Monthly Archives: November 2017

‘Super Fly’ Remake In Works At Sony

Superfly ‘Super Fly’ Remake In Works At Sony
In an effort to continue to fill their slate with fresh IP, Sony has closed a development deal for the rights to the classic blaxploitation pic “Superfly,” with “Watchmen” scribe Alex Tse penning the script.

The film is inspired by the 1972 classic, which starred Ron O’Neal as Priest, a cocaine dealer looking to score one more super deal and retire. The movie was directed by Gordon Parks Jr., the son of Gordon Parks, who directed another blaxploitation classic “Shaft” — one of the staples in the early years of the genre that took the ’70s by storm.

While the film is a cult hit, its soundtrack may be even more popular. Composed by R&B legend Curtis Mayfield, the soundtrack would go on to become the only to outgross its film’s box office earnings.

The movie eventually got a sequel, “Super Fly T.N.T.” Sony hopes the latest version will lead to a series of films.

Sony exec Palak Patel spearheaded the effort to buy the rights, and the studio is already in the process of making a list of actors to meet for the title role. Joel Silver is producing.

TSE is best known for penning Zack Snyder’s adaptation of “Watchmen.” He is repped by CAA and Lighthouse Management & Media.

Source: Variety

Kandi Burruss Officially Quits Xscape

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The Humor Mill

Introduction to a new Dynamics 365 Setting – Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 July Update includes a new simple, yet very useful new setting called “Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values”. This setting is available in “System Settings” under “General” tab.

image thumb Introduction to a new Dynamics 365 Setting   Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values

In this blog, I will be going through what this setting does, and how it changes the way a label and value of a field is presentation on a form.
I created a custom attribute called “Magnetism Auckland Office Printer ID”. I added it to a form section which has “Field Label Width” set to 115. I saved and published all the changes.

image thumb 1 Introduction to a new Dynamics 365 Setting   Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values

To see what my field label and its value looked like without using “Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values”, I went to system settings and set its value to “No”. I created a new Contact record, and following is what “Magnetism Auckland Office Printer ID” field’s label and value looked like on the form.

image thumb 9 Introduction to a new Dynamics 365 Setting   Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values

To see what difference the new setting “Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values” would make, I went back to system setting and changed its value to “Yes”. Then I reopened the same contact record, and following is what “Magnetism Auckland Office Printer ID” field’s label and value looked like on the form.

image thumb 3 Introduction to a new Dynamics 365 Setting   Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values

The label of the field was successfully wrapped. However, the value stored inside the field wasn’t wrapped. The value I stored in the field was a string of 52 characters long but only first 41 characters were visible on the form. This could be because this setting doesn’t wrap a single string. To confirm, I populated the value in “Magnetism Solutions Auckland Office Printer ID” with two strings of 21 characters long each. However, this time the value stored inside the field was wrapped too.

image thumb 4 Introduction to a new Dynamics 365 Setting   Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values

Another thing I wanted to check was whether if the value is still wrapped even if the label of the field is not too long. To test this case, I changed the label of field “Magnetism Auckland Office Printer ID” to “Printer ID”, saved and published the changes. Then I reopened the same contact record, and still the value stored in “Magnetism Solutions Auckland Office Printer ID” (with label changed to “Printer ID”) was wrapped.

image thumb 5 Introduction to a new Dynamics 365 Setting   Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values

However, there was one more thing that I was curious about. How many lines of field label can be wrapped and displayed without anything fading? To test this, I changed label again to make it even longer – “Magnetism Solutions Auckland Office Wireless Printer Identification Number”. Then I saved and published the changes. Then I reopened the same contact Record.  This time however, only first two lines were completely visible, and rest of the label text was either missing or started to fade away.

image thumb 6 Introduction to a new Dynamics 365 Setting   Allow text wrapping in form fields labels and values

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Mainframe vs. Supercomputer: Yes, There’s a Big Difference

Are mainframes the same thing as supercomputers? Not at all. Ask a person on the street to explain the difference between mainframes and supercomputers, however, and you might hear the two terms conflated.

blog mainframe careers IBM Mainframe vs. Supercomputer: Yes, There’s a Big Difference

There is, of course, no official definition of a mainframe, supercomputer or most other types of computer, for that matter. Definitions are in the eye of the beholder.

If I were a descriptive grammarian, I might say that mainframes really are the same thing as supercomputers, because some people describe them that way.

blog banner SotMF 2018 Mainframe vs. Supercomputer: Yes, There’s a Big Difference

But to imply that these two types of computers are the same thing is to overlook the important and unique roles that both mainframes and supercomputers play in the IT world.

Commodity Servers vs. Mainframes vs. Supercomputers

To understand those unique roles, you must recognize the key distinguishing characteristics of each type of computer.

On the surface, this can be challenging, because there is a wide variety of mainframe and supercomputer hardware out there. It’s not as if all computers with a certain amount of memory, or a certain type of processor automatically qualify as either a mainframe or a supercomputer.

Instead of basing the definition solely on hardware profiles, you must take history and use cases into account as well when thinking about the differences between mainframes and supercomputers.

blog supercomputer Mainframe vs. Supercomputer: Yes, There’s a Big Difference

Personally, I like to think about modern infrastructure as involving three major categories of server* hardware. They include:

1. Commodity Servers

These are the relatively inexpensive servers that comprise the bulk of data centers today. They entered widespread use in the 1990s.

Commodity servers usually run either a Linux distribution or Windows. They may be clustered together to form very powerful computing environments, but they can also run individually. They may host applications either on bare metal or through virtual machines or containers. Most commodity servers have processors based on the x86 chip architecture, but there are exceptions.

2. Mainframes

Mainframes are the powerful computers that have handled mission-critical business workloads for decades. They came into use in the 1950s, long before commodity servers were conceived. Commodity servers have taken over some mainframe workloads in recent decades, but mainframes remain essential in industries like banking and insurance.

Mainframes come in many sizes – modern ones are about the size of a refrigerator, which makes them not that much larger than commodity servers – and can be powered by different families or processors. Some of the mainframes that are still in use today are decades old; others are brand-new. Most mainframes run either a mainframe-native operating system, like z/OS, or a Linux distribution tailored for mainframes.

3. Supercomputers

Last, but not least are supercomputers. Again, there’s no hard-and-fast definition for a supercomputer. In general, however, you can define supercomputers in opposition to mainframes and commodity servers: A supercomputer is a computer with so much processing power that mainframes and commodity servers don’t come close to matching it.

Supercomputers tend to be designed for academic or research purposes, rather than for hosting workloads that you’d find in a typical business. They were built starting in the 1960s, and competition remains intense today to claim the title of most powerful supercomputer. Virtually all supercomputers run a form of Linux.

How Mainframes and Supercomputers Differ

Essentially, then, the differences between mainframes and supercomputers boil down to the fact that mainframes are slightly older, not as stupendously powerful, and more important for business.

Mainframes are also a more important fixture in mainstream computing. Again, unlike supercomputers that are designed for research purposes, mainframes host business-critical workloads – just as they have been doing since the 1950s. They fill a niche that neither commodity servers, with their considerably smaller pools of resources, nor supercomputers, which are highly specialized (and cost-prohibitive for the average organization), can.

Learn more about the 5 key mainframe trends to watch in the coming year by reading about the results of our fourth annual survey report:  State of Mainframe for 2018

*Admittedly, even the term server is problematic, because technically any kind of device could be used for server applications. You could host a website on your iPad, for example, if you really wanted to. But when I say server, I am thinking of computers that were designed first and foremost to host large-scale server workloads, like running a database or a distributed application.

 

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6 Ways Marketers Fall Short When Targeting B2B buyers

20171130 bnr rethink podcast kari seas seas marketing 351x200 6 Ways Marketers Fall Short When Targeting B2B buyers

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Michelle Huff: Can you tell us and the audience more about yourself and Seas Marketing?

Kari Seas: Sure. I started Seas Marketing about a year and a half ago. And we focus on developing content marketing for technology companies, primarily B2B technology companies.

And I’ve spent the bulk of my career in B2B technology marketing, and the bulk of that in the enterprise software space.

Truly understand the B2B buyer

Michelle: From your work helping companies, you’ve found six different ways marketers struggle or really fall short when they’re targeting B2B buyers. The first one is understanding the buyer, right?

Kari: Yes. Everybody talks about buyer personas. But not a lot of people take the time to really understand this buyer. What that means is demographics and psychographics. So, you really have to get into their head. What are their motivations? What pain or pride do they feel on a daily basis? How do they define success in their job? How do their leaders define success in their job? You have to get inside their heads and hearts and really understand what makes them tick.

It’s a way to really differentiate yourself and set yourself apart. There are a lot of vendors going after these buyers in the B2B space. And the more that you really get inside their head and understand where they’re coming from, you can have that conversation with them that gets their attention, and that resonates with them, and compels them to reach out to you or to respond to you when they may not be doing that with other people.

Understand how long it actually takes to close a deal

Michelle: And the second thing we talked about is a little bit about better understanding how long it takes to close the deal. What have you seen that’s kind of different in this area?

Kari: How long it actually takes to close a deal, and I define that not just from when an opportunity is created to when closed revenue is recognized. I really define that if you’re talking about the entire marketing and sales funnel, it’s from the point that an individual enters your database to the time it takes to close a deal. And especially when you’re talking about B2B, that can be a really long sales cycle. Just getting that person who is in your database to engage with you at some point, that’s like the first kind of obstacle to overcome. And then you have to nurture them through all the way to close.

Even within the B2B space, there can be huge differences between one company’s sales cycle length and another company’s sales cycle length. It all depends on the product that they’re selling, the dollar value of that purchase, how large the [buying] committees are.

Know what an efficient, high-performing funnel looks like

Michelle: The third thing is better what the funnel looks like. Can you talk a little bit about that and how it’s different?

Kari: If you think of your funnel from at the top where it’s anonymous website visitors to the bottom when they become a customer; it can be a pretty lengthy cycle. You can go from thousands and thousands of records down to 10s or 20s or 100s or whatever.

It needs to be efficient and high performing. One of the key things I see being an Achilles’ heel in having an efficient high performing funnel go back to the basics. This funnel really needs to be clearly defined, each of those funnel stages. And all of those definitions and those triggers, what it takes to move from one funnel stage to the next, those need to be clearly defined and they need to be agreed upon by key marketing and sales, and even finance leadership. All of that are the foundational blocks of how to get that high performing funnel.

And then you also have to do things like day-to-day maintenance. Let’s say you have these great definitions in place, you have these well-defined triggers, everybody’s on board, it’s rocking and rolling, then you have to keep your data clean.

Michelle: No, not that.

Kari: Such a boring thing. And nobody likes to do it. And it’s a hassle. But it’s just so absolutely critical. You don’t want duplicate records. You have to have a proper, compliant opt out mechanism in place. You have to have rules about which records are uploaded and synced between your CRM and your marketing automation system. There are all these things that really need to be looked at. Because it all impacts how your funnel performs.

Recognize that content relevance is everything

Michelle: We’ve covered understanding the buyer, understanding what the sales cycle looks like, and the need for a high-performing funnel. The message and content are another big thing as well, right?

Kari: Absolutely. One of the other ways B2B marketers can fall down or really struggle is they don’t necessarily recognize that content relevance is everything. Or maybe they recognize it, but they just feel like they gotta keep making the donuts. It’s about the quality of the conversions, not how many people visit your website.

You absolutely need people to visit your website. You need SEO. You need all those great things. But you really need to optimize those strategies for conversions, not volume.

What that means is you need to reestablish and reinforce your credibility with every touch. Because if this person and if this account is going to eventually trust you and your company with whatever critical business application they’re looking to launch, they have to really know you understand what they need and that you’re the best solution for it. So, you need to make sure all of your content topics, whether it’s for a blog or an eBook or an infographic, that every single content topic ties back to a core theme or message connected to your product.

No matter how hot a topic is, if it doesn’t do that, it’s kind of wasted space and wasted effort, and kind of wasted clicks. And then you end up, quite frankly, diluting your own conversions. Because you’re getting a lot of website visitors, those anonymous people, you’re getting website visitors who probably never actually engage with you. Because they might have liked your article you had about this hot topic, but because it wasn’t tied back to anything you do or offer, they’re never going to progress further in the funnel.

Defining success as a joint effort with sales and the executive team

Michelle: That makes a lot of sense. Tell me about how do you define success.

Kari: This is another way I think B2B marketers struggle; making sure they define success as a joint effort with sales and the executive team. This can be challenging. We all recognize that. But you do need to work with your sales counterparts to determine the success metrics that support the entire business, instead of just telling how well marketing operates internally.

That doesn’t mean it’s not important to monitor and measure marketing’s operational effectiveness. It absolutely is. We all want a high performing marketing machine. But you do need to connect marketing’s efforts to the business outcomes to maximize the penetration of your target market and make sure you’re well-aligned with all of the existing sales efforts.

Operational efficiency is the only way to get great results

Michelle: What’s the sixth area B2B marketers need to focus?

Kari: This is more of an umbrella category, but acknowledging the operational efficiency is the only way to get great results for marketing investment.

You need to have the right tools to make all the things I’ve mentioned possible. And it won’t break the bank if you prioritize and tackle things incrementally.

When you’re talking about B2B and you start getting into those multiple individuals, buying committees, longer sales cycles, and higher price tags, that’s where you really have to stay involved with all of these different individuals across a long timeframe, who probably prefer to consume content in different ways and are interested in different types of topics. And that’s really where marketing automation comes in.

I would say the sixth way marketers struggle or really fall short when they’re targeting B2B buyers is not using a marketing automation platform. I’m still shocked when I hear those statistics. The last one I heard was that only 57 percent of companies use marketing automation. I just don’t understand how you operate.

In today’s world, if you’re talking about B2B, for the most part it can really only come from having marketing automation in place, and then adding on to that an ecosystem as you need to meet your business goals.

Michelle: What do you think marketing automation’s role is with lead generation?

Kari: That’s pretty easy. Marketing automation’s role is putting individuals and target accounts into the sales funnel who are most likely to result in closed revenue in the shortest time frame possible.

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NetSuite’s Latest Release Adds Revenue Recognition, Project Profitability and More for Services Companies

websitelogo NetSuite’s Latest Release Adds Revenue Recognition, Project Profitability and More for Services Companies

Posted by Terry Melnik, Product Marketing Director

For the modern services company, the competitive landscape is getting more and more difficult. Differentiating yourself, and finding competitive advantages are critical to your growth. Driven by customers like you, the newest NetSuite release, 17.2 includes many enhancements to help you be more competitive, take advantage of market changes more quickly, improve compliance with the newest revenue standards, and track your performance the way you need to measure it.

For the CFO or finance team, profitability is one of the most important key performance indicators of a service company’s performance. You can have dozens or hundreds of customer engagements, but regardless of the complexity or duration of any of these engagements, profitability is a key measure of success. While the method used to calculate profitability may seem to be a standard formula, feedback from our broad customer base proves that the layout and data in a profitability report are varied. In 17.2, NetSuite introduce more flexibility in the Advanced Project Profitability report through the introduction of a dramatically easier-to-use interface which allows you to define the setup of the methods and elements used to calculate profitability. Easier controls on the project profitability will make it simple to define your own layout to see as much detail and context as required. Money leakage, through errors in time reporting or rates, or other issues with project accounting are reduced as well as improving your ability to track underperforming projects more effectively.

With the 17.2 release, we also help your finance team with the introduction of our Advanced Change Order Management to help address the evolving revenue recognition standards and ASC 606 compliance. For those not aware, ASC 606 provides a comprehensive, industry-neutral revenue recognition model intended to increase financial statement comparability across companies and industries and significantly reduce the complexity inherent in today’s revenue recognition guidance. While ASC 606 should ultimately simplify how revenue recognition is managed, Advanced Change Order Management will help facilitate the accounting changes required to get into compliance by enabling the automation of re-allocation and re-classification in ASC 606 where contract modification is not accounted for as a separate contract, according to the contract modification date. Advanced Change Order Management benefits your finance team with improved governance, compliance and controls.

As a business leader of a services company, the ability to understand your market, make critical decisions and execute is critical to your growth. When making the important decision to increase billing rates, either for a given engagement or to take advantage of growth opportunities or changes in market demand, timing is everything. With the introduction of NetSuite’s new Billing Rate Cards, we address that challenge by adding more control throughout current and future billing rate changes. With the new Effective Dating and Future Rate Changes, resource managers and financial teams can lock in future billing rates with an effective date at any time. Missed rate changes, or errors in agreed upon rates are practically eliminated, maximizing revenue from every resource. All invoices are updated automatically once the effective date is reached, avoiding inaccuracies and the required corrections, improving customer service and satisfaction.

17.2 is an exciting release for all our services industry customers and continues to demonstrate NetSuite’s leadership in the services space with industry-leading features that help drive better visibility, compliance and controls. Learn more about the latest NetSuite release, 17.2.

Posted on Wed, November 29, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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Benefits Of Using A Third-Party Logistics Vendor

Businesses share something important with lions. When a lion captures and consumes its prey, only about 10% to 20% of the prey’s energy is directly transferred into the lion’s metabolism. The rest evaporates away, mostly as heat loss, according to research done in the 1940s by ecologist Raymond Lindeman.

Today, businesses do only about as well as the big cats. When you consider the energy required to manage, power, and move products and services, less than 20% goes directly into the typical product or service—what economists call aggregate efficiency (the ratio of potential work to the actual useful work that gets embedded into a product or service at the expense of the energy lost in moving products and services through all of the steps of their value chains). Aggregate efficiency is a key factor in determining productivity.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image2 Benefits Of Using A Third Party Logistics VendorAfter making steady gains during much of the 20th century, businesses’ aggregate energy efficiency peaked in the 1980s and then stalled. Japan, home of the world’s most energy-efficient economy, has been skating along at or near 20% ever since. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, topped out at about 13% aggregate efficiency in the 1990s, according to research.

Why does this matter? Jeremy Rifkin says he knows why. Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, author, consultant, and lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education program who believes that economies experience major increases in growth and productivity only when big shifts occur in three integrated infrastructure segments around the same time: communications, energy, and transportation.

But it’s only a matter of time before information technology blows all three wide open, says Rifkin. He envisions a new economic infrastructure based on digital integration of communications, energy, and transportation, riding atop an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that incorporates Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence. This platform will disrupt the world economy and bring dramatic levels of efficiency and productivity to businesses that take advantage of it,
he says.

Some economists consider Rifkin’s ideas controversial. And his vision of a new economic platform may be problematic—at least globally. It will require massive investments and unusually high levels of government, community, and private sector cooperation, all of which seem to be at depressingly low levels these days.

However, Rifkin has some influential adherents to his philosophy. He has advised three presidents of the European Commission—Romano Prodi, José Manuel Barroso, and the current president, Jean-Claude Juncker—as well as the European Parliament and numerous European Union (EU) heads of state, including Angela Merkel, on the ushering in of what he calls “a smart, green Third Industrial Revolution.” Rifkin is also advising the leadership of the People’s Republic of China on the build out and scale up of the “Internet Plus” Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure to usher in a sustainable low-carbon economy.

The internet has already shaken up one of the three major economic sectors: communications. Today it takes little more than a cell phone, an internet connection, and social media to publish a book or music video for free—what Rifkin calls zero marginal cost. The result has been a hollowing out of once-mighty media empires in just over 10 years. Much of what remains of their business models and revenues has been converted from physical (remember CDs and video stores?) to digital.

But we haven’t hit the trifecta yet. Transportation and energy have changed little since the middle of the last century, says Rifkin. That’s when superhighways reached their saturation point across the developed world and the internal-combustion engine came close to the limits of its potential on the roads, in the air, and at sea. “We have all these killer new technology products, but they’re being plugged into the same old infrastructure, and it’s not creating enough new business opportunities,” he says.

All that may be about to undergo a big shake-up, however. The digitalization of information on the IoT at near-zero marginal cost generates Big Data that can be mined with analytics to create algorithms and apps enabling ubiquitous networking. This digital transformation is beginning to have a big impact on the energy and transportation sectors. If that trend continues, we could see a metamorphosis in the economy and society not unlike previous industrial revolutions in history. And given the pace of technology change today, the shift could happen much faster than ever before.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image3 1024x572 Benefits Of Using A Third Party Logistics VendorThe speed of change is dictated by the increase in digitalization of these three main sectors; expensive physical assets and processes are partially replaced by low-cost virtual ones. The cost efficiencies brought on by digitalization drive disruption in existing business models toward zero marginal cost, as we’ve already seen in entertainment and publishing. According to research company Gartner, when an industry gets to the point where digital drives at least 20% of revenues, you reach the tipping point.

“A clear pattern has emerged,” says Peter Sondergaard, executive vice president and head of research and advisory for Gartner. “Once digital revenues for a sector hit 20% of total revenue, the digital bloodbath begins,” he told the audience at Gartner’s annual 2017 IT Symposium/ITxpo, according to The Wall Street Journal. “No matter what industry you are in, 20% will be the point of no return.”

Communications is already there, and energy and transportation are heading down that path. If they hit the magic 20% mark, the impact will be felt not just within those industries but across all industries. After all, who doesn’t rely on energy and transportation to power their value chains?

That’s why businesses need to factor potentially massive business model disruptions into their plans for digital transformation today if they want to remain competitive with organizations in early adopter countries like China and Germany. China, for example, is already halfway through an US$ 88 billion upgrade to its state electricity grid that will enable renewable energy transmission around the country—all managed and moved digitally, according to an article in The Economist magazine. And it is competing with the United States for leadership in self-driving vehicles, which will shift the transportation process and revenue streams heavily to digital, according to an article in Wired magazine.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image4 Benefits Of Using A Third Party Logistics VendorOnce China’s and Germany’s renewables and driverless infrastructures are in place, the only additional costs are management and maintenance. That could bring businesses in these countries dramatic cost savings over those that still rely on fossil fuels and nuclear energy to power their supply chains and logistics. “Once you pay the fixed costs of renewables, the marginal costs are near zero,” says Rifkin. “The sun and wind haven’t sent us invoices yet.”

In other words, zero marginal cost has become a zero-sum game.

To understand why that is, consider the major industrial revolutions in history, writes Rifkin in his books, The Zero Marginal Cost Society and The Third Industrial Revolution. The first major shift occurred in the 19th century when cheap, abundant coal provided an efficient new source of power (steam) for manufacturing and enabled the creation of a vast railway transportation network. Meanwhile, the telegraph gave the world near-instant communication over a globally connected network.

The second big change occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, when inexpensive oil began to displace coal and gave rise to a much more flexible new transportation network of cars and trucks. Telephones, radios, and televisions had a similar impact on communications.

Breaking Down the Walls Between Sectors

Now, according to Rifkin, we’re poised for the third big shift. The eye of the technology disruption hurricane has moved beyond communications and is heading toward—or as publishing and entertainment executives might warn, coming for—the rest of the economy. With its assemblage of global internet and cellular network connectivity and ever-smaller and more powerful sensors, the IoT, along with Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence, is breaking down the economic walls that have protected the energy and transportation sectors for the past 50 years.

Daimler is now among the first movers in transitioning into a digitalized mobility internet. The company has equipped nearly 400,000 of its trucks with external sensors, transforming the vehicles into mobile Big Data centers. The sensors are picking up real-time Big Data on weather conditions, traffic flows, and warehouse availability. Daimler plans to establish collaborations with thousands of companies, providing them with Big Data and analytics that can help dramatically increase their aggregate efficiency and productivity in shipping goods across their value chains. The Daimler trucks are autonomous and capable of establishing platoons of multiple trucks driving across highways.

It won’t be long before vehicles that navigate the more complex transportation infrastructures around the world begin to think for themselves. Autonomous vehicles will bring massive economic disruption to transportation and logistics thanks to new aggregate efficiencies. Without the cost of having a human at the wheel, autonomous cars could achieve a shared cost per mile below that of owned vehicles by as early as 2030, according to research from financial services company Morgan Stanley.

The transition is getting a push from governments pledging to give up their addiction to cars powered by combustion engines. Great Britain, France, India, and Norway are seeking to go all electric as early as 2025 and by 2040 at the latest.

The Final Piece of the Transition

Considering that automobiles account for 47% of petroleum consumption in the United States alone—more than twice the amount used for generators and heating for homes and businesses, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration—Rifkin argues that the shift to autonomous electric vehicles could provide the momentum needed to upend the final pillar of the economic platform: energy. Though energy has gone through three major disruptions over the past 150 years, from coal to oil to natural gas—each causing massive teardowns and rebuilds of infrastructure—the underlying economic model has remained constant: highly concentrated and easily accessible fossil fuels and highly centralized, vertically integrated, and enormous (and enormously powerful) energy and utility companies.

Now, according to Rifkin, the “Third Industrial Revolution Internet of Things infrastructure” is on course to disrupt all of it. It’s neither centralized nor vertically integrated; instead, it’s distributed and networked. And that fits perfectly with the commercial evolution of two energy sources that, until the efficiencies of the IoT came along, made no sense for large-scale energy production: the sun and the wind.

But the IoT gives power utilities the means to harness these batches together and to account for variable energy flows. Sensors on solar panels and wind turbines, along with intelligent meters and a smart grid based on the internet, manage a new, two-way flow of energy to and from the grid.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image5 Benefits Of Using A Third Party Logistics VendorToday, fossil fuel–based power plants need to kick in extra energy if insufficient energy is collected from the sun and wind. But industrial-strength batteries and hydrogen fuel cells are beginning to take their place by storing large reservoirs of reserve power for rainy or windless days. In addition, electric vehicles will be able to send some of their stored energy to the digitalized energy internet during peak use. Demand for ever-more efficient cell phone and vehicle batteries is helping push the evolution of batteries along, but batteries will need to get a lot better if renewables are to completely replace fossil fuel energy generation.

Meanwhile, silicon-based solar cells have not yet approached their limits of efficiency. They have their own version of computing’s Moore’s Law called Swanson’s Law. According to data from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Swanson’s Law means that for each doubling of global solar panel manufacturing capacity, the price falls by 28%, from $ 76 per watt in 1977 to $ 0.41 in 2016. (Wind power is on a similar plunging exponential cost curve, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.)

Thanks to the plummeting solar price, by 2028, the cost of building and operating new sun-based generation capacity will drop below the cost of running existing fossil power plants, according to BNEF. “One of the surprising things in this year’s forecast,” says Seb Henbest, lead author of BNEF’s annual long-term forecast, the New Energy Outlook, “is that the crossover points in the economics of new and old technologies are happening much sooner than we thought last year … and those were all happening a bit sooner than we thought the year before. There’s this sense that it’s not some distant risk or distant opportunity. A lot of these realities are rushing toward us.”

The conclusion, he says, is irrefutable. “We can see the data and when we map that forward with conservative assumptions, these technologies just get cheaper than everything else.”

The smart money, then—72% of total new power generation capacity investment worldwide by 2040—will go to renewable energy, according to BNEF. The firm’s research also suggests that there’s more room in Swanson’s Law along the way, with solar prices expected to drop another 66% by 2040.

Another factor could push the economic shift to renewables even faster. Just as computers transitioned from being strictly corporate infrastructure to becoming consumer products with the invention of the PC in the 1980s, ultimately causing a dramatic increase in corporate IT investments, energy generation has also made the transition to the consumer side.

Thanks to future tech media star Elon Musk, consumers can go to his Tesla Energy company website and order tempered glass solar panels that look like chic, designer versions of old-fashioned roof shingles. Models that look like slate or a curved, terracotta-colored, ceramic-style glass that will make roofs look like those of Tuscan country villas, are promised soon. Consumers can also buy a sleek-looking battery called a Powerwall to store energy from the roof.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image6 Benefits Of Using A Third Party Logistics VendorThe combination of solar panels, batteries, and smart meters transforms homeowners from passive consumers of energy into active producers and traders who can choose to take energy from the grid during off-peak hours, when some utilities offer discounts, and sell energy back to the grid during periods when prices are higher. And new blockchain applications promise to accelerate the shift to an energy market that is laterally integrated rather than vertically integrated as it is now. Consumers like their newfound sense of control, according to Henbest. “Energy’s never been an interesting consumer decision before and suddenly it is,” he says.

As the price of solar equipment continues to drop, homes, offices, and factories will become like nodes on a computer network. And if promising new solar cell technologies, such as organic polymers, small molecules, and inorganic compounds, supplant silicon, which is not nearly as efficient with sunlight as it is with ones and zeroes, solar receivers could become embedded into windows and building compounds. Solar production could move off the roof and become integrated into the external facades of homes and office buildings, making nearly every edifice in town a node.

The big question, of course, is how quickly those nodes will become linked together—if, say doubters, they become linked at all. As we learned from Metcalfe’s Law, the value of a network is proportional to its number of connected users.

The Will Determines the Way

Right now, the network is limited. Wind and solar account for just 5% of global energy production today, according to Bloomberg.

But, says Rifkin, technology exists that could enable the network to grow exponentially. We are seeing the beginnings of a digital energy network, which uses a combination of the IoT, Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to manage distributed energy sources, such as solar and wind power from homes and businesses.

As nodes on this network, consumers and businesses could take a more active role in energy production, management, and efficiency, according to Rifkin. Utilities, in turn, could transition from simply transmitting power and maintaining power plants and lines to managing the flow to and from many different energy nodes; selling and maintaining smart home energy management products; and monitoring and maintaining solar panels and wind turbines. By analyzing energy use in the network, utilities could create algorithms that automatically smooth the flow of renewables. Consumers and businesses, meanwhile, would not have to worry about connecting their wind and solar assets to the grid and keeping them up and running; utilities could take on those tasks more efficiently.

Already in Germany, two utility companies, E.ON and RWE, have each split their businesses into legacy fossil and nuclear fuel companies and new services companies based on distributed generation from renewables, new technologies, and digitalization.

The reason is simple: it’s about survival. As fossil fuel generation winds down, the utilities need a new business model to make up for lost revenue. Due to Germany’s population density, “the utilities realize that they won’t ever have access to enough land to scale renewables themselves,” says Rifkin. “So they are starting service companies to link together all the different communities that are building solar and wind and are managing energy flows for them and for their customers, doing their analytics, and managing their Big Data. That’s how they will make more money while selling less energy in the future.”

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image7 1024x572 Benefits Of Using A Third Party Logistics Vendor

The digital energy internet is already starting out in pockets and at different levels of intensity around the world, depending on a combination of citizen support, utility company investments, governmental power, and economic incentives.

China and some countries within the EU, such as Germany and France, are the most likely leaders in the transition toward a renewable, energy-based infrastructure because they have been able to align the government and private sectors in long-term energy planning. In the EU for example, wind has already overtaken coal as the second largest form of power capacity behind natural gas, according to an article in TheGuardian newspaper. Indeed, Rifkin has been working with China, the EU, and governments, communities, and utilities in Northern France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to begin building these new internets.

Hauts-de-France, a region that borders the English Channel and Belgium and has one of the highest poverty rates in France, enlisted Rifkin to develop a plan to lift it out of its downward spiral of shuttered factories and abandoned coal mines. In collaboration with a diverse group of CEOs, politicians, teachers, scientists, and others, it developed Rev3, a plan to put people to work building a renewable energy network, according to an article in Vice.

Today, more than 1,000 Rev3 projects are underway, encompassing everything from residential windmills made from local linen to a fully electric car–sharing system. Rev3 has received financial support from the European Investment Bank and a handful of private investment funds, and startups have benefited from crowdfunding mechanisms sponsored by Rev3. Today, 90% of new energy in the region is renewable and 1,500 new jobs have been created in the wind energy sector alone.

Meanwhile, thanks in part to generous government financial support, Germany is already producing 35% of its energy from renewables, according to an article in TheIndependent, and there is near unanimous citizen support (95%, according to a recent government poll) for its expansion.

If renewable energy is to move forward in other areas of the world that don’t enjoy such strong economic and political support, however, it must come from the ability to make green, not act green.

Not everyone agrees that renewables will produce cost savings sufficient to cause widespread cost disruption anytime soon. A recent forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that in 2040, oil, natural gas, and coal will still be the planet’s major electricity producers, powering 77% of worldwide production, while renewables such as wind, solar, and biofuels will account for just 15%.

Skeptics also say that renewables’ complex management needs, combined with the need to store reserve power, will make them less economical than fossil fuels through at least 2035. “All advanced economies demand full-time electricity,” Benjamin Sporton, chief executive officer of the World Coal Association told Bloomberg. “Wind and solar can only generate part-time, intermittent electricity. While some renewable technologies have achieved significant cost reductions in recent years, it’s important to look at total system costs.”

On the other hand, there are many areas of the world where distributed, decentralized, renewable power generation already makes more sense than a centralized fossil fuel–powered grid. More than 20% of Indians in far flung areas of the country have no access to power today, according to an article in TheGuardian. Locally owned and managed solar and wind farms are the most economical way forward. The same is true in other developing countries, such as Afghanistan, where rugged terrain, war, and tribal territorialism make a centralized grid an easy target, and mountainous Costa Rica, where strong winds and rivers have pushed the country to near 100% renewable energy, according to TheGuardian.

The Light and the Darknet

Even if all the different IoT-enabled economic platforms become financially advantageous, there is another concern that could disrupt progress and potentially cause widespread disaster once the new platforms are up and running: hacking. Poorly secured IoT sensors have allowed hackers to take over everything from Wi-Fi enabled Barbie dolls to Jeep Cherokees, according to an article in Wired magazine.

Humans may be lousy drivers, but at least we can’t be hacked (yet). And while the grid may be prone to outages, it is tightly controlled, has few access points for hackers, and is physically separated from the Wild West of the internet.

If our transportation and energy networks join the fray, however, every sensor, from those in the steering system on vehicles to grid-connected toasters, becomes as vulnerable as a credit card number. Fake news and election hacking are bad enough, but what about fake drivers or fake energy? Now we’re talking dangerous disruptions and putting millions of people in harm’s way.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image8 Benefits Of Using A Third Party Logistics VendorThe only answer, according to Rifkin, is for businesses and governments to start taking the hacking threat much more seriously than they do today and to begin pouring money into research and technologies for making the internet less vulnerable. That means establishing “a fully distributed, redundant, and resilient digital infrastructure less vulnerable to the kind of disruptions experienced by Second Industrial Revolution–centralized communication systems and power grids that are increasingly subject to climate change, disasters, cybercrime, and cyberterrorism,” he says. “The ability of neighborhoods and communities to go off centralized grids during crises and re-aggregate in locally decentralized networks is the key to advancing societal security in the digital era,” he adds.

Start Looking Ahead

Until today, digital transformation has come mainly through the networking and communications efficiencies made possible by the internet. Airbnb thrives because web communications make it possible to create virtual trust markets that allow people to feel safe about swapping their most private spaces with one another.

But now these same efficiencies are coming to two other areas that have never been considered core to business strategy. That’s why businesses need to begin managing energy and transportation as key elements of their digital transformation portfolios.

Microsoft, for example, formed a senior energy team to develop an energy strategy to mitigate risk from fluctuating energy prices and increasing demands from customers to reduce carbon emissions, according to an article in Harvard Business Review. “Energy has become a C-suite issue,” Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s top environmental and sustainability executive told the magazine. “The CFO and president are now actively involved in our energy road map.”

As Daimler’s experience shows, driverless vehicles will push autonomous transportation and automated logistics up the strategic agenda within the next few years. Boston Consulting Group predicts that the driverless vehicle market will hit $ 42 billion by 2025. If that happens, it could have a lateral impact across many industries, from insurance to healthcare to the military.

Businesses must start planning now. “There’s always a period when businesses have to live in the new and the old worlds at the same time,” says Rifkin. “So businesses need to be considering new business models and structures now while continuing to operate their existing models.”

He worries that many businesses will be left behind if their communications, energy, and transportation infrastructures don’t evolve. Companies that still rely on fossil fuels for powering traditional transportation and logistics could be at a major competitive disadvantage to those that have moved to the new, IoT-based energy and transportation infrastructures.

Germany, for example, has set a target of 80% renewables for gross power consumption by 2050, according to TheIndependent. If the cost advantages of renewables bear out, German businesses, which are already the world’s third-largest exporters behind China and the United States, could have a major competitive advantage.

“How would a second industrial revolution society or country compete with one that has energy at zero marginal cost and driverless vehicles?” asks Rifkin. “It can’t be done.” D!


About the Authors

Maurizio Cattaneo is Director, Delivery Execution, Energy and Natural Resources, at SAP.

Joerg Ferchow is Senior Utilities Expert and Design Thinking Coach, Digital Transformation, at SAP.

Daniel Wellers is Digital Futures Lead, Global Marketing, at SAP.

Christopher Koch is Editorial Director, SAP Center for Business Insight, at SAP.


Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.

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Digitalist Magazine

The Future Of HR

Businesses share something important with lions. When a lion captures and consumes its prey, only about 10% to 20% of the prey’s energy is directly transferred into the lion’s metabolism. The rest evaporates away, mostly as heat loss, according to research done in the 1940s by ecologist Raymond Lindeman.

Today, businesses do only about as well as the big cats. When you consider the energy required to manage, power, and move products and services, less than 20% goes directly into the typical product or service—what economists call aggregate efficiency (the ratio of potential work to the actual useful work that gets embedded into a product or service at the expense of the energy lost in moving products and services through all of the steps of their value chains). Aggregate efficiency is a key factor in determining productivity.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image2 The Future Of HRAfter making steady gains during much of the 20th century, businesses’ aggregate energy efficiency peaked in the 1980s and then stalled. Japan, home of the world’s most energy-efficient economy, has been skating along at or near 20% ever since. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, topped out at about 13% aggregate efficiency in the 1990s, according to research.

Why does this matter? Jeremy Rifkin says he knows why. Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, author, consultant, and lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education program who believes that economies experience major increases in growth and productivity only when big shifts occur in three integrated infrastructure segments around the same time: communications, energy, and transportation.

But it’s only a matter of time before information technology blows all three wide open, says Rifkin. He envisions a new economic infrastructure based on digital integration of communications, energy, and transportation, riding atop an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that incorporates Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence. This platform will disrupt the world economy and bring dramatic levels of efficiency and productivity to businesses that take advantage of it,
he says.

Some economists consider Rifkin’s ideas controversial. And his vision of a new economic platform may be problematic—at least globally. It will require massive investments and unusually high levels of government, community, and private sector cooperation, all of which seem to be at depressingly low levels these days.

However, Rifkin has some influential adherents to his philosophy. He has advised three presidents of the European Commission—Romano Prodi, José Manuel Barroso, and the current president, Jean-Claude Juncker—as well as the European Parliament and numerous European Union (EU) heads of state, including Angela Merkel, on the ushering in of what he calls “a smart, green Third Industrial Revolution.” Rifkin is also advising the leadership of the People’s Republic of China on the build out and scale up of the “Internet Plus” Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure to usher in a sustainable low-carbon economy.

The internet has already shaken up one of the three major economic sectors: communications. Today it takes little more than a cell phone, an internet connection, and social media to publish a book or music video for free—what Rifkin calls zero marginal cost. The result has been a hollowing out of once-mighty media empires in just over 10 years. Much of what remains of their business models and revenues has been converted from physical (remember CDs and video stores?) to digital.

But we haven’t hit the trifecta yet. Transportation and energy have changed little since the middle of the last century, says Rifkin. That’s when superhighways reached their saturation point across the developed world and the internal-combustion engine came close to the limits of its potential on the roads, in the air, and at sea. “We have all these killer new technology products, but they’re being plugged into the same old infrastructure, and it’s not creating enough new business opportunities,” he says.

All that may be about to undergo a big shake-up, however. The digitalization of information on the IoT at near-zero marginal cost generates Big Data that can be mined with analytics to create algorithms and apps enabling ubiquitous networking. This digital transformation is beginning to have a big impact on the energy and transportation sectors. If that trend continues, we could see a metamorphosis in the economy and society not unlike previous industrial revolutions in history. And given the pace of technology change today, the shift could happen much faster than ever before.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image3 1024x572 The Future Of HRThe speed of change is dictated by the increase in digitalization of these three main sectors; expensive physical assets and processes are partially replaced by low-cost virtual ones. The cost efficiencies brought on by digitalization drive disruption in existing business models toward zero marginal cost, as we’ve already seen in entertainment and publishing. According to research company Gartner, when an industry gets to the point where digital drives at least 20% of revenues, you reach the tipping point.

“A clear pattern has emerged,” says Peter Sondergaard, executive vice president and head of research and advisory for Gartner. “Once digital revenues for a sector hit 20% of total revenue, the digital bloodbath begins,” he told the audience at Gartner’s annual 2017 IT Symposium/ITxpo, according to The Wall Street Journal. “No matter what industry you are in, 20% will be the point of no return.”

Communications is already there, and energy and transportation are heading down that path. If they hit the magic 20% mark, the impact will be felt not just within those industries but across all industries. After all, who doesn’t rely on energy and transportation to power their value chains?

That’s why businesses need to factor potentially massive business model disruptions into their plans for digital transformation today if they want to remain competitive with organizations in early adopter countries like China and Germany. China, for example, is already halfway through an US$ 88 billion upgrade to its state electricity grid that will enable renewable energy transmission around the country—all managed and moved digitally, according to an article in The Economist magazine. And it is competing with the United States for leadership in self-driving vehicles, which will shift the transportation process and revenue streams heavily to digital, according to an article in Wired magazine.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image4 The Future Of HROnce China’s and Germany’s renewables and driverless infrastructures are in place, the only additional costs are management and maintenance. That could bring businesses in these countries dramatic cost savings over those that still rely on fossil fuels and nuclear energy to power their supply chains and logistics. “Once you pay the fixed costs of renewables, the marginal costs are near zero,” says Rifkin. “The sun and wind haven’t sent us invoices yet.”

In other words, zero marginal cost has become a zero-sum game.

To understand why that is, consider the major industrial revolutions in history, writes Rifkin in his books, The Zero Marginal Cost Society and The Third Industrial Revolution. The first major shift occurred in the 19th century when cheap, abundant coal provided an efficient new source of power (steam) for manufacturing and enabled the creation of a vast railway transportation network. Meanwhile, the telegraph gave the world near-instant communication over a globally connected network.

The second big change occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, when inexpensive oil began to displace coal and gave rise to a much more flexible new transportation network of cars and trucks. Telephones, radios, and televisions had a similar impact on communications.

Breaking Down the Walls Between Sectors

Now, according to Rifkin, we’re poised for the third big shift. The eye of the technology disruption hurricane has moved beyond communications and is heading toward—or as publishing and entertainment executives might warn, coming for—the rest of the economy. With its assemblage of global internet and cellular network connectivity and ever-smaller and more powerful sensors, the IoT, along with Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence, is breaking down the economic walls that have protected the energy and transportation sectors for the past 50 years.

Daimler is now among the first movers in transitioning into a digitalized mobility internet. The company has equipped nearly 400,000 of its trucks with external sensors, transforming the vehicles into mobile Big Data centers. The sensors are picking up real-time Big Data on weather conditions, traffic flows, and warehouse availability. Daimler plans to establish collaborations with thousands of companies, providing them with Big Data and analytics that can help dramatically increase their aggregate efficiency and productivity in shipping goods across their value chains. The Daimler trucks are autonomous and capable of establishing platoons of multiple trucks driving across highways.

It won’t be long before vehicles that navigate the more complex transportation infrastructures around the world begin to think for themselves. Autonomous vehicles will bring massive economic disruption to transportation and logistics thanks to new aggregate efficiencies. Without the cost of having a human at the wheel, autonomous cars could achieve a shared cost per mile below that of owned vehicles by as early as 2030, according to research from financial services company Morgan Stanley.

The transition is getting a push from governments pledging to give up their addiction to cars powered by combustion engines. Great Britain, France, India, and Norway are seeking to go all electric as early as 2025 and by 2040 at the latest.

The Final Piece of the Transition

Considering that automobiles account for 47% of petroleum consumption in the United States alone—more than twice the amount used for generators and heating for homes and businesses, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration—Rifkin argues that the shift to autonomous electric vehicles could provide the momentum needed to upend the final pillar of the economic platform: energy. Though energy has gone through three major disruptions over the past 150 years, from coal to oil to natural gas—each causing massive teardowns and rebuilds of infrastructure—the underlying economic model has remained constant: highly concentrated and easily accessible fossil fuels and highly centralized, vertically integrated, and enormous (and enormously powerful) energy and utility companies.

Now, according to Rifkin, the “Third Industrial Revolution Internet of Things infrastructure” is on course to disrupt all of it. It’s neither centralized nor vertically integrated; instead, it’s distributed and networked. And that fits perfectly with the commercial evolution of two energy sources that, until the efficiencies of the IoT came along, made no sense for large-scale energy production: the sun and the wind.

But the IoT gives power utilities the means to harness these batches together and to account for variable energy flows. Sensors on solar panels and wind turbines, along with intelligent meters and a smart grid based on the internet, manage a new, two-way flow of energy to and from the grid.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image5 The Future Of HRToday, fossil fuel–based power plants need to kick in extra energy if insufficient energy is collected from the sun and wind. But industrial-strength batteries and hydrogen fuel cells are beginning to take their place by storing large reservoirs of reserve power for rainy or windless days. In addition, electric vehicles will be able to send some of their stored energy to the digitalized energy internet during peak use. Demand for ever-more efficient cell phone and vehicle batteries is helping push the evolution of batteries along, but batteries will need to get a lot better if renewables are to completely replace fossil fuel energy generation.

Meanwhile, silicon-based solar cells have not yet approached their limits of efficiency. They have their own version of computing’s Moore’s Law called Swanson’s Law. According to data from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Swanson’s Law means that for each doubling of global solar panel manufacturing capacity, the price falls by 28%, from $ 76 per watt in 1977 to $ 0.41 in 2016. (Wind power is on a similar plunging exponential cost curve, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.)

Thanks to the plummeting solar price, by 2028, the cost of building and operating new sun-based generation capacity will drop below the cost of running existing fossil power plants, according to BNEF. “One of the surprising things in this year’s forecast,” says Seb Henbest, lead author of BNEF’s annual long-term forecast, the New Energy Outlook, “is that the crossover points in the economics of new and old technologies are happening much sooner than we thought last year … and those were all happening a bit sooner than we thought the year before. There’s this sense that it’s not some distant risk or distant opportunity. A lot of these realities are rushing toward us.”

The conclusion, he says, is irrefutable. “We can see the data and when we map that forward with conservative assumptions, these technologies just get cheaper than everything else.”

The smart money, then—72% of total new power generation capacity investment worldwide by 2040—will go to renewable energy, according to BNEF. The firm’s research also suggests that there’s more room in Swanson’s Law along the way, with solar prices expected to drop another 66% by 2040.

Another factor could push the economic shift to renewables even faster. Just as computers transitioned from being strictly corporate infrastructure to becoming consumer products with the invention of the PC in the 1980s, ultimately causing a dramatic increase in corporate IT investments, energy generation has also made the transition to the consumer side.

Thanks to future tech media star Elon Musk, consumers can go to his Tesla Energy company website and order tempered glass solar panels that look like chic, designer versions of old-fashioned roof shingles. Models that look like slate or a curved, terracotta-colored, ceramic-style glass that will make roofs look like those of Tuscan country villas, are promised soon. Consumers can also buy a sleek-looking battery called a Powerwall to store energy from the roof.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image6 The Future Of HRThe combination of solar panels, batteries, and smart meters transforms homeowners from passive consumers of energy into active producers and traders who can choose to take energy from the grid during off-peak hours, when some utilities offer discounts, and sell energy back to the grid during periods when prices are higher. And new blockchain applications promise to accelerate the shift to an energy market that is laterally integrated rather than vertically integrated as it is now. Consumers like their newfound sense of control, according to Henbest. “Energy’s never been an interesting consumer decision before and suddenly it is,” he says.

As the price of solar equipment continues to drop, homes, offices, and factories will become like nodes on a computer network. And if promising new solar cell technologies, such as organic polymers, small molecules, and inorganic compounds, supplant silicon, which is not nearly as efficient with sunlight as it is with ones and zeroes, solar receivers could become embedded into windows and building compounds. Solar production could move off the roof and become integrated into the external facades of homes and office buildings, making nearly every edifice in town a node.

The big question, of course, is how quickly those nodes will become linked together—if, say doubters, they become linked at all. As we learned from Metcalfe’s Law, the value of a network is proportional to its number of connected users.

The Will Determines the Way

Right now, the network is limited. Wind and solar account for just 5% of global energy production today, according to Bloomberg.

But, says Rifkin, technology exists that could enable the network to grow exponentially. We are seeing the beginnings of a digital energy network, which uses a combination of the IoT, Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to manage distributed energy sources, such as solar and wind power from homes and businesses.

As nodes on this network, consumers and businesses could take a more active role in energy production, management, and efficiency, according to Rifkin. Utilities, in turn, could transition from simply transmitting power and maintaining power plants and lines to managing the flow to and from many different energy nodes; selling and maintaining smart home energy management products; and monitoring and maintaining solar panels and wind turbines. By analyzing energy use in the network, utilities could create algorithms that automatically smooth the flow of renewables. Consumers and businesses, meanwhile, would not have to worry about connecting their wind and solar assets to the grid and keeping them up and running; utilities could take on those tasks more efficiently.

Already in Germany, two utility companies, E.ON and RWE, have each split their businesses into legacy fossil and nuclear fuel companies and new services companies based on distributed generation from renewables, new technologies, and digitalization.

The reason is simple: it’s about survival. As fossil fuel generation winds down, the utilities need a new business model to make up for lost revenue. Due to Germany’s population density, “the utilities realize that they won’t ever have access to enough land to scale renewables themselves,” says Rifkin. “So they are starting service companies to link together all the different communities that are building solar and wind and are managing energy flows for them and for their customers, doing their analytics, and managing their Big Data. That’s how they will make more money while selling less energy in the future.”

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image7 1024x572 The Future Of HR

The digital energy internet is already starting out in pockets and at different levels of intensity around the world, depending on a combination of citizen support, utility company investments, governmental power, and economic incentives.

China and some countries within the EU, such as Germany and France, are the most likely leaders in the transition toward a renewable, energy-based infrastructure because they have been able to align the government and private sectors in long-term energy planning. In the EU for example, wind has already overtaken coal as the second largest form of power capacity behind natural gas, according to an article in TheGuardian newspaper. Indeed, Rifkin has been working with China, the EU, and governments, communities, and utilities in Northern France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to begin building these new internets.

Hauts-de-France, a region that borders the English Channel and Belgium and has one of the highest poverty rates in France, enlisted Rifkin to develop a plan to lift it out of its downward spiral of shuttered factories and abandoned coal mines. In collaboration with a diverse group of CEOs, politicians, teachers, scientists, and others, it developed Rev3, a plan to put people to work building a renewable energy network, according to an article in Vice.

Today, more than 1,000 Rev3 projects are underway, encompassing everything from residential windmills made from local linen to a fully electric car–sharing system. Rev3 has received financial support from the European Investment Bank and a handful of private investment funds, and startups have benefited from crowdfunding mechanisms sponsored by Rev3. Today, 90% of new energy in the region is renewable and 1,500 new jobs have been created in the wind energy sector alone.

Meanwhile, thanks in part to generous government financial support, Germany is already producing 35% of its energy from renewables, according to an article in TheIndependent, and there is near unanimous citizen support (95%, according to a recent government poll) for its expansion.

If renewable energy is to move forward in other areas of the world that don’t enjoy such strong economic and political support, however, it must come from the ability to make green, not act green.

Not everyone agrees that renewables will produce cost savings sufficient to cause widespread cost disruption anytime soon. A recent forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that in 2040, oil, natural gas, and coal will still be the planet’s major electricity producers, powering 77% of worldwide production, while renewables such as wind, solar, and biofuels will account for just 15%.

Skeptics also say that renewables’ complex management needs, combined with the need to store reserve power, will make them less economical than fossil fuels through at least 2035. “All advanced economies demand full-time electricity,” Benjamin Sporton, chief executive officer of the World Coal Association told Bloomberg. “Wind and solar can only generate part-time, intermittent electricity. While some renewable technologies have achieved significant cost reductions in recent years, it’s important to look at total system costs.”

On the other hand, there are many areas of the world where distributed, decentralized, renewable power generation already makes more sense than a centralized fossil fuel–powered grid. More than 20% of Indians in far flung areas of the country have no access to power today, according to an article in TheGuardian. Locally owned and managed solar and wind farms are the most economical way forward. The same is true in other developing countries, such as Afghanistan, where rugged terrain, war, and tribal territorialism make a centralized grid an easy target, and mountainous Costa Rica, where strong winds and rivers have pushed the country to near 100% renewable energy, according to TheGuardian.

The Light and the Darknet

Even if all the different IoT-enabled economic platforms become financially advantageous, there is another concern that could disrupt progress and potentially cause widespread disaster once the new platforms are up and running: hacking. Poorly secured IoT sensors have allowed hackers to take over everything from Wi-Fi enabled Barbie dolls to Jeep Cherokees, according to an article in Wired magazine.

Humans may be lousy drivers, but at least we can’t be hacked (yet). And while the grid may be prone to outages, it is tightly controlled, has few access points for hackers, and is physically separated from the Wild West of the internet.

If our transportation and energy networks join the fray, however, every sensor, from those in the steering system on vehicles to grid-connected toasters, becomes as vulnerable as a credit card number. Fake news and election hacking are bad enough, but what about fake drivers or fake energy? Now we’re talking dangerous disruptions and putting millions of people in harm’s way.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image8 The Future Of HRThe only answer, according to Rifkin, is for businesses and governments to start taking the hacking threat much more seriously than they do today and to begin pouring money into research and technologies for making the internet less vulnerable. That means establishing “a fully distributed, redundant, and resilient digital infrastructure less vulnerable to the kind of disruptions experienced by Second Industrial Revolution–centralized communication systems and power grids that are increasingly subject to climate change, disasters, cybercrime, and cyberterrorism,” he says. “The ability of neighborhoods and communities to go off centralized grids during crises and re-aggregate in locally decentralized networks is the key to advancing societal security in the digital era,” he adds.

Start Looking Ahead

Until today, digital transformation has come mainly through the networking and communications efficiencies made possible by the internet. Airbnb thrives because web communications make it possible to create virtual trust markets that allow people to feel safe about swapping their most private spaces with one another.

But now these same efficiencies are coming to two other areas that have never been considered core to business strategy. That’s why businesses need to begin managing energy and transportation as key elements of their digital transformation portfolios.

Microsoft, for example, formed a senior energy team to develop an energy strategy to mitigate risk from fluctuating energy prices and increasing demands from customers to reduce carbon emissions, according to an article in Harvard Business Review. “Energy has become a C-suite issue,” Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s top environmental and sustainability executive told the magazine. “The CFO and president are now actively involved in our energy road map.”

As Daimler’s experience shows, driverless vehicles will push autonomous transportation and automated logistics up the strategic agenda within the next few years. Boston Consulting Group predicts that the driverless vehicle market will hit $ 42 billion by 2025. If that happens, it could have a lateral impact across many industries, from insurance to healthcare to the military.

Businesses must start planning now. “There’s always a period when businesses have to live in the new and the old worlds at the same time,” says Rifkin. “So businesses need to be considering new business models and structures now while continuing to operate their existing models.”

He worries that many businesses will be left behind if their communications, energy, and transportation infrastructures don’t evolve. Companies that still rely on fossil fuels for powering traditional transportation and logistics could be at a major competitive disadvantage to those that have moved to the new, IoT-based energy and transportation infrastructures.

Germany, for example, has set a target of 80% renewables for gross power consumption by 2050, according to TheIndependent. If the cost advantages of renewables bear out, German businesses, which are already the world’s third-largest exporters behind China and the United States, could have a major competitive advantage.

“How would a second industrial revolution society or country compete with one that has energy at zero marginal cost and driverless vehicles?” asks Rifkin. “It can’t be done.” D!


About the Authors

Maurizio Cattaneo is Director, Delivery Execution, Energy and Natural Resources, at SAP.

Joerg Ferchow is Senior Utilities Expert and Design Thinking Coach, Digital Transformation, at SAP.

Daniel Wellers is Digital Futures Lead, Global Marketing, at SAP.

Christopher Koch is Editorial Director, SAP Center for Business Insight, at SAP.


Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.

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Summarizing Data Using the GROUPING SETS Operator

Maybe you have felt overwhelmed when you’re analyzing a dataset because of its size. The best way to handle this situation is by summarizing the data to get a quick review.

In T-SQL, you summarize data by using the GROUP BY clause within an aggregate query. This clause creates groupings which are defined by a set of expressions. One row per unique combination of the expressions in the GROUP BY clause is returned, and aggregate functions such as COUNT or SUM may be used on any columns in the query. However, if you want to group the data by multiple combinations of group by expressions, you may take one of two approaches. The first approach is to create one grouped query per combination of expressions and merge the results using the UNION ALL operator. The other approach is to use the GROUPING SETS operator along with the GROUP BY clause and define each grouping set within a single query.

In this article I’ll demonstrate how to achieve the same results using each method.

Prepare the data set

All queries in this article will run in the AdventureWorks2012 database. If you wish to follow along with this article, download it from here.

Case Study: Data Analyst at Adventure Works

Imagine you’re working as a data analyst at the bike manufacturer Adventure Works, and you’re interested in the company’s income over the last few years. This means you need to group the company’s income per year and run the following query:

Query 1. Income by year

Query 1 returns the following result set:

OrderYear

Income

2005

11331809

2006

30674773.2

2007

42011037.2

2008

25828762.1

Table 1. Company’s income per year.

According to Table 1, the company have been registering income between 2005 and 2008. Assuming that the currency is in US dollars, in 2005 their income was around eleven million dollars. In 2006 it was around thirty million dollars, and so on. This kind of information would be useful for supporting a business decision such as opening a company extension elsewhere.

However, if you still want more details about the company’s income, you must perform a new grouping by adding a column or expression to the GROUP BY clause. Add the order month to the previous set of group by expressions. By doing this, the query will return the company’s income per year and month. Review the GROUP BY clause in the following query.

Query 2. Company’s income per year and month.

The following table contains the result set of Query 2:

OrderYear

OrderMonth

Income

2005

7

962716.742

2005

8

2044600

2005

9

1639840.11

2005

10

1358050.47

2005

11

2868129.2

2005

12

2458472.43

2006

1

1309863.25

2006

2

2451605.62

2006

3

2099415.62

2006

4

1546592.23

2006

5

2942672.91

2006

6

1678567.42

2006

7

2894054.68

2006

8

4147192.18

2006

9

3235826.19

2006

10

2217544.45

2006

11

3388911.41

2006

12

2762527.22

2007

1

1756407.01

2007

2

2873936.93

2007

3

2049529.87

2007

4

2371677.7

2007

5

3443525.25

2007

6

2542671.93

2007

7

3554092.32

2007

8

5068341.51

2007

9

5059473.22

2007

10

3364506.26

2007

11

4683867.05

2007

12

5243008.13

2008

1

3009197.42

2008

2

4167855.43

2008

3

4221323.43

2008

4

3820583.49

2008

5

5194121.52

2008

6

5364840.18

2008

7

50840.63

Table 2. Company’s income per year and month.

This result set is more detailed than the former. In July 2005, their income was around nine hundred sixty thousand dollars. In August 2005, it was around two million dollars, and so on. The more expressions or columns added to the GROUP BY clause, the more detailed the results will be.

If you observe the structure of the two queries, you will see they’re grouped by a single set of grouping expressions. The former is grouped by order year, and the latter is grouped by order year and month.

Suppose the business manager at Adventure Works wants to visualize both results within a single result set. To accomplish this, you may merge the previous queries – Query 1 and Query 2 – by using the UNION ALL operator. First, modify Query 1 by adding a dummy column so it will have the same number of columns as Query 2. All queries merged by the UNION operator must have the same number of columns. This dummy column will return NULL in the OrderMonth column, identifying the OrderYear total rows of this query. The UNION ALL query looks like this:

Query 3. Company’s income per year and per year and month.

Figure 1 shows the result set produced by Query 3. Review the comments in the figure which identify the grouping sets.

 Summarizing Data Using the GROUPING SETS Operator

Figure 1. Company’s income per year and per year and month. Notice the comments added to the figure.

This information doesn’t look new, because you already know that in 2005 the company’s income was around eleven million dollars. In July 2005 the company’s income was around nine hundred sixty thousand dollars, and so on. What’s new to you is that each grouping result –year grouping result and year and month grouping result– is merged.

Maybe you’ve figured out how the NULL values appeared in the result set. Remember you used the NULL as a dummy column to identify the results from the order year grouping. Look carefully at Figure 2 which details the placeholders in the first grouped query.

 Summarizing Data Using the GROUPING SETS Operator

Figure 2. Pointing out the placeholders.

When there’s more than one group by expression list involved in the query, a NULL is used as a placeholder to identify one of the groupings in the results. Looking at Figure 2 again, a row that has NULL in the OrderMonth column means the row belongs to the order year grouping. When the row has a value in both the OrderYear and OrderMonth columns, it means the row belongs to the order year and month grouping. This situation happens when one of the grouped queries doesn’t have the same number of columns grouped. In this example, the first grouping is by order year and the second grouping is by order year and month.

Although you obtained the desired result, Query 3 would be even larger if you added another grouping set, such as order day. As a data analyst, you decided to search the internet to find a way to achieve the same results but with less work. You find that by using the GROUPING SETS operator you should get the same result set, but with less coding! This really motivates you, and you write the following query using GROUPING SETS:

Query 4. Getting the same result set produced by the Query #3 but using the GROUPING SETS clause.

The result set produced by Query 4 is the same as that displayed in Figure 1. Figure 3 shows the results, but the new technique requires less code. The GROUPING SETS operator is used along with the GROUP BY clause, and allows you to make multi-grouped queries just by specifying the grouping sets separated by comma. However, you need to be careful when specifying the grouping sets. For example, if a grouping contains two columns, say column A and column B, both columns need to be contained within parenthesis: (column A, column B). If there’s not a parenthesis between them, the GROUPING SETS clause will define them as separate groupings, and the query will not return the desired results.

 Summarizing Data Using the GROUPING SETS Operator

Figure 3. Company’s income per year and per year and month using the GROUPING SETS clause.

By the way, if you want to perform the aggregation over the entire result set without grouping but still use the GROUPING SETS operator, just add an empty parenthesis for the grouping set. Look at Query 5 which calculates the company’s income per year, month, and overall total:

Query 5. Company’s income per year, per year and month, and overall.

Notice the placeholders for the third grouping shown in Figure 4. The query calculated the grand total of incomes by just specifying an empty parenthesis as the third grouping set; the third grouping set is the sum of SubTotal for the table itself.

 Summarizing Data Using the GROUPING SETS Operator

Figure 4. Company’s income per year, per year and month and all over the time.

By the way, if you’ve asked yourself “What would happen if the NULL is part of the data and isn’t used as placeholder?” or “How can I tell when NULL is used as placeholder or is just the value?” In this example, I ensured that the grouped columns aren’t nullable, so the NULLs are used as placeholders. In case the grouped columns are nullable, you will need to use the GROUPING or GROUPING_ID function to identify if the NULL came from the GROUPING SETS operator – it can also come with other groupings operators like ROLLUP and CUBE– or is part of the data. Both functions – GROUPING and GROUPING_ID– will be treated in another article.

Conclusion

In this article, you learned how to achieve an aggregate query with more than one grouping expression list by using the GROUPING SETS operator. Unlike other operators such as ROLLUP and CUBE, you must specify each grouping set. These grouping operators are very important for summarizing data and producing grand totals and sub totals. If you want more information about these operators, please read this article.

I suggest that you practice what you’ve learned in this article; this topic is very important for anyone working with SQL Server data. The data volume is increasing very quickly, and it’s vital to summarize it for better knowledge about the business.

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Pentaho 8 is now available!

17 152 8.0 launch community v1 Pentaho 8 is now available!

I recently wrote about everything you needed to know about Pentaho 8. And now is available! Go get your Enterprise Edition or trial version from the usual places

For CE, you can find it on the new community home!

Enjoy!

-pedro

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Understanding Change Management within an Organisation

Stephen R Covey said that “Priority is a function of context.”

When implementing change within an organisation, it’s unlikely that you’ll get priority until the context of the change is explained. Something that often gets neglected is the understanding of what change is, the impact it’ll have and whether or not it should be managed. To answer the last part of that statement: should change be managed? The answer is a resounding, emphatic YES!

The reason for this is simple: change tends to focus on the organisational level. However, what’s not understood is that organisations don’t change, individuals do. Each organisational change impacts how specific employees do their jobs and includes, but not limited to:

•    Location
•    Processes
•    Systems
•    Reporting structure
•    Mindset/attitudes/beliefs

So what is change?

According to Prosci (www.prosci.com), change is the movement out of a current state, through a transition state, to ultimately reach a future state. The future state is ultimately better than the current and examples include:

•    Costs are lower than they were.
•    Revenues are higher than they were.
•    Errors are fewer than they were.
•    Efficiencies are larger than they were.

Because of the focus on change at the organisational level, reasons for a change tend to be poorly articulated. Consider this: How clearly are the individual changes required by projects and initiatives defined in your organisation?

I recently watched a webinar and in a poll that asked that exact question of participants, the results were:

image thumb Understanding Change Management within an Organisation

The results weren’t that surprising but alarming nonetheless! How can the ROI of change be high if there’s no understanding of what the requirements/impacts of it will be at an individual level? Individuals drive organisations and achievement of the reason for the change is dependent on if individuals understand and are able to make the transitions required?

Jeff Hiatt, developer of the ADKAR model and founder of PROSCI, defined 5 tenets of change management:

  1. We change for a reason.
  2. Organisational change requires individual change.
  3. Organisational outcomes are the collective result of individual change.
  4. Change management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change.
  5. We apply change management to realise the benefit and desired outcomes of change.

There is a myriad of change management approaches but I believe that when implementing change, you need to start with why. “Why would you do that?” “What is your desired outcome?” and most importantly, for the individual, “What’s in it for me?”

I look forward to discussing the remaining tenets with you soon!

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