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Data Centers Are Up To Big Data's Power Challenge

Irfan Khan

Source: istockphotoIf you look at today’s typical data center with its racks of blade servers, SANs, network switches, UPSs, and more humming away, crunching gigabytes, terabytes, even petabytes of data, everything seems fine. If you look into the eyes of a typical data center manager, you might see something else. You might see fear.

As data center managers are well aware, data quantities are growing relentlessly. The explosion of data requires more servers, more storage and more bandwidth. These sharp demands threaten everything from the ability to conduct regular backups to simply keeping the lights (and air conditioning) on. Let’s drill down into the issue of data center power consumption.

I don’t want to upset data center managers any more than they already are, but consider that there are 4 billion mobile devices out there today ready to consume information from data centers and, more ominously, create data to put into them, requiring even more hardware and more electricity.

Five years ago, the U.S. environmental Protection Agency issued a report predicting that power consumption by data centers in the United States would double between 2005 to 2010, just as it had done from 2000 to 2005. IDC says power and cooling demand is the number one operational problem for data centers.

But IT systems are not standing still. They are giving new life – and efficiency — to old data centers. Consider that five years ago, when the EPA issued its dire report, Intel-based servers were running two core chipsets at 110 watts. Today Intel’s E7 chipset architecture runs 10 cores with 20 processing threads using only 130 watts. In short, you can do substantially more processing within a substantially smaller power envelope with the latest servers.

And virtualization has improved server utilization dramatically, reducing the need to add more power-consuming machines. By next year, IDC estimates that every physical server will house an average of 8.5 virtual machines.

And these advances already are paying dividends. Indeed, a study last year by Stanford’s Jonathan Koomey shows that the EPA’s projection was overly pessimistic. Power consumption by data centers grew at 36% in the U.S. between 2005 and 2010, not 100% as predicted. While the recent recession undoubtedly contributed to the lower use of electricity, consider that during that same period we saw dramatic growth in cloud computing, a doubling of Internet users globally and the building of massive, power-hungry data centers by companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others.

Certainly big data will continue to put pressure on IT operations in many areas, including power consumption. However, IT vendors will continue to squeeze more efficiencies out of hardware, assuring that big data will have data centers to process, store and serve it up to users.

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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.

Marketing Meets Blockchain: What’s A Fair Price For Customer Data?

Jacqueline Prause

For everything from insurance to supply chain management, blockchain technology promises to upend traditional business practices – sometimes in the most surprising ways.

Even the modern marketer will not be spared from the blockchain revolution. On a recent episode of Internet talk radio show Coffee Break with Game-Changers, presented by SAP, a panel of three leading industry experts discussed the potential for blockchain technology to disrupt marketing.

During the show, titled Blockchain Technology: Turning Marketing on its Head, host Bonnie D. Graham moderated an energized, technology-focused discussion that revolved around a central question: What if the customer charges the marketer for access to his or her data in the blockchain?

For marketers long in search of a unified customer profile – that Holy Grail of marketing that provides a holistic picture of the customer, as mined from reams of marketing data – this question is sure to give serious cause for thought. Panelist Jeremy Epstein, CEO at Never Stop Marketing, summarized what this means for the future of marketing: “In a blockchain world, marketers will have to earn customer permission in an entirely new way. Identity will be controlled by the users.”

New challenges ahead in quest for unified customer profile

For those not familiar with the concept, blockchain technology is the infrastructure that forms the underpinning ledger of the Bitcoin crypto-currency, a technological marvel unto itself that is currently more highly valued than an ounce of gold. The decentralized network of computers and protocols that form a blockchain provide increased privacy and security for all data that resides therein. The encrypted nature of the blockchain puts the control over access to personal data squarely in the hands of the individual user.

“In a blockchain world, you’re going to have a shared data layer worldwide where the information is put into a blockchain and kept there,” Epstein explained. “But the control of that information will reside with each of us. For example, I as a customer will grant or revoke access to my personal information to a given company on a need-to-know basis.”

This is a vastly different approach from the current marketing process model of capturing customer data, storing it in databases, mining it, and possibly selling it to a third party. “It really is the inversion of the user model,” said Joel Monegro, investment analyst at Union Square Ventures. “If you think about how the web works today, you have to go to a whole bunch of different services to get different pieces of information: You have to go to Google to get your notifications or to get information of things that you are looking for; you have to go to Facebook to get information about your friends; and you have to go to Amazon to get information about products to buy.

“Instead, what is happening with blockchains is that we’re developing an architecture where services come to the user for their information. It’s creating this comprehensive view of the user that is user-centric and user-controlled.”

How much is my data worth to you?

“The user will have a blockchain-based identity,” explained Amanda Gutterman, chief marketing officer, ConsenSys. “You will control all of the different reputational and data attributes connected to that identity. You can selectively share or not share, or sell.”

In this new marketing environment, a brand may approach the customer with an offer to receive its weekly sales newsletter, as is often the case today when you make a purchase with a new vendor online. What will be new is that the customer can respond with the price that she will charge for reading that newsletter. Per the example given in the show, that customer might say, “Okay, for me to even look at your email there’s going to be a micropayment of .003 cents.” The brand could decide if it is willing to pay that or not, based on how much it values that customer’s interaction, and then initiate a transaction for payment in the form of a crypto-currency, like the Bitcoin. Assigning value to customer interaction is common practice in marketing today, however the customer is typically not paid for this interaction.

“What blockchain is going to enable, with the ability to create very sophisticated micropayment structures and governance structures, is kind of a sliding scale of media. So at any moment you’re either paying to consume media or being paid to consume media, based on whose interests are at play,” said Gutterman.

The brand will be able to assess on a case-by-case basis if it should continue paying that customer. In turn, the customer will be able to decide to raise her rates, perhaps because she is getting inundated with marketing information from other brands competing for his attention.

“It’ll be a negotiation for your attention and for your information, which are all assets that [marketers] want. If these weren’t assets, they wouldn’t be trying to capture and mine it,” concluded Epstein. At the very least, it means that marketers will be challenged to engage with customers in new ways – and will need to continuously prove the value of the relationship to their customer.

Listen to a recording of the full show here: Blockchain Technology: Turning Marketing on its Head

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Jacqueline Prause

About Jacqueline Prause

Jacqueline Prause is the Senior Managing Editor of Media Channels at SAP. She writes, edits, and coordinates journalistic content for SAP.info, SAP's global online news magazine for customers, partners, and business influencers .

How 3D Printing Could Transform The Chemical Industry

Stefan Guertzgen

The history of 3D printing started 30 years ago with Chuck Hull, the Thomas Edison of the 3D printing industry, who introduced the first 3D printer. Since then, 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) has been used to create everything from food and other consumer goods to automotive and airplane parts.

Key drivers of adoption

The tremendous growth of 3D printing has been driven by three key factors. First, the cost is rapidly decreasing due to lower raw material costs, stronger competitive pressures, and technological advancements. Second, printing speeds are increasing. For example, last year, startup company Carbon3D printed a palm-sized geodesic sphere in a little more than 6 minutes, which is 25 to 100 times faster than traditional 3D printing solutions. Third, new 3D printers are able to accommodate a wider variety of materials. Driven by innovations within the chemical industry, a broad range of polymers, resins, plasticizers, and other materials are being used to create new 3D products.

While it’s difficult to predict the long-term impact 3D printing will have on the overall economy, it is safe to say that the it could affect almost every industry and the way companies do business. In fact, the chemical industry has already implemented 3D applications in the areas of research and development (R&D) and manufacturing.

Innovative feedstocks and processes

3D printing provides a vast opportunity for the chemical industry to develop innovative feedstock and drive new revenue streams. While more than 3,000 materials are used in conventional component manufacturing, only about 30 are available for 3D printing. To put this into perspective, the market for chemical powder materials is predicted to be more than $630 million annually by 2020.

Plastics and resins, as well as metal powders and ceramic materials, are already in use or under evaluation for printing prototypes, parts of industry assets, or semi-finished goods—particularly those that are complex to produce and that require small batch sizes. Developing the right formulas to create these new materials offers an opportunity for constant innovation within the chemical field, which will likely produce even more materials in the future. For example, Covestro, a developer of polymer technology, is developing a range of filaments, powders, and liquid resins for all common 3D printing methods; 3M, working with its subsidiary Dyneon, recently filed a patent for using fluorinated polymers in 3D printing; and Wacker is testing 3D printing with silicones.

The chemical industry is also in the driver’s seat when it comes to process development. About 20 different processes now exist that share one common characteristic: layered deposition of printer feed. The final product could be generated from melting thermoplastic resins (for example, laser sinter technology or fused deposition modeling) or via (photo) chemical reaction such as stereo-lithography or multi-jet modeling. For both process types, the physical and chemical properties of feed materials are critical success factors for processing and for the quality of the finished product.

New tools and techniques in R&D and operations

Typically, the laboratory equipment used to do chemical synthesis is expensive and complex to use, and it often represents an obstacle in the research progress. With 3D printing, it is now possible to create reliable, robust miniaturized fluidic reactors as “micro-platforms” for organic chemical syntheses and materials processes, printed in few hours with inexpensive materials. Such micro-reactors allow building up target molecules via multi-step synthesis as well as breaking down molecular structures and detecting the building blocks through reagents which could be embedded during the 3D printing process.

Micro-reactors can also be used as small prototypes to simulate manufacturing processes.

In addition to printing equipment used in laboratories, some chemical manufacturers are using 3D printers for maintenance on process plant assets. For example, when an asset fails because of a damaged engine valve, the replacement part can be printed on site and installed in real time. Creating spare parts in-house can significantly reduce inventory costs and wait time for deliveries, hence contributing to increase overall asset uptime.

For companies that do not want to print the parts themselves, an on-demand manufacturing network is available that will print and deliver parts as needed. UPS has introduced a fully distributed manufacturing platform that connects many of its stores with 3D printers. When needed, UPS and its partners print and deliver requested parts to customers.

Commercial benefits

Across all industries, 3D printing promises to reduce costs across the supply chain. For example, the ability to print spare parts on demand can save money through improved asset uptime and more efficient workforce management. 3D printing also helps control costs with reduced waste and a smaller carbon footprint. In contrast to traditional “subtractive” manufacturing techniques in which raw material is removed, 3D printing is an additive process that uses only the amount of material that is needed. This can save significant amounts of raw materials. In the aerospace industry, for example, Airbus estimates 3D printing could reduce its raw material costs by up to 90 percent.

From a manufacturing perspective, 3D printing can streamline processes, accelerate design cycles, and add agility to operations. Printing prototypes on site speeds the R&D development cycle and shortens time to market. Researchers can make, test, and finalize prototypes in days instead of weeks. Also, the ability to print parts or equipment on demand will eliminate expensive inventory holding costs and restocking order requirements and free up floor space for other purposes. In the U.S. alone, manufacturers and trade inventories for all industries were estimated at $1.8 trillion in August 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Reducing inventory by just 2 percent would be a $36 billion savings.

Barriers to adoption

As with most new technology, barriers must be overcome for this potential to fully be realized. One much-discussed but unresolved issue is intellectual property protection. Similar to the way digital music is shared, 3D printable digital blueprints could be shared illegally and/or unknowingly either within a company or by outside hackers.

In addition to digital files, users can print molds from scanned objects and use them to mass-produce exact replicas that are protected under copyright, trademark, and patent laws. This problem will continue to grow as companies move to an on-demand manufacturing network, requiring digital blueprints to be shared with independent fabricators. This poses a huge threat on companies losing billions of dollars every year in intellectual property globally.

Regulatory issues are slowing the adoption of 3D printer applications. This is especially applicable in the medical and pharmaceutical industries but has potential impact in many markets. For example, globally regulating what individuals will create with access to the Internet and a 3D chemical printer will be difficult. Also, as 3D printing drives small and customer-specific lot sizes, it will likely spur an explosion of proprietary bills of material and recipes, which will be hard to track and control under REACH or REACH-like regulations. Because this is a new frontier, many regulatory issues must be addressed.

In addition to legal and regulatory challenges, the industry has a long way to go in reliably reproducing high-quality products. Until 3D printing can match the speed and quality output requirements of conventional manufacturing processes, it will likely be reserved for prototypes or small-sized lots.

3D printing: a new frontier

While 3D printing has not reached the point of use for large-scale production or to consistently make custom products, ongoing innovations drive high demand. 3D printer market forecasts estimate that shipments of industrial 3D printers will grow by ~400% through 2021 to a value of about $26 billion. Global inventory value is estimated to be over $10 trillion. Reducing global inventory by just 5% would free up $500 billion in capital. Manufacturing overall is estimated to contribute ~16% to the global economy. If 3D printing just would capture 5% of this $12.8 trillion market, it would create a $640 billion+ opportunity.

3D printing will initially help chemical companies increase profitability by lowering costs and improving operational efficiency. However, the industry-changing opportunity is the chance to develop new feeds and formulations. The most successful chemical companies of the future will be the ones with the vision to begin developing and implementing 3D printing solutions today.

Learn more about SAPPHIRE NOW and secure your spot today!

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Stefan Guertzgen

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.

How Emotionally Aware Computing Can Bring Happiness to Your Organization

Christopher Koch


Do you feel me?

Just as once-novel voice recognition technology is now a ubiquitous part of human–machine relationships, so too could mood recognition technology (aka “affective computing”) soon pervade digital interactions.

Through the application of machine learning, Big Data inputs, image recognition, sensors, and in some cases robotics, artificially intelligent systems hunt for affective clues: widened eyes, quickened speech, and crossed arms, as well as heart rate or skin changes.




Emotions are big business

The global affective computing market is estimated to grow from just over US$9.3 billion a year in 2015 to more than $42.5 billion by 2020.

Source: “Affective Computing Market 2015 – Technology, Software, Hardware, Vertical, & Regional Forecasts to 2020 for the $42 Billion Industry” (Research and Markets, 2015)

Customer experience is the sweet spot

Forrester found that emotion was the number-one factor in determining customer loyalty in 17 out of the 18 industries it surveyed – far more important than the ease or effectiveness of customers’ interactions with a company.


Source: “You Can’t Afford to Overlook Your Customers’ Emotional Experience” (Forrester, 2015)


Humana gets an emotional clue

Source: “Artificial Intelligence Helps Humana Avoid Call Center Meltdowns” (The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2016)

Insurer Humana uses artificial intelligence software that can detect conversational cues to guide call-center workers through difficult customer calls. The system recognizes that a steady rise in the pitch of a customer’s voice or instances of agent and customer talking over one another are causes for concern.

The system has led to hard results: Humana says it has seen an 28% improvement in customer satisfaction, a 63% improvement in agent engagement, and a 6% improvement in first-contact resolution.


Spread happiness across the organization

Source: “Happiness and Productivity” (University of Warwick, February 10, 2014)

Employers could monitor employee moods to make organizational adjustments that increase productivity, effectiveness, and satisfaction. Happy employees are around 12% more productive.




Walking on emotional eggshells

Whether customers and employees will be comfortable having their emotions logged and broadcast by companies is an open question. Customers may find some uses of affective computing creepy or, worse, predatory. Be sure to get their permission.


Other limiting factors

The availability of the data required to infer a person’s emotional state is still limited. Further, it can be difficult to capture all the physical cues that may be relevant to an interaction, such as facial expression, tone of voice, or posture.



Get a head start


Discover the data

Companies should determine what inferences about mental states they want the system to make and how accurately those inferences can be made using the inputs available.


Work with IT

Involve IT and engineering groups to figure out the challenges of integrating with existing systems for collecting, assimilating, and analyzing large volumes of emotional data.


Consider the complexity

Some emotions may be more difficult to discern or respond to. Context is also key. An emotionally aware machine would need to respond differently to frustration in a user in an educational setting than to frustration in a user in a vehicle.

 


 

download arrowTo learn more about how affective computing can help your organization, read the feature story Empathy: The Killer App for Artificial Intelligence.


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Christopher Koch

About Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight. He is an experienced publishing professional, researcher, editor, and writer in business, technology, and B2B marketing. Share your thoughts with Chris on Twitter @Ckochster.

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Enterprise Information Management: The Foundational Core Of Digital Transformation Success

Paul Lewis

The definition and implementation of digital transformation has become so muddled that no two organizations are focusing on the same strategies and initiatives. Many companies choose to engage in e-commerce and social media to extend their customer base with engaging, personalized, and round-the-clock shopping experiences. Some eye operational efficiencies through the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence. And a growing segment is enticed by game-changing insights from analytics and social sentiments.

No matter the digital strategy, data is the foundation of all of these efforts. The customer experience is about understanding clients and offering services that answer their needs. Decision making requires stored knowledge that can be easily shared, secured, and applied. Operational excellence runs on meaningful insight that drives performance and keeps workers safe.

In digital transformation, every change relies on converting data into actionable decisions. According to Capgemini, companies that act on an enterprise information management (EIM) strategy outperform their rivals by as much as 26%.

The EIM difference in digital transformation

A data point by itself may seem unrelated and inconsequential. But when enterprise data is united and managed as one asset, decision makers finally have trusted, complete, and relevant information they need to seize opportunities and avoid risks that were previously hidden in the background.

One of my clients, Pravine Balkaran, global head of IT at Spin Master, one of the world’s largest toy and media entertainment companies, said it best: “It’s about being able to apply standardization and automation to the entire ecosystem to bring value and move the business forward.”

EIM derives new value by incorporating the traditional functions of data, including business intelligence, data science, analytics, data storage and archiving, data stewardship, and data mobility technology. The more data added, the more valuable the ecosystem becomes – without the complexity commonly experienced when searching for potentially valuable data across a diverse set of existing applications.

By applying EIM to the core of its digital strategy, companies like Spin Master are capturing and coalescing data from a variety of sources and turning it into actionable information to drive better decision making, innovate new products, enter new markets, and encourage a more responsive customer experience.

The EIM road map towards rapid creation of new value

Now for the hard part: Putting EIM into action and at the center of your digital transformation business strategy. There are five things you should do now before moving to a more digitalized and data-driven way of doing business.

1. Inventory available information

Most companies believe that their data resides in core databases and a data model of known entities such as claims, transactions, vendors, and suppliers. Although this is a widely used approach to determining the class of your information, it is only a small part of what you actually own. Structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data; log files; conversations; customer sentiment; and real-time information from suppliers and vendors, for example, should be integrated as part of the overall EIM philosophy.

2. Classify your inventory

Data typically can be classified with one or more of these six attributes:

  • Real-time, streaming data, which potentially comes from machines
  • Static data from production databases
  • Valuable data in real time once stored
  • Realizes value over time and as it changes
  • Relevant to a particular government mandate or legislative concern
  • Objective and relative importance to divisions of the overall enterprise, including customers and the business network

With this exercise, you can begin to understand the function that each data point serves and its usefulness in the future.

3. Encourage the business culture to appreciate the value of discovery

Data-driven decision making is not based on blind faith that data always tells the right story. Rather, it is asking the right questions, and knowing how to dig deep into the data helps us make the connections we need to get an accurate picture of the current situation. Once you discover those nuggets of insight gold, data science and advanced analytics can be applied to pinpoint the appropriate solution. Later, you can leverage data visualization tools to communicate findings and proposed action in a format that is quick and easy for all levels of the enterprise to consume.

4. Shift your focus from yesterday to today and beyond

Traditionally, data analysis is an exercise of looking backward to determine the how, what, when, and why an event happened. However, the pace of change in every aspect of the business has accelerated so much, that it’s rendered this retrospective approach to analytics nearly useless. Real-time access to data allows decision makers to know what’s happening in the moment and how it will impact the future to seize opportunities and mitigate risks.

The path to digital transformation is paved with data

The volume of data generated by people across the entire business network – from employee to consumer and everyone in between – represents a veritable trove of information, insights, and inspiration for innovation. But first, companies need to know where to find this data and how to best apply it to everyday decision making. With EIM, data can be broken down and reassembled into a manageable form that is meaningful, outcome-driven, and transformational.

Learn more about how to uncover Data – The Hidden Treasure Inside Your Business.

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Paul Lewis

About Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis is the Chief Technology Officer in Hitachi for the Americas, responsible for the leading technology trend mastery and evangelism, client executive advocacy, and external delivery of the Hitachi vision and strategy especially related to digital transformation and social innovation. Additionally, Paul contributes to field enablement of data intelligence and analytics; interprets and translates complex technology trends including cloud, mobility, governance, and information management; and represents the Americas region in the Global Technology Office, the Hitachi LTD R&D division. In his role of trusted advisor to the CIO community, Paul’s explicit goal is to ensure clients’ problems are solved and opportunities realized. Paul can be found at his blog, on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.