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Big Data's Impact On Sales And Marketing

Luisa Ruppert

Big-Data-for-Sales-and-MarketingSales and Marketing teams all over the globe are very challenged in today’s world.

2012 CSO Insights survey found that nearly 82% of participating executives feel that their sales team is challenged by the amount of data available and the amount of time needed for researching before making contact with prospects.

And even more worrying are the 88% that are stating that they have missed opportunities due to not being able to leverage external, internal and social information available.

Defining Big Data

These vast amounts of data available from all sorts of different sources have been given the term ‘Big Data’. Adrian Simpson of SAP describes Big Data using the terminology ‘extreme data’ and explains it with three ‘v’s:

  • Volume of data, the large amount of data being stored in data warehouses
  • Velocity of data, where the data is coming from
  • Variety of data, structured and unstructured data
  • Timo Elliott adds a fourth ‘v’: Validity, which stands for data quality and integration connected to collaborate data governance which he says as equally important.

The survey discovered that 71% of businesses expect big data to have a significant impact on sales, while only 16% have big data strategies in place to improve their sales revenue stream. While around 80% stated to have implemented a CRM system, only 35% of the participants have implemented technology to support their sales teams with internal and external social information.

Impact of Big Data for Sales

As you can read in a Lattice Engines press release, sales teams leverage information from as many as 15 external and internal data resources such as search engines, social media (mainly Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and CRM systems to collect valuable information about customers and prospects. This shows that big data possesses a great potential for sales and businesses to concentrate the effort to cope with the overload of information. Big data still seems to be a curse for many that are unable to manage and leverage it in a valuable manner. Examples of how sales could benefit from big data include gaining better insight into which customers to target and which offers are most suitable and interesting for them.

McKinsey Global Institute study about big data confirmed the good news that large amounts of data are being “captured, stored, analyzed, and aggregated” explicitly to serve the sales revenue stream. However the CSO report proposes that 80% of sales employees feel that their CRM system is not effective in collecting external data and 40% say that about internal data sources. Overall, a staggering 90% trust in big data being the solution that brings time saving and a sales increase. Big data analytics provide real-time information that enables the sales rep to contact the right client at the exact time they are researching for new products.

 Catch them at the right time when they are ready for it.

How to cope with Big Data

Traditional technology was not ready to cope with the social and data-intensive world that companies find themselves confronted with today. The common social integration with CRM systems provides a great opportunity to leverage social big data in sales to increase productivity and close more deals quicker. It is also essential for success to implement the right strategy for big data to create an effective ecosystem of people, processes and technology.

Check out this case study about how the airline industry leverages big data through social CRM and you can find some more examples how companies cope with big data, here.

Outlook into the world of Big Data

The increasing use of mobile devices will certainly cause an exponential growth of data being available through shared multimedia content, the evolution of the Internet of Things. It is hard to say where big data is going and how it will impact us in the future but it will certainly present a steady growing challenge for businesses to keep up as technology is improving.

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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.

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How To Benefit From Upgrading Your Digital Mindset

Derek Klobucher

More technologies are simultaneously reaching maturity than at any other time in recent memory. Getting the most out of cloud, mobile, Big Data, Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other maturing technologies will require organizations to open themselves to new ways of thinking.

Technology providers will have to open their minds too, which is one reason for the creation of a new digital innovation system. The system focuses on its users’ business outcomes, especially those driven by maturing technologies such as IoT, according to Stacy Crook, IDC research director of IoT.

“The big strategy for IoT is … to tie people with things and processes,” Crook recently told TechTarget. “[There is] deep industry knowledge and a lot of information that will be useful in these IoT workflows.”

But users seeking to make the most of that information – and IoT workflows – must change their way of thinking. And while the Internet is full of listicles defining digital mindset, there is a new four-part definition that includes investing in next-generation technology.

Improving problem solving and employee engagement

“Leaders [in digital transformation] report a high level of investment in cloud computing and enterprise mobility, double-digit growth in Big Data and analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), and hypergrowth in machine learning and artificial intelligence,” said a new SAP study conducted with Oxford Economics.

A digital transformation driven by a digital innovation system has already empowered Caterpillar Inc.’s workforce to fix problems in real time – and to improve business outcomes. The system yielded outstanding employee engagement for the Peoria-based manufacturing giant during a recent project, according to Marty Groover, Business Construction Products Operational Technology manager at Caterpillar.

“Without having to go pull all of the data out of the system, it automatically starts driving that cognitive use of the data to solve issues in the moment so we can produce better quality of processes and products,” Grover said of Digital Manufacturing Insights at SAP Leonardo Live July 11-12. “The hourly employees love it and want more of it.”

But just because users enjoy digital technology doesn’t mean that they started out in favor of it.

A digital transformation pilot freed up 85% of nurses’ time, InCor’s Guilherme Rabello (on screen) said at SAP Leonardo Live. The nurses spent less time writing down data points, so they could spend more time connecting with their patients.

Winning over reluctant workers

There can be many obstacles to digital transformation, from a lack of leadership to an absence of change-management expertise, as the SAP/Oxford study noted. But buy-in among conservative medical professionals was critical at the largest heart hospital in Latin America, according to Guilherme Rabello, Commercial and Market Intelligence manager at InCor (Instituto do Coração – UCFMUSP).

“We had to convince them that … the technology was not dragging them out of their main service, but assisting them to provide even better care to their patients,” Rabello said at SAP Leonardo Live. “So we engaged with all of them upfront, and we showed them why we were doing [what we were doing].”

InCor’s uptake of the digital innovation system was quick, especially for younger medical professionals who are comfortable in digital environments, according to Rabello. And the pilot freed up 85% of InCor nurses’ time; because they spent less time writing down data points, they could spend more time connecting with their patients.

Streamlining high-speed train operations

Just as a physician wants patients to stay healthy – without unnecessary treatment – Italy’s primary train operator wants the most efficient way to keep its trains running optimally, according to Danilo Gismondi, CIO of Trenitalia Spa. Big Data analytics uses data from each train’s myriad IoT sensors – 10,000 sensors sending more than 5,000 signals per second – to help Trenitalia minimize downtime and maintenance costs by fixing trains when demands – not schedules – dictate.

“We were looking for an end-to-end platform – not a single solution – but something able to manage the huge amount of data coming from the sensors onboard,” Gismondi said of the dynamic maintenance management system, at SAP Leonardo Live. “The platform must manage this data, transforming the information for the decision makers and the maintainers.”

“We were looking for an end-to-end platform — not a single solution — but something able to manage the huge amount of data coming from the sensors onboard,” Trenitalia’s Danilo Gismondi said at SAP Leonardo Live. Each train has about 10,000 sensors sending more than 5,000 signals per second.

Additionally, cutting-edge statistical methodology predicts malfunctions and breakdowns, which helps Trenitalia improve its maintenance processes – and its service to about 2 million passengers each day. It also helps spot faults or glitches, which might have otherwise taken a perfectly good train out of service for unnecessary maintenance.

Maturing technologies – and mindsets

“What sets the leaders apart is that they have internalized the need to transform how they think as well as what they do – to create a digital mindset across the organization,” the SAP/Oxford study said. “This is the difference between saying ‘we need a mobile app’ and ‘we need new ways to serve customers in the ways they want to be served.’”

Caterpillar, InCor, and Trenitalia chose to seek new ways to serve their customers, evolving their mindsets and maturing their business models concurrently with maturing technology, such as IoT and Big Data. Benefits include increased employee engagement, greater efficiency, minimal equipment downtime, and reduced maintenance costs.

Click here for the SAP/Oxford study.

This story originally appeared on SAP’s Business Trends. Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

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Derek Klobucher

About Derek Klobucher

Derek Klobucher is a Financial Services Writer and Editor for Sybase, an SAP Company. He has covered the exchanges in Chicago, European regulation in Dublin and banking legislation in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Northwestern University in Evanston.

The Digitalization Of HR And Its Implications For Workforce Analytics

Mick Collins

In a Q2 2017 article entitled “Defining Digitalization: Creating a Common Vision,” Katy Connealy Weber and Michael Hanrahan of CEB’s Corporate Leadership Council indicated that in response to the increasing digitization of products, channels, and operations, fully 68 percent of CHROs “plan to prioritize improving the organization’s talent analytics capabilities.”

They also suggest that the deepening reliance on enterprise data will incent talent analytics teams to create an ecosystem of partners outside of HR, whose data will enable these teams to provide holistic guidance to the business.

This line of thinking is reflected in the new SAP SuccessFactors and Harvard Business Review study—HR Analytics: Busting Siloes and Delivering Outcomes—in which we suggest that the modern digital HR organization steps beyond the automation of HR processes and operations to take a top-down approach that starts with business challenges and then identifies workforce drivers and measures that impact the results. If HR can help managers ask better questions, perhaps we can obtain better answers, using data, and make better decisions.

It is the concept of decision-making that intrigues me and that also ties these two pieces of research together. Much of the investment that the Corporate Leadership Council expects CHROs to make will be on the structure of analytics — organizational design, teams, individuals, skills, and resources. In contrast, the SAP SuccessFactors study focuses on the process of analytics — how HR interacts and partners with business colleagues to affect a change in behaviors based on actionable people analytics.

It is a combination of both structure and process that leads to the holy grail of talent analytics: managers using data to change how they make decisions on their people.

So how to drive toward decision-making as the primary outcome of talent analytics?

As I wrote recently on the workforce analytics execution gap, I find this idea of a monolithic “business strategy” to be overly simplistic at best and useless at worst. Most organizations are a complex, fluid, and heterogeneous amalgamation of activities, many of which may loosely be defined as “strategy.”

Thus, to improve the likelihood that analytics projects focus on relevant, specific strategies, analytics teams (or the part-time compensation analyst who has been “volun-told” to drive the analytics agenda) could:

  • Deliver insights that address or alleviate a talent management “pain.” According to a 2014 PwC survey on Trends in Workforce Analytics, 70 percent of U.S. CEOs worry about how a shortage of people with the right skills will undermine their strategic plans. This would be a pain that analytics could certainly help to reduce (for example, the CEB Corporate Leadership Council report indicates that 56 percent of CHROs plan to focus their talent acquisition on much-needed digital skills).
  • Prioritize analytics on areas with high alignment to CEO concerns and limited visibility. Many organizations focus their initial measurement efforts on mature, process-driven domains (e.g., recruiting metrics) or those with high visibility and comparably simple data capture (e.g., turnover). As a recent Insights From SAP Workforce Analytics survey illustrated, some of the greatest opportunities for analytics are in Learning and Succession. Learning suffers from the challenge of massive volumes of data pumped into transactional reports only – as expanded upon in this blog – while Succession is generally approached from the perspective of the individual successors rather than a study of the aggregate portfolio, discussed further here.

With greater digitalization in HR, the function’s skill profile will also evolve. Of high priority will be skills related to digital strategy (understanding how systems connect to deliver integrated streams of data), data science, storytelling, and insights coaching (helping managers understand the decision implications associated with data analysis).

Digitalization is a brave new world for many HR functions, but the promise it holds for analytics, and better talent management decision-making, is too great to be ignored.

To access the HBR report and to learn more about how SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics together with SAP Digital Boardroom can help HR become a valuable player in strategic decision making, visit here. You can also learn more from customers and experts at SuccessConnect in Las Vegas taking place August 29-31 at The Cosmopolitan. Register here.

Source: CEB Corporate Leadership Council, CHRO Quarterly, Q2, 2017.

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Running Future Cities on Blockchain

Dan Wellers , Raimund Gross and Ulrich Scholl

Building on the Blockchain Framework

Some experts say these seemingly far-future speculations about the possibilities of combining technologies using blockchain are actually both inevitable and imminent:


Democratizing design and manufacturing by enabling individuals and small businesses to buy, sell, share, and digitally remix products affordably while protecting intellectual property rights.
Decentralizing warehousing and logistics by combining autonomous vehicles, 3D printers, and smart contracts to optimize delivery of products and materials, and even to create them on site as needed.
Distributing commerce by mixing virtual reality, 3D scanning and printing, self-driving vehicles, and artificial intelligence into immersive, personalized, on-demand shopping experiences that still protect buyers’ personal and proprietary data.

The City of the Future

Imagine that every agency, building, office, residence, and piece of infrastructure has an entry on a blockchain used as a city’s digital ledger. This “digital twin” could transform the delivery of city services.

For example:

  • Property owners could easily monetize assets by renting rooms, selling solar power back to the grid, and more.
  • Utilities could use customer data and AIs to make energy-saving recommendations, and smart contracts to automatically adjust power usage for greater efficiency.
  • Embedded sensors could sense problems (like a water main break) and alert an AI to send a technician with the right parts, tools, and training.
  • Autonomous vehicles could route themselves to open parking spaces or charging stations, and pay for services safely and automatically.
  • Cities could improve traffic monitoring and routing, saving commuters’ time and fuel while increasing productivity.

Every interaction would be transparent and verifiable, providing more data to analyze for future improvements.


Welcome to the Next Industrial Revolution

When exponential technologies intersect and combine, transformation happens on a massive scale. It’s time to start thinking through outcomes in a disciplined, proactive way to prepare for a future we’re only just beginning to imagine.

Download the executive brief Running Future Cities on Blockchain.


Read the full article Pulling Cities Into The Future With Blockchain

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Raimund Gross

About Raimund Gross

Raimund Gross is a solution architect and futurist at SAP Innovation Center Network, where he evaluates emerging technologies and trends to address the challenges of businesses arising from digitization. He is currently evaluating the impact of blockchain for SAP and our enterprise customers.

Ulrich Scholl

About Ulrich Scholl

Ulrich Scholl is Vice President of Industry Cloud and Custom Development at SAP. In this role, Ulrich discovers and implements best practices to help further the understanding and adoption of the SAP portfolio of industry cloud innovations.

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4 Traits Set Digital Leaders Apart From 97% Of The Competition

Vivek Bapat

Like the classic parable of the blind man and the elephant, it seems everyone has a unique take on digital transformation. Some equate digital transformation with emerging technologies, placing their bets on as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Others see it as a way to increase efficiencies and change business processes to accelerate product to market. Some others think of it is a means of strategic differentiation, innovating new business models for serving and engaging their customers. Despite the range of viewpoints, many businesses are still challenged with pragmatically evolving digital in ways that are meaningful, industry-disruptive, and market-leading.

According to a recent study of more than 3,000 senior executives across 17 countries and regions, only a paltry three percent of businesses worldwide have successfully completed enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives, even though 84% of C-level executives ranks such efforts as “critically important” to the fundamental sustenance of their business.

The most comprehensive global study of its kind, the SAP Center for Business Insight report “SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart,” in collaboration with Oxford Economics, identified the challenges, opportunities, value, and key technologies driving digital transformation. The findings specifically analyzed the performance of “digital leaders” – those who are connecting people, things, and businesses more intelligently, more effectively, and creating punctuated change faster than their less advanced rivals.

After analyzing the data, it was eye-opening to see that only three percent of companies (top 100) are successfully realizing their full potential through digital transformation. However, even more remarkable was that these leaders have four fundamental traits in common, regardless of their region of operation, their size, their organizational structure, or their industry.

We distilled these traits in the hope that others in the early stages of transformation or that are still struggling to find their bearings can embrace these principles in order to succeed. Ultimately I see these leaders as true ambidextrous organizations, managing evolutionary and revolutionary change simultaneously, willing to embrace innovation – not just on the edges of their business, but firmly into their core.

Here are the four traits that set these leaders apart from the rest:

Trait #1: They see digital transformation as truly transformational

An overwhelming majority (96%) of digital leaders view digital transformation as a core business goal that requires a unified digital mindset across the entire enterprise. But instead of allowing individual functions to change at their own pace, digital leaders prefer to evolve the organization to help ensure the success of their digital strategies.

The study found that 56% of these businesses regularly shift their organizational structure, which includes processes, partners, suppliers, and customers, compared to 10% of remaining companies. Plus, 70% actively bring lines of business together through cross-functional processes and technologies.

By creating a firm foundation for transformation, digital leaders are further widening the gap between themselves and their less advanced competitors as they innovate business models that can mitigate emerging risks and seize new opportunities quickly.

Trait #2: They focus on transforming customer-facing functions first

Although most companies believe technology, the pace of change, and growing global competition are the key global trends that will affect everything for years to come, digital leaders are expanding their frame of mind to consider the influence of customer empowerment. Executives who build a momentum of breakthrough innovation and industry transformation are the ones that are moving beyond the high stakes of the market to the activation of complete, end-to-end customer experiences.

In fact, 92% of digital leaders have established sophisticated digital transformation strategies and processes to drive transformational change in customer satisfaction and engagement, compared to 22% of their less mature counterparts. As a result, 70% have realized significant or transformational value from these efforts.

Trait #3: They create a virtuous cycle of digital talent

There’s little doubt that the competition for qualified talent is fierce. But for nearly three-quarters of companies that demonstrate digital-transformation leadership, it is easier to attract and retain talent because they are five times more likely to leverage digitization to change their talent management efforts.

The impact of their efforts goes beyond empowering recruiters to identify best-fit candidates, highlight risk factors and hiring errors, and predict long-term talent needs. Nearly half (48%) of digital leaders understand that they must invest heavily in the development of digital skills and technology to drive revenue, retain productive employees, and create new roles to keep up with their digital maturity over the next two years, compared to 30% of all surveyed executives.

Trait #4: They invest in next-generation technology using a bimodal architecture

A couple years ago, Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of research, observed that “CIOs can’t transform their old IT organization into a digital startup, but they can turn it into a bi-modal IT organization. Forty-five percent of CIOs state they currently have a fast mode of operation, and we predict that 75% of IT organizations will be bimodal in some way by 2017.”

Based on the results of the SAP Center for Business Insight study, Sondergaard’s prediction was spot on. As digital leaders dive into advanced technologies, 72% are using a digital twin of the conventional IT organization to operate efficiently without disruption while refining innovative scenarios to resolve business challenges and integrate them to stay ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, only 30% of less advanced businesses embrace this view.

Working within this bimodal architecture is emboldening digital leaders to take on incredibly progressive technology. For example, the study found that 50% of these firms are using artificial intelligence and machine learning, compared to seven percent of all respondents. They are also leading the adoption curve of Big Data solutions and analytics (94% vs. 60%) and the Internet of Things (76% vs. 52%).

Digital leadership is a practice of balance, not pure digitization

Most executives understand that digital transformation is a critical driver of revenue growth, profitability, and business expansion. However, as digital leaders are proving, digital strategies must deliver a balance of organizational flexibility, forward-looking technology adoption, and bold change. And clearly, this approach is paying dividends for them. They are growing market share, increasing customer satisfaction, improving employee engagement, and, perhaps more important, achieving more profitability than ever before.

For any company looking to catch up to digital leaders, the conversation around digital transformation needs to change immediately to combat three deadly sins: Stop investing in one-off, isolated projects hidden in a single organization. Stop viewing IT as an enabler instead of a strategic partner. Stop walling off the rest of the business from siloed digital successes.

As our study shows, companies that treat their digital transformation as an all-encompassing, all-sharing, and all-knowing business imperative will be the ones that disrupt the competitive landscape and stay ahead of a constantly evolving economy.

Follow me on twitter @vivek_bapat 

For more insight on digital leaders, check out the SAP Center for Business Insight report, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics,SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart.”

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About Vivek Bapat

Vivek Bapat is the Senior Vice President, Global Head of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership, at SAP. He leads SAP's Global Marketing Strategy, Messaging, Positioning and related Thought Leadership initiatives.