Tag Archives: leadership

The smart city revolution will depend on local leadership

 The smart city revolution will depend on local leadership

From autonomous vehicles to automated everything, the pace of smart city technology is accelerating, sparking equal parts enthusiasm and anxiety. Industry and government leaders around the world are looking for guidance as they attempt to navigate the unknowns accompanying these shifts. It turns out that looking inward to the middle of the U.S. may yield some of the greatest insights.

Here’s how some policymakers in cities across the U.S. have been preparing for the future.

Collaborate across sectors

Through my platform, Digi.City, I host a multi-city series of discussions with lawmakers, government officials, tech leaders, and corporations. Across the nation, leaders from rural and urban areas, at statewide and local levels, and from the public and private sectors are readying themselves to lead the smart city revolution.

Denver is teaming with Panasonic to create a mini smart city test ground, while San Diego is working with Qualcomm, GE, and other private sector companies to launch a large-scale internet of things (IoT) network to power the next wave of smart devices.

During a roundtable I hosted in Indianapolis, city deputy mayor Angela Smith Jones emphasized the importance of partnering with other local and state entities, as well as academic and private sectors. For example, 16 Tech is a proposed innovation zone adjacent to the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus and catalyzed by anchor tenant The Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI). It is surrounded by two bodies of water — White River and Fall Creek — making it an ideal location to test smart water technology. Global Water Technologies, an industry leader in water efficiency, recently proposed a living laboratory at 16 Tech to showcase the benefits of smart technology.

Dave Brodin, chief operating officer for Smithville Fiber — Indiana’s largest independent telecommunications broadband provider — agrees with this line of thinking. In 2015, Smithville Fiber reached an agreement with Jasper, Indiana (population 16,000) to build a high-speed gigabit network that will reach the entire municipality by 2018.

Brodin explained that Jasper made it easy to collaborate directly with city leadership through a request for proposal (RFP) process that created an open dialogue between the city and trusted operators. This made it possible to create a plan tailored to the specific communities involved. Brodin noted that other cities have erected what he views as unnecessary roadblocks, such as charging permitting fees that could amount to thousands of dollars per connection. “In that case, we have had to walk away,” he said.

Eliminate regulatory roadblocks

The cities that will be able to leverage smart technology to its full potential already know what regulatory roadblocks might be standing in their way.

Indiana state senator Brandt Hershman illustrated his state’s approach to 5G — the next generation mobile networks that will power widespread IoT adoption, along with smart city innovation. This past legislative session, the state passed a measure that eases the path forward on small cell deployment, a key facet of powering these ultra-fast, hyper-responsive wireless networks.

Drawing comparisons to more traditional types of investment, Senator Hershman noted, “If it were Honda and Toyota coming to the state, we write them a check. But when it comes to 5G wireless, why do we want to put up barriers?”

Arizona followed suit earlier this year, passing legislation that cleared the pathway to small cell and 5G deployment. This “open for business” regulatory climate creates an enticing environment for a slew of high-tech companies and projects. As a result, the economy is growing, consumers are benefiting, and investors are responding.

Get residents onboard

There are myriad technological solutions already available to help cities deliver key services more efficiently. From LED lights to traffic signals integrated with transportation platforms to sensor-laden trash cans that can measure air quality, cities have an amazing opportunity to do more without breaking the bank.

But as with any innovation, not everyone may understand how adding sensor technology can benefit them. Cities that want to be on the forefront of the smart city revolution should join forces with tech innovators, community advocates, and university researchers to come up with creative ways to help residents see how smart technology can benefit their community.

In Chicago, computer scientist and urban data expert Charlie Catlett is leading an “Array of Things” pilot between private sector leaders, including the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Lane Tech High School. The project teaches 150 high school students high-tech skills like data analysis by giving them access to data from 500 sensors, as well as teaching soft skills like problem solving and teamwork. Catlett said “It’s about empowering students to see smart city technology not as something some company does, [but] as an opportunity to make a difference.”

These kinds of partnerships help cities and their corporate partners by creating a single action plan that all stakeholders can get behind.

Chelsea Collier is the founder of Digi.City, a platform for smart city technology and policy. She also serves as Editor-At-Large for Smart City Connect, is a Co-Founder of Impact Hub Austin, a Sr Advisor for Texans for Economic Progress and served as a Zhi-Xing Eisenhower Fellow in 2016. 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Big Data – VentureBeat

Jerry West’s Lessons in Leadership from SuiteConnect

Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director

Jerry West, NBA champion, Hall of Fame player, successful executive and literal icon of the 171004 SC SF17 KeynoteWednesdayAM 008157 Jerry West’s Lessons in Leadership from SuiteConnectleague, shared the lessons he’s learned about leadership and success at the recent Oracle OpenWorld and SuiteConnect events this month.

West’s illustrious 14-year playing career was spent solely with the Los Angeles Lakers, taking over as coach after he retired from the game. He also served as General Manager of the Lakers, which included trading for the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft Kobe Bryant as well as signing Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent.

“After many long conversations, the greatest elation I’ve ever had in my life was when I heard, ‘I’m coming. I’m coming to Los Angeles,’” West said of his recruitment of O’Neal. “The fortunes of this franchise changed overnight.”

171004 SC SF17 KeynoteWednesdayAM 008291 Jerry West’s Lessons in Leadership from SuiteConnectWest also served as the general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies before taking on consulting roles, most recently with the LA Clippers after a similar stint with the Golden State Warriors team that has won two of the last three NBA championships. He began with some quotes and readings that had inspired his leadership style over the years. West quoted JC Penney, “Show me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll show you a man who will make history. Show me a stock clerk without a goal, and I will show you a stock clerk.” And Eleanor Roosevelt, “learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

But West also shared lessons learned and some guiding principles he arrived upon over a lengthy career in the NBA. They were:

  1. Life must be fun, kindness is essential, and you do need to work at both.
  2. Smile, laugh, and be pleasant. This may sound naïve. It’s not.
  3. Be strong enough to say, “I don’t know.” When you don’t know or understand something, say so. Don’t guess, don’t fake it. If you don’t have the answer, say so. The following seven words often work best, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” You won’t mislead your colleagues, and people will respect your honesty and self-assurance.
  4. Life is too hard to be lived alone. Find time for your family. You only get one. Work at friendship. Develop a talent for friendship. Friends fill our life. They represent, perhaps, the purest choice you ever make in your life.
  5. Don’t be color blind. People are different. Your world is, indeed, a rich, open, diverse, multicolored, multiethnic, multi-textured, multicultural experience. Declaring that all groups are the same is a deception. Believing that some ethnic groups are better than others is a moral disgrace. We aren’t all the same. We shouldn’t try to be. Opposites attract and they also educate.
  6. Help some people along the way. Find a cause you care about. Involve yourself and start early in life. Try to start a fire in someone’s life who has enormous talent. And if you’re a leader, you’re going to make a difference in that person’s life. It is hard work identifying those talented people. Do not let them quit. Make sure you set high standards and goals for them.

“And finally, I’m going to leave you with these words,” West said. “How you work with each person is a unique art. Effective leadership depends on your ability to connect and motivate people. Not on your title, position, or power, but on the trust and respect for you. To me, it’s crucial for everyone’s success, particularly if you’re designed as a leader. People will forget what you said, and forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.“

Posted on Wed, October 18, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

The NetSuite Blog

New Uber Leadership SVP Talks Trust, Diversity, And Building High-Performing Teams

When outspoken venture capitalist and Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen wrote in The Wall Street Journal in 2011 that software is eating the world, he was only partly correct. In fact, business services based on software platforms are what’s eating the world.

Companies like Apple, which remade the mobile phone industry by offering app developers easy access to millions of iPhone owners through its iTunes App Store platform, are changing the economy. However, these world-eating companies are not just in the tech world. They are also emerging in industries that you might not expect: retailers, finance companies, transportation firms, and others outside of Silicon Valley are all at the forefront of the platform revolution.

These outsiders are taking platforms to the next level by building them around business services and data, not just apps. Companies are making business services such as logistics, 3D printing, and even roadside assistance for drivers available through a software connection that other companies can plug in to and consume or offer to their own customers.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image2 New Uber Leadership SVP Talks Trust, Diversity, And Building High Performing TeamsThere are two kinds of players in this business platform revolution: providers and participants. Providers create the platform and create incentives for developers to write apps for it. Developers, meanwhile, are participants; they can extend the reach of their apps by offering them through the platform’s virtual shelves.

Business platforms let companies outside of the technology world become powerful tech players, unleashing a torrent of innovation that they could never produce on their own. Good business platforms create millions in extra revenue for companies by enlisting external developers to innovate for them. It’s as if strangers are handing you entirely new revenue streams and business models on the street.

Powering this movement are application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs), which enable developers to easily plug their apps into a platform without having to know much about the complex software code that drives it. Developers get more time to focus on what they do best: writing great apps. Platform providers benefit because they can offer many innovative business services to end customers without having to create them themselves.

Any company can leverage APIs and SDKs to create new business models and products that might not, in fact, be its primary method of monetization. However, these platforms give companies new opportunities and let them outflank smaller, more nimble competitors.

Indeed, the platform economy can generate unbelievable revenue streams for companies. According to Platform Revolution authors Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary, travel site Expedia makes approximately 90% of its revenue by making business services available to other travel companies through its API.

In TechCrunch in May 2016, Matt Murphy and Steve Sloane wrote that “the number of SaaS applications has exploded and there is a rising wave of software innovation in APIs that provide critical connective tissue and increasingly important functionality.” ProgrammableWeb.com, an API resource and directory, offers searchable access to more than 15,000 different APIs.

According to Accenture Technology Vision 2016, 82% of executives believe that platforms will be the “glue that brings organizations together in the digital economy.” The top 15 platforms (which include companies built entirely on this software architecture, such as eBay and Priceline.com) have a combined market capitalization of US$ 2.6 trillion.

It’s time for all companies to join the revolution. Whether working in alliance with partners or launching entirely in-house, companies need to think about platforms now, because they will have a disruptive impact on every major industry.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image3 1024x572 New Uber Leadership SVP Talks Trust, Diversity, And Building High Performing Teams

To the Barricades

Several factors converged to make monetizing a company’s business services easier. Many of the factors come from the rise of smartphones, specifically the rise of Bluetooth and 3G (and then 4G and LTE) connections. These connections turned smartphones into consumption hubs that weren’t feasible when high-speed mobile access was spottier.

One good example of this is PayPal’s rise. In the early 2000s, it functioned primarily as a standalone web site, but as mobile purchasing became more widespread, third-party merchants clamored to integrate PayPal’s payment processing service into their own sites and apps.

In Platform Revolution, Parker, Van Alstyne, and Choudary claim that “platforms are eating pipelines,” with pipelines being the old, direct-to-consumer business methods of the past. The first stage of this takeover involved much more efficient digital pipelines (think of Amazon in the retail space and Grubhub for food delivery) challenging their offline counterparts.

What Makes Great Business Platforms Run?

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image8 New Uber Leadership SVP Talks Trust, Diversity, And Building High Performing Teams

The quality of the ecosystem that powers your platform is as important as the quality of experience you offer to customers. Here’s how to do it right.

Although the platform economy depends on them, application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) aren’t magic buttons. They’re tools that organizations can leverage to attract users and developers.

To succeed, organizations must ensure that APIs include extensive documentation and are easy for developers to add into their own products. Another part of platform success is building a general digital enterprise platform that includes both APIs and SDKs.

A good platform balances ease of use, developer support, security, data architecture (that is, will it play nice with a company’s existing systems?), edge processing (whether analytics are processed locally or in the cloud), and infrastructure (whether a platform provider operates its own data centers and cloud infrastructure or uses public cloud services). The exact formula for which elements to embrace, however, will vary according to the use case, the industry, the organization, and its customers.

In all cases, the platform should offer a value proposition that’s a cut above its competitors. That means a platform should offer a compelling business service that is difficult to duplicate.

By creating open standards and easy-to-work-with tools, organizations can greatly improve the platforms they offer. APIs and SDKs may sound complicated, but they’re just tools for talented people to do their jobs with. Enable these talented people, and your platform will take off.

In the second stage, platforms replace pipelines. Platform Revolution’s authors write: “The Internet no longer acts merely as a distribution channel (a pipeline). It also acts as a creation infrastructure and a coordination mechanism. Platforms are leveraging this new capability to create entirely new business models.” Good examples of second-stage companies include Airbnb, DoubleClick, Spotify, and Uber.

Allstate Takes Advantage of Its Hidden Jewels

Many companies taking advantage of platforms were around long before APIs, or even the internet, existed. Allstate, one of the largest insurers in the United States, has traditionally focused on insurance services. But recently, the company expanded into new markets—including the platform economy.

Allstate companies Allstate Roadside Services (ARS) and Arity, a technology company founded by Allstate in late 2016, have provided their parent company with new sources of revenue, thanks to new offerings. ARS launched Good Hands Rescue APIs, which allow third parties to leverage Allstate’s roadside assistance network in their own apps. Meanwhile, Arity offers a portfolio of APIs that let third parties leverage Allstate’s aggregate data on driver behavior and intellectual property related to risk prediction for uses spanning mobility, consumer, and insurance solutions.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image4 New Uber Leadership SVP Talks Trust, Diversity, And Building High Performing TeamsFor example, Verizon licenses an Allstate Good Hands Rescue API for its own roadside assistance app. And automakers GM and BMW also offer roadside assistance service through Allstate.

Potential customers for Arity’s API include insurance providers, shared mobility companies, automotive parts makers, telecoms, and others.

“Arity is an acknowledgement that we have to be digital first and think about the services we provide to customers and businesses,” says Chetan Phadnis, Arity’s head of product development. “Thinking about our intellectual property system and software products is a key part of our transformation. We think it will create new ways to make money in the vertical transportation ecosystem.”

One of Allstate’s major challenges is a change in auto ownership that threatens the traditional auto insurance model. No-car and one-car households are on the rise, ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft work on very different insurance models than passenger cars or traditional taxi companies, and autonomous vehicles could disrupt the traditional auto insurance model entirely.

This means that companies like Allstate are smart to look for revenue streams beyond traditional insurance offerings. The intangible assets that Allstate has accumulated over the years—a massive aggregate collection of driver data, an extensive set of risk models and predictive algorithms, and a network of garages and mechanics to help stranded motorists—can also serve as a new revenue stream for the future.

By offering two distinct API services for the platform economy, Allstate is also able to see what customers might want in the future. While the Good Hands Rescue APIs let third-party users integrate a specific service (such as roadside assistance) into their software tools, Arity instead lets third-party developers leverage huge data sets as a piece of other, less narrowly defined projects, such as auto maintenance. As Arity gains insights into how customers use and respond to those offerings, it gets a preview into potential future directions for its own products and services.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image5 1024x572 New Uber Leadership SVP Talks Trust, Diversity, And Building High Performing Teams

Farmers Harvest Cash from a Platform

Another example of innovation fueling the platform economy doesn’t come from a boldfaced tech name. Instead, it comes from a relatively small startup that has nimbly built its business model around data with an interesting twist: it turns its customers into entrepreneurs.

Farmobile is a Kansas City–based agriculture tech company whose smart device, the Passive Uplink Connection (PUC), can be plugged into tractors, combines, sprayers, and other farm equipment.

Farmobile uses the PUC to enable farmers to monetize data from their fields, which is one of the savviest routes to success with platforms—making your platform so irresistible to end consumers that they foment the revolution for you.

Once installed, says CEO Jason Tatge, the PUC streams second-by-second data to farmers’ Farmobile accounts. This gives them finely detailed reports, called Electronic Field Records (EFRs), that they can use to improve their own business, share with trusted advisors, and sell to third parties.

The PUC gives farmers detailed records for tracking analytics on their crops, farms, and equipment and creates a marketplace where farmers can sell their data to third parties. Farmers benefit because they generate extra income; Farmobile benefits because it makes a commission on each purchase and builds a giant store of aggregated farming data.

This last bit is important if Farmobile is to successfully compete with traditional agricultural equipment manufacturers, which also gather data from farmers. Farmobile’s advantage (at least for now) is that the equipment makers limit their data gathering to their existing customer bases and sell it back to them in the form of services designed to improve crop yields and optimize equipment performance.

Farmobile, meanwhile, is trying to appeal to all farmers by sharing the wealth, which could help it leapfrog the giants that already have large customer bases. “The ability to bring data together easily is good for farmers, so we built API integrations to put data in one place,” says Tatge.

Farmers can resell their data on Farmobile’s Data Store to buyers such as reinsurance firm Guy Carpenter. To encourage farmers to opt in, says Tatge, “we told farmers that if they run our device over planting and harvest season, we can guarantee them $ 2 per acre for their EFRs.”

So far, Farmobile’s customers have sent the Data Store approximately 4,200 completed EFRs for both planting and harvest, which will serve as the backbone of the company’s data monetization efforts. Eventually, Farmobile hopes to expand the offerings on the Data Store to include records from at least 10 times as many different farm fields.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image6 1024x572 New Uber Leadership SVP Talks Trust, Diversity, And Building High Performing Teams

Under Armour Binges on APIs

Another model for the emerging business platform world comes from Under Armour, the sports apparel giant. Alongside its very successful clothing and shoe lines, Under Armour has put its platform at the heart of its business model.

But rather than build a platform itself, Under Armour has used its growing revenues to create an industry-leading ecosystem. Over the past decade, it has purchased companies that already offer APIs, including MapMyFitness, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal, and then linked them all together into a massive platform that serves 30 million consumers.

This strategy has made Under Armour an indispensable part of the sprawling mobile fitness economy. According to the company’s 2016 annual results, its business platform ecosystem, known as the Connected Fitness division, generated $ 80 million in revenue that year—a 51% increase over 2015.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature1 Image7 New Uber Leadership SVP Talks Trust, Diversity, And Building High Performing TeamsBy combining existing APIs from its different apps with original tools built in-house, extensive developer support, and a robust SDK, third-party developers have everything they need to build their own fitness app or web site.

Depending on their needs, third-party developers can sign up for several different payment plans with varying access to Under Armour’s APIs and SDKs. Indeed, the company’s tiered developer pricing plan for Connected Fitness, which is separated into Starter, Pro, and Premium levels, makes Under Armour seem more like a tech company than a sports apparel firm.

As a result, Under Armour’s APIs and SDKs are the underpinnings of a vast platform cooperative. Under Armour’s apps seamlessly integrate with popular services like Fitbit and Garmin (even though Under Armour has a fitness tracker of its own) and are licensed by corporations ranging from Microsoft to Coca-Cola to Purina. They’re even used by fitness app competitors like AthletePath and Lose It.

A large part of Under Armour’s success is the sheer amount of data its fitness apps collect and then make available to developers. MyFitnessPal, for instance, is an industry-leading calorie and food tracker used for weight loss, and Endomondo is an extremely popular running and biking record keeper and route-sharing platform.

One way of looking at the Connected Fitness platform is as a combination of traditional consumer purchasing data with insights gleaned from Under Armour’s suite of apps, as well as from the third-party apps that Under Armour’s products use.

Indeed, Under Armour gets a bonus from the platform economy: it helps the company understand its customers better, creating a virtuous cycle. As end users use different apps fueled by Under Armour’s services and data-sharing capabilities, Under Armour can then use that data to fuel customer engagement and attract additional third-party app developers to add new services to the ecosystem.

What Successful Platforms Have in Common

The most successful business platforms have three things in common: They’re easy to work with, they fulfill a market need, and they offer data that’s useful to customers.

For instance, Farmobile’s marketplace fulfills a valuable need in the market: it lets farmers monetize data and develop a new revenue stream that otherwise would not exist. Similarly, Allstate’s Arity experiment turns large volumes of data collected by Allstate over the years into a revenue stream that drives down costs for Arity’s clients by giving them more accurate data to integrate into their apps and software tools.

Meanwhile, Under Armour’s Connected Fitness platform and API suite encourage users to sign up for more apps in the company’s ecosystem. If you track your meals in MyFitnessPal, you’ll want to track your runs in Endomondo or MapMyRun. Similarly, if you’re an app developer in the health and fitness space, Under Armour has a readily available collection of tools that will make it easy for users to switch over to your app and cheaper for you to develop your app.

As the platform economy grows, all three of these approaches—Allstate’s leveraging of its legacy business data, Farmobile’s marketplace for users to become data entrepreneurs, and Under Armour’s one-stop fitness app ecosystem—are extremely useful examples of what happens next.

In the coming months and years, the platform economy will see other big changes. In 2016 for example, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google all released APIs for their AI-powered voice assistant platforms, the most famous of which is Apple’s Siri.

The introduction of APIs confirms that the AI technology behind these bots has matured significantly and that a new wave of AI-based platform innovation is nigh. (In fact, Digitalistpredicted last year that the emergence of an API for these AIs would open them up beyond conventional uses.) New voice-operated technologies such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa offer exciting opportunities for developers to create full-featured, immersive applications on top of existing platforms.

We will also see AI- and machine learning–based APIs emerge that will allow developers to quickly leverage unstructured data (such as social media posts or texts) for new applications and services. For instance, sentiment analysis APIs can help explore and better understand customers’ interests, emotions, and preferences in social media.

As large providers offer APIs and associated services for smaller organizations to leverage AI and machine learning, these companies can in turn create their own platforms for clients to use unstructured data—everything from insights from uploaded photographs to recognizing a user’s emotion based on facial expression or tone of voice—in their own apps and products. Meanwhile, the ever-increasing power of cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure will give these computing-intensive app platforms the juice they need to become deeper and richer.

These business services will depend on easy ways to exchange and implement data for success. The good news is that finding easy ways to share data isn’t hard and the API and SDK offerings that fuel the platform economy will become increasingly robust. Thanks to the opportunities generated by these new platforms and the new opportunities offered to end users, developers, and platform businesses themselves, everyone stands to win—if they act soon. D!


About the Authors

Bernd Leukert is a member of the Executive Board, Products and Innovation, for SAP.

Björn Goerke is Chief Technology Officer and President, SAP Cloud Platform, for SAP.

Volker Hildebrand is Global Vice President for SAP Hybris solutions.

Sethu M is President, Mobile Services, for SAP.

Neal Ungerleider is a Los Angeles-based technology journalist and consultant.


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

Comments

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Digitalist Magazine

What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

When it comes to buying things—even big-ticket items—the way we make decisions makes no sense. One person makes an impulsive offer on a house because of the way the light comes in through the kitchen windows. Another gleefully drives a high-end sports car off the lot even though it will probably never approach the limits it was designed to push.

We can (and usually do) rationalize these decisions after the fact by talking about needing more closet space or wanting to out-accelerate an 18-wheeler as we merge onto the highway, but years of study have arrived at a clear conclusion:

When it comes to the customer experience, human beings are fundamentally irrational.

In the brick-and-mortar past, companies could leverage that irrationality in time-tested ways. They relied heavily on physical context, such as an inviting retail space, to make products and services as psychologically appealing as possible. They used well-trained salespeople and employees to maximize positive interactions and rescue negative ones. They carefully sequenced customer experiences, such as having a captain’s dinner on the final night of a cruise, to play on our hard-wired craving to end experiences on a high note.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images1 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

Today, though, customer interactions are increasingly moving online. Fortune reports that on 2016’s Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that is so crucial to holiday retail results, 108.5 million Americans shopped online, while only 99.1 million visited brick-and-mortar stores. The 9.4% gap between the two was a dramatic change from just one year prior, when on- and offline Black Friday shopping were more or less equal.

When people browse in a store for a few minutes, an astute salesperson can read the telltale signs that they’re losing interest and heading for the exit. The salesperson can then intervene, answering questions and closing the sale.

Replicating that in a digital environment isn’t as easy, however. Despite all the investments companies have made to counteract e-shopping cart abandonment, they lack the data that would let them anticipate when a shopper is on the verge of opting out of a transaction, and the actions they take to lure someone back afterwards can easily come across as less helpful than intrusive.

In a digital environment, companies need to figure out how to use Big Data analysis and digital design to compensate for the absence of persuasive human communication and physical sights, sounds, and sensations. What’s more, a 2014 Gartner survey found that 89% of marketers expected customer experience to be their primary differentiator by 2016, and we’re already well into 2017.

As transactions continue to shift toward the digital and omnichannel, companies need to figure out new ways to gently push customers along the customer journey—and to do so without frustrating, offending, or otherwise alienating them.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images6 1024x572 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

The quest to understand online customers better in order to influence them more effectively is built on a decades-old foundation: behavioral psychology, the study of the connections between what people believe and what they actually do. All of marketing and advertising is based on changing people’s thoughts in order to influence their actions. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that a now-famous article in the Harvard Business Review formally introduced the idea of applying behavioral psychology to customer service in particular.

The article’s authors, Richard B. Chase and Sriram Dasu, respectively a professor and assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, describe how companies could apply fundamental tenets of behavioral psychology research to “optimize those extraordinarily important moments when the company touches its customers—for better and for worse.” Their five main points were simple but have proven effective across multiple industries:

  1. Finish strong. People evaluate experiences after the fact based on their high points and their endings, so the way a transaction ends is more important than how it begins.
  2. Front-load the negatives. To ensure a strong positive finish, get bad experiences out of the way early.
  3. Spread out the positives. Break up the pleasurable experiences into segments so they seem to last longer.
  4. Provide choices. People don’t like to be shoved toward an outcome; they prefer to feel in control. Giving them options within the boundaries of your ability to deliver builds their commitment.
  5. Be consistent. People like routine and predictability.

For example, McKinsey cites a major health insurance company that experimented with this framework in 2009 as part of its health management program. A test group of patients received regular coaching phone calls from nurses to help them meet health goals.

The front-loaded negative was inherent: the patients knew they had health problems that needed ongoing intervention, such as weight control or consistent use of medication. Nurses called each patient on a frequent, regular schedule to check their progress (consistency and spread-out positives), suggested next steps to keep them on track (choices), and cheered on their improvements (a strong finish).

McKinsey reports the patients in the test group were more satisfied with the health management program by seven percentage points, more satisfied with the insurance company by eight percentage points, and more likely to say the program motivated them to change their behavior by five percentage points.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images2 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

The nurses who worked with the test group also reported increased job satisfaction. And these improvements all appeared in the first two weeks of the pilot program, without significantly affecting the company’s costs or tweaking key metrics, like the number and length of the calls.

Indeed, an ongoing body of research shows that positive reinforcements and indirect suggestions influence our decisions better and more subtly than blatant demands. This concept hit popular culture in 2008 with the bestselling book Nudge.

Written by University of Chicago economics professor Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge first explains this principle, then explores it as a way to help people make decisions in their best interests, such as encouraging people to eat healthier by displaying fruits and vegetables at eye level or combatting credit card debt by placing a prominent notice on every credit card statement informing cardholders how much more they’ll spend over a year if they make only the minimum payment.

Whether they’re altruistic or commercial, nudges work because our decision-making is irrational in a predictable way. The question is how to apply that awareness to the digital economy.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images7 1024x572 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

In its early days, digital marketing assumed that online shopping would be purely rational, a tool that customers would use to help them zero in on the best product at the best price. The assumption was logical, but customer behavior remained irrational.

Our society is overloaded with information and short on time, says Brad Berens, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, Annenberg, so it’s no surprise that the speed of the digital economy exacerbates our desire to make a fast decision rather than a perfect one, as well as increasing our tendency to make choices based on impulse rather than logic.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images3 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

Buyers want what they want, but they don’t necessarily understand or care why they want it. They just want to get it and move on, with minimal friction, to the next thing. “Most of our decisions aren’t very important, and we only have so much time to interrogate and analyze them,” Berens points out.

But limited time and mental capacity for decision-making is only half the issue. The other half is that while our brains are both logical and emotional, the emotional side—also known as the limbic system or, more casually, the primitive lizard brain—is far older and more developed. It’s strong enough to override logic and drive our decisions, leaving rational thought to, well, rationalize our choices after the fact.

This is as true in the B2B realm as it is for consumers. The business purchasing process, governed as it is by requests for proposals, structured procurement processes, and permission gating, is designed to ensure that the people with spending authority make the most sensible deals possible. However, research shows that even in this supposedly rational process, the relationship with the seller is still more influential than product quality in driving customer commitment and loyalty.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images8 1024x572 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, studies how the emotional brain shapes decisions and experiences. In a popular TED Talk, he says that people in the process of making decisions fall into one of two mindsets: Type 1, which is stressed and wants to feel comforted and safe, and Type 2, which is bored or eager and wants to explore and take action.

People can move between these two mindsets, he says, but in both cases, the emotional brain is in control. Influencing it means first delivering a message that soothes or motivates, depending on the mindset the person happens to be in at the moment and only then presenting the logical argument to help rationalize the action.

In the digital economy, working with those tendencies means designing digital experiences with the full awareness that people will not evaluate them objectively, says Ravi Dhar, director of the Center for Customer Insights at the Yale School of Management. Since any experience’s greatest subjective impact in retrospect depends on what happens at the beginning, the end, and the peaks in between, companies need to design digital experiences to optimize those moments—to rationally design experiences for limited rationality.

This often involves making multiple small changes in the way options are presented well before the final nudge into making a purchase. A paper that Dhar co-authored for McKinsey offers the example of a media company that puts most of its content behind a paywall but offers free access to a limited number of articles a month as an incentive to drive subscriptions.

Many nonsubscribers reached their limit of free articles in the morning, but they were least likely to respond to a subscription offer generated by the paywall at that hour, because they were reading just before rushing out the door for the day. When the company delayed offers until later in the day, when readers were less distracted, successful subscription conversions increased.

Pre-selecting default options for necessary choices is another way companies can design digital experiences to follow customers’ preference for the path of least resistance. “We know from a decade of research that…defaults are a de facto nudge,” Dhar says.

For example, many online retailers set a default shipping option because customers have to choose a way to receive their packages and are more likely to passively allow the default option than actively choose another one. Similarly, he says, customers are more likely to enroll in a program when the default choice is set to accept it rather than to opt out.

Another intriguing possibility lies in the way customers react differently to on-screen information based on how that information is presented. Even minor tweaks can have a disproportionate impact on the choices people make, as explained in depth by University of California, Los Angeles, behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi in his 2015 book, The Smarter Screen.

A few of the conclusions Benartzi reached: items at the center of a laptop screen draw more attention than those at the edges. Those on the upper left of a screen split into quadrants attract more attention than those on the lower left. And intriguingly, demographics are important variables.

Benartzi cites research showing that people over 40 prefer more visually complicated, text-heavy screens than younger people, who are drawn to saturated colors and large images. Women like screens that use a lot of different colors, including pastels, while men prefer primary colors on a grey or white background. People in Malaysia like lots of color; people in Germany don’t.

This suggests companies need to design their online experiences very differently for middle-aged women than they do for teenage boys. And, as Benartzi writes, “it’s easy to imagine a future in which each Internet user has his or her own ‘aesthetic algorithm,’ customizing the appearance of every site they see.”

Applying behavioral psychology to the digital experience in more sophisticated ways will require additional formal research into recommendation algorithms, predictions, and other applications of customer data science, says Jim Guszcza, PhD, chief U.S. data scientist for Deloitte Consulting.

In fact, given customers’ tendency to make the fastest decisions, Guszcza believes that in some cases, companies may want to consider making choice environments more difficult to navigate— a process he calls “disfluencing”—in high-stakes situations, like making an important medical decision or an irreversible big-ticket purchase. Choosing a harder-to-read font and a layout that requires more time to navigate forces customers to work harder to process the information, sending a subtle signal that it deserves their close attention.

That said, a company can’t apply behavioral psychology to deliver a digital experience if customers don’t engage with its site or mobile app in the first place. Addressing this often means making the process as convenient as possible, itself a behavioral nudge.

A digital solution that’s easy to use and search, offers a variety of choices pre-screened for relevance, and provides a friction-free transaction process is the equivalent of putting a product at eye level—and that applies far beyond retail. Consider the Global Entry program, which streamlines border crossings into the U.S. for pre-approved international travelers. Members can skip long passport control lines in favor of scanning their passports and answering a few questions at a touchscreen kiosk. To date, 1.8 million people have decided this convenience far outweighs the slow pace of approvals.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images9 1024x572 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

The basics of influencing irrational customers are essentially the same whether they’re taking place in a store or on a screen. A business still needs to know who its customers are, understand their needs and motivations, and give them a reason to buy.

And despite the accelerating shift to digital commerce, we still live in a physical world. “There’s no divide between old-style analog retail and new-style digital retail,” Berens says. “Increasingly, the two are overlapping. One of the things we’ve seen for years is that people go into a store with their phones, shop for a better price, and buy online. Or vice versa: they shop online and then go to a store to negotiate for a better deal.”

Still, digital increases the number of touchpoints from which the business can gather, cluster, and filter more types of data to make great suggestions that delight and surprise customers. That’s why the hottest word in marketing today is omnichannel. Bringing behavioral psychology to bear on the right person in the right place in the right way at the right time requires companies to design customer experiences that bridge multiple channels, on- and offline.

Amazon, for example, is known for its friction-free online purchasing. The company’s pilot store in Seattle has no lines or checkout counters, extending the brand experience into the physical world in a way that aligns with what customers already expect of it, Dhar says.

Omnichannel helps counter some people’s tendency to believe their purchasing decision isn’t truly well informed unless they can see, touch, hear, and in some cases taste and smell a product. Until we have ubiquitous access to virtual reality systems with full haptic feedback, the best way to address these concerns is by providing personalized, timely, relevant information and feedback in the moment through whatever channel is appropriate. That could be an automated call center that answers frequently asked questions, a video that shows a product from every angle, or a demonstration wizard built into the product. Any of these channels could also suggest the customer visit the nearest store to receive help from a human.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images4 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

The omnichannel approach gives businesses plenty of opportunities to apply subtle nudges across physical and digital channels. For example, a supermarket chain could use store-club card data to push personalized offers to customers’ smartphones while they shop. “If the data tells them that your goal is to feed a family while balancing nutrition and cost, they could send you an e-coupon offering a discount on a brand of breakfast cereal that tastes like what you usually buy but contains half the sugar,” Guszcza says.

Similarly, a car insurance company could provide periodic feedback to policyholders through an app or even the digital screens in their cars, he suggests. “Getting a warning that you’re more aggressive than 90% of comparable drivers and three tips to avoid risk and lower your rates would not only incentivize the driver to be more careful for financial reasons but reduce claims and make the road safer for everyone.”

Digital channels can also show shoppers what similar people or organizations are buying, let them solicit feedback from colleagues or friends, and read reviews from other people who have made the same purchases. This leverages one of the most familiar forms of behavioral psychology—reinforcement from peers—and reassures buyers with Shiv’s Type 1 mindset that they’re making a choice that meets their needs or encourages those with the Type 2 mindset to move forward with the purchase. The rational mind only has to ask at the end of the process “Am I getting the best deal?” And as Guszcza points out, “If you can create solutions that use behavioral design and digital technology to turn my personal data into insight to reach my goals, you’ve increased the value of your engagement with me so much that I might even be willing to pay you more.”

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images10 1024x572 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

Many transactions take place through corporate procurement systems that allow a company to leverage not just its own purchasing patterns but all the data in a marketplace specifically designed to facilitate enterprise purchasing. Machine learning can leverage this vast database of information to provide the necessary nudge to optimize purchasing patterns, when to buy, how best to negotiate, and more. To some extent, this is an attempt to eliminate psychology and make choices more rational.

B2B spending is tied into financial systems and processes, logistics systems, transportation systems, and other operational requirements in a way no consumer spending can be. A B2B decision is less about making a purchase that satisfies a desire than it is about making a purchase that keeps the company functioning.

That said, the decision still isn’t entirely rational, Berens says. When organizations have to choose among vendors offering relatively similar products and services, they generally opt for the vendor whose salespeople they like the best.

This means B2B companies have to make sure they meet or exceed parity with competitors on product quality, pricing, and time to delivery to satisfy all the rational requirements of the decision process. Only then can they bring behavioral psychology to bear by delivering consistently superior customer service, starting as soon as the customer hits their app or website and spreading out positive interactions all the way through post-purchase support. Finishing strong with a satisfied customer reinforces the relationship with a business customer just as much as it does with a consumer.

sap Q217 digital double feature1 images11 1024x572 What Is Thought Leadership And Why Do You Need It?

The best nudges make the customer relationship easy and enjoyable by providing experiences that are effortless and fun to choose, on- or offline, Dhar says. What sets the digital nudge apart in accommodating irrational customers is its ability to turn data about them and their journey into more effective, personalized persuasion even in the absence of the human touch.

Yet the subtle art of influencing customers isn’t just about making a sale, and it certainly shouldn’t be about persuading people to act against their own best interests, as Nudge co-author Thaler reminds audiences by exhorting them to “nudge for good.”

Guszcza, who talks about influencing people to make the choices they would make if only they had unlimited rationality, says companies that leverage behavioral psychology in their digital experiences should do so with an eye to creating positive impact for the customer, the company, and, where appropriate, the society.

In keeping with that ethos, any customer experience designed along behavioral lines has to include the option of letting the customer make a different choice, such as presenting a confirmation screen at the end of the purchase process with the cold, hard numbers and letting them opt out of the transaction altogether.

“A nudge is directing people in a certain direction,” Dhar says. “But for an ethical vendor, the only right direction to nudge is the right direction as judged by the customers themselves.” D!

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


About the Authors:

Volker Hildebrand is Global Vice President for SAP Hybris solutions.

Sam Yen is Chief Design Officer and Managing Director at SAP.

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

Comments

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Digitalist Magazine

Leadership: Adapting To Today’s Harsh Realities

277357 l srgb s gl 300x200 Leadership: Adapting To Today’s Harsh Realities“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

As a part of the last wave of Millennials joining the workforce, I have been inspired by Jobs’ definition of innovation. For years, Millennials like me have been told that we need to be faster, better, and smarter than our peers. With this thought in mind and the endless possibilities of the Internet, it’s easy to see that the digital economy is here, and it is defining my generation.

Lately we’ve all read articles proclaiming that “the digital economy and the economy are becoming one in the same. The lines are being blurred.” While this may be true, Millennials do not see this distinction. To us, it’s just the economy. Everything we do happens in the abstract digital economy – we shop digitally, get our news digitally, communicate digitally, and we take pictures digitally. In fact, the things that we don’t do digitally are few and far between.

Millennial disruption: How to get our attention in the digital economy

In this fast-moving, highly technical era, innovation and technology are ubiquitous, forcing companies to deliver immediate value to consumers. This principle is ingrained in us – it’s stark reality. One day, a brand is a world leader, promising incredible change. Then just a few weeks later, it disappears. Millennials view leaders of the emerging (digital) economy as scrappy, agile, and comfortable making decisions that disrupt the norm, and that may or may not pan out.

What does it take to earn the attention of Millennials? Here are three things you should consider:

1. Millennials appreciate innovations that reinvent product delivery and service to make life better and simpler.

Uber, Vimeo, ASOS, and Apple are some of the most successful disruptors in the current digital economy. Why? They took an already mature market and used technology to make valuable connections with their Millennial customers. These companies did not invent a new product – they reinvented the way business is done within the economy. They knew what their consumers wanted before they realized it.

Millennials thrive on these companies. In fact, we seek them out and expect them to create rapid, digital changes to our daily lives. We want to use the products they developed. We adapt quickly to the changes powered by their new ideas or technologies. With that being said, it’s not astonishing that Millennials feel the need to connect regularly and digitally.

2. It’s not technology that captures us – it’s the simplicity that technology enables.

Recently, McKinsey & Company revealed that “CEOs expect 15%–50% of their companies’ future earnings to come from disruptive technology.” Considering this statistic, it may come as a surprise to these executives that buzzwords – including cloud, diversity, innovation, the Internet of Things, and future of work – does not resonate with us. Sure, we were raised on these terms, but it’s such a part of our culture that we do not think about it. We expect companies to deeply embed this technology now.

What we really crave is technology-enabled simplicity in every aspect of our lives. If something is too complicated to navigate, most of us stop using the product. And why not? It does not add value if we cannot use it immediately.

Many experts claim that this is unique to Millennials, but it truly isn’t. It might just be more obvious and prevalent with us. Some might translate our never-ending desire for simplicity into laziness. Yet striving to make daily activities simpler with the use of technology has been seen throughout history. Millennials just happen to be the first generation to be completely reliant on technology, simplicity, and digitally powered “personal” connections.

3. Millennials keep an eye on where and how the next technology revolution will begin.

Within the next few years Millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce. As a result, the onslaught of coverage on the evolution of technology will most likely be phased out. While the history of technology is significant for our predecessors, this not an overly important story for Millennials because we have not seen the technology evolution ourselves. For us, the digital revolution is a fact of life.

Companies like SAP, Amazon, and Apple did not invent the wheel. Rather, they were able to create a new digital future. For a company to be successful, senior leaders must demonstrate a talent for R&D genius as well as fortune-telling. They need to develop easy-to-use, brilliantly designed products, market them effectively to the masses, and maintain their product elite. It’s not easy, but the companies that upend an entire industry are successfully balancing these tasks.

Disruption can happen anywhere and at any time. Get ready!

Across every industry, big players are threatened — not only by well-known competitors, but by small teams sitting in a garage drafting new ideas that could turn the market upside down. In reality, anyone, anywhere, at any time can cause disruption and bring an idea to life.

Take my employer SAP, for example. With the creation of SAP S/4HANA, we are disrupting the tech market as we help our customers engage in digital transformation. By removing data warehousing and enabling real-time operations, companies are reimagining their future. Organizations such as La Trobe University, the NFL, and Adidas have made it easy to understand and conceptualize the effects using data in real time. But only time will tell whether Millennials will ever realize how much disruption was needed to get where we are today.

Find out how SAP Services & Support you can minimize the impact of disruption and maximize the success of your business. Read SAP S/4HANA customer success stories, visit the SAP Services HUB, or visit the customer testimonial page on SAP.com.

Comments

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Digitalist Magazine

Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit's channel program continues leadership attracting new partners seeking to drive growth with cloud ERP

og image Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit's channel program continues leadership attracting new partners seeking to drive growth with cloud ERP

WithumSmith+Brown, Kranz & Associates, AdaptaLogix and Phoenix Systems Group Join NetSuite Solution Provider Program

SAN MATEO, Calif.—March 20, 2017—Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit (GBU), the industry’s leading provider of cloud financials / ERP and omnichannel commerce software suites and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle, today announced the addition of new partners to the NetSuite Solution Provider Program. WithumSmith+Brown, Kranz & Associates, AdaptaLogix and Phoenix Systems Group have joined the NetSuite Solution Provider Program to capitalize on the fast-growing demand for cloud ERP software. The industry leading partner program enables each solution provider to build a high margin, recurring revenue-based cloud practice and helps them provide clients with the superior business visibility, efficiency, scalability and agility possible with NetSuite. The flexibility of NetSuite’s platform allows partners to uniquely build intellectual property that differentiates their offerings to better meet the needs of its clients.

Launched in 2002, the NetSuite Solution Provider Program is the industry’s leading cloud channel partner program. Since its inception, NetSuite has been a leader in partner success, breaking new ground in building and executing on the leading model to make the channel successful with NetSuite. A top choice for partners who are building new cloud ERP practices or for those expanding their existing practice to meet the demand for cloud ERP, NetSuite has enabled partners to transform their business model to fully capitalize on the revenue growth opportunity of the cloud. The NetSuite Solution Provider Program delivers unprecedented benefits that include highly attractive margins and range from business planning, sales, marketing and professional services enablement, to training and education. For more information about the NetSuite Solution Provider Program, please visit www.netsuite.com/portal/partners/solution-program.shtml.

Joining the NetSuite Solution Provider Program gives each organization an advantage in serving clients who want to eliminate the inflexibility, on-going maintenance and high costs of in-house on-premise systems by turning to the cloud.

All of the new partners are building cloud ERP practices with NetSuite on the basis of strong client demand for unified, flexible cloud ERP solutions.

WithumSmith+Brown Expands Management Consulting Practice with #1 Cloud ERP

WithumSmith+Brown, PC (www.withum.com), founded in 1974, ranks in the top 30 largest public accounting and consulting firms in the country, with 14 offices and more than 800 employees. To meet the changing business needs of its customers, Withum recently expanded its management consulting practice and selected NetSuite as the ideal technology partner to serve businesses in a variety of industries including wholesale/distribution, manufacturing, nonprofit, financial services, and professional services. Withum serves clients from startup to large organizations, and NetSuite’s rapid deployment and scalability make it an obvious fit. Withum’s clients have long asked about cloud ERP solutions and NetSuite in particular, so the transition is an easy one. As trusted technology advisors, Withum will offer a broad-spectrum of cloud technology consulting and services, from readiness auditing to NetSuite implementation and optimization. Withum will also leverage NetSuite’s flexible and agile SuiteCloud platform to provide customers with industry-specific customizations and software integrations.

“At Withum, we believe our clients need more than the traditional tax and accounting services offered by most firms today,” said Jim Bourke, Partner Technology Practice Leader at Withum. “As trusted advisors to our clients, our NetSuite cloud ERP practice is a critical piece of our services offering.”

Kranz & Associates Powers Tomorrow’s Startup Successes with NetSuite

Kranz & Associates (www.kranzassoc.com) specializes in providing financial and administrative consulting services to early-stage venture-backed companies. As the firm’s clients grow and mature, they routinely run up against the limitations of early-stage accounting systems. Moving to NetSuite is the next logical step. Kranz often serves as an accountant, accounting manager, or CFO for growth-mode companies, so the conversations about transitioning to NetSuite are born of mutual interest.

“Startup founders love having access to data on a mobile-friendly, cloud-based platform,” said Bud Austin, President of Kranz & Associates. “NetSuite gives them the ability to manage expenses, revenue, and processes much better than a small business system would.”

Kranz experienced quick success with NetSuite, with several clients having already transitioned to NetSuite. By working closely with joint clients at every stage of growth, Kranz and the flexibility afforded by NetSuite are combining to make it easier for venture-backed firms to successfully drive growth. “We are in tune with the needs and responsibilities of our clients, and the natural way to grow with them was through this partnership with NetSuite,” Austin said.

AdaptaLogix Prescribes NetSuite ERP to High-Growth Pharma Companies

AdaptaLogix (www.adaptalogix.com) is an ERP consulting company with a very specific focus–small biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Small, growth-stage biotech and pharma companies have very particular requirements unique to the industry. They are not yet generating revenue, yet add staff and complexity over time. They must be prepared for extremely rapid expansion if a new drug or treatment clears clinical trials and reaches the market. And they often have financial reporting and regulatory requirements in multiple nations, because of the international nature of the industry. After evaluating other cloud ERP providers, AdaptaLogix selected to partner with NetSuite to develop and implement solutions for these specialty firms with tremendous upside.

“NetSuite gives our clients sophisticated financial infrastructure at an affordable price and on a quick timeline, without having to add more staff to manage software,” said James Neal, AdaptaLogix Partner.

A growth-oriented pharmaceutical company with a new drug in trials can grow from just 30 employees to 500 in just a two or three year span, with a fully global sales and marketing organization and intricate relationships with contract manufacturers and distributors. Public offerings often follow not far behind.

“There are a lot of very specific needs in the pharma world, and NetSuite is very well suited to be tailored to that industry,” Neal said. “NetSuite makes it possible for us to deliver a faster implementation and better solution with less risk and reduced costs.”

Phoenix Systems Group Revitalizes Ecommerce Solutions with NetSuite

Phoenix Systems Group (PSG) (www.phoenixsystemsgroup.com), which has developed ERP systems for catalog and ecommerce merchants for 22 years, joined the NetSuite Solution Provider Program to transition its legacy code base and existing customers to the NetSuite cloud. After considering several ERP solutions as a new platform, PSG quickly recognized that NetSuite offers the right combination of technology, capabilities, and flexibility for modern ecommerce operations. PSG’s custom capabilities, which optimize package dimensions and shipping rates, will be adapted to the SuiteCloud platform, ensuring that clients continue to receive all the benefits of the previous solution while enjoying the enhancements of a fully modern ERP solution.

“We live in a unified commerce world today, and NetSuite’s comprehensive solution greatly reduces complexity for ecommerce vendors,” said Jeff White, PSG president and CEO. “Because NetSuite is already a single unified system, it eliminates most of the cost and complexity associated with ecommerce, while still giving us tremendous opportunities to customize and configure for every client.”

Learn about NetSuite’s customer and partner success at SuiteWorld17. SuiteWorld17 is the industry’s leading Cloud ERP conference, being held at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev. on April 24-27. For more information and to register, please visit www.netsuitesuiteworld.com.

About Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit
Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle, pioneered the Cloud Computing revolution in 1998, establishing the world’s first company dedicated to delivering business applications over the Internet. Today, Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit provides a suite of cloud-based financials / Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and omnichannel commerce software that runs the business of companies in more than 100 countries. For more information, please visit www.netsuite.com.

Follow Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit’s Cloud blog, Facebook page and @NetSuite Twitter handle for real-time updates.

About Oracle
Oracle offers a comprehensive and fully integrated stack of cloud applications and platform services. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), visit www.oracle.com.

Trademarks
Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

NetSuite's Latest Press Coverage

Lenovo’s “Disciplined” Supply Chain Drives Global Leadership

Untitled 13 Lenovo’s “Disciplined” Supply Chain Drives Global Leadership

“Lenovo’s been the number one PC company for over three years now,” says Gerry Smith, an executive vice president at Lenovo and president of its Data Center Group, in a recent video.

In fact, Lenovo’s 2015 PC sales represented about 20% of total market share according to Gartner.

That’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment for a company that The Wall Street Journal, described, “as recently as 2005… was a little-known computer maker that sold only in China.”

But a lot has changed in the past 10 years or so – especially in Lenovo’s now worldwide supply chain.

These days, Lenovo has operations in 60 countries, customers around the planet, and it relies on a revamped supply chain driven by such thoroughly modern imperatives as sustainability, product security, real-time planning, and customer-centricity.

Major acquisitions deliver global growth

Lenovo’s dramatic growth has made headlines. In 2005, the company bought IBM’s personal computer business. Then, in 2014 came the acquisitions of both IBM’s Intel-based server business and Motorola Mobility.

And as a result of such bold moves, Lenovo has had to adapt to an increasingly global marketplace and a growing list of international standards and regulations.

As part of an integrated response to its full-scale globalization, Lenovo has established comprehensive sustainability programs across its broad supply chain. These initiatives address operations from internal manufacturing to packaging and logistics. Still other programs help Lenovo evaluate external suppliers on criteria such as employee working conditions, environmental footprint, and the use of environmentally preferred materials. In total, Lenovo reports that it uses more than 25 key indicators to measure vendor transparency, commitment, and performance.

“Working with trusted suppliers – as well as owning and running our own factories – promotes end-to-end security in Lenovo’s supply chain,” says Smith. “These controls help us ensure that products are built with components from known suppliers, guard against hijacking, and protect against compromised firmware updates once our products are deployed.”

Process efficiency is part of the plan

Lenovo’s global supply chain strategy also employs solutions designed to optimize process efficiency. For example, Lenovo implemented an advanced planning and optimization component on an in-memory computing platform to help plan and execute supply chain processes for the newly acquired server business. Additionally, the company partnered  co-developed new applications that support supplier collaboration and help to perform cost forecasting calculations in near real-time.

“We’ve dramatically improved our supply chain performance,” says Smith, “reducing our planning time from 10 hours to 10 minutes.”

As Smith sees it, Lenovo has all the tools in place “to make our supply chain, not only the best PC and server supply chain in the world, but one of the best supply chains across all industries.”

Others obviously agree with Smith’s assessment.

Gartner named Lenovo among its top 25 supply chain companies for 2016. In particular, Gartner cites the high-tech company for the “disciplined approach” it took to integrate its supply chain in the wake of recent acquisitions.

Gartner also notes that Lenovo’s supply chain team ran specific programs to enhance customer experience and operational excellence – like the creation of a customer social/digital platform for key global accounts that presents content tailored to each customer’s preference in terms of order status, new product information, and technical support information. Further, Gartner highlights the fact that Lenovo assigns a supply chain staff member as an executive sponsor for each major account.

A lot has changed since Lenovo was a little-known computer maker that sold only in China.

Please follow me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.

  • Hear more from Lenovo’s Gerry Smith in this SAP video.
  • Read more about how Lenovo is optimizing supply chain efficiency in this SAP Business Transformation Study.

This story originally appeared on Business Trends on the SAP Community.

Comments

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Digitalist Magazine

How Much Of Leadership Is About Theater?

Leadership Theater How Much Of Leadership Is About Theater?

Digitization continues amok. New business models and processes are being introduced across all industries; new competitors are emerging that can natively take advantage of these new business models and are disrupting entire industries. Continued volatility is driving the demand for real-time, detailed information. Technology innovation continues at breakneck speed. While 2016 saw the application of blockchain to financial processes and the adoption of artificial intelligence to drive more automation and efficiencies in finance. What is that going to mean in 2017? Can finance organizations keep up with the technology opportunities?

Once again, we asked finance thought leaders to share their predictions for finance in a digital world. Their insights for 2017 include increased real-time insight, collaboration, automation, and partnership with the business. Take a look back at the predictions for 2016 and see how they differ from the following predictions for 2017 from finance thought leaders.

1. David Axson, managing director, CFO & Enterprise Value, Accenture Strategy – @DavidAxson, @AccentureTech

2016 was the year digital finance went mainstream. Recent Accenture research shows increasing adoption rates for technologies such as cloud –76%; predictive analytics – 67%; in-memory 65%; and artificial intelligence – 62%. In 2017, CFOs will pivot to ensure that they have the right talent to fully exploit these new schools. Accountants will be less in demand, while data scientists, sociologists, and mathematicians will be joining the ranks of finance professionals.

2. Eliseo Belmonte, managing director, SAP Finance Transformation, Accenture Technology – @EliseoBelmonte, @AccentureTech

Digital technologies elevate finance to a new role in the business, disrupting traditional ways of working, demanding a change in talent and differentiation through insights. By 2022, half of the current finance functions will no longer be relevant, and half of the required capabilities are nonexistent today or are just emerging. 2017 needs to be the year for “raising the new finance talent.”

3. Thack Brown, general manager and global head, SAP’s Line of Business Finance, SAP – @thackbrown, @SAPFinance

On the upside, 2017 will see three major changes becoming mainstream for finance:

  • Financial results will become available to companies on an as-needed basis, not on the basis of month-end close.
  • Dynamic planning processes will replace the antiquated annual budget cycle.
  • Technology will drive significant automation in back-office processes, and the first solid use cases for artificial intelligence will become mainstream.

On the downside, finance organizations are facing the daunting challenges caused by accounting standard changes (IFRS 9, 15, 16); country-by-country reporting; auditor scrutiny of transfer pricing; FCPA; and other regulatory burdens that will come into effect or face heightened enforcement.

4. Gary Cokins, founder, Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC – @GaryCokins

In 2017 the finance function will realize the impact on its profession from machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), smart process automation (SPA), and cognitive software computing. The accelerating and disruptive “digital revolution” will adversely impact an organization’s competitiveness. Organizations must either “disrupt” or “be disrupted.” Companies often fail to recognize disruptive threats until it is too late. And even if they do, they fail to act boldly and quickly enough. The exponential growth of digital devices connected to the Internet creates both opportunities and challenges for enterprises. This requires a paradigm shift in thinking to embrace “digital transformation” for protection.

5. Mark Dudgeon, global SAP CTO, IBM – @MarkPDudgeon, @IBMSAPAlliance

CFOs are seeing the barriers between industries collapse and feeling increased competition from outside and within their industries. These trends will continue to challenge enterprises globally in 2017. Financial leaders can no longer afford to rely solely on traditional data sources to understand, anticipate, and communicate the state of the business. With significant advancements in technologies such as advanced analytics and cognitive computing, companies can now integrate and analyze information across and outside the enterprise in real time. Technology enablers can also improve agility by optimizing operation processes, which is critical to achieving desired business outcomes, vision, and growth.

6. Nilly Essaides, senior research director & EPM Advisory Practice, The Hackett Group

CFOs are being asked to do (a lot) more with less – for example, digitize finance quickly but without massive disruption. In parallel, CFOs’ scope is growing to include managing risk and its ultimate financial impacts, while taking on more and more – and ever-changing – compliance requirements across the entire business, not just finance. (In many businesses, we actually see IT returning to the CFO’s scope!)  Seems like the traditional Catch-22. I predict, though, that forward-thinking CFOs will see the opportunity in these mediocre economic times to consolidate gains, evolve their businesses into the digital economy, and streamline those consolidated operations by simplifying, analyzing, and automating.

7. Miles Ewing, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP – @mw_ewing@DeloitteSAP

Finance stands at a crossroads where new technology offers the chance to dramatically improve automation and efficiency, allowing finance to step forward as the analytic engine for companies. If finance fails to make this jump, other functions could increasingly take the lead role in analytics, leaving finance with a limited role as a business adviser.

8. Neil Krefsky, senior marketing director, Finance Line of Business Solutions, SAP @Krefsky

In the wake of digital everything, one of the most interesting outputs in finance is rise of the role “chief finance transformation officer.” The growing use of automation, digital disruption, and increased business partnering is driving the progression of this new executive role. CFOs and finance organizations will increasingly acknowledge the need for this leadership position requiring a transformational skill set that converges equal know-how in finance and IT. These new leaders will drive tremendous efficiencies in finance’s traditional tasks, but also be pioneers of cutting-edge technology that amplifies business foresight across the entire enterprise.

9. Chris Horak, global VP, Solution Marketing, SAP – @choirshark

The digital economy is as different from “classic” business as an Uber-summoned Tesla is from a horse-drawn buggy. 2017 will be the year when finance professionals realize that the digital revolution is not just about making fully existing systems and processes better and faster. While that is necessary in many cases, it is not sufficient to capitalize on the opportunity of digital economy. As the saying goes: “The electric lightbulb was not invented by trying to optimize the candle.” Finance teams that can draw on the power of a single source of truth for real-time reporting, governance, compliance, and predictive insight will be at the forefront of the digital frontier. They will discover that their unique value to the business is not about looking backwards, but charging forwards with innovation and new business models.

10. Rodger Howell, partner, PwC’s Strategy& – @rodger_howell@pwc_LLP

Finance is rethinking the approach to automate reporting. Many companies are skipping best-in-class software and using robotics process automation to automate their existing processes and approach, resulting in increased speed to process information, improved quality, reduced costs, and minimized human errors. It’s on fire! Once they have the processes automated, then they are looking at moving them to best-in-class software to drive additional benefit.

11. Tony Klimas, Principal, Global PI Finance Leader, EY Advisory Services – @tonyklimas, @EY_SAP

“The focus on automation, robotics, and advanced analytics will continue to drive digital disruption in the finance and accounting space. These technologies are accelerating the pace of change and will eventually become a “new normal.” At the same time, even newer technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence are starting to appear and will have significant influence on the way businesses serve their customers and stakeholders. It’s an exciting time and one in which traditional business operating models that have been with us for the last century are going to look quite different in the near future.”

12. Kevin McCollom, global VP, GRC Go-to-Market, SAP – @SAPTradeGeek

Digitalization of the finance function will speed up the synchronization of streams of financial and non-financial data. Being able to view data across functional divides will drive finance’s ability to run advanced analytics and develop a big-picture view of how changes in the business affect financial results and vice versa. Finance will need to acquire technology architectures designed to integrate multiple platforms and data types into a single repository. At the most advanced level, new integrated planning systems should be able to connect data from factory floor machines all the way to the income statement. By crossing departmental barriers, new cloud planning solutions are enabling advanced analysis. For example, finance can ask how a change in product design will cascade through the cost structure and affect margins. These new tools often come with self-service capabilities, allowing business partners to test the financial impact of multiple scenarios.

13. Richard McLean, regional CFO, Asia-Pacific and Japan, SAP

Open digital technologies will continue to support finance transformation. Transformation is accelerating in terms of companies and people needing investment decisions, as well as the development and implementation of new business models. This will require increased automation and simplification to drive process efficiencies, increased analytics to provide high-speed business insight to drive better business decision-making, and, finally, better collaboration so business connects in a much more seamless way.

14. Martin Naraschewski, VP, LOB Finance Solutions, SAP

The awareness for digital finance transformation is growing in the broader finance community, [and] 2017 will be all about making this transformation real, driven by three major adoption trends. First, finance will move to real-time analytics based on a renewal of back-end system architecture via in-memory platforms. Adoption paths will be individualized and vary from system upgrades to partial landscape harmonization to greenfield re-implementations. Finally, customers will seek rapid cost reductions via aggressive process automation. This will be through a mixture of dedicated automation solutions that leverage novel digital architectures that support robotic process automation tools that provide fast ROI at the expense of increased system complexity. In addition, 2017 will be the year for machine learning and predictive methods to make their way into finance.

15. Phuong Nguyen, SAP S/4HANA finance initiative lead, Capgemini Center of Excellence, Capgemini –@phuongnguyen_1@CapgemniConsul

2017 is the year for CFOs to take advantage of real-time insights and faster close thanks to digital finance with the capability to process information with high speed and huge [volumes] of data. The combination of both factors (high speed and Big Data) will help finance leaders operate, where accountants will be more and more supported by ERP systems that become more intelligent day after day. This change is the start of a new era where the relationship between man and machine is going to be drastically amended.

16. Colin Sampson, SVP and Ambassador for the Asia-Pacific and Japan Region, SAP

CFOs will continue to be more involved in IT decisions as they understand that technology will help them deliver on the business strategy and support innovation. It is critical that finance departments reimagine their processes to drive transformation and realize the benefits of a digital world; they cannot continue to do more of the same. Finally, adoption of cloud technologies will continue to be more ubiquitous.

17. Henner Schliebs, global VP, Audience Marketing, SAP S/4HANA and Finance, SAP – @hschliebs

2017 will be the year that finance professionals eventually understand the massive opportunity that modern technology provides. They will stop optimizing and re-engineering existing processes (a bad process quicker is still a bad process) based on old technology limitations, but rather design optimal processes that leverage the limitless possibilities available now. Accounting is becoming a continuous exercise, reporting is in the moment, forward-looking planning is nimble and supports dynamic resource allocation, fraud and risk management are embedded in all processes, and, finally, automation and robotics will find their way into the finance department more than ever. It will be a new world that uses methodologies of the personal life and brings it into the finance profession.

18. David Williams, VP, Global Product Marketing, Analytics (EPM & GRC), SAP – @daveswilliams

As finance continues to increase its focus on providing forward-looking insight to support the business, more investment will be made to automate what can be automated for greater efficiency while at the same time putting the technology in place to simulate actions and better predict future outcomes. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will be further embedded into the fabric of financial management systems, allowing finance teams to quickly sift through the increasing volume of data that the digital economy is creating, get the insights they need, and ask the questions they want in the moment without having to be a data scientist.

Do you agree? Let me know your predictions @jucubiss.

CFO Research surveyed 1,500+ finance professionals to find out how their careers are changing in the digital economy. Read the research Thriving in the Digital Economy: The Innovative Finance Function to discover nine trends shaping the future of financial management.

Comments

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Digitalist Magazine

CIO leadership: Two female role models

cio leadership two female role models CIO leadership: Two female role models

Image from Istockphoto

In part one of my conversation with Kim Stevenson and Adriana Karaboutis, we discussed the challenges and opportunities facing women in technology

Also read:

Women in technology: Advice from Intel and Biogen

This second post offers advice from Andi and Kim on how CIOs can add value to their organizations. Both women have years of CIO experience; Kim was CIO at Intel and Andi worked in that role at Dell. Having been in the role and then left to take on business positions, they are each highly qualified to offer advice to CIOs.

Kim is currently Chief Operating Officer for the Client, IoT and System Architecture Group at Intel and Adriana is Executive Vice President Technology, Business Solutions & Corporate Affairs at Biogen. Both women are on the boards of public companies.

New Leaders: The Rise Of Millennials In Leadership Roles [INFOGRAPHIC]

During the famine in northern Ethiopia in the 1980s, governments and humanitarian agencies from around the world poured food into the region at great expense. Despite their efforts, which were hampered by a civil war in Ethiopia, 400,000 people died.

Compounding the tragedy was the fact that southern Ethiopia had surplus food that never made it north. “In every major disaster, the resources needed to respond may be available locally, but because of the inability to communicate accurate needs and offers of resources, needed items such as food are often shipped halfway across the world at high costs,” says Gisli Olafsson, a humanitarian advisor to NetHope, an organization that connects nonprofit organizations with technology innovators.

Today, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and public and private sector entities have the ability not only to track aid but also to determine the best way to deliver it to conflict zones and fragile states.

For example, the World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian agency in the world, delivers over 3 million metric tons of food annually, which feeds about one-tenth of the hungry people in the world, as reported in the WFP’s 2015 annual report. As was the case in Ethiopia, however, supply isn’t always the issue. Sometimes there’s plenty of food available locally, but people can’t afford to pay for it. Aid may also become fodder for the black market rather than food for children.

To improve access to food and other nutritional needs, the WFP started using electronic vouchers and digital cash several years ago. Since then, the WFP reports, it has distributed more than US$ 1 billion in aid through digital means to those in need. It’s part of an effort by humanitarian organizations and governments to reinvent aid delivery in the digital economy.

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images1 New Leaders: The Rise Of Millennials In Leadership Roles [INFOGRAPHIC]

The need for change is indisputable. Despite government and private humanitarian contributions that totaled $ 28 billion in 2015, as reported by Reuters, 25 million people still need assistance, according to a February 2016 United Nations report, One Humanity: Shared Responsibility. Organizations involved in aid delivery are responding by using technology to help locate those in need faster, zero in on their specific need, speed delivery, and reduce losses from corruption and thievery.

“Technology is driving new means of delivering humanitarian aid in ways we could never before achieve. It’s amplifying what the world can do,” says Olafsson. Innovations in aid delivery are also part of achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals initiative, which includes ending poverty, feeding the hungry, and fighting diseases.

Electronic Identification: Making Sure All People Count

Before people can receive even the most basic human services, they first must be identified—yet many in this world have not been. For example, Unicef reports that the births of nearly 230 million children under the age of five have not been officially recorded. Without an identity, these children are invisible, excluded from basic human rights, such as healthcare, social benefits, and education, as well as from humanitarian aid that could save their lives.

Electronic identification solutions are now being used by governments and humanitarian organizations to help change the situation. For instance, several years ago, India launched an initiative to provide each citizen with a national identity number. The government has now issued more than 1.2 billion Aadhaar cards (covering more than 80% of the country’s population), which establish a unique 12-digit number for every Indian adult, child, and infant, according to a government report. The Aadhaar, which includes demographic and biometric information, provides a universal identity infrastructure that can be used by any identity-based application, such as banking, mobile, government, and other needed services.

Identification cards are a powerful way of demonstrating to people that there are benefits to being a part of the formal economy. “The efforts for universal identification are incredibly important,” says Carmen Navarro, a former project manager for financial inclusion at the World Economic Forum. “They will help provide the underserved with social benefits and other financial services products that they have never had access to before.”

Electronic Money: Increasing Effectiveness and Accountability

When humanitarian aid must be delivered in conflict zones and fragile states, organizations sometimes struggle to get aid into the hands of those who need it. Corruption and thievery can divert resources away from their intended recipients. Digital cash has become an important tool for thwarting the bad guys, especially in times of disasters or conflict, when aid must move quickly and can become more difficult to follow.

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images3 New Leaders: The Rise Of Millennials In Leadership Roles [INFOGRAPHIC]“In some situations, digital cash is the best emergency aid because it can be tracked, so organizations know how much aid is being administered and to whom. This ensures that aid is not being diverted to someone other than the intended recipient or resold on the black market,” says Kate Van Waes, policy director, agriculture and inclusive growth, at the ONE Campaign, a global antipoverty organization.

Digital cash also helps protect those delivering aid. “A digital form of payment reduces the use of cash, making transactions more transparent and safer,” says Navarro. She sees this in Latin America, where governments are encouraging the transfer of social benefits to digital form. “This limits the amount of cash that must be transported to very remote locations, which can be costly and dangerous,” she says.

Social Media: Improving Response Time and Accuracy

Social media has become a vital part of communicating aid needs after disasters, says NetHope’s Olafsson. “Social media allows people in existing social networks—whether it’s a community, a neighborhood, or a school—to amplify their connections,” he says. “This is critical in times of disasters, because now people can help each other, whether it’s preparing for an event or helping after.”

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images5 New Leaders: The Rise Of Millennials In Leadership Roles [INFOGRAPHIC]Private sector and humanitarian organizations are now using Facebook pages to connect with people who have been affected by disasters, such as flooding and earthquakes. Government and community pages publish early warning notices of impending disasters, as well as updates on recovery efforts. For instance, within hours of a 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, posted on his Facebook page that his company’s Safety Check service was active, helping people in the region inform family and friends that they were safe.

As technology evolves, social media promises to have an even bigger impact on disaster relief and could radically change the dynamic of humanitarian response. People will be able to communicate their needs to aid organizations in the moment. “In the future, there will be a big shift in response efforts that is fueled by mobile phones, social networks, and other real-time communication,” Olafsson says.

“There will be a 180-degree turn, a shift from a government top-down approach to responding to disasters to a community bottom-up approach.”

IoT: Wiring Up to Predict Disasters

Over 100 million people were affected by disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, storms, heat waves, and drought, in 2014. Yet according to the One Humanity: Shared Responsibility report, only 0.4% of official development assistance was spent on disaster preparedness in 2014.

Today, Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are helping communities around the world get early warnings of impending disasters. One example is Buenos Aires, where flash floods over the past several years had taken lives and left people stranded without vital services. Today, the city is using planning, design, sensor, and analytics technologies to prevent flooding and provide better response.

With IoT sensors throughout the city’s water tunnels, Buenos Aires can now better anticipate and identify where the flooding risk is and better prepare for or fix the issue. The government can also use social media to engage with citizens and provide warnings, preparation advice, and instructions on what to do in case of emergency.

Data Transparency: Ensuring the Right Delivery of Funds

Data ensures greater transparency in the relationship between citizens and governments, which increases accountability and helps provide better aid for the unserved and underserved.

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images6 New Leaders: The Rise Of Millennials In Leadership Roles [INFOGRAPHIC]For instance, the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey 2015 reports that 98 out of 102 countries lack adequate systems for ensuring that public funds intended to support communities with basic needs such as education are used efficiently and effectively. The ONE Campaign has an initiative called Follow the Money, which creates greater accountability for government funds and less diversion from intended purposes. “All too often, money from Africa’s natural oil, gas, and mining resources ends up being wasted or, worse, stolen and used to buy luxury property in London, New York, or Paris rather than benefiting the poorest people,” says David McNair, director of transparency and accountability at the ONE Campaign.

Transparency around data is making it more difficult for aid money to disappear. For example, in rural community in Nigeria, over 400 students were crammed into two classrooms when funds to build a new school ran out during construction, according to the ONE Campaign. The community requested aid from the Nigerian government to complete the work but never heard back. Unbeknownst to the citizens, the government had approved the request but hadn’t released the allocated funds—that is, until BudgIT, a network of citizen activists, got involved. Using the organization’s Tracka technology, which tracks and publicizes capital projects in Nigeria, the community gained visibility into the government’s budget, the funds were freed up, and the building project was completed in 2015.

Sharing data between the public and private sectors can also speed up success. “For the delivery of basic services to truly be accelerated, collaboration between the public and the private sector is critical,” Navarro says. “Financial institutions, consumer goods companies, and telecommunication providers are a few of the key players here, as they essentially have very strong networks within the segments of the population that humanitarian aid efforts are targeting.”

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images7 New Leaders: The Rise Of Millennials In Leadership Roles [INFOGRAPHIC]Data Analytics: Knowing Who Needs Help and When

Aid organizations are trying to move beyond responding to humanitarian needs and begin predicting those needs. Real-time, broader-based data sets are already allowing organizations to better analyze current situations, measure progress to date, and gain keener insight into future trends. “The organizations that are instrumental in relief efforts often make blind decisions because they are using out-of-date information that is not representative of what is actually happening today,” says Olafsson.

Big Data analysis lets humanitarian organizations bring aid down to the personal level, says Navarro. “Behavioral data can feed the design of the right financial services products for the underserved and help ensure they are properly used,” she says. “Information from a simple savings or deposit account could help inform micro-insurance products and offers of credit.”

The Cloud: Creating a Humanitarian Ecosystem

With so many different humanitarian organizations operating independently around the world, there is often duplication of effort when delivering aid. This could change with the creation of a humanitarian ecosystem in which aid organizations share technology solutions and data through the cloud.

Humanitarian organizations all share the same challenges. They must do more with less money, they must better understand whom they are serving, and they must implement technology solutions that are interoperable with those of their counterparts. By pooling resources in a shared cloud, more funds could go to aid rather than to infrastructure costs.

“Once you open up technology and connectivity,” Olafsson of NetHope says, “you start enabling different ways of thinking. If technology can provide even just a 1% improvement in organizational efficiency, and if the duplication of efforts was eliminated, there could be large amounts of savings.”

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images8 New Leaders: The Rise Of Millennials In Leadership Roles [INFOGRAPHIC]Restoring Dignity Faster

One of the biggest concerns for people who need humanitarian aid is that basic services that most of us take for granted are poor or don’t exist. Improved aid delivery helps change that.

Aid and government funds give people the opportunity to look beyond survival and start down the path toward prosperity. “A big part of prosperity is providing the space for people to have a voice and express an opinion over things that affect their lives,” says the ONE Campaign’s McNair. “It’s not just about access to more money. It’s about removing the constraints to living a fulfilled life, whether it’s freedom of speech, access to money, or an opportunity to learn a new trade.” D!

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

Comments

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Digitalist Magazine