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Live Product Innovation, Part 1: The Role Of In-Memory Computing

John McNiff

In Part 1 of this series, we look at how in-memory computing affects live product innovation. In Part 2, we’ll explore the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data.

In our previous series, we examined key drivers changing the way we use product data throughout the enterprise. Digitalization of customer experience, distributed manufacturing and engineering, and IoT and networked processes are transforming business processes and models. The proliferation of data – and the commoditization of technology to capture, store, share, analyze, predict, and learn from data – are enabling “live” product lifecycle management (PLM).

As a result, product data can no longer reside only in engineering systems. Instead, it must synchronize with and facilitate physical and digital twins throughout the product lifecycle. Ultimately, it must extend beyond PLM to manufacturing, cost management, order fulfillment, and service delivery. Likewise, the R&D process must leverage input from manufacturing, customer service, market trends, and more.

What makes this live product innovation possible? The answer is in-memory computing. Or I should say, the right in-memory computing, because not all in-memory platforms are created equal.

Greater volumes, greater speed

Described simply, in-memory computing processes data while the data resides in memory. This allows for orders-of-magnitude faster analysis of vast data volumes. But to extend PLM beyond R&D and engineering, in-memory platforms also must allow:

  • Real-time data access across enterprise domains, with no locking
  • Analytics directly on line-item-level data, without the need to extract to data warehouses
  • A massive reduction of data footprint – typically up to a factor of 10
  • Simplified coding through the removal of database aggregates

With these capabilities, data sets previously segmented because of volume and performance concerns can be left intact. That means data from manufacturing, maintenance, warranty, service, finance, CRM, and marketing can potentially be deployed in one architecture and analyzed in real time across functions.

It also means R&D and engineering can access previously untapped information sources in real time to support product decisions. They can achieve this without the need to pre-aggregate and assemble huge data warehouses, at least for relevant business data.

Other capabilities of an effective in-memory platform include:

  • Tight connection of manufacturing, supply chain, maintenance, and service data and processes
  • An open integration framework for cross-discipline authoring tools
  • The ability of 3D models to be part of the user interface (UI) across enterprise processes
  • The ability to manage complex integrations of CAD and authoring tools

Thanks for the in-memory

What are some outcomes of these capabilities? Product cost is increasingly important to understand early, because it dictates the profitability of a service-based contract. By leveraging the simulation and predictive capabilities of an effective in-memory platform – and by integrating business data from an EP environment – engineering can understand, simulate, and predict variations in design costs based on materials, routes, suppliers, and production techniques. It can achieve this in real time, either before the product is launched or during product redesign.

For project and program management, simulating the effect of a design initiative on an existing fleet of assets allows much better understanding of the impact on new and existing projects and programs. Will a new project delay a critical stage gate? Will a seemingly minor change in resource allocation require more labor at higher cost? These factors can significantly alter cost projections across a portfolio.

Finally, understanding system reliability in the field, as well as product quality throughout the manufacturing process, allows designers to correlate data from materials, suppliers, producers, and processes. It was extremely cumbersome to do this in the past.

All this might sound like powered-up analytics, and to some extent it is. But if you add integration of PLM, ERP, CRM, supplier relationship management (SRM), and enterprise asset management (EAM), you gain an incredible ability to rapidly move from insight to action. A common platform allows far more agile management of interactions across silos. And simplification of user interactions and the underlying data model allows massively accelerated process modifications, as well as solution development and extension.

Come to SAPPHIRE NOW 2017 in Orlando, Florida from May 16 – 18th, 2017, and check out my session “Boost Visibility into Operations for Connected Products with SAP Leonardo” on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 from 1-1:40 p.m. in Business Application BA324, or check out our R&D sessions.

Follow the conversation on @SCMatSAP and #SAPPHIRENOW.

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John McNiff

About John McNiff

John McNiff is the Vice President of Solution Management for the R&D/Engineering line-of-business business unit at SAP. John has held a number of sales and business development roles at SAP, focused on the manufacturing and engineering topics.

Blockchain Brings Trust To Supply Chains In Every Industry

Susan Galer

The emergence of blockchain technology couldn’t be more fortuitous for the 130-year old diamond industry, much of which is still powered by scraps of paper, a gentlemen’s handshake, and the promise to pay. But higher-quality synthetic stones are rampant and harder to detect, while hackers have breached certificate repositories, increasing the risk of fraud from fake, stolen or conflict zone diamonds.

This was the backdrop of an announced partnership between SAP Ariba and Everledger to explore blockchain initiatives that will help reduce risk and fraud for banks, insurers and open marketplaces, including the diamond industry. I listened to executives from both companies explain the partnership during an insightful roundtable at the recent SAP Ariba Live 2017 event.

“The ultimate beneficiary of our technology is the consumer,” said Leanne Kemp, CEO at Everledger. “Using the distributed ledger, people will know where their diamonds came from, if they’ve been rightfully traded, and if it’s a true diamond or a synthetic stone.”

Know your asset’s provenance

“We want to bring transparency to a worldwide business network that’s been fairly opaque ─ 81 countries are involved in the international diamond trade,” said Kemp. “The world is at a point where we can apply the worldwide ledger to mother earth’s assets, meaning diamonds. We have the ability to know and track an object through its provenance chain, enabling proof of its associated certification as well as compliance with duties and taxes.”According to Kemp, her fast-growing London-based startup has transacted over one million diamonds in its blockchain, and is expanding to cover other valuable assets such as wine and art.

New level of procurement trust

Blockchain has the potential to improve visibility into contracts between buyers and sellers for faster business with better outcomes for both parties in many industries. “If you can track and trace diamonds, you can track and trace anything,” said Joe Fox, vice president of Business Development and Strategy at SAP Ariba. “It makes sense for us to team up with Everledger, and apply the same chain framework around all goods for our customers.

Fox believes blockchain will transform procurement with a new trust protocol as applications are layered onto a cloud-based, tamper-proof network, driving more innovations. It will also help buyers gain greater trust in suppliers via third party verification across the supply chain.

“Blockchain brings trusted commerce,” said Fox. “We’re adding blockchain to the application layer so that we can build enhancements to existing applications and new chain-based applications using Hyperledger that we hadn’t even considered before like smart purchase orders and smart invoices. Blockchain is a business structure accessible everywhere sitting on the internet, and that’s what companies have been waiting for from a business enterprise software perspective.”

Opportunity in disintermediation

Getting diamonds onto the blockchain with a digital representation is just the beginning of market transformation. While blockchain allows international payments in minutes, potentially disintermediating banks, Fox said those institutions will shift to a more important, long-time role, providing trust between parties exchanging funds. Only now those transactions are based on matching the digital to the physical relative to currency and assets. “The quality of the chain is based on how well it’s designed for inheriting external trust,” he said.

It may be hard for seasoned diamond traders to imagine a world without bits of paper and their word alone, but trust us, it’s coming.

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

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BlockShow Europe 2017: A Look At Top Use Cases For Blockchain Technology

Jacqueline Prause

With people now looking beyond the banking industry for promising use cases built on blockchain technology, BlockShow Europe 2017 could not have come at a better time.

Held April 6-7 at the Alte Kongresshalle in Munich, Germany, the event attracted more than 560 people and featured 26 speakers, making it the largest international blockchain event in Europe to date. Organized by Cointelegraph in partnership with Nexussquared and BlockPay, BlockShow Europe provided ample opportunity for networking, knowledge sharing, and education.

The event attracted a mostly young, entrepreneurial crowd, many of whom were already working in established Bitcoin and blockchain startups. Innovation experts from the corporate sector were also on hand, as well as “explorers” who were just getting familiar with the technology. According to Cointelegraph, more than 200 individual networking meetings took place during the event.

Notable and quotable

Moderator Elizabeth Lumely, a leading expert on fintech solutions and managing director of Rainmaking, guided the program in a constructive exchange that offered information useful to both Bitcoin and blockchain people alike. She shared the results of a recent survey by Cointelegraph that asked: What is necessary for blockchain in the enterprise? Fifty-seven percent of respondents answered “security first for Bitcoin,” while 43% answered “smart contract Ethereum.”

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem presented the opening keynote, “The Current State of the Blockchain.” During his address, Shrem, founder of the Bitcoin Foundation and currently responsible for business development for cryptocurrency exchange Changelly, compared blockchain technology with the power of the printing press for its potential to remove corruption, power, and control from the hands of the few and put it back into the hands of the people. Shrem said, “The printing press gave people the ability to publish their own information very cheaply across borders around the world and distribute it in a decentralized way. Bitcoin is the printing press of our time. And blockchain technology is what’s powering that.”

Trust: the decisive factor

Panel discussions took on provocative hot topics like the challenges of blockchain implementation and initial coin offerings (ICOs) of cryptocurrencies. Panel experts agreed that blockchain technology is good for solving issues of trust, which they said seems to be the best measure for evaluating the promise of use cases. The blockchain community, however, is faced with challenges common to new technologies: lack of standardization; fee structure; interoperability between different blockchains; and absence of relevant legislation. One hurdle for new users of the technology may be a willingness to accept full responsibility for their data and use of the technology. As one panelist noted, there is no blockchain help line, for example, in the event that you lose your privacy key.

The banking industry was represented with a keynote from Daniel Drummer, vice president at JP Morgan, describing the blockchain-related projects underway at his company. In another keynote that resonated well with the audience, Milan Sallaba, partner at Deloitte, shared his organization’s insights and advice on how entrepreneurs can move from blockchain use cases to scalable production.

Use cases showcase breadth of new technology

Throughout the day, startups took to the main stage to present their blockchain use cases and business models. Here is a sampling of just a few.

  • Energy: The aim of SolarChange is to incentivize people and even developing nations to produce solar energy and sell it back into the grid. The blockchain billing mechanism allows people to track how much energy they are feeding into the grid.
  • Content distribution: DECENT provides a peer-to-peer content distribution network, without the absorbent fees associated with traditional publishing houses. Content on the network includes books, blogs, music, and video provided directly from the artist or author. DECENT’s Caesar testnet launched in March, and it plans to launch its mainnet in June.
  • Supply chain: Kouvala Innovation Oy, based in Finland, is using blockchain technology to enable an information backbone for the movement of goods Europe-wide – or the “Internet for Logistics” – so that every logistics company on the network can benefit from a new level of transparency into shipping activities. Test results with live data are expected at end of June.
  • Intellectual property: Bernstein.io is using blockchain-based, secured digital certificates to create a trail of record for inventors’ creations. Digital certificates can also be attached to non-disclosure confidentiality agreements to establish the existence of a creation and record who knew of it. Legal acceptance of blockchain certificates is developing rapidly because they provide reliable documentation for clients.
  • Fine art: Verisart is a startup that is using blockchain technology to provide verification of authenticity for fine art.

Blockchain Oscars: more use cases!

The event also featured a Blockchain Oscar Competition to select the most promising startups working with blockchain technology. The winner for “Most Innovative Blockchain Startup” was Etherisc, a German startup specializing in providing a blockchain solution for the insurance industry that uses smart contracts. The prize in this category was €5,000 worth of Bitcoins.  The winner for “Startup with the Biggest Potential for Betterment of Humanity” was SolarChange. The prize in this category was €5,000 worth of tokens from Humaniq, a next-generation bank offering solutions for the unbanked.

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

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Jacqueline Prause

About Jacqueline Prause

Jacqueline Prause is the Senior Managing Editor of Media Channels at SAP. She writes, edits, and coordinates journalistic content for SAP.info, SAP's global online news magazine for customers, partners, and business influencers .

Taking Learning Back to School

Dan Wellers

 

Denmark spends most GDP on labor market programs at 3.3%.
The U.S. spends only 0.1% of it’s GDP on adult education and workforce retraining.
The number of post-secondary vocational and training institutions in China more than doubled from 2000 to 2014.
47% of U.S. jobs are at risk for automation.

Our overarching approach to education is top down, inflexible, and front loaded in life, and does not encourage collaboration.

Smartphone apps that gamify learning or deliver lessons in small bits of free time can be effective tools for teaching. However, they don’t address the more pressing issue that the future is digital and those whose skills are outmoded will be left behind.

Many companies have a history of effective partnerships with local schools to expand their talent pool, but these efforts are not designed to change overall systems of learning.


The Question We Must Answer

What will we do when digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence eject vast numbers of people from their current jobs, and they lack the skills needed to find new ones?

Solutions could include:

  • National and multinational adult education programs
  • Greater investment in technical and vocational schools
  • Increased emphasis on apprenticeships
  • Tax incentives for initiatives proven to close skills gaps

We need a broad, systemic approach that breaks businesses, schools, governments, and other organizations that target adult learners out of their silos so they can work together. Chief learning officers (CLOs) can spearhead this approach by working together to create goals, benchmarks, and strategy.

Advancing the field of learning will help every business compete in an increasingly global economy with a tight market for skills. More than this, it will mitigate the workplace risks and challenges inherent in the digital economy, thus positively influencing the future of business itself.


Download the executive brief Taking Learning Back to School.


Read the full article The Future of Learning – Keeping up With The Digital Economy

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Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is the Global Lead of Digital Futures at SAP, which explores how organizations can anticipate the future impact of exponential technologies. Dan has extensive experience in technology marketing and business strategy, plus management, consulting, and sales.

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Why Millennials Quit: Understanding A New Workforce

Shelly Kramer

Millennials are like mobile devices: they’re everywhere. You can’t visit a coffee shop without encountering both in large numbers. But after all, who doesn’t like a little caffeine with their connectivity? The point is that you should be paying attention to millennials now more than ever because they have surpassed Boomers and Gen-Xers as the largest generation.

Unfortunately for the workforce, they’re also the generation most likely to quit. Let’s examine a new report that sheds some light on exactly why that is—and what you can do to keep millennial employees working for you longer.

New workforce, new values

Deloitte found that two out of three millennials are expected to leave their current jobs by 2020. The survey also found that a staggering one in four would probably move on in the next year alone.

If you’re a business owner, consider putting four of your millennial employees in a room. Take a look around—one of them will be gone next year. Besides their skills and contributions, you’ve also lost time and resources spent by onboarding and training those employees—a very costly process. According to a new report from XYZ University, turnover costs U.S. companies a whopping $30.5 billion annually.

Let’s take a step back and look at this new workforce with new priorities and values.

Everything about millennials is different, from how to market to them as consumers to how you treat them as employees. The catalyst for this shift is the difference in what they value most. Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips and are the most highly educated generation to date. Many have delayed marriage and/or parenthood in favor of pursuing their careers, which aren’t always about having a great paycheck (although that helps). Instead, it may be more that the core values of your business (like sustainability, for example) or its mission are the reasons that millennials stick around at the same job or look for opportunities elsewhere. Consider this: How invested are they in their work? Are they bored? What does their work/life balance look like? Do they have advancement opportunities?

Ping-pong tables and bringing your dog to work might be trendy, but they aren’t the solution to retaining a millennial workforce. So why exactly are they quitting? Let’s take a look at the data.

Millennials’ common reasons for quitting

In order to gain more insight into the problem of millennial turnover, XYZ University surveyed more than 500 respondents between the ages of 21 and 34 years old. There was a good mix of men and women, college grads versus high school grads, and entry-level employees versus managers. We’re all dying to know: Why did they quit? Here are the most popular reasons, some in their own words:

  • Millennials are risk-takers. XYZ University attributes this affection for risk taking with the fact that millennials essentially came of age during the recession. Surveyed millennials reported this experience made them wary of spending decades working at one company only to be potentially laid off.
  • They are focused on education. More than one-third of millennials hold college degrees. Those seeking advanced degrees can find themselves struggling to finish school while holding down a job, necessitating odd hours or more than one part-time gig. As a whole, this generation is entering the job market later, with higher degrees and higher debt.
  • They don’t want just any job—they want one that fits. In an age where both startups and seasoned companies are enjoying success, there is no shortage of job opportunities. As such, they’re often looking for one that suits their identity and their goals, not just the one that comes up first in an online search. Interestingly, job fit is often prioritized over job pay for millennials. Don’t forget, if they have to start their own company, they will—the average age for millennial entrepreneurs is 27.
  • They want skills that make them competitive. Many millennials enjoy the challenge that accompanies competition, so wearing many hats at a position is actually a good thing. One millennial journalist who used to work at Forbes reported that millennials want to learn by “being in the trenches, and doing it alongside the people who do it best.”
  • They want to do something that matters. Millennials have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.
  • They prefer flexibility. Technology today means it’s possible to work from essentially anywhere that has an Internet connection, so many millennials expect at least some level of flexibility when it comes to their employer. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, of course, but millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules. If they have no say in their workday, that’s a red flag.
  • They’ve got skills—and they want to use them. In the words of a 24-year-old designer, millennials “don’t need to print copies all day.” Many have paid (or are in the midst of paying) for their own education, and they’re ready and willing to put it to work. Most would prefer you leave the smaller tasks to the interns.
  • They got a better offer. Thirty-five percent of respondents to XYZ’s survey said they quit a previous job because they received a better opportunity. That makes sense, especially as recruiting is made simpler by technology. (Hello, LinkedIn.)
  • They seek mentors. Millennials are used to being supervised, as many were raised by what have been dubbed as “helicopter parents.” Receiving support from those in charge is the norm, not the anomaly, for this generation, and they expect that in the workplace, too.

Note that it’s not just XYZ University making this final point about the importance of mentoring. Consider Figures 1 and 2 from Deloitte, proving that millennials with worthwhile mentors report high satisfaction rates in other areas, such as personal development. As you can see, this can trickle down into employee satisfaction and ultimately result in higher retention numbers.

Millennials and Mentors
Figure 1. Source: Deloitte


Figure 2. Source: Deloitte

Failure to . . .

No, not communicate—I would say “engage.” On second thought, communication plays a role in that, too. (Who would have thought “Cool Hand Luke” would be applicable to this conversation?)

Data from a recent Gallup poll reiterates that millennials are “job-hoppers,” also pointing out that most of them—71 percent, to be exact—are either not engaged in or are actively disengaged from the workplace. That’s a striking number, but businesses aren’t without hope. That same Gallup poll found that millennials who reported they are engaged at work were 26 percent less likely than their disengaged counterparts to consider switching jobs, even with a raise of up to 20 percent. That’s huge. Furthermore, if the market improves in the next year, those engaged millennial employees are 64 percent less likely to job-hop than those who report feeling actively disengaged.

What’s next?

I’ve covered a lot in this discussion, but here’s what I hope you will take away: Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce, but they’re changing how you should look at hiring, recruiting, and retention as a whole. What matters to millennials matters to your other generations of employees, too. Mentoring, compensation, flexibility, and engagement have always been important, but thanks to the vocal millennial generation, we’re just now learning exactly how much.

What has been your experience with millennials and turnover? Are you a millennial who has recently left a job or are currently looking for a new position? If so, what are you missing from your current employer, and what are you looking for in a prospective one? Alternatively, if you’re reading this from a company perspective, how do you think your organization stacks up in the hearts and minds of your millennial employees? Do you have plans to do anything differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more insight on millennials and the workforce, see Multigenerational Workforce? Collaboration Tech Is The Key To Success.

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