize their workforce may see a healthier workforce with a lower risk of heart disease. This might be a good area for research.

Jam Users Get Clear Insight Into The Reach Of Their Content

Several years back when I used a document management system called Documentum, I liked one feature very much. The ability to find out who viewed the document I posted. This gave me a clear idea about who to followup with and plan my work sessions. That system went away and I went back to sharing my content via email or a wiki. I missed that feature, until I started using SuccessFactors Jam.

Now when I post a document, video or a screenshot on Jam, I not only know how many time it has been viewed, but also know who viewed it. This gives me clear insight about the consumption of the content. When I  talk to or email my colleagues about my work, I am far more productive now. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keeping a Finger On The Pulse Of The Company

When I spoke to several people executives in the past two years, many of them wanted some help from tools to keep a finger on the pulse of the company. They did not want to run elaborate reports or wait for an year-end employee survey to gauge the engagement level of various teams in a company.

In SuccessFactors Jam, managers can the gauge the engagement level of every participant by looking at the level of activity. The purpose is to provide a high level idea to the manager about the usage level of every participant in every team. Once they get a hunch, managers can use advanced Analytics tools or simple conversations to understand the reason for lack of engagement. The "Team Usage" feature is a very simple and effective tool in Jam.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Prototyping a Backyard Garden

Prototyping works not only for products at work, but also for the things you do in your life. For example, rather than convey your landscape design ideas to your gardener in words and diagrams you can easily convey them via simple prototypes. The best value you get out of prototyping a garden design is that you can visualize what the garden might look like a few months or even a few years from the day you plant the seeds.

Here is a rendering of the backyard garden I did recently to visualize how a garden might look a few years from now. It helped me identify the look I want and convey it to the landscaping contractor who does the planting. You do not need any special software. Microsoft Paint or similar software will do.

It was a bit like a prototyping a product at work. You start with a rough hypothesis and make something. While you make it, you understand the product better, learn new things and get new ideas. Because your ideas have a tangible form, others can give meaningful feedback and the idea gets better. Your chances of success increases significantly. So Prototype your idea. Make something.

The bare backyard.
By the way, when the plants grow, they are probably not going to look anything like the picture below. I realize that. But the prototype was a very useful idea generation, conversation and communication artifact. The chances of we getting a garden of our dreams went up significantly.

The idea for a part sun garden

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Role Of A CIO In Changing A Company's Culture

While SAP is famous for its robust business software, SAP software did not traditionally have a consumer grade user experience. We needed something unorthodox to kick-start an appreciation for consumer grade user experience. SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann played a key role in influencing the culture of product teams at SAP. Instead of relying on training programs, he issued 14,000 iPads to SAP employees. He impressed upon everyone that engagement and experience is as important as the transaction.

I watched my colleagues starting to care more about a good user interface, once they started using an iPad. I overheard things like "Why can't it be like an iPad app?".

SAP CIO is also setting a standard for social media participation. He was recently identified by as one of the top 25 Social CIOs in the Fortune 250.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Build An iPad Demo In Under 5 Minutes From Your iPad using Keynote

Now a days every sales person is expected to demo his or her product from an iPad. They are asked to demo not just iPad applications but also web applications from an iPad, even when they may not be connected to the Internet. Even when they are connected to the Internet, they are sometimes not able to tell a compelling story within a few minutes due to content issues or connectivity issues.

Product managers are expected to provide these iPad demos to support customer pursuits and conferences in very short notice. I watch my product management colleagues run from pillar to post to understand the mechanics of creating a demo, while they should be focusing on the story, positioning and message. So I thought I will identify a simple tool that can create very compelling demos of iPad applications or web applications.

The app I used is apple Keynote App for the iPad. You can buy it for $9.99 from the app store.

Apple Keynote For iPad Makes A Good Demo Building Tool

After stumbling through a lot of apps, my quest for a simple and effective tool to build iPad demos for my sales colleagues has come to an end. I found Apple Keynote for iPad to be an appropriate tool for building simple demos. Keynote costs $9.99.

Image from
My requirement was to create simple iPad demos of existing iPad applications and web applications for my global sales colleagues. Even though we had the iPad app ready, we wanted to give a simplified version of the app with a few screens to the sales team so that they do not have to worry about the content and preparation of the demo system.

Our sales teams use these iPad demos to share content with customers, when they meet them at informal settings. Showing a demo from an iPad can happen in very informal settings, even while standing in the corridor at a conference venue or in a parking lot.

This is what I did to build the demo.
  • I grabbed the screens from the iPad app and stored them in my photos folder.
  • Started Keynote and created a new presentation
  • Imported the images one by one
  • Built transitions for the screen. Set transition directions and transition speed.
  • In some screens I imported a partial screen and animated the object to create an illusion of a real app.
I can do this for web apps as well, as long as I can view them on my iPad.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Surprising Dearth Of iPad Demo And Prototype Building Tools

I have been searching for iPad prototyping and demo building tools for a few months now. I am surprised that there are no good tools that can help create a simple clickable demo or prototype that I can run from the iPad. I think there is a good opportunity here for an entrepreneur to build a tool.

There is no need to create a fancy demo building tool. All that is needed is an ability to import an image and define a touch area and navigate to another page. That will be a tool that I will be ready to pay up to $25. There is such a dearth of tools that the SAP demo team has built its own proprietary tool to create an iPad demo from screen grabs. There must be a simple commonly available tool that anyone can use.

I am exploring to see if Keynote for iPad can serve the purpose. I will keep you updated on how that goes.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Rehearsing Your Story With SuccessFactors Jam

My colleague Anke Doerzapf and I are speaking about the importance of people centricity in the IHIRM 2012 Conference in Chicago. Anke is writing the story line for the presentation and wanted to convey the narrative to her colleagues and manager. She shared the PowerPoint presentation with notes with her colleagues around the world and her manager, who works from Germany. But she faced a problem. The PowerPoint presentation alone did not convey the story she wanted to convey.

She wanted a simple way to  convey her narrative to her colleagues and manager so that she could get their inputs. She did not want to ask for an hour of their time to walk them through the presentation. When I mentioned the screen capture feature in SuccessFactors Jam to her, she gave it a try and was delighted to find out how simple and useful it was to record a presentation with audio, even for requesting quick inputs. Once she recorded her narrative, her colleagues and manager were able to provide feedback on the recording not only at the slide level but also at any second of the recording.

Recording the story you want to tell in your presentation, listening to it to improve it, and getting inputs from others is an important activity for any professional. Now you can do that using SuccessFactors Jam. You can try it for free. If your company uses SuccessFactors products, you automatically have access to Jam.
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