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3D Printing: Industry Impact Considerations For 2017

Michelle Schooff

To say that 3D printing is changing our world is an understatement. Today you can purchase 3D-printed shoes, 3D-printed jewelry, 3D-printed pens, and even 3D-printed vehicles.

The automotive industry is using 3D printing to produce spare parts and develop prototypes for new car models. GE and Ford have already touted their early success in 3D printing. One can only imagine the testing that is going on behind their closed doors.

Airplane manufacturers are using 3D printing for parts. In the healthcare and life sciences industries, 3D printing is being used for medication, hearing aids, implants, prostheses, and even human skin for burn victims. Invisalign has built a multi-million dollar business producing teeth alignment devices using 3D printing to completely customize every single device for each patient.

Wholesale distributors are providing value-added services like printing non-stock parts in-house or giving their customers a 3D printer and selling them the specs so they can print parts in-house on demand.

And that is just the beginning. The global market for 3D printing is projected to have significant impact across many industries with economic implications of up to $550 billion a year by 2025.

In the industrial market, 3D printing is primed for long-term growth that will impact products and supply chains. Leaders across all industries should be looking at 3D printing as an emerging technology and a possible disruption to their current business models.

While some think that 3D printing is only a niche technology, companies are aggressively looking to leverage the technology for cost savings, for example, shifting physical inventory to virtual inventory, which allows them to generate parts on-demand when and where they need them.

Also, 3D printing is putting consumers in charge of the supply chain – and most companies are not ready. The technology is a true game changer for the manufacturing industry. It should be a warning sign for companies that, if they don’t innovate their supply chains, they may become irrelevant as consumers gain more control of the production of their own products.

Today, consumers are making their purchase decisions based on how quickly they will receive the product. In order to stay competitive in the marketplace, companies are turning to 3D printing to create and deliver their products quicker, and 3D printing is innovating with that model and putting consumers in the driver’s seat.

The pace of adoption continues to accelerate.  As costs continue to drop and quality rises, it will be impossible not to incorporate a 3D printing strategy into existing business models.

Think about how your organization can leverage 3D printing to reduce manufacturing lead times, bring new designs to market quickly, meet your customer’s demands, and reduce inventory-carrying costs. What was once a technology of your imagination has been made possible with 3D technology. Is your organization ready?

Learn more about How Ford, Airbus, and GE Use 3D Printing for Competitive Advantage.

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Michelle Schooff

About Michelle Schooff

Michelle Schooff is a global marketing director in the retail and wholesale distribution industries for SAP. She is responsible for the marketing strategy, messaging and positioning for SAP solutions in the global marketplace. With over 20 years experience in technology and marketing, Michelle builds strategic marketing plans that drive growth, innovation and revenue.

How Blockchain Technology Can Help IT Become The New Hero For Aerospace Business

Thomas Pohl

IT professionals can become the new heroes in aerospace and defense (A&D) companies by using transformative new technologies productively and imaginatively. With so many new and pervasive technologies coming to market, it can be difficult to keep up with the pace of technology change. For example,

  • How do you incorporate these tools?
  • Which ones do you need?
  • How do you choose wisely and avoid letting your company fall behind the competition?

Finding value in the technologies you choose will be the essence of your company’s success. In the A&D industry, weapons systems, aircraft features, and the demand for everything-as-a-service are changing faster than ever before.

In today’s A&D market, the ability to adjust to change is everything. And it’s up to IT to provide the technology and skills that will allow A&D companies to transform themselves and to succeed. The rapid introduction of technology innovations can be overwhelming; the trick is to keep new technology from becoming a distraction.

It’s important to focus on choosing technology based on the value it can deliver to your company.

Blockchain – also known as the Internet of value

Let’s take a closer look into blockchain technology and how it can be applied to the aerospace and defense industry.

In the last year, you’ve probably heard about blockchain technology. But you may not know much about what it is, who is using it, and what they’re using it for in aerospace and defense.

Blockchain is a technology that uses cryptography, peer-to-peer networks, and consensus algorithms to form a “digital ledger” of transactions. Every participant in a blockchain can see those transactions that are verified and recorded in a “connected chain of information.” Blockchain allows participants to conduct business transactions directly with each other, eliminating the need for third parties, through built-in information transparency.

Early uses of blockchain included currency such as Bitcoin and payment infrastructures. A Canadian bank used it with their international transaction processing to reduce it from days to seconds – enabling businesses to perform secure international B2C transactions. A&D companies are looking into the opportunities that this new technology could offer.

Airbus – the search for the right blockchain applications

Airbus has been working to identify business challenges that blockchain can address. These include instances where there is a high cost of trust, a slow process but time-sensitive interactions, compliance issues, high overhead cost for data reconciliation, and multiple parties that need to share data.

“Blockchain is, in essence, a trust-building technology that facilitates exchanges and trust between parties, so it’s natural to be collaborative in the way we work on problem-solving and adoption,” says data science strategist Leon Zucchini at Airbus. To this end, Airbus’ chief technical organisation (CTO), digital transformation organisation (DTO), and information and communications technology (ICT) division have formed a blockchain working group within the company to search for the right application.

Airbus and SAP recently joined the Hyperledger project, an open source collaborative effort created to advance the cross-industry use of blockchain technology.

Blockchain applications in aerospace identified by Airbus include:

  • Supply chain tracking: Using blockchain technology as a shared database with suppliers could help track the quality and compliance of products along the entire supply chain
  • Procurement support: By creating joint, trusted records of exchanges between partners, blockchain could help improve procurement processes
  • Revenue sharing: For services that are provided on a digital platform, blockchain can help distribute revenue fairly and transparently

Lufthansa – generating more transparency in aircraft maintenance

Patrick Goetze at Lufthansa sees a huge potential benefit with blockchain as a neutral information documentation system. With the way information is stored in blocks, which are verified and sealed, the information contained cannot be changed and is saved in such a way that it is visible for everybody. This transparency makes it extremely difficult to corrupt and manipulate the information and is of particular benefit if different companies are working together and therefore using the same data – for example in aircraft maintenance.

After they are manufactured, aircraft components could be registered in a blockchain together with all relevant data, including serial codes. If a component is installed in an airplane, this information can be saved in yet another blockchain. If the part malfunctions, maintenance technicians can use the information stored to review the exact number of flight hours and to decide whether to replace or repair the part. If it is repaired, this information can then be saved in a separate blockchain for the component in question.

Other blockchain application scenarios in aviation include the secure management of certification from aviation authorities and technicians’ job cards.

Blockchain may be the answer for better cybersecurity

When it comes to protecting digital assets, the banking and A&D industries have a lot in common. Both need a safe way to communicate and conduct transactions across the global value chain.

In the A&D industry, however, cybersecurity needs to extend from the Defense Department to the manufacturer to its suppliers and throughout the complete ecosystem. The industry is realizing that blockchain may offer an answer.

Last fall, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution calling for a national technology innovation policy. It includes language that supports digital currencies and blockchain technology. Rep. Michael Burgess, a Republican from Texas, said at the hearing: “There’s no doubt that blockchain innovations are on the cutting-edge today.”

Are you looking to innovate with blockchain technology in aerospace and defense? Do you want to become the new hero to your business? At SAPPHIRE NOW, you can visit with the SAP A&D experts and see the latest technologies and solutions in action. Learn more about SAPPHIRE NOW and secure your spot today!

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Thomas Pohl

About Thomas Pohl

Thomas Pohl is a Senior Director Marketing at SAP. He helps global aerospace and defense companies to simplify their business by taking innovative software solutions to market.

Cashing In On Space Data [VIDEO]

Robin Meyerhoff

If you want to know what’s happening on Earth, the European Space Agency (ESA) has your back. Every day dozens of ESA satellites generate around ten terabyte of data. Billed as “Europe’s gateway to space,” ESA is the largest provider of Earth observation information in the world, constantly monitoring the planet’s security and environment.

Until recently, that information was held under lock and key, unless you were a scientist with clearance to use it. However, in 2007, the European Union (which works closely with ESA and provides some 20 percent of its funding) changed its policy, allowing the agency to make its data freely available to the public.

This change has opened a new world of opportunity for ESA, the EU and businesses. Nicolaus Hanowski, who heads the ESA Earth Observation Programme, said, “When the EU decided a few years ago that all that observation data was free and open, it triggered new possibilities for ESA and the industrial world.”

Particularly with the maturation of Internet of Things, Big Data, and cloud technologies, the commercial sector now has effective ways to access this data and use it in real time.

Space data helps business and society

Here’s how it works: Satellites, drones, and other airborne “things” can transmit data, which is combined and turned into usable information by Big Data solutions like geospatial, real-time, and predictive analytics. Cloud computing makes it possible for the ESA to deliver specific sets of information to organizations that can use it to solve problems like evaluating agriculture land use, managing gas pipelines, and measuring the effect of climate change.

Hanowski explains ESA already has thematic data repositories including coastal, forestry, urban development, climate, and hydrology.  “Our mission is to make the data consumable. We want to the uptake to be as big as possible — and economically influential. We need to understand what kind of data is interesting to commercial organizations.”

Once they understand key topic areas for businesses, ESA can combine its satellite data with additional types of airborne and ground data to help companies bring new digital business models to life.

With the release of an Earth observation analysis service, organizations can now analyze historic and real-time satellite from ESA, which will help businesses better understand current conditions – and predict future situations.

Through an in-memory computing platform, decision makers can predict future scenarios, their probability, and potential actions to take. Farmers, for instance, will not only know about upcoming storms, but also how to optimize water and fertilizer use on their fields based on satellite information. Even better, the farmer can detect imminent onset of the common crop diseases – and start a preventive treatment immediately.

Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies, is one of the first companies using the analysis service. The increasing frequency of natural disasters like wildfires due to climate change pose a huge challenge for the insurance industry. By analyzing real-time and historic satellite data of wildfires in different regions, Munich Re can more accurately calculate insurance risks and costs. Munich Re can use wildfire data to do predictive analysis that estimates the probability of future wildfires and potential damage to people, homes, and businesses, thus minimizing costs for clients.

Dr. Carsten Linz, head of the SAP Center for Digital Leadership, said, “Like many organizations, ESA is going through a digital transformation, and this technology is helping them pave the way by closing the gap between a traditional Earth observation institution and the digital business world. ESA’s mission is to disseminate space data that is relevant to businesses – and was previously only available to scientists and data specialists. Hence, a major part of our work together is to make the information usable, accessible, and secure, which is why the in-memory computing platform and cloud technologies are so important to ESA.”

While commercial data use is a priority for ESA, Hanowski is hopeful that with analytic services, they will be able to help unite scientific and relief communities on pressing topics like smart cities, food security, and water management.

Eventually businesses will use the data to improve efficiency and offer better products, ESA will gain a revenue stream, and NGOs and the public sector can use it to improve people’s lives. In other words, everyone wins.

For more on the transformative scientific potential of data analytics, see The Promise Of The Internet Of Things.

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Robin Meyerhoff

About Robin Meyerhoff

Robin Meyerhoff is the Senior Director, Content Team, Global Corporate Affairs, at SAP, responsible for telling key corporate stories via multiple formats: cartoons, video, infographics, opinion pieces. Lead integrated internal-external approach to rolling out content, including comprehensive editorial calendar, regional coordination and alignment with key business objective.

Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy

Volker Hildebrand, Sam Yen, and Fawn Fitter

When it comes to buying things—even big-ticket items—the way we make decisions makes no sense. One person makes an impulsive offer on a house because of the way the light comes in through the kitchen windows. Another gleefully drives a high-end sports car off the lot even though it will probably never approach the limits it was designed to push.

We can (and usually do) rationalize these decisions after the fact by talking about needing more closet space or wanting to out-accelerate an 18-wheeler as we merge onto the highway, but years of study have arrived at a clear conclusion:

When it comes to the customer experience, human beings are fundamentally irrational.

In the brick-and-mortar past, companies could leverage that irrationality in time-tested ways. They relied heavily on physical context, such as an inviting retail space, to make products and services as psychologically appealing as possible. They used well-trained salespeople and employees to maximize positive interactions and rescue negative ones. They carefully sequenced customer experiences, such as having a captain’s dinner on the final night of a cruise, to play on our hard-wired craving to end experiences on a high note.

Today, though, customer interactions are increasingly moving online. Fortune reports that on 2016’s Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that is so crucial to holiday retail results, 108.5 million Americans shopped online, while only 99.1 million visited brick-and-mortar stores. The 9.4% gap between the two was a dramatic change from just one year prior, when on- and offline Black Friday shopping were more or less equal.

When people browse in a store for a few minutes, an astute salesperson can read the telltale signs that they’re losing interest and heading for the exit. The salesperson can then intervene, answering questions and closing the sale.

Replicating that in a digital environment isn’t as easy, however. Despite all the investments companies have made to counteract e-shopping cart abandonment, they lack the data that would let them anticipate when a shopper is on the verge of opting out of a transaction, and the actions they take to lure someone back afterwards can easily come across as less helpful than intrusive.

In a digital environment, companies need to figure out how to use Big Data analysis and digital design to compensate for the absence of persuasive human communication and physical sights, sounds, and sensations. What’s more, a 2014 Gartner survey found that 89% of marketers expected customer experience to be their primary differentiator by 2016, and we’re already well into 2017.

As transactions continue to shift toward the digital and omnichannel, companies need to figure out new ways to gently push customers along the customer journey—and to do so without frustrating, offending, or otherwise alienating them.

The quest to understand online customers better in order to influence them more effectively is built on a decades-old foundation: behavioral psychology, the study of the connections between what people believe and what they actually do. All of marketing and advertising is based on changing people’s thoughts in order to influence their actions. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that a now-famous article in the Harvard Business Review formally introduced the idea of applying behavioral psychology to customer service in particular.

The article’s authors, Richard B. Chase and Sriram Dasu, respectively a professor and assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, describe how companies could apply fundamental tenets of behavioral psychology research to “optimize those extraordinarily important moments when the company touches its customers—for better and for worse.” Their five main points were simple but have proven effective across multiple industries:

  1. Finish strong. People evaluate experiences after the fact based on their high points and their endings, so the way a transaction ends is more important than how it begins.
  2. Front-load the negatives. To ensure a strong positive finish, get bad experiences out of the way early.
  3. Spread out the positives. Break up the pleasurable experiences into segments so they seem to last longer.
  4. Provide choices. People don’t like to be shoved toward an outcome; they prefer to feel in control. Giving them options within the boundaries of your ability to deliver builds their commitment.
  5. Be consistent. People like routine and predictability.

For example, McKinsey cites a major health insurance company that experimented with this framework in 2009 as part of its health management program. A test group of patients received regular coaching phone calls from nurses to help them meet health goals.

The front-loaded negative was inherent: the patients knew they had health problems that needed ongoing intervention, such as weight control or consistent use of medication. Nurses called each patient on a frequent, regular schedule to check their progress (consistency and spread-out positives), suggested next steps to keep them on track (choices), and cheered on their improvements (a strong finish).

McKinsey reports the patients in the test group were more satisfied with the health management program by seven percentage points, more satisfied with the insurance company by eight percentage points, and more likely to say the program motivated them to change their behavior by five percentage points.

The nurses who worked with the test group also reported increased job satisfaction. And these improvements all appeared in the first two weeks of the pilot program, without significantly affecting the company’s costs or tweaking key metrics, like the number and length of the calls.

Indeed, an ongoing body of research shows that positive reinforcements and indirect suggestions influence our decisions better and more subtly than blatant demands. This concept hit popular culture in 2008 with the bestselling book Nudge.

Written by University of Chicago economics professor Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge first explains this principle, then explores it as a way to help people make decisions in their best interests, such as encouraging people to eat healthier by displaying fruits and vegetables at eye level or combatting credit card debt by placing a prominent notice on every credit card statement informing cardholders how much more they’ll spend over a year if they make only the minimum payment.

Whether they’re altruistic or commercial, nudges work because our decision-making is irrational in a predictable way. The question is how to apply that awareness to the digital economy.

In its early days, digital marketing assumed that online shopping would be purely rational, a tool that customers would use to help them zero in on the best product at the best price. The assumption was logical, but customer behavior remained irrational.

Our society is overloaded with information and short on time, says Brad Berens, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, Annenberg, so it’s no surprise that the speed of the digital economy exacerbates our desire to make a fast decision rather than a perfect one, as well as increasing our tendency to make choices based on impulse rather than logic.

Buyers want what they want, but they don’t necessarily understand or care why they want it. They just want to get it and move on, with minimal friction, to the next thing. “Most of our decisions aren’t very important, and we only have so much time to interrogate and analyze them,” Berens points out.

But limited time and mental capacity for decision-making is only half the issue. The other half is that while our brains are both logical and emotional, the emotional side—also known as the limbic system or, more casually, the primitive lizard brain—is far older and more developed. It’s strong enough to override logic and drive our decisions, leaving rational thought to, well, rationalize our choices after the fact.

This is as true in the B2B realm as it is for consumers. The business purchasing process, governed as it is by requests for proposals, structured procurement processes, and permission gating, is designed to ensure that the people with spending authority make the most sensible deals possible. However, research shows that even in this supposedly rational process, the relationship with the seller is still more influential than product quality in driving customer commitment and loyalty.

Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, studies how the emotional brain shapes decisions and experiences. In a popular TED Talk, he says that people in the process of making decisions fall into one of two mindsets: Type 1, which is stressed and wants to feel comforted and safe, and Type 2, which is bored or eager and wants to explore and take action.

People can move between these two mindsets, he says, but in both cases, the emotional brain is in control. Influencing it means first delivering a message that soothes or motivates, depending on the mindset the person happens to be in at the moment and only then presenting the logical argument to help rationalize the action.

In the digital economy, working with those tendencies means designing digital experiences with the full awareness that people will not evaluate them objectively, says Ravi Dhar, director of the Center for Customer Insights at the Yale School of Management. Since any experience’s greatest subjective impact in retrospect depends on what happens at the beginning, the end, and the peaks in between, companies need to design digital experiences to optimize those moments—to rationally design experiences for limited rationality.

This often involves making multiple small changes in the way options are presented well before the final nudge into making a purchase. A paper that Dhar co-authored for McKinsey offers the example of a media company that puts most of its content behind a paywall but offers free access to a limited number of articles a month as an incentive to drive subscriptions.

Many nonsubscribers reached their limit of free articles in the morning, but they were least likely to respond to a subscription offer generated by the paywall at that hour, because they were reading just before rushing out the door for the day. When the company delayed offers until later in the day, when readers were less distracted, successful subscription conversions increased.

Pre-selecting default options for necessary choices is another way companies can design digital experiences to follow customers’ preference for the path of least resistance. “We know from a decade of research that…defaults are a de facto nudge,” Dhar says.

For example, many online retailers set a default shipping option because customers have to choose a way to receive their packages and are more likely to passively allow the default option than actively choose another one. Similarly, he says, customers are more likely to enroll in a program when the default choice is set to accept it rather than to opt out.

Another intriguing possibility lies in the way customers react differently to on-screen information based on how that information is presented. Even minor tweaks can have a disproportionate impact on the choices people make, as explained in depth by University of California, Los Angeles, behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi in his 2015 book, The Smarter Screen.

A few of the conclusions Benartzi reached: items at the center of a laptop screen draw more attention than those at the edges. Those on the upper left of a screen split into quadrants attract more attention than those on the lower left. And intriguingly, demographics are important variables.

Benartzi cites research showing that people over 40 prefer more visually complicated, text-heavy screens than younger people, who are drawn to saturated colors and large images. Women like screens that use a lot of different colors, including pastels, while men prefer primary colors on a grey or white background. People in Malaysia like lots of color; people in Germany don’t.

This suggests companies need to design their online experiences very differently for middle-aged women than they do for teenage boys. And, as Benartzi writes, “it’s easy to imagine a future in which each Internet user has his or her own ‘aesthetic algorithm,’ customizing the appearance of every site they see.”

Applying behavioral psychology to the digital experience in more sophisticated ways will require additional formal research into recommendation algorithms, predictions, and other applications of customer data science, says Jim Guszcza, PhD, chief U.S. data scientist for Deloitte Consulting.

In fact, given customers’ tendency to make the fastest decisions, Guszcza believes that in some cases, companies may want to consider making choice environments more difficult to navigate— a process he calls “disfluencing”—in high-stakes situations, like making an important medical decision or an irreversible big-ticket purchase. Choosing a harder-to-read font and a layout that requires more time to navigate forces customers to work harder to process the information, sending a subtle signal that it deserves their close attention.

That said, a company can’t apply behavioral psychology to deliver a digital experience if customers don’t engage with its site or mobile app in the first place. Addressing this often means making the process as convenient as possible, itself a behavioral nudge.

A digital solution that’s easy to use and search, offers a variety of choices pre-screened for relevance, and provides a friction-free transaction process is the equivalent of putting a product at eye level—and that applies far beyond retail. Consider the Global Entry program, which streamlines border crossings into the U.S. for pre-approved international travelers. Members can skip long passport control lines in favor of scanning their passports and answering a few questions at a touchscreen kiosk. To date, 1.8 million people have decided this convenience far outweighs the slow pace of approvals.

The basics of influencing irrational customers are essentially the same whether they’re taking place in a store or on a screen. A business still needs to know who its customers are, understand their needs and motivations, and give them a reason to buy.

And despite the accelerating shift to digital commerce, we still live in a physical world. “There’s no divide between old-style analog retail and new-style digital retail,” Berens says. “Increasingly, the two are overlapping. One of the things we’ve seen for years is that people go into a store with their phones, shop for a better price, and buy online. Or vice versa: they shop online and then go to a store to negotiate for a better deal.”

Still, digital increases the number of touchpoints from which the business can gather, cluster, and filter more types of data to make great suggestions that delight and surprise customers. That’s why the hottest word in marketing today is omnichannel. Bringing behavioral psychology to bear on the right person in the right place in the right way at the right time requires companies to design customer experiences that bridge multiple channels, on- and offline.

Amazon, for example, is known for its friction-free online purchasing. The company’s pilot store in Seattle has no lines or checkout counters, extending the brand experience into the physical world in a way that aligns with what customers already expect of it, Dhar says.

Omnichannel helps counter some people’s tendency to believe their purchasing decision isn’t truly well informed unless they can see, touch, hear, and in some cases taste and smell a product. Until we have ubiquitous access to virtual reality systems with full haptic feedback, the best way to address these concerns is by providing personalized, timely, relevant information and feedback in the moment through whatever channel is appropriate. That could be an automated call center that answers frequently asked questions, a video that shows a product from every angle, or a demonstration wizard built into the product. Any of these channels could also suggest the customer visit the nearest store to receive help from a human.

The omnichannel approach gives businesses plenty of opportunities to apply subtle nudges across physical and digital channels. For example, a supermarket chain could use store-club card data to push personalized offers to customers’ smartphones while they shop. “If the data tells them that your goal is to feed a family while balancing nutrition and cost, they could send you an e-coupon offering a discount on a brand of breakfast cereal that tastes like what you usually buy but contains half the sugar,” Guszcza says.

Similarly, a car insurance company could provide periodic feedback to policyholders through an app or even the digital screens in their cars, he suggests. “Getting a warning that you’re more aggressive than 90% of comparable drivers and three tips to avoid risk and lower your rates would not only incentivize the driver to be more careful for financial reasons but reduce claims and make the road safer for everyone.”

Digital channels can also show shoppers what similar people or organizations are buying, let them solicit feedback from colleagues or friends, and read reviews from other people who have made the same purchases. This leverages one of the most familiar forms of behavioral psychology—reinforcement from peers—and reassures buyers with Shiv’s Type 1 mindset that they’re making a choice that meets their needs or encourages those with the Type 2 mindset to move forward with the purchase. The rational mind only has to ask at the end of the process “Am I getting the best deal?” And as Guszcza points out, “If you can create solutions that use behavioral design and digital technology to turn my personal data into insight to reach my goals, you’ve increased the value of your engagement with me so much that I might even be willing to pay you more.”

Many transactions take place through corporate procurement systems that allow a company to leverage not just its own purchasing patterns but all the data in a marketplace specifically designed to facilitate enterprise purchasing. Machine learning can leverage this vast database of information to provide the necessary nudge to optimize purchasing patterns, when to buy, how best to negotiate, and more. To some extent, this is an attempt to eliminate psychology and make choices more rational.

B2B spending is tied into financial systems and processes, logistics systems, transportation systems, and other operational requirements in a way no consumer spending can be. A B2B decision is less about making a purchase that satisfies a desire than it is about making a purchase that keeps the company functioning.

That said, the decision still isn’t entirely rational, Berens says. When organizations have to choose among vendors offering relatively similar products and services, they generally opt for the vendor whose salespeople they like the best.

This means B2B companies have to make sure they meet or exceed parity with competitors on product quality, pricing, and time to delivery to satisfy all the rational requirements of the decision process. Only then can they bring behavioral psychology to bear by delivering consistently superior customer service, starting as soon as the customer hits their app or website and spreading out positive interactions all the way through post-purchase support. Finishing strong with a satisfied customer reinforces the relationship with a business customer just as much as it does with a consumer.

The best nudges make the customer relationship easy and enjoyable by providing experiences that are effortless and fun to choose, on- or offline, Dhar says. What sets the digital nudge apart in accommodating irrational customers is its ability to turn data about them and their journey into more effective, personalized persuasion even in the absence of the human touch.

Yet the subtle art of influencing customers isn’t just about making a sale, and it certainly shouldn’t be about persuading people to act against their own best interests, as Nudge co-author Thaler reminds audiences by exhorting them to “nudge for good.”

Guszcza, who talks about influencing people to make the choices they would make if only they had unlimited rationality, says companies that leverage behavioral psychology in their digital experiences should do so with an eye to creating positive impact for the customer, the company, and, where appropriate, the society.

In keeping with that ethos, any customer experience designed along behavioral lines has to include the option of letting the customer make a different choice, such as presenting a confirmation screen at the end of the purchase process with the cold, hard numbers and letting them opt out of the transaction altogether.

“A nudge is directing people in a certain direction,” Dhar says. “But for an ethical vendor, the only right direction to nudge is the right direction as judged by the customers themselves.” D!

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


About the Authors:

Volker Hildebrand is Global Vice President for SAP Hybris solutions.

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

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

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Artificial Intelligence: The Future Of Oil And Gas

Anoop Srivastava

Oil prices have fallen dramatically over last few years, forcing some major oil companies to take drastic actions such as layoffs, cutting investments and budgets, and more. Shell, for example, shelved its plan to invest in Qatar, Aramco put on hold its deep-water exploration in the Red Sea, Schlumberger fired a few thousand employees, and the list goes on…

In view of falling oil prices and the resulting squeeze on cash flows, the oil and gas industry has been challenged to adapt and optimize its performance to remain profitable while maintaining a long-term investment and operating outlook. Currently, oil and gas companies find it difficult to maintain the same level of investment in exploration and production as when crude prices were at their peak. Operations in the oil and gas industry today means balancing a dizzying array of trade-offs in the drive for competitive advantage while maximizing return on investment.

The result is a dire need to optimize performance and optimize the cost of production per barrel. Companies have many optimization opportunities once they start using the massive data being generated by oil fields. Oil and gas companies can turn this crisis into an opportunity by leveraging technological innovations like artificial intelligence to build a foundation for long-term success. If volatility in oil prices is the new norm, the push for “value over volume” is the key to success going forward.

Using AI tools, upstream oil and gas companies can shift their approach from production at all costs to producing in context. They will need to do profit and loss management at the well level to optimize the production cost per barrel. To do this, they must integrate all aspects of production management, collect the data for analysis and forecasting, and leverage artificial intelligence to optimize operations.

When remote sensors are connected to wireless networks, data can be collected and centrally analyzed from any location. According to the consulting firm McKinsey, the oil and gas supply chain stands to gain $50 billion in savings and increased profit by adopting AI. As an example, using AI algorithms to more accurately sift through signals and noise in seismic data can decrease dry wellhead development by 10 percent.

How oil and gas can leverage artificial intelligence

1. Planning and forecasting

On a macro scale, deep machine learning can help increase awareness of macroeconomic trends to drive investment decisions in exploration and production. Economic conditions and even weather patterns can be considered to determine where investments should take place as well as intensity of production.

2. Eliminate costly risks in drilling

Drilling is an expensive and risky investment, and applying AI in the operational planning and execution stages can significantly improve well planning, real-time drilling optimization, frictional drag estimation, and well cleaning predictions. Additionally, geoscientists can better assess variables such as the rate of penetration (ROP) improvement, well integrity, operational troubleshooting, drilling equipment condition recognition, real-time drilling risk recognition, and operational decision-making.

When drilling, machine-learning software takes into consideration a plethora of factors, such as seismic vibrations, thermal gradients, and strata permeability, along with more traditional data such as pressure differentials. AI can help optimize drilling operations by driving decisions such as direction and speed in real time, and it can predict failure of equipment such as semi-submersible pumps (ESPs) to reduce unplanned downtime and equipment costs.

3. Well reservoir facility management

Wells, reservoirs, and facility management includes integration of multiple disciplines: reservoir engineering, geology, production technology, petro physics, operations, and seismic interpretation. AI can help to create tools that allow asset teams to build professional understanding and identify opportunities to improve operational performance.

AI techniques can also be applied in other activities such as reservoir characterization, modeling and     field surveillance. Fuzzy logic, artificial neural networks and expert systems are used extensively across the industry to accurately characterize reservoirs in order to attain optimum production level.

Today, AI systems form the backbone of digital oil field (DOF) concepts and implementations. However, there is still great potential for new ways to optimize field development and production costs, prolong field life, and increase the recovery factor.

4. Predictive maintenance

Today, artificial intelligence is taking the industry by storm. AI-powered software and sensor hardware enables us to use very large amounts of data to gain real-time responses on the best future course of action. With predictive analytics and cognitive security, for example, oil and gas companies can operate equipment safely and securely while receiving recommendations on how to avoid future equipment failure or mediate potential security breaches.

5. Oil and gas well surveying and inspections

Drones have been part of the oil and gas industry since 2013, when ConocoPhillips used the Boeing ScanEagle drone in trials in the Chukchi Sea.  In June 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the first commercial permit for drone use over United States soil to BP, allowing the company to survey pipelines, roads, and equipment in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. In January, Sky-Futures completed the first drone inspection in the Gulf of Mexico.

While drones are primarily used in the midstream sector, they can be applied to almost every aspect of the industry, including land surveying and mapping, well and pipeline inspections, and security. Technology is being developed to enable drones to detect early methane leaks. In addition, one day, drones could be used to find oil and gas reservoirs underlying remote uninhabited regions, from the comfort of a warm office.

6. Remote logistics

As logistics to offshore locations is always a challenge, AI-enhanced drones can be used to deliver materials to remote offshore locations.

Current adoption of AI

Chevron is currently using AI to identify new well locations and simulation candidates in California. By using AI software to analyze the company’s large collection of historical well performance data, the company is drilling in better locations and has seen production rise 30% over conventional methods. Chevron is also using predictive models to analyze the performance of thousands of pieces of rotating equipment to detect failures before they occur. By addressing problems before they become critical, Chevron has avoided unplanned shutdowns and lowered repair expenses. Increased production and lower costs have translated to more profit per well.

Future journey

Today’s oil and gas industry has been transformed by two industry downturns in one decade. Although adoption of new hard technology such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has helped, the oil and gas industry needs to continue to innovate in today’s low-price market to survive. AI has the potential to differentiate companies that thrive and those that are left behind.

The promise of AI is already being realized in the oil and gas industry. Early adopters are taking advantage of their position  to get a head start on the competition and protect their assets. The industry has always leveraged technology to adapt to change, and early adopters have always benefited the most. As competition in the oil and gas industry continues to heat up, companies cannot afford to be left behind. For those that understand and seize the opportunities inherent in adopting cognitive technologies, the future looks bright.

For more insight on advanced technology in the energy sector, see How Digital Transformation Is Refueling The Energy Industry.

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Anoop Srivastava

About Anoop Srivastava

Anoop Srivastava is Senior Director of the Energy and Natural Resources Industries at SAP Value Engineering in Middle East and North Africa. He advises clients on their digital transformation strategies and helps them align their business strategy with IT strategy leveraging digital technology innovations such as the Internet of Things, Big Data, Advanced Analytics, Cloud etc. He has 21+ years of work experience spanning across Oil& Gas Industry, Business Consulting, Industry Value Advisory and Digital Transformation.