Brite Conference 2013: Brands, Innovation, Technology - Pt 1

Luisa Ruppert

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Columbia Business School’s Brite Conference around Brands, Innovation, and Technology with representatives of the school as well as well-known brands such as Intel, Vimeo, PepsiCo, SAP and more.

What follows is an overview of the Day One Agenda:

The Content Imperative

After a warm welcoming from Dean Prof. Glenn Hubbard we enjoyed the first talk of the day: Steve Rubel, SVP of Global Strategy and Insights of public relation’s firm Edelman spread awareness about the importance of content.

Issues of valuable content creation include that there is “too much content and not enough time” to read or share it all. Nodding heads in the audience. Underlined was this statement by the difference between “news we read and news we say we read”. Content does not always have to be self-created and the Associated Press leads the example when they opened up their Twitter feed for promoted tweets.

Companies should not be afraid or ashamed of ‘paid content’, just the contrary. Paid content is all about syndication, integration which leads into product placements leveraging services like Buzzfeed as well as co-creation of content through sponsorships. “Content is no longer optional – it’s imperative and it will become the primary way we advertise” which is why we still need our media agencies to ensure reach and trust of content as we face, from a messaging mindset, a “media advertising shift to an editorial”.

Innovating Media Models for a Mobile Consumer

Next up was Liz Schimel from the Meredith National Media Group was joined by Ava Seave from the Quantum Media Group to discuss ‘Innovating Media Models for a Mobile Consumer’. Liz stated that in her company they don’t see any decrease in print but an increase in digital media popularity which might come as a surprise to some publishers. She pointed out the importance of SEO in content creation and that pictures and videos are extremely important in mobile advertising to attract consumers’ attention.

That was followed by a recommendation for an across-platform approach with both traditional and digital media: “Creativity through collaboration” is what counts. In relation to content creation the statement was clear: “Brands are becoming publishers themselves”. Liz furthermore recommends an integrated approach to content creation for innovation: Mobile, print, and digital.

The Truth about Mobile Advertising: Does it even work?

The third presentation and last before the first networking break was the business school’s own Prof Miklos Sarvary who shed light on the truth about mobile advertising. His very university-like talk was filled with insightful results of his recent research and working paper ‘A Field Study of Mobile Display Advertising Effects on Consumer Attitudes and Intentions’.

Not surprisingly he found that mobile ads have a higher CTA (call-to-action) but a five times lower conversion rate than on desktop as well as that the time spent surfing on mobile phones has increased four times in the past four years. An interview conducted just a few days before the conference can be found here.

Fun fact: North Korea is not spending significantly on mobile advertising; whereas the top spending countries are the UK, Norway, the US, Denmark, and Japan. Prof Sarvary concluded with the outcome that mobile ads work as memory cues, reminding the consumer of prior campaigns or info about products and work best for high-involvement, utilitarian products. But there is hope for hedonistic products using location-based mobile advertising, the professor suggests.

Using Gamification to Engineer a New Payment Economy

Michael Hagen self-appointed ‘Chief Rockstar’ of LevelUp, a mobile payments platform created by Cambridge-based start-up SCVNGR, enlightened the audience about how to use gamification in the new payment economy.

He drew attention to ‘Interchange Zero’ – and the cost of moving money: $50 billion equals 2-20% what it costs for a business when consumers pay with a card, the expense of interchange. ‘Interchange Zero’ is the theory that the cost of moving money (credit card fees) converges to zero over time. Michael’s idea is that companies like DwollaISIS, LevelUp, Google Wallet, and Square are disrupting cost of commerce via mobile tech: Mobile phone > wallet; which means an increased competition and incentivized consumers to use alternative payment forms.

Although some attendees were complaining on Twitter about the missing connection to games I understood that the motivating factors for alternative forms of payment came from games like World of Warcraft. One example for that is the app Scoutmob that proved if a coupon is waiting for a consumer they are more likely to spend four times as much at the restaurant. The three gamification techniques introduced were:

  • Sunken reward + transactions = Scoutmob
  • Progression dynamics + transactions = Punch card
  • Transactions + game mechanics = New money

In conclusion the future of mobile advertising lies in appointment dynamics: Incentivize behavior via smart mobile prompt. An interesting question came up at the end on how to prevent the consumer from ‘gaming’ meaning taking advantage of special offers and no purchase otherwise.

Michael’s answer was that it depends on the design and strategy of those offers as well as segmentation (specialized targeting) of customers: “Know your customers.” Sometimes offers can be non-money but aimed at prestige such as an occasional free upgrade when purchasing the platinum membership.

How Brick and Mortar Can Leverage the Mobile Future

Next was a panel by Rick Ferguson of Aimia and the business school’s Matthew Quint about how brick and mortar can leverage the mobile future. A study confirms 21% of consumers have used their mobile phone while physically shopping at a store. It is mostly used to retrieve information and advice like price comparisons and reviews.

The good news is that 58% purchase in-store even if they find it cheaper online. Most likely due to excellent customer service, my opinion, and well-designed loyalty programs are a reason, too. A conclusive advice was to train employees on mobile assisting not to ask customers to leave if they compare prices in-store.

One of the attendees told about an incident with Pearle Vision in Brooklyn where she was asked to leave the store after taking pictures of the products. This, of course, caused a huge uproar in the conference’s Twittersphere however it was promptly met by an apology by the optometrist on Twitter and the customer was promised that her complaint will be forwarded to the store management and operations team. Well done, Pearle Vision!

Interactive Workshop: Strategic Planning for Social Media Marketing

Just before lunch Ric Dragon from DragonSearch started his interactive workshop about strategic planning for social media marketing. He presented his framework of social media management strategies recommended:

  • Brand Maintenance
  • Community Building
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Thought Leadership
  • Big Splash

Read about those in detail here. He also spoke about a brand persona study, which showed that people project personas onto brands and it’s the marketers’ job to shape that perception. Google was the hip, young Asian guy, Starbucks the soccer Mom and BP a grumpy old man. For live, realtime mindmapping Ric used the tool mindmeister to involve the audience interactively.

Some more advice for a company’s social media strategy plan was to use keywords, pathways to other websites to discover communities to add to extend reach. That is one of the reasons why the job of the community manager is the hottest of the year, says Ric. His four stages of social media activity types are: 1. build digital real estate 2. make connections 3. create content and 4. engagement .

Lastly, but not least, he suggests that we should move from one-way storytelling to dynamic storytelling and referenced Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall and his Coca-Cola Content 2020 Project as a best practice. Coca-Cola says that through dynamic storytelling they will double their revenue by 2020. All the templates that Ric used during his talk can be found here.

Creating a Culture of Rapid Experimentation

Next up after lunch was Kaaren Hanson from Intuit about creating a culture of rapid experimentation. We live in a new age of culture where you are constantly trying to learn new ideas shortening the cycle of discovery. Kaaren’s advice is to “fall in love with the solution not the problem”. Keeping an open mind to multiple ideas is key for innovating.

Bring in your customers early in the process to drive innovation. Listen to the customer! And experimentation keeps your employees engaged and feel valued which ultimately impacts revenue. She showcased an example of how rapid experimentation helped farmers in India to find best prices for their crops. Intuit as doubled down on rapid experiments in last two years from a handful of experiments to 1300+ today.

In order to drive innovation Kaaren uses only small teams: “If you need more than two pizzas to feed a team, it is too large.”  And her last piece of advice: “Risk of not starting to experiment is much greater than risk that might come from experimenting.”

Can Live Music Be Like My iPod?

This was followed by a most welcomed musical interlude by Shuffle Concert. The seven head ensemble plays what the audience chooses, like the shuffle function on music players. “From Baroque, Classical and Romantic to Jazz, Pop and Broadway, SHUFFLE Concert performances offer an exciting fusion of great music, for every musical taste.”

Beat the Back Button: How Obama, Disney, and Crate & Barrel use A/B Testing to Win

Pete Koomen, co-founder and president of Optimizely, was the next on stage shedding light on how the Obama campaign, Disney and Crate & Barrel profited from A/B testing. He started with showing the audience how important it is to choose the right email subject line. Here are his six tips:

  • Define quantifiable success matrix and have your team agree on what success means
  • Explore before you refine. If you start & refine, you may miss best option.
  • Less is more. Reduce choice. Sometimes the most successful experiments involve taking things off of a web page.
  • Words matter. Focus on your CTA (call-to-action). Rule: At some point any change results in improvement.
  • Fail fast, e.g. Crate & Barrel found adding star ratings on their website decreased conversions.
  • Start today, it’s never too late to start testing.

Examples from the Obama campaign followed. The word ‘Hey’ was the most effective in the subject line of the fundraising campaign. A picture of a family and a ‘Learn more’ button drove the most traffic.

The results of testing buttons and media led the Obama campaign to a 40% increase in email sign ups. Surprising to most of the audience was that images had a better result than videos probably due to longer loading times and that audio requires loudspeakers or headset. The example from Disney was that after removing images about a specific show on the ABC Family website engagement increased 600%.

Also an interesting result from the 170,000 tests carried out is that the success of a CTA message depends on the customer’s status; prospects react differently than already loyal customers. That’s why segmentation is essential. Understand your audience and validate that!

The Power of (Big) Data in a Networked World

The succeeding speaker was the executive director of Brite himself, David Rogers, talking to us about the power of (big) data in a networked world. Big data for him consists of social data, mobile date and the Internet of things.

One example of how companies can benefit from analysing big data is Walmart; the supermarket is adapting their product display in accordance to weather analysis provided by the Weather Company. Another mentioned example is the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention that uses Twitter data to track the spread of the flu. David says that there are three ways to use big data: Insight, Innovation, and Strategy.

It’s not only big corporations benefiting from it but the common people as well: Watson, a soon to be released diagnostic tool app for doctors,  has now analysed two million research articles and 1.5 million patient records to make predictive recommendations for cancer patients.

David also assured that big data doesn’t make the human redundant: “To unleash power of big data we must combine data, tools, algorithms, and humans.” The big advantage of the human is still creativity and intuition which cannot (yet) be subsidised by computers. David’s slides can be found here.

The Century of the Asian Consumer

Bernd Schmitt from the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight started with telling us that the Asian consumer is the reference point for commerce and marketplace of the future. He specifically pointed out India, China, and south-east Asia where immense growth is occurring at lightning speed and by mid of this century China’s economy will be 2-3 times the size of the US’s. By 2020 54% of middle class consumers will live in Asia, brands should keep that in mind when thinking about message prioritization.

It is essential for companies to understand the diversity of the region, the similarity and differences of the Asian consumer due to the broad diversity and variety of cultures. Asian consumer behavior instead of the US one will dictate initial product and marketing decisions for major brands in the not so far future, Bernd said. Furthermore brands have to accept that the Asian consumer collective is directly related to family (India), friends, youth culture (South Korea), and nation (North Korea).

One example would be the one-child policy in China that makes it less collectively and as individual as American. Also the Asian landscape is changing for the future, leaning more towards a city mindset. Bernd reminded us that Asians love luxury brands but are also focused on value but at the same time not all Asians are the same, the general stereotype no longer exists due to globalisation.

If brands plan to expand their reach it is notable that a pan-Asian strategy will require a detailed assessment, market by market; with attention to those emerging. One advantage would be that English is official business language in most Asian countries and expanding. His final advice: Think global, act local!

Disrupting the Future: Is Higher Education #Over?

The last talk of Day One was by Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer of Columbia University. He started off with encouraging us to “ABC – Always Be Collecting” and share as appropriate and recommended to use the Dark Sky app which uses state-of-the-art weather forecasting to predict when it will rain or snow to the min.

Furthermore he starts a tweet challenge telling attendees to mention everyone on Twitter he talks about. First one was Salman Kahn as Sree was introducing the topic with the Kahn Academy and its success of online education. It’s only one example of how MOOCs are destined to disrupt poverty with making education available to everyone (with Internet access). At Columbia it is also intended to be used for preparation of students for a more in-depth in-class lecture.

Some of the benefits of MOOCs he mentioned include: It provides experience with new learning platforms to benefit on-campus learning, brand-building for particular programs, and learning and retraining opportunities for alumni. He introduces three options for online learning: CourseraedX and Udacity. He quoted Prof Hitendra Wadhwa on online education: “Inspire, not just inform!” You can find his slides here.

And after some wine and networking a great first day ended. Up next, watch for Day Two at the Brite Conference 2013.

Follow the conference on Twitter @Briteconf and check out their Storify compilation.


About Luisa Ruppert

I am a recent graduate of International Management from Germany and have been working for SAP as an intern since April 2011 in Galway, Ireland and since March 2012 in New York. I am interested in social media, marketing, advertising, current affairs, technology news, politics and photography. In my spare time I love going to Broadway shows or a good movie as well as strolling around this exciting city.



Why 3D Printed Food Just Transformed Your Supply Chain

Hans Thalbauer

Numerous sectors are experimenting with 3D printing, which has the potential to disrupt many markets. One that’s already making progress is the food industry.

The U.S. Army hopes to use 3D printers to customize food for each soldier. NASA is exploring 3D printing of food in space. The technology could eventually even end hunger around the world.

What does that have to do with your supply chain? Quite a bit — because 3D printing does more than just revolutionize the production process. It also requires a complete realignment of the supply chain.

And the way 3D printing transforms the supply chain holds lessons for how organizations must reinvent themselves in the new era of the extended supply chain.

Supply chain spaghetti junction

The extended supply chain replaces the old linear chain with not just a network, but a network of networks. The need for this network of networks is being driven by four key factors: individualized products, the sharing economy, resource scarcity, and customer-centricity.

To understand these forces, imagine you operate a large restaurant chain, and you’re struggling to differentiate yourself against tough competition. You’ve decided you can stand out by delivering customized entrees. In fact, you’re going to leverage 3D printing to offer personalized pasta.

With 3D printing technology, you can make one-off pasta dishes on the fly. You can give customers a choice of ingredients (gluten-free!), flavors (salted caramel!), and shapes (Leaning Towers of Pisa!). You can offer the personalized pasta in your restaurants, in supermarkets, and on your ecommerce website.

You may think this initiative simply requires you to transform production. But that’s just the beginning. You also need to re-architect research and development, demand signals, asset management, logistics, partner management, and more.

First, you need to develop the matrix of ingredients, flavors, and shapes you’ll offer. As part of that effort, you’ll have to consider health and safety regulations.

Then, you need to shift some of your manufacturing directly into your kitchens. That will also affect packaging requirements. Logistics will change as well, because instead of full truckloads, you’ll be delivering more frequently, with more variety, and in smaller quantities.

Next, you need to perfect demand signals to anticipate which pasta variations in which quantities will come through which channels. You need to manage supply signals source more kinds of raw materials in closer to real time.

Last, the source of your signals will change. Some will continue to come from point of sale. But others, such as supplies replenishment and asset maintenance, can come direct from your 3D printers.

Four key ingredients of the extended supply chain

As with our pasta scenario, the drivers of the extended supply chain require transformation across business models and business processes. First, growing demand for individualized products calls for the same shifts in R&D, asset management, logistics, and more that 3D printed pasta requires.

Second, as with the personalized entrees, the sharing economy integrates a network of partners, from suppliers to equipment makers to outsourced manufacturing, all electronically and transparently interconnected, in real time and all the time.

Third, resource scarcity involves pressures not just on raw materials but also on full-time and contingent labor, with the necessary skills and flexibility to support new business models and processes.

And finally, for personalized pasta sellers and for your own business, it all comes down to customer-centricity. To compete in today’s business environment and to meet current and future customer expectations, all your operations must increasingly revolve around rapidly comprehending and responding to customer demand.

Want to learn more? Check out my recent video on digitalizing the extended supply chain.


Hans Thalbauer

About Hans Thalbauer

Hans Thalbauer is the Senior Vice President, Extended Supply Chain, at SAP. He is responsible for the strategic direction and the Go-To-Market of solutions for Supply Chain, Logistics, Engineering/R&D, Manufacturing, Asset Management and Sustainability at SAP.

How to Design a Flexible, Connected Workspace 

John Hack, Sam Yen, and Elana Varon

SAP_Digital_Workplace_BRIEF_image2400x1600_2The process of designing a new product starts with a question: what problem is the product supposed to solve? To get the right answer, designers prototype more than one solution and refine their ideas based on feedback.

Similarly, the spaces where people work and the tools they use are shaped by the tasks they have to accomplish to execute the business strategy. But when the business strategy and employees’ jobs change, the traditional workspace, with fixed walls and furniture, isn’t so easy to adapt. Companies today, under pressure to innovate quickly and create digital business models, need to develop a more flexible work environment, one in which office employees have the ability to choose how they work.

SAP_Digital_Emotion_BRIEF_image175pxWithin an office building, flexibility may constitute a variety of public and private spaces, geared for collaboration or concentration, explains Amanda Schneider, a consultant and workplace trends blogger. Or, she adds, companies may opt for customizable spaces, with moveable furniture, walls, and lighting that can be adjusted to suit the person using an unassigned desk for the day.

Flexibility may also encompass the amount of physical space the company maintains. Business leaders want to be able to set up operations quickly in new markets or in places where they can attract top talent, without investing heavily in real estate, says Sande Golgart, senior vice president of corporate accounts with Regus.

Thinking about the workspace like a designer elevates decisions about the office environment to a strategic level, Golgart says. “Real estate is beginning to be an integral part of the strategy, whether that strategy is for collaborating and innovating, driving efficiencies, attracting talent, maintaining higher levels of productivity, or just giving people more amenities to create a better, cohesive workplace,” he says. “You will see companies start to distance themselves from their competition because they figured out the role that real estate needs to play within the business strategy.”

The SAP Center for Business Insight program supports the discovery and development of  new research-­based thinking to address the challenges of business and technology executives.


Sam Yen

About Sam Yen

Sam Yen is the Chief Design Officer for SAP and the Managing Director of SAP Labs Silicon Valley. He is focused on driving a renewed commitment to design and user experience at SAP. Under his leadership, SAP further strengthens its mission of listening to customers´ needs leading to tangible results, including SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and SAP´s UX design services.


The Future Of Supplier Collaboration: 9 Things CPOs Want Their Managers To Know Now

Sundar Kamak

As a sourcing or procurement manager, you may think there’s nothing new about supplier collaboration. Your chief procurement officer (CPO) most likely disagrees.
Forward-thinking CPOs acknowledge the benefit of supplier partnerships. They not only value collaboration, but require a revolution in how their buying organization conducts its business and operations. “Procurement must start looking to suppliers for inspiration and new capability, stop prescribing specifications and start tapping into the expertise of suppliers,” writes David Rae in Procurement Leaders. The CEO expects it of your CPO, and your CPO expects it of you. For sourcing managers, this can be a lot of pressure.

Here are nine things your CPO wants you to know about how supplier collaboration is changing – and why it matters to your company’s future and your own future.

1. The need for supplier collaboration in procurement is greater than ever

Over half (65%) of procurement practitioners say procurement at their company is becoming more collaborative with suppliers, according to The Future of Procurement, Making Collaboration Pay Off, by Oxford Economics. Why? Because the pace of business has increased exponentially, and businesses must be able to respond to new market demands with agility and innovation. In this climate, buyers are relying on suppliers more than ever before. And buyers aren’t collaborating with suppliers merely as providers of materials and goods, but as strategic partners that can help create products that are competitive differentiators.

Supplier collaboration itself isn’t new. What’s new is that it’s taken on a much greater urgency and importance.

2. You’re probably not realizing the full collective power of your supplier relationships

Supplier collaboration has always been a function of maintaining a delicate balance between demand and supply. For the most part, the primary focus of the supplier relationship is ensuring the right materials are available at the right time and location. However, sourcing managers with a narrow focus on delivery are missing out on one of the greatest advantages of forging collaborative supplier partnerships: an opportunity to drive synergies that are otherwise perceived as impossible within the confines of the business. The game-changer is when you drive those synergies with thousands, not hundreds of suppliers. Look at the Apple Store as a prime example of collaboration en masse. Without the apps, the iPhone is just another ordinary phone!

3. Collaboration comes in more than one flavor

Suppliers don’t just collaborate with you to provide a critical component or service. They also work with your engineers to help ensure costs are optimized from the buyer’s perspective as well as the supplier’s side. They may even take over the provisioning of an entire end-to-end solution. Or co-design with your R&D team through joint research and development. These forms of collaboration aren’t new, but they are becoming more common and more critical. And they are becoming more impactful, because once you start extending any of these collaboration models to more and more suppliers, your capabilities as a business increase by orders of magnitude. If one good supplier can enable your company to build its brand, expand its reach, and establish its position as a market leader – imagine what’s possible when you work collaboratively with hundreds or thousands of suppliers.

4. Keeping product sustainability top of mind pays off

Facing increasing demand for sustainable products and production, companies are relying on suppliers to answer this new market requirement.

As a sourcing manager, you may need to go outside your comfort zone to think about new, innovative ways to collaborate for achieving sustainability. Recently, I heard from an acquaintance who is a CPO of a leading services company. His organization is currently collaborating with one of the largest suppliers in the world to adhere to regulatory mandates and consumer demand for “lean and green” lightbulbs. Although this approach was interesting to me, what really struck me was his observation on how this co-innovation with the supplier is spawning cost and resource optimization and the delivery of competitive products. As reported by Andrew Winston in The Harvard Business Review, Target and Walmart partnered to launch the Personal Care Sustainability Summit last year. So even competitors are collaborating with each other and with their suppliers in the name of sustainability.

5. Co-marketing is a win-win

Look at your list of suppliers. Does anyone have a brand that is bigger than your company’s? Believe it or not, almost all of us do. So why not seize the opportunity to raise your and your supplier’s brand profile in the marketplace?

Take Intel, for example. The laptop you’re working on right now may very well have an “Intel inside” sticker on it. That’s co-marketing at work. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 100 most valuable brands by Millward Brown Optimor, this largest supplier of microprocessors is world-renowned for its technology and innovation. For many companies that buy supplies from Intel, the decision to co-market is a strategic approach to convey that the product is reliable and provides real value for their computing needs.

6. Suppliers get to choose their customers, too

Increased competition for high-performing suppliers is changing the way procurement operates, say 58% of procurement executives in the Oxford Economics study. Buyers have a responsibility to the supplier – and to their CEO – to be a customer of choice. When the economy is going well, you might be able to dictate the supplier’s goods and services – and sometimes even the service delivery model. When times get tough (and they can very quickly), suppliers will typically reevaluate your organization’s needs to see whether they can continue service in a fiscally responsible manner. To secure suppliers’ attention in favorable and challenging economic conditions, your organization should establish collaborative and mutually productive partnerships with them.

7. Suppliers can help simplify operations

Cost optimization will always be one of your performance metrics; however, that is only one small part of the entire puzzle. What will help your organization get noticed is leveraging the supplier relationship to innovate new and better ways of managing the product line and operating the business while balancing risk and cost optimization. Ask yourself: Which functions are no longer needed? Can they be outsourced to a supplier that can perform them better? What can be automated?

8. Suppliers have a better grasp of your sourcing categories than you do

Understand your category like never before so that your organization can realize the full potential of its supplier investments while delivering products that are consistent and of high quality. How? By leveraging the wisdom of your suppliers. To be blunt: they know more than you do. Tap into that knowledge to gain a solid understanding of the product, market category, suppliers’ capabilities, and shifting dynamics in the industry, If a buyer does not understand these areas deeply, no amount of collaboration will empower a supplier to help your company innovate as well as optimize costs and resources.

9. Remember that there’s something in it for you as well

All of us want to do strategic, impactful work. Sourcing managers with aspirations of becoming CPOs should move beyond writing contracts and pushing PO requests by building strategic procurement skill sets. For example, a working knowledge in analytics allows you to choose suppliers that can shape the market and help a product succeed – and can catch the eye of the senior leadership team.

Sundar Kamak is global vice president of solutions marketing at Ariba, an SAP company.

For more on supplier collaboration, read Making Collaboration Pay Off, part of a series on the Future of Procurement, by Oxford Economics.


Transform Or Die: What Will You Do In The Digital Economy?

Scott Feldman and Puneet Suppal

By now, most executives are keenly aware that the digital economy can be either an opportunity or a threat. The question is not whether they should engage their business in it. Rather, it’s how to unleash the power of digital technology while maintaining a healthy business, leveraging existing IT investments, and innovating without disrupting themselves.

Yet most of those executives are shying away Businesspeople in a Meeting --- Image by © Monalyn Gracia/Corbisfrom such a challenge. According to a recent study by MIT Sloan and Capgemini, only 15% of CEOs are executing a digital strategy, even though 90% agree that the digital economy will impact their industry. As these businesses ignore this reality, early adopters of digital transformation are achieving 9% higher revenue creation, 26% greater impact on profitability, and 12% more market valuation.

Why aren’t more leaders willing to transform their business and seize the opportunity of our hyperconnected world? The answer is as simple as human nature. Innately, humans are uncomfortable with the notion of change. We even find comfort in stability and predictability. Unfortunately, the digital economy is none of these – it’s fast and always evolving.

Digital transformation is no longer an option – it’s the imperative

At this moment, we are witnessing an explosion of connections, data, and innovations. And even though this hyperconnectivity has changed the game, customers are radically changing the rules – demanding simple, seamless, and personalized experiences at every touch point.

Billions of people are using social and digital communities to provide services, share insights, and engage in commerce. All the while, new channels for engaging with customers are created, and new ways for making better use of resources are emerging. It is these communities that allow companies to not only give customers what they want, but also align efforts across the business network to maximize value potential.

To seize the opportunities ahead, businesses must go beyond sensors, Big Data, analytics, and social media. More important, they need to reinvent themselves in a manner that is compatible with an increasingly digital world and its inhabitants (a.k.a. your consumers).

Here are a few companies that understand the importance of digital transformation – and are reaping the rewards:

  1. Under Armour:  No longer is this widely popular athletic brand just selling shoes and apparel. They are connecting 38 million people on a digital platform. By focusing on this services side of the business, Under Armour is poised to become a lifestyle advisor and health consultant, using his product side as the enabler.
  1. Port of Hamburg: Europe’s second-largest port is keeping carrier trucks and ships productive around the clock. By fusing facility, weather, and traffic conditions with vehicle availability and shipment schedules, the Port increased container handling capacity by 178% without expanding its physical space.
  1. Haier Asia: This top-ranking multinational consumer electronics and home appliances company decided to disrupt itself before someone else did. The company used a two-prong approach to digital transformation to create a service-based model to seize the potential of changing consumer behaviors and accelerate product development. 
  1. Uber: This startup darling is more than just a taxi service. It is transforming how urban logistics operates through a technology trifecta: Big Data, cloud, and mobile.
  1. American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO): Even nonprofits can benefit from digital transformation. ASCO is transforming care for cancer patients worldwide by consolidating patient information with its CancerLinQ. By unlocking knowledge and value from the 97% of cancer patients who are not involved in clinical trials, healthcare providers can drive better, more data-driven decision making and outcomes.

It’s time to take action 

During the SAP Executive Technology Summit at SAP TechEd on October 19–20, an elite group of CIOs, CTOs, and corporate executives will gather to discuss the challenges of digital transformation and how they can solve them. With the freedom of open, candid, and interactive discussions led by SAP Board Members and senior technology leadership, delegates will exchange ideas on how to get on the right path while leveraging their existing technology infrastructure.

Stay tuned for exclusive insights from this invitation-only event in our next blog!
Scott Feldman is Global Head of the SAP HANA Customer Community at SAP. Connect with him on Twitter @sfeldman0.

Puneet Suppal drives Solution Strategy and Adoption (Customer Innovation & IoT) at SAP Labs. Connect with him on Twitter @puneetsuppal.