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Top 5 Trends In Automotive For 2017

William Newman

It’s always fun this time of year to look into the crystal ball and consider what the key trends for the coming year might be. After consuming key messaging over the past several months from a number of industry related briefings and research, I’m here to offer my top 5 trends in automotive for 2017. In no particular order they are:

  1. Products will become smarter, smaller, and more connected as platforms
  1. Industry disruption and confluence will continue and accelerate
  1. The talent war will become critical, even a pinch point to growth
  1. Customer engagement will continue to grow in importance
  1. New digital business models will emerge, and most haven’t been created yet

Let’s break each one of these down and discuss some of the relevant proof points on each and the industry impacts for 2017 and beyond.

1. Products will become smarter, smaller, and more connected as platforms

On the topic of product design, there are a number of factors. First, vehicles continue to be designed under emission reduction guidelines. As such, the notion of “light weighting” vehicles continues at a rapid pace. New tech companies working with composites and new alloys are popping up like Internet startups in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The ability to simulate structural impact conditions with the use of very sophisticated analysis tools (along with large, massive data calculations) makes the ability to “fast fail” before committing to physical metallurgy a reality. These are all positive indicators that automobiles will become faster, lighter, and more fuel efficient.

An interesting caveat and counter-balance trend to the progress of light-weighting is the effects the industry faces as we move from “Level 1 and 2” autonomous vehicles (requiring the use of a driver/controller) to “Level 4 and 5” (generally considered by approved for driverless operation – see this funky graphic for a simple explanation of the NHTSA and SAE levels). While vehicles will have more autonomous features, the need to add redundant systems – including the weight of the driver – will counterbalance vehicle-lightening initiatives during the transition period, until Level 4 becomes more reality and less fantasy (and is approved by regulators for general population). How automotive suppliers connect in terms of their respective digital products and platforms will also evolve (see #2).

2. Industry disruption and confluence will continue and accelerate

It’s already hard to tell how much a vehicle company is a manufacturer, retailer, bank, and marketing firm these days, and those segments will continue to muddle as the industry morphs into Transportation as a Service (TaaS) business models. As vehicles move into a TaaS-based operation environment, a funny thing happens: the rate of use skyrockets from about 20-30% of total available use (when a personal vehicle is parked or idle) to about 70-80% (when fully autonomous or fully driver/consumer engaged). Automakers are considering what this means to service and aftermarket parts, particularly when the rate of use can shift to non-owner/vehicle customers. Will the current dealer infrastructure be deep and wide enough to manage demand? What about the insurance industry? Who insures the car when it is not a personally owned asset? If the vehicle is a personally owned asset, can I as an automaker share driver information with the insurance industry as it is collected? Am I allowed to sell these assets? What does this mean in terms of micro-royalties passed to connected suppliers who provide automakers the platforms to connect this information?These elements need to be factored into tomorrow’s business models, business processes, and data analytics.

3. The talent war will become critical, even a pinch point to growth

The biggest challenge most manufacturing and engineering-related companies have today is the ability to attract and retain key technical talent. Without talent to move into the new demands of the connected and autonomous industry, products, and operations, the growth rate of companies could become constrained just like any other capital asset. At the recent OESA Annual Conference, management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group identified through its survey work that the #1 issue facing the automotive industry is management, with the top area of concern there being talent management. The big fight for talent is just getting started.

Case in point: Last year I was with a company whose entire IT architecture team was approaching mandatory retirement age. Earlier this year I was with another company that needed to maintain its engineering workforce as a key to growth as it replaced retiring skilled workers and designers and built product sales volume. In short, every company in the industry has a talent-management problem, and everyone is competing for the same skilled resources in science, technology, engineering, and math. These STEM resources are of top demand in the workforce and will command attention, compensation, and flexibility in terms of how work gets done in automotive and manufacturing companies.

4. Customer engagement will continue to grow in importance

Driver consumers will continue to demand greater engagement in services and other delivery models with automakers, and automakers are extremely interested to accommodate these new, largely millennial drivers. A McKinsey study published earlier this year suggested an estimated $1.5 trillion in digital services would be rendered through connected vehicles by 2030. This represents by far the largest growth area for the automotive industry, with personal vehicle sales expected to grow modestly between 2% and 4% during that time (IHS, Frost & Sullivan, others). So how do automakers tap into that engagement model at a deeper, more meaningful level? My colleague Thomas Leisen from our organization and talent group suggests the answer is be purpose-driven and authentic. According to Thomas, when it comes to millennials in particular, “this generation is really sensitive as to whether a brand purpose is authentic or not. If millennials don’t buy your claimed purpose on the fly, not only are you throwing away a lot of money for all of your marketing campaigns, but they might also get the wrong impression.” Pushing that level of authenticity – with deep data accuracy and meaning – to driver consumers will require new and evolved thinking to capture this massive future wallet share.

5. New digital business models will emerge, and most haven’t been created yet

And this is just what we know. What about digital business models that haven’t even been created yetAccording to IDC, by year-end 2017, over 70% of the G500 will have dedicated digital transformation and innovation teams. In addition to those digital (DX) transformation efforts, by 2019 40% of all digital transformation initiatives – and 100% of all effective Internet of Things (IoT) efforts – will be supported by cognitive/AI capabilities. When the industry moves into AI and machine learning concepts, the role of the human is one more of oversight and control and less one of execution: intelligent machines, building intelligent vehicles, servicing intelligent machines.

Case in point: Much like many household connected items, the first interaction with a digital device is with your phone to match/pair, personalize, and engage the product. What will the phone – or some other primary device – in the future represent? How will we use that to onboard and personalize a vehicle? These are questions that automakers are considering today, even with the rapid pace of current change, to be ready for tomorrow.

So how did I do? Long shot or bull’s eye? Check out my top trends for 2016, and listen to my crystal ball 2014 predictions from SAP Radio Coffee Break with Game Changers.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.

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William Newman

About William Newman

William Newman is a Strategic Industry Advisor, providing industry perspective, strategic solution advice, and thought leadership to support SAP automotive and discrete industry customers and their co-innovation programs. He helps build and maintain SAP's leadership position in the automotive industry and associated industry segments. He manages SAP’s annual digital aftermarket survey program and serves as the ASUG Point of Contact for the NA Automotive SIG. He is the author of two SAP Press books and a LinkedIn Editor’s Choice contributor.

Blockchain: A Rose By Any Other Name

John Bertrand

The question of what exactly blockchain is came to the fore in March with the publication of the eBook Blockchain Meets Supply Chain: Rewiring Business Operations for the Digital Age, which acknowledged “blockchain is difficult to pin down … it is a class of software composed of other technologies.” The eBook aims to clear that up a bit, as I’ll try to do here.

The blockchain is a secure, transparent, layered container. The container is distributed and made available across the Internet or cloud, with any changes reported back to all parties in the specified group. This process is referred to as distributed ledger technology (DLT).

The DLT is available to either a public or private group. Financial services activities will predominately be in private groups, for example “syndicated loans.”

The key features in the transparent container include:

  • Consensus – algorithms that confirm and accept the information as it arrives and make sure that information is distributed
  • Shared ledger – the record of information that is available to all parties
  • Immutability – cryptographic technology that ensures that records cannot be tampered with

Who says blockchain is hip and modern? The Byzantine Army in 330 AD needed to manage the diversity of loyalty in its generals through coded, distributed, hand-delivered messages. Today we use mathematicians and technology to ensure the shared ledger is robust and staying true to the course, as did the Byzantine generals.

It is the right choreographing of the different technologies that is most important, says the eBook. Given the correct combination, blockchain/DLT should appear sooner than currently anticipated.

Gone are the days banks when banks build their own technology. Most banks now only care that the technology works, with the caveat that the tech supplier is approved by the bank. To meet regulatory requirements, bank technology suppliers must be low risk, which is not the profile of most fintech companies!

The eBook suggests that more caution is needed in implementing blockchain; that is probably correct, but the banks’ situation is urgent. The long and ongoing low interest rate environment has made it very difficult for banks to generate revenue growth. The Swiss Central Bank now charges fees for money on deposit – so times really are getting hard. Banks also have very high internal cost infrastructures. Banks need to start charging for their services, cut costs, or both.

Blockchain/DLT offers efficiency, better security, and one source of the truth. As the eBook points out, the digital supply chain reduces procurement costs by 20% and halves supply chain costs, enabling controlled activity instead of caution.

The eBook’s focus on the digitalization of assets and the provenance of them, rather than crypto currency, is refreshing. I recently noticed on CoinDesk that one of the crypto currencies dropped 31% in 24 hours. That’s a Zimbabwean dollar-like fall. Maybe, like the Zim dollar, crypto currency will be officially abandoned and the U.S. dollar used instead.

One final question to ponder: What should we call the stack of technology that forms the blockchain and DLT? Every stack could be different. How about Rose? After all, U.S. hurricanes are given human names, and I believe blockchain/DLT/Rose will bring the force of the hurricane to banking. Blockchain Meets Supply Chain: Rewiring Business Operations for the Digital Age represents the calm before the storm.

To learn more about blockchain, read the Forbes Insights Briefing Report: Transforming Transaction Processing for the Digital Economy.

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Supply Chain Risk Managers Must Be Fuzzy, Or Fail

Susan Galer

I’ve been eager for the chance to inject the fashionable word “fraught” into one of my blogs for a while, and a recent conversation about supply chain risk presented the ideal opportunity.

During an exclusive roundtable at the SAP Ariba Live 2017 event in Las Vegas entitled “Managing Risk in Your Supplier Engagements,” three experts talked about how companies can prevent the worst from happening in a world fraught with stuff that can go wrong.

Their message was that companies can use advanced technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics to neutralize the impact of natural disasters, global currency fluctuations, and labor strikes, more easily ensure compliance with increasing regulations, and even address evils like forced and slave labor in their supply chain ─ but only if all that tech is backed by a corporate commitment to do good.

Cognitive computing changes the game for risk managers

Investigators and risk managers require both data transparency and context, something Padmini Ranganathan, vice president, products & innovation at SAP Ariba, said is foundational to how the SAP Ariba network of buyers and sellers operates. Dan Adamson, CEO of OutsideIQ, an SAP Ariba partner, discussed his company’s cognitive computing platform, which, together with SAP Ariba, changes the game.

Ranganathan noted that advanced technologies can help companies make sure they have the right data at the right time in the right place, and with the right person able to act. “When your supplier is tripping up somewhere, you need to be there to catch it,” he advised. “Technology is a very powerful tool with the ability to machine learn and pattern match to find out what’s going on.”

“Until now, machines have been great at combing through vast amounts of data but not providing context,” he added. “We bring in the right data and apply the first layer of context to make sure it’s a risk you would care about. How you deal with it is another level of context. We’ll see an evolution because some of your suppliers, depending on your industry, might have a heavy regulatory slant, and you need to treat them differently. Our layers of cognitive computing help filter out the noise and bring the relevant events to bear.”

Outside IQ conducts research far beyond simple watch list monitoring. “We go deeper with our cognitive process, replicating what a researcher would do, looking for patterns and links,” Ranganathan continued. “What might be clean today may have a news report tomorrow. Companies need to know before something becomes an explosive issue. The power SAP Ariba brings in is the whole layer of scoring indicators with relationship insights.”

Purpose-driven supply chain

James Edward Johnson, director of supply risk and analytics at Nielsen, said companies have a shared responsibility in managing supply chains for the greater good. The SAP Ariba network helps Nielsen conduct due diligence at scale faster and more cost-efficiently.

“World development has made some people richer and left a lot of people behind,” Johnson noted. “Because we’re so active in the supply chain, we actually touch millions of lives. How do you make sure that’s a force for good, that when you negotiate deals your push for price isn’t merely favoring companies that will cut corners, abuse their workers, enslave people, or rip up the environment by dumping chemicals into lakes?

“SAP Ariba is a great platform because it’s to a degree, data-neutral. A group like Outside IQ will find and read documents from everywhere in the world. If we can find and solve problems in our supply chain, we can make a difference in the world.”

Forget focus, follow the arc to uncover bad behavior

Responding to an audience member question, Johnson cautioned against zeroing in on risks.

“The moment you start focusing, you’re going to fail to capture risk, which is about seeing the unseen,” he said. “Sometimes your peripheral vision is more effective than your central vision. This is the arc of whatever risk you’re looking at. For example, I can guarantee financial indicators are a good leading indicator. The moment a company starts to fail at meeting their numbers, they’ll start taking risks. The question is where those risks materialize. You have look at other things that might provoke bad behavior.”

Every risk manager should be willing to say, “The answer I just gave you is wrong.”

Make data actionable, but accept fuzziness

These experts agreed that people need to factor risk indicators into contract negotiations while recognizing the level of uncertainty inherent to all kinds of data.

“Everyone in risk management should be willing to say ‘the answer I just gave you is wrong’ – the question is by how much and in what direction,” said Johnson. “Too often people are called on to give specific answers they can hang their hat on. That might teach people to manipulate the data or give people who are politically capable an advantage over people who are technically capable, so you might end up promoting people who are better at talking.”

Machine learning promises to strip out biases like recency and sample selection to give decision makers greater objectivity in understanding actual and potential risks and how to address them. “We should have science-based answers, we should have the data, and we should be able to know how well we know what we say we know,” said Johnson.

For more supply chain risk management strategies, see Managing Third-Party Risk Through Verified Trust.

Follow me: @smgaler

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The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage

Justin Somaini and Dan Wellers

 

The cost of data breaches will reach US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019—nearly four times the cost in 2015.

Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion in net global economic benefits by 2030 if cybersecurity doesn’t keep pace with growing threat levels.

Cyber insurance premiums could increase tenfold to $20 billion annually by 2025.

Cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern for the next decade.


Companies are collaborating with a wider network of partners, embracing distributed systems, and meeting new demands for 24/7 operations.

But the bad guys are sharing intelligence, harnessing emerging technologies, and working round the clock as well—and companies are giving them plenty of weaknesses to exploit.

  • 33% of companies today are prepared to prevent a worst-case attack.
  • 25% treat cyber risk as a significant corporate risk.
  • 80% fail to assess their customers and suppliers for cyber risk.

The ROI of Zero Trust

Perimeter security will not be enough. As interconnectivity increases so will the adoption of zero-trust networks, which place controls around data assets and increases visibility into how they are used across the digital ecosystem.


A Layered Approach

Companies that embrace trust as a competitive advantage will build robust security on three core tenets:

  • Prevention: Evolving defensive strategies from security policies and educational approaches to access controls
  • Detection: Deploying effective systems for the timely detection and notification of intrusions
  • Reaction: Implementing incident response plans similar to those for other disaster recovery scenarios

They’ll build security into their digital ecosystems at three levels:

  1. Secure products. Security in all applications to protect data and transactions
  2. Secure operations. Hardened systems, patch management, security monitoring, end-to-end incident handling, and a comprehensive cloud-operations security framework
  3. Secure companies. A security-aware workforce, end-to-end physical security, and a thorough business continuity framework

Against Digital Armageddon

Experts warn that the worst-case scenario is a state of perpetual cybercrime and cyber warfare, vulnerable critical infrastructure, and trillions of dollars in losses. A collaborative approach will be critical to combatting this persistent global threat with implications not just for corporate and personal data but also strategy, supply chains, products, and physical operations.


Download the executive brief The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.


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To Get Past Blockchain Hype, We Must Think Differently

Susan Galer

Blockchain hype is reaching fever pitch, making it the perfect time to separate market noise from valid signals. As part of my ongoing conversations about blockchain, I reached out to several experts to find out where companies should consider going from here. Raimund Gross, Solution Architect and Futurist at SAP, acknowledged the challenges of understanding and applying such a complex leading-edge technology as blockchain.

“The people who really get it today are those able to put the hype in perspective with what’s realistically doable in the near future, and what’s unlikely to become a reality any time soon, if ever,” Gross said. “You need to commit the resources and find the right partners to lay the groundwork for success.”

Gross told me one of the biggest problems with blockchain – besides the unproven technology itself – was the mindset shift it demands. “Many people aren’t thinking about decentralized architectures with peer-to-peer networks and mash-ups, which is what blockchain is all about. People struggle because often discussions end up with a centralized approach based on past constructs. It will take training and experience to think decentrally.”

Here are several more perspectives on blockchain beyond the screaming headlines.

How blockchain disrupts insurance, banking

Blockchain has the potential to dramatically disrupt industries because the distributed ledger embeds automatic trust across processes. This changes the role of longstanding intermediaries like insurance companies and banks, essentially restructuring business models for entire industries.

“With the distributed ledger, all of the trusted intelligence related to insuring the risk resides in the cloud, providing everyone with access to the same information,” said Nadine Hoffmann, global solution manager for Innovation at SAP Financial Services. “Payment is automatically triggered when the agreed-upon risk scenario occurs. There are limitations given regulations, but blockchain can open up new services opportunities for established insurers, fintech startups, and even consumer-to-consumer offerings.”

Banks face a similar digitalized transformation. Long built on layers of steps to mitigate risk, blockchain offers the banking industry a network of built-in trust to improve efficiencies along with the customer experience in areas such as cross-border payments, trade settlements for assets, and other contractual and payment processes. What used to take days or even months could be completed in hours.

Finance departments evolve

Another group keenly watching blockchain developments are CFOs. Just as Uber and Airbnb have disrupted transportation and hospitality, blockchain has the potential to change not only the finance department — everything from audits and customs documentation to letters of credit and trade finance – but also the entire company.

“The distributed ledger’s capabilities can automate processes in shared service centers, allowing accountants and other employees in finance to speed up record keeping including proof of payment supporting investigations,” said Georg Koester, senior developer, LoB Finance at the Innovation Center Potsdam. “This lowers costs for the company and improves the customer experience.”

Koester said that embedding blockchain capabilities in software company-wide will also have a tremendous impact on product development, lean supply chain management, and other critical areas of the company.

While financial services dominate blockchain conversations right now, Gross named utilities, healthcare, public sector, real estate, and pretty much any industry as prime candidates for blockchain disruption. “Blockchain is specific to certain business scenarios in any industry,” said Gross. “Every organization can benefit from trust and transparency that mitigates risk and optimizes processes.”

Get started today! Run Live with SAP for Banking. Blast past the hype by attending the SAP Next-Gen Boot Camp on Blockchain in Financial Services and Public Sector event being held April 26-27 in Regensdorf, Switzerland.

Follow me on Twitter, SCN Business Trends, or Facebook. Read all of my Forbes articles here.

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