Engaging Digital Experiences: The Key To App Adoption

Eric Solberg

Building a technically perfect application that no one uses is a hard lesson for an IT team. It’s not good enough to have applications that are robust, secure, and scalable; applications must also be useful. For an enterprise application to maximize user adoption and establish long-term success, IT must deliver an end-user experience similar to those found in consumer applications. User-centered design practices are ideal for delivering modern and engaging user experiences (UX) at the enterprise level. While the term UX has been around for years, the concept of “digital experience” has evolved over the past year with the advancement and consolidation of UX, design, mobility, collaboration, and content services in the cloud.

Application designers strive to create a digital experience that leaves users feeling connected to an organization. Whether an application provider is a startup, a small business, or a large enterprise, when an effective and engaging UX is embraced, users develop trust in the brand.

Every enterprise IT department is an application provider. Every interaction between an enterprise and an employee, business partner, or end user has the potential to generate revenue, decrease costs, and achieve strategic business goals. Improperly designed, these digital experiences can also lead to dissatisfaction, inefficiency, and increased costs. When complex applications add friction to tasks that drive your business, users will either stop using the application or use it in an unproductive way.

Business end users have come to expect a superior UX, and enterprise designers have few excuses for not getting it right.

How to improve the digital experience

Ensuring that solutions are mobile-enabled is key for an improved digital experience. Simple, task-oriented applications are a good place to start for mobile enablement as they demonstrate quick value to a wide segment of enterprise users. These applications usually need to run on multiple mobile devices and tend to favor prebuilt apps, micro-apps, and hybrid app architectures that leverage HTML5 and responsive design. Some organizations prefer to focus on fully mobile-enabling a specific process or job function by designing and building rich and sophisticated applications from the ground up.

Desktop digital experiences can easily be optimized by applying a modern-styled rendering layer – that leverages Web or mobile delivery – over classic user interface (UI) technologies. Cloud-based enterprise portal and content management services can also modernize the enterprise UX for both internal and external users. A modern enterprise portal provides one-stop access to updated and new applications, and composite or mash-up applications that orchestrate interactions with core enterprise processes in new ways. It is a much leaner and more flexible portal approach than the monolithic employee portals familiar to many enterprise users.

A digital experience that combines mobile, portal, and other channels of engagement places the focus on the long-term customer relationship as opposed to one transactional interaction. Add in Big Data and machine learning technologies, and a highly contextualized digital experience can be achieved to meet user needs and expectations.

A digital experience that incrementally engages with a user across devices and locations often incorporates information collected from connected devices (IoT), allowing for seamless integration between people and machines. Digital experiences may also leverage new channels and modes of interaction, including automated chat bots and virtual private assistants that augment or completely replace traditional application interactions.

An effective strategy for application innovation places the user at the center to deliver a superior digital experience across multiple mobile, portal, and IoT channels. To achieve this strategy, every organization requires an agile platform that facilitates innovation by providing tools and services that fully support iterative and collaborative design, development, test, deployment, and measurement phases of your application lifecycle. This agile platform is known as the cloud platform.

The creation of innovative and useful cloud applications is about more than providing users with an engaging digital experience. It’s about redefining the role of IT to treat every enterprise business process interaction as an opportunity to exceed user expectations and to grow the brand value of your organization.

For more on digital experience, visit SAP Cloud Platform.


About Eric Solberg

Eric Solberg is a product manager for the SAP User Experience Platform and has been with SAP for about 12 years, delivering platform technologies. Eric has 20+ years of industry experience as a full-stack developer, software architect, development manager, and technology leader from startups to leading enterprise software companies prior to joining SAP. Eric got his start in Southern California, then moved to Silicon Valley as the Internet was exploding on the scene in the late 90s. Outside of work, Eric is a passionate hobbyist in the maker community - tinkering with anything that involves cool technology, and enjoys home wine making and gourmet cooking.

How Mining Productivity And Safety Soar With IoT Innovation

Christina Frazier

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—better known as drones—are becoming important tools in mining and milling.

Yet UAVs might not have been so quick to take off in commerce without an ambitious announcement by Amazon in 2013 and the growth of what we now call the Internet of Things (IoT).

Today much innovation in business processes involves the IoT’s vast network of objects, such as drones and smartphones, which exchange information through the Internet.

Innovation on your doorstep

Five years ago, most people thought of drones as instruments of warfare. But Amazon revealed it was developing drones for doorstep delivery of customer orders.  The consumer fulfillment service estimated that in five years it would be able to deliver goods by drone within 30 minutes of customers placing orders.  The New Republic called the project a space-age cartoon “fantasy.” The magazine indicated that FedEx leadership considered Amazon’s plan a joke.

Last March, Amazon finally overcame enough obstacles to launch its first drone delivery within American public airspace. And by that time, drones were already aiding the mining and mill products industries.

It’s perilous to consider digital innovation a joke. Businesses may get left behind by failing to invest in technology that leads to improved performance and competitive advantage.

IoT and Big Data management

What seems like science fiction today may become tomorrow’s business success story.

From alarm clocks that connect with work computer systems to fleets of drones that share information, IoT objects provide machine-to-machine communication that people do not need to initiate.

These objects contain sensors that accumulate data. IoT-solution software gathers this data through the Internet, then sorts, analyzes, and responds to the information. Another more powerful level of software called a platform helps all the software programs work together.

Due to its quantity, the information gathered from IoT sensors is called Big Data. Mining UAVs produce huge amounts of data, because they are used for projects such as 3D mapping of company land.

Drones over Goonyella

The Australian Business Review described the mapping process in a March 2016 article about Queensland’s Goonyella Riverside open-pit coal mine. BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi own the mine.

Goonyella began using UAVs in 2015. Each is battery-powered, weighs 2.5 kg (about 5.5 lb) and flies up to 40 minutes at speeds up to 80 km/h (about 50 mph).

A flight plan uploaded to a drone’s memory card tells it where to fly over the mining site. Then the drone may cover up to 80 ha (roughly a third of a square mile) using IoT-connected sensors and cameras to gather data (such as volumes) and images for conversion to 3D maps.

The newspaper reports that the information gathered by a single drone in 40 minutes would take weeks for a team of surveyors to record. Now, surveyors are expanding into management of data produced by drones.

BHP Billiton is one of the world’s largest mining companies and is also known for production of metals and gas. Writing at the BHP Billiton blog, Frans Knox—head of mining production—says UAVs are less expensive and safer than planes for survey work.

Knox emphasizes that drones are helping BHP Billiton to improve worker safety overall. For example, he says, drones monitor road traffic and hazards at mine sites.

Also, Knox adds, drones can identify whether mining areas are clear before blasting. Afterward, they record any blast fumes. He adds that the UAVs also aid inspection of multi-story objects such as overhead cranes so employees can minimize dangerous work at heights.

Lessons from birds

Drones face dangers, too. One aspect of working with them that mining companies never expected is their destruction by eagles, which view them as prey.

Both South Africa’s Gold Fields mining company and BHP Billiton have tried camouflaging the vehicles. Gold Fields painted theirs to look like small eagles, but wedge-tailed eagles continued destroying them. By November 2016, the company had lost $100,000.

According to the avian conservation organization Audubon, wildlife biologists have encountered similar problems when using drones to study birds. Nevertheless, the magazine reports that UAVs save researchers’ lives.

In the past, these scientists flew in light aircraft to get close to bird nests in places that are difficult to reach. But crashes—many at low altitude—became the “number-one killer of wildlife biologists,” Audubon reports.

Audubon also reports that the price of UAVs is dropping as more manufacturers produce them. It adds that some UAV designers are finding ways to make the vehicles more durable.

UAV designers have gained ideas from birds. The magazine notes that innovations include arms for grabbing objects in mid-air, “kestrel-like legs that allow drones to perch” and the ability to glide on thermal updrafts.

Another improvement Audubon cites is UAVs with “vision-based navigation” to avoid obstacles.

Overcoming obstacles

Three of the biggest obstacles to commercial use of drones are legislation limiting their use in public airspace, cost, and managing the high volumes of data they produce. UAV design may ease the first problem as drones become less prone to crashes.

As for cost, development of UAVs for the consumer and academic research markets helps make them more affordable for industrial tasks.

Finally, the third obstacle is disappearing as digital technology designers create tools and IoT-solution software for harnessing Big Data.

Five years ago, few corporate executives knew much about the IoT and how it would create new tools for productivity such as UAVs. Now, industries such as mining and milling are showing business another way to take off digitally.

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?


New Automotive DNA: How IoT Is Transforming The Automotive Industry

Uli Muench

Digital technology is transforming virtually every aspect of what it means to be an automotive manufacturer, OEM, or supplier. From autonomous cars to electric vehicles, the automotive industry is crossing the threshold of reinvention. This new automotive DNA is a paradigm shift for the industry, moving it away from the internal combustion engine, petroleum, and mechanical linkages and toward fuel cells, batteries, hydrogen, electricity, and electronic systems and controls. The use of new electronic-based architectures, systems, and software in vehicles creates new design challenges and opportunities.

At the same time, consumer-use models for vehicles are also evolving. For example, connected vehicles are creating new urban mobility opportunities such as vehicle sharing and usage-based insurance (UBI). Connected cars are generating massive amounts of data that can be monetized in other ways. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the powerhouse behind all the transformations.

This makes the automotive industry an especially compelling use case for how IoT is transforming discrete manufacturing to meet new market demands while continuing to achieve traditional business objectives. IoT is most impactful on four key value drivers in the automotive industry: design and ideation, service enablement, resilient lean, and product lifecycle revenue.

Design ideation

IoT makes it easier to manage the product lifecycle by accelerating product and engineering timelines. This results in a faster time-to-market and improved customer/product satisfaction. IoT helps reduce manufacturing costs by identifying non-value driving components and removing these components from future vehicles. Future design ideation opportunities include applying machine learning to past product performance information and using this information to augment the design and ideation process.

Service enablement

Today’s vehicles have at least 10 million lines of mission-critical software code, creating an enormous need for ongoing code management and service. Streamlined service enablement is the most common scenario for IoT in the automotive after-market. IoT is improving customer satisfaction via aftermarket quality assurance and upgrades, while also increasing revenue from aftermarket services.

Connected technology is making it easier for manufacturers not only to track product defects and maintenance needs, but also to communicate proactively with consumers about these service updates and notifications. Thanks to IoT, manufacturers have the luxury of pushing out software updates or even software upgrade offers. This is revolutionary as manufacturers seldom have any relationship with the end user.

Resilient lean

Process automation via IoT data and analytics is one of the top priority improvements for manufacturers. Factors pushing auto manufacturers to adopt a resilient lean manufacturing approach include shorter time-to-market cycles, rapidly changing demand, highly complex products, and processes, and increasing material considerations around light-weighting and 3D printing. IoT is enabling this adoption with real-time scheduling to meet changing demand and more efficient, flexible manufacturing processes—including material optimization.

Platform revenue

A virtual treasure trove of data including information on consumption patterns and preferences, demographics, and location usage is produced every moment a car operates. Manufacturers are turning to IoT and advanced analytics to gain insights from this data and create new revenue-generating opportunities. Key opportunities include increasing aftermarket revenue via upgrade and content monetization, and improving overall customer satisfaction through experience enhancements. Companies can leverage usage and engagement information to send content, such as paid software upgrades and infotainment, to the consumer.

Next steps: Selecting an IoT partner

As the new automotive DNA transformation demonstrates, today’s competitive market demands that manufacturers offer integrated products, services, and business models that enhance the customer experience. At the same time, manufacturers must also stay focused on traditional objectives including increasing uptime and throughput in the plant and closely managing operational costs.

Whether a scenario can be implemented today or on your roadmap for the near future, your business must get the right technology and IT infrastructure in place or risk being outperformed by the competition. When selecting the right IoT partner, your business should consider the following: integration, scale, ecosystem, and trust. Your IoT solution should allow you to integrate business systems, digital platforms, and industry clouds—ideally providing a common foundation for all three. IoT partner should be able to scale digital activities as your business grows and offer your company access to a robust third-party developer community to meet your evolving needs. Finally, your partner of choice should be willing to co-innovate.

The digital transformation in the automotive industry and across the entire manufacturing sector is well underway. Time is of the essence. Your company must act now to realize the tremendous value and competitive advantage offered by IoT, including new business models and new customer relationships.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation: download The IoT Imperative for Discrete Manufacturers: Automotive, Aerospace and Defense, High Tech, and Industrial Machinery. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today: read Industry 4.0: What’s Next?


Uli Muench

About Uli Muench

Uli Muench is Global Vice President of the Automotive Industry Business Unit at SAP.

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.


CEO Priorities And Challenges In The Digital World

Dr. Chakib Bouhdary

Digital transformation is here, and it is moving fast. Companies are starting to realize the enormous power of digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IoT) and blockchain. These technologies will drive massive opportunities—and threats—for every company, and they will impact all aspects of business, including the business model. In fact, business velocity has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.

To move quickly, companies need to be clear on what they want to achieve through digital transformation and understand the possible roadblocks. Based on my meetings with customer executives across regions and industries, I have learned that CEOs often have the same three priorities and face the same three challenges:

1. Customer experience – No longer defined by omnichannel and personalized marketing.

Not surprisingly, 92 percent of digital leaders focus on customer experience. However, this is no longer just about omnichannel and personalized marketing – it is about the total customer experience. Businesses are realizing that they need to reimagine their value proposition and orchestrate changes across the value chain – from the first point of interaction to manufacturing, to shipment, to service – and be able to deliver the total customer experience. In some cases, it will even be necessary to change the core product or service itself.

2. Step change in productivity – Transform productivity and cost structure through digital technologies.

Businesses have been using technology to achieve growth for decades, but by combining emerging technologies, they can now achieve a significant productivity boost and reduce costs. For this to happen, companies must first identify the scenarios that will drive significant change in productivity, prioritize them based on value, and then determine the right technologies and solutions. Both Mckinsey and Boston Consulting Group expect a 15 to 30 percent improvement in productivity through digital advancements – blowing the doors off business-as-usual and its incremental productivity growth of 1 to 2 percent.

3. Employee engagement – Fostering a culture of innovation should be at the core of any business.

Companies are looking to create an environment that encourages creativity and innovation. Leaders are attracting the needed talent and building the right skill sets. Additionally, they aim for ways to attract a diverse workforce, improve collaborations, and empower employees – because engaged employees are crucial in order to achieve the best results. This Gallup study reveals that approximately 85 percent of employees worldwide are performing below their potential due to engagement issues.

As CEOs work towards achieving these three desired outcomes, they face some critical challenges that they must address. I define the top three challenges as follows: run vs. innovate, corporate cholesterol, and digital transformation roadmap.

1. Run vs. innovate – To be successful you must prioritize the future.

The foremost challenge that CEOs are facing is how they can keep running current profitable businesses while investing in future innovations. Quite often these two conflict as most executives mistakenly prioritize the first and spend much less time on the latter. This must change. CEOs and their management teams need to spend more time thinking about what digital is for them, discuss new ideas, and reimagine the future. According to Gartner, approximately 50 percent of boards are pushing their CEOs to make progress on digital. Although this is a promising sign, digital must become a priority on every CEOs agenda.

2. Corporate cholesterol – Do not let company culture get in the way of change.

The older the company is, the more stuck it likely is with policies, procedures, layers of management, and risk averseness. When a company’s own processes get in the way of change, that is what I call “corporate cholesterol.” CEOs need to change the culture, encourage cross-team collaborations, and bring in more diverse thinking to reduce the cholesterol levels. In fact, both Mckinsey and Capgemini conclude that culture is the number-one obstacle to digital effectiveness.

3. Digital transformation roadmap – Digital transformation is a journey without a destination.

Many CEOs struggle with their digital roadmap. Questions like: Where do I start? Can a CDO or another executive run this innovation for me? What is my three- to five-year roadmap? often come up during the conversations. Most companies think that there is a set roadmap, or a silver bullet, for digital transformation, but that is not the case. Digital transformation is a journey without a destination, and each company must start small, acquire the necessary skills and knowledge, and continue to innovate.

It is time to face the digital reality and make it a priority. According to KPMG, 70 percent to 80 percent of CEOs believe that the next three years are more critical for their company than the last fifty. And there is good reason to worry, as 75 percent of S&P 500 companies from 2012 will be replaced by 2027 at the current disruption rate.

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Dr. Chakib Bouhdary

About Dr. Chakib Bouhdary

Dr. Chakib Bouhdary is the Digital Transformation Officer at SAP. Chakib spearheads thought leadership for the SAP digital strategy and advises on the SAP business model, having led its transformation in 2010. He also engages with strategic customers and prospects on digital strategy and chairs Executive Digital Exchange (EDX), which is a global community of digital innovation leaders. Follow Chakib on LinkedIn and Twitter