Busy? Maybe. Boring? Never. This is how we roll at COGENT!!

By Sabita Reddy

Consultants

Whether it is to waking up to a melodious alarm go off on your nightstand or to the polite greetings of the front desk staff of the hotel you are at..

May be the day just kickstarts with a meeting at the client’s or maybe you are just waiting to get off that red eye…

Not a day in the life of our SAP consultants goes by without having to juggle between different time zones, prioritize tasks for the day from their to-do lists, get frenzied about rewriting that report while making sure the kids get dropped off to their schools on time, make every effort to understand a possibly dysfunctional environment while seated at the new client’s office meeting, or review a report for the fourth time as the deliverables of the project are due in a few hours.

Such busy schedules and short timescales may seem to create the notion that this work is meant for those very few – who like to live the nomadic life. However, there are the others who have consciously chosen this arena and who also fall under the ‘consultant’ category, just because they have the opportunity to work in their pajamas sitting on that favorite recliner, or as they tuck their kid for a nap.

Being a consultant can be hard, but the flexible timing and working hours in this line of business means that the consultants are responsible for the time at work and also for the time they enjoy. If working hard, being busy, and wanting to have a ton of variety in your professional life, is a pursuit…then this job is certainly for you.

At Cogent, our SAP experts admit to enjoying every single day at their job. As they work on game-changing projects for various leading companies, they say they gain an in-depth knowledge of a different industry with every new project, and are challenged to do things differently every single time, to meet each client’s expectations. They love being dragged and made to jump out of their current routine tasks and lay hands on other on-going projects with their team-mates. Most exciting of all is that they feel lucky to socialize with people from different countries, cultures and disciplines. In the midst of all this chaos, they actually find time for some pleasure too. They enjoy the breathtaking views of the Mt. Rainier in the Northwest, and the blue skies and white sandy shores in Miami. They waste no time pretending to be Irish at the St. Paddy’s day parade in Chicago, or to just sit back and relish the flavors of the southern-style deep-pit barbecue while in Texas. At the end of their projects, our consultants are just eagerly looking forward to their next adventure that Cogent has for them.

Our troopers add that their ‘not-so-glamorous-work’ (realistically speaking), has turned out to be a fun and a challenging one instead. Being able to lean onto some great mentors at any given time of the day (who are ready to answer their call regardless of which time zone they are in), and being able to get the best staff support and incentive system at Cogent, they claim to take away a very unique experience that has continuously enriched and enhanced their professional and personal pursuits like no other company.

In simple yet true sense, Cogenters are busy exploring the best of all worlds, and Cogent promises to keep it that way for them!

We are just not a staffing company, but a family filled with knowledge, fun, security and stability.

Come, Grow with us!

My session at HR 2016

-Ganpy

SAP HR 2016 was a return to my home territory as a speaker. The last time I spoke  at an SAP Insider conference (HR conference) was in 2010. So, it has been a while. A lot has changed in the SAP HCM landscape since then. And I have in some ways, moved onto doing more exciting things – not entirely away from SAP HCM, but onto more generic HCM technologies & Mobility in particular. This year, I decided to test how much of a thirst is there among the audience, especially the ones attending SAP HR conferences, for my current pet topic, “Employee Engagement” and decided to submit an abstract during the fall of 2015. I was very clear that this topic is not SAP specific.

The SAP Insider HR conference producers apparently thought there was enough interest in my topic and in my abstract & selected my topic and invited me to speak. I have to thank them for their confidence in me. Creating the right content for this session was not very difficult, but I had fun doing it. And also, it helped me organize what I wanted to convey to my audience in a very organic and an organized way. I delivered my session today (02/26) as scheduled and I was satisfied with the overall flow, reach and audience participation.

Thorsten Gorny and Steve Ditty, my lovely colleagues from Cogent IBS accompanied me to Las Vegas this year. We had a great time bonding & talking about HR, Coobo, Cabaana and Cogent in general.

Here are a few pictures from the last 4 days.

If you are interested in downloading/reading my presentation, here you go…
Enjoy!

 

 

 

Happiness

Can you measure happiness? More importantly, assuming you can measure happiness, can you control happiness through measurable parameters? And even more importantly, assuming you can control happiness through measurable parameters, how much control do you have over those parameters versus the control your environment has? 
A very interesting computational model tries to explore this above question. 
And we at Cogent, have been doing our own research on Happiness in a totally different context (Employee Happiness). Needless to say, this is exactly why this study caught our eyes.

The subjective well-being or happiness of individuals is an important metric for societies. Although happiness is influenced by life circumstances and population demographics such as wealth, we know little about how the cumulative influence of daily life events are aggregated into subjective feelings. Using computational modeling, we show that emotional reactivity in the form of momentary happiness in response to outcomes of a probabilistic reward task is explained not by current task earnings, but by the combined influence of recent reward expectations and prediction errors arising from those expectations. The robustness of this account was evident in a large-scale replication involving 18,420 participants. Using functional MRI, we show that the very same influences account for task-dependent striatal activity in a manner akin to the influences underpinning changes in happiness.

Read more to see how the formula for happiness could be this.
Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.39.17 PM

Source: PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)

Workforce Solutions Review

Sharing a recent publication from Ingentis.
Author: Christine König, Ingentis

HR Technologies for the Multi-Generational Workforce

HR technologies of today and tomorrow must be flexible and responsive to the largest demographic groups, Generation Y (millenials) and Generation Z. Gen Y, aged from early 20s to early 30s, grew up with many new technologies and they can be characterized by their need for flexible working arrangements. An intensification of these characteristics is represented in their successors, Gen Z. Born in the mid-1990s and later, most of Gen Z will be entering the workplace within the next few years and have an even closer bond to technologies and social networking than Gen Y. They have high expectations from all technology since they have grown up with mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets.

You can download the publication here.

 

HR 2015

The Roadmap – Or is it a mirage?

By Ganpy

When I walked out of the SAP Insider HR 2014 conference last year, my experience was two headed – one as an exhibitor and the other as an SAP HR practitioner. As an exhibitor, it was probably the worst conference we had done (won’t use this blogpost to discuss the reasons but there were perhaps many). And as an HR practitioner, the conference was a bit deflating in some ways. The mixed message that was being sent left everyone a bit confused (putting it mildly). SAP reconfirmed that SuccessFactors was here to stay but they just couldn’t guide its customers in the most practical way to get them buy that message and also make sense of what that means for them.

Fast Forward One Year.

The SAP HR leadership came out all guns blazing this year (or so it seemed like) with the message that they have figured out a roadmap. And there indeed is one. And only one. Well sort of…And all customers should get on board with it and the final destination will be CLOUD. To me that was the best thing to have come out of the conference. A unified message. Unlike the previous year’s. I say that with a super script note that there was also this other message that floated around during the conference that the on-premise support is going to be available till 2025.

Yes. For another 10 years. Which has already been assured by SAP.

Even though this message sort of dilutes the potency of the former message in many regards, this is also reassuring to many large customers who haven’t looked at SuccessFactors as a potential HR system yet but have much rather treated SuccessFactors for what it originally was – a Talent Management system. So knowing that SAP is already promising them another 10 years of on-premise support, they are under no pressure to evaluate a cloud system, even though the supposed roadmap provided by SAP leads them to cloud at some point in future.

Ha. I see what you are thinking. A Roadmap shrouded in a cloud of ambiguity. 

No pun intended.

Personally I was also keen to learn a thing or two about Employee Central Payroll which finally has taken some shape compared to where they were in 2014. I attended a session on Employee Central Payroll hosted by Graham Wong, CEO of HRFP, a leading HR focused SAP consulting firm. HRFP has had the unique opportunity to be one of the early adopters of ECP and they have implemented the solution internally.

Nothing better than a bunch of veteran, platinum SAP HR consultants getting their hands dirty and sharing their experiences. Right? The session was one of the very few unbiased and no-sales-pitchy sessions.

My biggest takeaway on this topic (and from this session) was that it is going to take more than a working product to convince customers to develop a business case to justify a switch from an on-premise SAP Payroll to ECP.

I personally don’t see this is as an easy task at all. It also is why SAP may be taking an extremely cautious approach in figuring out how to package their message for this solution in contrast to how they did for Employee Central. I don’t see SAP placing their bets fully on ECP as yet. If ECP is eventually successful, it will likely be with brand new clients, who buy Employee Central because they want a cloud HR cloud solution and they are the ones who would rather outsource their payroll to a cloud based provider. ECP fits right in as the perfect solution for such customers. But then we are talking about a totally different market. Non-SAP for all practical purposes.

The core of ECP is SAP’s payroll engine and hence should be reassuring to all those who want to question the robustness of ECP. But because it is a disjoint payroll system (not unified like SAP HR/Payroll) – there still are many loose ends to be tied, especially when it comes to Benefits and Time integration. May be they never will get tied, if SAP decides to target ECP to the above category of customers who are better fit for this product.

Booth

Booth

Exhibition Hall

Hotel Bellagio - Venue

Hotel Bellagio – Venue

Cogent IBS didn’t have a booth this year, but we extended our support to Ingentis, who had a booth on the exhibition floor. Our overall experience as an exhibitor was much better than last year’s. To quote an Ingentis colleague, “100 times better”. The expo hall seemed to have shrunk in size (and in the number of exhibitors) and this may have helped us a bit. We were one of the very few (two or three) product companies on the floor. The real test on our ROI for the conference will be when we qualify the leads we got out of the conference.

As I sit on the plane typing this post and reminisce over the past few days at HR 2015, I have mixed thoughts..

As much as networking with past customers, colleagues, partners and friends was refreshing, energizing and rewarding, as it always is, I continue to wonder if SAP has managed to convince its customers what their HR solution roadmap should be?

Or is it a mirage?

Highlights of HR2014 – Nice, France

By Ganpy

Let’s get the obligatory joke out of the way first. Shall we?

“Was the Nice conference nice?”

“Yes. It was..”

Michael (Ingentis) and Ganpy

Michael (Ingentis) and Ganpy

Exhibition Hall

Thorsten giving a Demo

Now that we have the joke out of the way, I will quickly summarize our experiences from the conference.

The +

  • Venue – Couldn’t have picked a better venue in Europe for that particular week. With so much going around Nice in that week and with all the great weather, it seemed just right to have a conference in Nice.

The  –

  • Venue – Yes, This was in France. But there clearly were no French customers at the conference. Or, if they were there, we didn’t spot them. In the hours of idle time we had at the booth on Day 2 and Day 3, we exchanged notes with our booth neighbors who are a French company and they confirmed the same. And the reason? Apparently, the speculated reason was that the Insider conferences are priced very high for an average French customer.

The +

  • Our Booth Location – Yes, it was perfect on Day 1. We had good traffic on Day 1 and we were placed right on course through the main entrance to the Exhibition hall and a beverage/refreshment table was placed right in front of our booth.

The –

  • Our Booth Location – The exact same location. But on Day 2 and Day 3 that was a bane to us (perhaps because they moved the refreshment table somewhere else). We had a low turnout on Day 2 and a lower turnout on Day 3.

The +

  • 5 conferences at the same time – HR, BI, FI, GRC and HANA – all attendees came together for those 3 days in Nice. This made us meet all kinds of customers and we did learn a thing or two about the daily operations challenges in SAP in areas outside of SAP.

The –

  • 5 conferences at the same time – HR, BI, FI, GRC and HANA – all the attendees came together for those 3 days in Nice. This meant we couldn’t really tell who was HR, as our primary focus was HR customers and hence sometimes, what appeared like a decent conversation at the booth eventually would end in a meaningless conclusion.

The ,

  • The European versions of these conferences are still maturing. May take another 3-4 years before they get into a rhythm, if they do that it.
  • They have to keep changing the venue but perhaps, should settle down to one or two options eventually, as from what we have seen, the venue doesn’t necessarily seem to encourage more local customers to show up for the conference.
  • Our partnership with Ingentis keeps getting stronger at a personal level when we get to spend more time at these conferences, because we get an opportunity to understand each others’ businesses in detail, through personal insights.

The ?

  • Many questions to ponder before we plan our next year’s SAP Insider conferences. Cogent IBS, needs to consolidate a product portfolio, with a clear message for these Insider conferences (especially the European versions), so that our pre-conference and post-conference marketing campaigns could be a little more impactful. Our message for 2014 was “HR Anywhere” and that seemed to resonate well in the US conference, but probably not that much in Europe.
  • More analysis on how to generate a better traction at the booth needs to be done (again for the European version). We did well overall, in terms of quality of leads but we are not yet sure, if we missed any opportunity to meet more customers than we did.

The .

  • In summary, this was really a great conference and we will continue to take part in this, either till we see we are not generating any quality leads or till we see the conferences stop growing at some point. For now, both of the above are not true.
  • Our Thanks to Ingentis for being part of this conference and for sharing the booth space.

 

A Recap of HR 2014

-By Ganpy

As with every year, the first conference in the calendar is always exciting for us. And that too as an exhibitor.  The HR 2014 conference in Orlando held was the first scheduled conference for us. And needless to add, we were planning for this with so much fervor and eagerness, during the past couple of months leading up to the conference. Ingentis GmbH, our partners, were also with us at the conference and we had a great time in Orlando for a week. The below is a quick recap of my experiences from the conference both as an SAP HCM practitioner and as an Exhibitor.

As an SAP HCM practitioner

SAP, after the acquisition of SuccessFactors has definitely been very aggressive in pushing cloud HR solutions in the last year or so. But since the penetration of on-premise SAP HCM has been pretty deep already, it has been and will continue to be a challenge for SAP to get every customer onboard with cloud. They have been reasonably successful till now, in getting all their customers’ ears, but what is also true is that many of the customers are probably doing this, merely because they don’t know how else to react.  Having said that, I believe that SAP on-premise solutions will continue to dominate in the near future, while more and more customers, for the fear of being left out and also due to peer pressure in the industry, will simply purchase SuccessFactors Employee Central and start playing around with the landscape it offers. I for one, expect more discussions in the marketplace and perhaps some confusion as to what is the right strategy for every customer. This also means, some consultants will be busier than the rest, while the general overall HCM consulting landscape will continue to dwindle. In this context, for me, as an SAP HCM practitioner, this conference was particularly interesting to see what kind of mindset customers were in and how the conference & the many educational sessions were going to help them answer some of their questions. I did talk to many customers and I also had some knowledge exchange discussions with fellow HCM practitioners in the market. I met with some companies with interesting new solutions to augment HR systems, much like what Cogent IBS and Ingentis are doing.

Here are my takeaways:

  • There is lot of angst amongst customers
  • The options available for a regular SAP HCM customer are too many that it is not very clear what the best option is for someone at a given point of time
SAP HCM Options

SAP HCM Options

  • There is more acceptance of cloud for HR than a couple of years ago
  • Majority of the customers have either already bought SuccessFactors or are going to in the near future. But how far they will use EC and ECP is an unknown
  • From a consulting standpoint, many established consultants are very optimistic with these changes while some are not, but the universal consensus is that SAP HR consulting will never be the same and the net monetary effect on the consulting industry will actually be negative
  • SuccessFactors has come a long way from being a standalone Talent Management solution to being the center of the HR universe
  • In about 24 months, we will know if SAP’s SuccessFactors bet actually worked or not

As an Exhibitor

Alright. Now, to the more interesting aspect for me in this blog post, that is to share our experiences as an Exhibitor. If you were part of the mailing list, you would have received some of our pre-conference campaigns and you would have noticed that our concept for HR 2014 was “HR Anywhere”. Our main objective was to showcase  our mPower HCM suite of apps – mPower mD, mPower mE, mPower mM, DynaMeet and Ingentis org.manager & distribution.list. In addition, we were also trying to highlight our Mobility consulting and HCM consulting services.

Set Up

Booth Set Up – 1

Booth Set up - Done

Booth Set up – Done

On Monday, the Cogent-Ingentis team (Ganpy, Sean, XP and Markos) finished setting up the booth. And on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of the conference (March 11, 12 and 13 2014), we were there bright and early at the venue, to get things started.

At the Booth - Day 1

At the Booth – Day 1

The below are some pictures from our booth.

At the Booth - Day 1

At the Booth – Day 2

Day 3

Day 3

Day 1 was certainly the busiest, as we met several customers and other conference attendees stop by. As the conference continued to gain some momentum, we were able to get the attention we wanted to and bring some traffic to the booth.

Overall, here are some takeaways from the conference as an exhibitor:

  • The general interest for highly easy to use HR Mobile solutions is high
  • In spite of several HR apps being available in the mobile marketplace, there is no single app that gives user experience the importance it deserves
  • Our mE (ESS) and mM (MSS) apps certainly got the most attention
  • There were at least 5 or 6 potential customers who showed particular interest in these mE apps and we hope to follow up with them in the coming weeks
  • There were some interesting leads for Ingentis as well (for org.manager)
  • mPower mD as an augmented solution for Ingentis org.manager probably was not messaged well during this conference but we hope to do a better job of that in the next conference
  • The idea of selling a standalone Mobile Directory was a bit of a challenge in an SAP conference. But interestingly there were customers who wanted to hear a bit more about Employee Engagement, when we brought that up. As our mD solution continues to evolve, I am sure this is something we will keep in mind

After we dismantled our booth and packed our booth materials on Day 3, we couldn’t help but agree that the conference went by too fast. We had ups and downs throughout the conference and the kind of team we had made it all worth. There were probably a few things that the conference organizers could have done differently to accommodate more exhibitor friendly schedules, but there is never a perfect schedule in such conferences.

So, Thanks to the wonderful team from Wispubs/SAP Insider for putting together a great conference.

We should also acknowledge and thank our partners from Ingentis, especially Markos, for all the help & support they provided for the conference.

Now that we are back at our home bases, we hope to carry forward the momentum we gathered at HR 2014, Orlando.

The next stop will be Nice, France. See you soon! Oui. Oui.