Tag Archives: Business

[Infographic] What’s Big in Business Intelligence for 2018?

It’s that time of year again. You know, the time when people and organizations start to put together their big predictions for the year to come. With the explosive growth of BI and analytics in 2017, we had to get in on the action.

Last year we had five big predictions for 2017, which included businesses reaching new levels of data complexity, BI tools liberating users, machines getting smarter, information democracy rising, and BI separating the winners from the losers.

In 2018, it’s not about a complete change in direction. Instead, it’s about building on what has happened in the past year to take BI and analytics to the new heights. How will organizations make sense of all of their complex data? Augmented Analytics. What happens when data is truly democratized? Collaborative/cooperative BI. What exactly will separate the winners from the losers? If you’re asking us, it’s embedded analytics.

So, without further ado, here are our top trends that will emerge in 2018.

Trends2018 Infographics [Infographic] What’s Big in Business Intelligence for 2018?Embed this infographic on your site:

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Shiftgig Grows and Refines Its Business as It Seeks to Change the Way People Work

Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director

The people at Shiftgig know a thing or two about pivoting – and succeeding.

Originally created as a job board for temporary workers (primarily in the restaurant and service industries), the business pivoted to become the leading mobile technology platform that is focused on connecting high-quality, vetted, hourly workers with businesses who need them. People looking to earn extra cash can now quickly and easily search for shifts and businesses have a more agile way to tap into workers who have been pre-vetted, and skill tagged to meet their needs.

ShiftGig Stills 3 Shiftgig Grows and Refines Its Business as It Seeks to Change the Way People WorkIn four years, the company expanded from locations in Chicago and New York to a total of 14 markets across the US and now have more than 38,000 workers, whom they call “Specialists,” and over 2,600 clients ranging from mom and pop stores to multinational retailers. With an estimated 70 million hourly workers in the US alone, Shiftgig has plenty of room for growth.

With that growth came a refinement of the business. When Shiftgig pivoted from a job board to a mobile app, it promised to “change the way people work.” Today, Shiftgig is focused on providing financial opportunity for people who want or need flexibility in work, ranging from single moms with limited free time, to students and more.

In 2016, Shiftgig extended the reach of people they are helping put to work by branching out into the experiential marketing industry.

But, like many fast-growing businesses, Shiftgig’s internal systems couldn’t keep up, making it difficult to conduct financial consolidation across three subsidiaries and handle complex requirements from larger clients. Shiftgig adopted NetSuite to manage financials across the business. As a result, financial consolidation is done in minutes and the company can now provide sophisticated client reporting, broken out by event, shift and venue, as well as across schedules. What once took three hours per client is now done in 30 minutes. Shiftgig is also able to continue to grow with NetSuite. One client alone accounts for 33,000 transactions per month in NetSuite.

For more on Shiftgig, watch the video below.

Posted on Thu, December 7, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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Data-Driven Success: Recipes for Business Leaders

image thumb Data Driven Success: Recipes for Business Leaders

raining money thumb Data Driven Success: Recipes for Business LeadersMy new seminar’s mission is to provide business leaders with easy-to-follow recipes for data-driven success.  We will devote an entire day to the kinds of business impact you can readily achieve with the Power BI platform, while purposely staying out of the technical details that we cover in our other courses.

The majority of our company’s revenue comes from consulting, not from training.  In the past few years alone we have executed hundreds of short-duration, high-impact projects with our clients.  That might surprise you, given that our classes are often our most “visible” offering, but they are in fact an interruption, of sorts, to our core biz.

We have repeatedly partnered with our clients to create millions of dollars in value at a time.  That’s not an exaggeration.  The rules of what can be done with data have been completely rewritten by the newest generation of tools, and harnessing that first-mover competitive advantage for our clients is where we add the most value.

The wisdom we’ve gained over the years would be impossible to absorb while working anywhere else.  Our “short-duration, high-impact” consulting business is a gift that gives us a unique perspective:  Very few people see as many projects as we do, or interact with as many cultures and business scenarios as we do.  The patterns of success that emerge from those experiences become very clear over time, and those are the subject of this seminar.

  • Leaders who know their orgs should be doing more with data.  Data is the “hot” thing these days, but it’s one thing to say “we should be doing more with data” and quite another to have a plan you can understand and trust.  This seminar will bridge that gap for you so you can confidently get started.
  • Managers whose direct reports are taking (or have previously taken) our other classes.  While your people are learning HOW to do amazing things, you are learning WHAT those things should be, and how to best integrate those new capabilities into your culture.  (I like to imagine managers and their reports excitedly discussing their next moves while on the flight home.)
  • “Doer”/Leader Hybrids.  We’ve met a lot of leaders, over the years, who are also highly inclined to personally build data models and dashboards.  And similarly, there are a lot of “doers” who are influential within their organizations and eager to broaden their impact.

Attendees will leave with:

  • Concise reference materials summarizing the best practices as well as the case study/project examples
  • Sample Power BI dashboards/models of all the projects/case studies.  So you can take these back to your teams and demonstrate without a doubt, “THIS is what we should build.”
  • Special offer on followup consulting package.  If your org needs a jumpstart on one or more of the projects ideas covered in (or inspired by) the seminar, we can help you hit the ground running.

We’re capping the attendee count for this seminar at 15 to facilitate better discussion, so if you’re interested you should probably move a bit faster than usual.

image thumb 1 Data Driven Success: Recipes for Business Leaders

Hit me with an email:  success@powerpivotpro.com

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Farmers Business Network raises $110 million to bring price transparency to agriculture

 Farmers Business Network raises $110 million to bring price transparency to agriculture

Farmers Business Network, maker of a software platform that helps farmers across the country pool data, announced today that it has raised a $ 110 million Series D round. The round was led most notably by Temasek, Singapore’s state investment firm. Other participants included returning investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and GV (formerly Google Ventures). The series D round brings the total amount raised by Farmers Business Network to more than $ 194 million.

The company was launched in 2014, and its leadership team is well-connected within Silicon Valley. Cofounder and CEO Amol Deshpande was formerly a partner at KPCB, and cofounder and VP of product Charles Baron previously led investment initiatives in alternative energy at Google. That background has enabled Farmers Business Network to secure a large amount of venture capital in a field that’s traditionally been overlooked by VC firms. According to AgFunder, an online investment platform for ag tech startups, venture capitalists invested $ 3.2 billion in agtech startups during all of 2016.

A membership to Farmers Business Network costs farmers $ 600 a year. Customers then get access to three different types of services: an analytics platform, where farmers can submit information on things like seed performance and fertilizer cost; an ecommerce platform, where farmers can buy chemicals, seeds, and fertilizers; and a crop marketing platform that allows farmers to manage bids from potential buyers.

Essentially, what Farmers Business Network is doing is collecting crowdsourced information for farmers in one place. But Baron explained that up until now, doing so had been difficult, due to consolidation in the seed and agrichemical industry. Baron’s brother-in-law is a farmer, while Deshpande worked on agtech investments for KPCB. Baron says that the idea for Farmers Business Network came to them while they were meeting with various farmers across the country, including three farmers in Illinois who essentially compared price points with one another, though without the help of a platform like Farmers Business Network.

According to Baron, Monsanto and Dupont “control over 70 percent of the corn and soybean seed market.” That alone limits the variety of seeds farmers have access to. Additionally, Baron says that many farm retailers — who sell seeds, fertilizers, and chemicals that often come from one of these big players — don’t post their prices online. That means farmers often have to go into the store in order to find out what the retail price is. This leaves room for price discrepancies, as retailers may try to sell a farmer on a bundled package, or offer ad hoc discounts.

“We’ve found farmers paying sometimes as much as two or three times [more] for the same product,” Baron told VentureBeat.

Baron says that it has nearly 5,000 member farms, which account for more than 16 million acres of farmland between them. The company has more than 200 employees, mostly split between its San Carlos office and its national operations center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Rob Leclerc, cofounder and CEO of AgFunder, told VentureBeat in a phone interview that, as of now, Farmers Business Network remains relatively unchallenged.

“If you talk to VPs and heads of business development [of incumbent companies], Farmers Business Network is on their radar,” Leclerc said. ” I don’t think they really have a solution today… in many cases for different groups to compete with Farmers Business Network they’re going to have to somehow cannibalize what they’re doing — that’s going to be challenging for these players to figure out.”

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Big Data – VentureBeat

Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018

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 Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018After 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 Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018The 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 Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018Once 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 Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018Today, 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 Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018The 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 Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018

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 Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018The 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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How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365

Using Business Process Flow is a good way of walking users through a process step by step. Each Stage contains steps which are just fields necessary to complete the stage. But there are times where displaying only fields for each stage doesn’t offer users clear instructions on what information is necessary to complete the stage.

So, the solution is to divide all the form controls necessary to aid users in completing a stage into tabs/sections and display these when the user has changed or selected a stage. This can be achieved by using JavaScript to apply display logic to tabs/sections base on the addOnStageChange and addOnStageSelected events of the Business Process Flow.

To demonstrate this, I will use the purchase process which we are all familiar with on most e-Commence websites when purchasing goods and services.
1.    Define the stages of the Process

Details -> Order -> Shipping Details –> Completed

This indicates that four tabs would need to be created on the Form

2.    Place sections, fields and sub-grid controls in each tab which is specific for a stage

image thumb How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365

3.    OnLoad of the Form firstly hide all tabs then setup the StageChange and StageSelected events of the Business Process Flow to execute the stageSelected function.

image thumb 1 How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365

event happens when the user clicks on the “Next Stage” or “Back Arrow” button

image thumb 2 How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365

event happens when the user clicks on a Stage
  image thumb 3 How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365

image thumb 4 How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365

4.    User starts off with the Detail Stage, so the Details Tab is shown
image thumb 5 How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365
  image thumb 6 How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365
5.    User clicks the Next Stage to move to the Order Stage, so the Order Tab is shown

image thumb 7 How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365

image thumb 8 How to Make a Business Process Flow Driven Form in Dynamics 365

In conclusion, grouping fields and controls into tabs and sections and implementing JavaScript to display the tabs and sections results in a Form driven by the Business Process Flow.

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Jonathan Adler Extends its ‘Fantasy Factory’ Design Environment to Business

Posted by Branden Jenkins, GM of Retail, Oracle NetSuite

Jonathan Adler, has been the authority on Modern American glamour since 1993. Headquartered in New York City’s Soho neighborhood, the office is affectionately referred to as “Fantasy Factory,” a cheeky nod to Warhol’s Factory.

Inside the vibrant and colorful office, Adler and his team design everything from pottery and furniture to textiles, lighting and more. With plenty of dogs running around, the “Fantasy Factory” is designed to bring ideas to life through collaboration, irreverence and creativity.

“If you knock the work out of the park, there’s tremendous opportunity to have a great time and laugh with cool people and do really creative and fun things,” said Chief Technology Officer Damen Seminero, who first joined Jonathan Adler as a consultant over a decade ago. “It’s just an amazing place to work.”

jonathan%20adler Jonathan Adler Extends its ‘Fantasy Factory’ Design Environment to BusinessNow, Jonathan Adler is extending that concept to how he runs the business of the same name. Since deploying NetSuite OneWorld in 2012 Jonathan Adler has gained “insane flexibility” to innovate, optimize and grow in ways not possible before, according to Seminero. Much like how high-end home furnishings are designed, ideas for business optimization are brought to life to improve cost-efficiency, time to market and strategic decision-making.

“NetSuite is our central nervous system and the single data source for our financials, inventory and customers,” Seminero said. “I can’t say enough about the flexibility NetSuite gives us to do virtually anything. I’ve never encountered a situation where I had to say, ‘No, we can’t do that.’”

Flexibility to Innovate and Grow

Previously, Jonathan Adler was throttled by siloed systems. On top of problems with poor visibility and efficiency, the company couldn’t upgrade to newer versions of its software without a massive and costly ordeal.

With NetSuite, Adler has a unified foundation for accounting, inventory management and order processing, key elements in customer-centric retail operations and B2B distribution. NetSuite feeds nightly catalog updates to Jonathan Adler’s ecommerce site, while the Bronto Marketing Platform triggers and delivers timely, personalized communications to customers and fans. With NetSuite OneWorld, Jonathan Adler can also set up new stores within hours, unlike the previous scenario that required weeks of provisioning on-premise software and systems.

Straightforward customizations in NetSuite, an open API and prebuilt connectors to third-party applications have made it easy for the company to engineer new efficiencies and visibility across the business, Seminero said.

“The ability to integrate and interface with NetSuite is just limitless,” Seminero said. “It’s allowed us to grow and add new locations without ever pausing. We hire people with experience on other systems and always hear, ‘NetSuite is simply amazing — we could never do this at our old company.’”

One example: Jonathan Adler wanted to add a new virtual inventory location with its third-party warehousing and distribution partner. The cost would have been over $ 200,000. But with NetSuite, Jonathan Adler found it could simply add a new virtual inventory location and hook it into existing data exchange processes with the partner, at no cost.

NetSuite’s flexibility has also helped fuel Jonathan Adler’s rapid growth. The company increased its number of company-run retail stores from 18 to 26 since going live on NetSuite, including two in the U.K. Wholesale retail partners have also grown from 500 to more than 1,000 across 30 countries, including such top names as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Harrod’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Meanwhile, SKU volume has soared from 12,000 to 33,000, and NetSuite OneWorld gives Jonathan Alder seamless global financial consolidation across its U.S. and U.K. subsidiaries, and ability to transact in the British pound and other currencies.

Jonathan Adler has come a long way since the founder’s first sale of hand-crafted pottery to Barneys department store in 1993. But as growth and complexity increased, Jonathan Adler needed an agile, scalable and future-proof platform to continue its upward trajectory.

“NetSuite has made us smarter, faster and more capable,” Seminero said. “We’ve gotten out of NetSuite everything that was promised to us and everything we wanted, which was a lot. I’ve never seen a system that can do what NetSuite can do.”

Posted on Tue, November 21, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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Business Intelligence Emboldens Digital Transformation

In May 2017, a computational social scientist from The Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge stood before an audience at the Linux Foundation’s Apache Big Data conference and revealed how close we’ve come to the ultimate goal of marketing: an easily scalable, highly accurate way to predict customer preferences using minimal data.

When she was still a PhD candidate, Sandra Matz created a Facebook ad campaign targeting people based on nothing more than how extroverted their Facebook Likes indicated they were. People with Likes associated with extroverts saw ads for a party game played in a group. People with more introverted Likes saw ads for a quiet game meant to be played solo.

The campaign required only simple algorithms and no advanced analytics. Yet over seven days of testing, the targeted ads generated up to 15 times higher click-through and conversion rates—and significantly more purchases and revenue for the game company.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image2 Business Intelligence Emboldens Digital Transformation“We developed this approach to show that you can achieve highly accurate behavioral and psychological targeting with a minimal amount of data and relatively simple machine learning tools,” says Matz, who is now an assistant professor of management at Columbia University’s business school.

As effective as this experiment was, Matz suggests that it’s still rudimentary compared to what could be done with more and richer data from more sources. And it’s downright primitive given the possibilities of applying more sophisticated Big Data analytics.

These possibilities have created a watershed moment for marketing and its role in the business.

Spiraling Down the Marketing Funnel

Tension has always simmered over marketing’s contribution to business success. The business knows it can’t sell products or services if it doesn’t make customers aware of them, but the impact of marketing strategy on sales and revenue is hard to quantify and reliably replicate—which, in the age of the data-driven enterprise, often leaves some business leaders not just undervaluing marketing but actively mistrusting it. No wonder human resources consultancy Russell Reynolds reports that the 2016 turnover rate among CMOs was the highest it has seen since it began tracking the statistic in 2012.

Most companies still determine customers’ readiness to buy by using a primitive model known as the marketing funnel, which sorts customers into increasingly smaller groups as they progress from first becoming aware of a company to buying, using, and finally advocating for the company’s products. Different versions have different definitions and numbers of stages, and some approaches see the model as a circle, but they all have one thing in common: their ability to sort customers into various stages is limited by the amount of knowledge the company has about each customer.

As a result, the marketing funnel ends up leaking. Some customers back away because they feel harassed by campaigns that don’t apply to their needs, while some of those who are interested fall through the cracks from a lack of attention. Many data-hungry business leaders think of the marketing funnel as no more than a variation of “throw something against the wall and see if it sticks,” and with the proliferation of digital channels and diffusion of customer attention, they have less patience than ever with that approach.

The silver lining is that a more precise, quantifiable way to build customer relationships is emerging. Done properly, it promises to defuse the tension between marketing and the rest of the business, too.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image3 1024x572 Business Intelligence Emboldens Digital Transformation

The Defining Moment

The Cambridge University experiment is one more step toward the long-held marketing dream of the “segment of one.” This concept of marketing messages that are highly granular, even individually tailored, has been around since the late 1980s. Over the last 15 to 20 years, as customer behavior has become digitalized as never before, marketers have been optimistic that they could capture this data and use it to tailor their messaging with laser-like precision.

Yet what’s achievable in theory has been impossible in practice. We’re still struggling to find the right tools to move beyond the basics of demographic targeting. The rise of the internet, smartphones, and social media has generated more types of information about customer behavior in larger amounts than ever before. But using digitally expressed sentiment about everything from toys to turbines as the basis for accurately disseminating highly individualized marketing messages is still time consuming and cost prohibitive.

However, experiments like Matz’s are bringing us closer to creating highly personalized customer experiences—perhaps not always at the individual level but certainly at a level of granularity that will let us unequivocally determine how to best target and measure marketing programs.

Liking Lady Gaga

Between 2007 and 2012, Psychometrics Centre researchers gathered seven million responses to a simple questionnaire for Facebook users. The carefully designed questions measured respondents’ levels of extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism, a constellation of basic personality traits known as the Big Five.

With the respondents’ permission, the researchers used simple machine learning tools to correlate each person’s responses with the official Facebook Pages that the person had liked, such as Pages for books, movies, bands, hobbies, organizations, and foods. They soon saw that certain personality traits and certain Likes went hand in hand.

For example, most people who liked Lady Gaga’s Page tested as extroverts, which made liking the Lady Gaga Page a relevant data point indicating that someone was probably an extrovert. By 2016, Matz was able to create a lively Facebook ad to be shown only to people who had liked a significant number of official Pages that seemed to be linked to extroversion. A more serene ad was shown only to those whose Likes suggested that they were introverts.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image4 Business Intelligence Emboldens Digital TransformationDespite the large size of the Psychometric Centre’s data set, what’s most remarkable about its work is how few data points within that data set were necessary to build a reliable profile that could model useful predictions. Matz told EnterpriseTech that the algorithm the Centre developed needs, on average, just 65 liked Pages to understand someone’s Big Five personality traits better than their friends do, 120 to understand them better than their family members, and 250 to understand them better than a partner or spouse. This may be the first sign that the era of true behavioral marketing is upon us.

Of course, most marketers want to know far more about customers than how outgoing or reserved they are. Scraping Facebook Likes isn’t enough to give them the holistic customer understanding they crave—not when they have an entire universe of other data to consider. The race is on to identify from the vast spectrum of available customer data not only which specific online behaviors have a predictive element such as extroversion or introversion but also which ones will drive the most potent response to specific product or service messaging.

Complicated? Yes—but we are within reach of the algorithms we need to connect the dots for greater customer insight. By reaching out over new channels with more accurate behavior-based messaging, companies could transform the entire customer journey.

A Customized Journey for Each Customer

Attribution, the ability to know the source of a sales lead, is key to behavioral targeting. The more details a business knows about what its customers have already done, the more accurately it can predict what they will do next.

In the past, developing a customer profile relied on last-touch attribution analysis, that is, evaluating the impact of the last interaction a prospective customer had with a brand before becoming a lead. The problem was that companies could rarely be certain what that last touch was, given how much activity still takes place offline and isn’t captured or quantified.

Companies also couldn’t be certain how, or even if, a last touch—be it downloading a white paper, visiting a store, or getting a word-of-mouth recommendation—accelerated the customer through the marketing funnel. They could only predict revenue by looking at how many people were deemed to be at a specific stage and extrapolating from past data what percentage of them were likely to move ahead.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image5 Business Intelligence Emboldens Digital TransformationToday, we’re capturing so much more information about people’s activities that we have a far more accurate idea of both what the last touch was and how influential it was. Behavioral targeting makes any content a customer interacts with valuable in analyzing the customer’s journey. A company can use hard data about those interactions to see where each individual prospect is in the customer journey and predict how likely each one is to continue moving forward.

The company can then generate a tailored offer or other event to nudge individuals along based on what has been successful with other customers who buy the same things and behave in the same ways. For example, a large grocer may send out two million individualized offers each week based on loyalty card activity. This may not strictly create a segment of one, but it creates many small segments of customers with similar behaviors based on what the grocer knows to be effective.

As Cambridge University’s experiment in creating an algorithm to identify and target introverts and extroverts proves, more precise messaging is more effective. By using more complex machine learning algorithms to further filter and refine successful messages to target smaller groups, companies could boost their conversion rates to as high as 50%—an exponential increase beyond today’s average rates.

By using machine learning to speed up the testing of different campaigns and to continuously compare results, companies could rapidly create a dataset about every potential customer’s responses and then benchmark it against others’ responses. This would let them determine individual prospects’ likely responses based on concrete actions rather than assumptions.

For super-luxury brands with a limited number of customers and the ability to capture a vast amount of information about each one, this could lead to true segment-of-one marketing. For other brands, the challenge is not just to figure out who the customer is and what messages to send but also how to scale that personalization to segments of tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of customers at a time. To do that both effectively and quickly, companies will need to leverage machine learning, the Internet of Things, and other advanced technologies that enable accurate predictive models. Companies can then benchmark their projected hit rates against their actual results and refine their algorithms for even greater agility and responsiveness.

The Next Steps of Predictive Marketing

Effective behavioral targeting requires companies to identify all the relevant data points, including external data points that indicate which information is valuable. This calls for data scientists who can spot and remove the irrelevant data points that are at the far ends of the curve and distill what remains into meaningful algorithms. It also requires machine learning tools capable of high-volume, high-speed listening, assessing, learning, and making recommendations to improve the algorithm over time.

Once you’ve created a baseline of primary criteria, you can determine the important criteria by which to segment your customer base. To use an oversimplified example, imagine that you own a coffee shop and you want to increase sales of high-margin bakery items. You need to look not at the customers who always get a muffin with their coffee or at those who never do but at those who buy a muffin sometimes, so that you can start to identify the triggers that make them choose to indulge.

To scale this process, look at both user-based and item-based affinities. User-based affinities link customers who have similar interests and shopping patterns. Item-based affinities link customers based on what they buy, individually or in groups of items. Using machine learning to pair and cross-reference these two factors will enable you to create messages that are personalized enough to seem individualized, even though they’re actually targeting small, multi-person segments.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image6 Business Intelligence Emboldens Digital TransformationRetailers of all types collect data about individuals, down to location, date, time, and SKU of the sale. They may experiment with behavioral targeting by making in-the-moment offers based on what they already know about their customers. For example, they may use a mobile app with geofencing to be alerted when a customer using the app is in the store. The alert triggers back-end systems to look up the customer’s purchase history, generate a relevant offer, and deliver that offer to the customer’s smartphone while the customer is still in the store.

The Line Between Marketing and Manipulation

Just the idea of receiving marketing messages influenced by their behavior will disturb some customers. When marketing is designed, as behavioral targeting is, to maximize engagement, the value of the content depends less on whether it’s useful to the audience or even true and more on whether it gets the target audience to engage and reveal another piece of the behavioral puzzle. As a result, companies considering behavioral marketing must consider a question as old as marketing itself: where is the line between advertising and propaganda?

Creating personal profiles of customers based on their actions and personalities will become inexpensive and easy, for better or worse. Better will lead to more relevant and compelling offers based on predictive models of what customers would like to buy next. Worse will create (or at least look like) scalable, granular manipulation.

If companies hope to apply this level of targeted marketing without coming across as intrusive or invasive, they will need to be completely transparent about what they’re doing and how—and with whom they’re sharing the information. Most shoppers say they’re willing to give up data about themselves if it leads to a better shopping experience and more relevant recommendations.

Numerous studies show that customers are comfortable sharing their buying patterns and preferences as long as it doesn’t compromise their personally identifiable information. Nonetheless, they may decide otherwise if they believe that by welcoming you into their lives, they’re throwing open the doors to strangers as well.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image7 1024x572 Business Intelligence Emboldens Digital Transformation

As data mining for behavioral targeting becomes more common, companies will have to offer customers the opportunity to opt in and out at varying levels of detail. They will also need to identify and flag the significant minority of customers who prefer not to be profiled in such depth (or at all). Machine learning will be invaluable in responding to complaints on social media, tracking the relevant details of offers that were ignored or got negative reactions, and otherwise ensuring that companies don’t misuse customer data or misunderstand consumer wants and needs.

“The entire paradigm of targeting and campaign implies a vendor doing something to customers,” says Mark Bonchek, founder and “chief epiphany officer” at Shift Thinking, a Boston-based consulting firm that helps companies pursue digital transformation. “It implies getting people to do what you want them to do rather than helping them do what they want to do,” he says. “Be clear on the mental model behind your behavioral targeting. Is it more like a friend figuring out the right gift for a friend or a salesperson trying to close a deal with a prospect? People don’t want to be targets.”

Instead, Bonchek suggests, think of behavioral targeting as a way to build a reciprocal relationship that lets you enhance the customer experience at multiple touch points, not all of them actual transactions. Utility companies send customers information about their own and their neighbors’ energy use so they can benchmark themselves. The utilities often follow up with suggestions about how to save both power and money. Meanwhile, a credit card issuer could help customers understand their purchasing patterns and discover new stores or service providers.

“Loyalty is an emotion first and behavior second,” Bonchek says. “It’s the difference between pushing customers through a funnel and helping them achieve a shared purpose.”

The Art of Scientific Marketing

In mid-20th century New York City, a small local chain of markets developed a national reputation for customer service. It let favored customers call in orders and pay for them at pickup. Managers kept lists—handwritten lists, no less—of their best customers’ preferred products and called those customers with special offers. People were happy to pay slightly higher prices overall in exchange for exclusive bargains and highly customized service.

Although it leverages new technologies like machine learning and Big Data, behavioral targeting will in many ways bring us full circle to that hands-on era in which companies created relevant offers that made customers feel valued and understood. Matz believes it would be a competitive advantage for companies to let customers interact with their profiles and even correct them to ensure that they only receive offers that meet their needs and preferences.

As more situational data pours in from smartphones and wearables to be analyzed by AI, she adds, behavioral targeting could become something more immersive than mere marketing. “If you know from that data that someone is not just an extrovert with specific preferences but that they’re currently in a good mood, you can start fine-tuning messages for that particular point in time,” she says. “We’ll move beyond static profiles to interactions based on characteristics that fluctuate.”

With enough data to work with, she suggests, behavioral targeting could become less about making offers and more about informing customers about their options at any given moment, in real time. D!

About the Authors

Denise Champion is Vice President of Strategy, Research, and Insights for Global Marketing at SAP.

Jeff Harvey is Global COO, SAP Analytics & Insight at SAP.

Lori Mitchell-Keller is Global General Manager, Consumer Industries at SAP.

Jeff Woods is Global COO, SAP Leonardo | Data and Analytics.

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology.

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


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Facebook Messenger Jumps to Business Websites

By John P. Mello Jr.
Nov 8, 2017 5:00 AM PT

Facebook on Tuesday announced that it was preparing a plugin to its popular Messenger platform that will allow a website’s visitors to chat with a human or bot without leaving the location.

customer chat bots Facebook Messenger Jumps to Business Websites

Customer Chat is one of a number of changes in the version 2.2 update of Messenger platform revealed at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

The chat plugin, which currently is in closed beta,
will be available on desktop and mobile devices. Early testers include airlines like KLM, Volaris and Air France.

Chatbots deployed through the plugin reportedly can perform a number of duties, including delivering order status updates, scheduling appointments, answering questions and providing after-hours services.

“Businesses want to reach consumers where they are and make it convenient for them to interact with the business,” noted Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

“Businesses are already marketing to consumers, particularly younger consumers, through channels like Messsenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat, so it’s a natural extension to use them for service,” he told CRM Buyer.

Marketing and service also can feed off each other.

“In servicing a user, you may become aware of needs that can lead to revenue opportunities,” Rubin pointed out.

For Large and Small Businesses

Customer Chat’s initial attraction may be to the Facebook faithful, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“The strongest interest is likely to be among businesses that are already using Facebook to engage with customers,” he told CRM Buyer.

However, “the sheer size of Messenger — about 1.2 billion global customers — might attract others to try out the service after it exits beta,” King added.

The new offering has something for both small and large companies, observed Jack Kent, senior analyst for mobile media at IHS Markit.

“Smaller organizations may look to benefit from using Facebook’s infrastructure rather than investing in their own,” he told CRM Buyer, “but larger companies may also benefit from having another channel to connect with users who may be less active on traditional communications channels.”

Unified Experience

All businesses using Customer Chat will be hoping to benefit from Facebook’s reach and engagement with its users, said Kent.

“The ability to reach consumers across platforms will also be important,” he added.

Customer Chat offers businesses an opportunity to present to users a consistent interface when interacting with them through chat.

“Up to now, businesses could engage with customers through the Messenger app, but it was a fragmented experience,” explained Beerud Sheth, CEO of

“Customers coming to the business’s website would see a different experience from what they experienced with Facebook Messenger,” he told CRM Buyer.

With Customer Chat, website visitors not only encounter a familiar interface, but also are recognized. A first time user of a website could be greeted by name, for example, because even though the business doesn’t know who the user is, Facebook does.

“To the user, it appears as if the business knows them,” Sheth said. “That’s great for the business and more engaging for the consumer.”

What Price Chat?

Despite all its benefits, Customer Chat could have a downside for some businesses.

“The Facebook plugin isn’t as fully featured as many dedicated and professional-quality customer chat applications,” King said. “Businesses that already utilize those kinds of solutions are unlikely to embrace the Facebook plugin.”

There’s also the danger of depending too much on Facebook.

“Businesses may be concerned if Facebook becomes the dominant or primary channel for customer engagement,” IHS Markit’s Kent noted.

“It could impact existing multichannel marketing activities and operations and reduce the data they have themselves,” he said.

Moreover, the data lost by the business likely would be gained by Facebook.

“Like every other social media site, Facebook garners value from the data it collects during user interactions,” King said. “Companies that are uncomfortable with that point or with other Facebook practices should avoid the new Messenger plugin.”

Benefits to Social Network

Facebook will benefit from Customer Chat in a number of ways, suggested Kent:

  • It can drive engagement, increasing time spent in Messenger, as users no longer would have to use an alternative channel for customer communications.
  • It can help Facebook gather more information about its users to support its advertising businesses.
  • It can help drive Facebook’s plans to extend the Messenger platform and grow its enterprise presence to drive further monetization.

“Facebook has been ramping up its focus on business features for Messenger for some time,” said Kent. “Adding chat support to third-party business sites is another way for Facebook to extend its presence as a communications and commerce platform to connect businesses and consumers.”
end enn Facebook Messenger Jumps to Business Websites

John%20P.%20Mello%20Jr. Facebook Messenger Jumps to Business WebsitesJohn P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.

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future of business – Digitalist Magazine

guidebook1 e1441045006485 300x200 future of business – Digitalist MagazineAnyone who has the (mis?)fortune to work with me knows that I hold myself to a high standard. I absolutely hate disappointing people, and I take criticism quite seriously. My superiors can take this in two ways: They can just hope that I will find the correct resources on my own to fix my own flaws, or what I perceive to be my flaws; or they can use this drive and give me resources/training to perfect my flaws.

You get what you give us

I am not the only Millennial in the workplace. I might be more critical of myself than others, and there are definitely Millennials out there who think they have all of the answers. What we do have in common is:

a) we do not have all of the answers

b) unless someone helps us find the answers, they aren’t going to magically appear in front of us.

We all know that taking a shot in the dark relies on luck to hit the correct target. Expecting me to find the right resources to help improve my work on my own is going to produce the same results as taking a shot in the dark.

Maps and guidebooks

Mentorship is like giving someone a map and a guidebook; you show starting and end points. You point out all of the cute cafes, museums, and the best hotels. You share helpful reviews on places and tips to avoid traffic.

At the same time, you let the person you are sharing these tools with choose the path that works best for them. You might dog-ear a few pages or even pencil in a route, but you allow them to make decisions based on these tools and your advice.

Direction, not dictatorship

You see, mentorship does not equate dictatorship. It is a relationship built on sharing learned lessons, fears and concerns, and a genuine drive to create the best employee.

How can you have a team of fantastic employees unless you give them the tools to be the best possible versions of themselves?

Mapping out Millennial mentorship needs

I have been fortunate enough to work largely in management roles after securing my undergraduate degree. I’ve always been a problem-solver and a people-lover. I can say that I’ve been a coordinator, a manager, and a director. I’ve managed large teams and small teams. If I have my way, mentorship will always be a major component in my future jobs. Having mentored Millennials and knowing what I desperately want in my employment experiences, I’ve made a list (a guide, if you will):

  • No one likes feeling lost. Giving maps and guides to projects includes making it clear that asking for directions is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
  • If they look lost, they are probably lost. Send them a compass and if they still can’t find north, gently nudge them in the right direction.
  • Show your team your own wrong turns and ask them to help give you directions in your journey.
  • “Fatigue Kills” is a sign found on any highway. It’s true. Take breaks from the task of getting from point A to B by enjoying the scenery. Get to know your team. Take the time to celebrate their differences and learn their tricks.
  • Treat each person like a different trip. You wouldn’t give someone who hates trains a route that only involves trains. You are only truly mentoring when you building up each person individually and uniquely.
  • Make the trip. You can’t complain about not seeing the world if you don’t ever leave your house. You cannot complain about having mediocre employees if you haven’t put the effort to cultivate the best in them.
  • Know when to turn around. It’s always hard to see that someone is getting roadblock after roadblock and the detours are not working.

We’re so used to planning long journeys. When you expected a person to stay in a company for 40 years, mentorship was a long trip. You could cultivate the best in employees because the timeframe and the amount of distance to cover could grow and expand over decades. With contracts lasting from a few months to a couple of years, mentorship means thinking about small day trips and giving guides to help in their overall journey. But, as we all know, even the smallest of trips needs direction to be successful.

For more HR best practices, see 6 Managing Skills That Companies Take for Granted.

This post originated at ARCOMPANY

The post Give Me a Guidebook and a Map: Mentorship and Millennials appeared first on Millennial CEO.

Photo credit: Guide Book via photopin(license).

http://www.digitalistmag.com/future-of-work/2015/09/01/mentorship-millennials-give-guidebook-map-03375593/feed03375593 http://www.digitalistmag.com/industries/banking/2015/09/01/digitize-or-die-tabb-tells-financial-services-03365983</link>
http://www.digitalistmag.com/industries/banking/2015/09/01/digitize-or-die-tabb-tells-financial-services-03365983#respond Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:00:00 +0000http://blogs.forbes.com/tomgroenfeldt/?p=3740276341 l srgb s gl 300x200 future of business – Digitalist MagazineThe financial services industry, especially capital markets, must become digital or it will lose to innovators, says a new report from TABB Group.

“By our estimation (and with very few exceptions), banking and capital markets have remained largely impervious to the digital revolution,” writes Paul Rowady, director of data and analytics research, in a July report “Digitized Markets: Opening the Door on Human Latency.”

“Financial services – and most conspicuously, the institutional capital markets segment – has been notable for its perceived attachment to all things analog…” he added, comparing it — unfavorably — to publishing and music.

He points to three areas where technical disruption is threatening incumbents — payments, lending, and investment advisory. A second driver is regulation, which is pressing financial firms to do more with less.

Rowady sets the bar high, with high-frequency trading as his example.

“By our estimation, high frequency trading (HFT) is the optimal – and perhaps one of the only – example where a market-facing firm achieved an order-of-magnitude, revolutionary outcome relative to historical precedent…On a revenue-per-employee (RPE) basis – and at the height of HFT strategy profitability – this translated into operating leverage of more than $ 3 million in gross revenue per year per employee or more.” By comparison, a sample of ten Tier-1 players showed an RPE of approximately $ 500,000.

Larry Tabb, founder and CEO of the TABB Group, said the industry is challenged as more and more information is collected and analyzed.

“Folks are trying to create data sets out of everything and signals out of everything, including unstructured information,” he said.

“Increasingly, as you wind up with the Internet of Things digitizing more and more stuff, you wind up with more and more data sets and signals to analyze. It’s not just about HFT, it is really about trying to find, clean, aggregate, analyze, and put into context all sort of different streams of information,” he added.

“I think virtually every area will increasingly be as digitized as HFT is. Money managers are becoming very, very quantitative — looking at and trying to understand what are the driving forces that influence a stock price and what effects does the supply chain have.”

The TABB study does not include two areas of digitalization in capital markets  — index funds and ETFs, both of which operate largely free of human intervention.

A new paper, “Command Centres of the Asset Management Industry,” by Duncan MacDonald-Korth and Professor Dariusz Wojcik, of Oxford, notes that while traditional asset management firms are mostly in big cities where they can easily meet with clients, the top ten ETFs are more scattered — in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Chicago, as well as New York and Boston.

“They [ETFs] differ from the traditional asset management model in how they are bought, sold, and distributed,” the paper notes. “Unlike the traditional model, ETF products can be bought and sold entirely digitally, with no need for face to face interaction, hence their name of ‘exchange-traded products’… Because the funds are managed digitally and take little work to set up, startup costs and market penetration are significantly easier to achieve for young firms… the success of ETFs, their low-cost operation, and their ability to be managed outside of financial centers has had, and will continue to have, important effects on the geographic concentration of the Asset Management industry.”

(The paper will be available this autumn from the Social Science Research Network and published next year in the Journal of Economic Geography.)

Rowady expects the digitization of finance will require more experts in parallel programming, human-computer interface design, user-experience design, process redesign, collaborative project management, and data science. Since many of these skills will be obtained through contractors, financial services will also need to develop better supply chain management skills.

Analytics will be important, he added, because existing systems often have problems with bottlenecks at their core. The finance industry needs to automate more of the processes, from analytics to execution, to reduce costs.

“TABB Group recently estimated that the human capital component of the total cost of ownership (TCO) for financial market participants is about 76 percent, or over 3x the combined TCO of hardware, software and data.”

Want more on how our increasingly digital economy is changing the way business runs? See Networks that drive net worth.


http://www.digitalistmag.com/future-of-work/2015/09/01/revamping-hr-status-quo-in-2015-03367946#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:00:00 +0000http://blogs.forbes.com/meghanbiro/?p=7571bigstock New Trends 74277445 e1440779335718 future of business – Digitalist MagazineWhat are the hot trends in HR technology? It’s a rhetorical question; put another way, what aren’t the trends? HR technology in itself, having profoundly changed the game, is the hot trend: It’s heated up our field in ways that allow us to leverage talent on an entirely different level, regardless of the size or scope of an organization and irrespective of the end goals, from short-term to future-casting.

We’ll see further evidence of just how far we’ve come in October, when the HR Technology Conference and Exposition descends on Las Vegas. Once, we might have all discussed the concept of tech for HR. Now the conference will witness the rollout of out new HR tech products by the 60-fold. There is no more etcetera, just a shared understanding in just how critical tech is in terms of pushing the boundaries. HR’s best practices now include a far larger sense of infinite functions. And a key difference now is that we’re not future converts to this brave new world, we’re the creators and the consumers.   

If I had to pick them, here are the top four hottest trends:

Cloud computing: expanding innovation

Shifting information and HR applications to the cloud has changed our perspective in myriad ways, allowing us increased flexibility, far greater innovation and agility, the opportunity to consolidate and better control costs via a focused management system, and more. It’s a practical paradigm shift with an ambitiously border-free frontier. It prompts a far more inclusive sense of intelligence about the world of work.

 Big Data: enabling objectivity

We’re using Big Data to attain a new objectivity in terms of talent management, redefining the questions we ask ourselves — and the answers we can create. Tapping into a singular aggregate that can be parsed in endless directions and variations enables us to replace that old-fashioned amorphous hunch with a far more objective, full-spectrum view. It’s the sheer scale that pushes us into that objectivity — and pushes innovations to handle it more precisely, more fluidly.

Predictive analytics: pushing the future

Trending: Our graduation from smoke and mirrors to mathematically based future-casting. What keeps the human factor front and center is combining this new objectivity with a very real sense of human behavior and patterns: We can make decisions based on a broad range of predictors, fill gaps before they happen, and maintain fluidity in the workplace and productivity as well.

Best-of-breed and integrated software: customizing tasks without losing options

Whatever the particular merits of best-of-breed versus integrated software in talent management, I think the debate is a bit too candy-shop at this point. Here the trend needs to hew a more intentional course of convergence rather than further separation (software innovators, take note). Whether a best-of-breed spectrum or an integrated application, the key is being able to focus and function. That’s the grand takeaway of this shift: accounting or recruiting, succession planning or training, the tools are about talent and about people, not about numbers.

We can’t assume that just because we’ve now innovated our way into infinity that an agile wisdom is built in. Nor can we assume the bells and whistles are intelligent enough to know our best intentions. And I haven’t even mentioned mobile / social and readiness. Whatever we do, it must live on mobile and social or it’s overlooking a substantial part of the workforce — not to mention how we work these days.

In terms of readiness, when we adopt HR tech may seem to be related to size. It’s easier to consider massive changes on a smaller scale, but that’s a fallacy. Actionable insights, pipeline building, whatever, it all needs to be a shift across the board, and another trend is going to be that we change the very status quo of talent management.

Already, a 2014 survey of some 270 companies by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that 70% of companies surveyed with HR and payroll in the cloud had fewer than 5,000 employees — small and medium scale is leading the shift. But 57% of larger companies with more than 5,000 employees are already enabling performance management with cloud-based software, and 32% of all companies were planning on shifting recruiting strategies to the cloud by 2016. And companies of extreme size and scale are already leveraging the tech power of serious (and social) recruiting capabilities to source the best and brightest.

We all know the old homily: The future is now. Modern organizations thrive on what HR tech is becoming; HR tech’s trajectory depends on being able to respond and meet the demands we’re just learning to shape. So long as we can keep the human factor involved, as ubiquitous as tech is becoming, we’ll be golden. Shine on.

Want more on how HR is changing the way business works? See The Future of Human Resources.

Photo Credit: Big Stock Images

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http://www.digitalistmag.com/digital-economy/2015/08/31/digitized-core-heart-of-reimagined-business-03361177#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:00:24 +0000http://news.sap.com/?p=122488The pace of digital innovation and transformation is increasing. Entire markets, including transportation, logistics and e-commerce, are being disrupted and reinvented everywhere, and each new innovation multiplies the potential for more.

Digital disruptors are not only changing targeted Digital Core shutterstock F e1440766185851 300x200 future of business – Digitalist Magazineindustries, they’re also sending ripple effects of innovation throughout the world. “Digital technologies are doing for human brainpower what the steam engine and related technologies did for human muscle power during the Industrial Revolution,” says IT researcher and author Andrew McAfee in a Harvard Business Review interview.

Most companies believe they are already reinventing their businesses through digital transformation. In a survey conducted by Altimeter Group last year, 88% of executives said as much. Yet most companies lack the basics for a successful transformation. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed by Altimeter Group admitted major strategic gaps, such as leaving the role of the customer out of their digital transformation strategy.

The four pressure points

Four inescapable trends are creating the pressures that shape today’s digital transformation:

1. The empowered customer

Whether your customers are Generation Z consumers or multi-national conglomerates, they all share one vitally important characteristic: each demands to be treated as a unique segment of one. You have no choice but to meet that expectation. Digital and mobile technologies mean that no matter where your customers are, your competition is always one tap away. Enterprises must be capable of delivering rich, real-time interactions and intelligently personalized products and services to each distinct customer, and do so efficiently at scale.

2. Competitive and regulatory pressures

Transparency is a necessary part of business today, and that means competitors and regulators alike can dissect any business process. Staying ahead of the former and meeting the standards of the latter requires operational excellence and accountability at every step in the value cycle. To keep pace, enterprises must develop a varied arsenal of low-touch and automated processes that can make intelligent business decisions based on customer demand and real-time market conditions.

3. Globalization

More businesses today must be prepared to go global in order to remain relevant. Expanding into new markets can no longer be done effectively with costly, infrastructure-heavy international buildouts. Enterprises need a pay-as-you-go strategy with scalable capacity, which can be adjusted rapidly to meet market conditions in any region.

4. Technological progress

The tide of innovations and discoveries is unrelenting. Businesses must be agile enough to quickly adopt new strategies, and be steered by insightful, knowledgeable leadership that can sort winning inventions from dead-end novelties.

What a flexible digitized core can do

Withstanding these four inescapable pressures requires a flexible digitized core at the heart of every organization — one that can reinvent business processes not just every generation, but every day, if necessary. A flexible core, ready for the demands of today’s disruption, can be identified by three key characteristics: efficiency, effectiveness, and agility.

A digitized core increases efficiency by automating processes and distributing responsibility for customer insights across an intelligent business network. Consider how 3D printing is completely reinventing the concept of inventory. The digitized core makes it possible to move manufacturing much closer to the time and place of purchase.

The digitized core increases effectiveness by converting signals in business data into tangible action. That can mean anything from real-time demand forecasting that sends new production orders automatically, to intelligent financing that takes full advantage of global capital markets. A digitized core brings Big Data down to the size and scale needed to deliver valuable insights for everyday business practitioners. Since every enterprise must be ready to create value from data, the digital core itself must be rooted in data.

Finally, the digitized core increases enterprise agility by enhancing every stakeholder’s understanding of the entire business, elevating each employee’s view of the organization. This can empower sales to close deals with higher margin, and R&D to focus on projects with the greatest market potential.

Think like a startup

Today’s enterprises must be agile in order to survive. That means taking advantage of digital opportunities at every turn, even if it flies in the face of established convention. For instance, augmented reality can deliver a virtual showroom or guided maintenance instructions directly to a client site. If that sounds like something only a startup would do, that is not far from the truth. Digital transformation means every business must think and act like a venture capitalist, and a digital core is the surest way to adapt to these modern realities.

Even the most storied enterprises must be able to move with alacrity. “In a world of more data and less certainty, companies have to make decisions and respond to disrupters all the earlier and the more decisively,” McKinsey warns. Without a modern digitized core, even competing on the edges of a market will no longer be an option, as disruption squeezes out those with processes to inflexible to adapt. With a digitized core, an enterprise can disrupt an industry from the inside out.

In future posts, we will explain how to design a digital transformation and how to put that plan into action. For a sneak preview, take a look at how the digital business foundation of SAP S/4HANA is already delivering results.

Learn more how SAP can transform your digitized core and follow me via @SDenecken.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Photo: Shutterstock

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http://www.digitalistmag.com/customer-experience/customer-engagement/2015/08/31/digital-transformation-next-generation-customer-service-03154061#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:00:56 +0000http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/?p=3154061Technology continues to revolutionize the ways we live, conduct business, and function as a road sign keep it simple 300x200 future of business – Digitalist Magazinesociety. One of the most recent, and pervasive, changes is the rise of the Internet of Things – the web of connections linking the myriad physical objects and digital systems that surround us. The result is a massive set of real-time information designed to help people make better, more informed decisions on everything from how to bundle and sell more products to finding the best intercity parking spot to saving energy at home.

However, it’s easy to get bogged down in the size and complexity of this new information set. If businesses are to take advantage of its power and, just as important, serve their customers using it, they must focus on innovation. But that’s easier said than done, especially when they’re dealing with overly complex business systems and processes.

In a Harvard Business Review study, sponsored by SAP, 60% of business managers reported that complexity increased their operational costs by at least 11%. Plus, the average business spends two-thirds of its IT budget only maintaining current systems, which can encompass hundreds or even thousands of applications.

Just maintaining such a complex status quo leaves little time, energy, or resources for innovation. What if those resources could be freed up? Could IT and lines of business come together and dream? What new business models could you adapt to grow the company? Which product lines or services have growth potential? How can you support new channels, service levels, or geographical expansion? What if you could simplify inherent complexities, often rooted in IT, and apply efforts toward re-imagining your business?

Tackling business and IT complexity

To address such challenges and help enterprises simplify in today’s digital economy, businesses are creating value across industries by generating instant insight from real-time connections to Big Data, the Internet of

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future of business – Digitalist Magazine