Archive for February, 2018

SAP Partnership with Google Maps Indicates a New Openness

February 26th, 2018

Last week, SAP and Google made an announcement about a partnership based on Google Maps that is reflective of a refreshing new openness at SAP to doing things that were essentially unthinkable under past management regimes.

Under the deal announced last week, Google is going to support SAP Business Analytics use of Google Maps as part of all different types of SAP applications. This means that SAP products will eventually come with geographic mapping capabilities that offer the ability to visualize data that are powered by Google Maps. SAP applications will start to look a bit more like consumer web sites that use Google Maps used to find stores or to show statistics by region or any number of things.

Another implication is that the ability to manage and explore large data sets using Google Maps, SAP’s HANA in-memory architecture and other capabilities will become productized. Geo-spatial visualizations will be designed and delivered in the context of a business process. Given the capacity of HANA and the amount of data stored in a typical SAP application, it is likely that the ability to manage and use so-called big data will also start to be productized.

One might ask, what’s the news here? After all, SAP has supported use of the data in its applications by firms like ESRI that offer advanced geo-spatial mapping capabilities. In addition, SAP customers have used Google Maps with SAP data anytime they wanted to.

The news here, to me, is that SAP is now saying that a core capability that could potentially be used in all of its products will come from the cloud and come from a third party. This means that the more than 10,000 developers who work at SAP will now be able to incorporate Google Maps type functionality into its core functionality. For SAP Business By Design, the Software-as-a-Service offering, using cloud based services is natural, because Business By Design is delivered in the cloud. But for SAP Business Suite, that includes SAP’s flagship ERP application, this is a radical departure. SAP takes the operational quality of its products very seriously. The company was publicly disappointed by the recent outages at Amazon Web Services. Now, despite the worry that was raised by that event, the company seems to be going full speed in using a cloud-based component. There is little doubt in my mind that this attitude of openness will lead to more such announcements about approving other cloud based components into its arsenal.

Again, it is fair to ask, “Isn’t this obvious? Why wouldn’t SAP use the best components to build its applications regardless of where they came from as long as they were high quality?” The answer to anyone who has watched SAP or any large company is simple. It is big news when SAP or any large company can overcome its cultural barriers and do what makes sense without some painful prompting

In this case, SAP is overcoming a legacy of an insular engineering culture that could accurately be accused of suffering from a “not invented here” complex in the past. In a sense, how could it be otherwise? Most leading companies suffer from their success. SAP is rightly proud of its engineering history. The company created a system that started at the dawn of the software industry in the early 1970s based on some key principles — what SAP CTO Vishal Sikka calls Timeless Software — and is still going strong today. In that same time period, several generations of software companies have come and gone. SAP built and deployed many software innovations before they became widespread. The ABAP language used p-code and a virtual machine long before Java did the same thing. Abstractions of the data layer, devices for inter-application communication, synchronization of master data, and client/server UI found their earliest and widest deployments in SAP applications. To this day, practices like the nightly build that is used by Java development shops is really a remediation for the fact that there is no formal way to track dependencies between modules. Such capability has long been a part of ABAP Workbench. You don’t need a nightly build because you know what to recompile when something has changed.

The only problem with SAP’s pride in its history is that it has sometimes shut the company’s eyes to new ways of creating software. It appears that this announcement may mark a turning point to increased awareness and use of outside components. If SAP becomes truly open to using more and more outside components, and learns how to use them to create stable, reliable software, SAP could accelerate the pace of change, keeping the stable parts of its applications, but adding the best of what has newly arrived.

SAP has long been open to having other companies use its software. In October 2009, SAP published a guide, “SAP Guidelines for Best-built Applications that integrate with SAP Business Suite”, that has been updated about every other month since that date. This guide explains how to write applications that are compatible with SAP’s software guidelines and standards. This guidance is provided because SAP recognizes that other companies will be building solutions to meet needs that SAP is not going to address. By following this guidance, other companies can create solutions that fit naturally into the SAP Business Suite.

Now SAP will either need a new guide or a new chapter in its current guide that covers how to use Google Maps SAP style. Once SAP developers take up this challenge, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will, it is likely that Google Maps will be adapted by Google to better meet the needs of enterprise applications.

Two vital questions seem worthy of exploration in further columns. The first is: What’s next? What other cloud components will SAP start to incorporate? The second is: Is a bigger partnership possible? Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Much of the information that runs the world is in SAP. Why aren’t Google and SAP working together to make it more universally accessible and useful?

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Dan Woods.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2011/08/02/sap-partnership-with-google-maps-indicates-a-new-openness/#6b5b06942528

 

Five Myths about Hadoop

February 20th, 2018

Apache™ Hadoop helps businesses solve one of their toughest challenges—profiting from massive volumes of data. Its popularity stems from its ability to enable organizations to gain value from big, diverse data types. As the Forrester Research, Inc. report The Forrester Wave™: Big Data Hadoop Solutions, Q1 2014, notes, “Hadoop is unstoppable as its open-source roots grow wildly and deeply into enterprises. Its refreshingly unique approach to data management is transforming how companies store, process, analyze and share big data.”

Evolving Technology

The technology has justifiably received accolades for the benefits it delivers, yet at the same time it’s been dogged by misinformation and overpromising of exactly what it can offer. Having the wrong expectations—or believing misconceptions—when implementing Hadoop can result in wasted time, inflated expenses and lacklustre performance.

Understanding what Hadoop can and can’t do, and then planning the installation accordingly, will help the implementation reach its full capability. To be successful, learn the truth about the technology and avoid these common myths:

Myth 1

Hadoop Can Replace a Data Warehouse

Truth: Hadoop is not a complete data or analytics solution by itself. It is a framework or platform that cannot serve as or replace the data warehouse. As such, Hadoop offers a cost-effective solution as a big data platform that can share its information with other databases, making it an ideal complement to a data warehouse. This gives organizations new ways to use and exploit large, diverse data volumes.

Myth 2

The Technology is a Passing Trend

Truth: Hadoop is popular and its momentum seems unstoppable, so don’t expect it to go away. The Forrester Wave™: Big Data Hadoop Solutions, Q1 2014, believes that Hadoop is a “must-have data platform for large enterprises, forming the cornerstone of any flexible, future data management platform.” To take advantage of it, next-generation data warehouses are supporting deeper Hadoop integration to manage larger and more complex data sets.

Myth 3

Hadoop is Free

Truth: Sure, Hadoop is an open-source product that anyone can download for free, but the cost to use the technology is not free or even cheap. It requires highly trained expertise to use effectively, and storing the data long term can be expensive. In fact, a data warehouse can cost less than Hadoop when considering analytics and multiple users. And besides the open-source technologies, vendors sell specific applications with various features to support and extend Hadoop to make it more beneficial to businesses.

Myth 4

The Solution is a Data Integration Tool

Truth: The technology is actually a distributed file system designed for specific data types and workloads. It lacks data integration capabilities. If the solution is not integrated with a larger data management ecosystem, is it likely to become another data silo that isolates information. But once it’s part of a data warehouse environment, information from the warehouse and from Hadoop can be used for queries.

Myth 5

Hadoop is a Single Open-Source Product

Truth: It is a library of products and technologies, including the Hadoop Distributed File System, MapReduce, Pig, Hive, Falcon, Knox and others. Hadoop products are available from a variety of vendors that add differentiating features, such as the Hortonworks® Data Platform that lets organizations capture, process and share data in any format at any scale. Some Hadoop products are open source—others are not. The demand for the products has created what Forrester calls a “cutthroat” market for vendors seeking to capitalize on selling unique options.

Unlock the Full Potential

Hadoop delivers a proven solution for storing and processing large data sets, enabling businesses to leverage the big, diverse data that was previously too expensive or complex to use effectively. Despite its purposes and advantages, the technology is not a replacement for a data warehouse or data integration tools. Instead, the value of Hadoop can be increased by integrating it with other data or analytics solutions.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Brett Martin.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/teradata/2015/01/02/five-myths-about-hadoop/#6e993db0e177

By 2020, Artificial Intelligence Will Touch Everything — But How?

February 13th, 2018

We are all equipped with the best minds in the known universe. Between ourselves and our predecessors, humans have created virtually everything we touch. We achieved this using a tool which represents the absolute pinnacle of intelligence; our brain.

This is not hyperbole. On an intelligence-scale of zero to one, despite our individual variety, we all fit within the microscopically small space occupied by the right-edge of the ‘e’. We’re up there alone, magnitudes away from the also-rans we share this planet with.

Now we’re having a concerted stab at creating computer programs which are as intelligent as we are. Artificial Intelligence (AI) –for lack of a better definition– is where software acts human-like. Assuming we’re doing something right, and forgive our big-headedness, this sounds marvellous. The power of human intelligence in a predictable, non chemically-burdened chassis which is always powered-on and free from other responsibilities or predilections.

Follow this idea onwards through a few evolutions and the concept has perhaps too much potential. What if the intelligence-scale goes from zero to one hundred and we are simply not capable of handling the outcome?

Thankfully, we’re at the comforting level where AI means sitting back and relaxing while stuff gets done better or easier without us having to put in so much effort.

What we recognize as AI is most of the time a shortcut through processes to reach a conclusion faster or more productively. By 2020 more or less everything will be touched by AI. Truth is, this comes down to a handful of activities:

Automation

There are not suddenly new things to do. AI just helps us to transition between discrete actions.

It means we can couple workflows together faster like ordering more toilet roll when it runs low or translating a Chinese message into English. Since computers began we’ve been used to them handling our actions based on our rules (every app has a settings page). Dialling this up into AI involves removing the rules and training a computer algorithm to link up the actions.

Prediction

There did not become more variables in the world to work with. AI just helps us to process all the variables in a very programmatic way with a transparent level of confidence.

It may be controversial but guessing what will happen in the future is most accurate when performed within the scientific realm of statistics. Since day one computers have excelled in math and we have almost entirely handed over this responsibility to them. Calculating statistical significance is the building block of machine learning, whether that is assessing weather patterns, detecting diseases or playing chess. We are on a continuous journey of increased data and processing power which make computers better.

Decision

We have not been making all the wrong decisions. AI just helps us be presented with the available options based on more data and with less instinct than we are accustomed to.

Assessing situations without perfect information is not just a human trait but a daily necessity and something we may not realise is constantly happening. From negotiations to ranking new business opportunities we make informed decisions towards our desired outcomes. Moving the needle upwards involves being furnished with more relevant details from more relevant sources.

Interaction

There are not undiscovered ethereal ways to interact with computers. AI just opens new interface methods with less effort.

Since the mouse and keyboard, we have been on a journey to use computers with less hurdles. Learning to type is something we have all needed to achieve for the exclusive task of programming computers and digitally communicating with each other. Now with code to process human sentences and interpret input from cameras and sensors, we can make this interaction as natural as with each other.

The significance of AI

Yet, given these down to earth realities, AI is still a huge deal. We are right now in a world where things get done faster, with more accuracy, based on better knowledge and with increased ease. Statista made a very poignant chart of how Smartphone users benefit from artificial intelligence. In short, everything we do is touched in some way by AI.

So, if AI is becoming more and more ingrained into our lives, when do we get close to the machines taking over?

Impact to humans

Gartner may have calculated that by 2020 AI will create 2.3 million jobs while eliminating 1.8 million but this is not destined to last. As we’ve progressed through the last three industrial revolutions on the way to the digital revolution our working lives have fundamentally changed and they will again. Imagine a world where the work-life balance is two days of ‘work’ and five days of ‘life’. It’s quite likely.

Where I stand is that the alarm bells will ring when we morally question turning off a simulation because it has become too intelligent to be considered just code. This is still very firmly in the realm of science fiction. If the evolution of computing power is due to reach Zetta-scale (considered the minimum for human brain simulation) by 2030, at least we will have the hardware capability to make it happen. Right now, we’re firmly at the lizard/mouse stage.

In their AI Open Letter, many of the world’s greatest minds including Stephen Hawking, Mustafa Suleyman, Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk have made their pledge to ring the alarm before the power of AI is taken out of our grasp.

Where you stand is up to you. I’ll leave it with a quote from one of the world’s finest science fiction writers, the late Iain Banks: “We provide the machines with an end, and they provide us with the means.”

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Drew Bates.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2018/02/07/by-2020-artificial-intelligence-will-touch-everything-but-how/#2b113a544cd0

Seven Unexpected Blockchain Uses That Will Improve Business

February 6th, 2018

Blockchain is the new darling of the technology world, and it’s easy to see why. Its transparency, reliability and decentralized nature make it the clear choice for securing intellectual or virtual assets like cryptocurrency.

But, blockchain’s uses extend far beyond security, and experts believe we’ve only just scratched the surface of this technology’s full potential. As the tech world continues to speculate about blockchain’s future, we asked members of Forbes Finance Council to discuss some unexpected applications of blockchain that will positively impact businesses.

All photos courtesy of Forbes Councils members.

Forbes Finance Council members discuss what applications could be ahead for blockchain technology.

  1. Reducing Carbon Footprints

Blockchain is an electronic ledger technology that has many applications, including cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The concept behind this provides a basis for technologically sound and secure payments without leaving behind a paper trail. This new form of managing transactions makes way for industries to facilitate merchant-customer interactions while reducing the carbon footprint. – Ibrahim AlHusseini, the Husseini Group

  1. Internet of Things Security

Keep an eye on blockchain integration with Internet of Things technology. Incorporating the security of blockchain with IoT devices will give customers a new level of security and comfort. This should lead to faster adoption of concepts like “smart home” technology and has the potential to spur growth in the IoT space. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International

  1. Contract Fraud Reduction 

Expect to see a reduction in fraud. Blockchains are going to digitize the world. Contracts are going to be embedded in digital code and stored in transparent, shared databases. Every agreement in this world will be protected from deletion, tampering, revisions, etc. – Justin Good bread, Heritage Investors

  1. Secure, Real-Time Payment 

Blockchain will allow for real-time payments, which will result in faster speeds of service from every aspect. For example, wire transfers usually take three days, and that can represent a huge deficiency for a business. With blockchain-enabled instant payments, they can move on to other things much faster. – Chad Otar, Excel Capital Management, Inc.

  1. Supply Chain Efficiency

Blockchain will enable companies to communicate with vendors efficiently, viewing available inventory in the vendors’ warehouses and tracking that inventory as it moves through the supply chain, all the way to delivery of a sales order to their customer. – Ben Taylor, SoftLedger

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  1. Credit Accessibility For Small Business

Blockchain will undoubtedly have a tremendous effect on trust in business transactions. While external auditing is rarely done for small businesses, the ability of blockchain accounting software to provide transparency to third parties will allow for easier access to capital for these businesses without the large expense of audits or the large premium charged for uncertainty. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA

  1. Clarity In Business Agreements And Transactions

Blockchain helps to clarify and document business transactions. Things previously done on a handshake will be codified and subject to the smart contract the parties have agreed to. Once the smart contract is fulfilled, the counterparty will be paid. Think about a world with no more accounts receivable float or collections calls. You do what you agreed to, and the payment is released. – Matthew May, Acuity

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Finance Council.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2018/01/31/seven-unexpected-blockchain-uses-that-will-improve-business/#718f1f524926