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The Future Of Enterprise IT: 30 Executives Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The Future of Enterprise ITIn 2012, we saw four major trends evolve: 1) a shift towards the “cloud” 2) the need for processing/analyzing “big data” 3) an increased reliability on mobile technology 4) the consumerization of IT.  As we head into 2013, these four trends will play an even larger part in enterprise IT according to the 30 executives that shared their 2013 predictions with us.

1. Oliver Bussmann – Global CIO at SAP@sapcio

In the next 12-18 months, we will see the Consumerization of IT become the norm in the enterprise. If CIO’s and IT organizations weren’t able to contend with this reality in 2012, they will need to meet it head-on in 2013. Gartner talks about the Era of Nexus and I like this because it describes the coming together of big data, constant access and connection through mobile and social and new delivery capabilities through the Cloud. The new Era is here; in order for IT organizations to stay relevant, they will have to adapt by building organizational competencies that exude speed, flexibility, security and closer ties to the business.

I predict that machine to machine communication will become a reality in the enterprise in 2013, so it will be exciting for IT to play an active role in this innovation area. I’m also hearing about “wearable” electronics but let’s check back in on this one 12 months from now.

2. Mounil Patel, North American Director, Professional Services, Mimecast

The past several years can arguably be considered the year of the cloud, during which IT began seriously planning and implementing strategies to control costs by leveraging cloud technologies, with a major trend being cloud based email. The cloud offers more than just a way to do something cheaper or easier and I expect 2013 to be the year that IT begins leveraging their cloud footprint to deliver new capabilities that are difficult to provide on premise. I also expect to see cloud solutions expand in order to provide better ways of collaborating and sharing data between employees, partners, and customers. The best cloud platforms will solve the old IT problems while providing the average worker a breadth of new features to work more efficiently on a daily basis.

3. Marc Price, CTO, Americas, Openet

Enterprises and small businesses will increasingly enable employees to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to the workplace into 2013. BYOD is shown to increase productivity, reduce a financial burden on the business, and with subsidies eroding on mobile handsets, the market is ripe for increased BYOD penetration. Appropriate policies and security measures will have to be put in place over the next year in order to enable employees to use these devices securely and smartly, in a workplace appropriate manner while on the clock. Client software coordinated with network software from service providers will assist in enabling employees to use the devices of their choice in alignment with company policies and goals.

4. Don Keane, Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy, Angel

As mobile devices continue to be favored by customers, this is quickly growing into a major channel and form of communication between brands and its customers. Keeping this in mind, designing a seamless mobile customer experience should be the number one concern for businesses in 2013 to not only help businesses better communicate with their customers, but also enable their employees to work more efficiently.

Speech capabilities in mobile apps will increase productivity for both employees and customers while providing an intuitive on-to-go mobile experience that allows people to speak their commands instead of manually typing and navigating through applications. As more and more devices compete in the mobile marketplace, users will continue to expect new emerging devices to offer better and more productive technology into 2013.

Voice integration within mobile applications has become a huge differentiator for consumer applications over the past year, however there is still a huge market opportunity for businesses. I expect to see more businesses win customer loyalty and improve their customers’ experience through voice technology integrated in mobile devices and applications in 2013.

Also, with contextual applications on the rise, mobile applications will continue to get smarter by learning the users preferences through analytics, making the mobile customer experience faster and more enjoyable. Marketers especially need to lead this effort and encourage their businesses to develop mobile applications that put the user’s needs first, especially if the app includes transactional features.

5. Dwayne Melancon – Chief Technology Officer at Tripwire, Inc. – @ThatDwayne

Tight budgets in 2013 will force organizations (public and private sector) to become more innovative, as they are required to get their job done with limited resources. This will drive the move toward more automation, as well as the search for more “proactive” projects. For example, I believe we’ll see a surge in cloud adoption, SaaS offerings, and vendor consolidation. The one area of aggressive investment will be information security, where the focus will be on system and application hardening (reducing the attack surface), as well as tighter identity and access management in an effort to protect data more effectively with less effort. We will also see a stronger move to connect security to the business to enable better prioritization of security spending and resource allocation.

6. Timothy Garcia, founder and CEO of Apptricity Corporation – @apptricity

CEOs often invest in getting their hands on “Big Data,” only to realize they don’t know what to do with it. With all of the hype surrounding Big Data, I see a huge need for applications that actually make sense of it all and help C-levels view everything within their organizations.  Additionally, with our current economy, companies now more than ever need to focus on supply chain issues to solve problems in 2013. The margin for error is smaller than it’s ever been and software applications that solve such issues are going to become increasingly important to the success of any company.

7. George Mashini, CEO of Catavolt – @CatavoltInc

Cloud technology and mobile technology are converging to deliver a completely new opportunity for enterprises to efficiently deliver enterprise data to mobile workers.

BYOD, recognized to be an industry trend due to consumerization rather than innovation, will become mainstream as IT departments are forced to deal with the useful and aesthetically-appealing applications that consumers use every day to make their personal tasks more productive.

There will be consolidation in the field of enterprise mobility. A shift away from mobilizing expensive, complex all-encompassing ERP applications will lead to more cost-effective extension of enterprise data, applications and content. This downward shift in the cost of enterprise mobility and increased efficiency will lead to increased adoption among companies actively looking for a mobile strategy. Onlookers, comprising mostly of the mid-market and up, will most likely remain onlookers and wait for a leader or two to emerge in the space.

8. Jens Karstoft, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Zmags – @Zmags

The holiday season has proven that the mobile shopping is here to stay, in particular the tablet. For marketers, this solidifies the channel as an effective way to communicate with consumers and more importantly, a powerful tool for data collection. In 2013, marketers will be tasked with combining this data with that of more traditional channels such as point-of-sale and ecommerce to effectively reach the growing number of mobile shoppers. Those marketers that can streamline this data to better target mobile shoppers with personalized catalogs, magazines and overall experiences as a result of the data will come out on top moving into 2013 and onward.

9. Brian Reagan, VP of Product Marketing at Actifio – @Actifio

The cost of managing copies of data will exceed the cost of managing production, forcing companies to rethink their strategy for Copy Data management. The need for multiple copies of data for various purposes (backup, business continuity, disaster recovery, test & development, analytics, etc) remains mission critical, yet as data volumes continue to accelerate, the ability to meet service levels at a reasonable cost is challenged. New disruptive innovations will become mainstream to address these challenges.

10. Rob May, CEO of Backupify – @RobMay

2013 will be the year of the cloud security middleware explosion. We will see middleware that sits over various levels of the cloud stack to provide enhanced security, and it will be adopted by both sides – the customer (CIO) side, and the ISV side. By the end of next year most cloud companies will be discussing the security offerings with which they are compatible.

Enterprises will start to move to public clouds, but will use a multi-cloud strategy including niche cloud offerings. 2013 will be the year when cloud moves beyond the innovator and early adopter companies to the early majority. While you will hear about how many large companies keep significant data and applications on premise, you will hear the first stories of Fortune 1000 companies going all cloud by embracing major public clouds like Amazon, Rackspace, and Azure for most of their needs, and specialized clouds for things that have heavy and unique compliance or security requirements.

The first whispers of the need for SaaS data to be discoverable and subject to legal holds will arise. E-discovery always lags the tech industry a bit because lawsuits are typically backward looking, so now that we have witnessed several years of rapid SaaS adoption, it will soon be time for some SaaS application to be an important part of a major lawsuit.

11. Andrew Graf, Lead Analyst at TeamDynamix

Many IT organizations are searching for identity. The rapid pace of changing business needs and technologies has created an environment where managing infrastructure, support and projects isn’t enough to avoid the commoditization of IT. 2013 and beyond will see those IT organizations who will thrive focusing on how they help the business achieve it’s strategic objectives and how they help their clients resolve problems with IT solutions not on the IT solutions themselves. Leading IT organizations have to manage technology well. That is requisite. The best will truly understand the organizations goals and problems and offer creative solutions to successfully addressing both.

12. Nathan Spoonts, Vice President of Technology at HomeFinder.com – @HomeFinder1

The use of mobile devices as a primary Internet source will continue to increase. Users are becoming less interested in downloading an app to access a site/upgrading to use new functionality, so companies benefit by not having to support multiple versions of the app and having the functionality from the current web release available to mobile users.

There will continue to be an upsurge in migration to cloud computing. With the increase in the range and reliability of cloud services, this can be a sound option for smaller companies that don’t have the resources to build out and maintain their own infrastructure. It can also be a more affordable way to store data, particularly of the volume required by big data analysis.

13. Dave Laurello, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board at Stratus Technologies – @stratus4uptime

This will be the year of ‘community cloud computing,’ which I like to call the affinity cloud. Large groups with shared business challenges will create or subscribe to a cloud service that meets their unique computing, security and business needs. For example, think of a few dozen community hospitals that want an electronic health records system with assured HIPPA compliance. Large organizations also can create clouds for subsets of their client bases. A charity, for example, sets up a transaction management site for micro-lenders to third-world nations, with the necessary safeguards to protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII). As with public clouds, affinity clouds provide the cost savings and scalability of compute-on-demand with the added advantages of better control and security, prevention of unplanned downtime, and a true understanding of its user community.

14. Irad Carmi, CTO at TOA Technologies – @iradcarmi

I believe that in 2013, businesses will look to the applications they have to better use this real-time data in new ways – such as enabling better social connections and making in-the-moment decisions.  For example, think about the benefits to people like service employees, out in the field, trying to get to the right customer at the right time – if they could easily know which coworkers were nearby, and with what inventory, more appointments could be completed within the allotted wait time promised to customers.

15. Carlos Montero-Luque, Chief Technology Officer at Apperian

CIOs will reach a level of comfort with mobile BYOD in the enterprise that enables broad deployments to happen in the largest companies. Access will remain somewhat restricted to very sensitive apps and content while vendors work to ensure that the mobile environment is as secure as traditional behind the firewall environments.

Mobile collaboration for specific business tasks will be a driver for innovation in enterprise apps. The ability to share content securely and temporarily across work teams will change how people interact with their mobile devices and with each other by making the enterprise mobile experience less individual and more shared across teams.

Mobile device management will be replaced by a broader view of enterprise mobility management that incorporates a holistic view of apps, content, access to backend services, as well as networks and devices that comprehensively addresses all aspects of mobility within an enterprise. Hardware vendors will integrate more MDM capabilities within their devices, to enable their easier integration into broader mobility management suites.

16. Robert E. Stroud, CGEIT, CRISC, a member of ISACA’s Strategic Advisory Council and Vice President of Innovation and Strategy and Service Management/Cloud Computing and Governance evangelist at CA Technologies – @RobertEStroud

2013 will be a year significant challenges for the IT organization, as IT continues to become more complex with the acceleration of the consumerization of IT combined with the ability to embed IT into everything, along with the growth of technology outside of IT. This will be led by a number of trends including the continuing proliferation of devices, as employees supplement employer-allocated devices with their own and organizations move to allow employees’ use of these for business.

Big Data will be a key topic and continue the growth in data and, more importantly, the use of the information for business value through linking analytics and pattern recognition. Exploitation of the information will be the business requirement, while protecting the privacy of the individual will become the subject of concern for many individuals.

Additionally, the CIO will have to cope with the proliferation of IT outside of CIO’s and IT’s span of control. In line with the ISACA mantra, “Trust in and value from IT,” 2013 is going to be a year in which security, privacy and effective enterprise governance of IT will be critical for the CIO to ensure value is delivered from IT, with an acceptable level of risk and appropriate security and privacy concerns taken into account.

17. Sven Hammar, Co-Founder and CEO of Apica – @apicasystems

By 2014, mobile Internet usage is expected to exceed desktop Internet usage. That means that in 2013 developers and marketers will be hard at work fine-tuning their mobile apps and websites to capitalize on this audience. Performance testing will become more complex as mobile features will need to be considered in all test case scenarios. As a result, application testing tools will evolve to support any type of device with dynamic HTML versus device-specific code. Special protocols like WebSocket and SPDY will also become mainstream.

As mobile Internet usage steadily increases to exceed desktop usage, and as web applications become more complex, application monitoring and more specifically the ability to detect and locate the origin of performance problems will be a challenge for IT organizations. 2013 will be the year when performance monitoring will shift focus from just “Is it up or is it down?” to provide agile support for performance status and optimization of applications both in the cloud and on local enterprise networks.

18. Lou Guercia, CEO of Scribe Software – @LouGuercia

The hybrid environments will be the leading IT infrastructure in 2013.  Although customer-facing systems such as CRM are increasingly migrating to the cloud, ERP systems, housing sensitive record information, will remain mostly on-premise. Hence, nimble data integration between cloud and on-premise systems will be a key IT trend in 2013.

19. Deepak Kumar, CTO at Adaptiva

With the integration of non-traditional IT and the deterioration of enterprise tech spending in recent years, 2013 will demand a different approach from IT departments in companies around the globe, as they will have to adapt to evolving technology and outside influences now more than ever before. This will change the industry’s focus to distributed IT network solutions, creating cost-savings and less of a demand for desktop virtualization. Also, because of the outside, consumer-based influence on enterprises today, 2013 will bring the need for lightning quick deployment cycles in the IT world, and the demand from workers for simple integrated solutions and technologies that will make their lives easier. For example, one such technology is cloud computing, as we continue to see a turn towards cloud-based systems in 2013 companies will be able to reduce their overall technology costs without losing key functionality, allowing for a more efficient management of traditional and mobile workforces.

20. Joel Bomgar, CEO of Bomgar Corporation – @JoelBomgar

With cloud solutions that can be purchased with the swipe of a credit card, departments outside of IT will continue to select and purchase their own technology solutions with little or no involvement from IT. But when employees experience issues with these solutions, the first place they’ll turn is IT support. The support center will need to equip their staff with the tools and information that allow them to collaborate with each other and external vendors to access information about these various solutions and assist their end-users.

21. Tiemo Winterkamp, SVP Global Marketing at arcplan – @arcplan

Big Data will, again, be a buzzword in 2013. There is no doubt that modern technology and social media will continue to provide even more data, nonetheless there are still questions to be answered. CIOs will need to determine the value of all this big data and for whom will it be necessary to structure these multi-terabytes and petabytes of information.

The delays associated with IT will be brushed aside in favor of the speed, control, and rapid access that comes along with self-service business intelligence (BI). BI users will become more self-sufficient so they can optimize and accelerate their decision making processes.

The democratization of information will become increasingly important. Organizations will prioritize collaborative platforms as a way to eliminate information silos between users and departments that do not currently integrate unstructured information into the decision-making process.

Accessing data anytime and anywhere will become an even more prominent business need in 2013. Mobility will be a key factor in all things IT, from business intelligence (BI) to enterprise computing.

22. Jonathan McCormick, Chief Operating Officer at  Intermedia – @intermedia_net

In 2013, we will continue to see the evolution of IT and cloud computing, in line with several important advancements in technology. Driving the business evolution are new versions of key Microsoft offerings, including Windows 8, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Office 2013. This will be a significant driver of upgrade-based sales, as well as reconsideration of existing underlying technologies, such as on-premise versus cloud. Additionally, there will be a continued increase in the move to tablets and smartphones, which will drive the adoption of synchronization technologies like ActiveSync, File Synching and BES, along with cloud storage.

23. Raghu Bala, CTO of Source Interlink Media, Board Member of Fanggle

Big Data and Cloud computing will combine to explode the amount of data stored in the cloud 4-fold or more. Smart devices will begin to emerge with the easy reach of cloud via high bandwidth wireless protocols like 4G.  Private and Public cloud adoption will boom and tablet adoption will explode with more thick apps and thin apps using HTML5.

24. Michael Rapp, President at En Pointe Technologies

One of the most common pushbacks about transitioning to the cloud is whether or not the customer is properly educated about its benefits and features. In 2013, we can expect vendors to find better ways to help VARs offer a feature-rich cloud solution. Service providers will take a more active approach by teaching the channel how to position their services properly, and not only sell a particular hosted service, but sell the cloud.  Additionally, distribution is struggling to move beyond product shipments, so we’ll also see increased adoption of managed services and subscription-based pricing. Consequently, we’ll begin to see business models slowly changing as fewer companies buy hardware and move more to the cloud – it won’t be a huge change, but it will start becoming more prevalent. The data center and/or service provider will be the larger customer in the coming years.”

25. Saad Shahzad, SVP Sales and Chief Strategy Officer at dinCloud

There has been a major shift in the business world, from the use of simple public cloud storage to a more advanced hosted computing infrastructure reserved for business continuity and back up in the cloud. In 2013, we will continue to see companies increasingly renting as a service, not just storage in the cloud, but reserving the use of computing infrastructure to host their applications and data until their primary site can be brought back up in the case of a disaster or an event that could create downtime at the primary site. Due to the high cost of downtime, most companies will continue to, or look to, work with back up in the cloud providers in the future and not have in-house or second site backup that they manage themselves.

26. Andre Pascal, CEO at Nia Technologies – @NiaTech

I predict that IT will become a utility model as per use and cloud storage and processing power become ubiquitous.   In addition technical support as we know it will be increasingly relegated to 3rd and fourth level and eventually eliminated completely as bots (algorithms) replace help desk staff.  Finally cloud computing will be adopted by a growing class of independent consultants who will leave their desktops and laptops and opt by and large for the security and dependability of virtual machines housed on cloud servers.

27. Robert Jenkins, CTO at CloudSigma – @CloudSigma

In 2013, vendors will leverage 100gig networking to offer premiere storage in the cloud through reduced latency, faster I/Os and greater performance. And, because 100gig networking uses standardized protocols, it can be implemented with the flip of a switch to offer instantaneous high performance to customers in which speed is pivotal, such as the financial sector.

Throughout 2013, software-defined networks (SDNs) will become widely adopted in the public cloud market, allowing vendors to create an optimized network between VMs. This, coupled with optimized routing, will allow for greater performance, efficiency and infrastructure control.

When the cloud first hit the mainstream, some shied away from it, more comfortable housing mission-critical data in their own data centers. But, now, as clouds become more flexible, we will increasingly see companies using the cloud as a major component of their disaster recovery strategy. By choosing a cloud vendor that places no restrictions on existing software, organizations can easily mimic their own data center in the cloud to seamlessly manage their disaster recovery process while leveraging the cloud’s innate HPC capabilities.

28. Ditlev Bredahl, CEO at OnApp

The market is polarizing: you have commodity utility computing that is now pervasive, and can be bought one-size-fits-all from providers like Amazon. But then, on the other end, you have service providers adding value with innovative services, platforms and applications.

This value-added cloud layer is the future of the industry, but how will it work? Providers engage in a global cloud marketplace, where they gain access to resources beyond the capabilities of their local infrastructure. This allows them to innovate, localize and focus on customers.

With computing provided on a utility basis, and service providers customizing it for end users rather than being mere workhorses, the cloud is no longer the cloud. It is a seamless, global computing environment that can be used for anyone, anything and anywhere.

29. Nikki Garg, COO of Icreon- @IcreonTech

In 2013, the physical and digital worlds will fuse. From the RFID tags on a runner’s bib to the real time camera feed from traffic lights that informs driving routes, the physical world is becoming an information system.

There is no such thing as an IT project; there are only business projects that are enabled by IT. IT professionals are becoming more attentive than ever to business and the role end-users play in the ultimate success of the software. 2013 will involve businesses setting aside more time and budget, towards intangibles around IT; communication plans, continuous user training and implementation support..

As 2012 comes to a close, consumers are increasingly relying on their smartphones for just about everything. From researching purchasing decisions to mobile commerce, expect to see more brands start to innovate and cater to the needs of mobile audiences, both customers and staff, that allows for more seamless use and integration of smartphones into our daily lives.

30. John Marshall, CEO at AirWatch

The next wave in the Consumerization of IT is the Consumerization of Corporate Content. BYOD and consumer devices on corporate networks have become commonplace. Employees are familiar with the iOS and Android user interface since many already use them at home and are now bringing them to work. The key for businesses is providing a similarly seamless and secure experience for accessing corporate content.

What do you think?  Share your predictions in the comment section below.

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About Brian Rice

Brian Rice is a Sr. Manager on the SAP Global Social Media Marketing Team. Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianSRice

How Digital Supply Chains Are Changing Business

Dominik Erlebach

In the real world, customer demands change and supply disruptions happen. Consumers and collaborative business partners have new expectations. Is your supply chain agile enough to respond?

As technology expands and the Internet of Things becomes increasingly prevalent, a digitized supply chain strategy is moving into the core of business operations. Today’s high-tech companies must adapt – speed and accuracy are crucial, and collaboration is more important than ever. The right digital tools are the key to developing an extended, fast supply chain process. The evolution of the extended supply chain can be seen with McCormack and Kasper’s study on statistical extended supply chains.

Ultimately, however, everything comes down to the efficient use of data in decision making and communication, improving overall business performance, and opening a whole new world of opportunities and competitive differentiation.

The changing horizon of supply chains in technology

Supply chain management now extends further than ever before. Until recently, the task for supply chains was simple: Companies developed ideas, produced goods, and shipped them to distribution points, with cost efficiency as one of the most prevalent factors. As the supply chain evolves into extended supply chain management, however, companies must plan beyond these simple steps.

The Digitalist summarizes these new market conditions as collaborative, customer-centric, and individualized. New products need to hit markets much faster, and customers expect premium service and collaboration. Increasingly, the supply chain must meet rapidly changing consumer demands and respond accordingly. Management can now be conducted by analysis of incoming data or by exception, as discussed in a presentation by Petra Diessner. Resilience and responsiveness have clearly become differentiators in the cutthroat high-tech market. To keep up, high-tech companies must change their method of conducting business.

What is the extended supply chain?

The extended supply chain refers to widening the scope of supply chain planning and execution, not only across internal organizations, but beyond a company’s boundaries. High-tech companies must involve several tiers of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and customers. Some businesses also study the popularity and dynamics of a product directly, such as through mining social media data. To lead the competition, modern businesses must orchestrate the extended supply chain to keep up with consumer demands, as consumers now look for fully integrated service experiences.

What makes the supply chain work in extended form?

There are several key factors to consider when updating your supply chain model. The first, access to information, is essential to managing digitized extended supply chains and unleashes benefits that can help your company grow beyond traditional models. All companies gather information, but companies that use this information effectively will excel where others do not.

World Market Forum discusses this in its report on extended supply chains. Digitizing the supply chain process can help manage even an extended, complex network and provide key access to critical information. The success of digitization relies on gathering accurate, pertinent information in a format that can be readily applied and used.  While speed is important, it is not enough. The information itself must be applicable to the company’s needs and it must provide data that allows companies to make more informed decisions about product growth, marketing, and supply chain distribution.

Real-time information access is a primary benefit of digitized supply chains. Market trends become instantly visible with real-time data and cloud-based analytics, as Marcus Schunter notes in this analysis. This insight allows companies to plan for new products and platform development as the market shifts. Eliminating the need to wait months to access and analyze data is critical for the high-speed technology market and also allows for assessment of critical situations. Resolving problems as they occur is more efficient than post-mortem analysis and allows companies to act rather than react. In extending your supply chain, look for technological advancements that allow you to gather data and analyze it in real time.

Consolidation of digital information is another major benefit to the digitized supply chain. Localized digital information can be gathered and analyzed to form executable action plans. Data becomes part of the planning and problem-solving cycle, improving overall communication and allowing for fuller, more meaningful problem-solving and planning. With digitization, speed is a factor, but the relevancy and application of information separates successful companies from the pack. For companies looking to extend their supply chain, this is a key element when searching analysis tools and platforms.

Is your high-tech organization ready to meet the challenges of a complex market and navigate the digital economy?

To learn more about digital transformation in high-tech supply chain, visit here.

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More Resources, More Problems

Danielle Beurteaux

This is the second of a two-part series on resource volatility. As noted in the first post, globalization has created an environment of resource volatility. This post, with numbers 11 through 20 on the list, describes resources that are more stable than the previous 10. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t turmoil, whether that’s environmental concerns in Indonesia’s palm oil production industry, or community organization for water rights in Chile. And, of course, whatever China does, the markets follow.

Top resources and trends

11. Natural Gas

According to the International Energy Agency, most natural gas comes from Russia, the United States, Canada, Qatar, and Iran, and the countries that use the most are the U.S., Russia, China, and Iran. There are sufficient reserves of natural gas, again according to the IEA’s projections, that should last past the year 2040. Liquefied natural gas, which is produced mostly by Qatar, with Australia set to overtake Malaysia for second place, has had a flat market recently. There isn’t the demand to keep up with increased production, so liquefied natural gas producers are looking for new markets, like cruise lines, to grow demand.

12. Tin

Most of the world’s tin comes from China and Indonesia. The tin market tanked last year because of less demand and lots of tin, although it did rally in July and then improve earlier this year, mostly because Indonesia is exporting less and easing the flood of tin on the market.

13. Gold

It seems like everyone’s crazy for gold right now. The precious metal is often perceived as a safer investment than other asset classes, and it’s up 20% this year. Famed investor George Soros just bought $264 million worth of shares in Barrick Gold. The Toronto-based gold-mining company is the world’s largest. Gold prices bumped down a bit while the market waited on the Federal Reserve’s meeting minutes, but some are saying gold will soon recover – and then some.

14. Nickel

Russia, Canada, and New Caledonia are the largest producers of nickel. Most is used to make stainless steel. Like several other commodities we’ve examined, there is more production than demand of nickel at the moment, which has led to depressed prices. China is a big consumer of nickel for stainless steel, and the country is using less because of a slowing real estate market.

15. Beef

The global demand for beef is up, but production is down due to a variety of factors. One is Australia’s decreased production due to drought conditions, which will mean 300,000 tons less beef for export this year. As Australia is a favored trading partner of the U.S., that will affect the American beef market. A recent study from Radobank predicts that China will increase live cattle imports for domestic processing, and Brazil will enter the U.S. market as well.

16. Wheat

It’s a good year for wheat. North American wheat production is doing well, although levels are down from the previous year, with five percent less planted in the U.S. and six percent less in Canada. According to the most recent USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, total U.S. wheat supplies and use are up six percent and seven percent, respectively. Globally, the report projects a two percent increase in wheat supplies, and consumption will increase, too.

17. Iron Ore

Earlier this year, the iron ore market jumped, reportedly because of the Chinese government’s moves to help along the country’s economy. Things have settled down since then, with recent trading sending the per ton price downwards 22.9% from its high in April, which seems to be due to China’s increased crude steel production and also the government’s stopping speculative trading. They’ve also committed to transportation infrastructure projects, but there is still too much iron ore compared to demand.

18. Copper

As with iron ore, China’s announcement that it would be investing in transportation infrastructure affected the price of copper recently. This is likely a welcome piece of news, as copper had been trading at the lowest levels since March 2009. Output and demand are both projected for small increases this year. Chile has the largest open pit mine and the largest global reserves of copper, but it’s been facing difficulties in recent years including lack of water, which is essential for mining, and local community resistance.

19. Palm oil

Palm oil is a global big business to the tune of $50 billion, which is projected to increase to $88 billion by 2020. It’s in almost everything these days because it’s inexpensive, stable, and can be used for many applications. (It’s not always listed on ingredient labels as palm oil).  Most is produced in Malaysia. It’s also a bête noire of environmentalists – it’s linked to deforestation, the recent massive forest fires in Indonesia which were set, it’s thought, to clear land for plantations, and lost habitat for orangutans and increased worries about their extinction.

20. Aluminum

Aluminum rose overall in 2015, but took a dive in the last few months of the year. Market-watchers are hoping that China’s announcement that it will reduce aluminum output will help energize the market once oversupply is balanced. But one of the world’s biggest producers, Alcoa, is reorganizing, which could be an indication that the company is preparing for an era of depressed prices, despite continued healthy demand.

Digital transformation is affecting different industries at different speeds and on different scales. IDC reveals how in The Internet of Things and Digital Transformation: A Tale of Four Industries.

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Live Businesses Deliver a Personal Customer Experience Without Losing Trust

Lori Mitchell-Keller, Brian Walker, Johann Wrede, Polly Traylor, and Stephanie Overby

Trust is the foundation of customer relationships. People who don’t trust your business are not likely to become or remain customers.

The trust relationship has taken some big hits lately. Beloved brands like Chipotle and Toyota have seen customer trust ebb due to public perception of their roles in safety issues. Consumers continue to experience occasional data breaches from large brands.

Yet these traditional threats have short half-lives. The latest threat could last forever.

Most customers claim they want personalization across all the channels in which they interact with companies. Such personalization should create long-term loyalty by creating a new level of intimacy in the relationship.

sap_Q216_digital_double_feature3_images2But that intimacy comes at a high price. For personalization to work, brands need to gather unprecedented amounts of personal information about customers and continue to do so over the course of the relationship. Customers are already wary: 80% of consumers have updated their privacy settings recently, according to an article in VentureBeat.

Companies must get personalization right. If they do, customers are more likely to purchase again and less likely to switch to a competitor. Personalization is also an important step toward the holy grail of digital transformation: becoming a Live Business, capable of meeting customers with relevant and customized offers, products, and services in real time or in the moments of customers’ choosing.

When done wrong, personalization can cause customers to feel that they’ve been deceived and that their privacy has been violated. It can also turn into an uncomfortable headline. When Target used its database of customer purchases to send coupons for diapers to the home of an expectant teen before her father knew about the pregnancy, its action backfired. The incident became the centerpiece of a New York Times story on Target’s consumer intelligence gathering practices and privacy.

Straddling the Line of Trust

Customers can’t define the line between helpful and creepy, but they know it when they see it.

Research conducted by RichRelevance in 2015 made something abundantly clear: what marketers think is cool may be seen as creepy by consumers. For example, facial-recognition technology that identifies age and gender to target advertisements on digital screens is considered creepy by 73% of people surveyed. Yet consumers were happy about scanning a product on their mobile device to see product reviews and recommendations for other items they might like, the survey revealed. Here’s what else resonates as creepy or cool when it comes to digital engagement with consumers, courtesy of RichRelevance and Edelman Berland (now called Edelman).

Creepy

  • Shoppers are put off when salespeople greet them by name because of mobile phone signals or know their spending habits because of facial-recognition software.
  • Dynamic pricing, such as a digital display showing a lower price “just for you,” also puts shoppers off.
  • When brands collect data on consumers without their knowledge, 83% of people consider it an invasion of privacy, according to RichRelevance’s research, and 65% feel the same way about ads that follow them from Web site to Web site (retargeting).

Cool

  • Shoppers like mobile apps with interactive maps that efficiently guide them to products in the store.
  • They also like when their in-store location triggers a coupon or other promotion for a product nearby.
  • When a Web site reminds the consumer of past purchases, a majority of shoppers like it.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about which personalization tactics are creepy and which are cool, but trust is particularly threatened in face-to-face interactions. Nobody minds much if Amazon sends product recommendations through a computer, but when salespeople approach customers like a long-lost friend based on information collected without the customer’s knowledge or permission, the violation of trust feels much more personal and emotional. The stage is set for an angry, embarrassed customer to walk out  the door, forever.

sap_Q216_digital_double_feature3_images3It doesn’t help that the limits of trust shift constantly as social media tempts us to reveal more and more about ourselves and as companies’ data collection techniques continue to improve. It’s easy to cross the line from helpful to creepy or annoying (see Straddling the Line of Trust).

Online, customers are similarly choosy about personalization. For example, when online shoppers are simply looking at a product category, ads that matched their prior Web-browsing interests are ineffective, an MIT study reports. Yet after consumers have visited a review site to seek out information and are closer to a purchase, personalized content is more effective than generic ads.

Personalization Requires a Live Business

Yet the limits of trust are definitely shifting toward more personalization, not less. Customers already enjoy frictionless personalized experiences with digital-native companies like Uber, and they are applying those heightened expectations to all companies. For example, 91% of customers want to pick up where they left off when they switch between channels, according to Aspect research. And personalization is helpful when you receive recommendations for products that you would like based on previous in-store or online purchases.

sap_Q216_digital_double_feature3_images-0004Customers also want their interactions to be live—or in the moment they choose. Fulfilling that need means that companies must become Live Businesses, capable of creating a technological infrastructure that allows real-time interactions and that allows the entire organization—its structure, people, and processes—to respond to customers in all the moments that matter.

Coordinating across channels and meeting customers in the right moments with personalized interactions will become critical as the digital economy matures and customer expectations rise. For instance, when customers air complaints about a brand on social media, 72% expect a response within an hour, according to consulting firm Bain & Company. Meanwhile, an Accenture survey found that nearly 60% of consumers want real-time promotions; 48% like online reminders to order items that they might have run out of; and 51% like the idea of a one-click checkout, where they can skip payment method or shipping forms because the retailer has saved their preferences. Those types of services build trust, showing that companies care enough to understand their customers and send offers or information that save them time, money, or both.

So while trust is difficult to earn, once you’ve earned it and figured out how to maintain it, you can have customers for life—as long as you respect the shifting boundaries.

“Do customers think the company is truly acting with their best interests at heart, or is it just trying to feed the quarterly earnings beast?” asks Donna Peeples, a customer experience expert and the former chief customer experience officer at AIG. “Customer data should be accurate and timely, the company should be transparent about how the data is being used, and it should give customers control over data collection.”

sap_Q216_digital_double_feature3_images-0005How to Earn Trust for a Live Business

Despite spending US$600 billion on online purchases, U.S. consumers are concerned with transaction privacy, the 2015 Consumer Trust Survey from CA Security Council reveals. These concerns will become acute as Live Businesses make personalization across channels a reality.

Here are some ways to improve trust while moving forward with omnichannel personalization.

  • Determine the value of trust. Customers want to know what value they are getting in exchange for their data. An Accenture study found that the majority of consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom are willing to have trusted retailers use some of their personal data in order to present personalized and targeted products, services, recommendations, and offers.
    “If customers get substantial discounts or offers that are appealing to them, they are often more than willing to make that trade-off,” says Tom Davenport, author of Big Data at Work: Dispelling the Myths, Uncovering the Opportunities. “But a lot of companies are cheap. They use the information but don’t give anything back. They make offers that aren’t particularly relevant or useful. They don’t give discounts for loyalty. They’re just trying to sell more.”
  • Let customers make the first move. Customers who voluntarily give up data are more likely to trust personalization across the channels where they do business. Mobile apps are a great way to invite customers to share more data in a more intimate relationship that they control. By entering the data they choose into the app, customers won’t be annoyed by personalization that’s built around it.
    For example, a leading luxury retailer’s sales associates may offer customers their favorite beverages based on information they entered into the app about their interests and preferences.
  • Simplify data collection and usage policies. Slapping a dense data- use policy written in legalese on the corporate website does little to earn customers’ trust. Instead, companies should think about the customer data transaction, such as what information the customer is giving them, how they’re using it, and what the result will be, and describe it as simply as possible.
    “Try to describe it in words so simple that your grandmother can understand it. And then ask your grandmother if it’s reasonable,” suggests Elea McDonnell Feit, assistant professor of marketing at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. “If your grandmother can’t understand what’s happening, you’ve got a problem.”
    The use of data should be totally transparent in the interaction itself, adds Feit. “When a company uses data to customize a service or offering to a customer, the customer should be able to figure out where the company got the data and immediately see how the company is providing added value to the customers by using the data,” Feit says.
  • Create trust through education. Yes, bombarding customers with generic offers and pushing those offers across the different Web sites they visit may boost profits over the short term, but customers will eventually become weary and mistrustful. To create trust that lasts and that supports personalization, educate the customers.

Procter & Gamble’s (P&G’s) Mean Stinks campaign for Secret deodorant encourages girl-to-girl anti-bullying posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The pages let participants send apologies to those they have bullied; view videos; and share tips, tools, and challenges with their peers.

P&G has said that participation in Mean Stinks has helped drive market share increases for the core Secret brand as well as the specific line of deodorant promoted by the effort. Offering education without pushing products or services creates a sense that companies are putting customers’ interests before their own, which is one of the bedrock elements of trust. Opting in to personalization seems less risky to customers if they perceive that companies have built up a reserve of value and trust.

“Companies that do personalization well demonstrate that they care, respect customers’ time, know and understand their customers and their needs and interests,” says Peeples. “It also reinforces that interactions are not merely transactions but opportunities to build a long-term relationship with that customer.”

Laying the Foundation for Live, Personalized Omnichannel Processes

sap_Q216_digital_double_feature3_images-0006Creating a personalized omnichannel strategy that balances trust and business goals starts with knowing the customer. This can happen only when multiple aspects of your business are coordinated in a live fashion. But marketers today struggle to collect the kind of data that could drive more meaningful connections with customers. In an Infogroup survey of more than 500 marketers, only 21% said they are “very confident in the accuracy and completeness of their customer profiles.” A little over half of respondents said they aren’t collecting enough data overall.

Collecting enough of the right types of data requires more holistic data-collection techniques:

  • Take advantage of the lower costs for processing and storing terabytes of data, and develop a data strategy that combines and crunches all the customer data points needed to drive relevant interactions. This includes transactional, mobile, sensor, and  Web data.
  • Social media analytics is also a central tactic. Social profiles and activity are rich sources of data about behavior and character, merging what people buy or look for with their interests, for instance. Such data can feed predictive analytics and personalization campaigns.
  • Experiment with commercial tools that can filter and mine the data of customers and prospects in real time. This is a significant step beyond basic demographic data collections of the past.

sap_Q216_digital_double_feature3_images-0007Once the necessary data is available, companies need the technology, processes, and people to make sensible use of it in an omnichannel personalization strategy. Only when a company is organized as a Live Business can that happen. Here’s how your company can move toward being a Live Business:
Be live across channels. Having a consistent customer journey map across channels is core to omnichannel personalization. It requires integration across multiple systems and organizational silos to enable core capabilities, such as inventory visibility and purchase/pickup/return across channels. This integration also constitutes a major chunk of the transition to becoming a company that can act in the moments that matter most to customers. If all channels can sync in real time, customers can get what they want in the moment they want it.

Free the data scientists. Marketing rarely has full control over the omnichannel experience, but it is the undisputed leader in understanding customer behavior. While data science is part of that understanding, it has traditionally played a background role. Marketers need to bring the data scientists into efforts to sort through the different options for digitizing the omnichannel experience. The right data scientists understand not only how to use the tools but also how to apply the data to make accurate decisions and follow customers from channel to channel with personalized offers.

Walgreens’ Technology Approach to Personalization

Walgreens is a leader in building the kind of technology base that can enable real-time, omnichannel personalization. Its digital transformation is 16 years in the making, according to Jason Fei, senior director of architecture for digital engineering at Walgreens. At the heart of its infrastructure is a Big Data engine that feeds many customer interaction and omnichannel processes, including customer segmentation. The company adds third-party systems in areas such as predictive analytics and marketing software. Walgreens has a cloud-first strategy for all new applications, such as its image-processing and print-ordering applications. Other elements of the drugstore chain’s technology platform include:

  • Application programming interface (API)-driven architecture. Walgreens’ APIs enable more than 50 partners to connect with its apps and systems to drive customer-facing processes, including integrations with consumer wearables to drive reward points for healthy habits, as well as content partnerships with companies such as WebMD. “With APIs we can be an extensible business, allowing other companies to connect to us easily and help in the digital enablement of our physical stores,” Fei says.
  • Responsive Web sites. The company’s Web site is built using responsive and adaptive design practices so that the site automatically adapts to the consumer’s device, whether that is a mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer. “We have a single code base that runs anywhere and delivers a consistent, optimized experience to all of our customers,” Fei says.

Making the Most of the Technology Base

This technology foundation has allowed Walgreens to push forward in personalization. For example, according to Fei the company uses sophisticated segmentation and personalization engines to drive outbound e-mail and text campaigns to customers based on their purchase history and profile. “We don’t blast out messages to customers; we use our personalization recommendations to be relevant,” says Fei.

The next phase of this strategy is to develop live inbound personalization tactics, such as recognizing customers when they come back to the Web site and tailoring their experience accordingly. These highly automated, self-learning systems improve over time, becoming more relevant at the moment a customer logs back in.

“When you search for a product, the Web site will take a good guess of what you might actually want. If you always print greeting cards at the same time of year, for example, the system would automatically deliver content around that,” Fei explains. “Everyone comes to Walgreens with a mission, so we can be very targeted with our communications.”

Walgreens’ mobile app combines real-time personalization with convenience. You can scan a pill bottle to refill a prescription, access coupons, send photos from your phone to print in the store, track rewards, and find the exact location of a product on the shelf.

Walgreens also recently deployed a new integrated interactive voice-response system that includes a personalization engine that recognizes the individual, says Troy Mills, vice president of customer care at Walgreens. The system can then predict the most probable reason for the customer’s call and quickly get them to the right individual for further help.

How to Get Started with Live Customer Experiences

sap_Q216_digital_double_feature3_images-0008As Fei can attest, getting Walgreens’ omnichannel and personalization infrastructure to this point has involved a lot of work, with much more to come. For companies just now embarking on this journey, especially midsize and large companies, getting started will mean overhauling an outdated and ineffective technology infrastructure where duplicate systems and processes for managing customer data, marketing programs, and transactions are common.

A bad internal user experience often transcends into a bad customer-facing experience, says Peeples. “We can’t afford the distractions of the latest app or social ‘shiny penny’ without addressing the root causes of our systems’ issues.”

Live Business Requires Striking the Right Balance

The boundaries of trust are a moving target. Sales tactics that used to be acceptable decades ago, such as the door-to-door salesperson, are unwelcome today to most homeowners. And consumers’ expectations are unpredictable. At the dawn of social media, many people were anxious about their photos unexpectedly showing up online. Now our identities are tagged and our posts and photos distributed and commented on regularly.

But while consumers are getting more comfortable with online technology and its trade-offs, they won’t put up with personalization efforts that make use of their data without their knowledge or permission. That data has value, and customers want to decide for themselves when it’s worth giving it away. Marketers need to strike the right balance between personalization and a healthy respect for the unique needs and concerns of individuals. D!

 

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Lori Mitchell-Keller

About Lori Mitchell-Keller

Lori Mitchell-Keller is the Executive Vice President and Global General Manager Consumer Industries at SAP. She leads the Retail, Wholesale Distribution, Consumer Products, and Life Sciences Industries with a strong focus on helping our customers transform their business and derive value while getting closer to their customers.

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How Big Data Is Changing The News Industry

Maggie Chan Jones

In the runup to the U.S. presidential election, newsrooms are working at a fever pitch. But if we slow down a minute to take a closer look at modern-day news organizations, we might ask ourselves: Can they really provide accurate, unbiased information on current events at Twitter speed?

News and the art of gathering it has evolved exponentially in the last few years. How the news is consumed is also light years away from where it was a decade ago. The explosive growth of the Internet and mobile devices has anyone and everyone broadcasting their opinions. The former broadcast news landscape has shattered into millions of different sources, platforms, and feeds, each using curated content models that cater to the reader, allowing them to pick and choose their sources.

With the expanding market of content platforms and multichannel news sources has come a myriad of perspectives. Does having this choice of who we listen to – or don’t listen to – make us unintentionally biased? This question is incredibly important to consider when we as a society come together to make informed decisions that impact everyone’s future.

Today’s major news organizations are balancing two realities. One is civic responsibility for reliable, responsible journalism. The other is profitability that mandates speedy content for readers on the go. This has forced news providers to become data-driven machines – seamlessly reacting across browsers, mobile screens, and social feeds 24×7. The imperative for speed has trumped traditional ways of reporting news. Data algorithms now drive content. Data-driven research and statistics have become an important source to supplement the day’s news. Third-party data tools are being used.

But this new focus on Big Data is also a curse. A petabyte of unprocessed, unstructured data is almost as useful as having no data at all. That’s why better tools to manage Big Data and stronger data algorithms are needed to create content that can benefit today’s readers. This is an important initiative for SAP, and we’re providing technology that is already impacting the way news is prepared and consumed for important current events, such as the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

As the exclusive sponsor of Reuters’ Polling Explorer, SAP is working with Reuters to provide journalists and consumers the latest polling data, stories about the election, and more. Real-time data is fueling Reuters with the tools needed to execute news with accuracy, speed, and integrity. The new polling explorer increased their readers’ engagement from 240K visits for all of 2012 election cycle to 6.2M just in the first four months since launch in November. The Reuters election app uses the new data system to match users with the candidate who best fits with their own political leanings. And Reuters can also use software to inform polling data and other data sets into data visualizations that provide facts and stats in a dynamic, interactive manner.

By providing technology platforms that are easy to use and scalable for any sized business, technology providers can give news providers across the world a trove of insights that impact their readers in real time, especially during momentous, breaking news cycles.

For more insight on the power of Big Data, see The Risk And Reward Of Big Data.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends

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Maggie Chan Jones

About Maggie Chan Jones

Maggie Chan Jones is CMO of SAP, responsible for leading SAP’s global advertising and brand experience, customer audience marketing, and field and partner marketing functions across all markets. Her mission is to bring to life SAP’s vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives through storytelling, and to accelerate company growth. A career-marketer in the technology industry, Maggie has held a succession of roles at Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and other technology companies.