Recent Posts

Mind the True End Users

I’m an introvert.   And we introverts have superpowers.  One of my superpowers is observation.  This superpower comes in handy when trying to identify patterns.  For instance, what pattern has the best chance to create those truly great User Experiences? In my years of churning out applications, I’ve only been really proud of the User Experience a handful of times.  In those few times, it was so energizing to see the end users not only gleefully adopt the solution, but become ardent champions and promoters—not of that spot application but of enablement, enhancement and efficiency in general. What is the common […]

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Using Facial Recognition for In-Store Personalization

Earlier this month, we created a little demo of using a new service announced by Amazon Web Services called AWS Rekognition. One of the most bothersome problems with in-store clienteling is how to allow the customer to identify themselves with as little friction as possible. Some retailers try to use mobile apps or loyalty cards, but those are still cumbersome and “invasive”. I hold a particularly high level of disdain for mobile apps. In most cases, they are poorly conceived and mostly hijacked by the Marketing Department who insist on cramming every mode of advertising into a tiny screen. There […]

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Using AWS Polly for Text-to-Speech

AWS recently announced at re:Invent a slew of new tools and services to be gobbled up by eager developers.  AWS calls their strategy one of creating “elementals”–meaning that they create the building blocks and its up to us to snap those blocks together in new and interesting ways. One of the services introduced is AWS Polly, a text to speech synthesizer with its own simple API.  Now, Alexa Skills Kit has been around for a while and does text-to-speech pretty well, but its overkill if all you need is to generate a simple audio file from some text.  Plus, its […]

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Query AWS Redshift from SAP Netweaver

AWS Redshift is a petabyte-scale data warehouse that’s a fully managed and optimized for large-scale datasets. Deep down, its built upon massive parallel processing (MPP) technology from ParAccel with a PostgreSQL flavor. Amazon provides native ODBC and JDBC drivers so you can connect just about any business intelligence or ETL tools up to RedShift. Like most things on AWS, you decide how much horsepower and storage you want. For about $1000 per terabyte per year, you can provide a fault-tolerant, encrypted data warehouse to unlimited users. If you’ve outgrown your existing operational data stores and are considering the creation of […]

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Calling into SAP Netweaver from AWS Lambda

One of the challenges of achieving the coveted “real-time inventory visibility” for public-facing applications is that it is nearly impossible to achieve. Let’s say that SAP ECC was your source of record for inventory and you indeed used all the local business processes to get that perpetual inventory view. You use sales orders, material movements, warehouse management features…Great! The problem comes when you want to expose that real-time visibility to public-facing applications like a mobile app or web site. Most implementations get around this by replicating a copy of inventory into a special “offline” copy that gets updated every so […]

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Integrating SAP’s IDOC Interface into AWS API Gateway and AWS Lambda

There’s a saying that goes “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, and in the world of Enterprise Application Integrations, the lowly IDOC is certainly an Old Dog. For decades, SAP’s Intermediate Document or IDOC has been a mainstay of messaging integrations patterns. It’s durable, simple, widely supported and proven. The IDOC processing framework on SAP Netweaver platforms is some of the oldest and most mature code in the entire application. What I will show you here is how to connect SAP’s IDOC interface with various AWS services to perhaps get some new tricks out of the “Old Dog”. […]

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Serverless URL Shortener using S3, Lambda, DynamoDB and API Gateway

This time around, I wanted to share something from our public GitHub site–a little HOWTO on using some serverless technology.  “Serverless” is all the rage right now and we have a few really interesting mashups involving SAP products and AWS services in the works that I’ll share soon. Feel free to clone or fork this if you’d like! Summary There are many URL shorteners out there implemented in PHP, Node, Ruby, etc. Dave Konopka has also created a really neat version using the AWS components of Lambda, Dynamo and the API gateway with a ridiculously cheap operating cost…about $5.12 per month […]

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Have You Challenged A Constraint Today?

A childhood buddy of mine, Steve, is obsessed with Theory of Constraints. He’s worked in a variety of industries from Aircraft Radar Technician to Public Relations to Software Support, ultimately going back to school to earn his MBA from the University of Alabama with specialization in Supply Chain & Operations Management. A veritable Deming-obsessed Rainman, my buddy can link every encounter or interaction right back to Theory of Constraints like some nerdy Operations Management game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon“. Theory of Constrains, or “ToC” as the Hipsters call it, is a management concept that is pretty much what […]

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Retailers Can Sell More by “Selling” Less!

Retail Sales. Those two words conjure up images of slick used car salesmen or high pressure boiler room tactics just to lure you into buying whatever I’m selling. Cue scene of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross giving his “motivational speech” about A-B-C. Retail IT solutions seem to be hyper-focused on the act of selling—upsell, cross-sell, bundling, dynamic promotions, customer lifetime value, market segmentation, units per transaction, conversion rate, etc. Additionally, most corporate metrics and incentive programs reinforce priority attention to these concepts quite explicitly. And this does get results. However, if the processes, tools and training we provide to […]

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