How CIOs Become Invaluable In The Age Of SaaS

Daniel Newman

With SaaS picking up speed, you may have heard whispers about the future of the CIO. Will the role remain necessary? Will it still serve a critical function in the running of a business, especially when you factor in the emergence of “Everything” as a Service (XaaS)?

The answers are yes, yes, and yes. CIOs are still the glue that holds together incumbent business technology, especially if you factor in external influences like Shadow IT, SaaS, and BYOD. What is it precisely that makes CIOs invaluable in this ever-changing environment? Let’s break it down.

Are CIOs on shaky ground?

SaaS and cloud—basically XaaS—surround how we work and how we consume in today’s world. All you have to do is swipe a credit card to use the latest and greatest application. That’s handy for consumers, but what about for those tasked with procuring IT for companies? Making tech purchasing decisions is no longer a highly centralized process; rather, it’s moving into the spokes of organizations. In fact, many are still feeling the sting of that 2012 Gartner prediction that CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs by the year 2017. If you haven’t heard of that one, I’d be surprised. It’s been highly discussed, and even CIO Magazine has reported on a proposed “CIO-to-CMO transition of power” as the reverberations from Gartner’s report still rattle some industry leaders.

Whether you agree with the Gartner prediction or not, it’s fair to say it’s stirred up a debate about the viability of the CIO in the age of SaaS and XaaS. There just might be a plus side here: Maybe all this back and forth has started what is actually a healthy discussion about the role of CIOs in this evolving tech space. Longevity is possible, though, if CIOs can re-hone their focus on leveraging their skills to developing robust infrastructure to support company scale, securing complex networks and creating a tech environment where company employees can thrive in productivity; hardly an easy task.

Keys to CIO longevity

It is critical that CIOs are masters of the domain of security, compliance, and—perhaps—a new role: education.

Security. We talk a lot about internal and external security, and for good reason. All that Big Data rolling in and out of IT departments can mean big risks for CIOs, so their security efforts must be on-point at all times. Are data scientists getting to the right information quickly and safely? Is proprietary information gated appropriately? What’s the disaster recovery plan for on-premise data center failures? All these questions and more are important to ask, and there’s no room for error.

Compliance. While using a variety of cloud services for day-to-day company operations can bring versatility to overall operations, it can also bring more compliance issues. CIOs can benefit from reinventing their roles to focus on staying ahead of compliance requirements from a big-picture perspective. That way, there will be no aggravating (and costly) downtime due to noncompliance, and everyone in the C-Suite can breathe easily knowing all those compliance boxes remain checked at all times.

Education. With tools and technology changing at breakneck pace, it is nearly impossible for CIOs to keep up with every new tool out there. No matter how big their team, CIO’s can’t validate every application. On top of that, it isn’t exactly in their best interests to become a bottleneck of productivity. Teaching employees about security and compliance risks is a great way to get them to see the difference between innocently downloading the latest consumer-level app, and inadvertently putting company data at risk.

Plus, focusing on inter-company IT education provides job security for CIOs—the tech landscape is evolving into a more do-it-yourself, BYOD space, but there will always be a need for experts to provide guidance, advice, policy, and oversight.

A role revised

If CIOs can lock down internal and external security risks, help the company stay ahead of compliance requirements that can bog down a company, and become a center of excellence for helping employees maximize the adoption of resources, they will put themselves on a much stronger footing. This is especially important in a world where many have tried to provocatively stir the pot, inferring that CIOs are a fleeting trend.

How do you see the role of the CIO evolving as SaaS and “XaaS” continue to dominate boardrooms and budgets? What’s the C-Suite of the future look like for your company? It’s certainly not a black and white issue—there’s lots of gray area and many components to discuss. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit Point B and Beyond 

The post How CIOs Become Invaluable In the Age of SaaS appeared first on Millennial CEO.

Image credit:


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

A Rubbery Tale Of A Global Supply Chain

Kai Goerlich

We use it when we drive a car or ride a bike. It’s in our shoes. It protects our hands when we wash dishes. And it’s in the balloons that make every child’s day. Natural rubber, or latex, is used in many products, and believe it or not, it is one of the world’s top 20 volatile resources.

Rubber is a striking example of the many problems today’s global supply chains face when it comes to natural resources. These challenges include monoculture and impact on ecosystems, a high concentration of production, changing demand and volatility, and energy- and resource-intensive production.

Cultivation and industrial use

The rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, is a native plant found in the Amazon rainforest that thrives in the ecosystem’s high-volume annual rainfall and stable tropical temperatures. From the sixth year of growth until age 30, the bark of these trees can be scraped to harvest sap, or “milk,” which is used to create fluid latex. When the trees stop producing, they are cut down.

With this growth pattern, producers cannot scale down or up quickly to follow demand or prices. The trees are usually cultivated in large plantations of 3,000 to 5,000 hectares, often sharing facilities with palm oil trees. As with many industrially used natural resources, the ecological footprint is sizeable because the trees do not live as long as other trees, such as their neighboring palm oil trees.

It’s well known that there is an increasing rate of land deforestation, use of fertilizers, water pollution, overuse of the soil, and lost biodiversity due to monoculture. Furthermore, the social impacts cannot be neglected as land ownership is often unclear or violated including expropriation. In addition, labor rights of the industry’s manual workers are often ignored.

In response, many alternatives are being explored. For example, scientists are testing the ability to use dandelions and their sap as a latex substitute. And as consumer demand for more eco-friendly products increases, advocacy groups are promoting more sustainable production practices such as protecting forest areas and improving human and labor rights efforts. As with other natural products like palm oil, wood, and textiles, progress is slow, and tight control in the global supply chain requires dedicated efforts that many companies try to avoid as long as their brand is not severely damaged.

There are several methods to produce rubber, and all energy-intensive. Liquid rubber needs to be heated to 120 to 200OC to create a polymer by cross-linking rubber molecules with sulfur and other additives. The so-called molding or shaping must happen before heating as the cross-linking process makes shaping impossible.

The rise of rubber’s popularity

The Olmec people in South America produced a simple form of rubber from these trees nearly 4,000 years ago. In fact, early from the first Europeans in South America indicate a favorite game involving jumping balls made of an elastic material. In 1750, scientists worked with a natural material, and the first rubber factory was built in 1824 in Austria. In 1830, world trade was at 150 tons of natural rubber, after Charles Goodyear developed the vulcanization and created the modern rubber in 1839. Successive inventions by Dunlop and Michelin then raised worldwide demand for natural rubber to more than 7,000 tons.

At the time, most rubber was produced in Brazil. Workers had to move into the dense forest to search for the dispersed trees, which was labor-intensive and associated with health risks. Rubber barons grew rich while enslaving the native population and exploiting workers. In 1876, Brazil lost the monopoly when Henry Wickham smuggled 70,000 seeds to England. Only 2,700 plants grew out of them, but he yielded enough trees to transfer them to plantations in Saigon and Malaysia.

By 1900, chemists started to develop synthetic rubber, which then led to a high ratio of synthetic rubber used in the market. Nevertheless, natural rubber is still a widely used and valued material for many industrial and fashion applications since its resistance, elasticity, and load-bearing qualities cannot be matched easily by synthetic products.

Today, the world natural rubber demand is set to rise from 12 million tons in 2016 to 16 million tons within the next 10 years, according to estimates by the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG). Approximately 70% of this is used by the automotive industry, primarily for tires. Meanwhile, 13% is used for gloves and other devices in the healthcare field, 9% is sourced for manufacturers, and 8% is acquired for footwear and other consumer products, according to a report by Accenture.

Concentrated production and use

Unfortunately, the original source country, Brazil, no longer plays a significant role in rubber production, although the Brazilian state of Acre is now reentering the eco-rubber market. Today, the largest producers of rubber are Thailand (~40%), Indonesia (~30%), and Malaysia (~10%), followed by Vietnam, India, China, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Cambodia. The top three producers form the International Tripartite Rubber Council, which controls rubber prices.

One reason why production is concentrated in Asia Pacific is the emergence of a fungal disease in South America that constrains commercial use. However, a high concentration of producers in one continent also has risks. Natural catastrophes, political changes, and other events may impact production significantly. According to some climate change scenarios, these countries may also soon experience extreme weather events such as destructive storms, intense rainfall, and unprecedented droughts.

resource volatility

Volatilities ahead

Our analysis shows that natural resources are becoming more volatile as globalization increases. Our research is based on data from the World Bank, which was adjusted to reflect 2010 U.S. currency for consistency and demonstrates changes in abundance and price for many resources experiencing highly volatile markets.

Rubber is a highly volatile resource compared to other plantation-based, natural raw materials such as palm oil and crude oil. The price for natural rubber has fallen 70% over the past five years, a trend that negatively impacts the incomes of farmers, especially those with only a few acres of rubber trees.

As mentioned above, synthetic rubber, which is made of oil, has been used in place of natural rubber for decades. Low oil prices have led to an increase in synthetic rubber and weaker demand for the natural material. Given that oil prices have been at historic lows since 2014, we can certainly expect a further decline in price for natural rubber. Furthermore, high dependency on the automotive tire industry makes natural rubber producers sensitive to any changes in global car sales.

Four recommendations for managing volatile resources

Production of natural resources like rubber cannot be scaled up easily, especially when the resources depend on only a few countries. Here are four things you can do to make better use of these materials while protecting the supply chain:

  1. Create a resource footprint of all products and design out over-dependencies on one resource.
  2. Secure the quality of products and services by building up product stewardship for high-quality raw materials and derivatives with sustainable and ethical production.
  3. Check out supply chain bottlenecks, enhance the resilience of your supply chain by widening your supplier network, and simplify new supplier onboarding.
  4. Monitor resource volatility closely by creating a Live Business operation with real-time demand and production forecasts.

For more supply chain strategies for today’s consumer-driven economy, see Keep Your Customers Close And Your Suppliers Closer.


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.

3D Printing: Big Opportunities For Industrial Enterprises

Lucy Adams

Computers and information systems are an integral part of the modern world, making companies that successfully use digital technologies more competitive than those that are lagging in their “digital maturity.” By applying new digital technologies to their production cycles, top-notch industrial enterprises can improve product quality and reduce its cost.

Opportunities, prospects, and restrictions of 3D printing

Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, is a relatively new production technology and one of the most popular areas of research in applied science today. The essence of 3D printing is producing products through layer-by-layer overlaying of a material based on a three-dimensional digital model. The production material (plastics, glass, ceramics, and even metal) and the method of applying layers (for example, laser sintering or jet casting), may vary. However, any 3D product manufacturing begins with three-dimensional digital modeling.

The first 3D printers were used mainly to create product prototypes, and today’s producers still face a number of technological and economic constraints. Nevertheless, 3D printing is a revolutionary technology capable of replacing such standard methods as molding, casting, and milling.

The advantages of 3D printing for different industries

One of the distinctive advantages of 3D printing is that a manufacturer can create a new product without purchasing additional equipment or manufacturing a new form. The additive-manufacturing process allows the same machine to create an unlimited number of a wide variety of products just by changing its digital model.

It can also transform how manufacturers usually make products today, in a centralized factory that makes and distributes uniform products, to local facilities that can produce customized products without increasing cost or creation time.

The ability to “mass customize” a product without increasing its price is very attractive for many industries, including the automotive industry. This technology could give Western automakers a competitive advantage against low-cost international manufacturers by, for example, 3D printing a customer’s specifications for a car body design without having to spend additional time or money on equipment or forms.

Medicine is another great example. Patients’ different physiological characteristics complicate manufacturing of hearing aids, prostheses, and similar medical devices and equipment. Today these products are usually made by hand by highly skilled specialists. Meanwhile, 3D printing can dramatically reduce the production costs due to its high accuracy and ability to easily customize a design.

3D printing and its influence on product supply

  • Flexible supply chain. The manufacturer produces a product under the needed requirements and volume on the basis of the current market situation, trying to realize all the work as soon as possible to reduce production time. Because the 3D printer can produce any type of complex detail, manufacturers can create a number of product variations in one place, reducing time and resources invested, because production can begin immediately after changing the digital model.
  • Lean supply chain. The 3D printing manufacturing system is focused on reducing time and resource losses. This is another reason producing all the necessary parts in one location is important: for global manufacturers, this means no need for costly export-import transactions.

Another typical problem of traditional production is the production formula “more is less,” which forces manufacturers to produce as many products as possible to reduce the costs of one product. Additive manufacturing eliminates this issue because every product is created from scratch, without using any additional tools or forms. Manufacturers can produce only as many products as they need.

Problems of 3D printing

There are three main problems with 3D printing: a limited size of parts due to the size of the 3D machine, the relatively high cost of these machines, as well as the high cost of powdered materials that are the resource for manufacturing. Nevertheless, the solution to all these problems is just a matter of time. The high level of interest in 3D printing, plus its obvious advantages to suppliers and users, means it will soon see widespread use in manufacturing.

Get more insight on 3D printing in How 3D Printing Will Disrupt Manufacturing.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)


Lucy Adams

About Lucy Adams

Lucy Adams is a freelance writer interested in many areas, so you can never know whether the topics you have in mind suits her. Of course, until you share these ideas! Feel free to suggest a few themes to the blogger and get a high-quality and in-depth research in return.

The Robotics Race

Stephanie Overby

As robotic technologies continue to advance, along with related technologies such as speech and image recognition, memory and analytics, and virtual and augmented reality, better, faster, and cheaper robots will emerge. These machines – sophisticated, discerning, and increasingly autonomous – are certain to have an impact on business and society. But will they bring job displacement and danger or create new categories of employment and protect humankind?

We talked to SAP’s Kai Goerlich, along with Doug Stephen of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and Brett Kennedy from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about the advances we can expect in robotics, robots’ limitations, and their likely impact on the world.


qa_qWhat are the biggest drivers of the robot future?

Kai Goerlich: Several trends will come together to drive the robotics market in the next 15 to 20 years. The number of connected things and sensors will grow to the billions and the data universe will likewise explode. We think the speed of analytics will increase, with queries answered in milliseconds. Image and voice recognition – already quite good – will surpass human capabilities. And the virtual and augmented reality businesses will take off. These technologies are all building blocks for a new form of robotics that will vastly expand today’s capabilities in a diversity of forms and applications.

Brett Kennedy: When I was getting out of school, there weren’t that many people working in robotics. Now kids in grade school are exposed to a lot of things that I had to learn on the job, so they come into the workplace with a lot more knowledge and fewer preconceptions about what robots can or can’t do based on their experiences in different industries. That results in a much better-trained workforce in robotics, which I think is the most important thing.

In addition, many of the parts that we need for more sophisticated robots are coming out of other fields. We could never create enough critical mass to develop these technologies specifically for robotics. But we’re getting them from other places. Improvements in battery technology, which enable a robot to function without being plugged in, are being driven by industries such as mobile electronics and automotive, for example. Our RoboSimian has a battery drive originally designed for an electric motorcycle.

qa_qDo you anticipate a limit to the tasks robots will be able to master as these core technologies evolve?

Goerlich: Robots will take over more and more complex functions, but I think the ultimate result will be that new forms of human-machine interactions will emerge. Robots have advantages in crunching numbers, lifting heavy objects, working in dangerous environments, moving with precision, and performing repetitive tasks. However, humans still have advantages in areas such as abstraction, curiosity, creativity, dexterity, fast and multidimensional feedback, self-motivation, goal setting, and empathy. We’re also comparatively lightweight and efficient.

Doug Stephen: We’re moving toward a human-machine collaboration approach, which I think will become the norm for more complex tasks for a very long time. Even when we get to the point of creating more-complex and general-purpose robots, they won’t be autonomous. They’ll have a great deal of interaction with some sort of human teammate or operator.

qa_qHow about the Mars Rover? It’s relatively autonomous already.

Kennedy: The Mars Rover is autonomous to a certain degree. It is capable of supervised autonomy because there’s no way to control it at that distance with a joystick. But it’s really just executing the intent of the operator here on the ground.

In 2010, DARPA launched its four-year Autonomous Robotic Manipulator Challenge to create machines capable of carrying out complex tasks with only high-level human involvement. Some robots completed the challenge, but they were incredibly slow. We may get to a point where robots can do these sorts of things on their own. But they’re just not as good as people at this point. I don’t think we’re all going to be coming home to robot butlers anytime soon.

Stephen: It’s extremely difficult to program robots to behave as humans do. When we trip over something, we can recover quickly, but a robot will topple over and damage itself. The problem is that our understanding of our human abilities is limited. We have to figure out how to formally define the processes that human beings or any legged animals use to maintain balance or to walk and then tell a robot how to do it.

You have to be really explicit in the instructions that you give to these machines. Amazon has been working on these problems for a while with its “picking challenge”: How do you teach a robot to pick and pack boxes the way a human does? Right now, it’s a challenge for robots to identify what each item is.

qa_qSo if I’m not coming home to a robot butler in 20 years, what am I coming home to?

Goerlich: We naturally tend to imagine humanoid robots, but I think the emphasis will be on human-controlled robots, not necessarily humanshaped units. Independent robots will make sense in some niches, but they are more complex and expensive. The symbiosis of human and machine is more logical. It will be the most efficient way forward. Robotic suits, exoskeletons, and robotic limbs with all kinds of human support functions will be the norm. The future will be more Iron Man than Terminator.

qa_qWhat will be the impact on the job market as robots become more advanced?

SAP_Robotics_QA_images2400x16004Goerlich: The default fear is of a labor-light economy where robots do most of the work and humans take what’s left over. But that’s lastcentury thinking. Robots won’t simply replace workers on the assembly line. In fact, we may not have centralized factories anymore; 3D printing and the maker movement could change all that. And it is probably not the Terminator scenario either, where humanoid robots take over the world and threaten humankind. The indicators instead point to human-machine coevolution.

There’s no denying that advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will displace some jobs performed by humans today. But for every repetitive job that is lost to automation, it’s possible that a more interesting, creative job will take its place. This will require humans to focus on the skills that robots can’t replicate – and, of course, rethink how we do things and how the economy works.

qa_qWhat can businesses do today to embrace the projected benefits of advanced robotics?

Kennedy: Experiment. The very best things that we’ve been able to produce have come from people having the tools an d then figuring out how they can be used. I don’t think we understand the future well enough to be able to predict exactly how robots are going to be used, but I think we can say that they certainly will be used. Stephanie Overby is an independent writer and editor focused on the intersection of business and technology.

Stephanie Overby  is an independent writer and editor focused on the intersection of business and technology

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

Download the PDF



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.


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.