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How Risk Management Helps Protect Your Brand Reputation

Thomas Frenehard

In anticipation of SAPinsider GRC2016 in Las Vegas in a few weeks, I wanted to share with you some highlights from one of the presentations that I’ll be delivering: Managing Reputational Risk to Protect Brand Value.

We’ve all heard the Warren Buffet quote: “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

But there is another one that I think is even more appropriate: “Lose money for the firm and I will be understanding, lose a shred of reputation for the firm and I will be ruthless.”

A reputational impact can have many direct consequences, including:

  • Drop in sales: Customers no longer want to be associated with your brand
  • Drop in share prices: Because of uncertainties on sales and revenue, investors shy away from the company
  • Conflictual shareholders’ and board’s relationships: With a drop in share price, shareholders’ interests are affected and they hold the board accountable

Reputational risk is therefore not just a marketing issue; it can be a credibility problem and a business killer.

One of the major issues with reputational risk is that it spans across numerous stakeholders – customers and investors, of course, but also analysts, media, regulators and control authorities, NGOs, partners, third parties, and (let’s not forget) employees themselves.

Until recently, its velocity – the speed at which it manifests – was quite manageable, because unless it was a major crisis published in a newspaper, it was spread by word of mouth. Replace this with today’s exponential social media reach and it becomes clear why this is now a critical risk to consider.

I don’t claim to have the absolute solution, but I would suggest an approach to manage reputational risk. Use the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle that business continuity managers know very well.

Plan: Prepare your governance for ethics and compliance

In this first step, I suggest assessing the current situation: what already exists? From there, formalize the governance structure that will issue the risk policies. In this phase, you would also prepare a crisis plan and communicate it to all stakeholders.

As for any policy, I recommend not only ensuring acknowledgement, but also understanding by all the recipients.

Do: Formalize your risk and control framework

This second step is about documenting what could go wrong – the risks and potential occurrence scenarios – and then defining a sound mitigation strategy to address each case depending on how critical it is. My suggestion here is to assess the effectiveness of each response. A communication plan will help you reduce impact over time, but it won’t prevent a deficient product from reaching shelves in stores in the first place.

Check: Continuously monitor threat levels

Risk context changes all the time. Review the threat levels by taking into account any new incident or near miss recorded. Also, define appropriate indicators that can notify you of any adverse trend so that you’re never caught off guard.

Do people start propagating rumors about your company? Get to know soon so that you can decide proactively what to do instead of being rushed into action.

Act: Take action (or not!) but always communicate

Give your executives, including marketing and communications managers, the tools they need to be able to perform a guided decision on up-to-date risk information. Keep all the stakeholders up to date on the decision, and name a spokesperson. There is nothing worse than discordant messages.

Reap the benefits!

It’s not just all negative. Companies with strong brands have repeatedly shown:

  • Facilitated recruitment of talents
  • Increased and sustainable investor and business partner confidence
  • Customer loyalty
  • Top management stability

What about you? How do you manage this critical asset?

I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments either on this blog or on Twitter (@TFrenehard)!

For more insight on protecting your brand reputation, see This One Mistake Could Cost You Billions.

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IoT, Sensors, And All Things Digital: Can We Handle It All?

Kai Goerlich

It seems we are all part of a big experiment. We’re testing our data-driven consciousness and determining how much information we can digest and at what speed. And if we continue at our current pace, we will soon see sensors and ambient computing infuse our personal and professional lives with a myriad of interactive things. Even items such as coffee mugs may be connected.

In such a digital-driven, hyperconnected world, our perceptions will heavily depend on virtual experiences and our biological view. To get a sense of where we are heading, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Yvonne Förster, professor of philosophy of culture at Leuphana University in Germany, to get her perspective.

Q: The speed of digital change is just incredible. It’s hard to imagine that we will always be able to keep up. Will humans find a way to cope with the speed of digital change?

A: Without a doubt, algorithms are faster than our conscious thinking. And although our physical reflexes and our intuition are quite fast, they are still slower than the latest computers available right now. From this perspective, we face many challenges.

Much of our future experiences in a digitized world will be powered by technological devices that operate on micro-timescales. The Internet of Things is a term that describes technologically permeated lifeworlds comprising billions of sensors and highly interconnected devices, which measure – or more precisely, sense – various activities in their environment. The interesting question is not so much about coping, but the perspectives and possible futures of human life itself. How will we evolve while changing our lifeworld?

Q: If we cannot operate at the speed of computers, will we experience disruptions between more direct, data-induced experiences?

A: Not necessarily. Disruptions are exactly what modern technology tries to avoid. Smooth operation and flow are ideal in technology and design, allowing applications to be invisible and creating self-learning systems.

Understanding how technology influences our perception today is a subject of aesthetic research. Media artists try the impossible: Make the invisible visible or render the nonexperiential rhythm and speed of algorithms experiential. It would be naïve to think that the exponential growth in exposure to technological devices would leave people unchanged.

Evolution goes on in culture. And nowadays, we are not just passively shaped by adaptive behavior; we can also actively alter our bodies and minds. New digitized environments and our own wish to extend human life will be fundamental forces in the game of evolution, which we should carefully reflect on.

Q: Will we still experience our environment without additional interactions? Will nature become a dull world to us?

A: I don’t think so. The world will be a fascinating place in the next few decades when it comes to technological development. It doesn’t necessarily mean that every device will remove us from our environments like the dystopian world portrayed in movies such as The Matrix or Surrogates. But, we also shouldn’t forget that our experiences in nature and everything else are always mediated by cultural concepts, attitudes, and technological devices.

Just think of the perception of time, which has been interceded through watches of all kinds for centuries now. Some would even hold that human culture is essentially rooted in technology from its very beginning. Still, as long as we preserve nature, our world will never be a dull place. There are just new perspectives to discover.

Q: How will wearables and sensors help us achieve new perspectives?

A: The interesting question here is: How will our lifeworld and behavior change when sensors are present everywhere? With the omnipresence of sensors and devices that sense locations and other types of human agency, we find ourselves in an environment that is not only tracked by living beings, but also by highly interconnected technological devices. You could even one day say that walls, streets, or cars have eyes in the most literal sense possible.

Sensing is not a concept only about living organisms anymore. Rather, it’s a ubiquitous property of our lifeworld. This will deeply change how we act and interact with each other – but more important, it will transform how we engage with objects. Our lifeworld is altered by the Internet of Things as objects sense and communicate among themselves. The impact of this technological development has yet to be estimated and described.

Q: Will everyone become digitized?

A: If we define digitization as a significant part of everyday life that is connected to digital technology, then we are already digitized. However, if we mean that technology will invade our bodies and turn us into cyborgs that are physically connected to the Internet, this is already becoming a reality in laboratories. This idea is strongly connected to enhancing the human body and mind. Still, most people remain skeptical when it comes to technology invading the body.

We can think of a third alternative of digitization: The co-evolution of humans and technology. When our world is deeply permeated by technology, it will present different and new opportunities to humans. We can develop new ways of behavior, creativity, and thinking. Also, we will need to engage with technology and actively reflect on its use.

This approach calls for an understanding of technology as a precondition for handling such innovation critically and creatively. We see these kinds of engagement emerging from artistic and scientific practice. Jennifer Gabrys, for example, works with sensor technology used by citizens in different environments, such as fracking areas, to better understand and build awareness around changing environmental conditions by using do-it-yourself technology.

Q: Will we have a choice in what we do – or do not – want to know?

A: Yes, we certainly have a choice. As biological beings, we are adaptive. The presence of technology is evolving – and will continue to change – our perception and behavior. If we don’t reflect on that process, we will remain passive and eventually feel outrun by technology.

Still, technology is our making, even though it is not entirely predictable and manageable. Given that technology functions according to emerging patterns of artificial intelligence, we should be prepared to engage in new processes of understanding and agency in computed environments.

Q: Will digitization change the way I experience my body?

A: The playful element of digitization will change the way we learn as well as the knowledge space of what can be known. It’s not just transformation of the thinking process or the quality of decisions, but an evolution of the body as well. In gaming, for example, we use evolutionary, yet old and hard-wired, behaviors such as flight-or-fight reflexes. This means digital gaming is less about our culturally and highly rated reflection, but more on gut feeling and our intuitive mode of acting. But, it might also bring about completely new patterns of behavior and action or reaction.

Another aspect of bodily experiences in times of digitization is the measurement of movement and live data such as heartbeat, blood pressure, and more. This is accompanied by an objectification of a bodily experience. We tend to perceive ourselves as numbers, such as the number of steps we have walked or the calories we have eaten. This might be problematic because it can distract us from our actual bodily state, which is not tantamount to a number or chart appearing on a screen.

The flipside of this is the issue of Big Data and control. Where does this information go, and who uses it? Will your insurance company be interested what your everyday habits are? This seems very likely and should be observed carefully.

Q: How will we experience the world in the future? Will it be in the form of data streams?

A: The world around us is getting sense-driven; it will have eyes and ears. I am waiting for the day when my refrigerator starts arguing with me when I grab a piece of steak instead of a salad. But more interesting is the question of what happens when information goes beyond being presented as text, video, or speech to include body temperature, heart rate, and the pitch of our voice. What kind of knowledge will be generated out of this data?

In the movie Ex Machina, such information leads to the first self-conscious android named AVA. But, I am sure that we will not perceive data streams. Data by itself has no value as long as it is not interpreted. Also, our brains are not an information-processing organ. It generates information only through sense-making activities.

Life never deals with raw data. Movement and perception are to be understood as relational activities, which bring about meaningful structures such as me as an individual and you as another person. Similarly, we will conceive technology as part of our environment and, therefore, part of a sense-making process that extends beyond human perception.

Q: If data could be experienced directly one day, where is the border that separates us from it?

A: Current technologies, such as augmented reality and Google glasses, will not change very much. Even if the physical and virtual worlds merge, these technologies will not interfere with our sense of self. The sense of self is already a stretchy category since cultural practices can alter it profoundly. Mediation techniques, for example, can broaden our ability to be compassionate and make the self subside in meditation and agency.

Another interesting development is the use of invasive techniques that substitute or change our perceptual and cognitive abilities. An example is Neil Harbisson, who can hear colors, or Enno Park, who is using a hearing aid with a speech processor that transfers sounds into digital signals that are sent directly to the brain.

Merging human bodies and technology can create new forms of sensing and acting. Even the ontological gap between what is human and what is technology might become blurred. But this is old news. The self has – and never had – any fixed limitations. We become what we are by interacting with each other and our environment. And we are always evolving; no self is ever complete. The moment you meet another person, you undergo a change. This is why we should not be afraid of losing ourselves in the future.

Q: Will we co-evolve with machines, rather than creating a world similar to The Terminator?

Certainly the merging of humans and machines is an interesting idea as it promises to overcome human limitations. It’s part of our human nature to adapt, and I have the impression that we are entering an era of a new form of cultural evolution that combines biological, technological, and cultural practices.

The most important lesson we will learn is that technology will develop in unforeseen, not programmable, ways. This might destroy the myth of the human as a rational being who can understand and predict the reasons and consequences of an action. Humanity is a very creative species, but we have a hard time understanding complex and nonlinear processes. These processes have become ubiquitous since the Internet became our second nature and stock markets are partly controlled by algorithms.

Complex processes also lie at the core of life. The best example is our own brain whose inner workings are highly complex and nonlinear. Still, we lack the cognitive abilities to understand them. This is why we should experiment and reflect on the possibilities of a life form that engages with technology as a complex process and cannot be simply controlled and predicted. Issues of data privacy, information ownership, and governance need to be discussed in light of ecological entanglement with technology.

For more on this topic, see Live Business: The Importance of the Internet of Things.

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Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Idea Director of Thought Leadership at SAP. His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.

Waveform Generators: An Overview

Tiffany Rowe

When you need to make electronic measurements of any kind, you probably will consider using an oscilloscope or logic analyzer. However, those tools will only work when there is actually a signal to measure, and not everything that needs to be measured can make its own signal. When that happens, measurement can only take place if the signal is provided externally, and that’s where waveform generators come into play.

But what type of waveform generator do you need? There are several different types, all of which have a different purpose and create different types of waveforms. Because so many new products within the Internet of Things require signal generation, it’s important to select the right waveform generator to ensure that your device works properly and delivers accurate information to the user.

Waveform generators in brief

There are three main types of waveform signal generators: Function generators, arbitrary function generators, and arbitrary waveform generators.

A function generator generates periodic standard functions such as sine, square, triangle, ramp up/down, DC, and noise. Typically, they produce waveforms in sine, square, triangular, and sawtooth shapes. The least sophisticated waveform generators, function generators are not ideal when you need a stable waveform or a low noise. However, for testing electronic equipment like amplifiers, a function generator can produce a stable signal, or introduce an error signal as well as white noise, to ensure the proper function of the equipment.

An arbitrary function generator (AFG) is similar to a function generator, but also offers on-board memory space for a user-defined waveform. In addition to predefined sets of waveforms, the AFG also allows the user to define a waveform, save it in the generator’s memory, and then output it. This gives you the capability to define a waveform, store it to the AFG’s on-board memory, and then output the waveform using direct digital synthesis.  AFGs are useful for testing similar applications and devices as the function generator, but give you the option of creating more unique waveforms for greater flexibility.

Finally, an arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) produces both the standard waveforms and large, complex, user-defined waveforms, including those that are linked or looped combinations for unique sequences. AWGs require the most memory of all types of generators and use a clocking scheme that allows the device to only create waves in the order in which they are placed in the memory. This puts some limitations on the frequency of output.  In other words, while the user can define a specific waveform, the precision of that waveform may be limited.

Which waveform generator is appropriate for the specific device depends on the specific device and the need for precision in the waveforms. Cost, power use, safety, and security concerns also play a role.

Waveform generators and the IoT

Thanks to the growth of the IoT, waveform generators are seeing a sort of renaissance in terms of development. Embedded systems developers are, more than ever before, looking for waveform generators that are flexible, easy-to-use, and accurate. One of the major trends in waveform generator development, then, is to create generators that are able to work in both analog and digital modes and meet a wide variety of signal generation needs.

Some of the most common applications of waveforms are in the medical field, and the advances in waveform generation are already being seen in the delivery of patient care. For example, new technology allows for healthcare providers to automatically view waveform data on their mobile devices, giving them the chance to monitor and respond to patients in real time. Waveforms from telemetry devices are also being automatically recorded into electronic health records, not only giving providers access to the data in a timely manner, but reducing the risk of errors inherent in the manual transmission of data.

Waveform generation is also a key part of testing IoT devices. Communication channels need to be tested and debugged to ensure that messages between the device and the hub are being sent and received as expected. For these tests, sensors collect data and convert it to an analog waveform, which is then examined and compared to other waveforms to ensure proper function. Without the waveforms, though, there would be nothing to test.

Choosing the right waveform generator for your IoT device can make a significant difference in its function, not to mention the cost. As you develop your embedded system, compare the options and choose the generator that will best meet your expectations and requirements.

For more insight on the Internet of Things, see Live Business: The Digitization of Everything.

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Tiffany Rowe

About Tiffany Rowe

Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to provide high-quality content that readers will find valuable.

Tags:

innovation , IOT

Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Christopher Koch

Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners? [INFOGRAPHIC]

To learn more about how humans and robots will co-evolve, read the in-depth report Bring Your Robot to Work.

Download the PDF (91KB)

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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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What Is The Key To Rapid Innovation In Healthcare?

Paul Clark

Healthcare technology has already made incredible advancements, but digital transformation of the healthcare industry is still considered in its infancy. According to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare, the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead for the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) are astounding.

Many health organizations recognize the importance of going digital and have already deployed programs involving IoT, cloud, Big Data, analytics, and mobile technologies. However, over the last decade, investments in many e-health programs have delivered only modest returns, so the progress of healthcare technology has been slow out of the gate.

What’s slowing the pace of healthcare innovation?

In the past, attempts at rapid innovation in healthcare have been bogged down by a slew of stakeholders, legacy systems, and regulations that are inherent to the industry. This presents some Big Data challenges with connected healthcare, such as gathering data from disparate silos of medical information. Secrecy is also an ongoing challenge, as healthcare providers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and academic institutions tend to protect personal and proprietary data. These issues have caused enormous complexity and have delayed or deterred attempts to build fully integrated digital healthcare systems.

So what is the key to rapid innovation?

According to the Connected Care eBook, healthcare organizations can overcome these challenges by using new technologies and collaborating with other players in the healthcare industry, as well as partners outside of the industry, to get the most benefit out of digital technology.

To move forward with digital transformation in healthcare, there is a need for digital architectures and platforms where a number of different technologies can work together from both a technical and a business perspective.

The secret to healthcare innovation: connected health platforms

New platforms are emerging that foster collaboration between different technologies and healthcare organizations to solve complex medical system challenges. These platforms can support a broad ecosystem of partners, including developers, researchers, and healthcare organizations. Healthcare networks that are connected through this type of technology will be able to accelerate the development and delivery of innovative, patient-centered solutions.

Platforms and other digital advancements present exciting new business opportunities for numerous healthcare stakeholders striving to meet the increasing expectations of tech-savvy patients.

The digital evolution of the healthcare industry may still be in its infancy, but it is growing up fast as new advancements in technology quickly develop. Are you ready for the next phase of digital transformation in the global healthcare industry?

For an in-depth look at how technology is changing the face of healthcare, download the SAP eBook Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

See how the digital era is affecting the business environment in the SAP eBook The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Discover the driving forces behind digital transformation in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.

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About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is the Senior Director of Technology Partner Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.