March 2014 Archives

SAP decrees the mobile ten commandments

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SAP is a clinical German company with a stoic approach to hard graft and no perceptible sense of humour, right?

Vorsprung durch Technik has its place at SAP for sure, but the firm has a hidden penchant for jocular transgression which surfaces now and then.

So it is then that SAP mobile solutions and product marketing man Adam Stein came to lay down his ten commandments for mobile recently.

SAP likes mobile remember?

SAP bought Sybase, the database firm with its "unwired enterprise" vision... and SAP HANA is increasingly cloud-centric and cloud is mobile and so on etc.

Stein wrote his ten commandments to celebrate Mobile World Congress last month, so here's a summary:


10. Thou shalt not covet thy co-workers device, even if it's really cool -- BYOD policies enforce ownership and usage.

9. No bearing false witness in the mobile world -- falsifying your persona on apps or devices is a bad idea.

8. Borrowing devices with permission is fine -- permanent unauthorised mobile device, app or content use is stealing.

7. Adultery is one step away from pornography -- proper content on corporate devices (BYOD or corporate owned) is essential.

Editorial note: SAP's Stein points out that:

"Web/app content filtering is quickly coming into mobile vogue. New app reputation service offerings are coming to market and rating apps here include Applipedia."

6. Death according to some religions is just an interim state on the spirit escalator -- killing a lost or stolen device is however your God-given right.

5. Honouring your family is good common sense, but how far does mobile honour extend? -- must every piece of content be siloed in windows, Android or iOS ecosystem? No! Variety is the spice of life and should be embraced.

4. Certain days are special in the mobile world -- OS update days, bug fix days, shiny new app days and maybe even a new device days.

3. Vanity belongs to the gods and gossip mags -- the IT dept is not after playing god over your mobile usage, they are simply enforcing a few mobile policies that ensure the company data and your mobile workplace remain in situ.

2. Bearing false mobile devices is verboten (forbidden) -- practice safe mobility and place adequate protection over your devices, apps and content.

1. Users need variety to do their different jobs -- don't let IT become the department of no.

The complete story is linked here.

OpenSymmetry codifies the new digital salesperson

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Your acronym du jour today is SPM, or Sales Performance Management to afford the term its full designator and moniker.

Surely this discipline doesn't need digitisation, computerisation and acronym-isation does it?


OpenSymmetry thinks it does and the sales consulting firm has in fact become the first (and only) IBM partner to attain IBM Bronze Software Practice Accreditation for Cognos Incentive Compensation Management (ICM).

SPM and ICM together then? OpenSymmetry is clearly working to try and almost "codify" the new digital salesperson.

The firm's Candice Arnold says that the European market is calling for businesses to display "sustainable practices" around pay-for-performance.

"OpenSymmetry's in-depth experience and knowledge with Cognos ICM helped the company to design and build an automated commission calculation process that included a web portal salespeople could use to check commissions in real time," said Arnold.

What this means to the new digital salesperson is that the entire sales force gains greater confidence in sales figures used so that commission calculation accuracy is increased.

The digital salesperson moves to the Far East as well...

"For APAC, the market is gradually adopting more sophisticated approaches to managing sales compensation and therefore the early adopters need to have the confidence their delivery partner has the necessary experience to ensure their success," said Anthony Hutchins, managing director, APAC at OpenSymmetry.

OpenSymmetry says it is the only performance management consulting company that offers real-time business intelligence for reporting and analysis dedicated to sales performance management.

Image credit: Sales HQ

Zeenyx CEO: how to step beyond comfort zones & damage limitation

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The following post is a guest contribution from Brian Le Suer, CEO of Zeenyx Software, Inc -- a company that provides an automated software testing solution that allows teams to build manual and automated tests.

Brian LeSuer Photo.jpg

I recently read a Princeton University study about success, specifically about how much of success should be attributed to the inherent qualities of the successful thing, and how much was just chance.

What the study showed was:

"It's hard to make things of very poor quality succeed -- although after you meet a basic standard of quality, what becomes a huge hit and what doesn't is essentially a matter of chance."

Apparently the masses tend to go along with what they perceive others think is valuable.

Although the study was about works of art, it got me thinking about how the idea might apply to software products, especially given that in our wired culture, 'going viral' often spells success.

Is the product with the largest market share always the best product?

Clearly being the market leader has its advantages. For one, it's perceived as a safe bet. A decision-maker doesn't feel exposed when choosing a product that has been selected by so many others.

Saving product evaluation time

Perhaps a justification for following the crowd might be that it saves the time that would otherwise be required to conduct a thorough product evaluation.

But what are the opportunity costs of not exploring newer technologies that might improve quality, save time and reduce costs?

In the field of software testing, I recommend to all of our prospective clients that they complete a thorough evaluation, because each organisation and software product has unique requirements.

Important skills considerations

Beyond making sure that a test tool can drive and verify a software application under test, I encourage them to consider whether the usage requirements match the skill sets of their staff members and how test maintenance will impact the cost of ownership over the long haul.

Too often, I think we can all get stuck tracing the same steps that we've followed in the past. We don't like paradigm shifts because they feel risky, but what might be even more precarious is to continue using a tool or an approach that is no longer effective or efficient.

Comfort zones & damage limitation

Recently I engaged with a customer, who has a large staff base that is deeply invested in a tool set and methodology that is no longer working for their organisation. They are spending enormous amounts of time and money patching and working around issues.

Much of this damage control is under the radar so far.

While some of the team members are excited about recent innovations in our field, others throw up barriers because they are threatened by the prospect of moving out of their comfort zones.

It's an interesting twist, because in this case, staying with what's comfortable is what is putting the organisation at risk. I have no doubt that when these followers are found out, they are going to lose their jobs.

Brian LeSuer began as a QA engineer using the testing tools available in the early 1980's. Today he says he is excited to be building the next generation testing tool that will increase the productivity and effectiveness of test & development teams. With AscentialTest, Zeenyx provides an enterprise level Test Management System that encompasses Test Planning, Test Development, Test Data Management and Test Execution.

Is Box OneCloud a lesson for a new class of applications?

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Online file sharing and cloud content management company Box launched its OneCloud service two years ago back in March of 2012 with what started out as 30 applications on iOS (and later Android), mostly focused on improving user productivity.


Did this herald (as the company would have liked) the "new way" for us to consume applications? i.e. via an online cloud portal.

Does this trend have a deeper message for software application developers such that they should now target applications for deployment to this types of connected ecosystem with a heavy predisposition to mobile devices?

Box has detailed its last two years in this space and notes (for developers in particular) that it introduced a set of tools designed to simplify the integration process for programming moving application structures to this kind of portal.

OneCloud has now grown to more than 1,000 applications and claims to boast "a trusted ecosystem" for 25 million users.

Major brands like HP and Cisco Webex Meeting have integrated their products with Box, that always helps.

A new class of applications?

"We are starting to see a new class of applications emerge - applications whose sole focus is to address content-specific workflows for vertical industries," said Cecilia Haig, OneCloud product & program manager.

Haig points to applications like "drchronoused" for doctors to care for patients while they are bedside and applications like TrialPadare modernising courtrooms and legal proceedings...

... or as Haig optimistically phrases it, "digitalizing" the attorney's briefcase.

Box says that in this past year OneCloud adoption has increased in industries like healthcare (+400%), architecture, engineering and construction (AEC)
(+300%) and education (+300%).

Box points to key growth in industries with deep-rooted processes that are both repetitive and manual -- well, Box would, wouldn't it?

Yes this is just one side of the story, but there is a strengthening trend here.

BMW: the ultimate big data machine?

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IBM used its truly enormous stand at the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover to drive home news of BMW deploying IBM big data & analytics technology to optimise its cars from a repairs and maintenance perspective.

The firms suggest that use of predictive analytics helps to detect and fix vulnerabilities before new models are launched -- and long before they might cause problems in series production.

"The IBM SPSS predictive analytics software helps to combine and analyse data from, for instance, numerous test drives of prototypes, an average of 15,000 faults recorded by vehicles and details from recent workshop reports," says IBM.

IBM feeds the insight it gathers from big data analytics into both the software application development process used to power BMW cars and, also, the physical manufacturing element of the cars themselves.


Software AG: what does a real digital business look like?

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Software AG is using the CeBIT conference and exhibition to launch its new Intelligent Business Operations platform and Intelligent Business Process Management (iBPMS) platform.

Now clearly this is all about big data analysis, but what kind of data?

This is both process-related and business transactional data to start with, but the story is deeper.

The firm wants to assert that we are at now within sight of Nirvana i.e. business and IT now actually speaking the same language with the integrated business processes under a single architecture management consideration from Software AG itself.

Intelligent Business Operations Platform (IBO) is positioned as a tool that monitors and analyses real-time data streams for "significant business events" driving real-time, intelligent business decisions.

Mini case study

A logistics company that provides services for shipping lines is an excellent customer example for the intelligent evaluation and analysis of large data volumes. The company processes a wide variety of data such as ship movements, weather data, and harbour information such as the availability of terminals and port facilities. Using this data in real time optimises important steering factors such as ship course and speed. Significant resource savings can be realised in addition to the business process optimisation -- up to 1,500 tons of oil per year. This helps the company reduce its CO2 emissions as well.

The nine (example) elements of big data

So then, given the above shipping industry example, we can use this market vertical to explain what the internal elements of big data really are:

1. Process-related data
2. Business transactional data
3. IT systems operations data
4. Pricing data for fuel and port charges
5. Transport (speed) data
6. Weather data
7. Market commodities pricing data and the price of oil
8. Carbon offset data
9. Location data and other geo-location factors

Within the context of this scenario, this is a reasonable summary of the nine key elements (if not all) of big data that might come under scrutiny.

Intelligent Business Operations is positioned as a means of enabling the immediate implementation of decisions in automated business processes - and, this flexibility needs to be reflected in the enterprise IT architecture management.

To facilitate this, Software AG also announced the integration of its ARIS/Alfabet product suites.

After the acquisition of Alfabet AG, Software AG combined the ARIS and Alfabet products into a new product.

Software AG's story goes further... but this is part of the story for what might make a real digital business in the future. Did you think that we would start with something sexier than shipping? Yes -- we did too!

Microsoft: developers, developers, (brave) developers

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Microsoft loves to smile.

Have you ever been to an industry event and walked past the Microsoft booth and not been met by an assortment of beaming smiles and people telling you that they are "super excited" about this, that or the other in Windows x.1 version update etc?

No you haven't -- and that's because Microsoft is a cheery ship full of happy encouraging souls.


So much so that Microsoft head of development and platform group Anand Krishnan has called out the "brave developers" he says are fighting our application-centric causes for us.

Krishnan also says we need to champion coding earlier in our education system, or long term "digital transformation" might never happen.

"We've spoken before about the 'Brave Developer', a new breed of developer who is overcoming challenges to take advantage of the significant opportunities in the developer world, and this is becoming ever more important to the future of growth in the UK," said Krishnan.

The Microsoft man thinks that today's developer ecosystem has itself evolved beyond software developers to:

• bedroom-hobbyists,
• marketers and
• core IT professionals, whose roles are increasingly touching development.

NOTE: If you look at the developer community according to City & Guilds, 48% claim to have only started developing in the past five years.

So what is a brave developer anyway?

Krishnan says it is the kind of guy (and girl) that despite the uncertain economic environment are:

• either teaching themselves app development skills o,
• are becoming champions within their organisations in bringing new innovative apps to market.

"At Microsoft we believe that support for these 'Brave Developers' (Ed, surely not CAPS?) must start at an early age, consider teaching coding and programming skills from school upwards into college and beyond is of the upmost importance to prepare young people for a range of careers and ensure the continued growth and success of the UK developer ecosystem."

To support this drive, capital letters or not, Microsoft is providing a discounted Xbox 360 for schools, which includes a DreamSpark subscription.

a dream.png

NOTE: DreamSpark provides the tools to help students design and create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows 8, empowering them with professional developer software and resources to explore the world of coding and become the next generation of 'Brave Developer'.

"Whilst we too remain optimistic about the future of the UK's technology industry, the lesson we have learnt is that for the industry to sustain its entrepreneurial spirit and success, we must engage the next generation today, and with a renewed commitment to educating young developers, we are one step closer to achieving it," he concluded, while smiling.

SAP HANA development, more tangible now

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Three years ago in 2011 we described SAP HANA as an in-memory computing platform and high-performance analytical appliance with a strong emphasis on ERP.

Today in 2014, SAP would rather we just call HANA a computing platform -- but have developers ever been really able to "code to HANA" itself?

New global leader for SAP Mobile Rick Costanzo has proclaimed that mobile is the key enabler of the cloud and that that they are integrally connected.

"SAP is the industry leader in enterprise mobility with a very comprehensive mobile solutions portfolio," he said, in a comments made before the show.

Commenting on SAP at the show itself, Costanzo said he was really impressed by what he had seen at SAP's MWC stand.

The company's "Experience the Future" exhibit showcased how the future of technology-enabled soccer can improve a player's performance by analysing cognitive skills in real-time 3D visualisation.

For the jaunty jackaloupes...

This, along with a growing group of other examples, is inarguably SAP actually producing what we could justifiably call HANA applications -- or "HANA apps" if you're feeling jaunty.

Costanzo has talked about how he has seen HANA used by technicians to repair a machine through augmented reality and gesture controlled services with the help of connected glasses.

More real developer development?

SAP used the show itself to announce it is collaborating with Xamarin and Service2Media to provide developers with mobile app development frameworks that enable development on the company's SAP Mobile Platform.

"Xamarin SAP SDK provides a native .NET interface to the SAP Mobile Platform. Developers can authenticate against SAP Mobile Platform endpoints and use native C# objects to access their SAP business objects directly. Full data-access capabilities and Linq support are included," said the company, in a press statement.

As part of a co-innovation project, SAP and BMW Group Research and Technology have developed a new technology infrastructure for in-vehicle mobility services.

The research prototype is based on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform and will provide personalised services to drivers based on their location and route.

The cloud-based platform from SAP serves as a link between BMW and external partners that provide services such as parking, fuel, beverages and food and one again, this is the stuff real of real HANA applications...

SAP's vision is to consistently enrich the driver's experience and provide the convenience consumers expect from a connected and social world -- in or out of the vehicle.

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Why QCon London brings the developers together

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London often plays second fiddle to Las Vegas, Barcelona, Hannover and more in terms of where the best developer events are held.

We do have DevWeek it's true, but QCon London appears to be one of the better gathering of real developer purists.

You're more likely to hear about emerging use of Scala at QCon that you are of hearing some polished suit blither on about ERP, ALM, APM and any other selection of 3-letter acronym.

Today is the opening block of sessions

... and in the organisation's own words, "QCon empowers software development by facilitating the spread of knowledge and innovation in the developer community. A practitioner-driven conference, QCon is designed for technical team leads, architects, engineering directors, and project managers who influence innovation in their teams."

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There's some good sessions all week, but here's a snapshot of today:

A Brief History of Data
The process, Technology & Practice of Continuous Delivery
Impossible Programs
Identity is the new Currency

IBM's Rometty: Watson developers will build a new era of computing

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IBM used its presence at Mobile World Congress 2014 to show off its new charcoal grey stand emblazonments, press the obligatory flesh and generally crowbar the name "Watson" into as many conversations as possible.
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Naysayers have chided IBM for positioning Watson as some kind of panacea to cure all our computing ills in the future -- criticism of this kind generally comes from commentators (if we deign to grace them with such a grand term) who still also rank IBM as a died in the wool company incapable of true bleeding edge innovation.

Comments like these are (arguably) somewhat tainted with a little jealously; IBM will probably be around next year.

Justification, validation and rationalisation aside, IBM is big on Watson.

What's Watson?

For those that need reminding, Watson is named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson and it is IBM's massive data analytics supercomputer capable of working with humans in natural language to reason and learn as it provides answers.

Watson understands natural language and the system then generates hypotheses - recognising that there are different probabilities of various outcomes.

Back to Mobile World Congress then, IBM also used the show to launch its IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge a global competition to encourage developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by Watson.

The newly formed IBM Watson Group, aims to encourage developers to "spread cognitive computing apps" that could provide complex questions from massive amounts of disparate data into the marketplace.

IBM chairwoman and CEO Virginia "Ginni" Rometty is good for a soundbite if you need one; some of her best include:

• Be first and be lonely.
• Don't let others define you. You define yourself.
• Growth and comfort do not coexist

With Watson more specifically in mind, Rometty is urging us to imagine a new class of cognitive app that delivers insights instantly over the cloud.


"You can't program enough to make sense of all the data in the world," said Rometty with regard to what she calls a new era of computing.

"You run a business today and you [must] reinvent it for the future at the same time," Rometty said. "Data is the world's new natural resource and it will become a key competitive advantage for every industry. I think we will look back at this time and see data as a resource that drove the 21st century."

The developer challenge

The IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge (part of the IBM MobileFirst strategy) invites mobile developers to share their best ideas to build and develop mobile apps into prototypes. Three winners will join the Watson Ecosystem Program.

The winners will work with IBM's recently launched global consulting practice, IBM Interactive Experience to receive design consulting and support from IBM experts to develop a viable commercial app.

IBM says it has advanced Watson what was a game playing innovation (it beat human contestants on the US quiz show Jeopardy) into a commercial technology -- now 24 times faster with a 2,400 percent improvement in performance; and 90 percent smaller than the original system.

How the challenge works

Once developers have submitted their proposal, a panel of judges will conduct two phases of judging. The first phase will narrow the field to 25 finalists. Those finalists will receive access to the Watson API and sandbox so they can build a prototype to be judged in the second phase. From there, the top five finalists will pitch their concepts to a panel of IBM judges in a live session. The judges will then determine three winners who will have IBM mentoring support and sandbox access to build the next Watson-powered app.

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