Business Leadership And IT In The Age Of Innovation

Steve Shute

Over and over again, there’s one statement that keeps popping up in my conversations with executives around the globe: “Change is happening faster than ever before, and it will never be this slow again.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Today’s business leaders are witnessing an unprecedented rate of change in their industries, which, in turn, is exacerbating their business challenges. Executives are under increased pressure to do more with fewer resources, connect with employees better, and produce significant business results for their company – all in less time. Expectations for them have never been higher and, at the same time, their ability to achieve these outcomes has become even more inextricably dependent on technology.

The reality of intelligent operations sets in

As technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) become more mainstream, companies that cannot (or do not) use them effectively face the risk of falling behind the competition – or possibly disappearing altogether. And, importantly, no industry is immune to this technology-driven change.

For example, there are now billions of connected IoT devices, representing a tidal wave of potential change and opportunity for just about every industry. Many factories are using connected machinery outfitted with sensors to predict and prevent asset failures, ensuring the uptime needed to meet customer orders and service-level agreements. Additionally, distributors of perishable products are using IoT to continuously monitor the conditions of refrigerated cargo during transport, preventing spoilage and ensuring they can deliver products in optimal selling condition.

Meanwhile, even farming – one of the world’s oldest industries – is still being transformed by innovative technologies. Commercial farming operations are maximizing crop production and cutting costs with the adoption of in-field sensors and analytics. Live data is used to derive real-time insights to monitor farming processes, measure the seed quality, and determine the exact amount of fertilizer required to achieve desired yields. Ultimately, farmers are better equipped to produce more crops with fewer inputs, which drives real business value.

Then there’s AI, which includes intelligent capabilities such as machine learning and deep learning. Many companies are investing heavily in this technology to allow computers to continuously learn from data without being explicitly programmed. By automating manual work that no one wants to do, such as matching invoices with payments, these AI-enabled applications reduce costs, increase accuracy, and create more interesting, higher-value jobs that employees are actually looking for.

In capital markets, AI is being used to help drive innovative trading strategies and support customer operations. In the insurance sector, AI is helping to process claims at unimagined speeds, improving operational efficiency and giving customers the fast turnarounds they’ve always wanted. And in retail, AI is being used for everything from demand forecasting and direct marketing to the delivery of more personalized customer experiences. In fact, according to Gartner, customers are on track to manage 85% of their relationship with businesses without interacting with a human by 2020.

Although these examples represent a tiny sample of the business outcomes being enabled by emerging intelligent technologies, the point is clear:

“A business doesn’t have to do anything wrong to fall behind the competition, become irrelevant to customers, or not meet desired outcomes. Instead, they can simply fail by not using new and intelligent technologies such as AI and machine learning, predictive analytics, and IoT to improve and even reinvent how they do business.”

It’s time to get serious about the next step in your journey with intelligent technologies

It’s easy to see that technology is rapidly changing the business world as we know it. But whether it’s a business’s downfall or a catalyst to new levels of growth can largely depend on the ability of business leaders to understand the value of intelligent technologies.

Decision makers do not need to dig into the granular technical detail, but they should conceptually understand how they can leverage technologies to transform themselves and create positive business outcomes faster than ever. The key is to focus first on the what’s most important for your business and then seek out intelligent technologies that can move the needle forward – and ultimately turn your vision into reality.

In the end, the goal of any project should not be about the technology itself; instead, it should be about transforming your company into an intelligent enterprise that can better leverage your data resources to address your business’ most pressing needs.

Discover how SAP is addressing today’s most-pressing business challenges with its Intelligent Enterprise Strategy, helping customers leverage innovative technologies to effectively use their data assets to achieve their desired outcomes faster – and with less risk.


Steve Shute

About Steve Shute

Steve Shute serves as EVP and Chief Business Officer for SAP in the Americas and APJ. In this role, he drives top and bottom line growth and ensures customer success and satisfaction by identifying and applying proven best practices and leveraging synergies within teams and across the business. Steve is also responsible for helping shape SAP’s go-to-market and growth strategies in the cloud and across its entire portfolio.