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There’s No Time Like the Present: The Call of Digital Transformation at SAP’s SAPPHIRE ‘17

By David Allen | Pre-Sales Director for S/4HANA


May is a significant month for most people.  The end of school, the start of summer, the fun and adventure of a future vacation but for the SAP community it represents the annual Sapphire/ASUG Conference in Orlando, Florida.  If you happen to miss Sapphire 2017 this year, review the links below to get a glimpse into the event:

To start the conference, Bill McDermott set the stage with commitments of SAP to lead change and innovation for the new digital age and challenged everyone to reexamine their business.  This idea was supported by Michael Dell when he stated, “the digital transformation is not an IT project, it can’t be an IT project, it has to be an evolve your company CEO project”.  This is an important opportunity because of the expanding impact of technology is to a company’s success.  The next generation of technology is about connecting and leveraging data through the elimination of processes not just the sheer automation.  In his keynote to the Sapphire audience, Bill McDermott states “data is the new gold”.  He is talking about the SAP data you have in your system but also the data in all the devices around the company, with you partners, and available from your customers.  The use of data will be the differentiator and your competitive advantage for the next industry revolution.

No matter where you currently stand with your technology, it is important that companies understand that moving into a digital business is a journey and no two approaches will be the same.  Your industry, the competition, the current level of disruption, and the company’s strategic goals will drive your next technology roadmap.  If you are currently taking the approach that my current system works, the level of disruption in our industry is low, or the maintenance for my SAP ERP system is still valid until 2025, then you are still thinking about technology as a non-strategic asset.  Everyone needs to understand that business is changing, the disruption is real, and change is not optional.  The digital business will affect every company and every industry and you will either be the company that is leading the change or be the company going out of business because of the change.

Over the course of Sapphire, SAP provided real tangible examples of the use of SAP technologies such as SAP HANA, SAP S/4, and SAP Leonardo to drive the digital business and not just for the large enterprise.  SAP realizes that it is the small and medium size business that may need the most help in driving the digital transformation since those sized companies will deal with all of the complexities of the disruption but with less resources.  Overall, SAP is providing a footprint of technologies that can position every company to become a real-time business that leverages its data to proactively drive innovation and growth.

Many people will leave Sapphire with new a sense of energy about the SAP platform and how they can utilize these technologies to drive change within their own company but some will be overwhelmed and not know where to start.  Either way, Akili wants to help support you on your digital journey.  After being in business and technology consulting for over 25 years and a partner of SAP for the past 10 years, Akili knows what it means to deal with change.  The digital real time business will require changes in technology, changes in business processes, and changes in the roles of your people.  These changes will require an analysis of the possible and all of these changes will be centered around the leveraging data It will take a partner that will be agile in their process, transparent in their message, and successful delivery on their commitments.  Akili is that partner.

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3 Steps to an Agile Business, in Good Times and in Bad

Written by Alan Boyer, VP of Professional Services, Akili Inc.

When you’re in a period of hypergrowth, you get to say “yes” to everything. Can I hire new people? Yes. Can we buy some cool new tech? Yes. Can we throw a party for our employees? Yes!

But with all the excitement of rapid growth, efficiency often takes a back seat. Most companies focus almost exclusively on revenue growth and market share and overlook the importance of operational excellence. When the good times come to an end (and in most cases, they invariably do), they’re left reworking their costs — sometimes for the first time.

The Texas oil industry is currently tackling this challenge. From about 2005 until 2014, upstream producers in the U.S. were in a land grab. If you didn’t acquire assets, you could be shut out. And if you didn’t secure these assets by drilling and producing, you could either lose them or pay a substantial price to keep them. Money was flowing freely, and efficiency was not a concern.

But in the past year, 65,000 Texas oil and gas workers have been let go. The World Bank claims that, even at $60 per barrel, two-thirds of future oil reserves could be uneconomical. In February, the price per barrel fell below $27. So while the rest of the country celebrates lower prices at the pump, the oil industry needs more sustainable practices to thrive in the future.

Creating efficiencies often require investment, and it’s hard to get any expense approved when cash is at a premium. People are typically first or second in terms of cost, so businesses regrettably turn to layoffs. Those cuts are by numbers, such as 10 percent of each department or 5 people from each area. However, sometimes the people who have greater knowledge of your operations are let go, which can have the opposite effect on your business.

The good news is efficiency doesn’t have to wait until the other shoe drops. The following three strategies can streamline your financial and operational processes to increase return on investment — without trimming your workforce.

  1. Invest early. If your company is doing well, that is the time to start investing. This will prepare you for growth andunexpected downturns. My team recently spoke to a company that is in growth mode, but its market is in a bit of turmoil. The company’s management team and board are assessing the business, and while their current infrastructure has no significant issues, they know they can’t scale the business without continuing to hire people. They are looking at investing now in order to create an infrastructure that will allow them to grow efficiently when the market creates new opportunities.Another company we’ve worked with revamped its systems infrastructure just before the oil price collapse. The business is struggling significantly, but its transaction volumes and operational support remain constant. Although it now operates with one-third of its original workforce, the company can continue to run because of the efficiencies gained from the system revamp.
  2. Train your workforce. Efficiency takes into account people, processes, and technology, and you need all three to improve operations. New tech appears every day, and some companies simply throw technology at a problem in their excitement. But if you don’t prepare your people to use it, the solution won’t be fully used or will fail completely.
  3. Pay attention to process and productivity. Sometimes companies implement new technology while holding on to old processes. The point of new tools is to change the way a team works. You need to understand how productivity and processes work in your team to make your cost-cutting efforts successful. Find the correct metrics to measure productivity for your business. If you can measure it, you can start to change it. And if you change productivity, you will reduce costs.

As you study productivity, look for critical business processes that use Excel. It’s probably the most prolific business tool in the world, but overuse of Excel usually indicates serious problems in systems support. Pinpoint where this is happening, why, and how to fix it to reduce inefficiencies, errors, and risks in your business.

A sudden drop in profits can happen in any industry or company. If your business is thriving, take some time out from celebrating your profits and think about efficiencies as you grow. If you’re already in crisis, try to find ways to apply these strategies. You may be able to change the course of your business and save those jobs on the line.

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Time Is Money — How to Speed Up the Financial Closing Process

A Business 2 Community article written by Alan Boyer, VP of Professional Services, Akili Inc.

It takes an average of eight days for an organization to complete the quarterly financial closing process, a half-day longer than just nine years ago. However, a speedy, but efficient, close helps management understand its organization’s financial health and make important decisions in a timely manner.

Accurate financial statements are essential for all organizations, and it is up to management to create processes that ensure accurate and timely reporting. Time is money, and shortening the closing process brings big advantages.

Why an Early Closing Matters

A survey by SAP and Deloitte indicates that company leaders want to close their financials much faster than average. The reasons varied, but most revolved around time — 44 percent wanted more time for analysis and auditing before financial statements were published; 31 percent wanted to reduce time and costs associated with closing; and, 13 percent wanted to push management and financial information out as quickly as possible.

Companies often make better decisions during a shorter closing process. When financial statements are created in a timely manner, they can be used to build forecasts and accelerate innovation. An early close also makes the accounting team more analysis-driven, rather than holding them in a scorekeeper role. And it reduces workload and creates more effective transaction processing.

Barriers to an Early Close

Company executives blame slower financial closing times on a variety of factors. According to the same survey, 40 percent of executives say it’s because of internal levels of review; 35 percent say it’s a growing need to identify and consolidate more detail for financial statements; and, 20 percent say it’s because more time is needed to check for errors.

Financial analysts only spend about 23 percent of their time on value-added analysis to the business. Speeding up the closing process helps analysts and others better utilize their time.

Efficiency and accuracy are essential in a closing, and many companies want to overcome these barriers and speed up their closings. The following three steps can increase the time, accuracy, and efficiency of a financial closing.

  1. Use an Automated Process

Too many manual steps in a closing can slow down the process. Using an automated system is essential for speediness. Forty-three percent of the companies that complete their monthly close in four or fewer days use an automated process. Additionally, 27 percent use some automated processes and 16 percent use little automation or none.

A highly automated system allows companies to close more than three days earlier than those not using automation. A consolidation software or enterprise resource planning system used to manage a close makes companies twice as satisfied as those using desktop spreadsheets as their primary tool for the closing process.

  1. Make It a Company Priority

Making a speedy closing process a top priority for the company will ensure that everyone involved has this in mind as they perform their daily tasks. Planning for a fast closing will also make the company run more efficiently.

When companies establish a clear program to reduce a closing timeframe, with management buy-in, they accomplish their goal 77 percent of the time, according to SAP and Deloitte. A clearly stated objective to close more quickly usually results in meeting that goal.

  1. Conduct a Post-Close Review

Assessing internal processes during the closing process, and afterward, identifies problems and areas that need improvement to speed up the close time. The review can also identify any overlapping of duties or redundancies in the process, which will create efficiencies within the company and potentially save money.

Automation, making speed a priority, and identifying ways to reduce the time associated with financial closings are ways companies can eliminate barriers to timely closings. Time is money, and these solutions promote speed, leading to potential cost savings, efficiencies, and better financial decisions in the long run.

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Business is now done online

Dominos stock is up 45% this year in an intensely competitive business. You can order Dominos pizza with an emoji on Twitter or a Facebook messenger bot. They are experimenting delivering pizzas by drones – soon, you will be able to get them delivered to you in a park!

Ripple effect examples include how Air B&B is affecting hotels. How Uber has affected taxis, Ford motor company, rental car companies, and even insurance companies. Ford has just announced that it is going down dual track– The foundation as a car manufacturer and a new path as a transportation services provider – self driving cars, electric cars and ride sharing services.

Upstarts have skyrocketed in profitability because of technology creating instant access to their products and services. Think Uber, AirBnB, Dollar Shave club, BAI,, Blue Nile, Zillow, We work, Zocdoc

Survival of the incumbents like Amazon, Home Depot, Esurance, Netflix has only been possible from their ability to quickly pivot and invest in the newest and best modifications they can make to streamline and improve their business practices.

We are all watching the elephant in the room – Walmart to see if they can shift/pivot and continue to compete with companies that are more nimble and innovative and ahead in the shared economy game.

A great example of a winning company is Amazon. Famous losers who failed to adapt when disruption was looming include Blackberry, Blockbuster, Borders/Barnes and Nobles. Brick and mortar retail, Realtors, Travel agents, etc. are all on the verge of becoming obsolete unless they can rethink and recapture their customers through the value of their core competencies that can’t be found somewhere else faster or cheaper.

The Winning Upstarts

The Winning Incumbents

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Businesses are now run on-demand

It is a brave new world!

We are living in an online, on demand, shared economy of pay as you go, subscription based shared services with limited or no commitments required. It makes everything move extremely fast with unbelievable flexibility – making it a daily challenge just to keep up!

This is not a limited trend or passing fad. It affects every city, demographic, industry and line of business. Think about the shared resources you tap into on a daily basis – utilities like electricity, gas, and water resources, delivered via methods you simply plug into or subscribe to. Cable, data, apps, music, streaming media of all sorts. Goods and services too – Uber, Blue Apron, Stitch Fix, Dollar Shave Club.

Changes to the goods and services purchasing habits in our economy is transforming the competitive business landscape. Disruption is hitting from all sides and those unprepared to re-think, shift directions, rebuild will soon be obsolete if they aren’t already!

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We live in a shared economy

“May you live in interesting times” – an ancient Chinese proverb

You may ask what has happened to our economy? How did we get here? And the resounding answer is Technology! The basic evolution that has occurred has cycled from Mainframe à to Client Server à to the Internet à the Cloud.

To succeed and thrive in these times means you have to be nimble, agile, able to pivot very quickly as technologies change the behavior patterns of your customers.

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SM Energy and Akili to Speak at Best Practices for Oil and Gas Conference

SM Energy and Akili to speak at Best Practices for Oil and Gas Conference – Tuesday, September 13 @ 2:20 PM Central


With the current oil and gas market conditions, it is more important than ever for the industry to come together to hear solutions and expertise on how to survive, adapt and thrive. Best Practices for Oil & Gas is built and delivered by the oil and gas community — hear from your peers on how to drive value from technology to reduce costs, drive operational efficiencies, increase visibility, become more agile and improve your bottom line.

Registratoin banner BPOG 2016A collaboration between SAP, Eventful Conferences and ASUG, Best Practices for Oil & Gas is designed for all industry segments including upstream, midstream, downstream and oilfield services. The annual conference brings together senior leadership, decision-makers, business process owners, analysts, super users, support teams, solution providers and more to one location for an interactive event built around learning and collaboration.

To register and for more information visit

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SAP South Market Unit Names Akili DFW Trailblazer

Dallas, TX –The SAP South Market Unit recently awarded Akili Inc. the designation of DFW Trailblazer.

Akili has consistently led as a strong SAP partner in the Southwest US, with headquarters in Dallas, TX.

“SAP recognizes Akili’s impressive implementation service track record and customer success with this award,” said Doug Scott, VP of Sales, SAP. “Akili has been a go-to resource in the southwest region for my team, particularly in the DFW market.”Trailblazer call out quote

Akili was founded in 1992 as a custom development software solution provider. In 2008 Akili became an SAP partner focused on Enterprise Performance Management solutions.  As of 2016, Akili’s services portfolio includes two SAP certified solutions for the Oil and Gas industry as well as focused solutions for the Office of the CFO that span the practice areas of Financial Planning, Data, Cloud and Business Process & Change Leadership.

“It is an honor to be recognized by SAP as a DFW Trailblazer,” said Shiek Shah, Akili’s CEO. “We value our partnership with SAP that allows us to bring world-class solutions to the Global 2000 companies many of whom are located here in the DFW Metroplex. We anticipate continued growth in this market and look forward to our continued partnership and success with SAP”


About Akili

Akili (pronounced (uh • kē’ • lē) meaning “knowledge” in Swahili) is a business management and technology consulting firm founded in 1992. Our core purpose is to improve the business performance of our clients through the application of technology, people, and process.

Akili delivers solutions for Global 2000 companies and is focused on Industry solutions for Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Financial Services, Retail, Hi-Tech, Hospitality, Consumer Packaged Goods, Construction, and Telecom, among others. Akili’s consultants have functional expertise in the areas of Enterprise Performance Management, Analytics, ERP, and Business Process Management.  Akili’s technical expertise includes project and program management, solution architecture, technical architecture, application configuration, data management, and integration. Whether clients are looking for an on-premise solution or a cloud-based solution, Akili can deliver the best combination of technology and consult to ensure our client’s business objectives are met.

Akili is headquartered in Dallas, TX, with locations in Houston, TX, and Denver, CO.  Our clients span the continental U.S. For more information on Akili’s solutions and services, please visit or email

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Akili wins Anaplan 2016 Partner White Glove Award

San Francisco – May 11, 2016

Anaplan, the Smart Business Platform™, today recognized partners that are driving planning transformations at businesses around the globe. Anaplan partners with organizations that focus on client success, develop strong intellectual property, and implement transformational technology.

The 2016 Anaplan Partner Awards winners, by category:

  • Sales Award: Deloitte Consulting LLP, for the most contribution to Anaplan software bookings over the past yea
  • Services Award: Twelve Consulting Group, for contributing to the greatest number of Anaplan projects over the past yea
  • Growth Award: OpenSymmetry, for the most significant growth in their Anaplan practice over the past yea
  • White Glove Award: Akili, Inc., for exceptional customer service delivery
  • Creative App Award: ZS Associates, for its compelling Incentive Compensation Health Check app


“At Anaplan, we’re thrilled to have the fastest-growing global community of best-in-class consulting partners,” said Paul Melchiorre, Anaplan’s Chief Revenue Officer. “Our global partner community continually innovates to deliver superior planning to a diverse customer base. We salute our 2016 Anaplan Partner Award recipients—and we thank all of Anaplan’s partners for the continued, shared success.”

“The relationship between Deloitte and Anaplan is built on collaboration,” said Merritt Alberti, Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “For the past four years, we’ve worked together closely to solve problems and deliver exactly what companies need—from industry-specific assets to planning apps we’ve built for the Anaplan App Hub. We’re pleased to accept the 2016 Sales Award, and we’re looking forward to building on our mutual track record of results.”

Anaplan recognized its partners at Hub16, the annual event for people using Anaplan’s business planning platform and apps, which is being held through Wednesday, May 11, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. More than 1,500 technology innovators, analysts, and business executives are attending, including executives from Anaplan customers and partners such as Deloitte, Kellogg Company, DocuSign, and Splunk. More than 150 executives from Anaplan partners are attending Hub16 to share expertise and connect with the Anaplan community.

About Anaplan’s Partner Network

To meet the high demand for the Anaplan platform, Anaplan has formed a global network of best-in-class partners that can help companies implement and utilize the Anaplan platform for model building, process change, local support, or global deployments. For more information about the network and partner participants, visit

About Anaplan
Anaplan is the Smart Business Platform™ that democratizes advanced decision-making power across an entire business. Anaplan delivers an unrivaled planning and modeling engine, collaboration in the cloud, and a simple interface for business users. Acknowledged globally as an innovator and technology leader, Anaplan is a privately held company headquartered in San Francisco, CA, with offices in 15 countries. To learn more, visit Follow us on Twitter: @anaplan


About Akili

Akili (pronounced (uh • kē’ • lē) meaning “knowledge” in Swahili) is a business management and technology consulting firm founded in 1992. Our core purpose is to improve the business performance of our clients through the application of technology, people, and process.

Akili delivers solutions for Global 2000 companies and is focused on Industry solutions for Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Financial Services, Retail, Hi-Tech, Hospitality, Consumer Packaged Goods, Construction, and Telecom, among others. Akili’s consultants have functional expertise in the areas of Enterprise Performance Management, Analytics, ERP, and Business Process Management.  Akili’s technical expertise includes project and program management, solution architecture, technical architecture, application configuration, data management, and integration. Whether clients are looking for an on premise solution or a cloud based solution, Akili can deliver the best combination of technology and consulting to ensure our client’s business objectives are met.

Akili is headquartered in Dallas, TX, with locations in Houston, TX and Denver, CO.  Our clients span the continental U.S. For more information on Akili’s solutions and services, please visit or email