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There was an article published in HBR titled “The Biggest Challenges of Data-Driven Manufacturing” in which they pointed out that IoT is at its peak for hype.  It cites the following 4 real challenges manufacturing faces with adopting IoT technologies to see true productivity gains:


  1. Going from “time-triggered” to “event-triggered”
  2. Transitioning to a shared data model (not just data exchange)
  3. Integrating legacy systems
  4. Uncovering security challenges that were never initially conceived 


While I agree with these challenges, I think this article misses a fifth key challenge that is also crucial to IoT technology adoption within manufacturing, and it’s a harder one to list because it’s harder to define.  What this article misses is the organizational impact IoT technology has on manufacturing. You know, the human aspect of Things. The fifth challenge is the cultural shift away from organizing responsibility by the “top floor” of the plant (where IT systems tend to live) and its “shop floor” (where the machines are programed and manufacturing execution systems live). 


Think about the impact this division of responsibility has within manufacturing.  For example, the IT systems that control the orders for a plant’s output are typically setup and maintained by a completely different group of people than the people who program the machines to produce that output. So what happens if an enterprise wants to go to demand driven manufacturing?  Or what if they want to adjust downstream processes based on upstream waste measures? Or what if they want to halt batches based on live quality test results?  These are all powerful “event-driven” examples of what IoT technology can do for manufacturing.  Now what group of people are ultimately responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining the technology responsible for these new processes? 


The answer is that there are different groups that need to share this responsibility, but are they ready to?  A wiser manufacturing lead at SAP told me that when he gets these different factions into one room (which is rare) he likes to break the ice by introducing the groups to each other with the provocative suggestion that the groups also don’t generally like each other.  This suggestion always generates laughs but also nods.  Each group has existed up until now implementing systems without the others help (or sometimes knowledge of) because they could. 


Within IoT we talk about IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology) convergence, but the focus needs to extend from the data and systems convergence to the actual people who are ultimately responsible for doing.  At SAP, we can use Design Thinking to help overcome these organizational barriers.  First, we bring people from diverse backgrounds together to work as one multi-disciplinary team.  Then we work together to clearly define the real business problem that we wish to solve (i.e. not a faster horse).  Lastly, we ideate as one team, bringing our diverse experiences and backgrounds together to solve the problem.  We can easily munge data and systems together, however in my experience munging people is always harder.   


>> Sarah McMullin is a Director for Emerging Technologies at SAP Waterloo.  Working for a big company does not stop her from running simple like a startup.  Successful creator of junior honey badgers and applications that create new markets.  Fascinated by biogenomics and food fraud.  Follow me on twitter @Sarah_Sugoi

Vestas is a global energy company with the incredible distinction of having been founded in 1898 – yes, not 1998 - 1898! The company started within a blacksmith shop in Western Denmark far before “going green” was fashionable.


Today, Vestas produce, sell and maintain wind power plants and turbines, while employing over 20,000 people from around the world. The company also has the distinction of being the only global energy company dedicated exclusively to wind energy. This would be a pretty good place to be because since 2000, the International Energy Agency has raised its long-term wind forecast five times. vestas1.jpg


Given the rapidly growing demand for renewable energy, and the plummeting price of oil over the last two years, Vestas appears perfectly positioned for even more growth. According to Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, there’s more good news for renewable energy on the horizon.


“We’re in a low-cost-of-oil environment for the foreseeable future,” Leibreich stated while delivering a keynote address at the recent BNEF Summit in NYC. “Did that stop renewable energy investment? Not at all.”


Not only are external expectations high for Vestas, but the company’s stated goal is to grow their service revenue by 40% in 3 years. However, this aspiration coupled with the increasing global demand for renewable energy presented Vestas with a few technical challenges.


Vestas end-users in the sales area, were saying that in order to remain responsive to customers, they required more agility within the on premise CRM solution. Reps in the field needed more effective “off-line” capabilities including the ability to work remotely from iPads. Additionally, not only were sales leads acquired by service not reaching salespeople, but reps were heading into meetings with customers that had service issues that they weren’t even aware of.


Within the service area, there was a need for a better customer experience when tickets for issues were opened up. Issues were not being resolved after the initial request and calling back for the same problem was making for some unhappy customers.


The company decided to conduct workshops with various vendors (including SalesForce.com), with what the company describes as the “real end-users” to help identify a solution. Remarkably, it was during the very first interactive workshop that Vestas employees quickly realized that what they were looking for could be found via the SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales & Service solution.


With the SAP solution,Vestas is now:

  • Faster in responding to their customer’s needs
  • Leveraging mobile capabilities to access and update customer information in real time
  • Enabling their service tech’s to upsell customers directly within a service call, or route the call directly to sales
  • Drive better customer loyalty while increasing footprint in the market place 


John Tholstrub Bendtsen, IT Global Business Partner, Vestas, believes that the impact of implementing SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales and Service has been providing the company with a “whole new way of working” and further added that, “SAP supports the strategic direction we foresee in our business.”


With this cloud solution, salespeople at Vestas are empowered with critical information prior to meeting with potential customers, and the service group now has the right tools to provide faster service times and one call resolution.


This is great news because according to BNEF, every time global wind power doubles, there’s a 19% drop in cost. These developments invariably mean that more people concerned about the environment can use wind as a renewable energy source and are better able to go green.


Ideally, a few of these same people have their own idea for a future earth-sustaining business. If they need a little inspiration, they can always look to that very forward-thinking blacksmith that founded Vestas more than a century ago!


Find new energy with me on Twitter



SAP, together with Prospect Silicon Valley hosted The Connected & Charged Symposium which is the region’s signature business and civic

leadership forum on the latest challenges and strategies for new technologies and solutions in connected transportation, mobility and electrification.



The day was kicked off with an excellent panel, bringing together all different business sectors, from analysts at McKinsey to sustainability officers at the City of Palo Alto to CEO and Co-Founders.  The discussion was all about the fact that today it is not just about sustainability, new technologies or autonomous cars, or connected parking or ride-sharing – it is not about private business, or government, or multi-billion dollar companies, it is all about how do we bring all of this great technology together,

across different industries, from private to public and make it seamless for humans.



How do we make sure that we don't just talk about autonomous cars without talking about connected parking, ride-sharing, and predictive maintenance. For example, if we just talk about and promote the use of autonomous cars, we are at risk of creating more issues on our roads today, than ever before. Think about it, if, for example 100 autonomous cars are added to the already overloaded road system today, with only one passenger, going to one location, that doesn’t bring any benefit - it just added a 100 more vehicle to the roads. 


We need to look at how we ensure that anyone who wants to utilize an autonomous car can.  How can he or she ensure that the car is available when they want it – that it can go to multiple destinations, pick up other passengers, and how also to use the same vehicles, not only take people from one location to another, but also for transportation of goods. 


How do we fuel an autonomous vehicle? Where does an autonomous vehicle park when not in use? How do we maintain and fix vehicles even before they break down?  And how about paying for the services… the fuel, the oil change and the parking?  For this user experience to be realized, huge amounts of IoT sensor data needs to be collected from various vehicles and infrastructure assets.  The IoT sensor data streams needs to be analyzed and presented in “real time” with “live” data and integrated into the Digital Core of many businesses across multiple industries. Moving from ‘Insight to Action...’


There are only a handful of companies that are: (a) an agent for Digital Transformation (b) trusted across industries and geographies (c) have the technology, people and ability to deliver. SAP is definitely one of them. SAP is the world’s largest provider of Enterpise Application Software with approximately 310,000 customers in 190 countries and let’s not forget that 76% of all worldwide business transactions touch an SAP system. This puts SAP in a unique position to be able to bring together different industries, from consumer to retail, from manufacturing to transportation and SAP has SAP HANA, an in-memory data platform that can crunch those huge amounts of data rapidly, perform real-time analytics, and deploy real-time applications. SAP is not in the business of building autonomous cars, operating IoT sensor networks, or offering payment settlement services. SAP is in the business of integrating all of these technologies to deliver a unique and delightful consumer digital experience. 


If you are interested in learning more, information can be found on the IoT section @ SAP.com

It has been a very busy year for our ASUG SAP CoE Community. Our dedicated ASUG SAP CoE leadership team has done a lot of great work, our team includes: Joe Zabaglo - K-Swiss, Doug Shuptar - SAP and Danielle Brady - SAP.  We continue to get tremendous support  from our ASUG members: SAP Customers, SAP and our partners.


Since October 2015, we have completed ten full day SAP CoE events, seven webcasts and we just finished  another amazing SAPPHIRE Now and ASUG Annual Conference 2016 in Orlando.


In this blog post I would like to highlight and recap, not just what we have done so far but what we have learned along the way. I also want to share some of the upcoming activities that we have in store for our CoE throughout the rest of the year. We have a lot of exciting activities in the works for our ASUG SAP CoE Community.

Topics to be covered in this blog post:


  • Community Customer Feedback Says … Input from hundreds of customers across North America
  • What We Have Been Up To … Stories SAP CoE experts from seven webcasts
  • What You May Have Missed at ASUG SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 … Important things you need to know
  • What’s Up Next …Upcoming webcasts and face to face events in six cities across North America



Community Customer Feedback Says …

We had the opportunity to speak with and gather input from hundreds of SAP customers  that attended our ASUG SAP CoE full day events across that were held in Calgary, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, New York City and Orlando. Here is a consolidated view of what we heard in terms of what their most pressing issues currently are in their organization related to their SAP Center of Excellence.





Our ASUG SAP CoE Community team plans on leveraging the customer feedback for future community content and programming delivered via webcasts, face to face events, blogs etc. Its the voice of our members that helps drive our community content.



What We Have Been Up To …

In additional to our ASUG SAP CoE full day events in ten cities from October 2015, we have delivered seven ASUG CoE webcasts covering a wide variety of topics.


Here are the some of the stories that one of our ASUG CoE Community SAP Points of Contact Doug Shuptar recapped for us in his blog post from each of our seven ASUG CoE webcasts:


Independent analyst and author, Michael Doane presented, “The Center of Excellence: From Inception to Maturity- Thrive After Go Live.

Speak Their Language: Building a Best-in-Class Center of Excellence

Kevin Reilly, ASUG’s HANA Community Advocate and former CIO at Eby-Brown discussed how the Center of Excellence may be impacted by S/4 HANA, Cloud, and other ‘stuff.


Preparing the CoE to Support HANA

Doug Shuptar, a Principle Consultant with SAP’s Business Transformation Services Group discussed: What does IT governance look like? What are the components of IT governance?

IT Governance – Structure and Processes

Excellence in What ?... Your People.” Kerry Brown, from SAP and Kris(KJ) Jackson from Pfizer shared insights on User Adoption and Enablement to drive real value from any organization.


Without People, It’s Just Software

Doug Shuptar provided a perspective on five trends for the Center of Excellence and how to respond to them. One of the trends he discussed was how to prepare the CoE for making the most of the data being generated.


The Big Deal About Big Data – How the Center of Excellence Should Respond


Angelle Jenkins, a SAP IT Service Architect with SAP’s IT Planning organization discussed best practices and strategies when using outside service.


There’s More to It than Finding the Right Body

Steve Wroblewski, from SAP’s IT Planning Group, outlined the method behind the Total Cost of Ownership benchmark survey and the updated RunSAP Like a Factory benchmark survey.


Does My SAP Make Me Look Big ?



What You May Have Missed at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference 2016 …

Orlando was a huge success overall, as was our ASUG full day CoE preconference session that was held on May 16th. We had a great day that included five impressive customers presentations as well as presentations from SAP and Partner CoE experts. Our CoE preconference day as a great kickoff to the overall conference event.


During this preconfence CoE day our speakers shared their insights on the importance of:

  • Networking and User Groups
  • Maturity
  • Executive Alignment
  • Figuring Out Who You
  • Company Culture
  • Keeping Score The Importance of Value
  • Preparing for the Transformation
  • Education

I definitely recommend reading this very informative blog post written by Doug Shuptar that shares these " Importance of " key insights and learnings from our preconference session.


It was Important to be There – SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 and ASUG Annual Conference CoE Pre-Conference

What’s Up Next …

Upcoming Webcasts -  ASUG CoE Community

We are in the process of working on scheduling our next series of webcasts - stay tuned for more information on these. Customer input helps us plan what we deliver next.


Upcoming Face to Face Events - Info Days Roadshow: SAP Centers of Excellence and SAP Solution Manager 7.2

ASUG and SAP are pleased to invite ASUG members to attend our upcoming ASUG and SAP Center of Excellence and Solution Manager 2016 Info Day series. Each Info Day event includes a full day dedicated to SAP Centers of Excellence and a full day dedicated to SAP Solution Manager 7.2.

  • Toronto SAP Centers of Excellence Info Day – June 7, 2016
  • Toronto SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Info Day – June 8, 2016


  • Chicago SAP Center of Excellence Info Day – June 9, 2016
  • Chicago SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Info Day – June 10, 2016


  • Houston SAP Center of Excellence Info Day – June 22, 2016
  • Houston SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Info Day – June 23, 2016


  • Palo Alto SAP Center of Excellence Info Day – July 26, 2016
  • Palo Alto SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Info Day – July 27, 2016


  • Seattle SAP Center of Excellence Info Day – July 28, 2016
  • Seattle SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Info Day – July 29, 2016


  • Newtown Square SAP Center of Excellence Info Day – October 17, 2016
  • Newtown Square SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Info Day – October 18, 2016

Learn more about these Info Days and register

Our ASUG SAP CoE Community will continue our focus on helping our SAP customers to optimize and get more value from their SAP investments today and prepare for tomorrow.   If you are not already a member,  join our ASUG SAP Center of Excellence ( CoE) Community today

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me Paul.Kurchina@asug.com


The day before SAPPHIRE NOW officially began, Jen Morgan hosted, “A Call to Lead.”  The convergence of thought leaders and executives led to powerful discussion. Plus astute advice on how to lead in today’s digital economy.


I love these type of summits.  They feed into my hunger for inspiration.  More than any book ever could, summits like A Call to Lead thought leading ideas to life.  Even better, we learn a bit of the ‘secret sauce’ that accomplished leaders are willing to pass down to aspiring ones.


It was the second time I’d seen Amy Cuddy who found fame with the 2012 TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.”  Since then her research (and talk) has expanded to include more on the topic of power.  She advised us that when you are present you release others to be present as well.  In Amy’s research, she has found that the word most associated with “power” is “corrupts.”  She questions how we can teach people to lead when we have such a negative connotation of power?


Furthermore, we know that being powerless leads to inhibition.  People shut down when they feel powerless.  It is self-destructive to us and to others.


Amy Cuddy says that facial expressions aren’t just windows into your feelings but are also the source of emotions.  So if you smile more you will actually feel happier.  Conversely if you frown more you will become more cross.


She shared research that links hormones and effective leadership.  Leaders with high testosterone and low cortisol are the most loved and most effective. And leaders with both high testosterone and high cortisol are feared.


Amy Cuddy’s team at Harvard continues their research on body language.  They have found that when you take an expansive pose your breathing improves.  Your body knows that it is not in a fight or flight situation.   When showing children, as young a 4 years old, images of models in expansive or pulled-in poses, the children identified the women as those who were drawn in.  What is the lesson here?  We should teach our daughters to expand not for others but for themselves.


After Amy Cuddy spoke there was a panel.  Wow was there a lot of talent there! Vanessa Smith, the chief of staff within SAP’s Office of the CEO, moderated.  Her questions were so thought provoking that we were treated to some fantastic replies. Joining Vanessa on the panel were Dyan Decker (partner at PwC), Elena Donio (President of Concur), Kathy Miller (Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, US Army), Lila Snyder (President, Global eCommerce at Pitney Bowes) and Bob Nardelli (Former Chairman/CEO at Home Depot and former CEO Chrysler).


Dyan Decker gave this advice, "people overlook the importance of emotional intelligence, empathy, to diffuse a situation."  She spoke about how at PwC the average age is young, around 27.  Millenials, she said, are challenging more seasoned leadership to bring a sense of purpose to our daily work.  Her parting advice – be curious.


Elena Donio spoke about how professional purpose needs to change as you move up in seniority.  She said, "Leader, mentor, teacher is okay. Managers don't need to only produce, they need to delegate.  I used to go home and say I didn't do anything today I just talked. But then I realized that is my job. To lead, mentor and teach."  She also spoke about her personal journey to become an authentic leader as well as working mother.  It wasn’t until a male colleague became an unapologetic parent to twins that she had a model for how she wanted to lead as a female and working mom.  Her parting advice was to remember that careers can have both peaks and valleys and that is okay.


Kathy Miller spoke about the transformation that has occurred for women within the US Army. She challenged us to think about what we would do if we weren't afraid.


Lila Snyder shared a valuable lesson that she learned while at McKinsey, “diversity of thought is the most powerful thing you can bring to a team.”  Similar to the advice from Kathy, Lila encouraged us to have the confidence to take on the assignment that scares you.


Bob Nardelli holds the view that it is important to be somewhat uncomfortable with your leadership team.  He argues that you need to surround yourself with people that will push you.  The corner office, as he knows first hand, is increasingly faced with complexity.  He is a strong believer in investing in people and shared that "when you invest in physical capital it immediately starts to depreciate; however, when you invest in human capital it immediately starts to appreciate."  The advice Bob left us with is this.  “Do an outstanding in your current job.  Establish a broad base because a vertical only progression doesn't do well in the wind.”


A Call to Lead closed with a discussion with Arianna Huffington.  It was my second time seeing her.  When you hear Arianna speak you can’t help but notice authenticity in what she advocates.  Specifically, she focuses on two areas: getting enough sleep and her entrepreneurial journey at the Huffington Post.


Arianna's sleep passion started when she clasped and was diagnosed with burnout.  She told the audience, who was presumably filled with high achievers, that "you are getting paid for your judgment not for your stamina."  Fantastic advice.


In speaking about leading the Huffington Post, Arianna spoke to a bit of her management philosophy.  She said that "the only rule of recruitment we have at Huffington Post is no brilliant jerks allowed.” Meaning that it’s important to surround yourself with people you enjoy working with.  She has famously banned phones and other electronic devices from her leadership team meetings.  As a result, the team is more focused and the meeting time reduced (over 50%).


As a leader, Arianna is most excited about how technology is a democratizing factor.  She uses the Huffington Post as an example of a platform that can give normal people a voice to tell their story.


She closed by providing a benchmark for a maturing leadership style. Leaders need to learn to deal with things in a centered way and forgive themselves when losing their cool.  I couldn’t agree more.


Lastly, Jen Morgan closed the day with this call to action.  Sleep (a nod to Arianna Huffington) on what was learned during A Call to Lead.  Then put these lessons into action so that the wind will always be at your back.  Thank you Jen for the wonderful experience.  I look forward to using these lessons.  Also, I hope that this blog post will enable others who couldn’t attend the summit to find a few nuggets of inspiration as well.

Remember how self-righteous we all got when Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich declared war on file-sharing site Napster in the 1990’s? How dare this multi-millionaire demand more money for his music! Isn’t he rich enough?! Just who does this greedy rock star think he is?!

Turns out, he was the smartest guy in the room.

music.jpgMaybe his timing seemed a bit nefarious since his band was flush with success from its multi-platinum best-seller, The Black Album. But the reality is that Mr. Ulrich saw a terrible disruption – the devaluation of music - heading his way.

Whether file-sharing, streaming or digital downloading, at the end of the day, all of this convenience that Napster kick-started has turned the music industry on its head in the worst kind of way. Monetizing the digital music landscape via subscription-based services like Spotify isn’t the win-win we thought it would be either. People still steal music. Artists still get screwed.

And now that rumors are circulating that Apple iTunes – whose profits have been declining since 2013 – plans to phase out downloads in the next few years, the music industry (major labels) must pay close attention to the demand signals of what is working.

Let’s get physical

My sage advice to music labels? Don’t underestimate the resurgence of vinyl records - or any type of physical media for that matter. These are real products that music fans love collecting in-store and/or online and will pay top dollar for.

Thankfully, burgeoning music communities like Bandcamp, which grew by 35% last year, have figured out a way to make physical and digital co-exist in perfect harmony. In a recent blog post called “Bandcamp, Downloads, Streaming, and the Inescapably Bright Future” Bandcamp said fans pay artists $4.3 million dollars every month using the site, and they buy about 25,000 records a day, which works out to about one every 4 seconds.

Here’s more from the Bandcamp post:

Subscription-based music streaming, on the other hand, has yet to prove itself to be a viable model, even after hundreds of millions of investment dollars raised and spent. For our part, we are committed to offering an alternative that we know works. As long as there are fans who care about the welfare of their favorite artists and want to help them keep making music, we will continue to provide that direct connection. And as long as there are fans who want to own, not rent, their music, that is a service we will continue to champion.


Is the Bandcamp model music to your ears? Sound off in the comments

hasssscn.jpgIn a world where business models are disrupted in an instant, SAP S/4HANA is the fastest way to co-innovations and market leadership according to Prof. Dr. Hasso Plattner, SAP co-founder and Chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board. Speaking to thousands of customers during his keynote at the annual SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG Conference held this week in Orlando, Florida, Plattner laid out a clear business case for companies to transition their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to SAP S/4HANA, focusing on “one database, one platform, one system.”  In a conversation studded with riveting demos and unequivocal customer testimonials, Plattner held the audience’s attention with both straightforward facts and figures, as well as his trademark off-the-cuff humor.

“Questions about our road map, delivery and integration have been more intense in recent weeks, but they are not an indication of friction between you [customers] and us,” he said. “What it means is that the number of companies moving to SAP S/4HANA is growing exponentially. You’re asking us when is what available so you can time your moves. So it’s actually a great sign of increased S/4HANA adoption.”


Reducing complexity accelerates innovation

Plattner’s main theme was that customers generally understand the value of SAP S/4HANA adoption, and their main question is how to accelerate their path to adoption.

“Everyone understands how superior the architecture is. It’s not about the quality, speed or simplicity of S/4HANA – that’s all understood,” he said. “It’s only about how customers get there, how long it will take to transfer data, and how can we accelerate.”


Comparing SAP S/4HANA’s simplicity to that of the Tesla automobile, Plattner said the platform is the foundation an explosion of innovative applications. He was backed by video testimonials from companies including Asian Paints, Electronica Steren and Innovabee that hammered home the speed of transitioning and business value of the platform. Plattner also emphasized the sea change SAP S/4HANA represents for how companies collaborate using the SAP Digital Boardroom, and co-innovate with partnerships like the ones SAP recently announced with Apple and Microsoft.

“These are the mega-moves,” he said. “We are bringing data together on the HANA Cloud Platform from networks, ERP systems – everywhere – to build powerful applications that have nothing to do with traditional areas.”


Four steps to transformation

The centerpiece of his keynote featured an on-stage demo of how customers can follow a four-step process using SAP’s cloud-based Maintenance Planner to create a transition plan from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA. “I have to admit if you’re a 100 billion revenue company it is a little bit more complicated,” said Plattner. “But we do everything to make this transition as easy, clean and secure as possible. The speed of HANA helps as the downtime is minimized.”


SAP Digital Boardroom for live business

Hasso showcased the SAP Digital Boardroom as a prime example of how SAP S/4HANA allows companies to collaborate in real-time for live business, using immediate insights from anywhere to make fully informed decisions. Interactive business simulations gained by connecting financial and non-financial drivers with KPIs allow managers to validate assumptions in real-time.

“We can now do things for companies that are absolutely amazing,” said Plattner. “Decision-makers can use predictive analytics to simulate results on the fly using data from anywhere – location, spatial, text, mapping. Mash-ups were a playground a few years ago. Now it’s something every program on our platform can do. This is a new world and we built this capability on SAP S/4HANA.”

Meaningful collaboration like a startup

Pointing to the real-time business impact of applications like SAP Financial Statements Insights and SAP RealSpend, Plattner hailed a new era for SAP’s relationships with customers. He shared a vision of what the digitized world looks like, fueled by machine learning to produce intelligent enterprise applications along with stronger customer co-innovation. “Big Data from SAP S/4HANA, business networks and cloud applications mean that people can now build out applications we have never had or done, even together with you,” he said. “The collaboration is at a level of unbelievable quality. Only with your domain knowledge can we build applications like this. We need your expertise, and are going back to the early days of SAP because that’s how startups run.”


SAPKnowledgeWorkspacecallout.jpgPlattner’s keynote closed with one of the most fascinating demos of the prototyped SAP Knowledge Workspace, (shown at right), an open collaborative workspace for virtual problem-solving and decision-making. Instead of wasting time on email chains, and searching for data in disparate systems, teams can bring all the information and experts together in one place to gain predictive insights and take action quickly.

“The days of the single clerk working on the same task every day are most likely replaced by machine learning and automation,” he said. “I believe this is the future for workspaces where different experts come together and create meaningful collaboration.”

Follow me @smgaler


Related Content:

Watch Hasso Plattner’s keynote replay at SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG 2016

Learn more about SAP Knowledge Workspace

Mike Ettling at SAPPHIRE NOW 2016: Building the Strongest Business Case for HR Transformation

It’s not widely known for archaeology, but JPMorgan Chase & Co. found an ancient relic a few weeks ago as it was closing an office in Houston. Nestled in a back cupboard was a fixed-asset ledger: a physical book used decades before our enlightened era of digital transformation to log write-offs, depreciation and other transactions.


SAPPHIRE NOW Digital Transformation in Financial Services 05-25-2016-A.jpg
Digital transformation is the way to become a Live Business, running in the moment -- and meeting your customers wherever they are.

“It was literally nearly a foot thick, sheets of paper in there for each of the different asset accounts that we had,” Jonathan Ridgwell, director of Global Procure to Pay at JPMorgan, told an audience at SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 last week -- and guessing that the ledger dated to the 1970s. “I was overawed by nostalgia, and thinking about how things used to be done.”


Things used to be done by hand, with an overall focus on the bottom line. But as financial services organizations become Live Businesses, new technology is helping them put their customers at the center of what they do, as JPMorgan and two other customers discussed during a session about digital transformation and its impact on financial services.


Powering Massive Scale


At the time JPMorgan used that foot-thick ledger -- long before it became a multinational banking and financial services holding company -- it probably employed about 2,000 people, according to Ridgwell.


“We’re now talking 75,000 people in 58 countries, processing 12 million invoices a year, for a total of about $22 billion,” Ridgwell said. “I don’t even think it would be possible to do that manually, in ledgers, in paper form today.”


And you can’t put customers at the center if you can’t even process your invoices.


But forget the ledger; even using state-of-the-art technology from 1970s would have been terribly cumbersome at that scale, as SAP’s Thack Brown noted last year at SAPinsider in Nice. Only 10 to 20 percent of the code addressed the business challenge, while the other 80 to 90 percent dealt with performance limitations in the relational database.


So giant multinationals such as JPMorgan couldn’t exist without digitization and digitalization -- or the software and hardware that enable them, Ridgwell stated. “Without the technology that we have today,” he said, “we really wouldn’t be able to do the things on the scale that we do.”


SAPPHIRE NOW Digital Transformation in Financial Services 05-25-2016-B.jpg
Digital technology enables Live Businesses to work faster and more accurately -- and grow much bigger -- than they could otherwise, especially when compared to using paper files and ledgers.

Facing the Individual Customer


Digital transformation has been very disruptive for companies that haven’t had to evolve much since 1824, such as Belgian multinational insurance company Ageas SA/NV. That includes the way Ageas runs itself; the way it sells and distributes products; and the products themselves, according to Hans van Wuijckhuijse, the company’s regional director of Business Development in Asia.


“We have automated, but we haven’t really changed the models -- or the concepts -- that are behind [our] products,” Wuijckhuijse said. “[But] we have to put the customer in the center of what we are doing.”


That’s especially tough in an industry accustomed to letting intermediaries take care of the customer relationship. Prospects used to visit an insurance agent to buy a product, and insurance companies knew about their customers only by numbers and aggregate.


“That same customer is now shopping around and probably has some 14 or more touch points before he ever decides to buy something,” Wuijckhuijse said. Those touch points can include tweets and Facebook posts. “We have to face our customers ... so we have to develop our business in a way that we can really respond to their demands, and come up with solutions that are in the digital space.”


Putting Internal and External Clients in the Center


Not bound by centuries of tradition, BB&T is using digital transformation to work differently and create a new business model, according to CIO Will Shupe. The American financial services holding company approaches put both internal and external customers at the center.


“[We’re] making sure that our internal customers who work for BB&T can do work in a more efficient and effective way, eliminating manual processes, bringing automation ... and other capabilities to the table,” Shupe said. “[For] the external client, they want to do anything anytime, anywhere, with any device.”


So the bank rolled out U by BB&T, a mobile app with a customizable dashboard for managing BB&T and non-BB&T accounts. Users can set and track savings goals, make person-to-person payments and connect with the bank -- you guessed it -- anywhere from any mobile device.


“It really allows for the end user ... to do what they want to do with their mobile device when they want to do it,” Shupe said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to delight the customer.”


SAPPHIRE NOW Digital Transformation in Financial Services 05-25-2016-C.jpg
At SAPPHIRE NOW last week, SAP’s David O’Malley (right) led a discussion about digital transformation’s impact on financial services. Participants were from Ageas, JPMorgan Chase and BB&T.

The Path to Run Live


Whether an organization is replacing paper, facing prospects for the first time in centuries or simply delighting its customers with a new mobile app, digital transformation is the way to become a Live Business. This technology lets users Run Live, which means everyone across the organization can work from one version of the truth, on one platform -- with instant clarity, unprecedented agility and continuous control -- from anywhere on any device.


And let’s face it: It’s far easier to look up something on a smartphone than in a foot-thick ledger.


Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher


More From SAP Business Trends:


How to Connect Everything with Best-In-Class Technology, #SAPPHIRENOW


VIDEO: How to Keep Everyone on the Cutting Edge of High-Tech, #SAPPHIRENOW


3 Ways S/4HANA Finance Helps Businesses Run Live, #SAPPHIRENOW

The digital race is underway and transforming the world of manufacturing at an incredible speed.


Did you know that for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.40 is added to the economy? manufacturing.jpgThat’s the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. Or that taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the ninth-largest economy in the world? With $2.1 trillion in value added from manufacturing in 2014, only eight other nations would rank higher in terms of their GDP. And over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap.

Manufacturing is part of everyday life – everything we use has to be made somewhere. The United States has long been a world leader in manufacturing; developing process and technologies that have had an effect on manufacturing across the world. But according to IDC, 33% of business leaders will be disrupted by digitally-enabled competitors by 2018. Manufacturers will need to transform to win, and leaders must reimagine their business models for the digital economy.

The SAP Manufacturing Industries Forum is coming to Lombard, Illinois from June 14-15. This two-day event is focused on the latest innovations and extended supply chain solutions for the manufacturing industry. From robotics to sensors, and all of the backend processes in between, you’ll learn from some of the most successful industry experts on how to help your business run live. Because a live business can sense, respond, learn, adapt, predict, and ultimately run simple. Here are 5 reasons you won’t want to miss it:

  1. Learn about digital transformation – Digitization is transforming the world of manufacturing at an incredible speed. Manufacturers need to transform to win. Learn about important technology trends as well as SAP solutions that empower companies in the digital economy.
  2. Help maximize your SAP and technology investments – Executives, managers, business process owners, and end users will have plenty of opportunities for education and engagement, with six presentation tracks covering the latest manufacturing trends, newest product innovations, upgrade opportunities, and customer and industry best practices.
  3. Hear directly from other SAP customers – Hear leading manufacturers discuss best practices, upgrade experiences, lessons learned, and much more! Learn what others have done and become inspired for your own initiatives.
  4. Broaden your network – Connecting with fellow SAP customers and partners has tremendous value for all. Attendees can share ideas, challenges, and solutions between sessions, at breakfast and lunch, and during planned networking events.
  5. Interact with leading SAP partners – See demos and meet SAP partners who can help to maximize your SAP implementations.

If you can’t attend in person, you can still follow all the action on Twitter by filtering #SAPMIF16. And check back in after the event for some recaps that I'll be posting.




Check out How Can Manufacturers Win The Digital Race?

Flying home from Orlando, Florida and the annual SAP SAPPHIRE NOW / ASUG 2016 conference, I had some time to scroll through Twitter and a few Storify’s (when not catching up on email, loads of email…). It was a good reminder of something that occurred to me early in the week – this was a very strong year for HR at SAPPHIRE, an event that traditionally caters to IT.


There are a few reasons why I believe this was the case:

  1. In our world of digital transformation, the journey to HR transformation is about people, not just HR, meaning the story resonates across the entire business.
  2. Businesses today are investing in their people, and the HR technology needed to support them, so more business buyers want to know what SAP has to offer, and  a greater number of HR leaders find more value in attending SAPPHIRE today.
  3. Transformation is not easy, so hearing from the companies who are successfully navigating their way through change has great value for others.
  4. The message of empathy with the customer resonates, because it’s not just something we understand about our own clients, it’s something they are experiencing with their clients as well.


Along with the many good customer conversations, SAP SuccessFactors made the most of this year’s SAPPHIRE.


Here are my highlights:

Diversity and inclusion – Today our software is built to help support clients in addressing both, and we’ll introduce a good deal more innovation around this in coming releases. Press releases are always exciting, but this Facebook video with our global head of product management Thomas Otter, and Constellation Research’s Holger Mueller, really gets to the heart of what this initiative is all about, as does this blog from Steve Hunt. Steve points out one of the key reasons for our focus on this initiative in 2016 is simply that, SAP SuccessFactors is a customer driven company – so what is important to our customers is important to us.”


Microsoft integration – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined SAP CEO Bill McDermott in his opening keynote to announce that in addition to Microsoft’s plans to deliver broad support for the SAP HANA database and business applications on its Azure cloud, new integration between Microsoft Office 365 and SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, Concur, and of course SAP SuccessFactors will make it easier for users of all these applications to transact seamlessly and intelligently from where they work every day. We’re already delivering tighter integration across the SAP suite, look at where we are with SuccessFactors and Fieldglass today, and the goal is to see that tight integration across all our products, but not to stop there. This announcement reflects our goal to make it easier for people to get their work done no matter what app they’re using, or who built it.


This quote from the Wall Street Journal couldn’t be more true today, “Companies no longer race to keep up with one another, so much as they race to keep up with the customer.” It’s a customer-to-business world today, and as I like to say, success is simply human.


Finally, we had the opportunity to share our current and longer-term vision around innovations such as intelligent services, continuous performance management, and in learning and recruiting. Don’t miss:

  1. My presentation on the future of work and the journey to HR transformation (replay here)
  2. Conversation on the “future of work is digital with our global lead for solutions management David Ludlow in a blog and video with the team at SiliconANGLE / theCUBE. David asks you to consider if your employees are fully committed to your company goals, and how we at SuccessFactors can help connect all those dots today.
  3. Finally, SHRM covered a panel where I was joined by HR executives from American Airlines, PepsiCo, and Timken. We tackled the topics of the role of HR in digital transformation, and the future of work. SHRM recap here.


All told, it was a great week for those of us who believe that while technology stars at SAPPHIRE, the heartbeat of your business is still your employees. We look forward to sharing even more at our upcoming SuccessConnect events – Aug. 29-31 in Las Vegas and Sept. 6-8 in Vienna, as well as Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.


Hope to see you there to continue the conversation started at SAPPHIRE. Until then, check out HR Run Live, a new site to help you reimagine HR in the digital age.

Maggie Fox

Rebirth of the Silent Movie

Posted by Maggie Fox May 24, 2016

A few months ago, I started thinking about the fact that I consume virtually all my online video with the sound off. Whether I'm in the back of a taxi, on a plane waiting to take off, or amusing myself while waiting in line at the coffee shop, I have become incredibly adept at figuring out what a video is about using only pictures (90% of the time, on my phone).

Turns out that I'm not alone. A recent DigiDay article, surveying multiple online publishers, indicates that up to 85% of video consumed on Facebook is watched without sound. So what does that mean for anyone who ever needs to produce content (that being all businesses, as an example)? It means a new/old form of storytelling - one that marries visuals with subtitles and graphics. And when it's done well, this can turn a 30-second clip into an unparalleled tool for getting your message across.


Unlike silent films, in which actors typically used over-the-top gestures to convey drama, sadness, etc., static in-between "intertitles" (yes, I had to Google that) gave broader context or assisted with transitions between one scene and the next. This is not that. Online video is infinitely richer. With animations, super-cuts, subtitles, graphics and a bag of other tricks, visual storytelling today is more dynamic and evocative than it has ever been. And publishers (that's brands like SAP, too) who don't start thinking about what their content looks like with the sound off are missing what their audiences want - silent movies.

In what ways are digital technologies changing the professional services industry? Are new technologies having an impact on this industry at all? If they are, what are the changes they are making, and how are they making the industry better?

New digital technologies truly are changing the services industry. Here are four major ways in which they are doing it.

Ease of Finding Expert Knowledge

It is becoming ever easier to find genuine expertise online. This expertise comes with actual documentation of the knowledge. Customers of professional services companies who are looking for expert knowledge are able to locate it easily in places like blogs, journal articles, slide presentations, YouTube videos, and more, all online. All it takes is a simple Google search. Customers of professional services companies can locate the knowledge that is the most relevant to them, and then use connecting links to make their way through related articles of interest to them. The ease with which expert information can be put online, and with which customers can find it, is making more educated, empowered customers. This is a big change from in the past. Customers are coming to professional services companies already informed on the things that concern them, rather than depending on the company to educate them. This knowledge gives customers an edge in choosing the companies that can best serve them and their unique needs. In addition, customers can find this information for free. This ease of finding relevant information is pushing all companies in the professional services industry to deliver more value.

Discovering the Real Talent

Among customers who are using the professional services industry, discovering who is an expert is even more important than accessing expert knowledge. They want to work with the people who have that knowledge, or even the ones who produced it. In the past, companies relied on word of mouth to find the experts their customers needed. This often resulted in customers getting matched with professionals who weren't right for them, as word of mouth can often be incorrect. Or, it can be subjective. With the ability to associate people with their talents and their qualifications in databases and global talent networks that are easily accessible by those in the professional services industry, it is easy to get the correct experts to the right customers. This is something customers appreciate. It builds loyalty to a company in them, especially if they get the perfect expert on their project the first time.

Delivery of Services

The professional services industry is using digitization increasingly in delivering services. Automating processes are part of this change. This can save a lot of time on projects that once took weeks or months (or longer) to complete. With automated processes, services can be accurately completed and delivered to customers much more quickly and efficiently than in the past. Customers love this new aspect of the professional services industry.

Digitization in the delivery of services saves both time and money for customers and businesses alike. Being able to offer this is a clear advantage for a business over its competitors. Digitization also helps customers get the correct expert for them. This is particularly true where knowledge can be packaged to enable self service capabilities online. This provides better and more accurate service to customers.

Knowledge as a service is emerging in the Professional Services industry. Intellectual property can be embedded in databases and processes and delivered as a service. Even consulting can be digitized by using mobile technology to book meetings, record time spent at a customer site, and even conduct meetings online anywhere a mobile device can get internet service. It makes these types of meetings much more convenient for customers and businesses alike.

Customer Engagement

Some recent studies show that about 80 percent of customers of retail stores do some deep online research before engaging with a store. This is true whether a customer is planning to shop online or go into a store in person. People want to know what the store sells, how much it charges, and its quality of customer service, among other things, before they shop there. If customers of retail stores do this, it is only reasonable to expect B2B customers to do the same thing. In fact, these customers will likely be doing even more in-depth research, because they will be spending more money on a specialized service. This means that many decisions regarding whether or not to work with a company are made without even contacting the company. It is all based on online research. This includes things like reviews from other customers, the company's BBB rating, the company's areas of expertise, the people who work there, and more.

Most professional services companies are written about in publications that demonstrate their expertise and leadership in their special areas. These thought leadership publications acted as an advertisement for new customers in the past. Today, many of these publications are digitized. This digitization allows customers greater engagement with the company before actually contacting it. Customers can locate the content they need, read what is important to them on their own time and in the order they prefer, they can read it as many times as they like, and even forward it to people who they believe will find it useful. This allows customers to gain a much better understanding of which companies will serve their interests the best.

Digitization is the Future of the Professional Services Industry

Customers and companies alike will find that digitization is the best way to approach and operate this industry. They are already discovering it. Digitization allows companies to attract the customers who are best suited to what they offer. It also allows customers to find the companies that will be ideal for them before even making a call. And, it allows all of this to be done quickly, easily, and online. This saves time and money for companies and customers alike. It improves the industry for everyone and creates better outcomes for everyone involved on either side.

robohrblogfinalscn.jpgFear sells. That’s the idea behind scary headlines about the coming invasion of robo-bosses replacing human managers with evil algorithms intent on workplace domination. While these predictions aren’t causing widespread panic in the streets (yet), they are making some folks uneasy, and that’s a good conversation starter. To explore the robotics phenomenon further, I talked with my colleague, Steve Hunt, Vice President of Customer Value at SAP SuccessFactors.


Hunt argues that digitization is likely to actually create a more human workplace, provided it’s applied correctly. Success hinges on matching machines and people to the jobs they are innately suited to perform, as well as rethinking workforce management strategies. Most machines are built to do things people are not good at doing, do not want to do, or are unable to do.  For example, performing repetitive, dangerous or physically demanding tasks or tasks that require processing large amounts of information. 


The hardest machines to create are ones that do the things that make people uniquely human.  For example, machines aren’t good at things like building relationships with other people, anticipating and responding to people’s emotional needs, processing natural language, responding effectively to unforeseen and novel problems, or coming up with creative solutions and innovative ideas. We don’t expect machines to act like people, and machines, for the most part, aren’t good at acting human. This is why we are so surprised when someone gets a machine to act like a person.  But invariably we find this somewhat creepy because even the most human-like machines still don’t feel truly human.  


Where we get into trouble is when we start to expect people to act like machines.  Hunt thinks that we shouldn’t measure people the way we measure machines. Machine measurement tends to focus on how accurately specific tasks and activities are carried out. It’s rooted in meeting pre-defined standards and tends to stress repetition and following rules. But the things we associate with the highest level of human performance aren’t usually about “just doing what you are told." Companies get in trouble when they adopt this sort of mindset.  For example, in a study recently published by the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found companies tend not to recognize and reward people who go the extra mile to help others and respond to requests -- despite having a massive impact on organizational productivity. Companies typically focus on tangible, immediate outcomes that measure the kind of output a machine would produce. As a result, employees who are displaying the most human of characteristics, social helping behavior that contributes to the greater good of the organization, aren’t recognized.


“We need people to evaluate the performance of people,” said Hunt. “A machine can tell you whether or not you’ve completed specific tasks, but it does not appreciate if the reason you didn’t make your numbers that quarter was because you were helping colleagues get their jobs done, and that your altruism actually led to more positive overall outcome for the company. Nor can machines accurately measure the kinds of value people provide when their job involves customer service or other tasks that are about working with other people. Yes, you can measure the exact angle at which the server put the dinner plates on the table, but machines aren’t capable of accommodating a diner who has a broken arm, or has moved the water to the other side of the table.”


The attributes and capabilities that make people most valuable are uniquely human. There are often mechanistic aspects to certain jobs, but if we find the best way to measure performance in a job is to treat someone as though they were a robot then frankly, we shouldn’t have people performing that job. 


“As machines are used more and more widely at work, increasingly the reason we’re going to employ people is because we want them to do the things machines can’t do well, which is not mindless, repetitive tasks,” said Hunt. “Digitalization, if applied correctly, is about creating workplaces that allow people to focus on the things that people are naturally good at.  For example, compared to even the most advanced machines, humans excel at making emotional connections, scanning environments and recognizing patterns and adapting their behavior in the moment to anomalies. It’s also incredibly difficult for machines to understand language because we don’t just listen to the words, we understand the context. We need to have humans performing jobs that require those kinds of tasks and measure them accordingly.”


Technology may play a role in monitoring performance, but ultimately only humans can accurately evaluate the performance of other humans.  “Technology makes it easy to get information so managers can have a conversation about performance,” said Hunt. “But you don’t use the technology to have that conversation. You use the technology to collect the information that allows people do what only people can do – have a constructive dialogue around someone’s contribution and how the company treats them.”


We know it’s ludicrous to criticize a robot for lacking empathy or creativity. Now if we can just reward people for doing what they do best, the digitized workplace will be a place we’ll run towards and not away from. 



Related Content:

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Follow me @smgaler

Chemical firms are embracing the so-called Internet of Things. In doing so, these companies see new partnerships are possible.Technology improvements allow firms to partner with companies in many fields. With profit margins so thin in chemical manufacturing, these partnerships make prudent business sense.

Energy and tech firms are new potential partners, as are equipment makers. Firms with vision see possible ties with customers and subcontractors, too.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving these new linkages. The IoT refers to the use of sensors, computers, and wireless connections to connect physical objects to each other. By 2020, it's estimated that between 30 billion and 50 billion objects will be connected. These connected objects will automate processes, find and self-correct problems, and record and send data to central servers. All of this data can be analyzed to modify and improve products and processes.

The Internet of Things and the Chemical Industry

As the cost of sensors and storage drops, so too do the barriers to entry into the many possibilities available to the chemical industry. The technologies allow improved product security and safety. With connected products, processes and people, firms can improve performance, minimize supply chain issues, and improve product quality. Let's take a look at some of the possibilities and partnerships these smart technologies offer.

Predictive Maintenance

Downtime and unplanned maintenance are common issues in the chemical industry. Smart technology is solving those issues through the use of sensors that track quality and performance. Computers are raising or even addressing issues in real time to reduce equipment breakdowns. Equipment is more effective and maintenance is more efficient. Connected devices generate vast amounts of data. Powerful analytics programs can interpret that data to improve quality. So-called augmented reality uses 3D visualization tools to improve maintenance and service. Take, for example, the issue of batch quality. Most chemical makers can only assess a limited number of batches at a time. Big Data tools now allow for thousands of batches to be analyzed together. This metadata lets companies improve production processes, yield rates, order fill rates, and per-batch costs.

Precision Farming

Farmers today want to use chemicals in precise ways to produce higher yields. This "precision farming" requires a trusting partnership among many vested partners. Farmers need to work with agribusiness suppliers and chemical makers. Tech firms, equipment makers, and traders are also key players.

Successful precision farming requires tech platforms to handle large amounts of data. All stakeholders need to be able to access the data and collaborate in a secure virtual environment.

How does it all work? Imagine a system where sensors are constantly measuring soil quality. Data on water, nutrients and pesticides are recorded and correlated. Analytics predict weather and its impact on a crop and adjust the rates and amounts of applied materials. Yields and quality are tracked and analyzed to find optimal ratios. Overlaid pricing and expense models recommend crops with the highest possible profit margins.

The results are significant in many areas. Farmers are more profitable. More people are fed with less environmental impact. Manufacturers improve future versions of equipment, seeds, and chemicals.

Improved Logistics

Reducing friction along the logistics chain is much improved with the IoT. Sensors and RFID tags can ensure products remain quarantined or in specific locations. Contamination and attacks, either physical or cyber, can be detected faster and authorities alerted. Dispatchers can track transportation fleets in real time to predict and track deliveries.

Warehouse operations become far more efficient with these newer tools. With virtual reality, users can "see" products in real time, reducing the need for warehouse pick lists. Trackable specs and expiration dates can improve the efficiency of picking, packing and put-away work. Data analysis can reveal the best use of available space and how to coordinate with suppliers on receivables.

Reducing Energy Expenses

Energy usage and regulatory controls are significant costs for most chemical manufacturers. IoT devices can address both concerns.

Installed sensors track energy usage and predict outages. Collected data ensure and verify regulatory compliance.

Analytics identify usage patterns and inefficiencies. Firms can make better decisions about energy purchases. Conservation measures can be identified. Not only do these tools offer cost reduction, they create greener operations.

Developing a Strategy

So how do chemical firms develop a strategy that allows for these complex partnerships to deveop and persist? Here are six considerations.

Innovate: Rapid advances in mobile. cloud and Big Data technologies are bound to continue. Firms that embrace these technologies and infuse them in planning are likely to take the lead and increase market share.

Think Green: Whether your firm is B2B or B2C, IoT products can lead to greener outcomes and add marketable value to your line.

Global View: Connected supply chains, distribution, and products allow for a global operational perspective as well as global business opportunity.

Data and Analytics: With more connected products comes more data. Chemical firms need to address storage capacities and tools to crunch all those numbers. Fortunately, cloud-based storage costs continue to drop and Big Data analytic tools are becoming more robust.

Infrastructure Partners: Hardware, software, sensors, applications, telematics and mobile devices are a part of your business now. View the vendors as strategic partners. Collaborate with them on new products and procedures.

Vigilance: Threats of attack and contamination are all too real in the chemical industry. Today firms need to also consider customer data protection and privacy. One downside to IoT is the proliferation of products that can be hacked, stolen or tampered with.


Smart products provide extraordinary opportunity in the chemical industry. Firms that embrace the need to change and find vertical and horizontal partners will be well positioned. Rich data will allow for better informed decisions on operations and revenue opportunities.

Start your journey now! Understand more about the value digital transformation brings to your company and establish the right platform and roadmap for transition.

As the automation revolution becomes a reality, more people are asking themselves one question. Can my tasks be performed by a robot? The short answer is, yes. According to a 2013 study at the Oxford Martin School, automation will affect “about 47 percent of total U.S. employment” in the next two decades. The study noted that the most vulnerable jobs were in transportation, logistics, and administration. A check of this interactive job tool created by NPR shows that machines will replace 97% of drivers, tellers, and tax preparers in the next 20 years. So, what does this automation revolution mean for jobs in the professional services industry?

How Automation Affects Professional Services

While it may seem like a far-off future, it is already happening. According to Martin Ford, author of Riseof the Robots, “it’s becoming evident that computers, machines, robots, and algorithms are going to be able to do most of the routine, repetitive types of jobs.” Service jobs that rely on computations, research, or repetitive tasks are at the highest risk for automation. This means that many professional service jobs will phase out in two or three decades. This includes accountants, security guards, call center employees, legal associates, and computer programmers. For instance, law clerks study case laws, collect research, and prepare documents for court. These actions are predictable, so algorithms can do the work much faster and for less money.

Fighting the Rise of the Robots

In the 1800s, English textile workers, known as Luddites, smashed new textile-making machines. As the industrial revolution rose, workers feared that their trades would become obsolete. Of course, the textile industry did not disappear, it just evolved. Today, Luddite is a term to describe anyone who opposes automation and new technologies. We are in the midst of a second Luddite movement. Workers foresee a future where automation is again threatening to replace future industries. Some fear a future of 50% unemployment rates that will lead to a society of slackers and no opportunities. Others see automation leading to a new age of art, exploration, and scientific discoveries. It may propel humankind into a utopian society where no one works. Of course, the reality will land us somewhere in the middle. So, what can the professional services industry do to prepare for an automated future?

The Future of Professional Services

The professional services industry is on the brink of disruption. We can no longer ignore the realities of nonlinear growth through digitization. Companies must embrace new digital business models in four key areas to stay competitive. Digitized knowledge and expertise need to be accessible to customers. Digitized talent must provide complete solutions and deliver value to clients. Digitized service execution should leverage opportunities to scale and create new customer offerings. Digitized customer engagement must become more self-service oriented to attract and keep clients. By not keeping up with these digital trends, existing service businesses will fall behind. New players to the professional service industry are pushing digitization and automation. Clients who also do not want to fall behind will go to firms that are moving forward with the times. Some service providers are already embracing transformative business models and creating digital spinoffs, such as Deloitte Digital and Accenture Digital. By accepting the new digital reality, professional services firms will make the industry better. Clients will receive more transparency, better pricing, and improved customer service. Firms will generate nonlinear growth, develop innovative practices, and be able to scale their business in new ways.

Why Automation is Good for Professional Services

The invention of the automobile phased out the need for horses and carriages. But it also gave people new access to explore the world in better, faster ways. Today, the era of human-driven cars is transitioning into the age of self-driving cars. This will revolutionize transportation safety, commute times, and travel efficiencies. Technology requires change to improve lives. It is unavoidable and inevitable. The advancement of technology moves forward, whether we like it or not. This is also true for the evolution of automation in professional services. New business models will digitize information and automate services. This will result in a global reach that can affect more lives than ever before. More specialized talent will perform higher quality services. An increase in productivity will lead to higher customer satisfaction. Businesses will expand as the industry reaches new customers. Clients will desire higher-value services. Freelance and contract jobs will grow as the global contingent workforce expands. Delivery of services will become faster and more efficient. The future of automation is not the end of professional service. It is the beginning of exceptional service.

Welcoming the Robots with Open Human Arms

It may be true that in the next 20 years, algorithms will replace 94% of accountants. Computerized call centers will replace 75% of call center employees. Computer operated security cameras will replace 89% of security guards. Robots will replace 71% of service technicians. High-speed data centers will replace 66% of legal associates. And self-programmable computers will replace 48% of computer programmers. It is unlikely that this will lead to the end of all human workers in the professional services industry. Automation will just change these roles as the industry grows. Digital innovations and competition will push the industry forward. With lower costs, better quality, and improved productivity likely the result. The digital age can lead to a future filled with new promise and opportunities for humankind. The landscape will be different, but it will also be better. Or, the robot overlords will enslave us all. Only time will tell.


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