How To Derive Value From Data: First, Know What Will Make Your Business Great

Irfan Khan

In an interview with the MIT Sloan Management ReviewJeanne Ross, the director and principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, was asked how a business can derive value from data, a question every executive must ask him or herself daily. Her answer should be printed out and placed on every IT pro’s desk.

“First of all,” she said, “you have to know what is going to make you great. If you want to run yourself as a company that is data savvy, information savvy, analytics savvy, you need great data about your business.”

Note: she says you need to know what makes your business great or what will make it great before you jump on the analytics bandwagon. If you already know what makes your company great, it will be easy to identify and exploit the great data associated with that part of your business.

I agree. Take, for example, Centrica, a UK-based integrated energy company. It faces the problem of every utility in the world: deliver energy to customers at the lowest possible cost. While managing costs is an issue for every business, it’s absolutely critical to energy companies that confront extremely volatile markets in a highly regulated industry. Great data to Centrica, then, comes from business processes that give insight to how costs are incurred.

In one key new area of innovation, the company has deployed smart meters to its customers, creating new business processes and data. Gavin Targowski, Centrica’s Head of Information and Integration Architecture, says applying analytics to the real time information flowing from the smart meters into its SAP HANA in-memory database now gives them the ability to “change the way we approach existing business problems.” Analytics applied to the new data let Centrica discover and correct inefficiencies, he says, “effectively taking cost out of the business.”

Most great data will already exist in a business. It just has to be found. But every now and then a business has to go out and create its own great data from scratch.

Comments

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.

Data Analysts And Scientists More Important Than Ever For The Enterprise

Daniel Newman

The business world is now firmly in the age of data. Not that data wasn’t relevant before; it was just nowhere close to the speed and volume that’s available to us today. Businesses are buckling under the deluge of petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes. Within these bytes lie valuable information on customer behavior, key business insights, and revenue generation. However, all that data is practically useless for businesses without the ability to identify the right data. Plus, if they don’t have the talent and resources to capture the right data, organize it, dissect it, draw actionable insights from it and, finally, deliver those insights in a meaningful way, their data initiatives will fail.

Rise of the CDO

Companies of all sizes can easily find themselves drowning in data generated from websites, landing pages, social streams, emails, text messages, and many other sources. Additionally, there is data in their own repositories. With so much data at their disposal, companies are under mounting pressure to utilize it to generate insights. These insights are critical because they can (and should) drive the overall business strategy and help companies make better business decisions. To leverage the power of data analytics, businesses need more “top-management muscle” specialized in the field of data science. This specialized field has lead to the creation of roles like Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In addition, with more companies undertaking digital transformations, there’s greater impetus for the C-suite to make data-driven decisions. The CDO helps make data-driven decisions and also develops a digital business strategy around those decisions. As data grows at an unstoppable rate, becoming an inseparable part of key business functions, we will see the CDO act as a bridge between other C-suite execs.

Data skills an emerging business necessity

So far, only large enterprises with bigger data mining and management needs maintain in-house solutions. These in-house teams and technologies handle the growing sets of diverse and dispersed data. Others work with third-party service providers to develop and execute their big data strategies.

As the amount of data grows, the need to mine it for insights becomes a key business requirement. For both large and small businesses, data-centric roles will experience endless upward mobility. These roles include data anlysts and scientists. There is going to be a huge opportunity for critical thinkers to turn their analytical skills into rapidly growing roles in the field of data science. In fact, data skills are now a prized qualification for titles like IT project managers and computer systems analysts.

Forbes cited the McKinsey Global Institute’s prediction that by 2018 there could be a massive shortage of data-skilled professionals. This indicates a disruption at the demand-supply level with the needs for data skills at an all-time high. With an increasing number of companies adopting big data strategies, salaries for data jobs are going through the roof. This is turning the position into a highly coveted one.

According to Harvard Professor Gary King, “There is a big data revolution. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.” The big problem is that most enterprises don’t know what to do with data. Data professionals are helping businesses figure that out. So if you’re casting about for where to apply your skills and want to take advantage of one of the best career paths in the job market today, focus on data science.

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For more insight on our increasingly connected future, see The $19 Trillion Question: Are You Undervaluing The Internet Of Things?

The post Data Analysts and Scientists More Important Than Ever For the Enterprise appeared first on Millennial CEO.

Comments

Daniel Newman

About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

When Good Is Good Enough: Guiding Business Users On BI Practices

Ina Felsheim

Image_part2-300x200In Part One of this blog series, I talked about changing your IT culture to better support self-service BI and data discovery. Absolutely essential. However, your work is not done!

Self-service BI and data discovery will drive the number of users using the BI solutions to rapidly expand. Yet all of these more casual users will not be well versed in BI and visualization best practices.

When your user base rapidly expands to more casual users, you need to help educate them on what is important. For example, one IT manager told me that his casual BI users were making visualizations with very difficult-to-read charts and customizing color palettes to incredible degrees.

I had a similar experience when I was a technical writer. One of our lead writers was so concerned with readability of every sentence that he was going through the 300+ page manuals (yes, they were printed then) and manually adjusting all of the line breaks and page breaks. (!) Yes, readability was incrementally improved. But now any number of changes–technical capabilities, edits, inserting larger graphics—required re-adjusting all of those manual “optimizations.” The time it took just to do the additional optimization was incredible, much less the maintenance of these optimizations! Meanwhile, the technical writing team was falling behind on new deliverables.

The same scenario applies to your new casual BI users. This new group needs guidance to help them focus on the highest value practices:

  • Customization of color and appearance of visualizations: When is this customization necessary for a management deliverable, versus indulging an OCD tendency? I too have to stop myself from obsessing about the font, line spacing, and that a certain blue is just a bit different than another shade of blue. Yes, these options do matter. But help these casual users determine when that time is well spent.
  • Proper visualizations: When is a spinning 3D pie chart necessary to grab someone’s attention? BI professionals would firmly say “NEVER!” But these casual users do not have a lot of depth on BI best practices. Give them a few simple guidelines as to when “flash” needs to subsume understanding. Consider offering a monthly one-hour Lunch and Learn that shows them how to create impactful, polished visuals. Understanding if their visualizations are going to be viewed casually on the way to a meeting, or dissected at a laptop, also helps determine how much time to spend optimizing a visualization. No, you can’t just mandate that they all read Tufte.
  • Predictive: Provide advanced analytics capabilities like forecasting and regression directly in their casual BI tools. Using these capabilities will really help them wow their audience with substance instead of flash.
  • Feature requests: Make sure you understand the motivation and business value behind some of the casual users’ requests. These casual users are less likely to understand the implications of supporting specific requests across an enterprise, so make sure you are collaborating on use cases and priorities for substantive requests.

By working with your casual BI users on the above points, you will be able to collectively understand when the absolute exact request is critical (and supports good visualization practices), and when it is an “optimization” that may impact productivity. In many cases, “good” is good enough for the fast turnaround of data discovery.

Next week, I’ll wrap this series up with hints on getting your casual users to embrace the “we” not “me” mentality.

Read Part One of this series: Changing The IT Culture For Self-Service BI Success.

Follow me on Twitter: @InaSAP

Comments

Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich

 

Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.


What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”


Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.


Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.

Comments

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

Tags:

Improve User Experience With Internet Of Things, Blockchain, And Platforms

Akash Kumar

User experience (UX) has finally come into its own as a key factor shaping how companies do business. Companies are investing a huge amount of money on streamlining business processes, improving customer service processes, and providing personalized engagement and quick resolution to customer problems. UX plays a critical role in customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.

While customers always look for an end-to-end UX, sometimes this is not possible, for example if the product or service is not solely delivered by one organization. Even if it is delivered by a single organization, system complexity, complex business processes, or gaps between systems can make end-to-end UX impossible.

Technology has always been a potent agent of business change, however it has advanced at such a rapid pace in the last few years that it’s changed prevailing business models and even the technology industry itself. For example, Airbnb’s founders found that platform technology made it possible to craft an entirely new business model that challenged the traditional economics of the hotel business.

Recent technology trends such as blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and platforms can play major roles in automation, UX, decentralized help, transaction processing, and support coordination among multiple organizations and interacting devices.

Blockchain is already driving transformation across the finance and the insurance industry, and it is being further extended to address business needs in multiparty transactions, such as:

  • Increasing transparency and trust
  • Reducing fraud
  • Reducing cost and increasing efficiency
  • Facilitating secure, decentralized transaction via IoT technologies
  • Automating actions when predefined conditions are met

The IoT is a vast network of Internet-connected, data-sharing devices. The shared data is used to make smarter decisions. For example, connected devices can communicate directly with distributed ledgers. Data from those devices could then be used by smart contracts to update and validate the shared data and subsequently deliver it to all interested participants in the business network. This reduces the need for human monitoring and actions, and promotes trust in the data generated by the devices.

A real-world example

Let’s take a simple example from the automotive industry. Say a car has a manufacturing defect that ultimately results in a part being replaced. The typical communication chain could follow this pattern:

  • The car owner brings the car to the dealer to diagnose a problem
  • Car dealer inspects the car and notifies the manufacturer about the faulty part
  • Manufacturer works with the part supplier to determine where the fault lies
  • Part supplier and manufacturer agree that the part is faulty, then notify the dealer
  • Car dealer notifies the customer
  • Car owner brings the car back to the car dealer for part replacement

In this scenario, communication among the customer, car dealer, manufacturer, and part supplier is impeded by incomplete information, so full and accurate responses along the chain are impossible. Second, all communication must go through email, telephone, or postal mail, and the customer has to visit the car dealership multiple times to have the part replaced, possibly being unable to use the vehicle until the car is repaired. This is a very shabby customer experience.

Now let’s look at the customer experience when blockchain, IoT, and platform technology are combined. In the same scenario, the communication chain will be as follows:

  • The IoT sensor automatically notifies the manufacturer, car dealer, and car owner about the defect
  • Car dealer contacts the car owner and sets a service appointment for an inspection
  • Car owner brings car to the dealer for inspection, which confirms the faulty part
  • Information about the faulty part is put on blockchain, which notifies all the parties – manufacturer, insurer, part supplier, car dealer, and owner
  • Manufacturer, dealer, and part supplier collaborate to analyze the car’s IoT sensors and dealer inspection report to identify where the fault lies
  • Manufacturer agrees on blockchain about the part replacement, which automatically notifies all parties
  • Car dealer replaces the part and delivers the car back to the owner

Impressively, all of this happens on the same day, during the original service appointment, and the customer is continually kept informed as the vehicle proceeds through the diagnosis and repair process. This is the UX expected by the customer.

As you can see, there is a tremendous potential for developing applications that use blockchain in IoT solutions. This combination can not only solve many of the key problems in today’s UX, but also enhance it by automating many customer service processes along the way.

Learn more about How Sensors Will Redefine Business and Our World.

Comments

Akash Kumar

About Akash Kumar

Akash Kumar is a solution architect at HCL. He has extensive experience providing niche technology such as SAP S/4HANA, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP IoT and blockchain solutions. Akash is the author of multiple books on SAP HANA published by SAP Press and SAP Insider. He is certified on SAP HANA, SAP S/4HANA, and SAP Cloud Platform. In addition, he is an active speaker at numerous conferences and has organized multiple BarCamps in Delhi, India.