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Akili PHD: The Athlete

 

By Ben Wilmoth | Senior Business Planning Consultant

In 4th grade, I started playing football and learned early on what it’s like to be a part of a team.

As a kid, I liked to joke around a lot, so my parents were looking to get me into whatever activity that would keep me from getting into trouble. My mom tells me stories of when I would stack pillows in the living room and pretend the stack was a running back. And in an attempt to stop the stuffed running back from scoring imaginary touchdowns, I would continuously tackle it as if I were starting for the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve always wanted to play and it just came natural.

Add a couple of years and more than a couple of pounds, and I found my fit as an offensive lineman. And as I grew, so did my desire to compete. To be a successful competitor, it meant I had to learn how to be disciplined, fundamentally sound and coachable. Through the variety of ups and downs playing football competitively provides, I had acquired all of these skills and more. Most importantly, I learned how to be a contributing member of a successful and productive team, which would help establish a foundation that would support me in my future career.

Today, I’m on a whole new team with and although I’ve switched from reading defenses to reading user requirements, the passion is still there. As a matter of fact, many of the skills I used in football are apparent in my role as a Senior Business Planning Consultant at Akili.

Just like an offensive lineman, you have to be accountable for your role, but also be cognizant of the roles of your teammates. You have to be decent at making changes on the fly (both literally and metaphorically).

You have to be quick to adapt.

The core of how we implement projects at Akili is based around being agile. It’s about keeping everything in control and taking frequent status checks. It’s also about being transparent and understanding that if what you are presenting to the client does not meet the mark, you need to pivot immediately.

In football, the offensive line doesn’t get all of the glory. As an old offensive line coach once told me, “Your job is to finish your block and get out of the way.” Being an offensive linemen is not a glorified role. In fact, the general premise is that if you are being noticed, you are making mistakes. Similar to Akili, our main goal is to make our sponsors and clients look good. This means that in the end, we’re not always the one who receives the credit.

For us, that’s OK because our greatest sources of pride come from successful implementations and continued business. We perform until the expectations of our clients have been exceeded and at Akili, that’s what truly matters.

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Employee Spotlight: Meet James Cannon

 

From planning business solutions to bike routes, Solution Leader James Cannon puts the pedal to the metal when it comes to personal growth. This week, we learned more about his experience at Akili and even took away some solid advice.

What’s your role at Akili and the most satisfying aspect about it?

Officially, my role at Akili is a Solution Lead within the Anaplan platform. Unofficially, I wear a number of hats. No day is ever the same, which is one really satisfying aspect of my role. I’m able to help drive change within our clients’ organization, as well as help drive change here at Akili.

How did you become interested in your line of work?

I’ve always had an interest in technology and building things, so it’s almost a perfect fit for someone like me. When you add in the fact that I also get bored easily, this industry is fitting because it requires the ability for rapid change. I’m usually rolling on to a new project every 4-6 months.

What about Akili made you decide to join?

The people! When I interviewed, the individuals I met were the real reason I chose to work here. At the end of the day, I’d rather work with people I really enjoy and call friends than make a few more dollars somewhere else and be miserable.

What’s a memory that stood out to you at Akili?

There are honestly too many to list over the past 4 years, but most of them either involve having a great conversation over a drink with a fellow Akilian, or some office shenanigans.

In your opinion, what makes Akili different? 

A lot of the same reasons that made me want to join Akili (the people, the culture, the leadership, the team spirit, etc.) are what I think allows Akili to separate itself from others in our industry and make it a really special place to work.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Anything outdoors, really. I am an on-again, off-again avid mountain biker. In the summer, my weekends are often spent playing golf or going to the lake. In the winter, I’m usually trying to make my way to a mountain to go snowboarding.

What keeps you motivated?

Helping people is a really big motivator for me. I’m a firm believer in continuing your own personal education, so I really like to learn new things. Sharing my knowledge with other people to help either benefit them, or their organization, is my main motivator.

Tell us about some of the greatest advice you’ve ever received.

I wouldn’t categorize it as the greatest advice given to me, but there are two maxims I circle back on when working with our clients. The first one is, “Work smarter, not harder” and the second is, “You can only manage what you measure”.

The first one is something I believe we help our clients achieve with our services. At the end of an engagement, I like to think we have helped our clients facilitate the change needed for their group or organization to work smarter everyday by doing less work through the tools we helped implement.

The second, is an idea that I truly align with. You are not able to fully understand the impact of a problem unless you measure and track it. This idea has limitless applications and is a great way to improve either a personal process or an organizational process.

Anything else you’d like everyone to know?

Don’t be afraid to gamble on making a jump to something new. I knew nothing other than a Google search of who Akili was or what they actually did. Making that leap of faith into this field and this company has been eternally rewarding for me, both from a personal and professional standpoint. It has allowed me to continue to grow and develop as a person and along the way, it has allowed me to meet and connect with some amazing people.

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Akili Ranks Among Best Companies to Work for in Texas for 2018

 

Akili is proud to announce that we were recently ranked 18th among the 2018 Best Companies to Work for in Texas, making our fourth appearance on this list. Our firm was recognized yet again for our unique culture, positive work environment and rewarding client work.

Made up of 100 companies, the 2018 Best Companies to Work for in Texas was designed to identify, recognize, and honor the best places of employment in Texas, benefiting the state’s economy, workforce and business.

“We are humbled to be recognized as one of the best companies to work for in Texas, yet again,” Akili CEO Shiek Shah said. “As a professional services organization, our employees are our key assets. Our management team strives to create an environment where our employees are happy, challenged and produce meaningful outcomes for our clients. This honor attests to our on-going efforts to recruit and retain the best of the best.”

To be eligible for this recognition, companies have to meet the following criteria: Be a for-profit or not-for-profit business or government entity, a publicly or privately held business, have a facility in the state of Texas, have a minimum of 15 full or part-time employees working in the state of Texas, and must be in business a minimum of one year. Best Companies Group conducts a two-part company assessment to gather detailed data for each participating company. Part one includes an employer questionnaire and part two is a survey for the employees to complete.

Akili fosters a strong culture of investing in our employees and developing an environment that values our employees as individuals, provides the support of a team and enables employees to pursue their career goals without restraint. Our vision is to create a work environment that gives our people the opportunity, encouragement, and recognition they need to truly excel at what they do.

Anyone that spends time in the company of the Akili team realizes that the core values on which the organization was founded on are present in day-to-day business. These values guide all of the key decision making processes and are present within every layer of the organization.

About Akili

Akili (pronounced (uh • kē’ • lē) meaning “knowledge” in Swahili) is a niche information technology consulting firm founded in 1992. Akili is headquartered in the Dallas suburb of Irving, TX, with locations in Houston, TX and Denver, CO. We have over 20 years of precision implementation design and trusted delivery services to small regional companies, mid size national companies, and multi-national Fortune 5 companies.

Akili is focused on Industry solutions for Oil and Gas, Telecommunications, Finance, Chemicals, Hi-Tech, REIT and Retail. Functional solution areas include Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Business Analytics (BI, EIM, DW), ERP (Including PRA, JVA, Asset Management), HANA, and Cloud Services (Finance, Operations, Sales).

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How to Navigate SAP BPC’s Changing Solution Roadmap

Join Akili February 28 at 10AM CST for a live demo on SAP's BPC v11.

 

By Alan Boyer | VP of Delivery

SAP announced BPC Version 11 for BW4/HANA, the next generation of the Business Planning and Consolidations (BPC) product, on June 15 at the SAPinsider Financials Conference in Amsterdam. This is the first significant update to the standalone version of BPC since 2014.

So, let’s explore a little of what this new version means.

What’s new?

  • When SAP released BW4/HANA last year, one of the glaring omissions was the lack of a planning or consolidations solution. That gap has now been closed as BPC 11 runs on BW4/HANA, providing complete planning and consolidations functionality to SAP’s new enterprise data warehouse platform. BW/4HANA is a very open solution and all methods of bringing data into BW4HANA are, of course, available to get information into BW. Getting master and transactional data from S4 is still very easy, but it is also easy to load data for other non-SAP sources. This diagram provides an overview of the integration approaches available:

  • Tight integration to Analytics Cloud is also a highlight of the new BPC version, including user initiated data synchronization that includes delta loads. Analytics Cloud also supports live connection to BPC for enhanced analytics capabilities. This opens the use of the Predictive capabilities in Cloud Analytics to be used to create forecasts/plans that can be synched to BPC.
  • BPC 11 also provides the ability to enhance the performance of the system even with large sets of data. Fox formulas can now be “pushed down” into HANA to speed execution times.
  • Interface – The homepage and navigation have been redesigned to the latest Fiori standards. Enhancements include the ability to capture favorites, easier navigation between tasks and an enhanced “My Activities” section.
  • Improved Modelling tools in BW4/HANA makes it much easier to create the planning structures for embedded models. Of course, these models can be connected to the BPC admin tools, which allow users the ability to use BPC Admin functions to manage the system.

What happens to other versions of BPC?

The BPC 10.1 NW and the 10.1 MS versions will be supported for some time. However, these versions will receive maintenance only. Enhancements will no longer be delivered for these versions. BPC Optimized for S/4 and BPC for BW4/HANA will be the primary versions of BPC going forward. The chart below depicts the product history and path going forward:

It is important to note that BPC 11 for BW4/HANA is a new legal version. Customers that plan to upgrade to this new version will need to acquire new licenses.

What’s the same?

  • Both standard & embedded are still available in BPC 11.
  • The EPM add-in will still be available and will be the proper interface for standard models. Analysis for Office will be the proper interface for embedded models. (Note that EVDre will no longer be supported in BPC 11).
  • BPC will still provide a single unified platform for Planning and Consolidations.

That gives you a quick preview of what’s coming in BPC 11 on BW4/HANA. Stay tuned for additional information coming soon.