Player Spotlight: Meet Spencer Allen | Xbox

You don’t really fail until you quit.

In 2016, “I was at Sauvie Island, a popular park here in Portland,” says Spencer. “I ran and dove into the water—the next thing I knew, I was floating upside-down in the water and I couldn’t move, couldn’t turn around. I was drowning.”

Through hard work, he has regained some function in his upper limbs. As soon as he was able, he went back to school to get his degree in Civil Engineering. “I wanted to jump back into school and get back to it — just something to get my brain working.“

Any inventor knows it takes a lot of trial and error to create something you’re happy with. This might discourage most people, but for Spencer, “you don’t really fail until you quit.”

The Xbox Adaptive Controller allows users to connect switches, buttons, joysticks, and mounts to create a custom controller that suits their needs and abilities. There’s a level of DIY involved, and Spencer was up for the challenge. “It’s been a cycle of learning and doing.”

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Digital transformation projects are an opportunity for healthcare CIOs

IT departments are central to digital transformation projects in healthcare. But for those projects to be successful, healthcare CIOs will need to ensure they’re ticking off the basic IT checklist while pushing their departments into new territory.

John Kravitz, CIO at Geisinger Health System in Danville, Penn., said digital transformation, or the use of digital technology to change how healthcare operates and delivers care, requires healthcare CIOs to think outside the box and consider new, digital ways to make IT and the overall health system operate more efficiently.

“Looking at transformation and how we’re about to approach that in IT, it’s extremely important that we take off the blinders and we look at things in a different way,” Kravitz said.

Before pursuing a digital transformation project, healthcare CIOs should start with the fundamentals such as making sure the healthcare organization has a solid IT infrastructure in place, according to Kravitz. At the 2019 CHIME Fall CIO Forum, Kravitz and Judy Kirby, CEO of executive search firm Kirby Partners in Heathrow, Fla., talked about why that strong IT foundation is so important and how healthcare CIOs can successfully lead digital transformation projects.

Building a strong foundation

Today’s healthcare CIOs are expected to be experts on emerging technology, yet they’re also tasked with IT basics like keeping the lights on.

Kirby Partners CEO Judy KirbyJudy Kirby

“Organizations are saying, ‘We’ve got to be digital; we’ve got to be transformational,'” Kirby said. “Yet they’re really confused on what that means and how to get there.”

For healthcare CIOs to lead digital transformation projects, Kirby said it’s necessary to get four things right first:

  1. Focus on the fundamentals

To get started, Kirby said it’s vital healthcare CIOs take stock of how the IT infrastructure is performing. Having an IT system that functions “exceptionally” can provide a strong foundation for digital transformation projects, she said.

“If you don’t have the IT train on the track, you can’t transform,” Kirby said. “So, you’ve got to do that first, you’ve got to do it well, you’ve got to do it exceptionally.”

She recommended CIOs use key performance indicators to set expectations for IT employees and to provide transparent metrics on what they need to deliver on, she said.

  1. Build up health IT leaders

Building a successful IT team means identifying weak links and finding ways to make the entire team stronger, Kirby said. Healthcare CIOs will need strong leaders to be digital transformation ambassadors, and their success will hinge on relationships within the healthcare organization. CIOs can lead by example to demonstrate how to build those relationships and provide good service, she said.

Kirby gave the example of a successful CIO who “insists on rounding,” or going out into the healthcare organization to assess employee needs and to foster relationships between IT and the clinical staff.

“When he sends his CTO out there to round, they don’t go by themselves,” she said “They go with one of their technicians who has a cartful of goodies — monitors, cables — so that when [they encounter] an issue, they try to fix it right there.”

  1. Keep the IT team engaged

Healthcare CIOs should engage their teams not just by setting expectations but by helping them meet realistic goals and celebrating the victories along the way. Celebrating success can go a long way in keeping the team engaged, she said.

“Don’t just make it when something large is going on, celebrate a lot,” Kirby said. “It keeps them happy, it keeps them successful, it keeps them wanting to do better and wanting to do more. I know you’re busy, but take the time.”

For Kirby, engagement also means taking the time to help the IT team grow and develop, she said.

  1. Communicate

Lastly, healthcare CIOs need to communicate frequently, in detail and in a way that is easy to understand, Kirby said.

“If there’s one thing we hear when we’re out there doing site visits, it’s, ‘We want a great communicator,'” Kirby said.

Leading digital transformation

Geisinger’s Kravitz comes at digital transformation from firsthand experience.

Looking at transformation and how we’re about to approach that in IT, it’s extremely important that we take off the blinders and we look at things in a different way.
John KravitzCIO, Geisinger Health System

While Kirby talked about the importance of building a strong foundation to support digital transformation projects, Kravitz spoke about how healthcare CIOs can then drive that transformation within their healthcare organizations.

He said successful digital transformation projects need executive leadership support. CIOs charged with leading the effort not just across IT but across the whole organization should make sure the IT and executive leadership teams are in sync on goals. Doing so presents a vision to employees and sets clear priorities.

Geisinger Health System CIO John KravitzJohn Kravitz

Kravitz said a good place to start is to identify three to five processes critical to the organization and then find ways to change and enhance those processes through digitization, such as making it easier for low-acuity patients in emergency rooms to receive care via telemedicine visits instead of waiting hours for an in-person visit.

“Look at those types of things where you make it a lot simpler, a lot cleaner,” Kravitz said. “Look at all the opportunities within your health system for faster service.”

Digital transformation isn’t just a top-down project, according to Kravitz. He said healthcare CIOs need to also start at the bottom by establishing performance targets for employees. Here, it’s important to assess and measure productivity, set clear goals and benchmark those goals, Kravitz said.

Kravitz said healthcare CIOs should also help to create a governance committee of executive and IT leaders from across the organization. The committee is charged with keeping the healthcare organization on the same page during the digital transformation effort. It is also responsible for establishing a communication program that provides regular progress updates and includes meetings for the project. Finally, it should work to develop what Kravitz called a “digital narrative” that will be used to explain the project and get buy-in from employees.

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Microsoft to apply CCPA protections to all US customers

Microsoft is taking California’s new data privacy law nationwide.

The software giant this week said it will honor the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) throughout the United States. When the CCPA goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, companies in California will be required to provide people with the option to stop their personal information from being sold, and will generally require that companies are transparent about data collection and data use.

The CCPA applies to companies that do business in California, collect customers’ personal data and meet one of the following requirements: have annual gross revenue of more than $25 million; buy, receive, sell or share personal data of 50,000 or more consumers, devices or households for commercial purposes; or earn 50% or more of their annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal data.

Julie Brill, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for global privacy and regulatory affairs and Chief Privacy Officer, announced her company’s plans to go a step further and apply the CCPA’s data privacy protections to all U.S. customers — not just those in California.

“We are strong supporters of California’s new law and the expansion of privacy protections in the United States that it represents. Our approach to privacy starts with the belief that privacy is a fundamental human right and includes our commitment to provide robust protection for every individual,” Brill wrote in a blog post. “This is why, in 2018, we were the first company to voluntarily extend the core data privacy rights included in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to customers around the world, not just to those in the EU who are covered by the regulation. Similarly, we will extend CCPA’s core rights for people to control their data to all our customers in the U.S.”

Brill added that Microsoft is working with its enterprise customers to assist them with CCPA compliance. “Our goal is to help our customers understand how California’s new law affects their operations and provide the tools and guidance they will need to meet its requirements,” she said.

Microsoft did not specify when or how it will apply the CPAA for all U.S. citizens. In recent years the company has introduced several privacy-focused tools and features designed to give customers greater control over their personal data.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said Microsoft has an easier path to becoming CCPA compliant because of its early efforts to broadly implement GDPR protections.

“They’re staying very true to all the processes they went through under GDPR,” she said. “CCPA has some differences with GDPR. Namely, it’s got some requirements to verify the identity of people who want to exercise their rights. GDPR is still based on an opt-in framework rather than an opt-out one; it requires consent if you don’t have another legal basis for processing somebody’s data. The CCPA is still really about giving you the opportunity to opt out. It’s not a consent-based framework.”

Khatibloo also noted that Microsoft was supportive of the CCPA early on, and that Brill, who formerly served as commissioner of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission under the Obama administration, has a strong history on data privacy.

“She understands the extensive need for a comprehensive privacy bill in the U.S., and I think she also understands that that’s probably not going to happen in the next year,” Khatibloo said. “Instead of waiting for a patchwork of laws to turn up, I think she’s taking a very proactive move to say, ‘We’re going to abide by this particular set of rules, and we’re going to make it available to everybody.’ The other really big factor here is, who wants to be the company that says its New York customers don’t have the same rights that its California customers do?

Rebecca Herold, an infosec and privacy consultant as well as CEO of The Privacy Professor consultancy, argued that while CCPA does a good job addressing the “breadth of privacy issues for individuals who fall under the CCPA definition of a ‘California consumer,'” it falls short in multiple areas. To name a few criticisms, she pointed out that it doesn’t apply to organizations with under $25 million in revenue, it does not apply to all types of data or individuals such as employees, and that many of its requirements can come across as confusing.

But Herold said Microsoft’s move to apply CCPA for all 50 states makes sense and it’s something she recommends to her clients when consulting on new regional regulations. “When looking at implementing a wide-ranging law like CCPA, it would be much more simplified to just follow it for all their millions of customers, and not try to parse out the California customers from all others,” she said via email. “It is much more efficient and effective to simplify data security and privacy practices by treating all individuals within an organization’s database equally, meeting a baseline of actions that fit all legal requirements across the board. This is a smart and savvy business leadership move.”

Mike Bittner, associate director of digital security and operations for advertising security vendor The Media Trust, agreed that Microsoft’s move isn’t surprising.  

“For a large company like Microsoft that serves consumers around the world, simplifying regulatory compliance by applying the same policies across an entire geography makes a lot of sense, because it removes the headaches of applying a hodgepodge of state-level data privacy laws,” he said in an email. “Moreover, by using the CCPA — the most robust U.S. data privacy law to date — as the standard, it demonstrates the company’s commitment to protecting consumers’ data privacy rights.”

Herold added that the CCPA will likely become the de facto data privacy law for the U.S. in the foreseeable future because Congress doesn’t appear to be motivated to pass any federal privacy laws.

Brill appeared to agree.

“CCPA marks an important step toward providing people with more robust control over their data in the United States,” she wrote in her blog post. “It also shows that we can make progress to strengthen privacy protections in this country at the state level even when Congress can’t or won’t act.”

Senior reporter Michael Heller contributed to this report.

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Announcing Windows Community Toolkit v6.0 – Windows Developer Blog

We’re thrilled to announce today the next update to the Windows Community Toolkit, version 6.0, made possible with help and contributions from our developer community. This release brings ARM64 support to the toolkit as well as an update to XAML Islands for .NET Core 3 support. In addition, we have new features like the EyeDropper control and new Win32 notification helpers. We also have an update to our preview of Microsoft Graph enabled XAML controls.See more details on these features below.

XAML Islands enables a developer to enhance the look, feel, and functionality of an existing WPF, Windows Forms, or C++ Win32 application and make use of the latest Windows 10 UI features that are only available via UWP controls like inking:

This release improves tooling support for .NET Core 3 and makes it even easier to get started.
Documentation for XAML Islands.

The Windows Community Toolkit now supports applications that are targeting ARM64. This allows developer’s apps to take advantage of increased performance and battery life by running on the native architecture for devices like the Surface Pro X. We also worked closely with the Win2D team to ensure it also now supports ARM64. This was important for Lottie and other toolkit features that rely on Win2D.

This update brings more Adobe After Effects features to Lottie-Windows, including Linear and Radial Gradients, Masks, Track Mattes, and codegen support for Image Layers. We hope that these additions will allow motion designers and application developers to create even more visually compelling user experiences on Windows 10. Since some of these features rely on newer SDKs, Lottie-Windows now also offers adaptive versioning. We rely on the community to prioritize feature work so please do keep providing your valuable feedback and suggestions for Lottie-Windows here!

The new Eye Dropper control allows you to provide effortless color selection functionality to your app.

Documentation for EyeDropper.

This new addition to the Windows Community Toolkit allows developers to easily authenticate and access Microsoft Graph in Windows 10 apps to create rich data and user connected experiences. These controls are available as a preview of our 6.1 release today and will work with UWP apps and in WPF/WinForms for Win32 apps via XAML Islands on .NET Core 3. In addition, with the help of Xamarin and the Uno Platform, you will also soon be able to use them on Android and iOS.

Read about these new controls in our original announcement or on GitHub for all the latest details.

There are a lot more updates than we can cover here, be sure to read the release notes for more details on all the fixes provided in this update.
As a reminder, you can get started by following our docs.microsoft.com tutorial, or preview the latest features by installing the Windows Community Toolkit Sample App from the Microsoft Store. If you would like to contribute, please join us on GitHub! To join the conversation on Twitter, use the #WindowsToolkit hashtag.
Happy coding!

Forus Health uses AI to help eradicate preventable blindness – AI for Business

Big problems, shared solutions

Tackling global challenges has been the focus of many health data consortiums that Microsoft is enabling. The Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE) – the initiative that Chandrasekhar read about – is now part of the Microsoft AI Network for Healthcare, which also includes consortiums focused on cardiology and pathology.

For all three, Microsoft’s aim is to play a supporting role to help doctors and researchers find ways to improve health care using AI and machine learning.

“The health care providers are the experts,” said Prashant Gupta, Program Director in Azure Global Engineering. “We are the enabler. We are empowering these health care consortiums to build new things that will help with the last mile.”

In the Forus Health project, that “last mile” started by ensuring image quality. When members of the consortium began doing research on what was needed in the eyecare space, Forus Health was already taking the 3nethra classic to villages to scan hundreds of villagers in a day. But because the images were being captured by minimally trained technicians in areas open to sunlight, close to 20% of the images were not high quality enough to be used for diagnostic purposes.

“If you have bad images, the whole process is crude and wasteful,” Gupta said. “So we realized that before we start to understand disease markers, we have to solve the image quality problem.”

Now, an image quality algorithm immediately alerts the technician when an image needs to be retaken.

The same thought process applies to the cardiology and pathology consortiums. The goal is to see what problems exist, then find ways to use technology to help solve them.

“Once you have that larger shared goal, when you have partners coming together, it’s not just about your own efficiency and goals; it’s more about social impact,” Gupta said.

And the highest level of social impact comes through collaboration, both within the consortiums themselves and when working with organizations such as Forus Health who take that technology out into the world.

Chandrasekhar said he is eager to see what comes next.

“Even though it’s early, the impact in the next five to 10 years can be phenomenal,” he said. “I appreciated that we were seen as an equal partner by Microsoft, not just a small company. It gave us a lot of satisfaction that we are respected for what we are doing.”

Top image: Forus Health’s 3nethra classic is an eye-scanning device that can be attached to the back of a moped and transported to remote locations. Photo by Microsoft. 

Leah Culler edits Microsoft’s AI for Business and Technology blog.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

ZombieLoad v2 disclosed, affects newest Intel chips

Security researchers disclosed a new version of the ZombieLoad attack and warned that Intel’s fixes for the original threat can by bypassed.

The original ZombieLoad attack — a speculative execution exploit that could allow attackers to steal sensitive data from Intel processors — was first announced May 14 as part of a set of microarchitectural data sampling (MDS) attacks that also included RIDL (Rogue In-Flight Data Load) and Fallout. According to the researchers, they first disclosed ZombieLoad v2 to Intel on April 23 with an update on May 10 to communicate that “the attacks work on Cascade Lake CPUs,” Intel’s newest line of processors. However, ZombieLoad v2 was kept under embargo until this week.

“We present a new variant of ZombieLoad that enables the attack on CPUs that include hardware mitigations against MDS in silicon. With Variant 2 (TAA), data can still be leaked on microarchitectures like Cascade Lake where other MDS attacks like RIDL or Fallout are not possible,” the researchers wrote on the ZombieLoad website. “Furthermore, we show that the software-based mitigations in combinations with microcode updates presented as countermeasures against MDS attacks are not sufficient.”

One of the ZombieLoad researchers, Moritz Lipp, PhD candidate in information security at the Graz University of Technology in Austria, told SearchSecurity  the problem with the patch for the initial MDS issues is that it “does not prevent the attack, just makes it harder. It just takes longer as the leakage rate is not that high.”

Lipp added that the team’s relationship with Intel has been improving over the past two years and the extended embargo was a direct result of ZombieLoad v2 affecting Cascade Lake processors.

In an update to the original ZombieLoad research paper, the researchers noted that the main advantage of variant two “is that it also works on machines with hardware fixes for Meltdown,” and noted that the attack requires “the Intel TSX instruction-set extension which is only available on selected CPUs since 2013,” including various Skylake, Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, Broadwell and Cascade Lake processors.

Intel did not respond to questions regarding ZombieLoad v2 — which the company refers to as TSX Asynchronous Abort (TAA) —  or the original MDS patch, and instead directed SearchSecurity to the company’s November 2019 Intel Platform Update blog post. In that blog post, Jerry Bryant, director of communications for Intel Product Assurance and Security, admitted Intel’s MDS mitigations fell short.

“We believe that the mitigations for TAA and MDS substantively reduce the potential attack surface,” Bryant wrote. “Shortly before this disclosure, however, we confirmed the possibility that some amount of data could still be inferred through a side-channel using these techniques (for TAA, only if TSX is enabled) and will be addressed in future microcode updates.”

In an attached “deep dive,” Intel also admitted the ZombieLoad v2 attack “may expose data from either the current logical processor or from the sibling logical processor on processors with simultaneous multithreading.”

The researchers also noted that with the range of CPUs affected, the attack could be performed both on PCs as well as in the cloud.

“The attack can be mounted in virtualized environments like the cloud as well across hyperthreads, if two virtual machines are each running on one of them,” Lipp told SearchSecurity. “However, typically huge cloud providers don’t schedule virtual machines anymore.”

Chris Goettl, director of product management, security at Ivanti, told SearchSecurity that while the research is interesting, the risks of ZombieLoad are relatively low.

“In a cloud environment a vulnerability like this could allow an attacker to glean information across many companies, true, but we are talking about a needle in a field of haystacks,” Goettl said. “Threat actors have motives and they will drive toward their objectives in most cases as quickly and easily as they possibly can. There are a number of information disclosure vulnerabilities that are going to be far easier to exploit than ZombieLoad.”

Lipp confirmed that in order to ensure the leak of sensitive data an attacker would need to ensure “a victim loads specific data, for instance triggering code that loads passwords in order to authenticate a user, an attacker can leak that.”

Ultimately, Goettl said he would expect Intel to continue to be reactive with side-channel attacks like ZombieLoad until there is “a precipitating event where any of these exploits are used in a real-world attack scenario.”

“The incomplete MDS patch probably says a little about how much effort Intel is putting into resolving the vulnerabilities. They fixed exactly what they were shown was the issue, but didn’t look beyond to see if something more should be done or if that fix could also be circumvented,” Goettle said. “As long as speculative execution remains academic Intel’s approach will likely continue to be reactive rather than proactive.”

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For Sale – Apple MacBook Pro 15” 2.9 GHz Intel Core i9, 32GB 2400 MHz DDR4, Radeon Pro 560X 4GB, 1TB SSD. Screen water damage :(

I bought this last year – October 08 2108 at Apple Bluwater at a retail cost of £3689. I’m upgrading as I need more internal storage. I use it regularly, switching between my desktop machine and the laptop. It all works perfectly – with one flaw – the screen (see below).

The bad news is that the screen has water damage when I got caught in the rain and my laptop bag leaked. Despite a careful drying out process, there are spots on the screen which refuse to go away. It looks much worse on light screens than on dark (see attached pics) but doesn’t affect the performance at all. It doesn’t bother me and I often use an external screen anyway when I’m doing my heavy graphics work or use my desktop iMac. This was a couple of months ago and I’ve been using it every day since then. I’ve had repair quotes of about £580 but didn’t want to be without my machine for any length of time so didn’t bother.

You are welcome to test the machine to check it out and it all comes with the original box and power adaptor. I can also provide proof of purchase as well if necessary. Allowing for the water damage, I’m after £2150. Similar perfect machines seem to be around the £3000 mark so there is a saving even if you decided to get the screen fixed.

I haven’t ordered my new machine yet but just wanted to test the water first with this before committing to buy the new machine. If a deal is agreed, you may need to wait a few days for my new machine to arrive.

I would prefer collection as the buyer can then check the machine fully to be confident in his / her purchase.

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Slack services partners to help vendor target enterprises

Slack is partnering with IT services and consulting firms to help midsize or larger businesses adopt and use its team collaboration app.

It is Slack’s first significant step toward developing a partner channel that would help it compete with Microsoft and Cisco for large enterprises. Those vendors rely on an ecosystem of resellers and IT integrators to support businesses on a global scale.

But Slack’s initial partners are small and midsize organizations. The vendor has yet to recruit the world’s leading IT integrators. Until it does so, Slack will still be at a significant disadvantage against those larger rivals as it attempts to sell to businesses with tens of thousands of employees.

The move comes as financial analysts sour on Slack, worrying that the vendor will be unable to compete with Microsoft Teams in the enterprise market over the long term. Slack’s valuation has dropped from $19 billion to less than $12 billion amid a steady decline in its stock price over the past several months.

The Slack services partners will help businesses with more than 250 employees build integrations, train employees and figure out where Slack fits into their move to the cloud. Slack is launching the program with seven partners across the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Slack could launch a reseller program in the future, said Rich Hasslacher, Slack’s head of global alliances and channels. But, for now, the company will pay its services partners a finder’s fee worth 8% of the first-year contract of any customer they refer to Slack.

The services partners are Robot & Pencils, Adaptavist, Abeam Consulting, Ricksoft, Rainmaker, Onix and Cprime. Slack plans to add additional partners to the program around February or March of 2020, targeting markets in continental Europe, Australia and Latin America.

Developing the right ecosystem of partners will be essential to Slack’s long-term viability, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. Slack is more than just a messaging app. Yet, many businesses don’t understand how to take full advantage of the platform, he said.

“When you look at long-term viability, that’s always been around platforms, not products,” Kerravala said. “I think if Slack wants to go down that route, [the services partner program] is part of what they need to do.”

Developing a channel should also help Slack sell to IT departments, rather than to isolated business units and groups of end users. Slack has 12 million daily active users, but only 6 million paid seats. Winning more company-wide deployments would help Slack boost its paid user count.

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SAP partner program strives for long-term relationship with customers

The SAP partner program has undergone a transformation that the company believes makes it more relevant for today’s business and technology environment.

Partners have played a significant role in building the SAP ecosystem by reselling SAP products, providing strategic consulting, system design, application integration and other services. In the on-premises world, partners’ main focus was on selling and implementing SAP systems. However, as SAP’s product portfolio has broadened and the cloud has become critical to SAP’s future, the role of the SAP partner program is shifting away from sales to “customer success.”

SAP still wants its partners to sell SAP products, but in the cloud-centric world, it is pushing them to also build successful applications for customers and to continue that relationship long after an implementation. The new partner model is needed to drive the intelligent enterprise, which SAP defines as an organization that uses next-generation technology to transform processes and business models.

In this Q&A, Karl Fahrbach, SAP chief partner officer, discusses the recent changes in the SAP partner program and its priorities going forward. In March, SAP’s board of directors appointed Fahrbach as SAP’s first chief partner officer, a role designed to formalize SAP’s intentions to be a partner-focused company.

Why has the SAP partner program changed its focus from sales and implementation to ‘customer success?’

Karl Fahrbach: The main model for the partners was implementation, but things have changed a lot in the past 10 years at SAP. We have acquired many companies and have a different vision. We don’t just have one ERP product, we now have the intelligent enterprise with ERP at the core, and we have line-of-business solutions that we run on top of the SAP Cloud Platform.

Karl FahrbachKarl Fahrbach

All of this means that the opportunities for partners have changed. A study we did with IDC said the partner economy will double in the next five years from $100 billion to $200 billion because SAP offers a much bigger portfolio now … but we questioned if our partner program was ready to support that growth and change. So we have created a new, next generation partnering initiative that focuses on making sure that our partners have better access to innovation, a better experience and better economics to be profitable in this new reality.

What does the next generation partner initiative do differently than previous initiatives?

Fahrbach: We still have the PartnerEdge program, where we put the partners in boxes — SIs [systems integrators], VARs [value-added resellers], ISVs [independent software vendors] or startups. But in this new next generation evolution, we’re moving away from putting partners in boxes and looking more at the value that the partner adds to the customer. The new initiative looks at the customer lifecycle and the value that the partner adds in each of those steps. Before, we looked at partners from a sales cycle perspective, which helped us to sell and helped us implement what we sold, but then it stopped. Now in the cloud, the most relevant [key performance indicator] that we have is looking at customer success. 

Will the next generation partner initiative help smaller partners that are often the leaders in innovation?

Fahrbach: If you look at yesterday’s program, the best partner was the one that sold the most. Now we want to look not only at the quantity of the business, but the quality. One big change in the new partner program is that it will benefit the smaller firms. If you have a small boutique partner that does a fantastic job helping customers with fast adoption of SAP products, we want to reward it accordingly, even if it’s not selling the products. In the past, this partner was maybe not as relevant for us because it wasn’t selling, but now we’re looking at different metrics.

How are you tracking these new metrics?

Fahrbach: We’ve changed the way that we get feedback from partners, and we’ve also established a partner advisory council, with everyone from the big SIs to small boutique partners. We’re working on ways to provide a better partner experience and better access to innovation technologies.

Why did the SAP board create the role of chief partner officer, which is fairly unique in the software industry?

Fahrbach: The board considered the partner business as something that was going to be the innovation driver for SAP. If you look at SAP in the last 10 years, we have developed many innovative products. But when you look at the speed of innovation, we need to do something different to keep up with this pace without adding more developers. So we decided the key driver for innovation will be to work with partners. The board realized this and decided that we need to double down on the partner focus in the ecosystem. So they created the role of chief partner officer. It sends a very strong message to the market that we are a partner-led company, and we want the partners to be successful.

Will this new partner model continue given the changes in the SAP board and executive leadership this year?

Fahrbach: Yes, this will continue and the board is committed to the partner business. Both of the co-CEOs, Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein, really care about the partner business and want to make sure that the partners contribute even more to the SAP business. Adaire Fox-Martin [head of SAP global customer operations], who I report to on the board, runs the partner business and the customer business, and she really cares as well about the partner business. Even though there have been changes, we see more commitment in the board for the partner business. It’s good to change the mindset and that’s something that needs to happen as well in SAP. Ten years ago we were direct, and would leverage the partners to implement systems or serve markets that were new for us or we couldn’t really touch, like the SME segment. Now the partner business is where the partner will be always involved in creating value for the customer. That’s the mindset that we’re trying to shift to.

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