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#SB50Disrupt: "Chief Disruption Officer" Explains How Little Bets Can Lead To Digital Transformation

Federica De Monte

Everyone seems to have a different definition of “digital transformation” – but the consensus is clear that digital technologies are creating huge opportunities for companies to reimagine their business models, their relationship with customers, even how they produce their goods. During the #SB50DISRUPT event just before the Super Bowl, I tuned in on Blab to hear the latest on the concept of digital disruption – specifically, the thinking of Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Becher, who’s leading the charge here at SAP. This spirited live-streaming social media session covered a lot of fascinating ground, and I’ve summarized the key takeaways from Jonathan’s remarks in this short blog.

Disruption creeps up on you. By the time you recognize it, it’s too late

Most people think in a way that’s linear. They look for, say, a five percent improvement by next month or next year. But in fact, many fast-moving changes in the digital world are not linear but exponential improvements. They start small, and before you notice, it’s too late and the trend has overtaken you. The challenge is that it looks like nothing is happening at first.

In an analogy appropriate to the Super Bowl, sometimes a winning sports team seems to come out of nowhere. But it’s more likely that they were practicing hard and getting better in that deceptively exponential way. No one notices until they win the big game.

Disruption is defined by that. It’s all happening in front of you.

A digital mindset is the key – developing a culture where people are willing to embrace change.

How do you foster a digital mindset? Especially in large organizations, the culture is far more important than the strategy. People need to be encouraged to try something new, be willing to challenge the status quo, to experiment. And experiments can go wrong. Instead of seeing that as a failure, learn from it, publicize it, share the experience.

If you see ways of rethinking your business model, what works the best is not to force the change right away. Describe a series of small changes, and explain that if the organization invests in these things, they may replace the usual way of doing business. That way, people are much more willing to give it a shot.

You can’t start with a mandate. Ask people what they need to get there. For example, we wanted to move toward a more collaborative culture on our team, involving more people to use an online collaboration tool. We heard concerns from people about being too exposed, so we set up an anonymous town hall. Now that people are comfortable expressing themselves, we have made a big shift toward communicating using this tool where everyone can engage, gradually moving away from exclusive use of email.

And take a hands-on approach. Do it yourself. If you bring in a consultant, sit next to that person and work side by side. Be in a constant state of questioning and learning. Surround yourself with people from diverse backgrounds. Look for something you believe and try to find someone who disagrees. If we all have the same point of view, we are not going to learn.

Disruption is inevitable; transformation is a choice.

Digital change is happening so fast, the best you can do is make a series of little bets. You place little bets and learn to recognize more quickly what’s working and what’s not. “Disruption happens from the outside,” Jonathan says. “It’s unexpected. But you have a choice of being disrupted by somebody else, or organizing and planning the disruption you expect to happen.” And that’s how organizations transform.

These are the highlights from Jonathan’s interview that I found most compelling – but I encourage you to watch it yourself and hear more about how SAP is disrupting its own business. Take, for example, our recently formed business unit SAP Digital: we are driving a new customer experience, allowing people to make self-service purchases of SAP and third-party offerings and use them with minimal human interaction. Check out SAP Store to see what I mean. And please let us know what you think by commenting below.

Digitialization is transforming business, but we’ve seen only the tip of the iceberg. See Our Digital Planet: A More Intelligent Workplace.

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Federica De Monte

About Federica De Monte

Federica De Monte is social and community manager at SAP Digital. Her specialties include project management, marketing communications, marketing, social media and marketing strategy.

Smart Machines Create Markets For Cyber-Physical Advances

Marion Heindenreich

Today, industrial machines are more intelligent than ever before. These intelligent machines are changing companies in many ways.

Why smart machines?

Mobile networked computers were a key breakthrough for making smart machines. Big Data allows machines and computers to store information and analyze complex patterns. Cloud computing offers broad access to information and more storage.

These computerized machines are both physical and virtual. Some call them “cyber-physical” machines. Technology lets them be self-aware and connected to each other and larger systems.

Businesses change their approaches

Intelligent machines allow companies to innovate in many areas. For one, the value proposition for customers is evolving. Businesses now model and plan in different ways in many industries.

Makers of industrial machines and parts work in new ways within the organization. Engineering now partners with mechanical, electronic, and software staff to develop new products. Manufacturing now seamlessly ties what happens on the shop floor to the customer.

Service models are changing too. Scheduled and reactionary servicing of machines is fading. Now intelligent machines track themselves. Machines detect problems and report them automatically. Major problems or failures are predicted and reported.

A data mining example

One good industrial example is mining, which can be dangerous and difficult. As ores become scarce, the costs of mining have increased.

“Smart machines” started in mining in the late 1990s. Software and hardware let remote users change settings. Operators moved hydraulic levers from a safe distance. Sensors observed performance and diagnosed issues.

Data cables connected machines to computers on the surface. Continuous and remote monitoring of the machines grew. Over time, embedded sensors helped improve monitoring, diagnostics, and data storage.

The technology means workers only go underground to fix specific issues. As a result, accident and injury risk is lower.

New wireless technology now lets mining companies connect data from many mine sites. Service centers access large amounts of data and can improve performance. Maintenance is prioritized and equipment downtime is reduced.

Opportunity abounds

For companies the time is now. Today, mobile “connected things” generate 17% of the digital universe. By 2020 that share grows to 27%.

You might not be investing in this so-called “Internet of Things” (devices that connect to each other). But it’s a good bet your competitors are. A December 2015 study reported 33% of industrial companies are investing in the Internet of Things. Another 25% are considering it.

There are risks

This new dawning era of manufacturing is exciting. But there are concerns. Cyber attacks on the Internet of Things are not new. But as the use of intelligent machines grows, the threat of cyber attacks in industry grows.

Data confidentiality and privacy are concerns. So too are software and hardware vulnerabilities. Exposure to attack lies not just in the virtual space but the physical too. Tampering with unattended machines and theft pose serious risk.

To address these threats, industries must invest in cybersecurity along with smart machines.

Conclusion

The potential advantages of smart machines are staggering. They can reshape industries and change how companies produce new products and create new markets.

For more information, please download the white paper Digital Manufacturing: Powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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Marion Heindenreich

About Marion Heindenreich

Marion Heidenreich is a solution manager for the SAP Industrial Machinery and Components Business Unit who focuses on solution innovations like Product Costing on SAP HANA and cloud solutions, as well as providing financial and business analysis for industry business strategy definition and business planning.

Mining Firms Turn To Tech

Ruediger Schroedter

Gone are the days in mining when assessments of potential dig sites meant lots of waiting for results. Gone, too, is the uncertainty on a mine job about where to go next.

For mining executives, recent advances in digital technology allow companies to make decisions at a rapid pace. Decisions that used to take days and weeks now can be done in minutes and hours.

With more information available faster, mining leaders reduce both short- and long-term financial risk. Data from across the enterprise inform decisions about buying and selling assets. Profitability should increase, driven by key technology advances.

Digging in to the data

There are two key drivers to this digital revolution. The first is the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT consists of devices that are equipped with sensors, software, and wireless capabilities. These devices are connected to each other and can detect, store, and send data.

Bonus: Click here to learn more about Digital Transformation in Mining.

The second is the rise of Big Data, mobile, and cloud computing. Today’s mobile devices can track, send, and receive data from remote sites worldwide. Cloud computing stores billions of bytes of data at low cost. Big Data analytics programs take data coming from many different locations and systems and synthesize it. Those programs then better inform decisions by offering dashboards, metrics, and predictive modeling.

Robots are able to venture into hazardous areas and move material with remote human oversight. On-site mining data is sent via mobile phone to a cloud-based platform. For mining, the convergence of these technologies provides extraordinary possibilities.

Technology at play

The potential impact is significant. A recent report by McKinsey & Co. showed the use of advanced analytics in mining and related industries had a major impact. Firms using these programs to assess production areas increased their profit margins by 2-3 percentage points.

One mining company used so-called Monte Carlo simulations to reduce certain capital expenses. Monte Carlo simulations use complex algorithms and repeated random sampling to model possible outcomes. They’re frequently used in finance, biology, and insurance. The Mining Journal reported how the company challenged assumptions about a project’s capital needs. It took historical data on certain disruptions such as rainfall patterns. Then models of its mines were made showing the impact of flooding and rainwater. The data led to a new strategy that maximized storage capacity and handling across all its mines. Capital costs dropped by 20 percent.

18 Aug 2012, South Dakota, USA --- USA, South Dakota, Lead, View of open pit --- Image by © Bryan Mullennix/Tetra Images/Corbis

Buy or sell?

With so many variables at play, mining valuation is not for the faint of heart. Integrated data streams available at the discovery stage make for better informed purchase decisions.

Software programs today can take data to build and validate exploration models. These programs use 3D visualization and validated geophysical, analytical, and drill hole data. In turn, detailed 3D topographical models are possible.

Other programs assess historical, assay, and drilling data. This information creates viable scenarios for determining whether to buy or sell a site.

These tools use data consistently from one potential site to the next, allowing for forecasting of economic risk that is consistent across the organization. The firm today can use “real options valuation” to develop models of outcomes given changing economic conditions. With clearer information about potential risks, firms can decide whether to stage, sell, abandon, expand, or buy.

Anticipating, not reacting

Mining companies realize today that these analytic platforms and dashboards offer many advantages. Users have a clearer interpretation of the aggregated and analyzed data points from multiple areas. Using predictive analytics, mining decisions are made based on smart assumptions, not past historical information.

Robust software programs can generate reports almost instantaneously. Supervisors have on-site access to the analysis through a web browser or app. This data has many uses. Drilling managers save time and can make quicker decisions on next moves. Supplies can be ordered faster. Needed data for accreditation and compliance is immediately accessible.

Selecting the right sites

One example is assay analysis. Today, geologists do not wait weeks or months for assay results. Instead of off-site analysis, web-based applications deliver information much faster to inform decisions.

Robots are sending information about field operations, safety, needed maintenance, and drilling performance.  Some devices send the information themselves. In other cases, staff use mobile phones, tablets, or laptops.  This information and analytics in turn help with site selection. Integrating data from mine planning, ventilation, safety, rock engineering, and mineral resources improves overall forecasting.

Discovery, particularly of Tier 1 sites, is an increasingly costly venture for mining companies. Demand for many products is increasing while discovery rates are dropping. Mined product is of a lesser quality, particularly in mature mining locations. Many possible sites are in areas that are underexplored areas with difficult and deep cover.

The advanced technologies available today are contributing to rapid improvement in these discovery issues.

Prospective drilling

Consider the drill hole. To reduce costs in exploration, there needs to be enough rich information from the opening drill hole. It needs to be delivered in as close to real time as possible. Doing so lessens the risk of the second drill hole. Better information from the start helps improve vectoring. It provides better information about what mineral systems are being drilled.

This approach, called prospective drilling, is becoming increasingly used in mining. It employs drilling activity to map covered mineral systems. In turn, geochemical and geophysical vectoring can lead firms toward deposits.

Australia has invested heavily in this area. The Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC) has a singular vision: uncovering the future. Its core purpose is “develop transformational technologies for successful mineral exploration through deep, barren cover rocks.”

To get to that point, the DET CRC is borrowing a drilling technique from the oil business. Coiled tubing is paired with downhole and top-of-the-hole sensors. The informaton provides petrophysical, structural, rock fabric, geochemical, and mineralogical data all at once.

Conclusion

To meet increasing demands for new viable sites, and to improve efficient on sites, mining is changing. Using smart, connected products and robust data modeling, mining is being done faster, safer, and more efficiently than ever.

Join a LiveTwitterChat on digitalization in mining on May 4th from 10-11 a.m. EST: #digitalmining

The global mining and metals industry will come together to discuss how digital innovation is impacting the mining industry July 12-14 at the International SAP Conference for Mining and Metals in Frankfurt, Germany.  Don’t miss this opportunity to meet with world leaders and learn how your organization can become a connected digital enterprise.

Follow speakers and pre-event activities by following sapmmconf and @sapmillmining on Twitter

AA Mining and Metals Forum

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Ruediger Schroedter

About Ruediger Schroedter

Ruediger Schroedter is responsible for solution management of SAP solutions for the mining industry worldwide. He has spent more than 15 years in the mill products and mining industries and has extensive experience implementing SAP solutions for customers in these industries before coming to SAP.

How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_3

qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. 

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

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Creating A New Employee Experience: Is HR Turning The Corner?

Estelle Lagorce

Businesses and workforces in every industry continue to face major disruption. HR has sometimes struggled to keep up with the accelerating pace of change, yet 2016 could mark a turning point. Although there’s still a long way to go, Deloitte’s new Global Human Capital Trends report shows that HR is now making impressive strides in innovation, reskilling, and adapting to changing workforce and business demands.

So how can HR take the lead in this exciting digital business world? Where are the best opportunities to drive business growth? What capabilities and skills will be needed in the future? In the first of a series of blogs, we focus on one of the key trends driving HR transformation: the growing importance of design thinking in crafting the employee experience.

Focus on the person, not the process

Today’s employees are already inundated with a flood of e-mails, messages, and meetings – so the last thing they want are HR processes that add to the burden. And with the huge growth in mobile devices, they’re also accustomed to interacting with technology in a way that is simple, intuitive, and pleasurable. So it’s not surprising that 79% of executives in this year’s Global Human Capital Trends survey rated design thinking – which puts the employee experience at the center – an “important” or “very important” issue (see figure 1).

Transform HR Figure1 People Analytics

Figure 1: Design thinking: Percentage of respondents rating this trend “important” or “very important”  

In simple terms, design thinking means focusing on the person and the experience, not the process. The key question that HR needs to ask is: “what does a great employee experience look like from end to end?” That means studying people at work and creating “personas” and “profiles” to understand their demographics, environment, and challenges. This implicitly drives a more thoughtful and human approach to business that makes the workplace more attractive to existing and future employees. “Design thinking really is about reevaluating the way HR is being done in the context of the employee experience,” explains Erica Volini, leader of Deloitte Consulting LLP’s HR Transformation Practice.

But does it work? The data from this year’s survey certainly points that way. Companies growing by 10% or more a year are more than twice as likely to report that they are ready to incorporate design thinking, compared to their counterparts who are reporting stagnant levels of growth. Design thinking can also make a huge difference in how companies are perceived, which is crucial in recruiting and retaining the right people. Done well, design thinking promotes a virtuous cycle: generating higher levels of employee satisfaction, greater engagement, and higher productivity for the company.

Learn more

Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 is one of the largest global surveys of its kind, with 7,000 HR and non-HR respondents covering a wide range of industries across 130 countries. “Every single industry is being disrupted; that’s the theme that resonates through the report,” says Erica Volini. “There’s a real opportunity for HR to use this report to change the dialog and make it about what’s happening in the business and ideas to move forward.”

To find out more about HR transformation trends, priorities, and practices:

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Estelle Lagorce

About Estelle Lagorce

Estelle Lagorce is the Director, Global Partner Marketing, at SAP. She leads the global planning, successful implementation and business impact of integrated marketing programs with top global Strategic Partner across priority regions and countries (demand generation, thought leadership).