Monday, December 31, 2012

A Pencil Sketch From Portland, Oregon

I spent a few days in Portland Oregon. Portland is full of pine trees. They are a beautiful backdrop for any house. I enjoy drawing the pine trees. Still getting a hang of it. Happy New Year everyone. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Drawing Is My Meditation

Fall trees covering the Strahov monastery buildings.
Strahov Monastery in Prague. Fall trees covering facade.

Wood and iron benches on cobblestone sidewalk. Prague old town.
Hotel Paris in Prague

Lilies and fruits on the kitchen table. Portland, Oregon.

Road down to city from Strahov Monastery, Prague.
I normally make something to relax and take my mind off day-to-day business. These holidays I decided to spend the time sketching. I started a while back during vacation and caught up on it during the holidays. My friend +Rajeev Nair pointed out to me, that this is one sort of meditation. I think so. Drawing for hours together is a great way to train the mind to focus, to meditate.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Your Cloud Your Way

I was talking to the IT and HR leadership team at a high technology company today when one of the leaders said to me and my colleagues that while he wants to be able to move his entire hr solution to the cloud, he wants to make the decision to crawl, walk or run based on the circumstances in his company. Our SuccessFactors account executive then mentioned something that made me smile. She said "You can have your cloud your way".

What we refer to as a classic hybrid HCM solution

OnPremise HCM customers who want to move one or more of their applications to the cloud can do so one by one, at a pace that suits them. SAP and SuccessFactors can support them move one or more of their talent management applications or all their HCM apps to the cloud. This was the official message. After ten months of delivering the message and listening to customers, I am glad to say that it worked for the most part.

Even though the diagram above depicts a classic hybrid HCM solution, it is rarely this perfect. Based on my experience discussing the solution with tens of customers this year, I realized that reality is not perfect. However the hybrid approach where we say that customers can have their cloud their way is working for customers. This observation is not based on a hypothesis. It is based on my personal interaction with IT and HR leaders from tens of organizations for over 100 hours this year. I believe it is a large enough sample. The coming months will teach us more lessons. We'll be older and wiser next year.

Auto Groups Make New Hires Feel At Home On Day One

In my third year in college I was elected as the general secretary of the creative activities club. Once i was elected, I automatically was included in multiple student committees, invited to the director's annual dinner, the deans monthly meetings and so on. I was instantly part of all the right groups, met the right people and had a clear idea what is expected of me. All this happened without any specific effort from my part and without any significant effort from the President of the student's union. My university had a well oiled policy of introducing the new student secretaries to the right people and the right activities at the right time. I guess Universities have a lot of experience in welcoming new people and making them feel at home.

Unfortunately most business organizations today lack even the very basic policies and tools to on-board new employees, transferred employees and relocated employees. It is particularly pathetic when there is a merger or an acquisition.

SAP Jam has a seldom discussed feature called Auto Groups. This simple, yet powerful feature in the Enterprise edition of SAP Jam automatically adds employees old and new to select groups based on policies set by company administrators.

Auto Groups automatically adds new hires and transferred employees to select groups and makes them feel at home
The moment I say policy you may think that this is a cumbersome activity that will take a long time to implement and will cost a lot in consulting fees. That is not the case. I am one of the several company administrators of Jam at SAP. I have done this myself. It is a point and click activity that takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Administrators can test the waters with a few auto groups to check how it works for them before adding more groups.

For example a company administrator can create a group for people who were hired in the past 90 days in Palo Alto. Administrators can create any number of groups. The policies can be as open or as regulated as an organization wants it to be. I believe this is a very powerful feature that CIOs and HR leaders are going to love. It is going to empower people and make organizations more effective. 

After I posted this my colleague @jameslkelley shared his thoughts about how auto groups helped him when he came on board.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Recommendations Feature in SAP Jam Makes Us Productive

One of the questions that I always get asked by people who come to SAP HCM Exchange, the internal SAP Jam Group for HCM colleagues, is how will people know what content to look at first and whom to follow to get information on specific topics.

Since the release of SAP Jam internally for SAP and SuccessFactors Employees, I have been exploring it pretty closely to see how some of the new features can solve these real world problems that we were facing.

The recommendations feature in Jam has addressed this problem we were facing to a great extend. The algorithm acts a bit like a news paper editorial team that picks the most important and most popular news and puts it on the front page. However unlike the new paper editor, the importance of the content is determined by the popularity of the content and the relevance of the content to a particular individual.

Figure : Recommendations of people and content is posted on the top of the Feeds page.

Users can also go and see more recommendations where they can filter content by day, week and month.

Figure 2 : Recommendations page where the content can be filtered by day, week and month.

The SAP Jam team has taken a good first step towards making social media updates more manageable for users, particularly the new ones. I am sure that this feature is going to speedup Jam adoption and usage inside SAP.

You can read about all the features in the latest release of SAP Jam in Keith Hamrick's blog post.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Flowers In My Workplace Always Make My Day Better

There are flowers everywhere at my work place. They make my work environment inviting and relaxing. Every time I look at them, they make my day better. Some of them are so beautiful, I want to share a sketch of them with you. Hope it makes your day better too.

For those interested, I drew this on a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 using the app Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Used a regular pencil for the lines and a 3B pencil for the shades.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 For Writing and Sketching

I have been using a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 to sketch places, objects and people. I sketch places to relax, objects for fun and people for work related presentations, white papers, blog posts and design documents.

I have also been using it to write my thoughts down while traveling or in a plane. It is a lot easier to take out a tablet than to take out a laptop. I also love the fact that I can write as if I am writing with ink on paper. I am pretty pleased with the Samsung Galaxy Note. It has many other interesting features. Here is a video.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Another Reason Why Mobility Is Important For Organizations

I learned from the HR department in SAP Palo Alto recently that there has been a sudden increase in requests for desks that let you work while standing. I suspect that many of my colleagues read the article in the Wall Street Journal that said "Sitting for more than 4 hours a day increases the risk of heart disease significantly." If you think about it, standing and moving around during the day is natural for human beings. We were not designed by evolution to sit is a place and stare at a screen for eight hours a day.


Mobile devices are doing their bit to make us get up an move around a bit. Mobility might even bring down the rate of heart disease a bit in organizations. I think organizations should consider investment in mobile devices as an investment in employee wellness.

Image from

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