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Digital Transformation In Discrete Manufacturing

Stefan Krauss

Forklifts might be the best example of how technology is shaping the future of discrete manufacturing. Consider these two companies.

  • Company A looks to increase profits by cutting costs and asking employees to find ways to make forklifts cheaper. It seeks to increase market share by offering steeper price discounts.
  • Company B has asked customers, employees, and suppliers whether forklifts will be needed in the next decade. Should the company just be selling forklifts? Should it consider becoming a “warehouse as a service” provider instead, running warehouses for other businesses?

Which company is forward-thinking, recognizing that automation, smart products, and innovation will drive new business models? Which company is considering how to best provide the services that customers expect in addition to the products sold?

The answer is clear. For companies that recognize the pivotal role that digital transformation plays in driving innovation, the future is bright.

CIO role transforming with digital change

For CIOs, digital transformation changes their roles within organizations. The CIO of tomorrow must bring his or her skills and insights on new digital technologies to bear on the rest of the organization.

Instead of staying in traditional silos, transformative CIOs will lead engagements that bring IT departments together to collaborate deeply with other parts of the organization – sales, marketing, research and development, software development, manufacturing, and supply chain.

When successful, CIOs will help organizations rethink business models and business processes. Digital transformation will change how people are hired, trained, and deployed, leveraging the use of business networks and contingent workers to ensure companies are ready for the future.

While technology is enabling companies to reconsider their businesses, the fundamentals remain relevant: how companies can grow the business and improve efficiency. The difference is that digital changes are critical to that growth.

Automakers, high-tech companies offering services

Consider the automobile industry. Nontraditional competitors such as Google, Tesla, and Uber are causing consumers to ask, “Do I need to own a car?” Particularly in urban, congested areas, mobility is more relevant today. What’s important is optimizing the way to get from point A to point B. That demand means rapid flexibility and service. It may mean using different car models for different seasons.

Automakers are responding by thinking about services that eliminate or reduce the costs of taxes and parking. Connected vehicles are placing more emphasis on services rather than horsepower. Consumers, they realize, want services such as pre-ordered parking spots, gas station location services, or prepaid coffee in their favorite drive-through.

High-tech companies are leveraging the Internet of Things in two significant ways. Companies are producing not just hardware, but also pure or embedded software built into products. This means they can offer services in addition to or instead of just selling. For example, a printer company is now giving companies the option to purchase printing services instead of printers. The manufacturer owns and maintains the printers, using embedded software to detect needed maintenance, such as toner replacement, and replaces the printers as needed. It’s selling output, not the printers themselves.

Industrial machines, aircraft companies rethink business models

Similarly, in industrial machines and components companies, the business models are changing. One compressor manufacturer we work with is shifting its business to selling not air compressors, but air itself.

Customers purchase an amount of compressed air, with the company controlling costs via predictive maintenance software. Many call this shift Industry 4.0, allowing manufacturers to have more flexible manufacturing processes that can better react to customer demands.

The aircraft and defense industry has been at the forefront of digital transformation for years, using sensors to track and assess performance and improve safety. With such increased demand for new airplanes and passenger capacity, some OEMs are considering not selling aircrafts and engines, but rather the performance of those machines.

For the CIO of the future, a top-down approach is crucial. CIOs need to consider how to inspire and lead other C-suite executives to an innovative, connected future.

For more on how Innovator CIOs are reimagining business models to uncover new revenue, read the Digital Bridge report on Digital Business and CIO Innovation Imperative

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Stefan Krauss

About Stefan Krauss

Stefan Krauss is the general manager for Discrete Industries at SAP. Together with his team, he is responsible for the integrated management of the industries Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, High Tech and Industrial Machinery & Components – spanning development, solution management, sales and marketing, value engineering, partner management, services and support. The mission of this unit is to deliver industry cloud solutions that help SAP customers sustainably innovate and grow their business, operate safely, and develop their people.

How Blockchain Technology Can Help IT Become The New Hero For Aerospace Business

Thomas Pohl

IT professionals can become the new heroes in aerospace and defense (A&D) companies by using transformative new technologies productively and imaginatively. With so many new and pervasive technologies coming to market, it can be difficult to keep up with the pace of technology change. For example,

  • How do you incorporate these tools?
  • Which ones do you need?
  • How do you choose wisely and avoid letting your company fall behind the competition?

Finding value in the technologies you choose will be the essence of your company’s success. In the A&D industry, weapons systems, aircraft features, and the demand for everything-as-a-service are changing faster than ever before.

In today’s A&D market, the ability to adjust to change is everything. And it’s up to IT to provide the technology and skills that will allow A&D companies to transform themselves and to succeed. The rapid introduction of technology innovations can be overwhelming; the trick is to keep new technology from becoming a distraction.

It’s important to focus on choosing technology based on the value it can deliver to your company.

Blockchain – also known as the Internet of value

Let’s take a closer look into blockchain technology and how it can be applied to the aerospace and defense industry.

In the last year, you’ve probably heard about blockchain technology. But you may not know much about what it is, who is using it, and what they’re using it for in aerospace and defense.

Blockchain is a technology that uses cryptography, peer-to-peer networks, and consensus algorithms to form a “digital ledger” of transactions. Every participant in a blockchain can see those transactions that are verified and recorded in a “connected chain of information.” Blockchain allows participants to conduct business transactions directly with each other, eliminating the need for third parties, through built-in information transparency.

Early uses of blockchain included currency such as Bitcoin and payment infrastructures. A Canadian bank used it with their international transaction processing to reduce it from days to seconds – enabling businesses to perform secure international B2C transactions. A&D companies are looking into the opportunities that this new technology could offer.

Airbus – the search for the right blockchain applications

Airbus has been working to identify business challenges that blockchain can address. These include instances where there is a high cost of trust, a slow process but time-sensitive interactions, compliance issues, high overhead cost for data reconciliation, and multiple parties that need to share data.

“Blockchain is, in essence, a trust-building technology that facilitates exchanges and trust between parties, so it’s natural to be collaborative in the way we work on problem-solving and adoption,” says data science strategist Leon Zucchini at Airbus. To this end, Airbus’ chief technical organisation (CTO), digital transformation organisation (DTO), and information and communications technology (ICT) division have formed a blockchain working group within the company to search for the right application.

Airbus and SAP recently joined the Hyperledger project, an open source collaborative effort created to advance the cross-industry use of blockchain technology.

Blockchain applications in aerospace identified by Airbus include:

  • Supply chain tracking: Using blockchain technology as a shared database with suppliers could help track the quality and compliance of products along the entire supply chain
  • Procurement support: By creating joint, trusted records of exchanges between partners, blockchain could help improve procurement processes
  • Revenue sharing: For services that are provided on a digital platform, blockchain can help distribute revenue fairly and transparently

Lufthansa – generating more transparency in aircraft maintenance

Patrick Goetze at Lufthansa sees a huge potential benefit with blockchain as a neutral information documentation system. With the way information is stored in blocks, which are verified and sealed, the information contained cannot be changed and is saved in such a way that it is visible for everybody. This transparency makes it extremely difficult to corrupt and manipulate the information and is of particular benefit if different companies are working together and therefore using the same data – for example in aircraft maintenance.

After they are manufactured, aircraft components could be registered in a blockchain together with all relevant data, including serial codes. If a component is installed in an airplane, this information can be saved in yet another blockchain. If the part malfunctions, maintenance technicians can use the information stored to review the exact number of flight hours and to decide whether to replace or repair the part. If it is repaired, this information can then be saved in a separate blockchain for the component in question.

Other blockchain application scenarios in aviation include the secure management of certification from aviation authorities and technicians’ job cards.

Blockchain may be the answer for better cybersecurity

When it comes to protecting digital assets, the banking and A&D industries have a lot in common. Both need a safe way to communicate and conduct transactions across the global value chain.

In the A&D industry, however, cybersecurity needs to extend from the Defense Department to the manufacturer to its suppliers and throughout the complete ecosystem. The industry is realizing that blockchain may offer an answer.

Last fall, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution calling for a national technology innovation policy. It includes language that supports digital currencies and blockchain technology. Rep. Michael Burgess, a Republican from Texas, said at the hearing: “There’s no doubt that blockchain innovations are on the cutting-edge today.”

Are you looking to innovate with blockchain technology in aerospace and defense? Do you want to become the new hero to your business? At SAPPHIRE NOW, you can visit with the SAP A&D experts and see the latest technologies and solutions in action. Learn more about SAPPHIRE NOW and secure your spot today!

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Thomas Pohl

About Thomas Pohl

Thomas Pohl is a Senior Director Marketing at SAP. He helps global aerospace and defense companies to simplify their business by taking innovative software solutions to market.

Cashing In On Space Data [VIDEO]

Robin Meyerhoff

If you want to know what’s happening on Earth, the European Space Agency (ESA) has your back. Every day dozens of ESA satellites generate around ten terabyte of data. Billed as “Europe’s gateway to space,” ESA is the largest provider of Earth observation information in the world, constantly monitoring the planet’s security and environment.

Until recently, that information was held under lock and key, unless you were a scientist with clearance to use it. However, in 2007, the European Union (which works closely with ESA and provides some 20 percent of its funding) changed its policy, allowing the agency to make its data freely available to the public.

This change has opened a new world of opportunity for ESA, the EU and businesses. Nicolaus Hanowski, who heads the ESA Earth Observation Programme, said, “When the EU decided a few years ago that all that observation data was free and open, it triggered new possibilities for ESA and the industrial world.”

Particularly with the maturation of Internet of Things, Big Data, and cloud technologies, the commercial sector now has effective ways to access this data and use it in real time.

Space data helps business and society

Here’s how it works: Satellites, drones, and other airborne “things” can transmit data, which is combined and turned into usable information by Big Data solutions like geospatial, real-time, and predictive analytics. Cloud computing makes it possible for the ESA to deliver specific sets of information to organizations that can use it to solve problems like evaluating agriculture land use, managing gas pipelines, and measuring the effect of climate change.

Hanowski explains ESA already has thematic data repositories including coastal, forestry, urban development, climate, and hydrology.  “Our mission is to make the data consumable. We want to the uptake to be as big as possible — and economically influential. We need to understand what kind of data is interesting to commercial organizations.”

Once they understand key topic areas for businesses, ESA can combine its satellite data with additional types of airborne and ground data to help companies bring new digital business models to life.

With the release of an Earth observation analysis service, organizations can now analyze historic and real-time satellite from ESA, which will help businesses better understand current conditions – and predict future situations.

Through an in-memory computing platform, decision makers can predict future scenarios, their probability, and potential actions to take. Farmers, for instance, will not only know about upcoming storms, but also how to optimize water and fertilizer use on their fields based on satellite information. Even better, the farmer can detect imminent onset of the common crop diseases – and start a preventive treatment immediately.

Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies, is one of the first companies using the analysis service. The increasing frequency of natural disasters like wildfires due to climate change pose a huge challenge for the insurance industry. By analyzing real-time and historic satellite data of wildfires in different regions, Munich Re can more accurately calculate insurance risks and costs. Munich Re can use wildfire data to do predictive analysis that estimates the probability of future wildfires and potential damage to people, homes, and businesses, thus minimizing costs for clients.

Dr. Carsten Linz, head of the SAP Center for Digital Leadership, said, “Like many organizations, ESA is going through a digital transformation, and this technology is helping them pave the way by closing the gap between a traditional Earth observation institution and the digital business world. ESA’s mission is to disseminate space data that is relevant to businesses – and was previously only available to scientists and data specialists. Hence, a major part of our work together is to make the information usable, accessible, and secure, which is why the in-memory computing platform and cloud technologies are so important to ESA.”

While commercial data use is a priority for ESA, Hanowski is hopeful that with analytic services, they will be able to help unite scientific and relief communities on pressing topics like smart cities, food security, and water management.

Eventually businesses will use the data to improve efficiency and offer better products, ESA will gain a revenue stream, and NGOs and the public sector can use it to improve people’s lives. In other words, everyone wins.

For more on the transformative scientific potential of data analytics, see The Promise Of The Internet Of Things.

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Robin Meyerhoff

About Robin Meyerhoff

Robin Meyerhoff is the Senior Director, Content Team, Global Corporate Affairs, at SAP, responsible for telling key corporate stories via multiple formats: cartoons, video, infographics, opinion pieces. Lead integrated internal-external approach to rolling out content, including comprehensive editorial calendar, regional coordination and alignment with key business objective.

Taking Learning Back to School

Dan Wellers

 

Denmark spends most GDP on labor market programs at 3.3%.
The U.S. spends only 0.1% of it’s GDP on adult education and workforce retraining.
The number of post-secondary vocational and training institutions in China more than doubled from 2000 to 2014.
47% of U.S. jobs are at risk for automation.

Our overarching approach to education is top down, inflexible, and front loaded in life, and does not encourage collaboration.

Smartphone apps that gamify learning or deliver lessons in small bits of free time can be effective tools for teaching. However, they don’t address the more pressing issue that the future is digital and those whose skills are outmoded will be left behind.

Many companies have a history of effective partnerships with local schools to expand their talent pool, but these efforts are not designed to change overall systems of learning.


The Question We Must Answer

What will we do when digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence eject vast numbers of people from their current jobs, and they lack the skills needed to find new ones?

Solutions could include:

  • National and multinational adult education programs
  • Greater investment in technical and vocational schools
  • Increased emphasis on apprenticeships
  • Tax incentives for initiatives proven to close skills gaps

We need a broad, systemic approach that breaks businesses, schools, governments, and other organizations that target adult learners out of their silos so they can work together. Chief learning officers (CLOs) can spearhead this approach by working together to create goals, benchmarks, and strategy.

Advancing the field of learning will help every business compete in an increasingly global economy with a tight market for skills. More than this, it will mitigate the workplace risks and challenges inherent in the digital economy, thus positively influencing the future of business itself.


Download the executive brief Taking Learning Back to School.


Read the full article The Future of Learning – Keeping up With The Digital Economy

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Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is the Global Lead of Digital Futures at SAP, which explores how organizations can anticipate the future impact of exponential technologies. Dan has extensive experience in technology marketing and business strategy, plus management, consulting, and sales.

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Why Millennials Quit: Understanding A New Workforce

Shelly Kramer

Millennials are like mobile devices: they’re everywhere. You can’t visit a coffee shop without encountering both in large numbers. But after all, who doesn’t like a little caffeine with their connectivity? The point is that you should be paying attention to millennials now more than ever because they have surpassed Boomers and Gen-Xers as the largest generation.

Unfortunately for the workforce, they’re also the generation most likely to quit. Let’s examine a new report that sheds some light on exactly why that is—and what you can do to keep millennial employees working for you longer.

New workforce, new values

Deloitte found that two out of three millennials are expected to leave their current jobs by 2020. The survey also found that a staggering one in four would probably move on in the next year alone.

If you’re a business owner, consider putting four of your millennial employees in a room. Take a look around—one of them will be gone next year. Besides their skills and contributions, you’ve also lost time and resources spent by onboarding and training those employees—a very costly process. According to a new report from XYZ University, turnover costs U.S. companies a whopping $30.5 billion annually.

Let’s take a step back and look at this new workforce with new priorities and values.

Everything about millennials is different, from how to market to them as consumers to how you treat them as employees. The catalyst for this shift is the difference in what they value most. Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips and are the most highly educated generation to date. Many have delayed marriage and/or parenthood in favor of pursuing their careers, which aren’t always about having a great paycheck (although that helps). Instead, it may be more that the core values of your business (like sustainability, for example) or its mission are the reasons that millennials stick around at the same job or look for opportunities elsewhere. Consider this: How invested are they in their work? Are they bored? What does their work/life balance look like? Do they have advancement opportunities?

Ping-pong tables and bringing your dog to work might be trendy, but they aren’t the solution to retaining a millennial workforce. So why exactly are they quitting? Let’s take a look at the data.

Millennials’ common reasons for quitting

In order to gain more insight into the problem of millennial turnover, XYZ University surveyed more than 500 respondents between the ages of 21 and 34 years old. There was a good mix of men and women, college grads versus high school grads, and entry-level employees versus managers. We’re all dying to know: Why did they quit? Here are the most popular reasons, some in their own words:

  • Millennials are risk-takers. XYZ University attributes this affection for risk taking with the fact that millennials essentially came of age during the recession. Surveyed millennials reported this experience made them wary of spending decades working at one company only to be potentially laid off.
  • They are focused on education. More than one-third of millennials hold college degrees. Those seeking advanced degrees can find themselves struggling to finish school while holding down a job, necessitating odd hours or more than one part-time gig. As a whole, this generation is entering the job market later, with higher degrees and higher debt.
  • They don’t want just any job—they want one that fits. In an age where both startups and seasoned companies are enjoying success, there is no shortage of job opportunities. As such, they’re often looking for one that suits their identity and their goals, not just the one that comes up first in an online search. Interestingly, job fit is often prioritized over job pay for millennials. Don’t forget, if they have to start their own company, they will—the average age for millennial entrepreneurs is 27.
  • They want skills that make them competitive. Many millennials enjoy the challenge that accompanies competition, so wearing many hats at a position is actually a good thing. One millennial journalist who used to work at Forbes reported that millennials want to learn by “being in the trenches, and doing it alongside the people who do it best.”
  • They want to do something that matters. Millennials have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.
  • They prefer flexibility. Technology today means it’s possible to work from essentially anywhere that has an Internet connection, so many millennials expect at least some level of flexibility when it comes to their employer. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, of course, but millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules. If they have no say in their workday, that’s a red flag.
  • They’ve got skills—and they want to use them. In the words of a 24-year-old designer, millennials “don’t need to print copies all day.” Many have paid (or are in the midst of paying) for their own education, and they’re ready and willing to put it to work. Most would prefer you leave the smaller tasks to the interns.
  • They got a better offer. Thirty-five percent of respondents to XYZ’s survey said they quit a previous job because they received a better opportunity. That makes sense, especially as recruiting is made simpler by technology. (Hello, LinkedIn.)
  • They seek mentors. Millennials are used to being supervised, as many were raised by what have been dubbed as “helicopter parents.” Receiving support from those in charge is the norm, not the anomaly, for this generation, and they expect that in the workplace, too.

Note that it’s not just XYZ University making this final point about the importance of mentoring. Consider Figures 1 and 2 from Deloitte, proving that millennials with worthwhile mentors report high satisfaction rates in other areas, such as personal development. As you can see, this can trickle down into employee satisfaction and ultimately result in higher retention numbers.

Millennials and Mentors
Figure 1. Source: Deloitte


Figure 2. Source: Deloitte

Failure to . . .

No, not communicate—I would say “engage.” On second thought, communication plays a role in that, too. (Who would have thought “Cool Hand Luke” would be applicable to this conversation?)

Data from a recent Gallup poll reiterates that millennials are “job-hoppers,” also pointing out that most of them—71 percent, to be exact—are either not engaged in or are actively disengaged from the workplace. That’s a striking number, but businesses aren’t without hope. That same Gallup poll found that millennials who reported they are engaged at work were 26 percent less likely than their disengaged counterparts to consider switching jobs, even with a raise of up to 20 percent. That’s huge. Furthermore, if the market improves in the next year, those engaged millennial employees are 64 percent less likely to job-hop than those who report feeling actively disengaged.

What’s next?

I’ve covered a lot in this discussion, but here’s what I hope you will take away: Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce, but they’re changing how you should look at hiring, recruiting, and retention as a whole. What matters to millennials matters to your other generations of employees, too. Mentoring, compensation, flexibility, and engagement have always been important, but thanks to the vocal millennial generation, we’re just now learning exactly how much.

What has been your experience with millennials and turnover? Are you a millennial who has recently left a job or are currently looking for a new position? If so, what are you missing from your current employer, and what are you looking for in a prospective one? Alternatively, if you’re reading this from a company perspective, how do you think your organization stacks up in the hearts and minds of your millennial employees? Do you have plans to do anything differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more insight on millennials and the workforce, see Multigenerational Workforce? Collaboration Tech Is The Key To Success.

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