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From Formula One to Human Resources: The Impact of Big Data

Chris Mark

Analysis by Raghu Pant, SAP Performance Benchmarking

What can possibly be in common between the fastest racing cars of the world and the HR departments of organizations? As F1 cars speed around the racetrack, they produce voluminous amounts of data on vehicle performance characteristics:  engine RPM, torque, lap times, speed, and so on.

Race strategy, race testing (pre-season and trials) and race control all produce and leverage data in a big way. While the driver has the ability to fine tune many aspects of the racecar, the real difference lies in how race teams analyze the vast amounts of real-time data, and compare it with historical and predictive models to simulate drag and transform the outcome of races.

Similar to F1, HR departments can tap into huge amounts of data generated by employees to identify factors that drive people productivity, engagement, innovation and business execution. With this ‘people data,’ organizations can build training, succession, leadership and compensation plans to focus their investments on the right skill sets. The challenge for HR, however, lies in managing structured (e.g., from enterprise systems) and unstructured (e.g., from social media, email, etc.) employee data to get a better understanding of their workforce.

SAP’s Performance Benchmarking group recently analyzed the results of companies with “high” vs. “low” maturity of their Enterprise Information Management initiatives for HR. The survey found that 72% of companies recognize the high importance of a strong data-management capability in HR, but only 25% have the capability in place.

Data Management for HRAs organizations look to win the race for talent, the management and use of structured and unstructured employee data by HR will go up. The challenge for HR departments will be the ability to correlate the HR and people data with business strategy execution to make the organization more successful. Or in other words, do their homework off the track to perform on the track like the great F1 teams.

SAP’s Performance Benchmarking program is a strategic service sponsored by our Value Engineering organization. Originally launched in 2004 the program has more than 12,000 participants from more than 4,000 companies and studies available in 12 languages. Participants receive—free of charge—customized and confidential benchmarking comparisons against industry peers as well as aggregate analyses. To participate in the SAP benchmarking program, go to the Value Management homepage.

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Chris Mark

About Chris Mark

Chris Mark is the Executive Director, Design & User Experience at SAP. His specialties include business strategy, program management, management consulting, go-to-market strategy and strategic planning.

Amazon And Whole Foods: The New Terrain Ahead

Jenn Vande Zande

We all felt the ground shake recently with the news that Amazon plans to acquire Whole Foods.

Similar to an earthquake, while living through the experience is shocking, there were ways to predict that it might have been coming, and ways to prepare for it. While the after-tremors of this surprise announcement are being felt far and wide (and will be for a long time), right now is the time to take a deep breath and realize that the landscape is changing, and that you can navigate through it.

Next week we’ll offer in-depth assessments of what this means for the long and short term, but for today, it’s time for reflection and a renewing of your strength and dedication to the market and the customer.

Here are the facts as we see them:

This is a game-changer

How many times has the term “game-changer” been used with Amazon? Countless. However, Amazon has been ramping up their entry into the grocery retail market. “Amazon has been steadily breaking into grocery, the largest segment of retail, with AmazonPantry, AmazonFresh, AmazonGo, and most recently their AmazonFresh Pickup pilot. Just yesterday they released a Dash Wand that can not only be used to scan products into a shopping list or cart, but also includes Alexa for find recipes, get product recommendations, and place orders,” said Stephanie Waters, retail industry principal with SAP Hybris, “And now, today, this.”

Stephanie noted, “Some grocers haven’t been overly concerned about Amazon, saying they don’t know how to do fresh and they don’t have stores. That all changed today when they acquired one of the world’s experts in fresh and 465 stores across North America and the UK. The grocery industry will never be the same. We are on the cusp of a quickly moving environment and I think we will see the acceleration of supermarket chains innovating their business models and modernizing their organizations.”

Price wars are coming

Experts in the industry have been aware that a battle was brewing when it comes to pricing and grocery retail, but today’s announcement brings grocery retailers to the front line.

Cutting prices isn’t the answer. You need to deliver an outstanding customer experience and maximize operational efficiencies.

Data: the not-so-secret weapon

Many grocery retailers partnered with Instacart to provide fulfillment services, thereby turning over their customer data to a third-party vendor rather than retaining and using that data. Today should mark a shift in how grocers proceed with this process.

It remains to be seen what impact the Amazon acquisition will have on the Instacart and Whole Food partnership, but taking back control of both the customer experience and data derived from it will be a key element in getting through this disruption in the industry.

Fewer customers walking into stores and ordering online from the retailer equates to lower slotting fees, which means a significant crack in one of the foundations of grocery retailer bottom lines.

Online is the new frontier

It’s hard to believe that there are grocery retailers who haven’t made the leap to online, but they exist. “The news of this acquisition today only accelerates the online grocery forecast which is estimated to grab 20% of grocery by 2025,” said Waters, “retailers who are not online risk losing market share. Period. Full stop.”

Prepare to fight for your customer

Today is a day to recognize that a long battle lies ahead. You have to be prepared to fight for your customer, and you need the tools and strength to do it. It’s time to take a deep breath and assess where you are and where you need to be.

It’s been noted before, but bears repeating over and over: If you evolve your business model to include online retail but you ignore the customer experience, you have gained nothing, and could even lose customers.

What’s next?

Watch this space next week, when we’ll do some deep-dives into what all of this means. In the meantime, know that you can still thrive, and that SAP Hybris can help.

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Differentiating Products With Data-Based Services

Don Gordon

Ever since Steve Jobs revealed the first iPhone, people have come to associate big tech launches with physical products. So when SAP chairman Hasso Plattner, Prof. Dr. h.c. mult., unveiled the new SAP digital innovation system last month, many people in the SAPPHIRE NOW audience reflexively looked around for a nonexistent device.

The fact is, value and differentiation are migrating away from physical products like devices and toward data-based services that fundamentally change the way consumers interact with those products. For consumer products (CP) companies, adapting to this change is imperative because today, even new and highly sought-after products become commoditized more quickly than ever before. For CP companies, this means they need to:

  • Innovate ways to be more efficient using IoT and analytics across lines of business (for example, in manufacturing and supply chain operations to increase efficiency as a way to lower costs)
  • Create innovative data services around products – for example, by building sensors into products. In this case, the data is what allows for differentiation. It’s what makes the product more valuable to the customer. And it’s how CP companies can increase market share, customer retention, and margins.

So where does a digital innovation system come in? It is, as Plattner explained, a “digital innovation system that enables customers to rapidly innovate and scale that innovation to redefine their business for the digital world.” You might think of it as a digital services innovation platform that brings together the power of machine learning, IoT, analytics, and Big Data in ways that were previously not possible.

With all of these technologies unified, it’s much easier to harness data to drive process, value, and customer experience transformation. Consider this: When customers – both B2B and B2C – purchase and use connected, self-aware products, they can passively send product and usage data in the course of daily activities and work (for example, usage levels, wear and tear rates, maintenance information, and functionality used and not used).

This data can be used to inform every aspect of the product value chain. For example, when a customer purchases a smart refrigerator, they agree to passively stream product and usage data from that refrigerator on a continuous basis. Sensors can be built into it to capture and send performance and operations data useful to every player in the product value chain. As an interactive product, the refrigerator can send data (or alerts) when compressors are overheating, vibrations or temperatures are exceeding desired maximums, or Freon levels are low.

The value of this data can extended to a CP manufacturer’s entire extended value chain. For example, a refrigeration manufacturer with commercial and consumer product lines could include B2B traditional suppliers that enable the manufacturer to make better products, as well as involve other providers of data-based services around the product to expand the customer value proposition, as shown in the illustration below.

transformation of the refrigeration value chain

Transformation of the refrigeration value chain

So from this perspective, the future of CP lies in harnessing new kinds of data – and IDC appears to agree. In a May 2017 Analyst Connection, Simon Ellis, program vice president at IDC, forecasted that 90% of the growth in the CP industry over the next decade will go to companies that successfully engage directly with consumers. “While this may mean direct-to-consumer selling, it is most likely to be about a ‘brand relationship.’ The successful engagement will be one that turns data and information from consumers into product and service offerings that meet or even exceed consumers’ expectations. The 90% is a projection, of course, and the actual results may be higher or lower, but the point is that to succeed in the future, CP companies will need to engage with their consumers in a new way.”

I invite you to read Ellis’ paper, “Using Data to Digitally Transform Consumer Products,” He provides valuable insights into how untapped digital technologies have the potential to harness data to drive new capabilities and data-driven services, deliver totally new insights into the changing behaviors and needs of customers, and more.

 

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Don Gordon

About Don Gordon

Don Gordon leads global Consumer Products industry marketing for SAP. Previously he led global Retail industry marketing for IBM. He lives in Philadelphia, considered by many to be the finest city on earth.

Teaching Machines Right from Wrong

Dan Wellers

 

By 2018, smart machines will supervise over 3 million workers worldwide.
21% of consumers in an FTC study had confirmed errors on their credit reports.
2014: the first annual Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning conference.
A private university encouraged 20-25 students to drop out based on AI predictions of
poor grades.

Real-world examples of misused AI algorithms abound. These are just a few:

  • Women who weren’t pregnant — or weren’t ready to reveal it — received special offers of baby products and “congratulatory” messages.
  • People with minority ethnic names received a disproportionate number of ads implying they had criminal records.
  • Guests at a party learned a ride-hailing company kept track of customers who stayed out all night and went home in the wee hours.

Ethical-Edge Cases

Credit scoring algorithms designed to evaluate lending risk are now commonly used to gauge reliability and trustworthiness, determining whether someone should get a job or apartment.

Insurance underwriting algorithms determine the extent, price, and type of coverage someone can get, with little room for disagreement.

Healthcare algorithms could be used to penalize the currently healthy for their probability of future illness.

Algorithms often use zip codes as proxy for (illegal) racial profiling in major decisions, such as employment and law enforcement.

Self-driving cars will have to learn how to react in an accident situation when every possible outcome is bad.


What Should We Do About It?

All machine learning contains assumptions and biases of the humans who create it — unconscious or otherwise. To ensure fairness, business leaders must insist that AI be built on a strong ethical foundation.

We can:

  • Monitor algorithms for neutrality and positive outcomes.
  • Support academic research into making AI-driven decisions more fair, accountable, and transparent.
  • Create human-driven overrides, grievance procedures, and anti-bias laws.
  • Include ethics education in all employee training and development.

Above all, we must consider this a human issue, not a technological one. AI is only as unbiased a tool as we make it. It’s our responsibility to keep it on the ethical straight and narrow.


Download the executive brief Teaching Machines Right from Wrong.


Read the full article AI and Ethics: We Will Live What Machines Learn

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Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is the Global Lead of Digital Futures at SAP, which explores how organizations can anticipate the future impact of exponential technologies. Dan has extensive experience in technology marketing and business strategy, plus management, consulting, and sales.

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Why Millennials Quit: Understanding A New Workforce

Shelly Kramer

Millennials are like mobile devices: they’re everywhere. You can’t visit a coffee shop without encountering both in large numbers. But after all, who doesn’t like a little caffeine with their connectivity? The point is that you should be paying attention to millennials now more than ever because they have surpassed Boomers and Gen-Xers as the largest generation.

Unfortunately for the workforce, they’re also the generation most likely to quit. Let’s examine a new report that sheds some light on exactly why that is—and what you can do to keep millennial employees working for you longer.

New workforce, new values

Deloitte found that two out of three millennials are expected to leave their current jobs by 2020. The survey also found that a staggering one in four would probably move on in the next year alone.

If you’re a business owner, consider putting four of your millennial employees in a room. Take a look around—one of them will be gone next year. Besides their skills and contributions, you’ve also lost time and resources spent by onboarding and training those employees—a very costly process. According to a new report from XYZ University, turnover costs U.S. companies a whopping $30.5 billion annually.

Let’s take a step back and look at this new workforce with new priorities and values.

Everything about millennials is different, from how to market to them as consumers to how you treat them as employees. The catalyst for this shift is the difference in what they value most. Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips and are the most highly educated generation to date. Many have delayed marriage and/or parenthood in favor of pursuing their careers, which aren’t always about having a great paycheck (although that helps). Instead, it may be more that the core values of your business (like sustainability, for example) or its mission are the reasons that millennials stick around at the same job or look for opportunities elsewhere. Consider this: How invested are they in their work? Are they bored? What does their work/life balance look like? Do they have advancement opportunities?

Ping-pong tables and bringing your dog to work might be trendy, but they aren’t the solution to retaining a millennial workforce. So why exactly are they quitting? Let’s take a look at the data.

Millennials’ common reasons for quitting

In order to gain more insight into the problem of millennial turnover, XYZ University surveyed more than 500 respondents between the ages of 21 and 34 years old. There was a good mix of men and women, college grads versus high school grads, and entry-level employees versus managers. We’re all dying to know: Why did they quit? Here are the most popular reasons, some in their own words:

  • Millennials are risk-takers. XYZ University attributes this affection for risk taking with the fact that millennials essentially came of age during the recession. Surveyed millennials reported this experience made them wary of spending decades working at one company only to be potentially laid off.
  • They are focused on education. More than one-third of millennials hold college degrees. Those seeking advanced degrees can find themselves struggling to finish school while holding down a job, necessitating odd hours or more than one part-time gig. As a whole, this generation is entering the job market later, with higher degrees and higher debt.
  • They don’t want just any job—they want one that fits. In an age where both startups and seasoned companies are enjoying success, there is no shortage of job opportunities. As such, they’re often looking for one that suits their identity and their goals, not just the one that comes up first in an online search. Interestingly, job fit is often prioritized over job pay for millennials. Don’t forget, if they have to start their own company, they will—the average age for millennial entrepreneurs is 27.
  • They want skills that make them competitive. Many millennials enjoy the challenge that accompanies competition, so wearing many hats at a position is actually a good thing. One millennial journalist who used to work at Forbes reported that millennials want to learn by “being in the trenches, and doing it alongside the people who do it best.”
  • They want to do something that matters. Millennials have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.
  • They prefer flexibility. Technology today means it’s possible to work from essentially anywhere that has an Internet connection, so many millennials expect at least some level of flexibility when it comes to their employer. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, of course, but millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules. If they have no say in their workday, that’s a red flag.
  • They’ve got skills—and they want to use them. In the words of a 24-year-old designer, millennials “don’t need to print copies all day.” Many have paid (or are in the midst of paying) for their own education, and they’re ready and willing to put it to work. Most would prefer you leave the smaller tasks to the interns.
  • They got a better offer. Thirty-five percent of respondents to XYZ’s survey said they quit a previous job because they received a better opportunity. That makes sense, especially as recruiting is made simpler by technology. (Hello, LinkedIn.)
  • They seek mentors. Millennials are used to being supervised, as many were raised by what have been dubbed as “helicopter parents.” Receiving support from those in charge is the norm, not the anomaly, for this generation, and they expect that in the workplace, too.

Note that it’s not just XYZ University making this final point about the importance of mentoring. Consider Figures 1 and 2 from Deloitte, proving that millennials with worthwhile mentors report high satisfaction rates in other areas, such as personal development. As you can see, this can trickle down into employee satisfaction and ultimately result in higher retention numbers.

Millennials and Mentors
Figure 1. Source: Deloitte


Figure 2. Source: Deloitte

Failure to . . .

No, not communicate—I would say “engage.” On second thought, communication plays a role in that, too. (Who would have thought “Cool Hand Luke” would be applicable to this conversation?)

Data from a recent Gallup poll reiterates that millennials are “job-hoppers,” also pointing out that most of them—71 percent, to be exact—are either not engaged in or are actively disengaged from the workplace. That’s a striking number, but businesses aren’t without hope. That same Gallup poll found that millennials who reported they are engaged at work were 26 percent less likely than their disengaged counterparts to consider switching jobs, even with a raise of up to 20 percent. That’s huge. Furthermore, if the market improves in the next year, those engaged millennial employees are 64 percent less likely to job-hop than those who report feeling actively disengaged.

What’s next?

I’ve covered a lot in this discussion, but here’s what I hope you will take away: Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce, but they’re changing how you should look at hiring, recruiting, and retention as a whole. What matters to millennials matters to your other generations of employees, too. Mentoring, compensation, flexibility, and engagement have always been important, but thanks to the vocal millennial generation, we’re just now learning exactly how much.

What has been your experience with millennials and turnover? Are you a millennial who has recently left a job or are currently looking for a new position? If so, what are you missing from your current employer, and what are you looking for in a prospective one? Alternatively, if you’re reading this from a company perspective, how do you think your organization stacks up in the hearts and minds of your millennial employees? Do you have plans to do anything differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more insight on millennials and the workforce, see Multigenerational Workforce? Collaboration Tech Is The Key To Success.

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