Driving User Adoption: Making Sure Your Employees Are Engaged

Brian Berns

Although technology should make tasks faster and easier, it doesn’t always succeed. Despite significant investments in new technologies over the past decade, many organizations are actually watching their operations slow down due to underutilization of technology. Furthermore, as an increased number of processes are being automated or being infused with artificial intelligence, human-centric processes are lagging further behind in terms of efficiency and optimization.

Why doesn’t technology innovation always lead to a commensurate increase in efficiency? Substandard user interface design, confusing user experience, and/or badly crafted processes are partly to blame.

Technology innovation has followed an upward curve since the beginning of the century, but worker productivity has largely remained stagnant. Poor user engagement related to technology usage is part of the problem. A Gallup study found that 32% of employees who work in the United States are engaged, while worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged.

People are working harder, but they’re not working smarter. Due to job complexity, poorly designed applications, and a general lack of training, many employees are just not accomplishing enough to leverage the innovation and drive growth that successful businesses require.

The organizational symptoms of technology underutilization include:

  • Low user productivity
  • Slower, complex processes
  • High employee turnover
  • Time wasted putting out fires rather than strategically planning and training for change and software upgrades
  • Increased time required for training
  • Poor onboarding process

survey of our customers revealed that only 8.4% of enterprise software errors are system-related; the remaining 91.6% of errors are related to the user experience, design, or process. It’s not that employees aren’t working hard—they’re just busy dealing with rapid technology changes and constant workflow interruptions. Did you know that the average worker switches tasks every three minutes and five seconds? Or that when severe interruptions happen, they wreak havoc: It can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover and get back to the task at hand. That means the average worker wastes three to five hours of each work day. That’s 40-60% of their work week.

Homing in on user needs

By understanding the reasons behind process bottlenecks and other errors, enterprises can more effectively allocate IT and human resources. User experience (UX) analytics help target investment in change management, IT, and other end-user functions to help organizations deploy best practices globally.

To improve technology adoption and usage, you first need to understand how the workforce is actually doing things. Using real-time analytics will give you a holistic view of organizational capabilities so you can:

  • Manage business change with minimal impact to end users and customers
  • Improve IT response to potential user errors before they are reported
  • Immediately notify IT as errors occur in order to proactively correct them before they impact operations
  • Better understand and address performance issues
  • Improve application design to drive efficiencies
  • Ensure smooth migration projects

This allows organizations to cut costs associated with human error—by identifying why and how employees experience and often create bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Paying attention to knowledge workers’ needs is essential to improving organizational performance. Higher user adoption has been shown to bring about increases in productivity and efficiency.

You need the right information

To ensure a successful user-adoption program, you first need the right information. Collecting detailed information about your IT assets is not enough. You also need to understand how these IT assets are actually being utilized by your employees.

An IDC report indicated that organizations that analyze relevant data and deliver actionable information will achieve productivity gains equaling $430 billion over their peers.

Consider the following recommendations:

  1. Understand your users and their needs: How are employees interacting with the applications they rely on for their day-to-day job? Do they find them intuitive, or do they get often stuck? Do they waste time waiting for the system to respond to their requests?
  2. Identify the issues: Find out if your current technology and solutions platform is being used properly before moving to a new one. Evaluate whether custom code, developed ad hoc and over time, needs to be replicated in the new environment.
  3. Measure actual user behavior with the business applications: Assess time spent on screens, wait time during screen refreshes, idle or think time, the number of process steps required to complete a task, volume of screen interactions, number of work-stopping errors, etc.
  4. Implement and evaluate: Sample actual user workflows to uncover inefficiencies like repetitive screen interactions, unnecessary steps, confusing warnings, and scenarios that require switching between applications or screen clutter that leads to excessive downtime.
  5. Always optimize: Identify opportunities to refine your workflows, minimize process complexity, and reduce the overall time to execute mission-critical tasks.

Encouraging effective adoption of new technology—by executives, mid-level managers, other employees, suppliers, vendors, and even customers—requires a thorough, relevant strategy for organizational change management. It’s a continuous process, one that requires creating positive expectations before an implementation, building skills during the implementation, and sustaining engagement and motivation after going live.

For more digital transformation adoption strategies, see Give Me Technology, But Help Me Deal With It.


Brian Berns

About Brian Berns

Brian Berns is CEO of Knoa Software. He is a successful software industry veteran with over 20 years of executive experience, including as president at Ericom Software. Brian also held the position of Division VP at FICO and SVP of North America at Brio Software (acquired by Oracle). Additionally, Brian has been the founding member of several successful software start-ups including Certona and Proginet. Brian has a BA from Yeshiva University, an MS from NYU, including studies at the NYU Stern School of Business MBA program, and computer science at the graduate school of the NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

Consider Choice, Consistency For Your Cloud Strategy

Carl Dubler

Cloud applications have evolved beyond those narrowly focused on a specific line of business. You can now run enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions that that support complex, end-to-end processes for multiple areas such as finance, supply chain, and manufacturing. This shift is resulting in many CIOs being called on to answer one critical question: What is our cloud strategy?

Do you have a quick answer and a clear strategy that you can articulate? Here are some ideas to help you as you structure and formulate your software deployment plans.

100% cloud won’t work for everyone

If you listen to some vendors, it seems that the cloud is the answer to everything, and it is an answer they often give before fully understanding your operations. They cite the advantages of deploying solutions quickly, receiving automatic updates, and scaling up or down according to your changing business needs, all while saving costs.

These vendors are not wrong. Cloud-based solutions can deliver all these things. However, the reality of your operations may not be that straightforward. You may want to have more control over updates. Or you might need customizations, features, or industry support that aren’t yet available in a public cloud ERP. Or you could have regulatory requirements. For example, defense companies may be obligated to keep critical solutions on premises. A government organization in Europe may not allow its data to be stored in the United States.

A two-tier approach can be a better option

There may also be some situations where a mixture of cloud and on-premises technology is appropriate to meet complex business requirements. For example, a company may choose to get a newly acquired subsidiary up and running quickly by deploying a cloud-based ERP solution, while continuing to use an on-premises solution to manage core operational processes at company headquarters.

This two-tier, or hybrid, approach may also help specific areas of the business such as HR to function more productively. For example, a company may take advantage of a specialist cloud application to enable warehouse workers to log their hours efficiently while keeping its warehouse management processes on premises.

Keep your options open

Even if a two-tier approach isn’t right for your company today, it may be in just a few years’ time. After all, it’s hard to predict what the future will bring in dynamic business markets. You may pursue new opportunities or gain a new client, necessitating a change in your current setup.

It’s important to keep your options open to stay flexible and respond to new challenges successfully. The ability to adapt your strategy to meet changing requirements is crucial. However, some vendors don’t make it easy for companies to combine or switch approaches.

Consistency is key

Some ERP vendors don’t have private cloud or on-premises options. For those that have all the deployment choices, they have entirely different solutions for cloud and on premises. It’s not only the look and feel that differ. All too often, there is no straightforward integration between solutions either. This necessitates costly and time-consuming data work to get different solutions to talk to each other.

To ensure that you don’t slow down your operations due to poor integration, you therefore need to be sure to select ERP software that works consistently from on premises through private cloud to public cloud to on-premises deployments. Solutions that provide this consistency – based on the same code line, data model, and user interface – unify the way people work across the enterprise, improving productivity and efficiency.

For example, employees need to be able to follow exactly the same steps to close an invoice, whether they are using a cloud-based solution at a subsidiary company  or an on-premises solution at headquarters. And financial figures can be easily consolidated into management reports across an enterprise without the painstaking process of matching up data, column by column.

Stay agile to face the challenges ahead

Choice and consistency in your software deployment strategy are essential if you are to achieve true business agility. By giving yourself room to maneuver and choosing software that enables you to change your deployment approach when you need to, without replacing your entire ERP solution, you are in a stronger position to face new challenges effectively and maintain a competitive edge.

To learn more about achieving consistency across your cloud-based and on-premises ERP solutions, read our white paper, “SAP S/4HANA: From Two-tier ERP to the N-tier Enterprise.


Carl Dubler

About Carl Dubler

Carl Dubler is a senior director of Product Marketing for SAP S/4HANA. With an IT career stretching back to the late 1980s, he has done nearly every role in the business. In his ten years at SAP, he also managed SAP’s first commercially available cloud product and first cloud product on SAP HANA.

Harnessing The Power Of A Single Universal Data Set

Kristin McMahon

Every organization’s digital journey begins by rapidly transforming data—the currency of digital transformation—into insight so people can act in the moment and innovate without constraints.

But enterprise data is an unwieldy thing, isn’t it? New kinds of data from new data sources (for example, streaming data from IoT-enabled sensors, or social media data) are being created all the time, resulting in massive data sets. This data is diverse in format and location, making it difficult to collect and connect for timely transactions or analysis. And often, it’s simply become too huge for your systems, applications, or analytical tools to handle or too unstructured to turn into timely insights. As noted by Forrester in a recent paper, “The 7 Laws of Universal Data: Create a Road Map For Real-Time, Agile, Self-Service Data Platform,” you know you have a data problem when it takes too long to:

  • Measure business performance
  • Provide insights for strategic and operational decision-making
  • Get intelligence into business processes and push it to employees
  • Tap unstructured data, and human analysis can’t scale efficiently

Some companies have tried to solve these issues by maintaining two sets of data: one for transactions and one for analysis. But this is not only costly and inefficient; it also leads to discrepancies because it’s hard to keep them in sync. And discrepancies lead to inaccurate analytical outcomes, with the obvious negative impact on decision-making.

A modern universal data strategy

The solution to these challenges is simple, elegant, and powerful: the creation of a single, universal source of enterprise data that’s always up to date and can be used for both transactions and analysis. This way, you are better able to quickly deliver the right answers and insights based on the very latest data.

According to Forrester, it’s never been more important to have a single, enterprise-wide data set to drive business growth and achieve goals. When this data set is based on a unified, intelligent, real-time data management platform, it can be the foundation of a modern data strategy that frees your business to go beyond traditional business intelligence (BI) and reporting. Now, you have the way forward to innovate new processes and business models, understand what’s happening across your enterprise instantly, collaborate in real time across your extended enterprise, and more.

The seven laws of universal data

SAP has defined seven laws for the concept of universal data. By ensuring that your data management and utilization approach adheres to these laws, you can maximize the value of your data today—and in the future.

The first law is about performance, because in the era of Big Data, real-time processing of data, regardless of size, is critical. The second law focuses on freedom, because in a modern data platform, the data cannot be constrained. It must have the freedom to flow between the cloud, hybrid environments, and on-premise applications so that data can be shared across the enterprise regardless of where it resides. The third law is about the use of models, because the data must be integrated for a 360-degree business view. It’s critical to find and understand all of your data so you can model it effectively to meet business goals.

Want to learn about the last four laws defining the concept of universal data—and explore Forrester’s four-phase roadmap to successfully realizing the goal of universal data? Then register for the upcoming Webinar on October 18 at 11:00 a.m. ET. You’ll hear from Michele Goetz, principal analyst at Forrester, and me, Kristin McMahon, senior director, Solution Marketing at SAP. See you there!


Kristin McMahon

About Kristin McMahon

Kristin McMahon is a solution marketing director for SAP Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions with expertise and focus on data services and data quality tools.

The Future Will Be Co-Created

Dan Wellers and Timo Elliott


Just 3% of companies have completed enterprise digital transformation projects.
92% of those companies have significantly improved or transformed customer engagement.
81% of business executives say platforms will reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.
More than half of large enterprises (80% of the Global 500) will join industry platforms by 2018.

Link to Sources

Redefining Customer Experience

Many business leaders think of the customer journey or experience as the interaction an individual or business has with their firm.

But the business value of the future will exist in the much broader, end-to-end experiences of a customer—the experience of travel, for example, or healthcare management or mobility. Individual companies alone, even with their existing supplier networks, lack the capacity to transform these comprehensive experiences.

A Network Effect

Rather than go it alone, companies will develop deep collaborative relationships across industries—even with their customers—to create powerful ecosystems that multiply the breadth and depth of the products, services, and experiences they can deliver. Digital native companies like Baidu and Uber have embraced ecosystem thinking from their early days. But forward-looking legacy companies are beginning to take the approach.

Solutions could include:

  • Packaging provider Weig has integrated partners into production with customers co-inventing custom materials.
  • China’s Ping An insurance company is aggressively expanding beyond its sector with a digital platform to help customers manage their healthcare experience.
  • British roadside assistance provider RAC is delivering a predictive breakdown service for drivers by acquiring and partnering with high-tech companies.

What Color Is Your Ecosystem?

Abandoning long-held notions of business value creation in favor of an ecosystem approach requires new tactics and strategies. Companies can:

1.  Dispassionately map the end-to-end customer experience, including those pieces outside company control.

2.  Employ future planning tactics, such as scenario planning, to examine how that experience might evolve.

3.  Identify organizations in that experience ecosystem with whom you might co-innovate.

4.  Embrace technologies that foster secure collaboration and joint innovation around delivery of experiences, such as cloud computing, APIs, and micro-services.

5.  Hire, train for, and reward creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity.

Evolve or Be Commoditized

Some companies will remain in their traditional industry boxes, churning out products and services in isolation. But they will be commodity players reaping commensurate returns. Companies that want to remain competitive will seek out their new ecosystem or get left out in the cold.

Download the executive brief The Future Will be Co-Created.

Read the full article The Future Belongs to Industry-Busting Ecosystems.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business.  Learn how.


Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

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 articles 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. 


Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.


Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.