Balancing Progress And Privacy In The Tech Industry

Danielle Homer

Even as technology changes the world around us, it faces challenges along the way. Technology is tied to important aspects of our lives, such as banking and private communication. This creates the need to balance progress with security measures that protect our information. Although technological advances offer exciting possibilities to improve our world, we need to collectively address the challenges of technology and how these could negatively affect our lives.

Balancing privacy and progress

Jeff Howell, vice president of the high-tech industry business unit at SAP, briefly discussed the current state and future of high tech in a S.M.A.C. Talk Technology podcast. Howell predicted that the next decade will see more of a focus on “creating a balance between protecting the privacy of the individuals and also protecting the enterprise.”

Many consumers are already worried about the reach of technological innovations. It’s important for organizations to realize that their business is dependent on human customers and clients. These companies need to put the main focus on relationships and maintaining trust, said Daniel Burrus in Burrus Research. If organizations push the boundaries too far without considering the consumer’s privacy and security, they risk their consumer relationships, and ultimately, their profits.

In addition to achieving public trust, Howell explained, high-tech businesses face the challenge of following regulations. In 2017, we saw numerous regulatory problems affecting the industry. One example is the European Commission’s antitrust allegations against Google. And this year, the European Union will need to ensure compliance with the General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR), designed to protect consumers’ privacy.

Improving our lives through technology

Of course, any discussion of the tech industry’s future includes exciting possibilities being developed. Howell is interested in the potential of machine learning applications, which move beyond the hard-coded logic of the past. He said that code developed this way has the potential to be more affordable, higher-quality, and safer. While this capability is on the horizon, however, we’re not quite there yet. Howell said, “Right now we’re using machine learning to basically make a better decision with the data that we have, but what if you actually used a machine to write the code?”

This concept holds great potential. In New Scientist, Matt Reynolds explained that people without coding knowledge could use machine learning to write the code for them; in effect, they could tell the system their idea and the system could build the program. This could reduce overall time and costs while also improving quality.

Another way the industry is moving forward is by using hardware-as-a-service in response to commoditization concerns. In Techcrunch, Ajay Kulkarni noted that this model could work well in today’s world, where hardware depreciates quickly and people increasingly strive to simplify their lives. This model uses the same idea as software-as-a-service: Consumers pay for a service and use the hardware as part of the package. Kulkarni offered the example of smart-home company Vivint, which sells plans for home services with smart locks, sensors, and thermostats included. In another example, Microsoft charges a monthly amount for business customers to use a Microsoft Surface computer, with hardware upgrades and support included.

Using technology to improve security

In many ways, technology creates safer methods and eliminates vulnerabilities. For example, while blockchain has been used by financial technology, it also has applications in the high-tech industry. Howell described how blockchain technology could address counterfeit semiconductor chips by putting a unique cypher code on each chip that a global ledger would track. Blockchain could also have additional use cases in the industry, including validating and verifying data.

Artificial intelligence (AI) also has the potential to create a safer world. In a discussion about this emerging technology, podcast hosts Daniel Newman and Jeff Howell speculated about its future applications. Howell noted that AI has been a goal since the beginning of computing, and that thanks to the amount and the quality of the data we now collect and store, the technology is started to see some practical applications. Howell said, “I think with sensor technology and ERP, there’s a lot of other sources of data that we now can rely on to do some cool stuff with AI.”

As AI takes off, it could address some of the human error that now creates problems in technology. In an article in Information Age, Nick Ismail noted, “There is now a need to focus on developing AI that talks not to humans but directly to computer programs, creating software that codes, edits, and tests itself.” Ai could create safer software that is more difficult to attack. Ismail pointed out that the 2014 Heartbleed bug was created by a human coding error. AI could test software, as well as learn and fix problems, to help prevent some of the breaches and hacks we are seeing now that result from human error.

People are often concerned about technology reducing the security of online information and compromising privacy. Yet technology actually has the capacity to create a safer digital world. As technology continues to move our world forward, it’s important that the industry puts a focus on balancing the desire for progress with the need for security and consumer trust.

To hear all of Jeff Howell’s thoughts on the future of the high-tech industry, listen to the full S.M.A.C. Talk podcast.

Hear the full podcast episode here. Learn how to innovate at scale by incorporating individual innovations back to the core business to drive tangible business value by reading Accelerating Digital Transformation in High Tech. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

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Danielle Homer

About Danielle Homer

Danielle Homer is a Solution and Product Marketing Specialist at SAP. After receiving her master’s degree in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, her affinity for innovation has led her to the exciting industries of A&D and High Tech to help customers transform and expand their business.

Voxer Q&A: The “Social Graph” Is Changing The Way The World Works

Jennifer Horowitz

With the recent Congressional appearance of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the question of liberating the social graph has never been more significant to social media platforms and users worldwide. In efforts to further limit public data in Facebook’s search tools, companies such as Voxer were among many major messaging communication app platforms cut off from Facebook’s Find Friends API. Voice-messaging app Voxer no longer has any access to the social graph because it qualified as a competing online messaging platform.

Voxer is a real-time, multimedia communication tool for groups or individuals with live push-to-talk audio and voice, text, photo, and location saved in a timeline. In addition, the Voxer Business app, optimized for businesses, comes with all the features of the free consumer app plus a web manager that allows users to create and manage their own Voxer network, view employees’ locations on a real-time map, and send and receive messages.

I recently interviewed Irv Remedios, CEO & head of product at Voxer, to learn more about his role and his insights on product and mobile.

Jennifer Horowitz: Hello Irv, could you tell us more about your role and your initiatives?

Irv Remedios: Voxer is used by millions of people to communicate with their colleagues and friends. I currently lead the product team at Voxer, which includes design, product management, and customer support. I have the opportunity to work with our customers and better understand their communication needs. Our team works to define and design solutions that help our customers communicate more quickly and effectively.

Jennifer: What key issues does Voxer address for its customers?

Irv: Imagine that you are walking down the street and need to get a message out to someone or a group. Texting is cumbersome. Phone calls or conference calls are clunky and impractical. With Voxer you take out your phone, hit a button, and start talking. The audio is streamed live to the recipients so they can start listening immediately. If the recipient is unavailable, the message is saved for them.

There is no dialing a number, waiting for a phone to ring, or the annoyance of retrieving voicemail that go along with regular phone calls. We also support texting, sending images, and location information. Ultimately, we make communication instant and efficient.

Voxer Business gives small and medium businesses complete control over their communication. For the first time, businesses can add or remove users in their account and set up teams for group conversations. Additionally, enterprise customers can easily onboard their employees using single-sign-on (SSO) and have access to configurable data retention policies and data APIs that fit with their business policies.

Jennifer: How does Voxer stand out when it comes to its competition?

Irv: Voxer combines the immediacy of live communication with the etiquette of a messaging app. If users are able to listen to a message immediately, they can hear it live and respond quickly. We stream audio to the recipient as the user is speaking into the phone so there is very low latency.

Alternatively, if the recipient is not able to listen immediately, the message is stored for them and they can listen to it later, just like a messaging app. Voxer works well across 2G/3G/4G networks or WiFi and across countries.

Liberating the social graph

In 2012, Voxer was one of the top messaging apps in the world. At one point, the company was even leading the charts.

Voxer successfully raised a $30 million round with its walkie-talkie business functionality and style. Facebook later went on to replicate Voxer in January 2013 by adding a voice messaging feature into its Messenger.

As Facebook restricts access to its social graph, users now question if the move has made the company anti-competitive. This has caused some to say there are valid reasons Facebook should consider lifting the ban from competitors such as Voxer.

Senator John Neely Kennedy asked Mark Zuckerberg during his Congressional hearing, “Are you willing to give me the right to take my data on Facebook and move it to another social media platform?”

Zuckerberg replied, “Senator, you can already do that. We have a Download Your Information tool where you can go get a file of all the content there, and then do whatever you want with it.”

Social media is no longer solely a marketing function. Find out How to Weave Social Media Into the Fabric of the Business.

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Jennifer Horowitz

About Jennifer Horowitz

Jennifer Horowitz is a journalist with over 15 years of experience working in the technology, financial, hospitality, real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, not for profit, and retail sectors. She specializes in the field of analytics, offering management consulting serving global clients from midsize to large-scale organizations. Within the field of analytics, she helps higher-level organizations define their metrics strategies, create concepts, define problems, conduct analysis, problem solve, and execute.

How The Public Sector Can Fight Fraud With Fast Data

Phil King

Fraudsters’ increasingly sophisticated methods in their intent to steal taxpayers’ money by any means necessary is an ongoing battle for legitimate businesses and organizations, and one that many are struggling to win.

More than 5 million cases of fraud and computer misuse offenses were recorded in the UK last year, according to the Office for National Statistics, while the National Audit Office revealed that fraud is now the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales – accounting for nearly one-third of all crime (31%).

The public sector is not exempt from this, with a CIPFA report into fraud and corruption finding that over £325m worth of fraud was detected or prevented in the public sector in 2015/16. Furthermore, 97.3% of public sector workers claimed that fraud is an issue that the government needs to address – a study revealed nearly four in five employees (78.5%) believe fraud is a concern within their organization. And that’s not all – one-third of employees do not believe their organization has an effective solution in place for detecting and preventing fraud.

It’s clear that fraud is a major issue undermining the effectiveness of programmes and missions across government, and could have a major effect on building and maintaining public confidence.

That’s why countering fraud is an important priority at all levels of the public sector.

While the problems are clear, the solutions need not be. Government organizations have data, but they often struggle to use it in the right way. In this blog, I look at how the public sector can overcome these challenges and draw on data to fight fraud in real-time.

Combating the threat of fraud

One of the most vital things that public sector organizations are sometimes lacking in their attempts to combat fraud is real-time detection of attacks, which would enable them to uncover hidden trends and patterns that are unavailable with legacy technology solutions.

The aforementioned research finds that staff in public organizations are demanding more sophisticated, super-fast, data-driven capabilities – the upshot of which means embracing real-time detection and powerful big data analytics.

Australia’s Department of Human Services has done exactly that by replacing its aging legacy system with a rapid rollout of a fraud management program. Fraud was costing the Australian government around $600 million annually. Therefore, the agency, which is contacted by 1 million Australians every day regarding social benefits, replaced its archaic interfaces, databases, and workflows to help it comply with established policies.

This made the systems easier to use, provided consistent data and automated processes that made fraudulent activity easier to track. DHS employees are therefore able to monitor active cases more effectively, and ultimately are able to see more referrals result in prosecution thanks to the increased insight and enhanced data integrity and protection.

Data defeats the fraudsters

As the mountain of records and data that UK public sector organizations have on file continues to grow across disparate systems, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand and gain value from it. But the fact that they have the data in the first place is a good start. The missing piece is the ability to analyze it, see it in context and actually gain insight from it. Which is how governments can start using what they know to improve what they do.

To get this started, and to effectively combat fraudsters, it’s key to create an end-to-end strategy that covers both internal processes and external threats. This will enable better access to real-time data, which will, in turn, enable them to consolidate and work with large volumes of data sets that can be used for efficient detection, investigation, and predictive analytics. It’s also vital to clearly define employees’ duties and access to data, applications, and processes to further reduce risk across the organization and make it easier to detect and remedy violations.

Any effective fraud management process rests on identifying and assessing potential risks. It’s only when these are fully understood that the necessary policies, controls and organizational measures to monitor and mitigate them can be implemented. Governments have the data they need to do all of this. What they’re missing are the tools to turn info into insight.

For more information on how to reduce your organization’s risk of fraud and how SAP’s solutions can help you, download our whitepaper on fighting Public Sector fraud.

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Phil King

About Phil King

Drawing from his 30 years of experience in IT and public sector organizations, Phil King is the Sales Director for the Public Sector in the UK and Ireland at SAP. He is passionate about working with the public sector to drive innovation that improves people’s lives and makes the world a better place.

Hack the CIO

By Thomas Saueressig, Timo Elliott, Sam Yen, and Bennett Voyles

For nerds, the weeks right before finals are a Cinderella moment. Suddenly they’re stars. Pocket protectors are fashionable; people find their jokes a whole lot funnier; Dungeons & Dragons sounds cool.

Many CIOs are enjoying this kind of moment now, as companies everywhere face the business equivalent of a final exam for a vital class they have managed to mostly avoid so far: digital transformation.

But as always, there is a limit to nerdy magic. No matter how helpful CIOs try to be, their classmates still won’t pass if they don’t learn the material. With IT increasingly central to every business—from the customer experience to the offering to the business model itself—we all need to start thinking like CIOs.

Pass the digital transformation exam, and you probably have a bright future ahead. A recent SAP-Oxford Economics study of 3,100 organizations in a variety of industries across 17 countries found that the companies that have taken the lead in digital transformation earn higher profits and revenues and have more competitive differentiation than their peers. They also expect 23% more revenue growth from their digital initiatives over the next two years—an estimate 2.5 to 4 times larger than the average company’s.

But the market is grading on a steep curve: this same SAP-Oxford study found that only 3% have completed some degree of digital transformation across their organization. Other surveys also suggest that most companies won’t be graduating anytime soon: in one recent survey of 450 heads of digital transformation for enterprises in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany by technology company Couchbase, 90% agreed that most digital projects fail to meet expectations and deliver only incremental improvements. Worse: over half (54%) believe that organizations that don’t succeed with their transformation project will fail or be absorbed by a savvier competitor within four years.

Companies that are making the grade understand that unlike earlier technical advances, digital transformation doesn’t just support the business, it’s the future of the business. That’s why 60% of digital leading companies have entrusted the leadership of their transformation to their CIO, and that’s why experts say businesspeople must do more than have a vague understanding of the technology. They must also master a way of thinking and looking at business challenges that is unfamiliar to most people outside the IT department.

In other words, if you don’t think like a CIO yet, now is a very good time to learn.

However, given that you probably don’t have a spare 15 years to learn what your CIO knows, we asked the experts what makes CIO thinking distinctive. Here are the top eight mind hacks.

1. Think in Systems

A lot of businesspeople are used to seeing their organization as a series of loosely joined silos. But in the world of digital business, everything is part of a larger system.

CIOs have known for a long time that smart processes win. Whether they were installing enterprise resource planning systems or working with the business to imagine the customer’s journey, they always had to think in holistic ways that crossed traditional departmental, functional, and operational boundaries.

Unlike other business leaders, CIOs spend their careers looking across systems. Why did our supply chain go down? How can we support this new business initiative beyond a single department or function? Now supported by end-to-end process methodologies such as design thinking, good CIOs have developed a way of looking at the company that can lead to radical simplifications that can reduce cost and improve performance at the same time.

They are also used to thinking beyond temporal boundaries. “This idea that the power of technology doubles every two years means that as you’re planning ahead you can’t think in terms of a linear process, you have to think in terms of huge jumps,” says Jay Ferro, CIO of TransPerfect, a New York–based global translation firm.

No wonder the SAP-Oxford transformation study found that one of the values transformational leaders shared was a tendency to look beyond silos and view the digital transformation as a company-wide initiative.

This will come in handy because in digital transformation, not only do business processes evolve but the company’s entire value proposition changes, says Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It either already has or it’s going to, because digital technologies make things possible that weren’t possible before,” she explains.

2. Work in Diverse Teams

When it comes to large projects, CIOs have always needed input from a diverse collection of businesspeople to be successful. The best have developed ways to convince and cajole reluctant participants to come to the table. They seek out technology enthusiasts in the business and those who are respected by their peers to help build passion and commitment among the halfhearted.

Digital transformation amps up the urgency for building diverse teams even further. “A small, focused group simply won’t have the same breadth of perspective as a team that includes a salesperson and a service person and a development person, as well as an IT person,” says Ross.

At Lenovo, the global technology giant, many of these cross-functional teams become so used to working together that it’s hard to tell where each member originally belonged: “You can’t tell who is business or IT; you can’t tell who is product, IT, or design,” says the company’s CIO, Arthur Hu.

One interesting corollary of this trend toward broader teamwork is that talent is a priority among digital leaders: they spend more on training their employees and partners than ordinary companies, as well as on hiring the people they need, according to the SAP-Oxford Economics survey. They’re also already being rewarded for their faith in their teams: 71% of leaders say that their successful digital transformation has made it easier for them to attract and retain talent, and 64% say that their employees are now more engaged than they were before the transformation.

3. Become a Consultant

Good CIOs have long needed to be internal consultants to the business. Ever since technology moved out of the glasshouse and onto employees’ desks, CIOs have not only needed a deep understanding of the goals of a given project but also to make sure that the project didn’t stray from those goals, even after the businesspeople who had ordered the project went back to their day jobs. “Businesspeople didn’t really need to get into the details of what IT was really doing,” recalls Ferro. “They just had a set of demands and said, ‘Hey, IT, go do that.’”

Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants.

But that was then. Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants. “If you’re building a house, you don’t just disappear for six months and come back and go, ‘Oh, it looks pretty good,’” says Ferro. “You’re on that work site constantly and all of a sudden you’re looking at something, going, ‘Well, that looked really good on the blueprint, not sure it makes sense in reality. Let’s move that over six feet.’ Or, ‘I don’t know if I like that anymore.’ It’s really not much different in application development or for IT or technical projects, where on paper it looked really good and three weeks in, in that second sprint, you’re going, ‘Oh, now that I look at it, that’s really stupid.’”

4. Learn Horizontal Leadership

CIOs have always needed the ability to educate and influence other leaders that they don’t directly control. For major IT projects to be successful, they need other leaders to contribute budget, time, and resources from multiple areas of the business.

It’s a kind of horizontal leadership that will become critical for businesspeople to acquire in digital transformation. “The leadership role becomes one much more of coaching others across the organization—encouraging people to be creative, making sure everybody knows how to use data well,” Ross says.

In this team-based environment, having all the answers becomes less important. “It used to be that the best business executives and leaders had the best answers. Today that is no longer the case,” observes Gary Cokins, a technology consultant who focuses on analytics-based performance management. “Increasingly, it’s the executives and leaders who ask the best questions. There is too much volatility and uncertainty for them to rely on their intuition or past experiences.”

Many experts expect this trend to continue as the confluence of automation and data keeps chipping away at the organizational pyramid. “Hierarchical, command-and-control leadership will become obsolete,” says Edward Hess, professor of business administration and Batten executive-in-residence at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. “Flatter, distributive leadership via teams will become the dominant structure.”

5. Understand Process Design

When business processes were simpler, IT could analyze the process and improve it without input from the business. But today many processes are triggered on the fly by the customer, making a seamless customer experience more difficult to build without the benefit of a larger, multifunctional team. In a highly digitalized organization like Amazon, which releases thousands of new software programs each year, IT can no longer do it all.

While businesspeople aren’t expected to start coding, their involvement in process design is crucial. One of the techniques that many organizations have adopted to help IT and businesspeople visualize business processes together is design thinking (for more on design thinking techniques, see “A Cult of Creation“).

Customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from better processes. Among the 100 companies the SAP-Oxford Economics researchers have identified as digital leaders, two-thirds say that they are making their employees’ lives easier by eliminating process roadblocks that interfere with their ability to do their jobs. Ninety percent of leaders surveyed expect to see value from these projects in the next two years alone.

6. Learn to Keep Learning

The ability to learn and keep learning has been a part of IT from the start. Since the first mainframes in the 1950s, technologists have understood that they need to keep reinventing themselves and their skills to adapt to the changes around them.

Now that’s starting to become part of other job descriptions too. Many companies are investing in teaching their employees new digital skills. One South American auto products company, for example, has created a custom-education institute that trained 20,000 employees and partner-employees in 2016. In addition to training current staff, many leading digital companies are also hiring new employees and creating new roles, such as a chief robotics officer, to support their digital transformation efforts.

Nicolas van Zeebroeck, professor of information systems and digital business innovation at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management at the Free University of Brussels, says that he expects the ability to learn quickly will remain crucial. “If I had to think of one critical skill,” he explains, “I would have to say it’s the ability to learn and keep learning—the ability to challenge the status quo and question what you take for granted.”

7. Fail Smarter

Traditionally, CIOs tended to be good at thinking through tests that would allow the company to experiment with new technology without risking the entire network.

This is another unfamiliar skill that smart managers are trying to pick up. “There’s a lot of trial and error in the best companies right now,” notes MIT’s Ross. But there’s a catch, she adds. “Most companies aren’t designed for trial and error—they’re trying to avoid an error,” she says.

To learn how to do it better, take your lead from IT, where many people have already learned to work in small, innovative teams that use agile development principles, advises Ross.

For example, business managers must learn how to think in terms of a minimum viable product: build a simple version of what you have in mind, test it, and if it works start building. You don’t build the whole thing at once anymore.… It’s really important to build things incrementally,” Ross says.

Flexibility and the ability to capitalize on accidental discoveries during experimentation are more important than having a concrete project plan, says Ross. At Spotify, the music service, and CarMax, the used-car retailer, change is driven not from the center but from small teams that have developed something new. “The thing you have to get comfortable with is not having the formalized plan that we would have traditionally relied on, because as soon as you insist on that, you limit your ability to keep learning,” Ross warns.

8. Understand the True Cost—and Speed—of Data

Gut instincts have never had much to do with being a CIO; now they should have less to do with being an ordinary manager as well, as data becomes more important.

As part of that calculation, businesspeople must have the ability to analyze the value of the data that they seek. “You’ll need to apply a pinch of knowledge salt to your data,” advises Solvay’s van Zeebroeck. “What really matters is the ability not just to tap into data but to see what is behind the data. Is it a fair representation? Is it impartial?”

Increasingly, businesspeople will need to do their analysis in real time, just as CIOs have always had to manage live systems and processes. Moving toward real-time reports and away from paper-based decisions increases accuracy and effectiveness—and leaves less time for long meetings and PowerPoint presentations (let us all rejoice).

Not Every CIO Is Ready

Of course, not all CIOs are ready for these changes. Just as high school has a lot of false positives—genius nerds who turn out to be merely nearsighted—so there are many CIOs who aren’t good role models for transformation.

Success as a CIO these days requires more than delivering near-perfect uptime, says Lenovo’s Hu. You need to be able to understand the business as well. Some CIOs simply don’t have all the business skills that are needed to succeed in the transformation. Others lack the internal clout: a 2016 KPMG study found that only 34% of CIOs report directly to the CEO.

This lack of a strategic perspective is holding back digital transformation at many organizations. They approach digital transformation as a cool, one-off project: we’re going to put this new mobile app in place and we’re done. But that’s not a systematic approach; it’s an island of innovation that doesn’t join up with the other islands of innovation. In the longer term, this kind of development creates more problems than it fixes.

Such organizations are not building in the capacity for change; they’re trying to get away with just doing it once rather than thinking about how they’re going to use digitalization as a means to constantly experiment and become a better company over the long term.

As a result, in some companies, the most interesting tech developments are happening despite IT, not because of it. “There’s an alarming digital divide within many companies. Marketers are developing nimble software to give customers an engaging, personalized experience, while IT departments remain focused on the legacy infrastructure. The front and back ends aren’t working together, resulting in appealing web sites and apps that don’t quite deliver,” writes George Colony, founder, chairman, and CEO of Forrester Research, in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Thanks to cloud computing and easier development tools, many departments are developing on their own, without IT’s support. These days, anybody with a credit card can do it.

Traditionally, IT departments looked askance at these kinds of do-it-yourself shadow IT programs, but that’s changing. Ferro, for one, says that it’s better to look at those teams not as rogue groups but as people who are trying to help. “It’s less about ‘Hey, something’s escaped,’ and more about ‘No, we just actually grew our capacity and grew our ability to innovate,’” he explains.

“I don’t like the term ‘shadow IT,’” agrees Lenovo’s Hu. “I think it’s an artifact of a very traditional CIO team. If you think of it as shadow IT, you’re out of step with reality,” he says.

The reality today is that a company needs both a strong IT department and strong digital capacities outside its IT department. If the relationship is good, the CIO and IT become valuable allies in helping businesspeople add digital capabilities without disrupting or duplicating existing IT infrastructure.

If a company already has strong digital capacities, it should be able to move forward quickly, according to Ross. But many companies are still playing catch-up and aren’t even ready to begin transforming, as the SAP-Oxford Economics survey shows.

For enterprises where business and IT are unable to get their collective act together, Ross predicts that the next few years will be rough. “I think these companies ought to panic,” she says. D!


About the Authors

Thomas Saueressig is Chief Information Officer at SAP.

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist at SAP.

Sam Yen is Chief Design Officer at SAP and Managing Director of SAP Labs.

Bennett Voyles is a Berlin-based business writer.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.
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Cloud Computing: Separating Myth From Reality

Misa Rawlins and Krishnakant Dave

Across industries, many enterprise leaders believe and understand that cloud computing is here to stay. Globally, public cloud services market revenue is projected to reach US$411 billion by 2020, compared with $260 billion in 2017, according to research firm Gartner, Inc. Cloud technology in all its forms—software, platform, or infrastructure as a service—is rapidly becoming essential to the needs of business today. With cloud computing, organizations can simplify IT, save costs, scale rapidly, drive standardization and user adoption, and start getting ahead of tomorrow’s needs when it comes to customer engagement, the supply chain, the workforce, a simplified finance function, and more.

Despite the short- and long-term advantages, some executives remain uncertain about the next steps or have lingering questions about the benefits of moving to the cloud. For many leaders, separating the cloud myths from the facts can prove daunting. Start here, with these insights that can help you bust big myths about the cloud and start moving confidently toward a cloud-enabled transformation of your organization.

Myth No. 1: Moving to the cloud is too costly. “Costly” is a relative term. The cloud can be costly – but costs should be weighed against benefit and return once requirements and migration plans are in place. Rapidly evolving business demands, for example, can dramatically alter cloud-related requirements. Meanwhile, new technologies are dramatically redefining the art of the possible with the cloud. Because migrating to the cloud is not a true “plug-and-play” proposition, and many enterprise leaders underestimate what a migration or implementation involves, some organizations can be surprised by the costs of a cloud transformation. Without a clear understanding of the potential benefits—without a clear business case for moving to the cloud—the focus on costs can overshadow the return on investment. Knowing the value that cloud solutions can bring—not just the costs—can help manage expectations.

Myth No. 2: The benefits of the cloud aren’t substantial enough. As vendors adopt a “cloud-first” stance for many solutions and product updates, organizations that move to the cloud may have a competitive advantage—no matter the size of the enterprise. Cloud solutions continue to offer abundant and increasing functionality. And with the help of an end-to-end solution provider, you can configure cloud solutions to the specific needs of your industry and your business. For larger organizations, rapidly deployable cloud solutions can help support growth or the unique needs of certain business units, such as new acquisitions or foreign subsidiaries, for example. For smaller organizations, the cloud can help you position your organization to tap new opportunities and tame growth challenges.

Myth No. 3: Cloud is too risky. All digital technologies and all business models come with inherent risk. In a hyperconnected world, no system is immune from cyber attacks, insider threats, data leakage, or related risks. No transformation project is a guaranteed success. Market changes, new competition, regulatory issues, and other factors can require you to change your cloud strategy overnight.

Because the risks are real, take advantage of resources and capabilities that can help reduce risk and ensure that your technology investments align tightly with clear business objectives. The maturity of the software goes a long way toward mitigating risk with cloud projects. You can add an extra layer of capabilities such as managed cloud services to provide active, hands-on oversight of cloud applications and infrastructure—helping you to avoid service interruptions and address issues proactively.

Myth No. 4: Cloud computing is still an immature technology. Like other evolving technologies, cloud is advancing every day. Those who wait for the next generation of cloud offerings may find themselves missing out on tangible benefits as competitors leverage cloud technology to sharpen their edge. Across industries, leading organizations are not waiting. Many view cloud technology as evolving but necessary, and they are leveraging it effectively today. Some, for example, are tightly integrating cloud software solutions to streamline supply chain processes, boost information transparency, and improve decision-making across the board—all the while tapping the cloud benefits of cost savings and scalability. Others are confidently turning to infrastructure solutions delivered and running solutions in a private or hybrid cloud. Still others are turning to cloud platform solutions to extend the power of existing applications, build modern analytics platforms, or support new Internet of Things business models. Turning the cloud to your advantage may depend less on the maturity of the technology and more on the power of your imagination.

Myth No. 5: Moving to the cloud will be easy. Cloud technology can help organizations streamline and simplify their IT landscapes and their business processes, reducing needs around capital expenses and infrastructure while helping to save costs. But migrating to the cloud requires more than simply plugging in technology. It requires an ability to address a host of considerations—data migration, the business-specific capabilities of solutions, change management, governance, systems integration, security, and more.

A cloud transformation is more than a plug-and-play project or a traditional system implementation. It requires progressive thinking and an ability to align technology with your business needs and processes— for today and for the future. Migrating to the cloud is a journey. Moving forward with the cloud will require a vision of your “to be” state—your destination—as well as a strategy for getting you there.

To learn more, and to find out what IDC thinks about the future of the cloud, please read this study that presents a strategic blueprint for enterprises on their digital transformation journey.

For more information on how to simplify innovation with cloud technology, learn more about SAP Cloud Platform.

Ready to reimagine the potential of the cloud? Contact us to get the conversation started.

Contact Krishnakant Dave at kdave@deloitte.com and follow him on Twitter: @kkdave

Contact Misa Rawlins at mrawlins@deloitte.com and follow her on Twitter: @misa_rawlins

www.deloitte.com/SAP

SAP@deloitte.com

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This article originally appeared on Deloitte.com and is republished by permission.

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Misa Rawlins

About Misa Rawlins

As a senior manager and consultant in Deloitte’s SAP practice, Misa Rawlins enjoys helping her clients not only to figure out how to solve their current business problems, but also to envision how a modern cloud platform can transform their organizations moving ahead. Within the practice, she has specifically chosen to take a leadership role around the sales and delivery of SAP S/4HANA Cloud because she considers it the wave of the future. She has made it her mission to deeply understand this technology to better advise clients on what moving to a cloud infrastructure really means.

Krishnakant Dave

About Krishnakant Dave

As a principal in Deloitte’s global SAP practice, KK Dave is a consulting leader for Deloitte’s largest clients; part of the U.S. SAP leadership team where he spearheads Deloitte's cloud offerings; and leader of global go-to-market efforts in the wholesale distribution and manufacturing sector. In these roles, he assists clients in their business transformation journeys using the absolute latest SAP toolset, which presently comprises SAP S/4HANA, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, among other technologies.