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My Business, My Sleepless Nights

Jennifer Schulze

tired moonlighting employeeCan I afford public or private school for my family? Should we purchase that larger home next year? These are the types of questions small and midsized business owners must ask themselves. The division between personal and professional is often unclear and the business consumes most of their day – and their future. Much is at stake. Given this, what can a business owner do to ease the burden of their worries?

Don’t supersize me – and then charge me for it

In the modern world, a variety of tools are available to help a small business run smoothly. But small business owners often draw boundaries between what they view as tools for “big business” and the tools they believe are relevant to their needs. Even the naming of some of these tools can be confusing: How can software known as enterprise resource planning (ERP), for example, be a good fit for a one-person operation, or even a 10-person operation?

Instead of viewing business software as a single entity, it’s helpful to frame it as a collection of individual tools. An enterprise-level business may be able to afford the whole tool chest at once, but small businesses often don’t need quite so much right away. Instead, they focus on being able to purchase technology in “bite size” pieces, choosing tools as needed, rather than all at once.

While software isn’t a cure-all for a small business, at the end of the day it simply helps life run more smoothly by making it easier to manage finances, employees, and the never-ending regulatory changes, among other concerns. The freedom to mix and match is key, using only the useful tools with no obligation to explore the entire world of enterprise-level software right away.

Compliment my “gut feel” decision making

Software is often the tool that allow a business owner to keep their personal and professional worlds separate, while still ensuring both worlds are well managed. Whether it’s bookkeeping, taxes, marketing, or more, being able to turn to software that holds objective, unbiased information is a blessing in many forms. It provides data-based decision making and encourages less reliance on the inconsistent “gut feeling” that so many business owners have relied on for years.

In particular, it’s vital to be able to turn to data that has no relation to the often-subjective world that characterizes a business owner’s personal life. Whether a business manager or employee is calm or upset, stressed or relaxed, tools will present clear, unbiased information, making it easier to pivot back into the objective business owner mindset and make smart decisions.

Notably, midsized business are often better at making use of technology than small businesses, as research shows that only 18% of small business owners use Big Data analytics to make informed decisions, in comparison to 57% of midsized businesses. This indicates that small business owners may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of using technology tools, when they should embrace the potential for that technology to make their lives easier, instead.

By leveraging the right tools, and using them in the right way, business owners are able to find some solstice in their decision making. Since the risk of success sits squarely on their shoulders, any comfort they can find via greater insight and data, as well as tools build for them (that can grow with them) are key. They allow for planning and data to accompany the gut feel. Together, these are a powerful combination.

“Every time I get another data point, I’ve added another piece to the jigsaw puzzle, and I’m closer to seeing the answer. And then, one day, the overall picture suddenly comes to me.”- Joel Pittman, founder, MTV

The Digital Economy isn′t on the horizon. It′s here. Learn how to use it to your advantage in The Digital Economy: Disruption, Transformation, Opportunity.

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About Jennifer Schulze

Jennifer Schulze is Vice President of marketing for SAP. In her role, she manages customer marketing as part of the office of the COO. She has over 15 years of technology marketing and management experience and is a small business owner in the San Francisco Bay area.

Meet The Youngest GM In Sports History [VIDEO]

Eric Annino

On May 5, the Arizona Coyotes appointed then-26-year-old John Chayka as the hockey team’s new general manager, making him the youngest GM in sports history. As expected, the media has focused on Chayka’s age – to the detriment of a much larger and more significant story. The Coyotes’ decision is not an attention grab and it’s not about age. It’s a sign that multi-million dollar sports franchises are starting to bet bigger on digital.

Let me explain.

John Chayka, who is now 27, is not just a former junior player with a business degree. Yes, he is that, but he’s also a co-founder of Stathletes, a hockey analytics company providing exclusive data, reports, insights, and visualizations to all major North American hockey leagues. Stathletes, which Chayka started in 2010 with friend Neil Lane, boasts an unparalleled level of in-game statistical insights, “over 100x the statistical resolution of existing tracking methods,” according to the company’s website. In 2015, after helping build Stathletes into a company with over 50 employees and $1 million plus in annual revenue, the Coyotes came calling and Chayka, 25 at the time, became the team’s assistant GM and analytics whiz kid.

The Coyotes are not the first NHL team to invest in young, data-savvy talent. Other teams, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and New Jersey Devils, have done so too, but never to this degree. Chayka is now wholly responsible for the on-ice direction of a storied franchise on the ropes. The Coyotes could have made a safer hire, bringing in a seasoned GM to get the team onto thicker ice, at least from a player/personnel perspective. Instead they hire an unseasoned twenty-something with a sports analytics background and give him control of what is ostensibly the team’s fate in the Arizona market.

That is why the Chayka hire is revolutionary.

While analytics are certainly a fairly recent adoption in the NHL, it’s uncertain if other franchises are willing to invest so heavily. When asked in a recent interview about the state of analytics in the NHL, Chayka responded,

“Is it in the infancy stage? Maybe, comparative to the more established sports. Is it in the infancy stage compared to where it was five years ago? It’s definitely not. As we continue to evolve or understand the game and learn more, you realize there is more and more to learn. Just because the information continues to evolve and become more complex doesn’t mean you go back to the infancy stage. It’s a natural evolution of how change occurs. For me, I’ve been part of it since essentially day one and I see huge growth and more coming.”

The bottom line is, sports teams are businesses, and they aren’t immune to the digital transformation that’s going on.

For more on the the business of sports, see The Future of Sports Marketing: Play Locally, Think Globally, Drive Loyalty.

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Eric Annino

About Eric Annino

Eric Annino works for Global Corporate Affairs at SAP.

Supply Chain Transformation: From Customer Demand To Last-Mile Logistics

Estelle Lagorce

Supply chain managment can make or break an organization. Supply chain excellence and effectiveness can have a profound impact on any organization’s growth, prosperity, and long-term sustenance. Market and technology trends are prompting organizations to transform every aspect of supply chain management, including planning, order fulfillment, transportation, warehouse management, last-mile logistics, and supply chain visibility.

For decades, supply chains have incorporated digital technologies. So why are we still talking about transforming the supply chain? Because technology innovations are now making it possible to think beyond functional silos and expand the boundary of what is possible to drive supply chain transformation. Systems can help companies to conceptualize, design, and implement an advanced supply chain and enable advanced transformational capabilities such as supply chain segmentation, cost to serve, and supply chain intelligence using Big Data analytics.

As you may have read in previous blog posts (“What Going Digital Really Means For Your Supply Chain” and “Why Bricks Need Clicks, And Vice Versa“), transforming the supply chain is not so much about the traditional model of supply, demand, and fulfillment, but redefining the extended supply chain one digital innovation at a time so the entire network can deliver the best possible customer journey. It’s about offering a homogenous and more rewarding online-offline customer experience for brick and mortar retail companies (which may use it as a defining advantage over e-commerce specialists) as well as online-only companies (which add physical stores to primarily an online channel). It’s about raising the profile of supply chain executives in the organization—discover, for example, how chief supply chain officers are becoming some of the most transformative executives in the C-suite or leading the enterprise.

A webinar titled Supply Chain Transformation – From Understanding Customer Demand to Last-Mile Logistics will be hosted on September 15, 2016 by practitioners, thought leaders, and researchers from SAP and Deloitte who are working on supply chain innovation and excellence. For a more in-depth look at understanding how applications and platform technologies support supply chain transformation and how to get started on different aspects of supply chain transformation, join the webinar, which is part of SAP Supply Chain Excellence Spotlight Seminars.

For more on how supply chain executives can transform decision-making through relevant, real-time, actionable insights and provide supply chain workers with a more intuitive user interface to enhance efficiency throughout the enterprise, download the paper.

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Estelle Lagorce

About Estelle Lagorce

Estelle Lagorce is the Director, Global Partner Marketing, at SAP. She leads the global planning, successful implementation and business impact of integrated marketing programs with top global Strategic Partner across priority regions and countries (demand generation, thought leadership).

The Robotics Race

Stephanie Overby

As robotic technologies continue to advance, along with related technologies such as speech and image recognition, memory and analytics, and virtual and augmented reality, better, faster, and cheaper robots will emerge. These machines – sophisticated, discerning, and increasingly autonomous – are certain to have an impact on business and society. But will they bring job displacement and danger or create new categories of employment and protect humankind?

We talked to SAP’s Kai Goerlich, along with Doug Stephen of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and Brett Kennedy from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about the advances we can expect in robotics, robots’ limitations, and their likely impact on the world.

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qa_qWhat are the biggest drivers of the robot future?

Kai Goerlich: Several trends will come together to drive the robotics market in the next 15 to 20 years. The number of connected things and sensors will grow to the billions and the data universe will likewise explode. We think the speed of analytics will increase, with queries answered in milliseconds. Image and voice recognition – already quite good – will surpass human capabilities. And the virtual and augmented reality businesses will take off. These technologies are all building blocks for a new form of robotics that will vastly expand today’s capabilities in a diversity of forms and applications.

Brett Kennedy: When I was getting out of school, there weren’t that many people working in robotics. Now kids in grade school are exposed to a lot of things that I had to learn on the job, so they come into the workplace with a lot more knowledge and fewer preconceptions about what robots can or can’t do based on their experiences in different industries. That results in a much better-trained workforce in robotics, which I think is the most important thing.

In addition, many of the parts that we need for more sophisticated robots are coming out of other fields. We could never create enough critical mass to develop these technologies specifically for robotics. But we’re getting them from other places. Improvements in battery technology, which enable a robot to function without being plugged in, are being driven by industries such as mobile electronics and automotive, for example. Our RoboSimian has a battery drive originally designed for an electric motorcycle.

qa_qDo you anticipate a limit to the tasks robots will be able to master as these core technologies evolve?

Goerlich: Robots will take over more and more complex functions, but I think the ultimate result will be that new forms of human-machine interactions will emerge. Robots have advantages in crunching numbers, lifting heavy objects, working in dangerous environments, moving with precision, and performing repetitive tasks. However, humans still have advantages in areas such as abstraction, curiosity, creativity, dexterity, fast and multidimensional feedback, self-motivation, goal setting, and empathy. We’re also comparatively lightweight and efficient.

Doug Stephen: We’re moving toward a human-machine collaboration approach, which I think will become the norm for more complex tasks for a very long time. Even when we get to the point of creating more-complex and general-purpose robots, they won’t be autonomous. They’ll have a great deal of interaction with some sort of human teammate or operator.

qa_qHow about the Mars Rover? It’s relatively autonomous already.

Kennedy: The Mars Rover is autonomous to a certain degree. It is capable of supervised autonomy because there’s no way to control it at that distance with a joystick. But it’s really just executing the intent of the operator here on the ground.

In 2010, DARPA launched its four-year Autonomous Robotic Manipulator Challenge to create machines capable of carrying out complex tasks with only high-level human involvement. Some robots completed the challenge, but they were incredibly slow. We may get to a point where robots can do these sorts of things on their own. But they’re just not as good as people at this point. I don’t think we’re all going to be coming home to robot butlers anytime soon.

Stephen: It’s extremely difficult to program robots to behave as humans do. When we trip over something, we can recover quickly, but a robot will topple over and damage itself. The problem is that our understanding of our human abilities is limited. We have to figure out how to formally define the processes that human beings or any legged animals use to maintain balance or to walk and then tell a robot how to do it.

You have to be really explicit in the instructions that you give to these machines. Amazon has been working on these problems for a while with its “picking challenge”: How do you teach a robot to pick and pack boxes the way a human does? Right now, it’s a challenge for robots to identify what each item is.

qa_qSo if I’m not coming home to a robot butler in 20 years, what am I coming home to?

Goerlich: We naturally tend to imagine humanoid robots, but I think the emphasis will be on human-controlled robots, not necessarily humanshaped units. Independent robots will make sense in some niches, but they are more complex and expensive. The symbiosis of human and machine is more logical. It will be the most efficient way forward. Robotic suits, exoskeletons, and robotic limbs with all kinds of human support functions will be the norm. The future will be more Iron Man than Terminator.

qa_qWhat will be the impact on the job market as robots become more advanced?

SAP_Robotics_QA_images2400x16004Goerlich: The default fear is of a labor-light economy where robots do most of the work and humans take what’s left over. But that’s lastcentury thinking. Robots won’t simply replace workers on the assembly line. In fact, we may not have centralized factories anymore; 3D printing and the maker movement could change all that. And it is probably not the Terminator scenario either, where humanoid robots take over the world and threaten humankind. The indicators instead point to human-machine coevolution.

There’s no denying that advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will displace some jobs performed by humans today. But for every repetitive job that is lost to automation, it’s possible that a more interesting, creative job will take its place. This will require humans to focus on the skills that robots can’t replicate – and, of course, rethink how we do things and how the economy works.

qa_qWhat can businesses do today to embrace the projected benefits of advanced robotics?

Kennedy: Experiment. The very best things that we’ve been able to produce have come from people having the tools an d then figuring out how they can be used. I don’t think we understand the future well enough to be able to predict exactly how robots are going to be used, but I think we can say that they certainly will be used. Stephanie Overby is an independent writer and editor focused on the intersection of business and technology.

Stephanie Overby  is an independent writer and editor focused on the intersection of business and technology

To learn more about how humans and robots will co-evolve, read the in-depth report Bring Your Robot to Work.

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What Is The Key To Rapid Innovation In Healthcare?

Paul Clark

Healthcare technology has already made incredible advancements, but digital transformation of the healthcare industry is still considered in its infancy. According to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare, the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead for the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) are astounding.

Many health organizations recognize the importance of going digital and have already deployed programs involving IoT, cloud, Big Data, analytics, and mobile technologies. However, over the last decade, investments in many e-health programs have delivered only modest returns, so the progress of healthcare technology has been slow out of the gate.

What’s slowing the pace of healthcare innovation?

In the past, attempts at rapid innovation in healthcare have been bogged down by a slew of stakeholders, legacy systems, and regulations that are inherent to the industry. This presents some Big Data challenges with connected healthcare, such as gathering data from disparate silos of medical information. Secrecy is also an ongoing challenge, as healthcare providers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and academic institutions tend to protect personal and proprietary data. These issues have caused enormous complexity and have delayed or deterred attempts to build fully integrated digital healthcare systems.

So what is the key to rapid innovation?

According to the Connected Care eBook, healthcare organizations can overcome these challenges by using new technologies and collaborating with other players in the healthcare industry, as well as partners outside of the industry, to get the most benefit out of digital technology.

To move forward with digital transformation in healthcare, there is a need for digital architectures and platforms where a number of different technologies can work together from both a technical and a business perspective.

The secret to healthcare innovation: connected health platforms

New platforms are emerging that foster collaboration between different technologies and healthcare organizations to solve complex medical system challenges. These platforms can support a broad ecosystem of partners, including developers, researchers, and healthcare organizations. Healthcare networks that are connected through this type of technology will be able to accelerate the development and delivery of innovative, patient-centered solutions.

Platforms and other digital advancements present exciting new business opportunities for numerous healthcare stakeholders striving to meet the increasing expectations of tech-savvy patients.

The digital evolution of the healthcare industry may still be in its infancy, but it is growing up fast as new advancements in technology quickly develop. Are you ready for the next phase of digital transformation in the global healthcare industry?

For an in-depth look at how technology is changing the face of healthcare, download the SAP eBook Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

See how the digital era is affecting the business environment in the SAP eBook The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Discover the driving forces behind digital transformation in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.

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About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is the Senior Director of Technology Partner Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.