Trusted Advisor 


Since the day I walked into business school couple of decades ago , I have been told that the definition of success would be for me to become a trusted advisor to my clients . It sounded logical , and I accepted it as an absolute truth and never really thought about it too much . Over time, I dutifully convinced others who asked me for career advice that they too should become trusted advisors for their clients . Thankfully – no one asked me exactly what I meant and accepted it as an absolute truth . 

That changed recently . A new hire didn’t take me on my word and pushed me to explain more on what I meant . I gave some half baked explanation and a few examples and ended that conversation – but I immediately knew I had failed . I don’t like to fail ( fast or slow) – and hence started thinking about why I couldn’t answer in a crisp manner . 

To begin to comprehend what being a trusted advisor to a client is – we perhaps should understand what “client” means . Someone who buys from you is your customer . So all clients are customers , but the reverse is not true . A customer who continues to buy from you for a long time , because they recognize the value you bring beyond any given transaction, and who in turn proactively adds value to you even if they are not buying anything from you ,  is a client  .  

Another way to think about this is – when your customer becomes a client , you become their trusted advisor as opposed to just a vendor !

My career at IBM  started as a BI consultant at a large semiconductor company . After two years of working there – I was bored out of my wits and asked the account partner to reassign me . He declined , and instead took me out to dinner . During dinner, I learned that he himself came into that account as a fresh hire out of college and stayed there till he made partner . He had his fair share of battle scars – certainly it wasn’t a bed of roses . On the flip side – he was one of the youngest partners in the firm too. 

I quickly learned that nurturing a relation I already had for two years is infinitely better than building a new one from scratch every few months . To cut the story short – I bought a house next to the client offices to be close to them , doubled down on finding and solving problems for them and at one point – I realized I know their business better than most of their own employees . I was still personally involved with that account when I made partner in the firm too, just like my boss had ( though I had to take on additional customers and turn them into clients to prove that I am not a one trick pony) .

There is an important aspect here that we often overlook – being a trusted advisor is less about the client company than about people in that company . Business is always done between people – not between companies ! All relationships – irrespective of levels, roles and titles – matter . People (both you and client employees ) move around roles and employers , and the trust you built with them moves with them . 

By no means am I suggesting that you should put all your eggs in one basket . There are times when a client has no reason to buy from you directly and you might start to doubt whether it’s worth spending any more time when you don’t have a near term pipeline . But if you have built a strong relationship – they could be a strong reference for you in another part of the company , or for another company . There is nothing more valuable in winning business than a strong reference from a happy client ! 

While I can’t possibly pinpoint when a customer has turned into a client for me in past – there are some characteristics that I find in common across all of them . They have asked me (and I have asked them) for career advice . We have known each other’s families well and have been invited for meals and drinks to each other’s homes . Calls and emails to each other are promptly returned . And finally – neither side expects the other to BS . 

A parting thought – While it’s really hard to become a trusted advisor , it’s real easy to lose that status . Trust is based on respect and transparency . When either side takes undue advantage – trust breaks and there is usually no superglue that will fix it back seamlessly . 


Reverie ’96 : Old met new, and got impressed !


I was part of the class of 96 of TKM College of Engineering – one of 90+ newly minted Mechanical Engineers to walk out of the iconic red building . And in the next 20 years , I had not been back in college . That changed on Friday , August 22nd – when my parents dropped me back at the college , which looked a lot lighter in color but much improved . To say I was overpowered with Nostalgia would be an understatement . 

The first stop naturally was my most favorite spot there – the college canteen . It did not look anything like what we had in our days , but what the heck – I walked towards it . Next thing I know , a familiar figure started waving frantically at me from one of the tables to speed up . There he was – Prof Nasar – my favorite teacher . He taught us automobile engineering (One of the very few subjects I was passionate about) , and was my guide for the final year project (which was to design a machine part for Hindustan Latex LTD for rolling up condoms in their manufacturing line without causing tears – I still remember the embarrassment of explaining it to the panel of teachers , and prof Nasar coming to the rescue of Ajith , Anup Nair and me) . 


I asked him if he remembered me – of course he did , including my name , who my parents where , where I lived , my love for dogs and many other little things . He was very proud of me and introduced me to several of his younger colleagues . 

Next on the agenda – after a quick lunch at the Beach hotel with several friends – was a “meet the students” session . The idea was for 5 of us to be in a panel in front of a couple of hundred final year students and impart our wisdom(?) and answer a few questions . Ganesh , Sindhu, Boby and Rejin formed the panel , which I moderated . We had a dozen or more from our former class join in the audience to provide some moral support.


I was convinced – remembering the extreme reluctance I had in attending these kinds of events on a Friday afternoon when I was a student – that no one will show up. But boy was I wrong ! The room was standing room only by the time we started . 


We kept the tone informal , and switched between Malayalam and English . It’s probably the first time in my life that I had a chance to speak in Malayalam in front of a big audience and I loved it . The students gave us their full attention too – and asked some excellent questions on our perspectives on how to prepare for their careers. 

A word on the panelists – what an amazing bunch ! 


Ganesh did his Grad school in US, worked in US and Europe and then became CEO of his own company . Boby worked at BPL straight out of college (one of the very few who bagged that opportunity I might add) , went to US on a work assignment , did her masters there and is now an engineering leader at Motorola . Sindhu taught engineering , and now is a top researcher in Siemens . Rejin – not surprisingly – is an entrepreneur, and has a cool robotics company. I am clearly the under achiever in this group:)


A few questions from the students made us dog deep and search our souls for answers . Boby explained how she went through her own career progression , often as the “only woman in the room” . Sindhu explained how to focus on first principles to build a career in research . Ganesh explained the need to build a network  of contacts to get ahead in life . And Rejin brought forward the need to apply the theory we learn in class to make things – which fits his own fame as a master prototype builder in college ( ahem … Not always amusing some of  his teachers who wanted him to stay focused on winning the first rank ). 

When I studied in TKM , I had no such insights . I didn’t know who the alum were or how to find them . I saw first hand how much the students appreciated the candid answers from the panel . It also showed me first hand how important it is to give back to the next generation in a “pay it forward” fashion . 

Just as the day started , we finished off af the canteen . Every single one of us was full of enthusiasm and appreciation for our beloved college . Some even got invited to present again to the students during the week.

The man behind the new found focus on sustained alumni relations is Prof Sudhir, who was a year senior to me in college . He explained how it is now a well organized effort to establish a two way constant communication between the old students and us . 

Prof Ayub , who is now the principal of the college is a forward thinking academician . He is also a big fan of strong alumni relationships and frequently travels the world meeting alumni . It was a lot of fun being in the principal’s office after the panel to have a cup of tea and listening to his vision and plans . To say I was impressed will be an understatement .

Saturday , 23rd July, was the formal reunion day. Our chief guest was Shibu Baby John , who till recently was a state government minister . He is a fellow alum (10 years my senior) , and that too from Mechanical Engineering ! I never had a chance to be on the big stage while at college – and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk about the importance of paying it forward . And it was fantastic to hear from the minister , Prof Imtiaz , Prof Sudhir and our very own Ajith Varghese who was the college Union chairman in 1996 . 


Pretty quickly we figured out that there were 6 of us from the class of 96 in IBM – Nitin, Hemant, Jayaraj, Sunil , Teji and me . How cool is that ? We missed two – Jayaraj was in the middle of a project in Abudhabi and Teji in US . 


What an event this was – we had participation from every corner of the world . We picked up conversations from where we left off 20 years ago . It was fantastic to re-establish the old friendships .


None of this would have happened without the leadership of our friends Mahesh Nair , Krishnakumar , Boby Iyer and many others who herded the proverbial cats all over the globe  . Thank you – you are rock stars !

I can’t wait for the next reunion ! 

One year ago , this day 


I joined IBM …again , after nearly a 3 years gap, for my second innings !

Today morning , as I woke up in the morning in my hotel room in Asheville, NC – I reached for my iPhone to check mail . Then , as usual I quickly scanned Twitter and then Facebook . And there it was – FB alerted me that this was the day last year that I joined IBM , with a photo that I had posted from my orientation class in Herndon,VA . Talk about “digital transformation” being real:)

I can’t believe a year has passed ! Time really flew by me . In this short time, I have already worked in three roles across sales , delivery and service line leadership . That is one reason I haven’t noticed the time – each role needed me to learn something new and that has kept me on my toes . That in a way surprises me . In my last two jobs – after a few months, I generally had a feeling that I have a grip on how to run the business. Once I came back to big blue – most days I get up thinking “there is so much more to learn”. My current passion is machine learning – and how I wish I spent more time listening to my statistics professor .  All of this comes with its own fair share of pressure , but for the most part – it’s pure fun!

Travel has not reduced significantly – but not as many international trips given my patch is North America now . I have travelled about 70K miles already this year, and probably will do another 80K in second half of the year . But I do get to spend some more quality time with family and have slowly gotten better about not being on email throughout weekend etc . Not sure if my family and fur kids think of it that way😉

One thing that helped me get settled quickly in my second innings was that I tapped into my network of mentors early and often. Even got a few new mentors along the way . I have also consciously decided to spend more time coaching our new hires and helping them get settled – and nothing is more gratifying seeing them succeed . It doesn’t hurt that I am blessed to have a fantastic team that makes me look good😉

Our team is very diverse now – across multiple dimensions . I wouldn’t have it any other way now – the business results prove how valuable it is to have a team that is diverse . I have some great partners, associate partners and senior managers in my team – but what makes my gang special is the sheer talent of the New college and grad school hires. These are our future leaders and I already think I will work for some of them before I retire . Absolute rockstars !

I have also had the chance to try a few new things in my job . I now interview candidates at all levels over coffee at the local Starbucks on Friday afternoons . It helps my recruiting team schedule better , and I get to observe them in a neutral setting which helps them be at ease mostly. We even do some joint coding or design to see if we can work together . I am also slowly getting comfortable with interviewing on video via hireview. 

Another experiment that is working out well is changing how my staff meeting works . We meet every Friday morning for an hour . For the first half hour we discuss regular business – pipeline , talent etc. For the second half hour – I invite an eminent external guest to address us. These are customer CXOs, analysts , executives from competitors , etc. These are informal sessions – they talk candidly on a topic and we get to ask questions . No PowerPoint , no recording . Just straight talk ! And it helps keep us grounded and minimize the echo chamber effect . 

There are plenty of areas to improve too – like delegation . At every order of magnitude of your portfolio, you have to relook at how you delegate . I have some ways to go there . The ability to better balance short term with long term is something I am learning from my boss now – and I am sure I will figure it out soon . 

A few things have suffered along the way . Reading list has grown , reading has not . Same thing with blogging . And I generally avoided conferences for most of last year – except two. Those are all in the bucket list to get better at .

Before I end this rather long blog – if I could only thank one person for keeping me productive in IBM, I will choose my executive assistant Thelma Reed (and Andrea Edwards who backs her up, and who is literally a clone ) . I don’t know how she does it all so gracefully and efficiently , but if she wasn’t there – I know I will be paralyzed just dealing with my calendar . Thanks for everything you do Thelma !

Can’t wait to see what is in store for future 

Digital Transformation – we are so far away, it’s scary !


A couple of months ago, my wife and I found a house that we really liked – nice neighborhood, close to our daughter’s school and so on. So we decided to put an offer and see if we could get that house.


Our realtor uses docusign – so the entire offer process was done online. And I started to think that this home buying exercise would be such a frictionless experience. Boy , was I wrong !

Lets start with the loan application.

We had enough savings to put a downpayment .  I have an extremely good credit score and fairly low Debt to income ratio. I have also had my checking, savings and credit card at the same bank for many years. I even had my past mortgage and line of credit with them . The bank would know everything that happens in my life – after all I have been in their top tier of loyalty program . I generally expected to walk into the bank’s office , sign some docs, share my tax info and W2 etc,  and expected a loan to get funded in a few weeks . 

I also wanted to take a home equity line of credit from the same bank and filed an online application for that .

Guess what – turns out , my bank doesn’t know anything about me . My line of credit application went into a black hole . Few weeks later , I called them and forced them to work on it . 90% of information they collected from me are things they readily have with them but didn’t seem to have access to ! 

The end of this process was even more weird . They sent me a letter saying I asked for $X and it is denied because my house appraised at a value that is slightly (by few thousand dollars ) lower than what’s needed for the line of credit . So rather than offer me a slightly lower credit line , they just denied it . So much for all the top loyalty tier and time spent on it . I am still shaking my head on that . Absolutely bizarre !

The actual loan application didn’t fare much better . And finally they came back with a loan that cost me more than what internet lenders offered . Plus they needed several more weeks to close than others . 

Cut to the chase – I went with another lender who offered a better rate and faster time to close . My bank just lost my business – they tried really hard to not win it . 

In hindsight , I should not have been surprised at all . A trained monkey looking at my checking account statements would know when my car lease would end . My bank was never once able to use that information to offer me a car loan . This doesn’t need complicated analysis – it’s just stupid . Clearly, you can’t fix stupid . 

My lender wanted to get a HELOC note for a line of credit I had paid off and closed in past. I  went to the bank only to be given a toll free number . After speaking to multiple people , I found a helpful lady who found the note for me . However she only had two options to send it to me – regular mail or fax . Email apparently is still alien technology for them. I had to call my wife to hook up a fax machine and get the document . My neck hurt from all the shaking .

So yesterday I went to the bank to get a cashiers check for the down payment . I used my debit card – which has my photo – to take the money out of my account . The teller then exclaims she cannot verify my signature because I had opened that particular account online without a paper form showing my signature . My debit card PIN and my photo on it , and the signature on my drivers license didn’t count . She had to get her manager , make me sign more paper before they could get me a cashiers check . Easily an hour lost for me , and three employees at the bank . I now have a bald patch on my head thanks to scratching my head since then till now . 

So that was the bank . Let’s move on to the actual paper work after the loan is secured. Barely 20% of the documents can be electronically signed . Rest needs trees killed and ink spread on paper . Emperically – redundant information to be filled by the title company is probably around 50% across all the forms I had to sign . Chances of making errors are everywhere , let alone the sheer time needed to fill all those forms . Even if “digital” can be ignored , why not at least streamline the paper forms ? 

A company like DocuSign can single handedly disrupt this terrible manual process and bring it to 2016 digital standards . They will have the gratitude of home buyers and sellers across the country – and their money !

These are not insurmountable problems even by technology capabilities of a few years ago – which is why I am all the more annoyed with this . I am not calling out the bank by name – but I am going to find the CEO’s email id and send this information . And then I will wait by my fax machine to hear if he can do something about it . 
 

The fascinating world of advanced analytics 


I had a lengthy conversation with an old client yesterday on his plans to start some cool new projects . That is what triggered this blog 

Most of you already know that I am not too big on categorizing this topic into predictive , prescriptive , cognitive and so on . I never cared about the old “is it analytics , is it BI , is it just reporting” debate either . All I care is whether data can be used to solve problems somehow . So when I say advanced analytics – all I mean is using data slightly more sophisticated than to report past performance . 

On the software side – volume is no longer as big a challenge as it once was . Storage ( and RAM and CPU and …) is getting cheaper and compression is getting better . It’s still not trivial ( for example – when a semiconductor chip is produced , one optical scan can produce 10 to 30 TB of data per wafer . Even at current prices , that is expensive to store all of it) . 

The hard parts are still velocity and variety . Everyone can eventually get to the same result – but competitive advantage is only for the first few who can see the result . Even within that set – only a small number can actually act of information quickly . Now if the raw data hits you really fast – there are real challenges . 

Software ( whether it is app or database)  is hardly optimized for read and write at the same time when the incoming data is variable . If you need to put a lot of data into your system at a high speed like say in some IOT scenarios – there are databases that are optimized for it . But those databases need extra fittings to make that data available to be analyzed in real time . There are others that can do sophisticated analysis , but they don’t always allow data to be put into it at the speed it arrives . Essentially a lot of compromises and data duplication are still daily struggles for many of us . Granted it is getting better – but it’s not there yet . 

In many of my customers – even after all the software puzzles are solved , we hit a wall on network bandwidth . Cloud is sexy and all – but every hop takes a toll . 

After we figure out the right way to put all the data into the places we need – then starts the analysis pieces . Between COTS and opensource , there is no shortage of software that can do the job . But the idea of democratized advanced analytics is still a distant dream .

There are many aspects to this problem 

1. There just isn’t enough talent who understand statistics ( err data science I mean)to begin with 

2. Generic data scientists won’t cut it . Sales data  from an automobile company cannot be analyzed the same way as sales data for an aerospace company . Industry knowledge is key . That makes it even harder to get the right people on the job – and hence you need teams that have data scientists and industry experts for foreseeable future . 

3. There is hardly any consistency in legal matters across the world . Now we also need lawyers in such teams to make this work in a way that no one goes to jail😉

4. Legal does not mean ethical always (there is a surprise) . So now we need an ethicist (such people do exist) to help answer some questions on what data and what analysis is ethical . Then you might need an MBA to figure out the solution with all the constraints applied😉

5. Even if you have all these people and all the right software , you still need to convince the customer that it’s a big production and it comes at a price , although for all the right reasons . Then you need to explain why it is not a good idea to get two data scientists from the body shop to create a model 

6. Even if the customer sees the value , and spends the money – after the team shows the model , it could look really simple and customer will again ask “why didn’t I just hire two junior data scientists to get it done ?” . (The sausage making ( fitting the models) is not fun – it usually is darn tiring grunt work- to watch unless you are a data scientist yourself )

7. Neither Models nor data stay static . Unforeseen things can come up and there might not be a way to predict meaningfully using past data and analysis . For example – lookup why Nate Silver could not predict Donald Trump becoming GOP nominee 

8. Every prediction comes with caveats – some trivial and some complex . Trivial ones can usually be ignored and an automatic action triggered ( like for example ABS kicking in a car when some conditions are met) . The complex ones need significant explanation – and that is not easy unless the recipient of the information understands some basic statistics . There are software vendors who claim their wares can make predictive analytics available to lay users . What they don’t do is explain what caveats apply when those users see results of their analysis . 

9. Like with everything else, things go wrong all the time in analysis too . Complex analysis is really difficult to debug today 

10. Even if all these challenges are over come , and you tell the customer there is a 90% chance of door 1 being the one to open to find the pot of gold , it could still be that door 2 was the right answer that time . So now you have to explain why that happens 

I can go on , but I am sure you get the rough idea already . If not – buy me a beer and I will give you some examples of real life situations I have dealt with:)

Sapphire now 2016 – an event report 


To begin with , I am so tired now ! I thought I had an easy schedule but between lack of sleep and walking around OCCC , I am exhausted . I skipped the concert , ordered in some food and thought I will post this blog before sleeping

It was great to meet friends from all over the world . It’s absolutely an annual pilgrimage for many of us . Steve Wozniak on the ASUG keynote stage was a great bonus – what a great guy !


First off – SAP needs to be congratulated on tremendous customer focus this year . Having an iconic customer like Nestlé on keynote stage with a strong endorsement – that was huge!

I did have a chance to talk to several SAP customers this year accross the event , the various parties and at the Hilton bar . Now I clearly know why SAP leaders hit on the “empathy” theme on their keynotes – customers are looking for more action (perhaps less talk too) from SAP on implementation management , integration etc . Surprisingly no one said anything about SAP support . Maybe 3rd party support is not as big a deal now as I expected it to be .

The “surprise” for me honestly was that SAP leaders themselves seemed to be surprised by what they heard from the CIOs they spoke to. This frustration has been there for a while amongst customer ecosystem .

Integration is a complex topic for SAP for many reasons like

1. SAP has a bloated portfolio . How many ERP versions are there today ? Three S4 things , A1, B1, BByD , Anywhere … And some probably overlapping with each other . Sure it can be argued that the customer base can be segmented in a way that makes a case for each ERP product . But that is mostly an excuse in my mind . If they don’t rationalize portfolio – real integration will remain a dream

2. SAP has a complex organization , which is matrixed . It’s not always easy to find one owner for any integration . Someone at executive board level will need to be a task master to pull this off and this will take some time to get it done

3. There are way too many acquired products – which don’t have similar technology or metadata to core SAP products . It won’t be trivial to build meaningful and seamless integrations

Nevertheless , I think SAP absolutely needs to be congratulated for taking on this challenge heads on . I wish Bernd and others the best

Just as integration is a challenge , so is tackling customization . SAP has had many different ways to customize and enhance its products over time . If the engineering team can find a way to extract those into an abstract layer in an automated way – SAP can move its entire ERP customer base to cloud in one shot without any of them losing their supposedly unique differentiators . It will be a moonshot R&D project for SAP and I am not sure if that is something they will take on now or in future

I spent some time with Nayaki Nayyar on IOT . It’s probably the first time I heard a clear articulation of what SAP wants to do in this space . Good start and I will be keeping an eye on it to see what unfolds

Carsten Thoma , the president of SAP Hybris , was impressive in his vision and his pragmatic approach . Integrating legacy CRM , SD etc with SAP Hybris is not trivial. New channels keep cropping up and this team has a lot on its hands . For those of you who understand pricing engines – think of the effort to rationalize three or four disparate approaches ! What impressed me the most was the idea of a customer profile that SAP Hybris can generate on the fly across channels . Carsten confirmed they use SAP HANA and MongoDB for it in back end.

Alex and Dinesh hit it out of the park with what they showed me about Ariba . Brilliant UX and probably the product that convinced me that SAP can deliver on simplicity . The guided buying scenario , triggered by a free form search – I loved it . Dinesh showed us how the APIs are exposed – and I hope they open it up to every developer in the world , and not just the registered SAP partners . My other wish list was that suppliers be allowed to push campaigns and promotions to their catalogs .

Talking about UX – I did not get as big a kick as I expected out of the digital boardroom solution . Granted it looks very pretty – but seemed like more of visualization and less about insights and action . Also , if you are showing cross enterprise data – should it not have search as primary interaction medium ? Also – it seemed like there were a lot of “clicks” on the touch screen when I saw the demo – instead of “touch” . I really think SAP should rethink the design from ground up

I absolutely loved the web tool to help plan S4 migrations that was presented during Hasso’s keynote . Excellent investment by SAP !

Talking about overlapping products – BI portfolio is a classic example of SAP historically resisting rationalization . This year , Steve Lucas announced they are going to categorize everything into two bundles . One for cloud self service and other for enterprise . That is a good logical move .

And they are bringing back “BusinessObjects” brand in a big way! I thought it was a bit odd to double down on BOBJ brand to fight the likes of tableau – but we will see how that plays out in the market . Irrespective of branding , I hope these two buckets are a good start in streamlining the portfolio . Success can be declared when in future we don’t see sold out sessions on “how to pick the best SAP BI tool” at events like sapphire:)

I miserably failed in my quest to visit every single booth on the show floor this year . I visited 12 on Tuesday , 8 on Wednesday and 2 on Thursday . I was not exactly thrilled with what I saw in the 20 that I did manage to visit . Way too many power points , and the few demos that were there – it was mostly about dashboards . Clearly SAP’s design thinking philosophy hasn’t yet caught up with several partners .

Many thanks to SAP for having me – it was great to be back here after a gap of few years !

Going to SAP Sapphire Now as an outsider for the first time 


I am sure someone will correct me immediately that it’s the big ASUG show too😉

For a few years now , I have been away from the SAP field in general . That is weird in itself , given SAP dominated every part of my job from the time I left business school till I left SAP Labs . I have kept in touch with several friends from SAP land ( and Bill McDermott did assure me few weeks ago that I will always be family to SAP – thanks Bill) , but I have lost track of SAP products and technologies . Although sapphire is a mega sales event , for me – this trip is mostly for education . Well,that and some networking at the Hilton bar 

There are three things I remember most fondly about the time at SAP Labs . 

1. Putting a free trial of BW and BO on HANA on AWS . https://blogs.saphana.com/2013/09/24/announcing-sap-bw-on-hana-trial-offering-on-sap-hana-marketplace/

2. On my last day in office , Debugging “simple finance” along with Hasso and realizing we are probably the only available people at that point in building 1 who knew how to work with SAP FI ;) 

3. Inviting IBM to let Watson and HANA play together https://blogs.saphana.com/2014/01/09/hello-ibm-how-about-we-let-watson-and-sap-hana-play-together/

I am sure there were many more good things , just that I can’t see to remember at the moment. There were a bunch of severe disappointments too , but I will write those off as valuable learnings 

While engineers and researchers at sap and ibm both thought bringing together these two technologies together will be awesome , for the most part nothing much happened in terms of actual integration . I left SAP and went to MongoDB , and later returned to IBM. By that time Watson had become a real business and my team was involved in selling and delivering it . 

In my second term at IBM, the focus has been away from enterprise applications and more on big data , cognitive , IOT etc . Other than occasional conversations with my friends leading our SAP practice , I had no idea of how HANA and S4Hana and HCP and all have progressed . And then lo and behold – there I see the announcement that SAP and IBM are partnering Hana and Watson . https://www.ibm.com/blogs/insights-on-business/sap-consulting/launch-of-digital-transformation-cognitive-solutions/

As excited as I am about my wish finally coming true , the most gratifying thing for me was that this was spearheaded on the technical side by my buddy ( some might say protege) Gagan Reen. Gagan was the first to jump in when I had the crazy idea to POC HANA for a Teched 5 years ago https://andvijaysays.com/2011/08/08/sap-hana-we-did-it-in-4-days-and-lived-to-tell-the-tale/ . He is still just as passionate about SAP technologies as he was when I first met him. 

Seeing him and others that I mentor grow into well respected leaders beats every other career accomplishment I might have had . Now it is even more gratifying to see these leaders paying it forward and groom another set of leaders . 

Special thanks to Mike Prosceno and Stacey Fish (absolutely the best in the business ) for getting me to sapphire again this year. I can’t wait to catch up . It’s been a while since I caught up with SAP mentors , bloggers and analysts. All I can hope is that the Hilton bar has enough beer stocked😉

And for the first time ever , I plan to visit every vendor booth at sapphire . 

Here are the things I want to learn this time on priority 

1. Details of the new Apple partnership beyond the PR message that came out

2. What is new with HCP ? 

3. Details of cognitive solutions on S4Hana beyond what I know today 

This is going to be a blast !