How Content Management Greases The Wheels Of Human Interactions

Bil Khan

Part 3 in the 3-part “Content Management ROI” series

When building a business case for investing in enterprise content management (ECM) solutions, it’s easy to overlook the human element. Sure, ECM solutions provide effective management of all types of enterprise content throughout the content lifecycle. Ideally, they provide for the secure, automated capture, storage, organization, and search of documents, complete with archiving and records management for auditing and compliance. But for what purpose?

Ultimately, ECM solutions aren’t about the content; they are for people who need fast, easy access to information, and the ability to search in a way relevant to their roles. This capability enables people to work together and solve problems faster: a contact center agent assisting a frustrated customer, for example, or an insurance underwriter onboarding a new policy, or an engineering team with easy, on-site access to current changes to construction drawings via mobile devices.

You know what it’s like in the real world before ECM. An internal customer asks you to provide time-sensitive information for an important report. But to do that, you need to interact with various systems with different interfaces. You log into each and do your best, but after two hours of effort, you can’t find what you need, as the content is fragmented and in different formats. It may not have been handled correctly, and isn’t easily searchable. It takes you five working days to dig around and uncover what’s needed – and you still can’t be sure your file is complete or whether it’s the most current document. You ultimately find it by digging around in paper files. But by then, the process for your internal customer has broken down.

A connected enterprise

ECM digitizes the end-to-end process for both structured data and unstructured content, organizing it for searchability and connecting it across the enterprise. Now information is automatically catalogued, up to date, and accessible from anywhere, on any device. The content is access-controlled and compliant, with a complete audit trail of the most recent changes. Now users can devote their time to more important tasks, confident that files are complete and current, and thus better meet the needs of employees, customers, and suppliers. ECM literally transforms how work gets done and problems get solved, and unlocks huge improvements in productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction while reducing job stress.

Why? Because information greases the wheels of human interactions, which are fundamental to how we as humans innovate, collaborate, and work. As noted by Forrester in the recent TEI study on ECM solutions, when people and teams are extended, that’s when the magic happens. In this study:

“Each organization gave Forrester an account of discovering value so great that they were reluctant to calculate a financial amount. What is the value, for example, of automatically generating a technical drawing that describes exactly the one-off assembly part the company wishes to purchase from an overseas supplier, with all supporting documents to initiate, authorize, and pay for the purchase? Lead time and errors go to zero, with follow-on value from the company’s customers in the form of loyalty and repurchase. Or another example: what is the value of putting a property diagram in the hands (or rather, onto a mobile device) of a utility worker so she knows exactly where (and where not) to dig? ‘We can’t put a number on that,’ was heard repeatedly during the interviews.”

I would argue that these are examples of what’s possible when easy, fast access to enterprise information is at employees’ fingertips.

An asset management example

To illustrate further, consider the example of using digital twins, which Gartner identified as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018. Gartner noted that well-designed digital twins of assets have the potential to significantly improve enterprise decision-making.

How do you go about building a digital twin for your enterprise assets?

The key is to enable a 360-degree view of all information related to your equipment from both internal and external sources in order to create a complete digital replica of your physical assets, processes, and systems. Without a way to connect the information from all these sources, you may end up with incomplete or inaccurate information. Integrating an ECM solution into a network – one that connects suppliers, OEMs, and third-party service providers – could be the fastest, easiest way to achieve a 360-degree view of all information.

It’s important to note that assets are continuously changing because of maintenance, repairs, and other events. These changes may require updates in multiple systems of record to ensure safety, efficiency, and operational integrity. This means that the digital twin needs to be constantly updated with new information (think updated operating manuals, repair manuals, and training videos).

Integration with an intelligent network solution provides a single, intuitive interface to easily access online asset information from external sources such as suppliers, OEMs, engineering and procurement companies, and third parties. You can use this external information to enrich the asset data, including any documents, and then propagate this information through internal systems such as those for plant maintenance, as well as GIS, SCADA, content management, and engineering design systems.

This integration allows you to make informed decisions about managing and maintaining your assets, and it delivers far-reaching operational advantages such as:

  • Lower plant maintenance costs as a result of more efficient spares and parts management
  • Reduced safety and compliance risk through more accurate equipment data
  • Increased plant uptime due to more complete and accurate asset information
  • Improved plant reliability and enhanced operational compliance

Learn more

I encourage you to read the Forrester study to understand how the digitization of unstructured information is not only the starting point for digital transformation, but also for more efficient, effective, and rewarding human interactions central to how your business operates. Once content is stored systematically and cataloged so it can be intelligently searched and retrieved, quickly and easily, by the people who need it, you’ve paved the way for their success.


If Analytics Is The Engine, Then Data Is The Fuel Of The 21st Century

Simon Quinton

Whenever I talk to customers, attend industry events, or meet fellow industry leaders, one theme continues to emerge – how companies can modernize their IT. Whether it’s to increase revenue or unearth new opportunities, IT modernization is continually on top of the agenda.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are looking to implement a digital transformation strategy, which is why the industry is set to be worth over £15 trillion over the next five years. Major tech giants and fast-growth startups alike are increasingly turning to innovative technology and data-driven business models to realize their ambitions.

However, while data will inspire and fuel this digital change, without a robust analytics strategy in place it will be nearly impossible to extract true value from it. It’d be like owning a McLaren without a driver’s license.

For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) would not be feasible if there were no platforms to process and analyze the masses of data accumulated. Similarly, predictive analytics would be made redundant if organizations didn’t have solutions to present the insights in a legible and actionable format.

Let’s look at how organizations can put an analytics strategy in place to fully reap the benefits of data – learning from those organizations that are paving the way in this space.

Hitting potholes on the road to digital success

The road to digital transformation can be a bumpy ride. Not only is it costly, but many issues can crop up when deploying new applications:

Application implementation: The IT department has a key role to play in driving digitalization across the business. If applications aren’t integrated and connected, the business will operate in silos. The silo mentality must be broken down if digital transformation is to be achieved.

Data availability: Ensuring the availability of customer and employee data is crucial to improving customer satisfaction and employee productivity. Unplanned downtime and data outages continue to make major headlines, implicating well-known businesses for their poor service and damaging brand reputation.

Data hoarding: Yes, there is such a thing as too much data! Harboring useless data can become a drain on the business, so ensuring that your organization holds onto only the right data is critical. 

mBank sets the gold standard

While there are potholes to overcome, the road to digital transformation is well-traveled, and there are numerous examples of success. Case in point: Polish bank mBank. Despite being a relatively new player in the personal banking space, mBank has already set the standard for customer service and personalization.

As a bank that prides itself on putting customers first, mBank is using predictive analytics to initiate more direct conversations and connect customers with context-specific offers across all channels. For instance, if someone has recently had a mortgage approved to buy a house, that person might also be interested in details of a kitchen showroom, particularly if the showroom includes special offers for mBank customers.

By anticipating its customers’ future demands, response rates to market campaigns have been boosted by up to 400%. Analytics is giving mBank full visibility into customer behavior and preferences, enabling the bank to build an even more positive experience in the future.

Inspired by data

Data analytics has become an important pillar of digitalization for organizations across all industries.

However, getting to this point requires large amounts of data to be integrated with existing systems. Once successfully integrated, businesses will be able to ask the right questions and implement the right courses of action to improve customer satisfaction and employee collaboration. As a result, digital innovation systems have entered the market to help businesses gain maximum value from the data they generate and collect.

Have you rolled out an analytics road map? If not, what’s stopping you from jumping into the driver’s seat? If you’re interested in learning more about how to accelerate your digital transformation journey and get the most out of your data, I invite you to read about SAP’s analytic solutions.


Simon Quinton

About Simon Quinton

Simon Quinton is head of Analytics and Insight for SAP UK & Ireland. Simon is a strategic sales leader with a passion for and track record in building and developing high-performance sales teams to consistently deliver revenue growth. He has 17+ years’ experience working for both industry giants and fast-paced consulting businesses in the digital technology area.

Embedded Analytics For Real-Time Insight: Three Features To Look For

Carl Dubler

The traditional approach of using separate databases for transactions and analytics (OLTP vs. OLAP) has made it too complicated to embed real-time analytics functionality in ERP solutions. But the advent of in-memory computing has upended this thinking with the ability to run a single data model for transactions and analysis of ERP data. This goes beyond simply speeding up OLAP with in-memory technology. Instead, both functions operate from one copy of the data, eliminating the need for redundant operational data stores.

Enable self-service reporting

Self-service reporting has long been promised. With a single in-memory model, it can now be delivered. This will dramatically change the way that IT operates. Most IT departments must devote significant resources to running reports for business users. But what if you could provide embedded analytics in a next-generation ERP solution that enables them to do that on their own?

What to look for in a solution

Consider these three concepts:

Single point of entry

Today, users typically need to use numerous applications to find information and analytical functionality to support operational decision-making. If that fails, they resort to exporting data to spreadsheets. As a result, they are unable to see the full picture, or get bogged down in a time-consuming effort to produce a comprehensive report. Next-generation ERP solutions enable users from across the business to access relevant information using a single point of entry. With everything in the same place, they can gain insights faster and make better-informed decisions.

Contextual suggestions

Next-generation ERP solutions provide embedded analytics that function based on the user context and specific role. For example, supply chain managers in planning (MRP) can see at a glance their current stock on hand and if it will be enough to meet production goals. The software can then suggest which vendors are best able to alleviate any shortages, and even how to load trucks most efficiently to reduce shipping costs.

Flexibility to explore the data

With in-memory computing, embedded analytics allow business users to drill down to a transactional level from within the ERP solution itself. This means they have the flexibility to explore at will and gain in-depth insights without depending on IT or waiting for data to load overnight.

Free up IT resources

By choosing a next-generation ERP solution based on in-memory computing, IT can better support business users in their day-to-day tasks. Embedded analytics functionality provides insights easily and rapidly to help them make sound operational decisions.

In addition, with self-service operational analytics in place, IT resources are freed up for other important tasks. IT staff no longer need to create thousands of reports (which are often used only once), maintaining indices and redundant aggregate data, and running ETL jobs.

Does this spell the end of data warehousing?

Traditional data warehouses are still a crucial part of any company’s analytical arsenal, with an important role in helping organizations to carry out longer-term and more complex historical analysis. However, if you’re looking to provide business users with real-time support for operational decision-making, embedded analytics functionality within a next-generation ERP solution is the way forward.

Find out more

To learn more about next-generation ERP and how embedded analytics can deliver business value, see the ERP value advisor tool.


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.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.

Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?

Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.

There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.

Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


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.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


Finance And HR: Friends Or Foes? Shifting To A Collaborative Mindset

Richard McLean

Part 1 in the 3-part “Finance and HR Collaboration” series

In my last blog, I challenged you to think of collaboration as the next killer app, citing a recent study by Oxford Economics sponsored by SAP. The study clearly explains how corporate performance improves when finance actively engages in collaboration with other business functions.

As a case in point, consider finance and HR. Both are being called on to work more collaboratively with each other – and the broader business – to help achieve a shared vision for the company. In most organizations, both have undergone a transformation to extend beyond operational tasks and adopt a more strategic focus, opening the door to more collaboration. As such, both have assumed three very important roles in the company – business partner, change agent, and steward. In this post, I’ll illustrate how collaboration can enable HR and finance to be more effective business partners.

Making the transition to focus on broader business objectives

My colleague Renata Janini Dohmen, senior vice president of HR for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, credits a changing mindset for both finance and HR as key to enabling the transition away from our traditional roles to be more collaborative. She says, “For a long time, people in HR and finance were seen as opponents. HR was focused on employees and how to motivate, encourage, and cheer on the workforce. Finance looked at the numbers and was a lot more cautious and possibly more skeptical in terms of making an investment. Today, both areas have made the transition to take on a more holistic perspective. We are pursuing strategies and approaching decisions based on what delivers the best return on investment for the company’s assets, whether those assets are monetary or non-monetary. This mindset shift plays a key role in how finance and HR execute the strategic imperatives of the company,” she notes.

Viewing joint decisions from a completely different lens

I agree with Renata. This mindset change has certainly impacted the way I make decisions. If I’m just focused on controlling costs and assessing expenditures, I’ll evaluate programs and ideas quite differently than if I’m thinking about the big picture.

For example, there’s an HR manager in our organization who runs Compensation and Benefits. She approaches me regularly with great ideas. But those ideas cost money. In the past, I was probably more inclined to look at those conversations from a tactical perspective. It was easy for me to simply say, “No, we can’t afford it.”

Now I look at her ideas from a more strategic perspective. I think, “What do we want our culture to be in the years ahead? Are the benefits packages she is proposing perhaps the right ones to get us there? Are they family friendly? Are they relevant for people in today’s world? Will they make us an employer of choice?” I quite enjoy the rich conversations we have about the impact of compensation and benefits design on the culture we want to create. Now, I see our relationship as much more collaborative and jointly invested in attracting and retaining the best people who will ultimately deliver on the company strategy. It’s a completely different lens.

Defining how finance and HR align to the company strategy

Renata and I believe that greater collaboration between finance and HR is a critical success factor. How can your organization achieve this shift? “Once the organization has clearly defined what role finance and HR must play and how they fundamentally align to the company strategy, then it’s more natural to structure them in a way to support such transformation,” Renata explains.

Technology plays an important role in our ability to successfully collaborate. Looking back, finance and HR were heavily focused on our own operational areas because everything we did tended to consume more time – just keeping the lights on and taking care of our basic responsibilities. Now, through a more efficient operating model with shared services, standard operating procedures, and automation, we can both be more business-focused and integrated. As a result, we’re able to collaborate in more meaningful ways to have a positive impact on business outcomes.

In our next blog, we’ll look at how finance and HR can work together as agents of change.

For a deeper dive, download the Oxford Economics study sponsored by SAP.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter)LinkedIn | FacebookYouTube


Richard McLean

About Richard McLean

Richard McLean, regional CFO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, oversees all key finance and administrative functions for field and regional headquarters, supporting more than 16,000 employees. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior finance roles with leading global companies across a range of industries, including financial services, investment banking, automotive, and IT. He joined SAP in 2008.