Top 5 CIO Blogs Of November 2017

Jean Loh

A series of blogs about user experience design attracted a lot of interest in November, with two on the best-read list. Other popular topics: streamlining finance processes in shared service centers with machine learning, boosting procurement efficiency with artificial intelligence, and some really good suggestions on cybersecurity. Take a look if you missed any of these great blogs.

AI And Messaging Apps: What Every CIO Needs To Know About Trends In User Experience Design

Reshaping The Value Of Shared Services With Machine Learning

What Every CIO Needs To Know About User Experience Design Trends

Five Ignored Practices That Can Disarm Your Cybersecurity Time Bomb

It’s Time For Corporate Spending To Manage Itself

For more hot topics, read More Than Noise: Digital Trends That Are Bigger Than You Think.


Jean Loh

About Jean Loh

Jean Loh is the director, Global Audience Marketing at SAP. She is an experienced marketing and communication professional, currently responsible for developing thought leadership content that is unbiased and audience-led while addressing market challenges to illuminate and solve the unmet needs of CFOs, CIOs, and the wider global finance and IT audience.

Preparing For GDPR: Ready-FIRE!-Aim Doesn’t Always Work

Jan Gardiner

In these days of romanticizing ready-FIRE!-aim as it relates to entrepreneurship and product innovation, I’ll stand up and voice my concerns when it comes to using this as a compliance strategy for GDPR.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a sweeping regulation that will likely have a major impact on most companies—except for those few that have absolutely nothing to do with the personal data of residents of the European Union. Chances are you have already read all about GDPR, so I won’t explain it here (and besides, that’s best left to your legal team). But think of it as SOX on steroids, but with a data privacy and protection focus.

Given the siloed world many of us live in, chances are that your company deals with the introduction of each major regulation as a one-off event. Depending upon the focus of the regulation, the company may do a quick evaluation to say, “Yup, it applies to us” and then assign responsibility to the department that is most involved. For example, SOX was probably initially assigned to the financial accounting folks, until management realized it wasn’t just about getting the debits and credits right; instead, it involved tightening up a variety of activities that spanned many groups and departments from the CEO on down.

I’m a bit concerned that companies may be approaching GDPR compliance in the same way. That is, start a spreadsheet, toss GDPR to various IT owners, let them buy and implement whatever they need, and call it good. After all, if you pour enough technology on it, it should be easy—right? But there are more than a few problems with this approach:

  • First, GDPR isn’t just about technology. It includes technology, sure, but includes also people, processes, and even company attitudes towards the protection of data.
  • And while there is a myriad of vendor offerings to help with GDPR, there is not now and likely never will be a single, comprehensive tool set that does it all. There is no magic “GDPR in a box” solution, alas. So, sending IT on a quest to find this mythical solution is not likely to be a rousing success.
  • Besides, without first carefully evaluating GDPR requirements and assessing your gaps and challenges, how can you possibly know when you have found the right combination of solutions for your company? Is a spreadsheet along with numerous e-mails enough to prove that you are compliant?
  • Also, how do you know that various risks and controls surrounding GDPR will be assessed the same way for a consistent, effective, and sustainable approach?

Take aim at GDPR compliance

So instead of a ready-FIRE!-aim approach, I propose instead taking the extra time to aim by:

  • Carefully analyzing the regulation to determine which specific requirements apply to the company
  • Fact-finding to understand the situation today—which systems, data, processes, policies, contracts, and people are related to GDPR compliance
  • Comparing the detailed GDPR requirements vs. your as-is state to determine what gaps exist
  • Creating different workstreams to investigate and fill those gaps
  • Documenting what you are doing as you go along so you know where you stand and can evaluate your progress
  • Focus on creating sustainable processes and practices, not just one-time quick fixes. There is no indication that GDPR will go away any time soon.

I am personally a fan of having several workstreams working concurrently. For one thing, GDPR goes into effect on May 25, 2018, so there is not much time left.  And there is no reason why one team cannot be working on updating policies and related education materials while another team is implementing software to help locate and correlate personal data elements. So a multi-workstream approach can be beneficial and, depending upon how far along you are with GDPR compliance, it may be the only approach that will help you be compliant on time.

Don’t underestimate the GDPR requirements for being able to provide evidence of compliance and demonstrating accountability.  A ready-FIRE!-aim approach isn’t the best way to do this (no surprise!). And having a software solution to document risk assessments, evaluate controls, monitor systems, and provide the reporting that your Data Protection Officer (DPO) needs can be a huge step up from spreadsheets and e-mails.

On a related note, if yours is one of the many companies that may not be 100% GDPR-compliant on day one, generally held opinion (not legal fact) is that being able to demonstrate strong good faith efforts will go a long way. Having a clear idea of where you are, where you are going, progress made, and priorities for continuing are key.

In short, compliance with GDPR should not be a one-time unilateral project, but instead needs to be a sustainable enterprise-wide process. If you are using a ready-FIRE!-aim approach, it’s likely you’ll end up missing the target.

To learn more about consumer expectations for data privacy, read this recent blog. And read all the GRC Tuesday series blogs on GDPR.

This article originally appeared on SAP Analytics.


Digital Transformation And The Customer-Centric IT Organization

Thomas Saueressig

In today’s digital economy, only the most agile and adaptive companies survive. Think about the new heavyweights such as Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook. Using emerging technologies in creative ways, these companies have developed entirely new business models that are loved by their customers. Why? Because they deliver better experiences and more convenient, improved outcomes.

The challenge from companies like these is causing market disruption. Compare the top 10 global companies of 2016 to those of 2006, and you’ll see that 70% of them are new. As for the Fortune 500, 88% of the companies have either disappeared, merged, or contracted.

To keep pace, traditional companies need digital transformation – which is something we continuously talk about at SAP. It’s essential to keep in mind that digital transformation to us is as obligatory as it is for our customers. In fact, our own transformation journey helps us better understand the challenges faced by our customers.

Empathy to action

This is crucial for the way SAP operates. According to our CEO Bill McDermott: “Empathy is a race without a finish line. We’ve only just begun to show our customers that every action we take is driven by their experience and satisfaction. The customer is the only boss.”

The question is, how do you put this empathy into action? One of the ways SAP does this is with customer-centric IT.

In my role as global chief information officer at SAP, I’m on the front lines of our own digital transformation. This helps me understand the experiences of our customers every day. In the past few years, SAP has moved from a business model based largely on license fees and maintenance (for customers running on-premises solutions) to one based on subscriptions and service consumption (for those running cloud solutions). Throughout this transition, we’ve emphasized the following core principles:

  • User-centricity: Focus on the people who use the software and services you deploy. Pay attention to how they use them and what they want.
  • Agility: Embrace a mindset of change, develop a culture that thrives on it, and use SAP Cloud Platform as an innovation platform to quickly deliver new solutions and ongoing improvements.
  • Cloud value: Realize value faster with software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service offerings that help speed deployment and minimize capital expense.
  • Business-mindedness: Help the business achieve its goals by continuously improving business processes using machine learning and other leading-edge technologies.

Today, we operate based on the understanding that in order to increase the productivity of SAP, we need to increase the productivity of our own people. Therefore, our cloud and enterprise mobility capabilities make it easier for people at SAP to work wherever they need to work – all with simplified access to more information than ever before. Today we have more than 200 cloud apps on SAP Cloud Platform and more than 80 mobile apps of all kinds.

In addition, we were a forerunner in the use of chatbots and other alternative support methods. Every app we design includes easy ways to send feedback directly to the app owner in IT. We’ve also established local IT Link Centers that act like Apple Genius Bars for in-person support. Even continuous learning is simplified by accessing training on demand and on the go, if wanted.

But what really drives our ability to empathize with customers is that fact that we run our own software to help our organization run simple. All of SAP, in fact, runs SAP software – software that SAP IT implemented and continues to support.

A positive mindset and a force for change

At SAP IT, we encourage experimentation and embrace change. The IT organization at SAP acts as an internal innovator and implementer of SAP solutions with deep customer understanding and a feedback loop into development. Our goal is a virtuous cycle that delivers a win-win outcome where SAP and our customers understand how to best navigate digital and business transformation.

For meeting this goal on a daily basis, it’s important to put the emphasis on a mindset of agility. SAP IT is constantly looking for people with an openness to change – people who have fun implementing software that drives new business models and who thrive in a culture of innovation where it’s fine to fail in order to learn. Because the willingness to change is what drives success.

Share your story

My leadership team and I will continue sharing stories about SAP’s digital transformation journey – stories on themes such as Run Simple at SAP; enterprise mobility; the intelligent enterprise (machine learning, virtual assistants, etc.); agile development and DevOps; and multi-speed IT architecture with SAP Cloud Platform. All stories will be true, too – focusing on the challenges we faced and how we’ve overcome them.

If you have a story to tell about your organization’s digital transformation, please contact Jean Loh,, who manages the CIO Knowledge section of the Digitalist. We look forward to hearing from you.


Thomas Saueressig

About Thomas Saueressig

Thomas Saueressig is chief information officer, global head of IT Services, and a member of the SAP Chief Technology Officer circle. In his role as SAP CIO, he represents the entire IT organization internally and externally. He works to enable SAP’s IT organization to become agile, user-centric, and business-driven, with a cloud-first approach. His teams enable new business models and optimize business processes by leveraging the latest technologies and innovations, to provide a modern workplace.

Thomas has vast experience in the global IT organization, starting with building up the Enterprise Mobility organization and leading all cross functions, over to heading the entire IT Project Delivery and Client IT organization globally. His focus is to create a user-centric IT organization, that delivers great user and customer experiences and changes the perception of IT. Prior to this, he supported Executive Board Member Gerhard Oswald as Executive Board Assistant in his daily operations and strategic projects. Thomas started his career in SAP Consulting where he successfully led multiple CRM customer projects.

Thomas was honored to be included on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list in 2016 and was recognized in 2017 as one of Constellation Research’s Business Transformation 150, a list that recognizes the top global executives leading transformation efforts in their organizations.

He has a degree in Business Information Technology from the University of Cooperative Education in Mannheim (Germany), and a joint executive MBA from ESSEC (France), and Mannheim Business School (Germany).

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.


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.

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.