Making It Personal With Individualized Products

Richard Howells

Personalized solutions and products are everywhere. You can design your own sneakers, customize your own drinks in vending machines, configure cars and motorbikes, and print your own personalized chocolates.

Consumers are now expecting the customer experience to also be a customizable experience.

As a result, companies are doing their best to understand the full potential between physical and digital assets and the Internet of Things (IoT). And we are witnessing new use cases across industries with breathtaking results.

Coca-Cola has Coca-Cola Freestyle, a touchscreen soda fountain that enables consumers to personalize their soda with over 100 different flavor combinations. Nike has NIKEiD, which lets customers personalize their own shoes, bags, backpacks, and other accessories. Logistics service providers are investing in 3D printing farms in order to provide value-added services at the end of the runway before a customized product is shipped around the world.

The platform for personalization

The common feature of most companies’ “personalization” strategy is a strong platform that is used as a base for customization. This has been taking place in the car industry for several years, with companies such as BMW allowing people to customize their base model to order. The Apple iPhone is another great example of a platform, as anybody can buy one of a few base models, and then customize his or her own device with apps and visual effects. This means that, from five or six base options, everybody has a personalized device.

Smart products drive new business models

IoT and Industry 4.0 are changing traditional business models by connecting people, products, and assets. Manufacturers are investigating how these new technologies can help their customers get more value and how new business engagements can change established business models.

Companies are embedding sensors in their products and, as a result, are becoming more and more like technology companies, hiring software engineers and rethinking the value delivered by their products.

John Deere tractors are now equipped with sensors to transmit moisture and temperature data from the fields. Kaeser Compressors reimagined its business and moved from selling products to selling a “compressed air by cubic meter” service. This business model requires metering compressed air remotely and bundling this information into the charging and billing process. The company has also leveraged smart sensors embedded into the compressors to minimize unscheduled machine downtime through IoT-enabled predictive and preventative maintenance.

3D printing can revolutionize industries

Over the past few years, we have seen the emergence of 3D printers having a growing effect on our extended supply chain processes.

Sneaker manufacturers are prototyping the ability to print a unique 3D-printed running shoe midsole that can be tailored to the cushioning needs of an individual’s foot, based on running style on a treadmill in the store.

Logistics service providers are investing in 3D printing farms to provide value-added customization services just prior to shipment.

Chocolate manufacturers are enabling customers to personalize their favorite treat by printing unique shapes or edible messages.

Additive layer manufacturing enables us to rethink how we design, produce, and bring products to market, as well as provide competitive differentiation and personalization to our products.

Manufacturing a lot size of one

As manufacturers seek to keep up with the need for both personalized products and the changing demand market, they are looking for the agility of a manufacturer with a lot size of one. Harley Davidson completely reconfigured its York, Pennsylvania, facility to enable all machinery and logistics devices to be equipped with sensors and location awareness. The factory reduced the lead time to produce customized motorbikes from a 21-day cycle to six hours, and now you do not find two bikes in sequence that are the same. Each model has more than 1,000 configuration options, and one motorcycle comes off the assembly line every 89 seconds.

Personalize or perish

Manufacturing in the age of product customization can be challenging. But with technological advancements such as 3D printing, IoT, and the shift to Industry 4.0 taking hold, offering personalization options to your customer base is now critical to the success of your business.

To learn more, please visit Consumer products: Reimagined for the new economy.


About Richard Howells

Richard Howells is a Vice President at SAP responsible for the positioning, messaging, AR , PR and go-to market activities for the SAP Supply Chain solutions.

The Dramatic Impact Of Self-Driving Cars On The Insurance Business

Hugh Anderson

Our world is becoming digital in nearly every way. Digital business is disrupting every industry, requiring businesses to rethink traditional business models and forge new partnerships that cross industry lines. Insurance is certainly no exception. The combination of a digitally aware buying public and advances in technology is having a dramatic impact on how risk is measured, managed, and covered. Autos are becoming safer and causing fewer injuries and fatalities. And the rapid assimilation of self-driving cars into society is causing traditional insurers to take notice. How soon will there be a critical mass of these vehicles on the road? How will this change society’s collective driving behavior? And how will the very nature of the auto insurance industry change as a result?

If you’re wondering how close we are to realizing this technology, it’s actually here today. And it’s not just Google; every auto manufacturer is designing and delivering self-driving cars. They are already on the road, and their numbers will dramatically increase in the next five years. For example, Toyota and Lexus are planning a 2017 release of crash-avoidance technology. Some analysts are boldly predicting that by the year 2021 self-driving cars will be the norm.

Regardless of the pace of adoption, the implications to the insurance industry are enormous. In the past, 94% of accidents were caused by human error, and insurers wrote the coverage to compensate all involved parties after the fact. In the future, will the insurer even own the liability, or is will the manufacturer of the self-driving car? We may actually see policy riders for human-driven vehicles become the exception rather than the rule.

Even today, the invention of features like responsive cruise control and parking assistance take the driver out of the picture through technologies such as radar and threat-recognition software. Some manufacturers are stepping up to cover damage if and when the software systems fail. Volvo is pushing for all car manufacturers to accept liability for accidents caused by autonomous driving technologies. Google and Mercedes Benz have made similar statements of responsibility for accidents caused by autonomous vehicles.

When self-driving technology becomes as common as cruise control or built-in speakerphones, it’s likely that losses caused by human control of autonomous cars and or by another driver’s reckless behavior won’t be covered. The huge reduction in losses and the liability that manufacturers will accept mean insurance companies will see fewer claims. But they also will have less coverage to write. They will have to forge partnerships with the manufacturers and with new entrants like Google to change from pure risk protection to focusing on risk prevention. It has been estimated that when self-driving cars are the norm, the need for traditional auto insurance coverage will drop by 75%. And it isn’t just for personal automobiles; it’s for buses and tractor-trailer rigs as well.

The disruption is real, and it is accelerating. To continue to thrive, insurers will need to rethink business models, accelerate the use of data science and analytics to become more responsive, and redesign customer-facing processes to be fully digital. Insurers must be able to connect with a much wider swath of industries, business partners, and channels. When you add in that far fewer cars will be on the road as people invest in car- and ride-sharing instead of owning their own vehicles, the key to success will be business innovation on a completely different scale.

Self-driving cars and digital technology are rapidly changing the business of insurance. Is your company ready for the disruption? Please download our white paper “How Insurers Can Prepare for the Digital Revolution” today, and we will work with you to discover the business benefits of a partnership.


Hugh Anderson

About Hugh Anderson

Hugh Anderson is a senior insurance industry value engineer at SAP. In this position he is responsible for growing SAP’s partnership with customers as a technology provider, business innovator, and trusted thought leader in today’s digital economy. Prior to joining SAP in 2006, Hugh held a variety of IT and business leadership positions at The Hartford Financial Services Group, and served as Director of Carrier Interface and Integration for Vertafore’s AMS Services business.

Reimagining The Future Of Automotive In The Digital Age

Holger Masser

In the future, every business will need to be a digital business to compete, and those in the automotive industry are no exception. While technology is disruptive to traditional manufacturing and production processes and to automotive sales, it is clear in the automotive industry that the companies showing the most growth are the ones investing in the most digital innovation.

What does the automotive industry of the future look like? Connectivity, mobility, and data are the drivers behind the wheels of this industry shift.

Digitization in vehicles requires changing business processes

With hyperconnectivity now the norm, vehicles themselves are changing as consumers come to expect more and more digitization in their driving experience. From GPS location to computerized processes that diagnose problems, vehicles have moved into a fully expanded digital world. Today, interconnectivity and car to car communication are just the tip of the iceberg. Computers help determine the driving experience, make travel safer, and keep cars and their users connected to the outside world.

On top of this, digitization of vehicles has made them fertile targets for hackers and security breaches, and manufacturers must maintain security and trust to maintain their brand name image. All of this takes heavy upgrading of manufacturer systems to keep up with not only creating these mobile digital environments, but also keeping communication and innovation intact. Mobile computing platforms with in-memory processing help keep these new digitized vehicles moving in the right direction and require significant re-imagining of traditional business processes.

Manufacturing itself is progressing

BMW plants in Germany innovate with slow-moving collaborative robots that work with a human partner. Tesla works to individualize the car buying and driving experience with environmentally friendly and connected vehicles. Bosch develops driver safety systems based on sensors and ultrasound to improve handling, safety, and the driving experience.

At the core, digitization is changing not only how cars handle, but how manufacturers approach the construction and design process. This shift requires computing systems capable of handling Big Data, combining standard business practice with platforms that reveal the “why” behind actions. Only then can manufacturers view the entire manufacturing process with a contextual view to improve real-time decision making in this digital framework.

Sales formats that embrace digital technology

Omnichannel ordering and shopping are changing the ways consumers approach the automotive buying process. Dealerships are seeing a shift to educated consumers who know what they want and demand a customer-centric and connected experience. Supply-and-demand data must be updated constantly to keep up with these consumer shifts. Service management becomes equally important, and manufacturers and dealerships must coordinate this data together to better manage product quality, sales metrics, and product image. Sales requires a 360-degree contextual view to understand consumer choices and improve customer relations.

Platform technologies that improve digital connectivity and awareness will become mandatory for automotive companies to meet the demands of a new digital age. Computing systems must maintain not only speed, but also accuracy, and they must allow a full view of real-time, contextual data in order to meet increasing consumer demands for digitally connected vehicles that demand data.

For automotive companies that are able to make the digital leap, vehicles will become customer-specific, tailored to task, connected, safer, and more environmentally conscious. Digitization, while disruptive to traditional practice, will open a new future in personal travel.

To learn more about digitizing IT, click here. To access the full EIU report, register here,


Holger Masser

About Holger Masser

Holger Masser is global vice president of the global business unit Industry Business Solution of the Automotive Industry at SAP. He is responsible for the entire solution portfolio spanning from automotive supplier, automotive OEM, and automotive retail, and importer business. He joined SAP in 2011 and has been working for more then 20 years in the automotive industry, with 10 years in Asia. Masser has profound knowledge in the entire value chain of the automotive business, implementing long-term IT strategies aligned with corporate company objectives and business strategy. In Asia, he primarily focused on logistics, sales, aftersales, production and financial services on automotive OEM, retail, wholesale, and regional and headquarter levels.

Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Christopher Koch

Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners? [INFOGRAPHIC]

To learn more about how humans and robots will co-evolve, read the in-depth report Bring Your Robot to Work.

Download the PDF (91KB)


About Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight. He is an experienced publishing professional, researcher, editor, and writer in business, technology, and B2B marketing. Share your thoughts with Chris on Twitter @Ckochster.


What Is The Key To Rapid Innovation In Healthcare?

Paul Clark

Healthcare technology has already made incredible advancements, but digital transformation of the healthcare industry is still considered in its infancy. According to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare, the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead for the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) are astounding.

Many health organizations recognize the importance of going digital and have already deployed programs involving IoT, cloud, Big Data, analytics, and mobile technologies. However, over the last decade, investments in many e-health programs have delivered only modest returns, so the progress of healthcare technology has been slow out of the gate.

What’s slowing the pace of healthcare innovation?

In the past, attempts at rapid innovation in healthcare have been bogged down by a slew of stakeholders, legacy systems, and regulations that are inherent to the industry. This presents some Big Data challenges with connected healthcare, such as gathering data from disparate silos of medical information. Secrecy is also an ongoing challenge, as healthcare providers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and academic institutions tend to protect personal and proprietary data. These issues have caused enormous complexity and have delayed or deterred attempts to build fully integrated digital healthcare systems.

So what is the key to rapid innovation?

According to the Connected Care eBook, healthcare organizations can overcome these challenges by using new technologies and collaborating with other players in the healthcare industry, as well as partners outside of the industry, to get the most benefit out of digital technology.

To move forward with digital transformation in healthcare, there is a need for digital architectures and platforms where a number of different technologies can work together from both a technical and a business perspective.

The secret to healthcare innovation: connected health platforms

New platforms are emerging that foster collaboration between different technologies and healthcare organizations to solve complex medical system challenges. These platforms can support a broad ecosystem of partners, including developers, researchers, and healthcare organizations. Healthcare networks that are connected through this type of technology will be able to accelerate the development and delivery of innovative, patient-centered solutions.

Platforms and other digital advancements present exciting new business opportunities for numerous healthcare stakeholders striving to meet the increasing expectations of tech-savvy patients.

The digital evolution of the healthcare industry may still be in its infancy, but it is growing up fast as new advancements in technology quickly develop. Are you ready for the next phase of digital transformation in the global healthcare industry?

For an in-depth look at how technology is changing the face of healthcare, download the SAP eBook Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

See how the digital era is affecting the business environment in the SAP eBook The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Discover the driving forces behind digital transformation in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.


About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is the Senior Director of Technology Partner Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.