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SAP beefs up its openSAP MOOC learning platform with 7 new courses

SAP's openSAP MOOC learning platform is growing, with more learners and seven new courses; Oxford Economics' survey shows that strong leadership is needed to create digital winners.

If you are tasked with starting an SAP-related big data or IoT project or just want more information about these topics, SAP wants to help expand your knowledge. The company is adding seven new courses to its openSAP online learning platform.

OpenSAP uses a massive open online course (MOOC) principle to deliver courses that feature online lectures delivered by SAP experts, self-tests and graded homework to track progress, in addition to online forums where students can discuss course content. Courses follow a fixed weekly schedule and can be completed with one half-day of study per week, according to Michaela Laemmler, global head of openSAP.

"There are now 400,000 unique learners and 1.4 million course enrollments," Laemmler said. "It's really an open platform for anyone worldwide, and we have people from 185 countries training on the platform. It's easy to access; only an email address is needed to register on the platform, and all courses are truly available free of charge."

Courses are active for a limited amount of time and learners generally spend three to four hours each week on course work, which includes assignments and a weekly timed test, Laemmler explained. Points earned on the tests and final exams lead to an online certificate, which openSAP calls a record of achievement, in the subject matter. Course material and content is available after a course becomes inactive, but the record of achievement will no longer be available.

OpenSAP was launched primarily to help SAP professionals keep up with new technology trends and innovations, according to Bernd Welz, SAP executive vice president for scale, enablement and transformation.

"We started openSAP in 2013. It was around the same time HANA was released, and the rationale behind it was that we had to reach many more people with our innovations and new technologies," Welz said. "Specifically because now it's moving so fast, there's innovation every quarter and the traditional classroom training is way too slow."

The MOOC platform makes it easier to get course subject matter for a new product or innovation together in a timely way, and learners can access it at any time from any device. Courses also include discussion forums where learners can discuss the topic with each other and the experts, according to Welz.

"Learning is a social activity, and with the forum, we can satisfy [that] demand," he said.

The new courses that will be available in the upcoming month include:

  • Imagine IoT. A hands-on course that demonstrates how to use IoT with the knowledge, tools and approaches that prototype an IoT experience.
  • Big Data with SAP HANA Vora. The third class in the SAP HANA Core Knowledge Series explores how to provide enriched, interactive analytics on data stored in Hadoop and demonstrates how to combine corporate data with big data via SAP HANA Vora.
  • Basics of Design Research. This course provides a foundation for conducting people-centric design research to identify users' needs.
  • Developing Java-Based Apps on SAP HANA Cloud Platform. This advanced course for developers demonstrates how to develop Java-based apps on SAP HCP using the updated enterprise sales and procurement model application.
  • Design the Future of Your CRM. This course demonstrates the difficulties of running today's businesses with old CRM systems and shows how today's SAP platforms for customer engagement and commerce can drive relevant experience across all customer touch points in real time.
  • SHINE Reference for Native SAP HANA Application Development. The fourth course in the SAP HANA Core Knowledge Series explores SHINE features, including a demo, a deep dive into its major capabilities and an introduction to SHINE for SAP HANA extended application services, advanced model.
  • Talent Management Best Practices with SAP SuccessFactors. This course examines how SAP SuccessFactors can be used for talent management, including all the major talent management processes and functions.

Digital winners have the advantage in the digital economy

Organizations require strong leadership if they are going to thrive in the new digital economy, according to a new survey from Oxford Economics.

The Leaders 2020 survey, which was sponsored by SAP, included more than 4,100 executives and employees from a number of organizations worldwide. The surveys were conducted in the second quarter of 2016. This followed a 2014 survey from Oxford Economics called Workforce 2020 that focused on the future of work.

The survey said that organizations with strong digital leadership were more profitable and had more satisfied employees. However, these organizations, which were defined as "Digital Winners," represented just 16% of the respondents to the survey. Most companies were only in the early stages of becoming digital winners, said Karie Willyerd, SAP head of global customer education and learning. 

"It shows there's a ways to go yet -- it's important to note that this shows that there are 16% of the companies that are digital winners, but that means that there are 84% who are not," Willyerd said. "That's perhaps the most remarkable finding, is that we have a ways to go for the other companies to catch up to the digital winners."

Leaders 2020 defined four criteria that were shared by all of the digital winners, according to Willyerd. Digital winners must embrace digital technologies and embed them in all aspects of the organization; streamline decision making across the organization and make real-time, data-driven decisions; flatten the organization and reduce bureaucracy and complexity; and build a digital workforce by improving the digital proficiency of managers and employees.

The first imperative is to make digital more than a buzzword and make it a real part of organizational strategy; however, most of the respondents felt that their organizations had ground to make up in this area. Just over 50% of executives, and even fewer employees, said that their senior leadership was highly proficient at using technology to achieve competitive advantage, facilitate innovation and manage a global workforce.

The second imperative is to embrace diversity as an investment. Organizations that reported higher revenue and profitability growth were more likely to have leadership who recognized the value and positive impact of diversity on financial performance. However, the survey indicated that just 34% of executives and 39% of employees reported that their organizations had effective diversity programs in place.

The third imperative urges companies to pay heed to millennial executives. Millennials make up the largest segment of the workforce now and represented 17% of the executives in the survey, but the report showed that they were skeptical that senior leadership had the skills to drive digital transformation. Just 37% of millennial respondents said that senior leadership was proficient in using technology for competitive advantage, contrasting with 60% of non-millennials.

The fourth imperative is to invest in the workforce, as digital winners had more loyal and satisfied employees. The report said that 87% of respondents from digital winners said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, compared with 63% of other employees. The satisfaction, in turn, paid off for the organizations, as the report said that 93% of very satisfied employees went well beyond the minimum requirements of the job, compared with just 39% of unsatisfied workers.

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