Analytics Innovation, Disruption, And Transformation

Timo Elliott

I’ll be presenting a session on Analytics Innovation, Disruption, and Transformation at the BI2017 conference in Orlando next week. This post is an introduction to some of the themes I’ll be covering.

Analytics has been around for a long time, and it’s undergone some major changes. But one thing never seems to change: It’s still the hottest technology space in the industry.

For example, this is Gartner’s list of the top strategic trends for 2017 – and you can see that “intelligence” is at the top of the list, including machine learning, intelligent apps, and intelligent things.

 

BI & Analytics is yet again the top priority on Gartner’s long-running annual CIO survey, as it has been for ten out of the last twelve years.

 

Note that this is actually a very unusual situation. Normally, a new technology becomes a priority, companies invest money in it, and then it fades back down the list now that the new “problem” has been solved.

Consider mobile, for example: When smartphones and tablets came out, it suddenly became a high priority to support them, but now that the technology is in place, it has faded back down the list.

So why has analytics stayed so high for so long? Why haven’t we “fixed it” yet?

One reason analytics remains a hot topic is that the amount and variety of data available has skyrocketed, constantly creating new analytic challenges. But even more importantly, analytics has become an essential part of digital transformation.

For the last few decades, we’ve typically thought of business intelligence as a byproduct of our operational processes. In other words, we manufacture products, ship them around the world, and sell them to customers. Each of these processes generates a lot of data, and we use that data to keep track of operations and create more optimized processes in the future.

 

This remains as true and important today as it’s ever been in the past. But now there’s another dimension coming into play. Organizations are increasingly realizing that digital transformation doesn’t just require new processes – it requires a new approach to implementing processes. They have to be more agile, more intelligent, and more responsive to change.

 

These new processes flip the traditional equation on its head. New digital processes are created on the fly by analytics.

The typical customer journey is a great example. In the old days, purchasing a product was a fairly linear process, and companies characterized as a “sales funnel.” But now it’s more like a “write your own adventure” book – where there are many different possible interaction paths. At each point in the process, the customer gets to choose the next chapter.

Analytics is used to help guide the customer towards the “right” choice at each point, indicating what other products they may be interested in, or offering discounts to encourage immediate purchase.

In other words, every “customer process” is unique, with analytics doing all the work, creating thousands or millions of personalized “processes” based on the needs of each individual.

Because these new processes are analytics-powered rather than hard-coded, they can be much more agile and responsive to change – indeed, new machine learning approaches mean that they can even update and optimize themselves.

Effectively creating and managing these kinds of flexible, on-the-fly processes is THE big new opportunity in digital business. But it also means that analytics has to have a more process-oriented approach, not just treated as a series of one-off decisions — and this is an area where traditional BI leaders have an advantage over the “islands of innovation” approach of tools that focus only on data discovery and visualization.

Gartner believes that information and analytics will be used to reinvent, digitalize, or eliminate 80% of today’s business processes.

Analytics is no longer just an afterthought to the “real business” – it’s the heart of the new business models of the future.

Analytics also enables “live businesses.” A live business is one that anticipates, simulates, and innovates new business opportunities, and that looks to create the future rather than just reporting on the past.

Here’s the analogy I like to use: Imagine this expensive crystal vase has been knocked over and is plummeting to the floor. That’s the equivalent of something going wrong in your business – an overdue production, a late delivery, or an unhappy customer.

Traditionally, businesses would have been stuck with analyzing the puddle and shards of glass on the floor after the vase had broken, in order to figure out what went wrong, who to blame, and how to avoid it next time.

But what if you could actually catch the vase before it hit the ground—in other words, if you knew about the business problem before you lost money or ruined customer satisfaction? That’s live business. To achieve this, you need a seamless, real-time link between operations and analytics and this plays to the strengths of new in-memory operational+analytics solutions such as the SAP HANA platform.

But while analytics is a hot topic, it doesn’t mean that it’s without problems. Various reports indicate that the reported success rate of BI deployments has stalled. For example, Howard Dresner found that BI initiatives described as successful dropped from 41% to 35% in 2015.

It’s worth noting that it’s not completely clear what BI “success” really means — it’s largely a subjective measure because few organizations actually define what success would look like before they start on a projects. But I believe user satisfaction is falling because business expectations are rising even faster than BI technology improvements.

This has real consequences. In particular, some organizations continue to implement only “old-style,” centralized business intelligence. This is increasingly is out of phase with the needs of today’s more analytics-savvy business users. Gartner calls these people “BI-nosaurs” and warns that the comet that might wipe them out is coming .

Here are some of the typical complaints of today’s analytics users.

First, users find analytics too slow, with almost a third having to wait days or weeks for a BI request. People would like to access information themselves without needing IT, but a third said that they find their enterprise BI too complex, too complicated, and too cumbersome to use. Finally, almost half the data that business people want to access is now from outside the organization, and is therefore unlikely to be in the corporate system in the first place.

For all these reasons, the penetration rate of analytics remains low in organizations, with many reporting that fewer than 10% of employees using BI – although again, it’s not always clear what “using” means – often the data is used indirectly; for example, cut-and-pasted into a spreadsheet or presentation. But there’s obviously a huge opportunity to get more data to more people, both inside and outside the organization.

From the point of view of business users, traditional analytics organizations look like the taxi companies that have been displaced by more flexible car-sharing applications like Uber and Lyft. Many people found taxis too expensive and annoyingly hard to find when they wanted one – but there was no alternative, so they put up with it. Now there are lots of lightweight analytics products available, and business departments increasingly have their own IT budget to spend.

The result it that the older ways of doing things are being disrupted, and just like the taxi companies, traditional analytics organizations have to adapt to the new tools and new ways of working in order to compete effectively.

So how should analytics organizations react to these trends? I’ll be following up with future posts on areas such as supporting “modern BI,” the new Big Data architectures, the adoption of predictive and machine learning, and changes to how companies are organizing for BI.

Don’t miss more posts— subscribe by email to this blog, or follow me on Twitter!

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Timo Elliott

About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP and a passionate advocate of innovation, digital business, analytics, and artificial intelligence. He was the eighth employee of BusinessObjects and for the last 25 years he has worked closely with SAP customers around the world on new technology directions and their impact on real-world organizations. His articles have appeared in publications such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, ZDNet, The Guardian, and Digitalist Magazine. He has worked in the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Silicon Valley, and currently lives in Paris, France. He has a degree in Econometrics and a patent in mobile analytics. 

Turning Data Into Insights: How Digitization Creates New Opportunities For The Telecommunications Industry

Julie Stoughton

The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is creating an enormous volume of data for the telecommunications industry (telcos). Data gathered from in-store beacons, environmental sensors, and mobile devices have the potential to create value in new, unprecedented ways. Now telcos must determine the best way to analyze and monetize this data. The new business models telcos develop must balance the need for data privacy with the need to identify granular insights that improve customer experience. As consumer behavior and expectations change, service providers will need to provide increasingly sophisticated services. Stephan Gatien, global head of the Telecommunications Industry Business Unit at SAP, recently shared his insights on IoT data analysis on the S.M.A.C. Talk Technology Podcast.

The challenge: Retaining current customers and creating new business opportunities

Consumer behavior has changed significantly in the last five years. Consumers are shifting to apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Instagram rather than calling and texting.

“That’s the big issue for telco providers,” says Stephan Gatien on the S.M.A.C. Talk Technology Podcast. “Their core services – text, voice, and data – are actually evaporating. The revenue associated with these services is evaporating. The big challenge in this industry is to determine how to offset the degradation of this revenue coming from text, voice, and data to a certain extent, by buying new services that will be relevant to subscribers. By also new services that may be relevant in the new digital life, in the new digital world we live in.”

Telco companies are trying to reinvent themselves and stay relevant in the digital era. This has led to two major trends. First, companies are focused inward on their customer experience. They need to retain their most valuable customers.

“What we’re seeing is a very strong focus on customer experience, customer centricity,” says Gatien. “There is an extreme investment in customer experience… understanding what your customers want in order to personalize and address their needs and hang onto the right ones.”

Secondly, telcos are looking outward. They’re considering how they can monetize the enormous volume of IoT data currently in their possession.

“The Internet of Things is a huge opportunity for telco providers to be even more pervasive in our lives,” says Gatien. “There are connections all around. There are billions of sensors in the world and there are only going to be more and more. How to make money around that is a big search, a big hunt for many providers.”

Predictive analytics and machine learning turn IoT sensor data into actionable insights

The telecommunications industry has access to a staggering amount of data. But access to data is just the first step. The telco industry still needs the ability to quickly analyze this data and then to monetize customer behavior insights gleaned from this analysis and build real business value.

“The explosion of data, whether it’s on the subscriber side, all of us in our digital lives accessing something, texting something else, watching a video, or whether it’s on the business side where large organizations will rely increasingly on beacons in stores, on sensors to drive their processes, will create terabytes of data, petabytes actually,” says Gatien. “The opportunity is huge to find a way through both faster computing capabilities and smarter analysis, including data science, to monetize this data in a meaningful way.”

The Internet of Things has the power to turn endpoint things into actionable things. But without a system for analyzing this data, the data’s value is limited. To fully realize IoT data potential, telecommunication companies need powerful analytics processing and machine learning. For example, telcos could use IoT data to better understand consumer usage patterns. Predictive analytics could help telcos better managing changing network usage patterns. This could reduce the likelihood of a major outage when data demands surge, such as during major sporting events like the Super Bowl.

Preventive maintenance is another practical application of IoT data. Telcos can use insights from IoT data to optimize bandwidth and coverage. Reducing dropped calls and boosting download speeds would deliver an immediate benefit to customers. Telcos would also benefit by minimizing revenue lost to service disruption.

New business opportunities for the telecommunications industry

IoT, predictive analytics, and machine learning are creating new business opportunities for the telecommunication industry. To succeed, telcos must choose a business model that will address data privacy concerns while delivering actionable insights that benefit both consumers and companies. Telcos that use their data to deliver exceptional value will benefit from both new revenue streams and greater customer loyalty.

For more information on how IoT, predictive analytics, and machine learning are disrupting the telecommunications industry, listen to Stephan Gatien on the S.M.A.C. Talk Technology Podcast.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation: download The Future Services Sector: Connected Services for Continuous Delivery.

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Julie Stoughton

About Julie Stoughton

Julie Stoughton is the Head of Telecommunications Marketing & Communications at SAP. She is a seasoned professional with 16 years of marketing and product marketing experience in software and media technologies. Julie's specialties include strategic market development, positioning and messaging, customer segmentation, product launches, ROI analysis, and go-to-market execution.

How Digital Twin Technology Is Transforming The Mill Industry

Kai Aldinger

Imagine a network of sensors in your mill products business that monitor the efficiency of each piece of equipment, enabling you to identify parts that are wearing out or failing by using just a tablet or laptop.

As the fourth digital revolution unfolds, digital twinning makes this scenario real.

What is digital twinning?

Digital twinning comprises several processes that come together to create a unique tool that benefits mill products companies. The process uses sensors, computers, and mechanical equipment to create a data map that represents the parts of a machine while it works. The map is the digital twin of the machine’s production status. For example, if you have an automated sawmill, the digital map would indicate the efficiency and status of all its moving parts.

The process of creating a digital twin uses sensors within a piece of equipment that feeds data to a computer capable of handling Big Data. The data tells a story in real time about the efficiency of the equipment as it operates. That’s the macro view of twinning.

The process, however, is not limited to a single piece of equipment; it affects your entire operation. A digital twin shows the efficiency of a machine as it works in real time and compares that information to the machine’s past performance. The outcome goes beyond predictive, showing managers not only when a machine will likely break down, but also what parts are likely to be involved.

Advantages of digital twinning

Instead of learning about problems and equipment failures after they happen, you can be proactive. For example, you might look at your tablet and notice that an edger’s drive motor is not turning the sawblades as efficiently as it should. You could then schedule maintenance and order parts before a serious problem, potentially resulting in lost revenue, happens.

How does digitizing operations add value?

Some of the greatest efficiency losses, especially concerning energy usage, in the mill industry, are due to equipment failure and breakdown. Much of the mechanical stress in mill products manufacturing comes from the environment in which the machines work. Twinning data shows you when components are beginning to fail and which ones need repair before the tool or machine breaks. This technology is not singular in vision; it digitizes the entire mill.

Consider the benefits of digital twinning across your operations: It provides data that lets you monitor the efficiency of every piece of equipment in real time. That knowledge allows you to manage the situation and maintain consistent operations. Currently, most mills’ maintenance systems work on a calendar basis or when an issue develops. Digital twinning enables you to schedule maintenance and repairs when they are needed rather than during a crisis.

Additional benefits

Already used in industrial applications such as machine design, digital twin technology can boost savings by reducing equipment downtime and improving the consistency of output. You will never again need to wait for parts; digital twinning allows you to order or 3-D print the parts you need before a machine is due for repair. The technology also goes beyond maintenance and efficiency, offering benefits in the areas of knowledge management, financing, appraisal, and asset management, especially in terms of the operating value of your mechanical assets.

How does digital twinning affect new ventures?

Twinning helps new ventures by enabling project mockups prior to investment. For example, NASA uses digital twinning to develop equipment that must function in extreme environments such as that on Mars. As a project development begins, planners can study scenarios to determine how best to design infrastructure. This process allows your team to overcome the challenges of the physical world while building a framework that improves efficiency and reduces costs.

These prospects are just the beginning of what we expect from digital twinning. As the technology continues to merge with advancements in IoT, machine learning, and other emerging technologies, industries in all sectors will benefit from real-time asset management and other capabilities.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation: download “The IoT Imperative for Energy and Natural Resource Companies.” Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today: read “Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

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Hack the CIO

By Thomas Saueressig, Timo Elliott, Sam Yen, and Bennett Voyles

For nerds, the weeks right before finals are a Cinderella moment. Suddenly they’re stars. Pocket protectors are fashionable; people find their jokes a whole lot funnier; Dungeons & Dragons sounds cool.

Many CIOs are enjoying this kind of moment now, as companies everywhere face the business equivalent of a final exam for a vital class they have managed to mostly avoid so far: digital transformation.

But as always, there is a limit to nerdy magic. No matter how helpful CIOs try to be, their classmates still won’t pass if they don’t learn the material. With IT increasingly central to every business—from the customer experience to the offering to the business model itself—we all need to start thinking like CIOs.

Pass the digital transformation exam, and you probably have a bright future ahead. A recent SAP-Oxford Economics study of 3,100 organizations in a variety of industries across 17 countries found that the companies that have taken the lead in digital transformation earn higher profits and revenues and have more competitive differentiation than their peers. They also expect 23% more revenue growth from their digital initiatives over the next two years—an estimate 2.5 to 4 times larger than the average company’s.

But the market is grading on a steep curve: this same SAP-Oxford study found that only 3% have completed some degree of digital transformation across their organization. Other surveys also suggest that most companies won’t be graduating anytime soon: in one recent survey of 450 heads of digital transformation for enterprises in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany by technology company Couchbase, 90% agreed that most digital projects fail to meet expectations and deliver only incremental improvements. Worse: over half (54%) believe that organizations that don’t succeed with their transformation project will fail or be absorbed by a savvier competitor within four years.

Companies that are making the grade understand that unlike earlier technical advances, digital transformation doesn’t just support the business, it’s the future of the business. That’s why 60% of digital leading companies have entrusted the leadership of their transformation to their CIO, and that’s why experts say businesspeople must do more than have a vague understanding of the technology. They must also master a way of thinking and looking at business challenges that is unfamiliar to most people outside the IT department.

In other words, if you don’t think like a CIO yet, now is a very good time to learn.

However, given that you probably don’t have a spare 15 years to learn what your CIO knows, we asked the experts what makes CIO thinking distinctive. Here are the top eight mind hacks.

1. Think in Systems

A lot of businesspeople are used to seeing their organization as a series of loosely joined silos. But in the world of digital business, everything is part of a larger system.

CIOs have known for a long time that smart processes win. Whether they were installing enterprise resource planning systems or working with the business to imagine the customer’s journey, they always had to think in holistic ways that crossed traditional departmental, functional, and operational boundaries.

Unlike other business leaders, CIOs spend their careers looking across systems. Why did our supply chain go down? How can we support this new business initiative beyond a single department or function? Now supported by end-to-end process methodologies such as design thinking, good CIOs have developed a way of looking at the company that can lead to radical simplifications that can reduce cost and improve performance at the same time.

They are also used to thinking beyond temporal boundaries. “This idea that the power of technology doubles every two years means that as you’re planning ahead you can’t think in terms of a linear process, you have to think in terms of huge jumps,” says Jay Ferro, CIO of TransPerfect, a New York–based global translation firm.

No wonder the SAP-Oxford transformation study found that one of the values transformational leaders shared was a tendency to look beyond silos and view the digital transformation as a company-wide initiative.

This will come in handy because in digital transformation, not only do business processes evolve but the company’s entire value proposition changes, says Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It either already has or it’s going to, because digital technologies make things possible that weren’t possible before,” she explains.

2. Work in Diverse Teams

When it comes to large projects, CIOs have always needed input from a diverse collection of businesspeople to be successful. The best have developed ways to convince and cajole reluctant participants to come to the table. They seek out technology enthusiasts in the business and those who are respected by their peers to help build passion and commitment among the halfhearted.

Digital transformation amps up the urgency for building diverse teams even further. “A small, focused group simply won’t have the same breadth of perspective as a team that includes a salesperson and a service person and a development person, as well as an IT person,” says Ross.

At Lenovo, the global technology giant, many of these cross-functional teams become so used to working together that it’s hard to tell where each member originally belonged: “You can’t tell who is business or IT; you can’t tell who is product, IT, or design,” says the company’s CIO, Arthur Hu.

One interesting corollary of this trend toward broader teamwork is that talent is a priority among digital leaders: they spend more on training their employees and partners than ordinary companies, as well as on hiring the people they need, according to the SAP-Oxford Economics survey. They’re also already being rewarded for their faith in their teams: 71% of leaders say that their successful digital transformation has made it easier for them to attract and retain talent, and 64% say that their employees are now more engaged than they were before the transformation.

3. Become a Consultant

Good CIOs have long needed to be internal consultants to the business. Ever since technology moved out of the glasshouse and onto employees’ desks, CIOs have not only needed a deep understanding of the goals of a given project but also to make sure that the project didn’t stray from those goals, even after the businesspeople who had ordered the project went back to their day jobs. “Businesspeople didn’t really need to get into the details of what IT was really doing,” recalls Ferro. “They just had a set of demands and said, ‘Hey, IT, go do that.’”

Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants.

But that was then. Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants. “If you’re building a house, you don’t just disappear for six months and come back and go, ‘Oh, it looks pretty good,’” says Ferro. “You’re on that work site constantly and all of a sudden you’re looking at something, going, ‘Well, that looked really good on the blueprint, not sure it makes sense in reality. Let’s move that over six feet.’ Or, ‘I don’t know if I like that anymore.’ It’s really not much different in application development or for IT or technical projects, where on paper it looked really good and three weeks in, in that second sprint, you’re going, ‘Oh, now that I look at it, that’s really stupid.’”

4. Learn Horizontal Leadership

CIOs have always needed the ability to educate and influence other leaders that they don’t directly control. For major IT projects to be successful, they need other leaders to contribute budget, time, and resources from multiple areas of the business.

It’s a kind of horizontal leadership that will become critical for businesspeople to acquire in digital transformation. “The leadership role becomes one much more of coaching others across the organization—encouraging people to be creative, making sure everybody knows how to use data well,” Ross says.

In this team-based environment, having all the answers becomes less important. “It used to be that the best business executives and leaders had the best answers. Today that is no longer the case,” observes Gary Cokins, a technology consultant who focuses on analytics-based performance management. “Increasingly, it’s the executives and leaders who ask the best questions. There is too much volatility and uncertainty for them to rely on their intuition or past experiences.”

Many experts expect this trend to continue as the confluence of automation and data keeps chipping away at the organizational pyramid. “Hierarchical, command-and-control leadership will become obsolete,” says Edward Hess, professor of business administration and Batten executive-in-residence at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. “Flatter, distributive leadership via teams will become the dominant structure.”

5. Understand Process Design

When business processes were simpler, IT could analyze the process and improve it without input from the business. But today many processes are triggered on the fly by the customer, making a seamless customer experience more difficult to build without the benefit of a larger, multifunctional team. In a highly digitalized organization like Amazon, which releases thousands of new software programs each year, IT can no longer do it all.

While businesspeople aren’t expected to start coding, their involvement in process design is crucial. One of the techniques that many organizations have adopted to help IT and businesspeople visualize business processes together is design thinking (for more on design thinking techniques, see “A Cult of Creation“).

Customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from better processes. Among the 100 companies the SAP-Oxford Economics researchers have identified as digital leaders, two-thirds say that they are making their employees’ lives easier by eliminating process roadblocks that interfere with their ability to do their jobs. Ninety percent of leaders surveyed expect to see value from these projects in the next two years alone.

6. Learn to Keep Learning

The ability to learn and keep learning has been a part of IT from the start. Since the first mainframes in the 1950s, technologists have understood that they need to keep reinventing themselves and their skills to adapt to the changes around them.

Now that’s starting to become part of other job descriptions too. Many companies are investing in teaching their employees new digital skills. One South American auto products company, for example, has created a custom-education institute that trained 20,000 employees and partner-employees in 2016. In addition to training current staff, many leading digital companies are also hiring new employees and creating new roles, such as a chief robotics officer, to support their digital transformation efforts.

Nicolas van Zeebroeck, professor of information systems and digital business innovation at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management at the Free University of Brussels, says that he expects the ability to learn quickly will remain crucial. “If I had to think of one critical skill,” he explains, “I would have to say it’s the ability to learn and keep learning—the ability to challenge the status quo and question what you take for granted.”

7. Fail Smarter

Traditionally, CIOs tended to be good at thinking through tests that would allow the company to experiment with new technology without risking the entire network.

This is another unfamiliar skill that smart managers are trying to pick up. “There’s a lot of trial and error in the best companies right now,” notes MIT’s Ross. But there’s a catch, she adds. “Most companies aren’t designed for trial and error—they’re trying to avoid an error,” she says.

To learn how to do it better, take your lead from IT, where many people have already learned to work in small, innovative teams that use agile development principles, advises Ross.

For example, business managers must learn how to think in terms of a minimum viable product: build a simple version of what you have in mind, test it, and if it works start building. You don’t build the whole thing at once anymore.… It’s really important to build things incrementally,” Ross says.

Flexibility and the ability to capitalize on accidental discoveries during experimentation are more important than having a concrete project plan, says Ross. At Spotify, the music service, and CarMax, the used-car retailer, change is driven not from the center but from small teams that have developed something new. “The thing you have to get comfortable with is not having the formalized plan that we would have traditionally relied on, because as soon as you insist on that, you limit your ability to keep learning,” Ross warns.

8. Understand the True Cost—and Speed—of Data

Gut instincts have never had much to do with being a CIO; now they should have less to do with being an ordinary manager as well, as data becomes more important.

As part of that calculation, businesspeople must have the ability to analyze the value of the data that they seek. “You’ll need to apply a pinch of knowledge salt to your data,” advises Solvay’s van Zeebroeck. “What really matters is the ability not just to tap into data but to see what is behind the data. Is it a fair representation? Is it impartial?”

Increasingly, businesspeople will need to do their analysis in real time, just as CIOs have always had to manage live systems and processes. Moving toward real-time reports and away from paper-based decisions increases accuracy and effectiveness—and leaves less time for long meetings and PowerPoint presentations (let us all rejoice).

Not Every CIO Is Ready

Of course, not all CIOs are ready for these changes. Just as high school has a lot of false positives—genius nerds who turn out to be merely nearsighted—so there are many CIOs who aren’t good role models for transformation.

Success as a CIO these days requires more than delivering near-perfect uptime, says Lenovo’s Hu. You need to be able to understand the business as well. Some CIOs simply don’t have all the business skills that are needed to succeed in the transformation. Others lack the internal clout: a 2016 KPMG study found that only 34% of CIOs report directly to the CEO.

This lack of a strategic perspective is holding back digital transformation at many organizations. They approach digital transformation as a cool, one-off project: we’re going to put this new mobile app in place and we’re done. But that’s not a systematic approach; it’s an island of innovation that doesn’t join up with the other islands of innovation. In the longer term, this kind of development creates more problems than it fixes.

Such organizations are not building in the capacity for change; they’re trying to get away with just doing it once rather than thinking about how they’re going to use digitalization as a means to constantly experiment and become a better company over the long term.

As a result, in some companies, the most interesting tech developments are happening despite IT, not because of it. “There’s an alarming digital divide within many companies. Marketers are developing nimble software to give customers an engaging, personalized experience, while IT departments remain focused on the legacy infrastructure. The front and back ends aren’t working together, resulting in appealing web sites and apps that don’t quite deliver,” writes George Colony, founder, chairman, and CEO of Forrester Research, in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Thanks to cloud computing and easier development tools, many departments are developing on their own, without IT’s support. These days, anybody with a credit card can do it.

Traditionally, IT departments looked askance at these kinds of do-it-yourself shadow IT programs, but that’s changing. Ferro, for one, says that it’s better to look at those teams not as rogue groups but as people who are trying to help. “It’s less about ‘Hey, something’s escaped,’ and more about ‘No, we just actually grew our capacity and grew our ability to innovate,’” he explains.

“I don’t like the term ‘shadow IT,’” agrees Lenovo’s Hu. “I think it’s an artifact of a very traditional CIO team. If you think of it as shadow IT, you’re out of step with reality,” he says.

The reality today is that a company needs both a strong IT department and strong digital capacities outside its IT department. If the relationship is good, the CIO and IT become valuable allies in helping businesspeople add digital capabilities without disrupting or duplicating existing IT infrastructure.

If a company already has strong digital capacities, it should be able to move forward quickly, according to Ross. But many companies are still playing catch-up and aren’t even ready to begin transforming, as the SAP-Oxford Economics survey shows.

For enterprises where business and IT are unable to get their collective act together, Ross predicts that the next few years will be rough. “I think these companies ought to panic,” she says. D!


About the Authors

Thomas Saueressig is Chief Information Officer at SAP.

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist at SAP.

Sam Yen is Chief Design Officer at SAP and Managing Director of SAP Labs.

Bennett Voyles is a Berlin-based business writer.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.
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Cloud Computing: Separating Myth From Reality

Misa Rawlins and Krishnakant Dave

Across industries, many enterprise leaders believe and understand that cloud computing is here to stay. Globally, public cloud services market revenue is projected to reach US$411 billion by 2020, compared with $260 billion in 2017, according to research firm Gartner, Inc. Cloud technology in all its forms—software, platform, or infrastructure as a service—is rapidly becoming essential to the needs of business today. With cloud computing, organizations can simplify IT, save costs, scale rapidly, drive standardization and user adoption, and start getting ahead of tomorrow’s needs when it comes to customer engagement, the supply chain, the workforce, a simplified finance function, and more.

Despite the short- and long-term advantages, some executives remain uncertain about the next steps or have lingering questions about the benefits of moving to the cloud. For many leaders, separating the cloud myths from the facts can prove daunting. Start here, with these insights that can help you bust big myths about the cloud and start moving confidently toward a cloud-enabled transformation of your organization.

Myth No. 1: Moving to the cloud is too costly. “Costly” is a relative term. The cloud can be costly – but costs should be weighed against benefit and return once requirements and migration plans are in place. Rapidly evolving business demands, for example, can dramatically alter cloud-related requirements. Meanwhile, new technologies are dramatically redefining the art of the possible with the cloud. Because migrating to the cloud is not a true “plug-and-play” proposition, and many enterprise leaders underestimate what a migration or implementation involves, some organizations can be surprised by the costs of a cloud transformation. Without a clear understanding of the potential benefits—without a clear business case for moving to the cloud—the focus on costs can overshadow the return on investment. Knowing the value that cloud solutions can bring—not just the costs—can help manage expectations.

Myth No. 2: The benefits of the cloud aren’t substantial enough. As vendors adopt a “cloud-first” stance for many solutions and product updates, organizations that move to the cloud may have a competitive advantage—no matter the size of the enterprise. Cloud solutions continue to offer abundant and increasing functionality. And with the help of an end-to-end solution provider, you can configure cloud solutions to the specific needs of your industry and your business. For larger organizations, rapidly deployable cloud solutions can help support growth or the unique needs of certain business units, such as new acquisitions or foreign subsidiaries, for example. For smaller organizations, the cloud can help you position your organization to tap new opportunities and tame growth challenges.

Myth No. 3: Cloud is too risky. All digital technologies and all business models come with inherent risk. In a hyperconnected world, no system is immune from cyber attacks, insider threats, data leakage, or related risks. No transformation project is a guaranteed success. Market changes, new competition, regulatory issues, and other factors can require you to change your cloud strategy overnight.

Because the risks are real, take advantage of resources and capabilities that can help reduce risk and ensure that your technology investments align tightly with clear business objectives. The maturity of the software goes a long way toward mitigating risk with cloud projects. You can add an extra layer of capabilities such as managed cloud services to provide active, hands-on oversight of cloud applications and infrastructure—helping you to avoid service interruptions and address issues proactively.

Myth No. 4: Cloud computing is still an immature technology. Like other evolving technologies, cloud is advancing every day. Those who wait for the next generation of cloud offerings may find themselves missing out on tangible benefits as competitors leverage cloud technology to sharpen their edge. Across industries, leading organizations are not waiting. Many view cloud technology as evolving but necessary, and they are leveraging it effectively today. Some, for example, are tightly integrating cloud software solutions to streamline supply chain processes, boost information transparency, and improve decision-making across the board—all the while tapping the cloud benefits of cost savings and scalability. Others are confidently turning to infrastructure solutions delivered and running solutions in a private or hybrid cloud. Still others are turning to cloud platform solutions to extend the power of existing applications, build modern analytics platforms, or support new Internet of Things business models. Turning the cloud to your advantage may depend less on the maturity of the technology and more on the power of your imagination.

Myth No. 5: Moving to the cloud will be easy. Cloud technology can help organizations streamline and simplify their IT landscapes and their business processes, reducing needs around capital expenses and infrastructure while helping to save costs. But migrating to the cloud requires more than simply plugging in technology. It requires an ability to address a host of considerations—data migration, the business-specific capabilities of solutions, change management, governance, systems integration, security, and more.

A cloud transformation is more than a plug-and-play project or a traditional system implementation. It requires progressive thinking and an ability to align technology with your business needs and processes— for today and for the future. Migrating to the cloud is a journey. Moving forward with the cloud will require a vision of your “to be” state—your destination—as well as a strategy for getting you there.

To learn more, and to find out what IDC thinks about the future of the cloud, please read this study that presents a strategic blueprint for enterprises on their digital transformation journey.

For more information on how to simplify innovation with cloud technology, learn more about SAP Cloud Platform.

Ready to reimagine the potential of the cloud? Contact us to get the conversation started.

Contact Krishnakant Dave at kdave@deloitte.com and follow him on Twitter: @kkdave

Contact Misa Rawlins at mrawlins@deloitte.com and follow her on Twitter: @misa_rawlins

www.deloitte.com/SAP

SAP@deloitte.com

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This article originally appeared on Deloitte.com and is republished by permission.

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Misa Rawlins

About Misa Rawlins

As a senior manager and consultant in Deloitte’s SAP practice, Misa Rawlins enjoys helping her clients not only to figure out how to solve their current business problems, but also to envision how a modern cloud platform can transform their organizations moving ahead. Within the practice, she has specifically chosen to take a leadership role around the sales and delivery of SAP S/4HANA Cloud because she considers it the wave of the future. She has made it her mission to deeply understand this technology to better advise clients on what moving to a cloud infrastructure really means.

Krishnakant Dave

About Krishnakant Dave

As a principal in Deloitte’s global SAP practice, KK Dave is a consulting leader for Deloitte’s largest clients; part of the U.S. SAP leadership team where he spearheads Deloitte's cloud offerings; and leader of global go-to-market efforts in the wholesale distribution and manufacturing sector. In these roles, he assists clients in their business transformation journeys using the absolute latest SAP toolset, which presently comprises SAP S/4HANA, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, among other technologies.