Why Continuous Testing Is Critical, But Not Enough

Shoeb Javed

The ability to innovate and quickly adapt to changes (both business- and IT-driven) is key to an organization’s success. Companies are under pressure to release innovation faster across their packaged applications. While innovation creates great opportunity, it also introduces great risk. The implementation and ongoing management of enterprise applications is complex, and a crucial component is making sure that end-to-end processes work—every time, every day.

A new vision for test automation extends to enabling business users and organizations to adopt, accept, and utilize new applications faster. When processes across enterprise applications are executed seamlessly and as designed, companies can leverage the potential of their enterprise apps to achieve strategic goals like entering new markets, increasing revenue, and maintaining a competitive advantage. Continuous testing and quality are the foundation of successful business outcomes.

Here’s a look at continuous testing vs. continuous quality. 

What is continuous testing?

Let’s start with the basics. The simplest definition of continuous testing is “the process of executing automated tests as part of the software delivery pipeline to obtain immediate feedback on the business risks associated with a software release candidate.”

What does DevOps have to do with continuous testing?

In 2009, DevOps was introduced as an extension of the Agile development methodology, enabling higher efficiency and collaboration, so companies can react more swiftly to the constant changes in today’s digital economy. Although increased speed and velocity are positive outgrowths of Agile and DevOps, customers may be delivering software that hasn’t been properly tested or tested at all. This can expose companies to risk like defects in production.  This drives the need for a new approach to testing that aligns with the new 24/7 release cycle.

Why isn’t continuous testing enough?

Continuous testing isn’t enough because it doesn’t equate to continuous quality. Continuous testing is just the tip of the iceberg. I see it as a fundamental necessity because of the complexity of enterprise landscapes. Continuous testing is a critical phase of the continuous delivery process, and it helps us address the demand for superior customer experiences. We gain immediate and real-time feedback on business risks and maintain continuity across the business. Despite the valuable insights we gain from continuous testing, I strongly believe no amount of testing alone can ensure quality.

So, what is continuous quality in DevOps?

The problem is, there’s not an industry standard for continuous quality in DevOps. Even though DevOps was originally designed to produce high-quality, updated software that gets to the user faster, “quality” is not well-defined. I believe our ability to develop an industry standard is an essential next step, especially if we expect to move from aspiring to actually delivering highly functional systems that consider the user experience.     

How do we get to a higher standard?

I believe there are two paths to a higher standard. The first path is for us to better define continuous testing, or raise our game and make a collective shift to continuous quality. I see this issue as one of the most important factors in the next phase of the DevOps evolution.

The scope of continuous quality is higher-reaching than continuous testing. As we look to develop an industry definition of continuous quality, I believe we must consider the following factors:

  • A deep understanding of business processes in production
  • Upfront promotion of the need for objective data from the business
  • Recognition of internal and external customers for quality metrics
  • Prioritization of continuous quality from day one
  • Incorporating quality into the Agile development methodology (don’t “throw everything over the wall”)
  • Tracking project health to include quality at each phase of the SDLC
  • End-to-end business process testing, not just single service/component quality
  • Performance monitoring and optimization throughout development and production for feedback

How does your DevOps team currently define continuous quality?

For more on software development trends, see How Open Source Is Changing Software Innovation.

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Shoeb Javed

About Shoeb Javed

Shoeb Javed is chief technology officer at Worksoft, a leading global provider of automation software for high-velocity business process discovery and testing. Shoeb is responsible for the technology strategy, software development, quality assurance and customer support for all Worksoft solutions. As CTO, Shoeb works with quality assurance and business leaders of some of the largest global Fortune 1000 corporations to help automate testing of complex packaged enterprise applications to speed up project timelines and improve operational efficiencies.

Insight-Driven Businesses Require Next-Generation Data Warehousing

Thierry Audas

Digital is the new reality. Digital transformation is disrupting the way we live and work—and crucially, the ability of your business to survive in the digital age. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), by 2020, the proportion of organizations that will have deployed digital-platform strategies will have more than doubled, to over 60%.

But data-driven decision-making is no longer enough. Today’s organizations must adapt or die—and survival requires a new kind of business. Best-in-class organizations are maturing from a data-driven approach to decision-making to an insights-driven one.

According to John Chambers, former executive chairman of Cisco Systems, “At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies.”

“A new kind of company”

Businesses that provide people with insight to make better decisions will disrupt and deliver growth and innovation. SAP commissioned global research consultant Forrester to research and develop thought leadership strategies focused on bridging the gap between data-driven and insights-driven organizations.

According to Forrester, insights-driven businesses:

  • Create models derived from insight and application through software, with systematic processes to capture insight.
  • Embrace the idea that true insights are actionable, not pieces of information provided by their data. That information becomes insight when it is used to inform business decisions and processes.

On completing the research, Forrester concluded that a “new kind of company has formed”—that of the insights-driven business: “Insights-driven businesses are growing at an average of 30% annually, and are on track to earn $1.8 trillion by 2021.”

More data, more insight?

Your organization, like many today, may feel like it’s drowning in data—but how much of that data provides insight you can use? Data analysis is behind the majority of businesses decisions, but more leverage of data is vital to compete effectively. In my experience, too many enterprises gather huge volumes of data yet fail to capitalize on the information readily available to them. And that’s often due to fragmentation within their technology or organization as a whole.

The good news is that central, agile data warehousing helps to speed up processes and provide trusted, actionable insights.

A three-step process to better decision-making

An ideal data warehousing solution delivers a three-step process to bridging the data insights gap:

  • Simplifies the provision of timely business insights. Data is managed efficiently and with agility, while live and immediate insights are deployed at scale, on-premise, or in the cloud.
  • Capitalizes on the full value of the data available. Inconsistent data quality and disparate data sources hinder the best efforts to make sense of ever-increasing amounts of data that are generated each day. With 360° insights across line-of-business applications, the digitalization of the business can be driven with a true Big Data warehouse.
  • Innovates with one trusted source for all insights. Business adoption is maximized with modern analytics that deliver analytical applications tailored to the unique requirements of your organization. Business strategy is transformed with both integrated and automated machine learning, providing actionable and trusted insights.

Data silos are also disrupted with enterprise data warehousing, ensuring that all data is interpreted within the context of your overall business strategy. Effective business decisions cannot be made in isolation, and the elimination of silos ensures that transactional data is placed into business context. Big Data warehouses are designed to break down those silos and set standard rules for the capture and analysis of your data.

Reimagining your business with enterprise data warehousing

With an enterprise data warehouse and embedded analytics, users can perform real-time process analytics and reporting on live data to enable insights-driven leadership and innovation.

Further reading

To learn more, download the new SAP-commissioned thought leadership study from Forrester Consulting: “How To Become An Insights-Driven Business.”

Watch this on-demand SAP Webinar, where you’ll hear insights from experts from Forrester Consulting, Valvoline, and SAP.

Learn more about SAP BW/4HANA

Engage with the SAP BW/4HANA community

This blog was adapted from Why Insights-Driven Businesses Are the Future-And How SAP BW/4HANA Fits In on the SAP Analytics blog.

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Thierry Audas

About Thierry Audas

Thierry Audas is a senior director of Product Marketing with SAP and focuses on business intelligence and analytics. He works with SAP customers to help them better understand how SAP solutions help organizations to transform all their data, the foundation of a digital enterprise, into insight to drive innovation and create business value. Thierry has more than 20 years of experience in the BI and analytics field and has held various senior roles in presales, consulting, and product management.

Digital Experience: The Key To User Delight

Jason Bloomberg

What if every interaction with your company – from a customer exploring your website to a clerk completing a form to a partner fulfilling an order – was simply delightful?

Whether in consumer or B2B scenarios, the digital experience (DX) drives key business priorities like sales conversions, productivity, and profitability. That’s why enterprises of every stripe are working to deliver seamless, high-quality interactions across every digital touchpoint.

Achieving this goal depends on a complex set of technologies across the enterprise working together. To address this complexity, organizations must take a holistic approach.

“Holistic” is one of those marketing buzzwords that can raise red flags in any discussion of enterprise software – but achieving a holistic experience is the key to delighting people.

Companies’ digital teams should leverage devices, systems, and tools across both systems of record and systems of engagement to deliver the quality of experience that everyone expects.

A well-orchestrated DX streamlines and accelerates both processes and interactions. The results can be extraordinary: increased customer value, higher productivity, and delighted users – inside your organization and out.

Digital experience: simple on the outside, complex on the inside

 To provide the best DX, businesses must rethink existing technology touch points for everyone who interacts with the company.

Customers require seamless interactions as they move from laptop to smartphone to, say, an in-person retail experience. Similarly, employees may interact with an increasing variety of interfaces specific to their role, from increasingly sophisticated voice interactions to a wide range of augmented reality or artificial intelligence-supported devices.

New technologies, in fact, offer both promise and additional complexity. The Internet of Things is exploding the number and variety of user touch points, while artificial intelligence improves the ability for technology to improve its interactions with people well beyond what’s available today.

The opportunities for optimized business processes, improved productivity, reduced errors, and better relationships with customers abound. But far too often user interfaces are overly complicated and disjointed, with little commonality from one to the next.

These incoherent interfaces are a natural outcome of the underlying infrastructure, which typically comprises diverse data sources, incompatible back-end systems, disconnected workflows, and competing, often contradictory business processes. Companies have been leveraging a mix of different tools within departments or lines of business in their own silos, each of which depends on different underlying systems and disjointed data sets.

Business processes often succumb to this technical complexity. Even simple processes like placing an order require multiple teams across an enterprise to collaborate, as they coordinate systems, processes, and data, as the diagram below illustrates. Too often, this results in processes too slow or fraught with errors to maintain any kind of user-friendly DX – and in the end, profitability and competitiveness suffer as well.

Even a simple order touches multiple people using different devices and applications.

Achieving a holistic digital experience

The challenges of technical complexity require organizations to leverage a digital experience platform where they can manage engagements, collaboration, and customer interactions in a single, well-integrated environment.

To succeed, this DX platform must unite all systems of record. By creating a single source of truth, organizations can integrate processes and data across the silos that have interfered with the user experience in the past.

The DX platform must provide this consolidation without disrupting the underlying systems. The goal is to create an environment for delivering end-to-end experiences without needlessly interfering with existing core processes. Thus, a holistic DX platform like SAP Cloud Platform is marked by its ability to integrate seamlessly into existing infrastructure.

Once a DX platform is in place, the digital team can streamline business operations – first by connecting tools, infrastructure, and processes, and then by designing and implementing optimized user interfaces for all audiences. As technologies advance, such platforms can leverage artificial intelligence to improve human interactions.

This optimization can pull together many different efforts. Teams can accelerate integration with back-end software to access core data while simplifying integrated business processes. They can create strategic applications that support multiple touch points – for employees, suppliers, customers, or anyone else who participates in such processes.

The end result will be to simplify and accelerate all tasks via end-to-end services across all lines of business, providing increased value across the enterprise.

The Intellyx take: achieving elusive user delight

As enterprises implement digital experience platforms as they move forward with their digital transformation initiatives, DX should continue to improve. How do you know, then, that your DX is good enough? The answer: when you consistently delight your users.

User delight is one of the most difficult to define, but most important metrics any digital initiative can have. It is essentially a combination of the subtle emotional reactions that impact a person’s perceived opinion of a set of interactions, and generally, with a company overall.

As consumers, we all recognize it—when our interactions with a company are so seamless, so customer-centered, that they are truly delightful. Get DX right, and your organization can reap the rewards.

For more on this topic, see Five Ways AI And Machine Learning Can Improve CX.

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Jason Bloomberg

About Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is founder and president of the agile digital transformation analyst firm Intellyx. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top digital transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists. Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books, including The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

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.