Consumer-Driven Digital Enterprise: The Digital Future Of Consumer Products

Jim Cook

Across industries, there’s a lot of talk about how digital is rewriting the rules of engagement.

We are shown examples of how digital disruption is impacting almost every aspect of businesses – from reinventing business models to transforming business processes. Re-imagining a business platform is almost a requirement in today’s consumer-led and data-driven economy. (You know the businesses that are quoted in every article on digital.)

A key question here, though, is: whether the consumer products industry is indeed facing digital disruption, or does it really need deeper digital innovation? Disruption turns an industry on its head by offering consumers something that previously did not exist, while innovation enhances an existing value proposition – making it better, faster, or cheaper.

It is important to distinguish between the two, because hype often causes businesses to overlook the true value of digital transformation. Companies may presume such radical changes have nothing to do with them, especially if they are already in a dominant market position. So while digital is dramatically changing industries such as retail and healthcare, the disruption in the consumer product industry may not be as severe – not yet anyway. Instead, what consumer products businesses should focus on is how they can transform digitally to gain the capacity to build and grow “live brands.” This is preparation and not protectionism.

Create direct customer experiences: Secure the dominant market position

The digital age has fundamentally shifted customer and consumer expectations. Consumers increasingly value outcomes over products. To build ongoing engagement and loyalty, consumer products companies need to sense and engage consumers and customers in the moment, i.e. build “live brands” by seamlessly delivering highly personalized experiences – anytime, anywhere.

This ability to create direct customer experiences helps consumer products companies create a sharper competitive edge to secure dominant market positions. Leading consumer products companies know this well.

Red Bull sets a fine example in creating direct customer experiences to protect and strengthen its brand. Today, it has moved beyond a beverage company into a content media company spanning web, social, film, print, music, and TV – creating brand experiences of exhilaration and adventure. Red Bull collects data from every touch point that it has with the consumer, building an enhanced profile of every individual so that it can respond with products that consumers desire – whenever and how they want them.

Procter & Gamble recently launched an online, direct-to-consumer subscription business for its Tide Pods (its highest-priced laundry detergent). The service (currently only available in Atlanta), branded Tide On Demand, offers free shipping of Tide Pods at regular intervals. P&G has also been testing its delivery laundry service – Tide Spin – in Chicago. While the direct-to-consumer services may not form a bulk of its revenue, they allow P&G to quickly build a live understanding of its customers, their preferences and habits, and then hone in on these insights to create new offerings that customers want.

Build a real-time supply chain: Support lasting customer loyalty

As consumer products companies move towards sensing and engaging customers in the moment, they also need to ensure a fast and profitable response to dynamic demand.

This necessitates connecting customer insights that brand owners have collated and analyzed with supply chain insights to accelerate time to market. Ultimately, it is about transforming previously linear supply chains into customer-centric demand networks – where demand information is captured through new signals from various sources (such as retailers, wholesalers, sites like Amazon, directly from customers, or the Internet of Things) and fulfilled through the orchestration of a network of internal and external partners.

With that, consumer product companies can start getting answers to questions such as:

  • What are my short-, mid-, and long-term views of expected demand across channels?
  • How can I combine supply chain planning with strategic, financial, sales, and operational goals?
  • How can I extend planning by collaborating with customers, partners, and suppliers?
  • How can the company translate the plan into actionable targets for fulfillment systems?

All these should go full circle to help make manufacturing more responsive, optimizing capacity to help ensure availability of finished goods produced just-in-time to meet demand, thereby also lowering inventory costs.

Consumer products companies need to consider how they can create the digital future today. We invite you to learn more about digital transformation for the consumer products industry, where you will get access to valuable resources including whitepapers and customer case studies.


Jim Cook

About Jim Cook

Jim Cook is the Vice President and Industries and Digital Leader (South East Asia) at SAP. With over 20 years’ experience of IT and business consulting, he has held various roles such as solution architect, project and program management, business development and manager of an SAP partner organisation. Jim is passionate about transformation within consumer driven organizations and is particularly interested in customer engagement solutions and the value that can be achieved from end-to-end SAP solution deployments.

How Is Digital Economy Growth Driving Utility Demand?

James McClelland

Part 10 of the “Intelligent ERP-Driven Industries” series

The United Nations projects that the world’s population will reach 9.8 billion by the year 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. Though our world is far from a humanitarian utopia, much of the Third World is developing. The digital economy is growing in ways that were never imagined. One area that impact is being felt is in utility demand.

Countries develop and economies improve. Some experts believe utility demand will double or triple by 2050. Vehicles and mass transit add to this load as electric transportation becomes more popular. How do utilities keep up with this level of demand in a way that is sustainable for our rapidly rising population?

Digital economy growth drives utility demand

As population and income rise, the digital economy grows. When households have more money to spend, utility demand increases. These two concepts are basic to anyone who has studied developing economies. But the increase in demand doesn’t mean a return to smog and pollution.

Deregulation, carbon sequestration, and decentralized production are changing how power is produced. Clean water is finally being seen as a finite resource to be protected. A stronger global focus on sustainability is changing the utility industry. This is happening even as demand increases.

The impact of disruption

Disruption is changing how people work. According to one estimate, telecommuting increased by 79% from 2005 to 2012. New business models are contributing to that change. It’s now possible to hire a virtual assistant from Malaysia and a researcher from South Africa from the comfort of a home office. The future office building may be one that doesn’t exist. How will that impact traffic and transit patterns? What will it do to the traditional urban utility grid?

Disruption is making new companies big and traditional companies obsolete. Failing to adapt to this new reality can have a serious impact on industry leaders. The focus on sustainable development is changing whether customers use utilities at all. New wind, solar, water, and power storage technologies are driving much of this change.

How do existing utilities meet these challenges? New business models can help existing companies find new revenue sources. Smart building services, load balancing, and supply innovations can be part of this process. Combining operations and information technology allow businesses to optimize business processes.

Industry and global collaboration is key

Collaboration is another aspect of digitization that is driving new energy trends. A new utility business can be both a competitor and a partner. Previously unrelated industries are collaborating to improve energy production, delivery, and efficiency. A great example of this is the collaboration of telecoms with utility-meter manufacturers to develop smart meters.

How have these meters impacted the industry? Water meters can now detect and measure low-flow levels that were unheard of in the past. Home and business owners can monitor electricity usage in real time and adjust utilization accordingly. Sudden changes catch water leaks before they become serious problems. Utility workers can focus on improving other areas of infrastructure instead of reading meters.

Automotive newcomer Tesla made waves with its Powerwall home energy storage system. Paired with solar panels or another charging source, it provides the option of going completely off-grid. It’s gained enough attention for existing manufacturers to get into the game. Mercedes, Nissan, and BMW have now launched their own home battery systems.

Focus on the customer

Another aspect of digitization is the shift to a customer-centric approach. As demand increases, customers still want fully functional appliances, tech, and amenities in their homes and places of business. But at the same time, they want environmentally sound development of products, water, and power. How can those demands be met in a sustainable fashion?

Imagine this scenario: A family lives in a high-rise development. Natural lighting through fiberoptics and windows with coatings that reflect heat help reduce their daily energy usage. Telecommuting means they may not own a car or deal with public transportation very often.

To meet their daily needs, they may have groceries delivered or shop online for clothing. This requires strong communications and delivery structures. Their appliances and electronics use cutting-edge technology. Smart-energy design helps reduce the electrical load on the grid.

Solar window frames and parking shades generate power. Smart-energy networks offer better rates during times of peak production, lowering the impact on the grid when these production assets go offline as the sun sets. New power storage options allow vehicle owners to provide stored vehicle power to the grid overnight while charging quickly in the morning.

Focusing on changing trends in population and demand growth enables existing utilities and manufacturers to compete in the digital market. Although most executives recognize the importance of digitization, most companies don’t yet have a solid strategy to get there.

Learn how to innovate at scale by incorporating individual innovations back to the core business to drive tangible business value by reading “Accelerating Digital Transformation in Utilities.”


From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


Bernard Chung

About Bernard Chung

Bernard Chung is Head of Audience Marketing for Marketing Line of Business at SAP Hybris.

From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


Vaag Durgaryan

About Vaag Durgaryan

Vaag Durgaryan is the commercial finance director for SAP in the Middle East and North Africa, which comprises of over 20 countries. Starting in 2017, he oversees a multinational team that provides finance expertise, knowledge, and strategy outlook for finance sales support in the region. Prior to that, Vaag was chief of staff for the CFO for SAP Global Field Finance and co-drove global transformation initiatives with focus on process simplification and people enablement. He holds an Executive MBA degree from ESSEC Business School and Mannheim Business School. Vaag has a passion in digitalization and learning culture.

From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


Dilip Khandelwal

About Dilip Khandelwal

Dilip is the President of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (SAP HEC) and the Managing Director of SAP Labs India. In addition, he heads the Enterprise Cloud Services department. His global team ensures that SAP solutions run best in the Cloud, on-premise and in hybrid landscapes. He is a member of the SAP Global Executive Team reporting into the Executive Board. Dilip was recognized by The Economic Times as a ’40 under 40’ leader, India’s prestigious award for the top young business leaders.

From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


Sven Denecken

About Sven Denecken

Sven Denecken is Senior Vice President, Product Management and Co-Innovation of SAP S/4HANA, at SAP. His experience working with customers and partners for decades and networking with the SAP field organization and industry analysts allows him to bring client issues and challenges directly into the solution development process, ensuring that next-generation software solutions address customer requirements to focus on business outcome and help customers gain competitive advantage. Connect with Sven on Twitter @SDenecken or e-mail at sven.denecken@sap.com.

From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


Miranda LaBate

About Miranda LaBate

iranda LaBate is an aspiring marketer with an affinity for technology, blogging, and social media. The 2018 graduate of Drexel University supports the Automotive Business Unit in creating excitement and awareness around disruptive technologies molding the future of the automotive industry. Connect with Miranda on Twitter or LinkedIn.

From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


Barry Mitchell

About Barry Mitchell

Barry Mitchell is the Global Offering Leader for IBM’s Automation Production and Automation As A Service offerings, as part of the IBM Automation service line within IBM Global Business Services. In this role, he is leading the development and deployment of automation services and solutions that help clients transform to a digital enterprise and establish a digital workforce for the future. With over 25 years of experience in enterprise IT, Mr. Mitchell focuses on leveraging automation and AI to continually reinvent and transform business and IT processes.

From High Street To High-Speed – Banking In The Digital Age

Nicole Kealey

banking in the digital ageLast week, looking at the changes that will characterise 2013 for retail banks, I stressed the importance of the customer view.

Retail banking customers generate data every time they interact with their banks, and banks can take – or miss – the opportunity to weave that data into a cohesive picture.

The digital age has brought massively more customer interaction, but it has also changed the character of that interaction. This makes banking in the digital age very different from anything we have seen before. The retail sector highlights the dangers of failing to go with the digital flow – the 21st century has seen giants of high street retail, among them Blockbuster, Borders, Woolworths and HMV, struggle to adapt.

Mobility is rightly identified as a key element in the transition to digital services. But in the digital age, we interact more often with our banks through multiple channels. For many customers in mature markets, the days of regular branch visits are gone. A customer may not see the inside of a branch for months – or even years – while interacting with the bank every day digitally.

What’s more, the percentage of customers planning to switch banks grew in 2012 from 7% to 12% worldwide.[1] Customers are using digital channels not only for banking, but to compare banking services, and look for alternatives. As such, the ability to understand, anticipate and offer what customers want is key to success in the digital world.

The demands of digital

To be effective, digital demands versatility. Contact may be by Internet chat or email, in a full-featured desktop browser or a dedicated mobile app. All those streams and more need to flow together. Banks comfortable with segments and silos will need to adjust fast to an age where every input needs to be equal.

Standard Bank, with representation in 39 countries, has integrated 20 million customer records across 41 internal systems – now it knows its customers, and can build for them and market to them more effectively.

Digital demands speed: customers expect to be able to access information and services immediately through digital channels. But those channels need to be able not just to fulfil their requests in real time but also respond to them appropriately before the end of their session.

Because digital demands personalisation – which means that customer service and customer retention are intimately connected to data management.

Digital excellence has many benefits – successful digital strategy could shrink branch footprints by 30% without compromising quality of service[2] – but the customer is the ultimate measure of its success or failure.

[1] Source: Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012

[2] Source: The Digital Challenge to Retail Banks, Bain & Co.


Mala Anand

About Mala Anand

Mala Anand is the President of Analytics at SAP, leading the end-to-end business including go-to-market, product development and strategy. With her primary focus on product development, market acceleration and adoption in one of SAP’s core innovation areas, Mala develops and executes strategy across all markets and ensures operational excellence within the global GTM and product development teams. The core focus of the SAP Analytics business encompasses business intelligence with embedded predictive and machine learning innovations across large data sets. Formerly, Mala led the Data & Analytics | Automation Software Platforms business at Cisco Systems with a focus on innovative solutions to aggregate and analyze today’s hyper-distributed and real-time streaming data. With over 20 years of experience as a senior software executive, Mala places a deep focus on delivering innovative solutions to the market that help customers develop informed, timely insights to establish new modes of engaging their workforce and customers.

The Human Angle

By Jenny Dearborn, David Judge, Tom Raftery, and Neal Ungerleider

In a future teeming with robots and artificial intelligence, humans seem to be on the verge of being crowded out. But in reality the opposite is true.

To be successful, organizations need to become more human than ever.

Organizations that focus only on automation will automate away their competitive edge. The most successful will focus instead on skills that set them apart and that can’t be duplicated by AI or machine learning. Those skills can be summed up in one word: humanness.

You can see it in the numbers. According to David J. Deming of the Harvard Kennedy School, demand for jobs that require social skills has risen nearly 12 percentage points since 1980, while less-social jobs, such as computer coding, have declined by a little over 3 percentage points.

AI is in its infancy, which means that it cannot yet come close to duplicating our most human skills. Stefan van Duin and Naser Bakhshi, consultants at professional services company Deloitte, break down artificial intelligence into two types: narrow and general. Narrow AI is good at specific tasks, such as playing chess or identifying facial expressions. General AI, which can learn and solve complex, multifaceted problems the way a human being does, exists today only in the minds of futurists.

The only thing narrow artificial intelligence can do is automate. It can’t empathize. It can’t collaborate. It can’t innovate. Those abilities, if they ever come, are still a long way off. In the meantime, AI’s biggest value is in augmentation. When human beings work with AI tools, the process results in a sort of augmented intelligence. This augmented intelligence outperforms the work of either human beings or AI software tools on their own.

AI-powered tools will be the partners that free employees and management to tackle higher-level challenges.

Those challenges will, by default, be more human and social in nature because many rote, repetitive tasks will be automated away. Companies will find that developing fundamental human skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, within the organization will take on a new importance. These skills can’t be automated and they won’t become process steps for algorithms anytime soon.

In a world where technology change is constant and unpredictable, those organizations that make the fullest use of uniquely human skills will win. These skills will be used in collaboration with both other humans and AI-fueled software and hardware tools. The degree of humanness an organization possesses will become a competitive advantage.

This means that today’s companies must think about hiring, training, and leading differently. Most of today’s corporate training programs focus on imparting specific knowledge that will likely become obsolete over time.

Instead of hiring for portfolios of specific subject knowledge, organizations should instead hire—and train—for more foundational skills, whose value can’t erode away as easily.

Recently, educational consulting firm Hanover Research looked at high-growth occupations identified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and determined the core skills required in each of them based on a database that it had developed. The most valuable skills were active listening, speaking, and critical thinking—giving lie to the dismissive term soft skills. They’re not soft; they’re human.


This doesn’t mean that STEM skills won’t be important in the future. But organizations will find that their most valuable employees are those with both math and social skills.

That’s because technical skills will become more perishable as AI shifts the pace of technology change from linear to exponential. Employees will require constant retraining over time. For example, roughly half of the subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree, such as computer science, is already outdated by the time students graduate, according to The Future of Jobs, a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF’s report further notes that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist.” By contrast, human skills such as interpersonal communication and project management will remain consistent over the years.

For example, organizations already report that they are having difficulty finding people equipped for the Big Data era’s hot job: data scientist. That’s because data scientists need a combination of hard and soft skills. Data scientists can’t just be good programmers and statisticians; they also need to be intuitive and inquisitive and have good communication skills. We don’t expect all these qualities from our engineering graduates, nor from most of our employees.

But we need to start.

From Self-Help to Self-Skills

Even if most schools and employers have yet to see it, employees are starting to understand that their future viability depends on improving their innately human qualities. One of the most popular courses on Coursera, an online learning platform, is called Learning How to Learn. Created by the University of California, San Diego, the course is essentially a master class in human skills: students learn everything from memory techniques to dealing with procrastination and communicating complicated ideas, according to an article in The New York Times.

Attempting to teach employees how to make behavioral changes has always seemed off-limits to organizations—the province of private therapists, not corporate trainers. But that outlook is changing.

Although there is a longstanding assumption that social skills are innate, nothing is further from the truth. As the popularity of Learning How to Learn attests, human skills—everything from learning skills to communication skills to empathy—can, and indeed must, be taught.

These human skills are integral for training workers for a workplace where artificial intelligence and automation are part of the daily routine. According to the WEF’s New Vision for Education report, the skills that employees will need in the future fall into three primary categories:

  • Foundational literacies: These core skills needed for the coming age of robotics and AI include understanding the basics of math, science, computing, finance, civics, and culture. While mastery of every topic isn’t required, workers who have a basic comprehension of many different areas will be richly rewarded in the coming economy.
  • Competencies: Developing competencies requires mastering very human skills, such as active listening, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration.
  • Character qualities: Over the next decade, employees will need to master the skills that will help them grasp changing job duties and responsibilities. This means learning the skills that help employees acquire curiosity, initiative, persistence, grit, adaptability, leadership, and social and cultural awareness.


The good news is that learning human skills is not completely divorced from how work is structured today. Yonatan Zunger, a Google engineer with a background working with AI, argues that there is a considerable need for human skills in the workplace already—especially in the tech world. Many employees are simply unaware that when they are working on complicated software or hardware projects, they are using empathy, strategic problem solving, intuition, and interpersonal communication.

The unconscious deployment of human skills takes place even more frequently when employees climb the corporate ladder into management. “This is closely tied to the deeper difference between junior and senior roles: a junior person’s job is to find answers to questions; a senior person’s job is to find the right questions to ask,” says Zunger.

Human skills will be crucial to navigating the AI-infused workplace. There will be no shortage of need for the right questions to ask.

One of the biggest changes narrow AI tools will bring to the workplace is an evolution in how work is performed. AI-based tools will automate repetitive tasks across a wide swath of industries, which means that the day-to-day work for many white-collar workers will become far more focused on tasks requiring problem solving and critical thinking. These tasks will present challenges centered on interpersonal collaboration, clear communication, and autonomous decision-making—all human skills.

Being More Human Is Hard

However, the human skills that are essential for tomorrow’s AI-ified workplace, such as interpersonal communication, project planning, and conflict management, require a different approach from traditional learning. Often, these skills don’t just require people to learn new facts and techniques; they also call for basic changes in the ways individuals behave on—and off—the job.

Attempting to teach employees how to make behavioral changes has always seemed off-limits to organizations—the province of private therapists, not corporate trainers. But that outlook is changing. As science gains a better understanding of how the human brain works, many behaviors that affect employees on the job are understood to be universal and natural rather than individual (see “Human Skills 101”).

Human Skills 101

As neuroscience has improved our understanding of the brain, human skills have become increasingly quantifiable—and teachable.

Though the term soft skills has managed to hang on in the popular lexicon, our understanding of these human skills has increased to the point where they aren’t soft at all: they are a clearly definable set of skills that are crucial for organizations in the AI era.

Active listening: Paying close attention when receiving information and drawing out more information than received in normal discourse

Critical thinking: Gathering, analyzing, and evaluating issues and information to come to an unbiased conclusion

Problem solving: Finding solutions to problems and understanding the steps used to solve the problem

Decision-making: Weighing the evidence and options at hand to determine a specific course of action

Monitoring: Paying close attention to an issue, topic, or interaction in order to retain information for the future

Coordination: Working with individuals and other groups to achieve common goals

Social perceptiveness: Inferring what others are thinking by observing them

Time management: Budgeting and allocating time for projects and goals and structuring schedules to minimize conflicts and maximize productivity

Creativity: Generating ideas, concepts, or inferences that can be used to create new things

Curiosity: Desiring to learn and understand new or unfamiliar concepts

Imagination: Conceiving and thinking about new ideas, concepts, or images

Storytelling: Building narratives and concepts out of both new and existing ideas

Experimentation: Trying out new ideas, theories, and activities

Ethics: Practicing rules and standards that guide conduct and guarantee rights and fairness

Empathy: Identifying and understanding the emotional states of others

Collaboration: Working with others, coordinating efforts, and sharing resources to accomplish a common project

Resiliency: Withstanding setbacks, avoiding discouragement, and persisting toward a larger goal

Resistance to change, for example, is now known to result from an involuntary chemical reaction in the brain known as the fight-or-flight response, not from a weakness of character. Scientists and psychologists have developed objective ways of identifying these kinds of behaviors and have come up with universally applicable ways for employees to learn how to deal with them.

Organizations that emphasize such individual behavioral traits as active listening, social perceptiveness, and experimentation will have both an easier transition to a workplace that uses AI tools and more success operating in it.

Framing behavioral training in ways that emphasize its practical application at work and in advancing career goals helps employees feel more comfortable confronting behavioral roadblocks without feeling bad about themselves or stigmatized by others. It also helps organizations see the potential ROI of investing in what has traditionally been dismissed as touchy-feely stuff.

In fact, offering objective means for examining inner behaviors and tools for modifying them is more beneficial than just leaving the job to employees. For example, according to research by psychologist Tasha Eurich, introspection, which is how most of us try to understand our behaviors, can actually be counterproductive.

Human beings are complex creatures. There is generally way too much going on inside our minds to be able to pinpoint the conscious and unconscious behaviors that drive us to act the way we do. We wind up inventing explanations—usually negative—for our behaviors, which can lead to anxiety and depression, according to Eurich’s research.

Structured, objective training can help employees improve their human skills without the negative side effects. At SAP, for example, we offer employees a course on conflict resolution that uses objective research techniques for determining what happens when people get into conflicts. Employees learn about the different conflict styles that researchers have identified and take an assessment to determine their own style of dealing with conflict. Then employees work in teams to discuss their different styles and work together to resolve a specific conflict that one of the group members is currently experiencing.

How Knowing One’s Self Helps the Organization

Courses like this are helpful not just for reducing conflicts between individuals and among teams (and improving organizational productivity); they also contribute to greater self-awareness, which is the basis for enabling people to take fullest advantage of their human skills.

Self-awareness is a powerful tool for improving performance at both the individual and organizational levels. Self-aware people are more confident and creative, make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. They are also less likely to lie, cheat, and steal, according to Eurich.

It naturally follows that such people make better employees and are more likely to be promoted. They also make more effective leaders with happier employees, which makes the organization more profitable, according to research by Atuma Okpara and Agwu M. Edwin.

There are two types of self-awareness, writes Eurich. One is having a clear view inside of one’s self: one’s own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. The second type is understanding how others view us in terms of these same categories.

Interestingly, while we often assume that those who possess one type of awareness also possess the other, there is no direct correlation between the two. In fact, just 10% to 15% of people have both, according to a survey by Eurich. That means that the vast majority of us must learn one or the other—or both.

Gaining self-awareness is a process that can take many years. But training that gives employees the opportunity to examine their own behaviors against objective standards and gain feedback from expert instructors and peers can help speed up the journey. Just like the conflict management course, there are many ways to do this in a practical context that benefits employees and the organization alike.

For example, SAP also offers courses on building self-confidence, increasing trust with peers, creating connections with others, solving complex problems, and increasing resiliency in the face of difficult situations—all of which increase self-awareness in constructive ways. These human-skills courses are as popular with our employees as the hard-skill courses in new technologies or new programming techniques.

Depending on an organization’s size, budget, and goals, learning programs like these can include small group training, large lectures, online courses, licensing of third-party online content, reimbursement for students to attain certification, and many other models.

Human Skills Are the Constant

Automation and artificial intelligence will change the workplace in unpredictable ways. One thing we can predict, however, is that human skills will be needed more than ever.

The connection between conflict resolution skills, critical thinking courses, and the rise of AI-aided technology might not be immediately obvious. But these new AI tools are leading us down the path to a much more human workplace.

Employees will interact with their computers through voice conversations and image recognition. Machine learning will find unexpected correlations in massive amounts of data but empathy and creativity will be required for data scientists to figure out the right questions to ask. Interpersonal communication will become even more important as teams coordinate between offices, remote workplaces, and AI aides.

While the future might be filled with artificial intelligence, deep learning, and untold amounts of data, uniquely human capabilities will be the ones that matter. Machines can’t write a symphony, design a building, teach a college course, or manage a department. The future belongs to humans working with machines, and for that, you need human skills. D!


About the Authors

Jenny Dearborn is Chief Learning Officer at SAP.

David Judge is Vice President, SAP Leonardo, at SAP.

Tom Raftery is Global Vice President and Internet of Things Evangelist at SAP.

Neal Ungerleider is a Los Angeles-based technology journalist and consultant.

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

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HR In The Age Of Digital Transformation

Neha Makkar Patnaik

HR has come a long way from the days of being called Personnel Management. It’s now known as People & Culture, Employee Experience, or simply People, and the changes in the last few years have been especially far-reaching, to say the least; seismic even.

While focused until recently on topics like efficiency and direct access to HR data and services for individual employees, a new and expanded HR transformation is underway, led by employee experience, cloud capabilities including mobile and continuous upgrades, a renewed focus on talent, as well as the availability of new digital technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. These capabilities are enabling HR re-imagine new ways of delivering HR services and strategies throughout the organization. For example:

  • Use advanced prediction and optimization technologies to shift focus from time-consuming candidate-screening processes to innovative HR strategies and business models that support growth
  • Help employees with tailored career paths, push personalized learning recommendations, suggest mentors and mentees based on skills and competencies
  • Predict flight risk of employees and prescribe mitigation strategies for at-risk talent
  • Leverage intelligent management of high-volume, rules-based events with predictions and recommendations

Whereas the traditional view of HR transformation was all about doing existing things better, the next generation of HR transformation is focused on doing completely new things.

These new digital aspects of HR transformation do not replace the existing focus on automation and efficiency. They work hand in hand and, in many cases, digital technologies can further augment automation. Digital approaches are becoming increasingly important, and a digital HR strategy must be a key component of HR’s overall strategy and, therefore, the business strategy.

For years, HR had been working behind a wall, finally got a seat at the table, and now it’s imperative for CHROs to be a strategic partner in the organization’s digital journey. This is what McKinsey calls “Leading with the G-3” in An Agenda for the Talent-First CEO, in which the CEO, CFO, and CHRO (i.e., the “G-3”) ensure HR and finance work in tandem, with the CEO being the linchpin and the person who ensures the talent agenda is threaded into business decisions and not a passive response or afterthought.

However, technology and executive alignment aren’t enough to drive a company’s digital transformation. At the heart of every organization are its people – its most expensive and valuable asset. Keeping them engaged and motivated fosters an innovation culture that is essential for success. This Gallup study reveals that a whopping 85% of employees worldwide are performing below their potential due to engagement issues.

HR experiences that are based on consumer-grade digital experiences along with a focus on the employee’s personal and professional well-being will help engage every worker, inspiring them to do their best and helping them turn every organization’s purpose into performance. Because, we believe, purpose drives people and people drive business results.

Embark on your HR transformation journey

Has your HR organization created a roadmap to support the transformation agenda? Start a discussion with your team about the current and desired state of HR processes using the framework with this white paper.

Also, read SAP’s HR transformation story within the broader context of SAP’s own transformation.


Neha Makkar Patnaik

About Neha Makkar Patnaik

Neha Makkar Patnaik is a principal consultant at SAP Labs India. As part of the Digital Transformation Office, Neha is responsible for articulating the value proposition for digitizing the office of the CHRO in alignment with the overall strategic priorities of the organization. She also focuses on thought leadership and value-based selling programs for retail and consumer products industries.