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SAP acquires machine learning tech company SwoopTalent – ZDNet

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SAP said the deal was focused on incorporating the company’s data and machine learning intellectual property into their human experience management systems.
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SAP announced on Monday that it is acquiring machine learning tech company SwoopTalent in a deal centered around the company’s intellectual property. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. 
SAP SuccessFactors chief product officer Meg Bear said delivering individualization at scale requires a powerful data platform that extends across multiple systems. SwoopTalent’s AI platform was built to manage data from different HR systems and workflows, combining and analyzing information that helps business leaders make more informed personnel decisions. 
“By making workforce data more reliable and accessible, we can help our customers gain powerful insights about their people to effectively upskill, reskill and redeploy talent and future-proof their business,” Bear said. “The founders of SwoopTalent are industry thought leaders with proven expertise using data, machine learning and analytics to elevate HR and make organizations more competitive. We are thrilled to have them join SAP to further our HXM strategy.”
In a statement, SAP said it wanted to embed SwoopTalent’s tools across SAP’s SuccessFactors solutions to beef up their human experience management systems (HXM). SwoopTalent’s work is focused on data intelligence and machine learning, which SAP said would help support efforts to provide “individualized employee experiences” and “improve organizational agility.”
In addition to obtaining the intellectual property of SwoopTalent, SAP said employees of the company would also join the SuccessFactors team. 
SwoopTalent CEO Stacy Chapman said it was a “pivotal moment” because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an upheaval in how work is viewed and handled by companies. 
“With HXM, SAP has the right vision and strategy to deliver technology that enables individuals to upskill and create a career that aligns to their interests and skills,” Chapman added. “SAP and SwoopTalent are a great cultural fit and share the same values. We are excited to continue advancing HXM together.”
SAP’s Amy Wilson wrote another blog post explaining the particulars of the partnership, noting that SwoopTalent co-founders Chapman and Satish Sallakonda will be joining SAP alongside the engineering team. 
Wilson said the two “bring decades of experience building solutions and leveraging the power of data and ML for learning, talent, recruiting and workforce analytics and planning.”
SAP started its work on HXM about two years ago and invested heavily in improving the SuccessFactors HXM Suite with new features. As offices begin to reopen while embracing the changes incorporated during the pandemic, many companies are rethinking how they’re organized. 
“With SwoopTalent’s talent and machine learning algorithms, we will strengthen our adaptable, dynamic talent profile to gather information from different sources — keeping in mind local regulations and the employee’s consent and preferences about the information they’d like to share — to continuously shape and refine a digital picture of an employee’s whole self: who they are today and who they are becoming,” Wilson said. 
“This talent profile powers a new solution planned to be released this year, that will serve up data-driven opportunities like recommendations for learning content, roles, assignments, dynamic teams, mentors, and more; all of which will fuel an employee’s ongoing development and growth.”
SAP wants to recreate the software used by recruiters to tie job advertisements to specific talent markets, Wilson explained, adding that as an employee progresses over months and years, “surfaced opportunities will become more individualized.”
“A data-rich opportunity marketplace will empower people to grow their careers and give organizations the agility required to transform their business. Truly intelligent enterprises are powered by people, enabled by technology, and backed by a strong data foundation,” Wilson said. 
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Google's SAP on GCP investments may pay off – TechTarget

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Google doesn’t want its cloud platform to be considered the third-best public cloud hyperscaler for SAP S/4HANA workloads.
The multinational tech company in Mountain View, Calif., is making a clear push to market its Google Cloud Platform (GCP), a suite of cloud computing services, as the preferred destination for SAP systems. One of Google’s most significant moves is its considerable investment in data centers that are dedicated to running SAP ERP systems and other SAP applications on GCP, said Snehanshu Shah, managing director of SAP partnerships at Google.
The data centers are located in Frankfurt, Germany, not far from SAP headquarters in Walldorf, and provide three specific functions for SAP on GCP, according to Shah. They are as follows:
“These data centers are all built by Google, they’re all exactly the same, the entire stack is completely vertically integrated,” Shah said. “There’s an enormous amount of security that goes into this and we want to protect customer data, so everything is encrypted in flight. The SAP workloads are in our data centers because we built our own virtual machines to control all of this infrastructure.”
SAP customers want two basic but essential characteristics in their public cloud environment, Shah explained: They need to make sure that their mission-critical systems don’t go down, and they need their systems to be highly scalable.
One thing that has changed dramatically in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the willingness of companies to put mission-critical systems in the public cloud, Shah said.
“For SAP customers, there’s a massive move to public cloud between all the hyperscalers, so you’re no longer the first, you’re the thousandth,” he said.
He believes interest is skyrocketing for a few reasons including resiliency and security.
“Cost and business continuity is one thing that we’re seeing with COVID, the other is security,” he said. “The amount of security resources that any public cloud has dwarfs anything that even a large Fortune 100 company can have, and that’s critical for a lot of SAP customers because at the end of the day its financial data and you do not want anybody tapping into that.”
Rodan + Fields, a skin care company in San Francisco, is one SAP customer that has taken advantage of GCP’s single instance public cloud capabilities.
Rodan + Fields sells its products directly to consumers via its website and through a network of 300,000 consultants. The company has an SAP-based environment that includes SAP ECC and SAP Hybris, according to Steve Dee, Global CIO and CTO at Rodan + Fields. The company initially hosted its SAP systems on a private cloud network but decided to move to GCP two years ago when the private cloud couldn’t handle increasing business demands.
The business has huge spikes at certain times of the year, such as at the end of each month when consultants tend to increase their sales activities, and Dee said they needed to have a public cloud environment that provided stability, security and scalability.
“We rarely go on sale, and when we do, it generates a huge amount of demand,” Dee said. “For example, on Memorial Day we did 10 to 15 times the amount that we’d do on a normal day. So, the ability for us to scale in those spikes is one of the top reasons for being on Google Cloud.”
Rodan + Fields is running its e-commerce sites on SAP Hybris and is using SAP ECC for its back-end business systems but is planning an S/4HANA migration in 2021, Dee said. It will also make the ERP migration easier, as it takes away the need to think about all the infrastructure and application management issues, he said.
“That’s one benefit of the cloud; it takes managing infrastructure from the buy, build out, wire, all your heating, cooling needs — you don’t have to worry about managing a data center, you just have to worry about the functionality,” he said. “As we think about next-generation technologies like S/4HANA, the faster you can get there the better, and it gives you options around machine learning and more automation.”
SAP on GCP may get a leg up on the other cloud hyperscalers because several ex-SAP executives work at Google, said Jon Reed, analyst and co-founder of Diginomica Ltd., an enterprise computing news and analysis site. That roster includes Shah, who spent 11 years at SAP, as well as Rob Enslin, president of Google Cloud sales, who was formerly the president of SAP cloud business group.
“Google Cloud is something of a dark horse [as a public cloud hyperscaler] because of all the SAP cross-pollination within Google Cloud,” Reed said. “There are pros and cons to each different cloud environment, and that’s part of what customers will look at going forward, so Google having so many SAP engineers under the hood, in theory, would provide them with some valuable capabilities.”
Google’s ex-SAP contingent can be a critical difference as SAP wants its customers to see the public cloud as a place to get the most out of S/4HANA’s modern ERP capabilities, he said.
“One thing that SAP has been hammering away about lately is this idea that the hyperscalers can provide the same level of experience and access to innovation, rather than just throwing up your ERP system into the cloud and just letting it sit there,” Reed said.
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Cyclone Computer wins $73.3M of deals as education ministry project costs grow – Reseller News

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Project costs are rising on major ICT initiatives at the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education, in Wellington.
Cyclone Computer led the contracts list at the Ministry of Education in 2021, sealing a renewed $49.8 million device and services deal.
In addition, the reseller scored a $23.5 million finance deal through subsidiary Cyclone Finance.
The device and services deal on its own eclipsed contracts awarded to large construction companies building schools and other facilities nationwide. Extending the decades-long relationship will see Cyclone to continue to supply customised devices to the education sector and a host of associated services.
Cyclone is known to resell HP, Lenovo, Google and Microsoft devices and software among others as well as Aruba wi-fi systems.
The ministry told Reseller News the company was the service provider of the TELA (digital devices for principals and teachers) scheme and also provided end-to-end services including supplier and stock management, service desk, warranty, indemnity repairs and financing. 
During the last twelve months Cyclone has changed the financing arrangement for the TELA scheme from TRL Leasing to Cyclone Finance reducing costs, the ministry said. 
Cyclone also provided a large number of education-ready devices under the all of government IT hardware agreement to support learning from home as part of the ministry’s COVID-19 response.
Also at the ministry, the bills for a couple of large ICT projects have grown significantly.
One project, called the education resourcing system (ERS), began life with a budget of $17.4 million but has now cost or is estimated to cost $63.9 million. 
The ERS will manage approximately $8.4 billion of funding for schools and early learning services each year, replacing a complex thirty-year-old system and around 50 associated systems and data sources.
The ministry said the original estimates for the cost of delivery in 2015 underestimated the scale and complexity of changes to associated systems.
“After establishing the core platform and taking into account policy changes since that estimate was prepared, the remainder of the work was re-estimated,” Scott Evans, Hautū (leader) infrastructure and digital said.
“Subsequently, additional funding was sought. The programme has now been allocated funding sufficient to complete the delivery of a fit-for-purpose solution.
“This programme has not overrun and is forecast to remain within budget.”
The ERS was being implemented through multiple releases aligned to ministry funding cycles and enabling new government policy initiatives.
“Initial elements have been operating successfully since October 2018, with the new system enabling rapid COVID-19 related funding to the sector in 2020 and 2021,” Evans said.
Adoption of the system is above 96 per cent for playgroups while the initial functionality for schools has an adoption rate of more than 99 per cent.
The ERS programme was on schedule for the next three major releases from June 2022 to support the 2023 school year, Evans said. The next release date, for early learning services, is October 2023.

The ministry itself is the systems integrator on the ERS project, which is is primarily based on Microsoft .NET and Azure as well as Oracle Intelligent Adviser. The work is being performed by a mix of permanent and contracted staff, plus a small selection of specialist vendors.
The ministry is also replacing its legacy payroll system, which was introduced in the early 1990s. Expected to go live in the third quarter of 2022, this was budgeted at $5.8 million but will now cost, or is estimated to cost, $7.4 million.
“The expected cost is higher than originally budgeted due to an increase in scope and slightly longer duration to ensure appropriate change readiness and an increase in post go live support,” Evans said.
The replacement payroll system is a module of the SAP Success Factors suite of people products used by the ministry. SAP is the primary vendor and is also providing implementation services supplemented with external contractors.
Another programme will implement Te Rito, a web-based national information repository which connects ākonga and learner information across kura, schools, ngā kohanga reo and early learning services. According to a Parliamentary disclosure, Te Rito was budgeted at $4.5 million but would now cost or was estimated to cost $18.5 million.
However, Evans told Reseller News the project was not over budget and the information filed to Parliament was being updated.
“We have been working closely with kura, schools and early learning services across Aotearoa to prepare them to connect to Te Rito,” he said. “Some have started getting ready, and some are now connected and using Te Rito.”
Te Rito is an online, cloud-based system supplied by Canada-based CoreFour and uses a platform from Massachusetts based education application specialist Edsby.
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SuccessFactors Employee Central extensibility allows 'customization' – TechTarget

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SuccessFactors Employee Central extensibility allows ‘customization’  TechTarget
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