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Getting From A To B: Location Services A Big Data Opportunity For Retailers

Irfan Khan

Retailers have always known the value of where. After all, the first question any retailer must answer correctly is where to open a storefront. Get it right and customers stroll in and spend money; get it wrong and they pass on by. Using location-based data, retailers are slowly edging their way to a deeper understanding of the value of where.

 According to Deloitte, 80% of all information being collected today includes geographic data. ABI Research predicts by 2017, consumer-focused, location-based information will be a $9 billion market, with $5 billion of that just for indoor data, gathered while shoppers are already inside a store.

Smartphones, of course, generate and consume the location data that interests retailers most. Companies such as Macy’s and Harrods create mobile apps for shopping online, but more importantly to entice customers with in-store offers, helping to nudge shoppers across the boundary from considering something to buying it. For example, if a customer scans an item to get more details about it on his or her smartphone, the app connects to a backend analytics application that can offer discounts or pair the item with another compatible product for an even better deal.

Advocates for location-based data retailing even see it as a potential boon for stores that have been suffering from the boom in online shopping. Bookstores, for example, could use an app to offer limited-time, in-store only purchases for customers who walk in.

For me, though, one of the more exciting possibilities for retailers will be exploring the value of location-based data hidden in directions from mapping services. Researchers at Google have been looking into “hyper-local” queries from people needing to get from place A to place B. They work under the reasonable assumption that place B is “interesting,” at the very least to people who start in place A.

As you can imagine, Google and other online mapping services have enormous troves of data from users asking for directions to many interesting place Bs. By learning what makes the Bs of the world attractive to consumers (Is it a restaurant? A hotel? A sports stadium? Maybe even a bookstore?), retailers can match their compatible or contrasting storefronts to those locations.

In addition to understanding why B is an interesting place, retailers might want to analyze all the As that consumers start from. That is, perhaps there are enough people in the neighborhood around place A to warrant locating a place B closer to that place A. Savvy retail business analysts can have a field day with location-based data like this.

There are privacy issues entwined with location-based data. But retailers’ opt-in apps and anonymous mapping data from Google and other services mitigate those problems to a great extent. Ultimately, though, consumers will benefit with better service and product availability when retailers not only know more precisely what people will purchase and how much they will spend for it, but where they will buy it as well.

Image Source: zoetnet/Flickr

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Irfan Khan

About Irfan Khan

Irfan Khan is Global Head of Sales for the Database & Data Management (DDM) business at SAP. He is responsible for the sales force driving SAP data platform solutions across six regions. Irfan is focused on key areas including cloud and on-premise solutions powered by the SAP HANA platform, SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Sybase databases, enterprise information management, and middleware offerings in support of SAP and non-SAP digital transformation, the Internet of Things, Big Data, and modern data warehousing customer scenarios.

How Better Clinical Trial Recruitment Can Improve Healthcare

Dr. Harald Sourij

Patients want to be certain that they receive the best treatment available, and clinicians want to ensure they’re delivering optimal care. Unfortunately, in many cases, providers can’t be confident they are delivering care that will result in the best outcome because their treatment may not be current or informed by proven medical findings. Time is of the essence when it comes to care—and clinicians often lack sufficient time to research treatment best practices while treating patients.

Clinical research is an important component of patient care. Treatment should be based on the outcomes from clinical trials. However, evidence that is based on clinical trials is not always available to help providers recommend one medication or course of treatment over another.

The number of clinical trials is increasing significantly, but trials cannot be successful without enough participants to gather evidence. Recruiting participants can be challenging, and it can be difficult to match the right participants with studies. Approximately one out of three clinical trials fails to meet recruitment targets, so the sample size becomes too small to draw scientifically justified conclusions. The remaining two-thirds of trials recruit participants slowly. The effort becomes costly and time-consuming.

Recruitment failure in clinical trials is a major concern in the healthcare industry. It may seem unethical to ask trial participants for time and engagement and potentially expose them to some risk. However, if researchers are not successful in recruiting participants, they may never find answers to some of the most pressing medical research questions.

Big data eases recruitment pain points

New digital tools are starting to help researchers do a better job attracting, matching, and including appropriate clinical trial participants. Technology is also helping to facilitate and improve the patient recruitment process. One key is leveraging the Big Data that already exists in healthcare organizations.

Unfortunately, patient data is often unstructured and lives in disparate systems, so it’s difficult for researchers to identify potential participants. For instance, study nurses have traditionally helped identify subjects who fulfill research study criteria, but they have been held back by the need to sift through files of paper-based patient records. Technology enables researchers extract information from electronic medical records to quickly identify potential study participants.

Using data strategically can not only improve recruitment rates, but it also ensure that participants are a good fit with a particular study. Clinic physicians don’t always ask patients if they are interested in participating in clinical research because they lack the time or don’t have sufficient knowledge of specific trials. Now the records of prospective participants can be flagged, enabling clinicians to discuss the study with them during routine medical care.

patient recruiment analytics

Of course, the ultimate goal of clinical research is improving patient care and outcomes, and improving the clinical trial recruitment process helps do just that and more. Process optimization through automation of time-consuming patient screening improves collaboration, saves time, and facilitates the research process for all end users.

Automated patient recruitment benefits hospitals and healthcare systems and improves patient outcomes by increasing physicians’ awareness of clinical trials. It also benefits life science companies and contract research organizations (CROs) by optimizing trial design and protocol based on eligible patients and reducing research and development cycle time and costs.

Clinical trials set stage for better patient outcomes

Center for Biomarker Research in Medicine (CBmed) is working on an innovative software application to help researchers find and screen eligible patients for clinical trials. While the application is still under development, it aims to address common recruitment challenges.

CBmed and the University Hospital Graz are looking into a trial data model that can store all relevant information, create a trial manually or import details from clinicaltrials.gov to reduce manual intervention, automatically match patient data from electronic medical records, and enter criteria tolerance to improve eligible patient screening results. More information on the CBmed project, Innovative Use of Information for Clinical Care, and Biomarker Research (IICCAB) can be found here.

I began working in clinical research because I wanted to find answers to the questions patients ask every day about their own care. Technological innovation is enabling faster, better clinical trials by improving the participant recruitment process, and it will ultimately lead to evidence-based, life-changing, and life-saving treatments for patients.

For more on how technology can help improve patient outcomes, see Patient Engagement: Key To High-Value Care.

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Dr. Harald Sourij

About Dr. Harald Sourij

Harald Sourij is the the Deputy Director of the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology and the Head of the Diabetes Outpatient Clinic at the Medical University of Graz, Austria. He also leads the Area Metabolism and Inflammation at the Center for Biomarker Research in Medicine (CBmed) in Graz, Austria. His research activities focus mainly on diabetes and its cardiovascular complications. Harald has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters in highly ranked journals including The Lancet, European Heart Journal, and Diabetes Care. He is a member of the European Diabetes Association and of the Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease Study Group of the EASD and is currently the Treasurer of the Austrian Diabetes Association. He has been awarded the Langerhans Award of the Austrian Diabetes Association in 2013 and the Joseph Skoda Award of the Austrian Society for Internal Medicine in 2015. He served as Associate Editor for the scientific journal Trials (2013-2105).

How To Benefit From Upgrading Your Digital Mindset

Derek Klobucher

More technologies are simultaneously reaching maturity than at any other time in recent memory. Getting the most out of cloud, mobile, Big Data, Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other maturing technologies will require organizations to open themselves to new ways of thinking.

Technology providers will have to open their minds too, which is one reason for the creation of a new digital innovation system. The system focuses on its users’ business outcomes, especially those driven by maturing technologies such as IoT, according to Stacy Crook, IDC research director of IoT.

“The big strategy for IoT is … to tie people with things and processes,” Crook recently told TechTarget. “[There is] deep industry knowledge and a lot of information that will be useful in these IoT workflows.”

But users seeking to make the most of that information – and IoT workflows – must change their way of thinking. And while the Internet is full of listicles defining digital mindset, there is a new four-part definition that includes investing in next-generation technology.

Improving problem solving and employee engagement

“Leaders [in digital transformation] report a high level of investment in cloud computing and enterprise mobility, double-digit growth in Big Data and analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), and hypergrowth in machine learning and artificial intelligence,” said a new SAP study conducted with Oxford Economics.

A digital transformation driven by a digital innovation system has already empowered Caterpillar Inc.’s workforce to fix problems in real time – and to improve business outcomes. The system yielded outstanding employee engagement for the Peoria-based manufacturing giant during a recent project, according to Marty Groover, Business Construction Products Operational Technology manager at Caterpillar.

“Without having to go pull all of the data out of the system, it automatically starts driving that cognitive use of the data to solve issues in the moment so we can produce better quality of processes and products,” Grover said of Digital Manufacturing Insights at SAP Leonardo Live July 11-12. “The hourly employees love it and want more of it.”

But just because users enjoy digital technology doesn’t mean that they started out in favor of it.

A digital transformation pilot freed up 85% of nurses’ time, InCor’s Guilherme Rabello (on screen) said at SAP Leonardo Live. The nurses spent less time writing down data points, so they could spend more time connecting with their patients.

Winning over reluctant workers

There can be many obstacles to digital transformation, from a lack of leadership to an absence of change-management expertise, as the SAP/Oxford study noted. But buy-in among conservative medical professionals was critical at the largest heart hospital in Latin America, according to Guilherme Rabello, Commercial and Market Intelligence manager at InCor (Instituto do Coração – UCFMUSP).

“We had to convince them that … the technology was not dragging them out of their main service, but assisting them to provide even better care to their patients,” Rabello said at SAP Leonardo Live. “So we engaged with all of them upfront, and we showed them why we were doing [what we were doing].”

InCor’s uptake of the digital innovation system was quick, especially for younger medical professionals who are comfortable in digital environments, according to Rabello. And the pilot freed up 85% of InCor nurses’ time; because they spent less time writing down data points, they could spend more time connecting with their patients.

Streamlining high-speed train operations

Just as a physician wants patients to stay healthy – without unnecessary treatment – Italy’s primary train operator wants the most efficient way to keep its trains running optimally, according to Danilo Gismondi, CIO of Trenitalia Spa. Big Data analytics uses data from each train’s myriad IoT sensors – 10,000 sensors sending more than 5,000 signals per second – to help Trenitalia minimize downtime and maintenance costs by fixing trains when demands – not schedules – dictate.

“We were looking for an end-to-end platform – not a single solution – but something able to manage the huge amount of data coming from the sensors onboard,” Gismondi said of the dynamic maintenance management system, at SAP Leonardo Live. “The platform must manage this data, transforming the information for the decision makers and the maintainers.”

“We were looking for an end-to-end platform — not a single solution — but something able to manage the huge amount of data coming from the sensors onboard,” Trenitalia’s Danilo Gismondi said at SAP Leonardo Live. Each train has about 10,000 sensors sending more than 5,000 signals per second.

Additionally, cutting-edge statistical methodology predicts malfunctions and breakdowns, which helps Trenitalia improve its maintenance processes – and its service to about 2 million passengers each day. It also helps spot faults or glitches, which might have otherwise taken a perfectly good train out of service for unnecessary maintenance.

Maturing technologies – and mindsets

“What sets the leaders apart is that they have internalized the need to transform how they think as well as what they do – to create a digital mindset across the organization,” the SAP/Oxford study said. “This is the difference between saying ‘we need a mobile app’ and ‘we need new ways to serve customers in the ways they want to be served.’”

Caterpillar, InCor, and Trenitalia chose to seek new ways to serve their customers, evolving their mindsets and maturing their business models concurrently with maturing technology, such as IoT and Big Data. Benefits include increased employee engagement, greater efficiency, minimal equipment downtime, and reduced maintenance costs.

Click here for the SAP/Oxford study.

This story originally appeared on SAP’s Business Trends. Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

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Derek Klobucher

About Derek Klobucher

Derek Klobucher is a Financial Services Writer and Editor for Sybase, an SAP Company. He has covered the exchanges in Chicago, European regulation in Dublin and banking legislation in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Northwestern University in Evanston.

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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Dan Wellers

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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Why HR Is The New Marketing

Michael Brenner

In a world of infinite media choices, the best way to reach new buyers and new talent might be right under your nose. Your own employees represent the greatest opportunity to create meaningful marketing and to develop human resources programs that increase sales, while also finding and retaining top talent. Is HR the new marketing?

In the battle for new talent, HR departments have been forced to expand their role from hiring and firing, overseeing personnel systems and processes, and handling benefit management to include leadership development and training, employer branding, and diversity initiatives.

HR has been forced to adopt strategies that look, well, very much like marketing. These days, HR develops campaigns to grow employer awareness, to build the employer brand as a “great place to work,” and to retain top talent—all traditional marketing objectives.

While many in HR have embraced these traditional marketing skills, the most effective companies are moving beyond HR simply applying marketing techniques to a whole new opportunity. These effective companies are actually activating employees as a new marketing channel to achieve both HR and marketing objectives.

Proceed with caution

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving the potential of employees as a new marketing channel is the perception of marketing as advertising.

Asking (or forcing) your employees to share product content on their social media channels is just as dangerous as asking them to share (or guilting them into sharing) what a great place your company is to work.

Consumers are increasingly ignoring and blocking advertising messages, with some research even suggesting that promotional messages from brands can have the opposite of their intended effect. These misguided efforts can actually cause sales to decline!

While some employees may authentically share their excitement and passion for the products they work on, the projects they are engaged in, and the company they work for (and we should celebrate that), this is not a sustainable strategy for getting new customer or talent.

Content marketing and HR

Content marketing has emerged as one of the hottest trends in marketing. Marketers are learning to think and act like publishers to create entertaining, interesting, or helpful content that consumers actually want to read and share (vs. promotional ads). And this approach allows a brand to reach, engage, convert and retain new customers.

The opportunity to activate employees to achieve marketing and HR objectives starts by creating content they naturally want to share.

As the first VP of content marketing at SAP, I learned to tap into the power of my fellow employees to create a marketing program that delivered massive ROI. The biggest lesson I learned: HR is the new marketing!

With a limited budget for content, I asked our internal experts to write articles on whatever they wanted. We had one editorial rule: no product promotion. Our internal experts could explore their professional or personal passions and interests, even if it meant writing about cat videos. Because somewhere out in the world, I believed there was a potential customer, employee, partner or investor who might also loved cat videos. (No one ever wrote about cat videos. Bummer!)

I even created a slideshare deck to explain the value for these employees/budding content marketers:

  • Grow your personal brand
  • Increase or establish your authority on the topics you are interested in
  • Gain new social media followers
  • Maybe even find that new job or get promoted

We also encouraged this behavior by publicly recognizing our top articles and authors each week in a round-up post. We made rock stars of the best performers as their social connections and influence increased. And this drove more employees to sign up.

Today, that site has hundreds of employee contributors. All are growing their personal brand, while expressing their passions and expertise to the world. And many of the employees who don’t write articles voluntarily share the content with their social connections.

As LinkedIn’s own Jason Miller mentioned in his article, the trick is to define what’s in it for them.

Why does this work?

Because you can create massive momentum when we combine the needs of our customers, our employees, and our company based on THEIR own distinct interests:

  • Companies want more loyal customers and talented employees.
  • Employees want purpose and meaningful work that has real impact on their career and the world.
  • Customers want to form relationships with brands on their terms and based on their self-interest

What you can do to activate HR as the new marketing

1. Create a customer-centric vision

Look around your organization, and you will see people above you, below you, and beside you. The traditional org chart still exists to focus on your position in the hierarchy. But where’s the customer? Where is the customer in your org chart? 

Even if your company mission isn’t customer-centric (“we are the leading provider of widgets”), your marketing vision must be. And there is one simple formula to get there:

Become a sought-after destination for which topicin order to deliver what customer value or impact.

2. Create content employees who want to share

According to LinkedIn, the combined connections of employees on the LinkedIn platform is 10 times larger than any company’s followers. And just 3 percent of company employees sharing branded content generate 30 percent of the views and clicks on that content.

Platforms such as LinkedIn Elevate, social selling programs, and other tools can dramatically increase the reach of your content, grow your company’s social presence, and improve the effectiveness of marketing programs — without spending a single dollar on paid media.

But you have to create content your employees want to share. You might even ask them to help you. The trick is to explain what’s in it for them: creating or sharing content can help them build more connections, establish relationships with other leaders in your industry, and grow their personal brand so they can achieve happiness in their careers.

3. Measure the results

Measure the impact of your employee content sharing for your company. Demonstrate how it has benefited the employees (increased connections, awards, and recognition). Discuss ways to profile your best customers as well.

And partner with your colleagues across HR, marketing, and sales to determine the best ways to continuously optimize what is working for everyone.

If you’re in marketing, it’s time to start thinking about your colleagues in HR as your new best friend. And if you’re in HR, it’s time to think about how marketing can help you acquire and retain the best talent — while making the leadership team happy as well.

For more strategies that create a culture that drives business growth, see Employee Advocacy = Engaged Employees.

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Michael Brenner

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.