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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 the Vice President of cloud marketing for SAP. In her role, she helps partners market and sell cloud solutions. She has over 15 years of technology marketing and management experience and is a small business owner in the San Francisco Bay area.

How To Forecast Production With Connected Oilfields

Stephane Lauzon

Running an oilfield is a difficult job. Many say it’s the toughest job on the planet. How do you ensure profitable operations given the rapid changes in the oil and gas market? How do you figure out which wells to prioritize for further investment to maximize cash flow? How do you determine when your upstream logistics need adjustment?

These are tough questions, but theyre ones that are easier to answer with a comprehensive digital energy network. Much of the oil and gas industry is moving to comprehensive digital energy networks. Why? Because they improve the connectivity of in the oilfield. They do this by allowing for automation of the field through sensors, analytics, and mobile computing. They adapt to rapidly changing market conditions by adjusting many aspects of their operations based on a stable, standardize digital core.

There are a number of ways to deal with today’s rapidly shifting market. Some are successful. Many are not. Connected oilfields see serious rewards.

What kind of rewards? They see 5% increases in their production. They see a 10% reduction in their lease operating expenses. They see a 25% reduction in their well downtime. They see as high as a 50% reduction in their rate loss deferments. They see much safer workplaces that operate beyond mere compliance. They see a leaner, more flexible business. They see how to best make decisions with changes in the market. They see lower overhead and higher profitability.

How can you ensure your company remains at the top of the oil and gas market? By staying ahead of the automation and trends in oilfield connectivity.

Lack of connectivity leads to losses

When a company doesn’t have connectivity across their oilfields, it can’t respond quickly to rapid change. It can’t create automatic remedies to events. It can’t automatically rank these events by the business impact.

Instead, you need to have someone involved in every step of the process. This can cause serious problems when opportunities are missed. It can cause losses when issues are not addressed in a timely manner. Scarce resources are not properly assigned. The appropriate resources may be hard to locate. Profitability goes down. Activities must be tracked and confirmed manually.

All these steps require more human intervention. This raises your overhead. It increases your costs. It reduces flexibility in your system. It creates losses as your company is slower to respond to changes.

Limited connectivity loses opportunities

By comparison, companies that invest in connected operations fare much better. They can respond more quickly to change. It has more information available to base decisions on. It has a comprehensive understanding of deferment events across all assets and their business impact. This allows it to be more accurate in its identifying and prioritizing opportunities.

Nonetheless, the company needs to make judgment calls based on experience and the data that is available. If not connected and collaborative, scarce resources may not be properly assigned. Failing to fully integrate a digital energy network can still cause business losses.

A comprehensive digital energy network provides flexibility

When an oil and gas company is fully connected in its oilfield production operations and logistics, it can quickly respond to changes. A comprehensive digital energy network creates an agile, flexible enterprise that is able to make adjustments with minimal human intervention in many cases. The system will automatically create remedies to deferment events based on prior learning and collaboration. The deferment events are ranked by the impact on your business. In most situations, the system creates responses that automate your field interventions. By automating the system, human intervention is needed only in very specific, predetermined situations. Scarce resources are assigned in the best fashion. This helps ensure your business’ profitability over the entire enterprise. The system will automatically identify resources on the business network. It then assigns, tracks, and confirms the assigned activities through your digital energy network.

How integrated systems create true growth

In today’s world, a comprehensive digital energy network can make all the difference. It allows collaboration as never previously seen. It allows automatic dispatching and scheduling of assets. It provides real-time sensor data to determine ultimately the best placement of resources. It visualizes data through GIS. It helps create accurate forecasts to more tightly manage production. It provides secure digital networking for transportation and storage assets. It monitors current and upcoming events to inform critical decision-making. It allows for the best placement of assets across your network.

When your oilfield connectivity is good, your business can boom. But if you don’t invest in a solid digital energy network, you’ll quickly find your company left behind in adverse market conditions.

How do you get the most out of your connected oilfields? By optimizing connectivity for the best-end-to end results. Discover just how great a secure Internet of Things can be for your oil and gas business. At SAP, we develop oil and gas industry solutions for a changing world. Find out how our solutions can make the most of your business today.

To learn more about digital transformation in the oil and gas industry, click here.

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Stephane Lauzon

About Stephane Lauzon

Stephane Lauzon is director of the Upstream Oil & Gas Business Unit at SAP.

The Policy Is No Longer The Center Of The Insurance Universe (Here’s What Is)

Bob Cummings

Let’s face it: When most people think of an engaging customer experience, insurance probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

The insurance policy has been the center of the insurance universe for a long time. For most of us, when we sign a policy, we put it in a drawer and hope that we don’t have an accident. If we’re lucky, we may never need to contact the insurer.

So, what is changing?

Insurance has traditionally been about compensating you for a financial loss. However, it hasn’t been able to prevent the loss itself. Having insurance doesn’t prevent your car from crashing or your house from burning.

But with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is suddenly becoming possible for insurers to actually help you prevent loss.

And it’s not just insurers. New players from other industries are entering the insurance market and offering real loss-reduction services that are capable of monitoring and influencing our daily lives. Many insurers suddenly find themselves having to put the customer in the middle of the universe, rather than just the policy.

The insurance business model is going to change more in the next five years than it has in the last 350.

New players prompt new interactions

The next generation of customers may expect a lot more from their insurance companies. As The New York Times recently illustrated in an article spotlighting how technology is changing insurance, tomorrow’s insurance customer is likely to crave a customer experience across multiple channels.

Insurers are likely to become intimately involved with customers’ lives through their devices at home and on the go. The partnership between State Farm and the home security company ADT is a good example of this.

Of course, some companies in related industries may even want to forego partnerships with insurers and enter the market directly. For example, in the automotive sector, many companies are looking at ways to automate different aspects of driving. That can open up a whole new realm of potential liability for these companies, which may prompt them to shoulder the risk themselves. Plus, many new entrants are finding that entering the insurance market is less of a risk and more of an opportunity.

The chatter from the boardrooms

Right now, most insurance companies don’t have systems that are designed to operate across networks in a way that is conducive to creating new digital offerings.

In the boardroom, CEOs are looking to their top management to figure out new business models, implement best practices, enable new services that can integrate with existing networks, and do all of this in a way that can function across a distributed workforce.

Of course, overhauling everything at once isn’t always practical. There is a need to create new products that “orchestrate” insurance and non-insurance components in a Big Data environment.

What else may be on the horizon for insurance? Every few months we are surprised by a new business model popping up in different parts of the world. The InsurTech startups are coming up with exciting new models as are other non-insurance players.

Will traditional insurance disappear? I doubt it, at least not in our lifetimes. But it is in for a significant shakeup. It has relied historically on a purely mathematical abstraction of physical reality. In the future, insurance will need to connect to real-world physical behavior in order to do what we all want: reduce risk.

For more information, please visit us at SAP for insurance.

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Bob Cummings

About Bob Cummings

Bob Cummings is the Head of SAP’s Industry Business Unit for Insurance, responsible for SAP’s offering to insurance companies. He is a 20-year veteran in the SAP business, both with SAP Partners and, since 1994, in international roles at SAP. Bob was one of the original founders of the SAP Industry Business Unit for Insurance, which led to building-out an end-to-end insurance suite.

How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

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qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

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

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

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3 Ways To Convince Your Workforce To Stop Fearing Digital Transformation

Paul Kurchina

Change of any kind – especially when it’s foisted on you without your commitment – can be dreadful. It may even resemble the return home from a disappointing doctor’s appointment. After shocking the doctor with high numbers across the board, your spouse replaces all of your most-loved foods (the leftover pizza from last night!) and beverages (the after-work beer and soda!) with kale, quinoa, and juice that looks like algae purged by a blender. Immediately, you resist: “How dare my loved one change my diet without my consent! I have no control! Why eat if I can’t be happy with what’s on my plate?”

That’s exactly how most employees view digital transformation initiatives. During the Americas’ SAP User Group (ASUG) webcast “The Only Thing to Fear Is Fear Itself: Embracing Change and Seizing the Opportunity of the Digital Transformation,” Keith R. Sturgill, CIO of Eastman Chemical Company and ASUG Board Chair, said, “in times of transformative change, great opportunities are invaluable. But, it also comes at a great cost because it’s not easy.” Sometimes the process is so daunting that we stop it, ignore it, and resume using our ingrained habits.

While technology-enabled, the real change behind digital transformation is all about people: how they work, collaborate, and make decisions. And changing people is always harder than implementing new technology. But, it’s not impossible once everyone – including leadership, employees, and partners – accepts these three realities of our digital world.

Reality check #1: Digital disruption is not just evolving. It’s already here!

Hearing from customers directly, reacting to what they want, and correcting what they don’t like at hard-to-imagine speeds is raising the bar high for every business. “Connecting people worldwide isn’t just allowing them to self-organize ideas and share opinions; it’s creating a new environment [in which] new business models can emerge. Just ask any growing business,” says Sturgill.

Just think:

  • Amazon is changing the face of retail without a single brick-and-mortar store
  • Airbnb is surpassing traditional hotels and motels without building a physical resort
  • Uber is upending the whole notion of taxi service without a single cab

However, it’s not as easy as setting up a website and creating a network of people, assets, and capital to support it. According to Sturgill, “it’s impossible to know the impact of what’s going to occur [in the future.] We can’t even begin to imagine how this is going to change the world. But without a doubt, it will be huge.”

Reality check #2: Decision making will never – and cannot – be the same

In the past, computers were set up with rules to inject automation and efficiency into business processes. Yet, they failed to support more difficult, complex problem solving such as predictions and forecasting that went beyond the scope of a predefined set of algorithms.

Our digital era is bringing about a new approach to decision making. Not just improving or accelerating decisions, but ultimately changing how they are made. Without the confines of codified decision flows, machine learning will soon consume and process an incredible amount of data to “understand” patterns and correlations. And as more data enters the systems, decisions on complex issues will likely become more improved and accurate.

“Machine learning algorithms will augment human insights, not replace them. Let people do what they do best – create, design, establish relationships and capabilities, and knit together insights to innovate with better judgment and unimaginable ideas,” advises Sturgill. “Think of your business as a decision machine.”

Reality check #3: The user experience (not technology) matters most

Like I said earlier in this blog, digital transformation is not about the technology you implement; it’s about your people. This is why the user experience will always eclipse corporate standards. From your customer to your workforce, consumer-grade technology is increasingly expected to become the norm – and it’s even happening to business-to-business (B2B) companies quicker than anyone realizes.

Most digital transformation strategies place a bright spotlight on the customer experience. By understanding what customers value and their unique preferences, B2B companies are using technology as a differentiator that gives customers a reason to engage and purchase from the business.

However, digital transformation does not end with the customer experience. “It is about people in your organization – talented, empowered, and passionate people. Employees should expect the work environment to be at least as good as their home computing environment. It should be as easy to order a new laptop at work as it is at home,” remarks Sturgill. “You need to commit to improving the work experience of your employees.”

Get your workforce engaged and passionate about digital transformation. Watch the webcast replay The Only Thing to Fear Is Fear Itself: Embracing Change and Seizing the Opportunity of the Digital Transformationin a series hosted by ASUG.

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