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SAPPOV: Why Chemical Companies Need The Cloud

Stefan Guertzgen

At around $3 trillion, the chemicals sector is one of the biggest and most important in the world. And while the largest companies take the lion’s share of this pie, there is a thriving, 

S&OP process for chemicalsfast-moving market for small and mid-sized players in the industry.

These companies typically have the same needs as the big guys – HR, finance, all of the standard line-of-business functions – plus chemistry-specific operations. But to find a competitive edge, they also need to be able to do flexible batch operations and rapidly set up new equipment and processes at a small scale.

Traditional operational models only go so far. To fight for a share and win it, they need every advantage they can get. In short, they need the cloud.

I can think of five compelling reasons why:

  1. Mobile workforce. Whether on the floor at a processing plant, with a client or on the move, empowering employees to sift real time data and make decisions on the fly revolutionizes their potential across the board.
  1. Minimize disruptions.Chemicals companies operate across a huge spread of regulatory environments. These aren’t all compatible and they often change. The right sort of cloud setup means that problems can be anticipated – and stakeholders informed – with time to do something about them.
  1. Scalability. A cloud-hosted solution available at short notice and on a hosted monthly subscription basis does not need the up-front capital back-up that larger players enjoy. If there’s a peak in business in an emerging market, for example, you can meet that need quickly and easily.
  1. Collaboration.In a flexible, fast-moving operation (and indeed many larger ones), not all of the key team members will use the same technologies. With the right technology, collaboration – as well as transparency and accountability – are easily managed.
  1. Differentiation through Innovation.Product life cycles are shrinking, customers get more and more demanding and competition gets tougher in today’s global world. Product innovation, but also rapid business model or process innovation are powerful weapons to survive or thrive in such an environment. Here cloud solutions can help to secure rapid access to latest technology innovations without going through time consuming and costly (re)-implementation projects.

While cloud computing has yet to fully penetrate the chemicals industry, other sectors, such as retail and healthcare, have picked it up enthusiastically. You don’t have to look far to see some intriguing examples of best practice and unprecedented agility. Amazon, for example, in its warehousing, or UPS in its logistics, not to mention much of the technology you use without even thinking on a smart phone.

It’s no great leap to see that the technology is relevant to more than one sector. The real revolution cloud-based solutions promise is not so much what they deliver as it is how they deliver it – with unprecedented speed, simplicity and scalability, plus reduced cost and risk.

To learn more about we can help you with your business challenges please have a look at SAP’s Solution Explorer for the Chemicals Industry: https://rapid.sap.com/se/#index?indids=i_chemical and find out more about our cloud solutions: http://www.sap.com/uk/pc/tech/cloud.html

What do you think about the issues discussed here? Continue the conversation in the comments below and on Twitter @SAP4Chemicals

Dr. Stefan GuertzgenDr. Stefan Guertzgen works for 6 years as Global Director for Industry Solution Marketing Chemicals at SAP. Prior to this assignment he has worked for 11 years in the chemical Industry (Chemtura) in various positions comprising R&D, Global Business Development, Sales and Business Process Management, and Sales & Operations Planning. In addition, he has 7 years experience in Presales and Management Consulting for the process industry (AspenTech, AT Kearney, and SAP Business Consulting) with focus on business operations.

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About Stefan Guertzgen

Dr. Stefan Guertzgen is the Global Director of Industry Solution Marketing for Chemicals at SAP. He is responsible for driving Industry Thought Leadership, Positioning & Messaging and strategic Portfolio Decisions for Chemicals.

The Role Of AI In Financial Trading – It’s Not What You Think

Susan Galer

The financial industry has been all over artificial intelligence (AI) supporting front-end trading processes, leaving much of the rest of the business in the last century. That won’t be true for much longer if Bikram Singh, founder and CEO of EZOPS, has his way.

I caught up with Singh during the recent kick-off of the SAP Next-Gen Innovation Community for Financial Services at the SAP Leonardo Center in New York City.

“A lot of functions in the middle and back office typically have been neglected in the AI revolution, and we see a tremendous opportunity here to radically transform the landscape,” said Singh. “We are specializing in applying AI and machine learning to address use cases in the back office, including data reconciliation.”

According to Singh, up to 15% of a financial institution’s staff focused on trading are conducting repetitive, mundane tasks to reconcile data. He co-founded EZOPS three years ago to provide cloud-based, AI-fueled services that support these processes that take place after trading is done. Based in the United States with offices in Dublin and India, this fintech is designing a product called ARO to help companies predict and resolve breaks. The software can help institutions streamline operations, reduce risk, and redirect workers to higher-value responsibilities. It’s aimed at top-level asset managers and fund administrators in any financial institution involved with heavy trading volume, including equities, cash, and commodities at banks and insurance firms.

“Our passion is to connect with the C-suite, giving them the satisfaction that at the end of the day, after they have executed trades in the front office, they don’t have to worry about the back office,” said Singh. “Applying AI in the middle and back office has benefits up and down the entire value chain, and this is where the industry is headed.”

Time to trade up pre-2008 systems

Singh began his financial career at the trading desk, where he fell in love with the back-end processes. “I wasn’t a great trader, but loved processes and what happened on the back end, how if I pressed a certain button from the front office, everything fell into place through settlement. I’ve spent my entire career building products and services around that middle- and back-office spectrum.”

AI is tailor-made for a financial industry increasingly squeezed by new regulations on selling products and resultant decreasing revenues. Calculating ROI at a molecular level, meaning costs by trade against worker productivity, has become a must-have. That’s where AI comes in.

“You can’t have a back or middle office set up for pre-2008. Institutions must become more streamlined and nimble,” said Singh. “Banks are realizing even if policies change, certain regulations and cost pressures are here to stay. If they don’t adapt and be one of the first movers, someone else will do it.”

Singh said EZOPS is having serious conversations with several of the world’s largest banks about the company’s AI-based solution, now in proof of concept (POC), which runs machine learning algorithms on a cloud platform, and uses analytics for reporting.

“We are getting over 90% accuracy in predictions from our [proof of concept] in results that are off the charts,” he said. “Because of the intelligence in our algorithms, based on our understanding of the processes, we can deliver results that are immediately promising and translate into cost savings. For banks, we feel like we are their BFFs, providing them with results they can show their board and investors and benchmark against their peers.”

For more on the disruptive effects of AI, see Artificial Intelligence Will Require Very Real Brainpower In Finance.

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How Digital Transformation Is Rewriting Business Models

Ginger Shimp

Everybody knows someone who has a stack of 3½-inch floppies in a desk drawer “just in case we may need them someday.” While that might be amusing, the truth is that relatively few people are confident that they’re making satisfactory progress on their digital journey. The boundaries between the digital and physical worlds continue to blur — with profound implications for the way we do business. Virtually every industry and every enterprise feels the effects of this ongoing digital transformation, whether from its own initiative or due to pressure from competitors.

What is digital transformation? It’s the wholesale reimagining and reinvention of how businesses operate, enabled by today’s advanced technology. Businesses have always changed with the times, but the confluence of technologies such as mobile, cloud, social, and Big Data analytics has accelerated the pace at which today’s businesses are evolving — and the degree to which they transform the way they innovate, operate, and serve customers.

The process of digital transformation began decades ago. Think back to how word processing fundamentally changed the way we write, or how email transformed the way we communicate. However, the scale of transformation currently underway is drastically more significant, with dramatically higher stakes. For some businesses, digital transformation is a disruptive force that leaves them playing catch-up. For others, it opens to door to unparalleled opportunities.

Upending traditional business models

To understand how the businesses that embrace digital transformation can ultimately benefit, it helps to look at the changes in business models currently in process.

Some of the more prominent examples include:

  • A focus on outcome-based models — Open the door to business value to customers as determined by the outcome or impact on the customer’s business.
  • Expansion into new industries and markets — Extend the business’ reach virtually anywhere — beyond strictly defined customer demographics, physical locations, and traditional market segments.
  • Pervasive digitization of products and services — Accelerate the way products and services are conceived, designed, and delivered with no barriers between customers and the businesses that serve them.
  • Ecosystem competition — Create a more compelling value proposition in new markets through connections with other companies to enhance the value available to the customer.
  • Access a shared economy — Realize more value from underutilized sources by extending access to other business entities and customers — with the ability to access the resources of others.
  • Realize value from digital platforms — Monetize the inherent, previously untapped value of customer relationships to improve customer experiences, collaborate more effectively with partners, and drive ongoing innovation in products and services,

In other words, the time-tested assumptions about how to identify customers, develop and market products and services, and manage organizations may no longer apply. Every aspect of business operations — from forecasting demand to sourcing materials to recruiting and training staff to balancing the books — is subject to this wave of reinvention.

The question is not if, but when

These new models aren’t predictions of what could happen. They’re already realities for innovative, fast-moving companies across the globe. In this environment, playing the role of late adopter can put a business at a serious disadvantage. Ready or not, digital transformation is coming — and it’s coming fast.

Is your company ready for this sea of change in business models? At SAP, we’ve helped thousands of organizations embrace digital transformation — and turn the threat of disruption into new opportunities for innovation and growth. We’d relish the opportunity to do the same for you. Our Digital Readiness Assessment can help you see where you are in the journey and map out the next steps you’ll need to take.

Up next I’ll discuss the impact of digital transformation on processes and work. Until then, you can read more on how digital transformation is impacting your industry.

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About Ginger Shimp

With more than 20 years’ experience in marketing, Ginger Shimp has been with SAP since 2004. She has won numerous awards and honors at SAP, including being designated “Top Talent” for two consecutive years. Not only is she a Professional Certified Marketer with the American Marketing Association, but she's also earned her Connoisseur's Certificate in California Reds from the Chicago Wine School. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA in marketing and managerial economics from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Personally, Ginger is the proud mother of a precocious son and happy wife of one of YouTube's 10 EDU Gurus, Ed Shimp.

Running Future Cities on Blockchain

Dan Wellers , Raimund Gross and Ulrich Scholl

Building on the Blockchain Framework

Some experts say these seemingly far-future speculations about the possibilities of combining technologies using blockchain are actually both inevitable and imminent:


Democratizing design and manufacturing by enabling individuals and small businesses to buy, sell, share, and digitally remix products affordably while protecting intellectual property rights.
Decentralizing warehousing and logistics by combining autonomous vehicles, 3D printers, and smart contracts to optimize delivery of products and materials, and even to create them on site as needed.
Distributing commerce by mixing virtual reality, 3D scanning and printing, self-driving vehicles, and artificial intelligence into immersive, personalized, on-demand shopping experiences that still protect buyers’ personal and proprietary data.

The City of the Future

Imagine that every agency, building, office, residence, and piece of infrastructure has an entry on a blockchain used as a city’s digital ledger. This “digital twin” could transform the delivery of city services.

For example:

  • Property owners could easily monetize assets by renting rooms, selling solar power back to the grid, and more.
  • Utilities could use customer data and AIs to make energy-saving recommendations, and smart contracts to automatically adjust power usage for greater efficiency.
  • Embedded sensors could sense problems (like a water main break) and alert an AI to send a technician with the right parts, tools, and training.
  • Autonomous vehicles could route themselves to open parking spaces or charging stations, and pay for services safely and automatically.
  • Cities could improve traffic monitoring and routing, saving commuters’ time and fuel while increasing productivity.

Every interaction would be transparent and verifiable, providing more data to analyze for future improvements.


Welcome to the Next Industrial Revolution

When exponential technologies intersect and combine, transformation happens on a massive scale. It’s time to start thinking through outcomes in a disciplined, proactive way to prepare for a future we’re only just beginning to imagine.

Download the executive brief Running Future Cities on Blockchain.


Read the full article Pulling Cities Into The Future With Blockchain

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Raimund Gross

About Raimund Gross

Raimund Gross is a solution architect and futurist at SAP Innovation Center Network, where he evaluates emerging technologies and trends to address the challenges of businesses arising from digitization. He is currently evaluating the impact of blockchain for SAP and our enterprise customers.

Ulrich Scholl

About Ulrich Scholl

Ulrich Scholl is Vice President of Industry Cloud and Custom Development at SAP. In this role, Ulrich discovers and implements best practices to help further the understanding and adoption of the SAP portfolio of industry cloud innovations.

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4 Traits Set Digital Leaders Apart From 97% Of The Competition

Vivek Bapat

Like the classic parable of the blind man and the elephant, it seems everyone has a unique take on digital transformation. Some equate digital transformation with emerging technologies, placing their bets on as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Others see it as a way to increase efficiencies and change business processes to accelerate product to market. Some others think of it is a means of strategic differentiation, innovating new business models for serving and engaging their customers. Despite the range of viewpoints, many businesses are still challenged with pragmatically evolving digital in ways that are meaningful, industry-disruptive, and market-leading.

According to a recent study of more than 3,000 senior executives across 17 countries and regions, only a paltry three percent of businesses worldwide have successfully completed enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives, even though 84% of C-level executives ranks such efforts as “critically important” to the fundamental sustenance of their business.

The most comprehensive global study of its kind, the SAP Center for Business Insight report “SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart,” in collaboration with Oxford Economics, identified the challenges, opportunities, value, and key technologies driving digital transformation. The findings specifically analyzed the performance of “digital leaders” – those who are connecting people, things, and businesses more intelligently, more effectively, and creating punctuated change faster than their less advanced rivals.

After analyzing the data, it was eye-opening to see that only three percent of companies (top 100) are successfully realizing their full potential through digital transformation. However, even more remarkable was that these leaders have four fundamental traits in common, regardless of their region of operation, their size, their organizational structure, or their industry.

We distilled these traits in the hope that others in the early stages of transformation or that are still struggling to find their bearings can embrace these principles in order to succeed. Ultimately I see these leaders as true ambidextrous organizations, managing evolutionary and revolutionary change simultaneously, willing to embrace innovation – not just on the edges of their business, but firmly into their core.

Here are the four traits that set these leaders apart from the rest:

Trait #1: They see digital transformation as truly transformational

An overwhelming majority (96%) of digital leaders view digital transformation as a core business goal that requires a unified digital mindset across the entire enterprise. But instead of allowing individual functions to change at their own pace, digital leaders prefer to evolve the organization to help ensure the success of their digital strategies.

The study found that 56% of these businesses regularly shift their organizational structure, which includes processes, partners, suppliers, and customers, compared to 10% of remaining companies. Plus, 70% actively bring lines of business together through cross-functional processes and technologies.

By creating a firm foundation for transformation, digital leaders are further widening the gap between themselves and their less advanced competitors as they innovate business models that can mitigate emerging risks and seize new opportunities quickly.

Trait #2: They focus on transforming customer-facing functions first

Although most companies believe technology, the pace of change, and growing global competition are the key global trends that will affect everything for years to come, digital leaders are expanding their frame of mind to consider the influence of customer empowerment. Executives who build a momentum of breakthrough innovation and industry transformation are the ones that are moving beyond the high stakes of the market to the activation of complete, end-to-end customer experiences.

In fact, 92% of digital leaders have established sophisticated digital transformation strategies and processes to drive transformational change in customer satisfaction and engagement, compared to 22% of their less mature counterparts. As a result, 70% have realized significant or transformational value from these efforts.

Trait #3: They create a virtuous cycle of digital talent

There’s little doubt that the competition for qualified talent is fierce. But for nearly three-quarters of companies that demonstrate digital-transformation leadership, it is easier to attract and retain talent because they are five times more likely to leverage digitization to change their talent management efforts.

The impact of their efforts goes beyond empowering recruiters to identify best-fit candidates, highlight risk factors and hiring errors, and predict long-term talent needs. Nearly half (48%) of digital leaders understand that they must invest heavily in the development of digital skills and technology to drive revenue, retain productive employees, and create new roles to keep up with their digital maturity over the next two years, compared to 30% of all surveyed executives.

Trait #4: They invest in next-generation technology using a bimodal architecture

A couple years ago, Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of research, observed that “CIOs can’t transform their old IT organization into a digital startup, but they can turn it into a bi-modal IT organization. Forty-five percent of CIOs state they currently have a fast mode of operation, and we predict that 75% of IT organizations will be bimodal in some way by 2017.”

Based on the results of the SAP Center for Business Insight study, Sondergaard’s prediction was spot on. As digital leaders dive into advanced technologies, 72% are using a digital twin of the conventional IT organization to operate efficiently without disruption while refining innovative scenarios to resolve business challenges and integrate them to stay ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, only 30% of less advanced businesses embrace this view.

Working within this bimodal architecture is emboldening digital leaders to take on incredibly progressive technology. For example, the study found that 50% of these firms are using artificial intelligence and machine learning, compared to seven percent of all respondents. They are also leading the adoption curve of Big Data solutions and analytics (94% vs. 60%) and the Internet of Things (76% vs. 52%).

Digital leadership is a practice of balance, not pure digitization

Most executives understand that digital transformation is a critical driver of revenue growth, profitability, and business expansion. However, as digital leaders are proving, digital strategies must deliver a balance of organizational flexibility, forward-looking technology adoption, and bold change. And clearly, this approach is paying dividends for them. They are growing market share, increasing customer satisfaction, improving employee engagement, and, perhaps more important, achieving more profitability than ever before.

For any company looking to catch up to digital leaders, the conversation around digital transformation needs to change immediately to combat three deadly sins: Stop investing in one-off, isolated projects hidden in a single organization. Stop viewing IT as an enabler instead of a strategic partner. Stop walling off the rest of the business from siloed digital successes.

As our study shows, companies that treat their digital transformation as an all-encompassing, all-sharing, and all-knowing business imperative will be the ones that disrupt the competitive landscape and stay ahead of a constantly evolving economy.

Follow me on twitter @vivek_bapat 

For more insight on digital leaders, check out the SAP Center for Business Insight report, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics,SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart.”

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About Vivek Bapat

Vivek Bapat is the Senior Vice President, Global Head of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership, at SAP. He leads SAP's Global Marketing Strategy, Messaging, Positioning and related Thought Leadership initiatives.