Tag Archives: Value

How To Drive Blockchain Technology Value In Life Sciences

 How To Drive Blockchain Technology Value In Life Sciences

Blockchain: Everywhere you turn in life sciences digitization, this ledger system is involved. Fully 83% of executives in life sciences expect blockchain integration in healthcare within five years. Last year’s proof of concept study clearly showed strong results using blockchain in identity trust. PC Magazine mentioned the use of blockchain for legal proof of ownership of unique cannabis strains.

How to drive blockchain technology value In life sciences

Life sciences companies are just starting to invest in digital ledgers technology (DLT) like blockchain. A 2017 survey from IDC showed that a quarter of IT professionals in the industry were already using DLTs or implementing it. Another third was evaluating or planning on evaluating the technology. But why have DLT systems started to become so popular for life science?

DLTs can provide instantly verifiable accountability to the research and development process. Beyond that, it also helps record accurate shipment data. This is important in an industry where environmental control is vital to success. It’s expected that the use of DLTs will rise as investment in digitization increases. But how do we know that this process is happening in life sciences?

Digitization increases the use of Big Data, analytics, cooperative work, and transparency. DLTs such as blockchain improve these aspects without compromising data integrity or security. It’s expected that supply chain, regulatory compliance, and product safety are probably the first blockchain projects for many life sciences companies. Sterilization processes or cold storage and transport of biologics are expected to lead the way for DLT options. Providing irrefutable documentation of this information builds trust between shareholders.

Using blockchain in clinical trials

Let’s look at an example of blockchain use in clinical trials. A pipeline drug can have a number of supply chain issues. Shipping and receiving of the experimental drug and test samples need to be tracked. Proper security, global payment management, and data sharing must also be managed. Smart contracts help improve payments to suppliers and research organizations. Internet of Things sensors can be implemented with shipping processes to update blockchain records. This helps catch potential environmental variances in medications during shipping.

Tracking document exchanges, data sharing, loT genealogy, and internal manufacturing processes can be monitored through DLTs. Now imagine adding this to current track and trace regulations for medications. Electronic product code information service requirements are much easier to manage using systems like blockchain. It provides an unforgeable ledger record that minimizes reaction time to public health crises resulting from medication problems. At the same time, it protects patient privacy by providing limited access to blockchain records.

Measuring overall DLT performance

What kind of metrics can be used to measure performance changes using DLT systems? One option is to look at reported errors compared to the overall process volume. Comparing the existing numbers against a blockchain system can often help your company locate and identify specific discrepancies and issues in the system. Because DLT systems have a unique signature with each transaction, it cannot be modified. This builds trust between supply chain parties, making the reconciliation process faster, easier, and more secure.

To implement blockchains into an organization, stakeholders must first decide which information should fall in a public versus a private blockchain. Sensitive, proprietary, or private information should be kept on a private blockchain so that it is protected. At the same time, data access and sharing must be considered. Who is allowed access and who has the responsibility to read and write to the system needs to be determined prior to starting the conversion process. Before the process goes live, your audit trails will also need to be tested.

By connecting clinical trial management programs to distributed ledgers, your organization’s supply requests, test results, and sensor data can be automated. This process can help speed up and improve the efficacy of the clinical trials. The level of transparency for the data can also help with your patient recruitment. The blockchain ledgers make it easier to improve contract payments and fair compensation while limiting overpayment risk.

How do you successfully add blockchain to your operation? Make sure you benchmark your current business processes. Map that process both before and after adding a DLT system to your operation. Take care in management of ownership and access to both internal and outside information. Ensure that patient and critical data is protected securely. Above all, before starting, figure out whether you have the expertise and resources to set up the system in the first place.

The advantages of using blockchain in life science ensure that this part of digitization is here to stay. DLT systems will help speed up and improve the quality of clinical trials. Companies that take advantage of these benefits will reap great rewards.

Learn how DLT systems can work with your business through SAP Leonardo.

Learn more about this topic in the IDC whitepaper: The Value of Blockchain Technology in the Life Sciences Industry.

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These Graduates Create Value From Day 1 – Here’s Why

In a future teeming with robots and artificial intelligence, humans seem to be on the verge of being crowded out. But in reality the opposite is true.

To be successful, organizations need to become more human than ever.

Organizations that focus only on automation will automate away their competitive edge. The most successful will focus instead on skills that set them apart and that can’t be duplicated by AI or machine learning. Those skills can be summed up in one word: humanness.

You can see it in the numbers. According to David J. Deming of the Harvard Kennedy School, demand for jobs that require social skills has risen nearly 12 percentage points since 1980, while less-social jobs, such as computer coding, have declined by a little over 3 percentage points.

AI is in its infancy, which means that it cannot yet come close to duplicating our most human skills. Stefan van Duin and Naser Bakhshi, consultants at professional services company Deloitte, break down artificial intelligence into two types: narrow and general. Narrow AI is good at specific tasks, such as playing chess or identifying facial expressions. General AI, which can learn and solve complex, multifaceted problems the way a human being does, exists today only in the minds of futurists.

The only thing narrow artificial intelligence can do is automate. It can’t empathize. It can’t collaborate. It can’t innovate. Those abilities, if they ever come, are still a long way off. In the meantime, AI’s biggest value is in augmentation. When human beings work with AI tools, the process results in a sort of augmented intelligence. This augmented intelligence outperforms the work of either human beings or AI software tools on their own.

Q118 ft2 image1 DD These Graduates Create Value From Day 1 – Here’s Why

AI-powered tools will be the partners that free employees and management to tackle higher-level challenges.

Those challenges will, by default, be more human and social in nature because many rote, repetitive tasks will be automated away. Companies will find that developing fundamental human skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, within the organization will take on a new importance. These skills can’t be automated and they won’t become process steps for algorithms anytime soon.

In a world where technology change is constant and unpredictable, those organizations that make the fullest use of uniquely human skills will win. These skills will be used in collaboration with both other humans and AI-fueled software and hardware tools. The degree of humanness an organization possesses will become a competitive advantage.

This means that today’s companies must think about hiring, training, and leading differently. Most of today’s corporate training programs focus on imparting specific knowledge that will likely become obsolete over time.

Instead of hiring for portfolios of specific subject knowledge, organizations should instead hire—and train—for more foundational skills, whose value can’t erode away as easily.

Recently, educational consulting firm Hanover Research looked at high-growth occupations identified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and determined the core skills required in each of them based on a database that it had developed. The most valuable skills were active listening, speaking, and critical thinking—giving lie to the dismissive term soft skills. They’re not soft; they’re human.

Q118 ft2 image2 softskills DD These Graduates Create Value From Day 1 – Here’s Why
This doesn’t mean that STEM skills won’t be important in the future. But organizations will find that their most valuable employees are those with both math and social skills.

That’s because technical skills will become more perishable as AI shifts the pace of technology change from linear to exponential. Employees will require constant retraining over time. For example, roughly half of the subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree, such as computer science, is already outdated by the time students graduate, according to The Future of Jobs, a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF’s report further notes that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist.” By contrast, human skills such as interpersonal communication and project management will remain consistent over the years.

For example, organizations already report that they are having difficulty finding people equipped for the Big Data era’s hot job: data scientist. That’s because data scientists need a combination of hard and soft skills. Data scientists can’t just be good programmers and statisticians; they also need to be intuitive and inquisitive and have good communication skills. We don’t expect all these qualities from our engineering graduates, nor from most of our employees.

But we need to start.

From Self-Help to Self-Skills

Even if most schools and employers have yet to see it, employees are starting to understand that their future viability depends on improving their innately human qualities. One of the most popular courses on Coursera, an online learning platform, is called Learning How to Learn. Created by the University of California, San Diego, the course is essentially a master class in human skills: students learn everything from memory techniques to dealing with procrastination and communicating complicated ideas, according to an article in The New York Times.

Although there is a longstanding assumption that social skills are innate, nothing is further from the truth. As the popularity of Learning How to Learn attests, human skills—everything from learning skills to communication skills to empathy—can, and indeed must, be taught.

These human skills are integral for training workers for a workplace where artificial intelligence and automation are part of the daily routine. According to the WEF’s New Vision for Education report, the skills that employees will need in the future fall into three primary categories:

  • Foundational literacies: These core skills needed for the coming age of robotics and AI include understanding the basics of math, science, computing, finance, civics, and culture. While mastery of every topic isn’t required, workers who have a basic comprehension of many different areas will be richly rewarded in the coming economy.
  • Competencies: Developing competencies requires mastering very human skills, such as active listening, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration.
  • Character qualities: Over the next decade, employees will need to master the skills that will help them grasp changing job duties and responsibilities. This means learning the skills that help employees acquire curiosity, initiative, persistence, grit, adaptability, leadership, and social and cultural awareness.

Q118 ft2 image4 usingsoftskills DD These Graduates Create Value From Day 1 – Here’s Why
The good news is that learning human skills is not completely divorced from how work is structured today. Yonatan Zunger, a Google engineer with a background working with AI, argues that there is a considerable need for human skills in the workplace already—especially in the tech world. Many employees are simply unaware that when they are working on complicated software or hardware projects, they are using empathy, strategic problem solving, intuition, and interpersonal communication.

The unconscious deployment of human skills takes place even more frequently when employees climb the corporate ladder into management. “This is closely tied to the deeper difference between junior and senior roles: a junior person’s job is to find answers to questions; a senior person’s job is to find the right questions to ask,” says Zunger.

Human skills will be crucial to navigating the AI-infused workplace. There will be no shortage of need for the right questions to ask.

One of the biggest changes narrow AI tools will bring to the workplace is an evolution in how work is performed. AI-based tools will automate repetitive tasks across a wide swath of industries, which means that the day-to-day work for many white-collar workers will become far more focused on tasks requiring problem solving and critical thinking. These tasks will present challenges centered on interpersonal collaboration, clear communication, and autonomous decision-making—all human skills.

Being More Human Is Hard

However, the human skills that are essential for tomorrow’s AI-ified workplace, such as interpersonal communication, project planning, and conflict management, require a different approach from traditional learning. Often, these skills don’t just require people to learn new facts and techniques; they also call for basic changes in the ways individuals behave on—and off—the job.

Attempting to teach employees how to make behavioral changes has always seemed off-limits to organizations—the province of private therapists, not corporate trainers. But that outlook is changing. As science gains a better understanding of how the human brain works, many behaviors that affect employees on the job are understood to be universal and natural rather than individual (see “Human Skills 101”).

Human Skills 101

As neuroscience has improved our understanding of the brain, human skills have become increasingly quantifiable—and teachable.

Though the term soft skills has managed to hang on in the popular lexicon, our understanding of these human skills has increased to the point where they aren’t soft at all: they are a clearly definable set of skills that are crucial for organizations in the AI era.

Active listening: Paying close attention when receiving information and drawing out more information than received in normal discourse

Critical thinking: Gathering, analyzing, and evaluating issues and information to come to an unbiased conclusion

Problem solving: Finding solutions to problems and understanding the steps used to solve the problem

Decision-making: Weighing the evidence and options at hand to determine a specific course of action

Monitoring: Paying close attention to an issue, topic, or interaction in order to retain information for the future

Coordination: Working with individuals and other groups to achieve common goals

Social perceptiveness: Inferring what others are thinking by observing them

Time management: Budgeting and allocating time for projects and goals and structuring schedules to minimize conflicts and maximize productivity

Creativity: Generating ideas, concepts, or inferences that can be used to create new things

Curiosity: Desiring to learn and understand new or unfamiliar concepts

Imagination: Conceiving and thinking about new ideas, concepts, or images

Storytelling: Building narratives and concepts out of both new and existing ideas

Experimentation: Trying out new ideas, theories, and activities

Ethics: Practicing rules and standards that guide conduct and guarantee rights and fairness

Empathy: Identifying and understanding the emotional states of others

Collaboration: Working with others, coordinating efforts, and sharing resources to accomplish a common project

Resiliency: Withstanding setbacks, avoiding discouragement, and persisting toward a larger goal

Resistance to change, for example, is now known to result from an involuntary chemical reaction in the brain known as the fight-or-flight response, not from a weakness of character. Scientists and psychologists have developed objective ways of identifying these kinds of behaviors and have come up with universally applicable ways for employees to learn how to deal with them.

Organizations that emphasize such individual behavioral traits as active listening, social perceptiveness, and experimentation will have both an easier transition to a workplace that uses AI tools and more success operating in it.

Framing behavioral training in ways that emphasize its practical application at work and in advancing career goals helps employees feel more comfortable confronting behavioral roadblocks without feeling bad about themselves or stigmatized by others. It also helps organizations see the potential ROI of investing in what has traditionally been dismissed as touchy-feely stuff.

Q118 ft2 image3 automation DD These Graduates Create Value From Day 1 – Here’s WhyIn fact, offering objective means for examining inner behaviors and tools for modifying them is more beneficial than just leaving the job to employees. For example, according to research by psychologist Tasha Eurich, introspection, which is how most of us try to understand our behaviors, can actually be counterproductive.

Human beings are complex creatures. There is generally way too much going on inside our minds to be able to pinpoint the conscious and unconscious behaviors that drive us to act the way we do. We wind up inventing explanations—usually negative—for our behaviors, which can lead to anxiety and depression, according to Eurich’s research.

Structured, objective training can help employees improve their human skills without the negative side effects. At SAP, for example, we offer employees a course on conflict resolution that uses objective research techniques for determining what happens when people get into conflicts. Employees learn about the different conflict styles that researchers have identified and take an assessment to determine their own style of dealing with conflict. Then employees work in teams to discuss their different styles and work together to resolve a specific conflict that one of the group members is currently experiencing.

Q118 ft2 image5 talkingtoAI DD These Graduates Create Value From Day 1 – Here’s WhyHow Knowing One’s Self Helps the Organization

Courses like this are helpful not just for reducing conflicts between individuals and among teams (and improving organizational productivity); they also contribute to greater self-awareness, which is the basis for enabling people to take fullest advantage of their human skills.

Self-awareness is a powerful tool for improving performance at both the individual and organizational levels. Self-aware people are more confident and creative, make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. They are also less likely to lie, cheat, and steal, according to Eurich.

It naturally follows that such people make better employees and are more likely to be promoted. They also make more effective leaders with happier employees, which makes the organization more profitable, according to research by Atuma Okpara and Agwu M. Edwin.

There are two types of self-awareness, writes Eurich. One is having a clear view inside of one’s self: one’s own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. The second type is understanding how others view us in terms of these same categories.

Interestingly, while we often assume that those who possess one type of awareness also possess the other, there is no direct correlation between the two. In fact, just 10% to 15% of people have both, according to a survey by Eurich. That means that the vast majority of us must learn one or the other—or both.

Gaining self-awareness is a process that can take many years. But training that gives employees the opportunity to examine their own behaviors against objective standards and gain feedback from expert instructors and peers can help speed up the journey. Just like the conflict management course, there are many ways to do this in a practical context that benefits employees and the organization alike.

For example, SAP also offers courses on building self-confidence, increasing trust with peers, creating connections with others, solving complex problems, and increasing resiliency in the face of difficult situations—all of which increase self-awareness in constructive ways. These human-skills courses are as popular with our employees as the hard-skill courses in new technologies or new programming techniques.

Depending on an organization’s size, budget, and goals, learning programs like these can include small group training, large lectures, online courses, licensing of third-party online content, reimbursement for students to attain certification, and many other models.
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Human Skills Are the Constant

Automation and artificial intelligence will change the workplace in unpredictable ways. One thing we can predict, however, is that human skills will be needed more than ever.

The connection between conflict resolution skills, critical thinking courses, and the rise of AI-aided technology might not be immediately obvious. But these new AI tools are leading us down the path to a much more human workplace.

Employees will interact with their computers through voice conversations and image recognition. Machine learning will find unexpected correlations in massive amounts of data but empathy and creativity will be required for data scientists to figure out the right questions to ask. Interpersonal communication will become even more important as teams coordinate between offices, remote workplaces, and AI aides.

While the future might be filled with artificial intelligence, deep learning, and untold amounts of data, uniquely human capabilities will be the ones that matter. Machines can’t write a symphony, design a building, teach a college course, or manage a department. The future belongs to humans working with machines, and for that, you need human skills. D!

About the Authors

Jenny Dearborn is Chief Learning Officer at SAP.

David Judge is Vice President, SAP Leonardo, at SAP.

Tom Raftery is Global Vice President and Internet of Things Evangelist at SAP.

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

cleardot These Graduates Create Value From Day 1 – Here’s Why

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#PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

Just wanted to share a method in Power Query that might also help you. Today I had a table where the column contained information about both the parent element and child element

 #PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

In the example the CategoryInfo column contains both the Category and sub Category information.

And I wanted it to be transformed into this

 #PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

Let’s first add a conditional column that checks whether the row contains a Category and if so insert the text from the CategoryInfo Column

 #PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

Next up is the Replace Values magic.

The Replace Values dialog doesn’t support referencing a column

 #PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

In the example I just add a step where I search for C and replace it with “”.

 #PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

This step is not good enough so I modify the function parameter to this

= Table.ReplaceValue(#”Changed Type”, each [SubCategory], null, Replacer.ReplaceValue, {“CategoryInfo”})

The second argument uses

each [SubCategory]

to use the value in SubCategory in each row at the “Value to Find”

The third argument uses


as the Replace With

The fourth argument is changed to


Instead of Replacer.ReplaceText so it will replace the whole value of the column to search in and replace it with null

This will give us

 #PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

And now we can use fill Down to insert the CategoryInfo in all the null cells

 #PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

And finally filter all rows where SubCategory is null to end up the final result

 #PowerQuery – Replace Values in one column with the value in another column

You can download the example file here – link

Power Query On !!!

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Erik Svensen – Blog about Power BI, Power Apps, Power Query

Want to Get Value from Your Integration Investment? Choose Neutrality.

tibco logo blog Want to Get Value from Your Integration Investment? Choose Neutrality.

On Tuesday, Salesforce announced it would acquire MuleSoft in a multi-billion-dollar deal aimed at enabling customers to “connect all of the information throughout their enterprise across all public and private clouds and data sources,” according to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Essentially, what Benioff is paying an enormous premium to build for Salesforce is what we already do for our customers.

It’s natural to wonder what this merger means for TIBCO. The acquisition does two key things for the broader software market:

1. The numbers involved confirm the mission-critical importance of integration to the future of enterprise applications and digital business. We know integration is at the heart of digital transformation, but it’s not just about API management and connectivity. Businesses need to do more than transfer customer data between a couple of systems.

2. Neutrality matters. TIBCO just became the only viable — that is, neutral and independent — enterprise integration option for a whole lot of potential new customers.

Why integration is essential

We’ve seen how organizations increasingly need to operate in real time and gain more insight from their data with rapidly developing technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics. The goal is to transform data into action — streamline operation, drive contextual decisions, differentiate. MuleSoft only does part of this.

While Salesforce may be a big name, they’ve just shown they’re playing catchup to TIBCO’s flexible integration and augmented intelligence capabilities and hoping to assemble something akin to the TIBCO Connected Intelligence Cloud. But we already know connectivity is not enough to run customer experiences or operations. From the Internet of Things to artificial intelligence, the technologies that define digital transformation rely on data science prowess to deliver business value — TIBCO has it in spades. And, we’re still innovating.

Why neutrality is priceless

The biggest issue for MuleSoft is that they have been acquired by an application vendor. They are losing any semblance of neutrality, which should obviously impact customer trust in their ability to provide equal connectivity to applications other than Salesforce, as well as to other cloud ecosystems. As of Tuesday, who does MuleSoft serve?

As noted on MarketWatch, “A common question from analysts in a conference call the companies held Tuesday afternoon — possibly second behind ‘Why isn’t Marc Benioff on this call?’ — focused on customers typically wanting an independent vendor for the type of service MuleSoft provides, since it has to interact with so many different programs from different companies.”

MuleSoft customers are right to wonder whether they’ll be forced into the Salesforce system. Further, Salesforce Lightning (which will host the Salesforce Integration Cloud) is a low-code, scripted configuration type of environment, while MuleSoft is pure Java. These appeal to different audiences, and it’s far from clear which will survive in the end (though I think I know). Product plans and commitments that have been promised to MuleSoft customers and prospects may no longer be reliable.

Connecting and collecting data to fuel innovation is the way of the future and we’ve known that for a long time. Salesforce knows it, too — and so do a lot of other enterprises who want to pursue digital transformation on their own terms. TIBCO is already the complete data integration, analysis, prediction, and visualization platform that Salesforce wants to be.

The TIBCO Connected Intelligence Cloud embodies a single, neutral, interconnected offering of products and services unrivaled by anyone else in the integration or augmented intelligence space.

Learn more about how TIBCO has remained at the forefront of innovation with unbiased, market-leading technology, helping thousands of customers on their digital transformation journey.

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The Value Of Digital Transformation In The Chemicals Industry

In 2013, several UK supermarket chains discovered that products they were selling as beef were actually made at least partly—and in some cases, entirely—from horsemeat. The resulting uproar led to a series of product recalls, prompted stricter food testing, and spurred the European food industry to take a closer look at how unlabeled or mislabeled ingredients were finding their way into the food chain.

By 2020, a scandal like this will be eminently preventable.

The separation between bovine and equine will become immutable with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, which will track the provenance and identity of every animal from stall to store, adding the data to a blockchain that anyone can check but no one can alter.

Food processing companies will be able to use that blockchain to confirm and label the contents of their products accordingly—down to the specific farms and animals represented in every individual package. That level of detail may be too much information for shoppers, but they will at least be able to trust that their meatballs come from the appropriate species.

The Spine of Digitalization

Q118 CoverFeature img1 spine The Value Of Digital Transformation In The Chemicals Industry

Keeping food safer and more traceable is just the beginning, however. Improvements in the supply chain, which have been incremental for decades despite billions of dollars of technology investments, are about to go exponential. Emerging technologies are converging to transform the supply chain from tactical to strategic, from an easily replicable commodity to a new source of competitive differentiation.

You may already be thinking about how to take advantage of blockchain technology, which makes data and transactions immutable, transparent, and verifiable (see “What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?”). That will be a powerful tool to boost supply chain speed and efficiency—always a worthy goal, but hardly a disruptive one.

However, if you think of blockchain as the spine of digitalization and technologies such as AI, the IoT, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, and drones as the limbs, you have a powerful supply chain body that can leapfrog ahead of its competition.

What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?

Here’s why blockchain technology is critical to transforming the supply chain.

Blockchain is essentially a sequential, distributed ledger of transactions that is constantly updated on a global network of computers. The ownership and history of a transaction is embedded in the blockchain at the transaction’s earliest stages and verified at every subsequent stage.

A blockchain network uses vast amounts of computing power to encrypt the ledger as it’s being written. This makes it possible for every computer in the network to verify the transactions safely and transparently. The more organizations that participate in the ledger, the more complex and secure the encryption becomes, making it increasingly tamperproof.

Why does blockchain matter for the supply chain?

  • It enables the safe exchange of value without a central verifying partner, which makes transactions faster and less expensive.
  • It dramatically simplifies recordkeeping by establishing a single, authoritative view of the truth across all parties.
  • It builds a secure, immutable history and chain of custody as different parties handle the items being shipped, and it updates the relevant documentation.
  • By doing these things, blockchain allows companies to create smart contracts based on programmable business logic, which can execute themselves autonomously and thereby save time and money by reducing friction and intermediaries.

Hints of the Future

Q118 CoverFeature img2 future The Value Of Digital Transformation In The Chemicals IndustryIn the mid-1990s, when the World Wide Web was in its infancy, we had no idea that the internet would become so large and pervasive, nor that we’d find a way to carry it all in our pockets on small slabs of glass.

But we could tell that it had vast potential.

Today, with the combination of emerging technologies that promise to turbocharge digital transformation, we’re just beginning to see how we might turn the supply chain into a source of competitive advantage (see “What’s the Magic Combination?”).

What’s the Magic Combination?

Those who focus on blockchain in isolation will miss out on a much bigger supply chain opportunity.

Many experts believe emerging technologies will work with blockchain to digitalize the supply chain and create new business models:

  • Blockchain will provide the foundation of automated trust for all parties in the supply chain.
  • The IoT will link objects—from tiny devices to large machines—and generate data about status, locations, and transactions that will be recorded on the blockchain.
  • 3D printing will extend the supply chain to the customer’s doorstep with hyperlocal manufacturing of parts and products with IoT sensors built into the items and/or their packaging. Every manufactured object will be smart, connected, and able to communicate so that it can be tracked and traced as needed.
  • Big Data management tools will process all the information streaming in around the clock from IoT sensors.
  • AI and machine learning will analyze this enormous amount of data to reveal patterns and enable true predictability in every area of the supply chain.

Combining these technologies with powerful analytics tools to predict trends will make lack of visibility into the supply chain a thing of the past. Organizations will be able to examine a single machine across its entire lifecycle and identify areas where they can improve performance and increase return on investment. They’ll be able to follow and monitor every component of a product, from design through delivery and service. They’ll be able to trigger and track automated actions between and among partners and customers to provide customized transactions in real time based on real data.

After decades of talk about markets of one, companies will finally have the power to create them—at scale and profitably.

Amazon, for example, is becoming as much a logistics company as a retailer. Its ordering and delivery systems are so streamlined that its customers can launch and complete a same-day transaction with a push of a single IP-enabled button or a word to its ever-attentive AI device, Alexa. And this level of experimentation and innovation is bubbling up across industries.

Consider manufacturing, where the IoT is transforming automation inside already highly automated factories. Machine-to-machine communication is enabling robots to set up, provision, and unload equipment quickly and accurately with minimal human intervention. Meanwhile, sensors across the factory floor are already capable of gathering such information as how often each machine needs maintenance or how much raw material to order given current production trends.

Once they harvest enough data, businesses will be able to feed it through machine learning algorithms to identify trends that forecast future outcomes. At that point, the supply chain will start to become both automated and predictive. We’ll begin to see business models that include proactively scheduling maintenance, replacing parts just before they’re likely to break, and automatically ordering materials and initiating customer shipments.

Italian train operator Trenitalia, for example, has put IoT sensors on its locomotives and passenger cars and is using analytics and in-memory computing to gauge the health of its trains in real time, according to an article in Computer Weekly. “It is now possible to affordably collect huge amounts of data from hundreds of sensors in a single train, analyse that data in real time and detect problems before they actually happen,” Trenitalia’s CIO Danilo Gismondi told Computer Weekly.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018, will change Trenitalia’s business model, allowing it to schedule more trips and make each one more profitable. The railway company will be able to better plan parts inventories and determine which lines are consistently performing poorly and need upgrades. The new system will save €100 million a year, according to ARC Advisory Group.

New business models continue to evolve as 3D printers become more sophisticated and affordable, making it possible to move the end of the supply chain closer to the customer. Companies can design parts and products in materials ranging from carbon fiber to chocolate and then print those items in their warehouse, at a conveniently located third-party vendor, or even on the client’s premises.

In addition to minimizing their shipping expenses and reducing fulfillment time, companies will be able to offer more personalized or customized items affordably in small quantities. For example, clothing retailer Ministry of Supply recently installed a 3D printer at its Boston store that enables it to make an article of clothing to a customer’s specifications in under 90 minutes, according to an article in Forbes.

This kind of highly distributed manufacturing has potential across many industries. It could even create a market for secure manufacturing for highly regulated sectors, allowing a manufacturer to transmit encrypted templates to printers in tightly protected locations, for example.

Meanwhile, organizations are investigating ways of using blockchain technology to authenticate, track and trace, automate, and otherwise manage transactions and interactions, both internally and within their vendor and customer networks. The ability to collect data, record it on the blockchain for immediate verification, and make that trustworthy data available for any application delivers indisputable value in any business context. The supply chain will be no exception.

Q118 CoverFeature img3 cheers ver2 The Value Of Digital Transformation In The Chemicals Industry

Blockchain Is the Change Driver

The supply chain is configured as we know it today because it’s impossible to create a contract that accounts for every possible contingency. Consider cross-border financial transfers, which are so complex and must meet so many regulations that they require a tremendous number of intermediaries to plug the gaps: lawyers, accountants, customer service reps, warehouse operators, bankers, and more. By reducing that complexity, blockchain technology makes intermediaries less necessary—a transformation that is revolutionary even when measured only in cost savings.

“If you’re selling 100 items a minute, 24 hours a day, reducing the cost of the supply chain by just $ 1 per item saves you more than $ 52.5 million a year,” notes Dirk Lonser, SAP go-to-market leader at DXC Technology, an IT services company. “By replacing manual processes and multiple peer-to-peer connections through fax or e-mail with a single medium where everyone can exchange verified information instantaneously, blockchain will boost profit margins exponentially without raising prices or even increasing individual productivity.”

But the potential for blockchain extends far beyond cost cutting and streamlining, says Irfan Khan, CEO of supply chain management consulting and systems integration firm Bristlecone, a Mahindra Group company. It will give companies ways to differentiate.

“Blockchain will let enterprises more accurately trace faulty parts or products from end users back to factories for recalls,” Khan says. “It will streamline supplier onboarding, contracting, and management by creating an integrated platform that the company’s entire network can access in real time. It will give vendors secure, transparent visibility into inventory 24×7. And at a time when counterfeiting is a real concern in multiple industries, it will make it easy for both retailers and customers to check product authenticity.”

Blockchain allows all the critical steps of the supply chain to go electronic and become irrefutably verifiable by all the critical parties within minutes: the seller and buyer, banks, logistics carriers, and import and export officials. Although the key parts of the process remain the same as in today’s analog supply chain, performing them electronically with blockchain technology shortens each stage from hours or days to seconds while eliminating reams of wasteful paperwork. With goods moving that quickly, companies have ample room for designing new business models around manufacturing, service, and delivery.

Q118 CoverFeature img4 roadblock The Value Of Digital Transformation In The Chemicals Industry

Challenges on the Path to Adoption

For all this to work, however, the data on the blockchain must be correct from the beginning. The pills, produce, or parts on the delivery truck need to be the same as the items listed on the manifest at the loading dock. Every use case assumes that the data is accurate—and that will only happen when everything that’s manufactured is smart, connected, and able to self-verify automatically with the help of machine learning tuned to detect errors and potential fraud.

Companies are already seeing the possibilities of applying this bundle of emerging technologies to the supply chain. IDC projects that by 2021, at least 25% of Forbes Global 2000 (G2000) companies will use blockchain services as a foundation for digital trust at scale; 30% of top global manufacturers and retailers will do so by 2020. IDC also predicts that by 2020, up to 10% of pilot and production blockchain-distributed ledgers will incorporate data from IoT sensors.

Despite IDC’s optimism, though, the biggest barrier to adoption is the early stage level of enterprise use cases, particularly around blockchain. Currently, the sole significant enterprise blockchain production system is the virtual currency Bitcoin, which has unfortunately been tainted by its associations with speculation, dubious financial transactions, and the so-called dark web.

The technology is still in a sufficiently early stage that there’s significant uncertainty about its ability to handle the massive amounts of data a global enterprise supply chain generates daily. Never mind that it’s completely unregulated, with no global standard. There’s also a critical global shortage of experts who can explain emerging technologies like blockchain, the IoT, and machine learning to nontechnology industries and educate organizations in how the technologies can improve their supply chain processes. Finally, there is concern about how blockchain’s complex algorithms gobble computing power—and electricity (see “Blockchain Blackouts”).

Blockchain Blackouts

Q118 CoverFeature img5 blackout The Value Of Digital Transformation In The Chemicals IndustryBlockchain is a power glutton. Can technology mediate the issue?

A major concern today is the enormous carbon footprint of the networks creating and solving the algorithmic problems that keep blockchains secure. Although virtual currency enthusiasts claim the problem is overstated, Michael Reed, head of blockchain technology for Intel, has been widely quoted as saying that the energy demands of blockchains are a significant drain on the world’s electricity resources.

Indeed, Wired magazine has estimated that by July 2019, the Bitcoin network alone will require more energy than the entire United States currently uses and that by February 2020 it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today.

Still, computing power is becoming more energy efficient by the day and sticking with paperwork will become too slow, so experts—Intel’s Reed among them—consider this a solvable problem.

“We don’t know yet what the market will adopt. In a decade, it might be status quo or best practice, or it could be the next Betamax, a great technology for which there was no demand,” Lonser says. “Even highly regulated industries that need greater transparency in the entire supply chain are moving fairly slowly.”

Blockchain will require acceptance by a critical mass of companies, governments, and other organizations before it displaces paper documentation. It’s a chicken-and-egg issue: multiple companies need to adopt these technologies at the same time so they can build a blockchain to exchange information, yet getting multiple companies to do anything simultaneously is a challenge. Some early initiatives are already underway, though:

  • A London-based startup called Everledger is using blockchain and IoT technology to track the provenance, ownership, and lifecycles of valuable assets. The company began by tracking diamonds from mine to jewelry using roughly 200 different characteristics, with a goal of stopping both the demand for and the supply of “conflict diamonds”—diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance insurgencies. It has since expanded to cover wine, artwork, and other high-value items to prevent fraud and verify authenticity.
  • In September 2017, SAP announced the creation of its SAP Leonardo Blockchain Co-Innovation program, a group of 27 enterprise customers interested in co-innovating around blockchain and creating business buy-in. The diverse group of participants includes management and technology services companies Capgemini and Deloitte, cosmetics company Natura Cosméticos S.A., and Moog Inc., a manufacturer of precision motion control systems.
  • Two of Europe’s largest shipping ports—Rotterdam and Antwerp—are working on blockchain projects to streamline interaction with port customers. The Antwerp terminal authority says eliminating paperwork could cut the costs of container transport by as much as 50%.
  • The Chinese online shopping behemoth Alibaba is experimenting with blockchain to verify the authenticity of food products and catch counterfeits before they endanger people’s health and lives.
  • Technology and transportation executives have teamed up to create the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a forum for developing blockchain standards and education for the freight industry.

It’s likely that the first blockchain-based enterprise supply chain use case will emerge in the next year among companies that see it as an opportunity to bolster their legal compliance and improve business processes. Once that happens, expect others to follow.

Q118 CoverFeature img7 milk The Value Of Digital Transformation In The Chemicals Industry

Customers Will Expect Change

It’s only a matter of time before the supply chain becomes a competitive driver. The question for today’s enterprises is how to prepare for the shift. Customers are going to expect constant, granular visibility into their transactions and faster, more customized service every step of the way. Organizations will need to be ready to meet those expectations.

If organizations have manual business processes that could never be automated before, now is the time to see if it’s possible. Organizations that have made initial investments in emerging technologies are looking at how their pilot projects are paying off and where they might extend to the supply chain. They are starting to think creatively about how to combine technologies to offer a product, service, or business model not possible before.

A manufacturer will load a self-driving truck with a 3D printer capable of creating a customer’s ordered item en route to delivering it. A vendor will capture the market for a socially responsible product by allowing its customers to track the product’s production and verify that none of its subcontractors use slave labor. And a supermarket chain will win over customers by persuading them that their choice of supermarket is also a choice between being certain of what’s in their food and simply hoping that what’s on the label matches what’s inside.

At that point, a smart supply chain won’t just be a competitive edge. It will become a competitive necessity. D!

About the Authors

Gil Perez is Senior Vice President, Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP.

Tom Raftery is Global Vice President, Futurist, and Internet of Things Evangelist, at SAP.

Hans Thalbauer is Senior Vice President, Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP.

Dan Wellers is Global Lead, Digital Futures, at SAP.

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

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


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Finding position of the maximum value of each subset

 Finding position of the maximum value of each subset

I have the following set:

list = {{32/39, 1/5, 0, 0, 0}, {5/33, 3/5, 1/3, 0, 3/4}};

I need to find the position of maximum value from each subset.
I tried

Position[list, Max[list]]

and it gives the position {{1,1}}. But my result should be {{1,1}, {2,5}}/

2 Answers

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Dynamic value within Table not being evaluated

 Dynamic value within Table not being evaluated

This is a bit of a follow-up question to my post here. I’m now attempting to replicate the same general code using Connect Four (7×6 grid instead of 3×3).

However, when I pass a Dynamic value to my createBox function, it seems to use values such as board$ 3379[[1,6]] instead of using the actual board variable. I believe this relates to the RuleDelayed issue described here but using With doesn’t seem to help.

When I remove the Dynamic function before board[[x,y]] it works as intended.

createBox[elem_] := Module[{},
    {{White, Rectangle[]}
     , Switch[elem
      , "A", {Red, Disk[{0.5, 0.5}, 0.4]}
      , "B", {Blue, Disk[{0.5, 0.5}, 0.4]}
      , " ", {Thick, Circle[{0.5, 0.5}, 0.4]}
      , _, {}
     }, ImageSize -> 50, Frame -> True, FrameStyle -> Thickness[.02], 
    FrameTicks -> None

   {board = ConstantArray[" ", {7, 6}], player = "A"},
     With[{y = y, x = x}
      , EventHandler[
       createBox[Dynamic@board[[x, y]]]
       , {"MouseClicked" :> (
          If[board[[y, x]] === " ",
            board[[x, y]] = "A";
     , {y, Length@board[[1]], 1, -1}, {x, Length@board}
     ], Spacings -> {0, 0}
   ], WindowTitle -> "Connect Four", WindowSize -> All

Is there a better way to structure this?

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Top 10 Data Quality Blogs of 2017 – Understanding Its Value in a Big Data World

Our Best of 2017 series continues with a look at our top data quality blogs of the year. With Syncsort’s addition of Trillium Software, we shared a number of posts around the value data quality brings across the full spectrum of data-based business initiatives.

Let the countdown begin! Here’s a look at this year’s most popular data quality blogs:

As part of this “Golden Record” series which spoke to the importance of validating and enriching data fields in your customer database — email, telephone, mailing and IP address — to attract and retain business. This final part of the 3-part series reviews the most common use cases for “Golden Records.” Read more >

During this year’s Enterprise Data World conference, it was clear that many organizations are wrestling with the rapid changes in information management and governance necessitated, and many are assessing where they are in this process, even questioning “where to start?”  Read more >

If you’ve followed the enterprise software industry over the past ten years, you’ve probably picked up on a key trend that has led successful vendors to prominence and others to their demise – making data “fit for purpose.” To be successful, you need to have a good understanding about what your data IS, what it DOES, and the value wedge of what it MEANS to your organization. Read more >

You know Big Data is important for business. But do you know just how important – in terms of cold, hard cash – it is, or how to maximize data’s value? If not, this post is for you. Read more >

As part of our educational “Summer School” blog series, this guide to data governance pulls together a number of resources on the matter – everything from a basic introduction to today’s top trends. Read more >

Which weapons do you store in your fraud-detection arsenal? If data quality tools aren’t among them, then you’re not doing all you can to catch and disrupt fraudulent transactions.  Here’s why it’s essential for fraud detection. Read more >

blog banner landscape Top 10 Data Quality Blogs of 2017 – Understanding Its Value in a Big Data World

Trillium Software participated and was a sponsor for our partner Collibra at their annual Collibra Data Citizens ’17 conference in Jersey City. There were some key takeaways as to what data governance challenges were front and center with over 350 attendees, and what kinds of related solutions attracted their attention. Read more >

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are reshaping the technology world. But machine learning is only as effective as the data that drives it. In other words, if you want to implement effective machine learning, you need to pay attention to data quality. Read more >

Another post from our educational “Summer School” blog series, this data quality guide reviews its use cases and current trends. Read more >

If you work with data, you’ve probably heard the term data quality more than a few times. But what is it? Do you know what data quality actually means, and what data quality analysts do? If not, this article’s for you. Read more >

BONUS: Check out our free eBook, The New Rules for Your Data Landscape, to discover how today’s new data supply chain impacts how data is moved, manipulated, and cleansed.

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Not Fake News: Technology Can Drive Investor Value Creation for Startups

Posted by Mark Woodhams, Oracle NetSuite EMEA Vice President

Projections, market analysis, product demos and marketing campaigns are key to getting the attention of a private equity (PE) investor. Is it enough? Initially, the answer is probably yes. For the long-term, more and more of those same investors are pointing to an increased reliance on a range of value-generating tools necessary in today’s investment environment.

Judging by conversations at a recent NetSuite event putting PE investors in touch with founders and owners, one of those tools essential for investor value creation is technology. Start-ups and scale-ups, take note: This is not fake news.

“We used to rely on leverage,” said Rob Foreman, Chief Investment Officer at Primary Capital Partners, a PE investment specialist. “Today, I’m no longer able to count on buying well and selling well in the way that I might have been able to do, say, 10 years ago.”

iStock 46488008 LARGE Not Fake News: Technology Can Drive Investor Value Creation for StartupsThe result, he says, means either an increased focus on fast growth businesses in which to invest or active value creation. Smart investors are devoting more and more time to the latter. Foreman was speaking at a NetSuite event aimed at helping start-up and scale-up companies better understand the investment community.

There are many ways to slice and dice value creation tools and techniques. Foreman places them into four broad categories: structural, revenue growth drivers, good housekeeping and professionalisation.

  • Structural: activity such as roll-outs, carve-outs, acquisitions and internalisation.
  • Revenue Growth Drivers: new product development, customer acquisition, retention and upsell, channel expansion, and pricing strategy.
  • Good Housekeeping: efficiency through cash management, cost reductions and sales performance improvements.
  • Professionalisation: management bandwidth, succession planning, management information systems development and systems implementation.

It’s under professionalisation that you’ll find technology as a facilitator, driver and measure of business growth.

Technology allows for three things. It fosters efficiency, enables faster and more effective decision making and demonstrates business maturity. Let’s take each in turn.

First, a good technology platform is the basis for operational efficiency, delivering a single and consistent view of business activity. It helps identify inefficiencies, smooths the path to investment and provides visibility during mergers, acquisitions and carve outs.

Second, technology enables effective decision-making. “Lots of businesses have lots of data they don’t use. It’s about trying to get dashboards for easier management decision making,” noted Primary Capital Partners’ Rob Foreman. That’s why MIS development matters. Customer churn, incremental product development costs and customer acquisition costs are all dashboard KPIs (key performance indicators) that aid informed decision making at speed. Without these, investors and owners are flying blind.

Third, technology is a useful proxy indicator of business maturity, an illustration that founders and owners understand the information needs of investors.

“It’s surprising how rarely there are proper financial numbers available,” said Thomas Studd, Partner at Vitruvian Partners, another private equity specialist. “It’s quite rare that I see a business plan that has a cash flow forecast. So whenever I do see cash flow statements I always think it’s a good start.”

Think back to those other value creation tools and techniques and it’s clear that technology plays a role there too. For example, technology allows the business to measure cash management, effectiveness of cost reduction, retention, upsell and the cost of customer acquisitions, to name but five.

The data good technology spawns cuts across traditional company siloes and draws on the synergies between traditional departmental metrics. That’s why at NetSuite we’ve created a unified, fully integrated system that combines financial accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), professional services automation (PSA) and ecommerce. And because they are cloud-based, data and dashboards can be shared by functional heads and investors alike.

Our track record suggests that we can deliver the value creation discussed here. For example, we’ve proved the start-ups and scale-ups subject to investment can cut order-to-cash cycle by 50%, accelerate financial close by 20-50%. They can also reduce audit preparation by 50%, invoicing costs by 25-75% and days sales outstanding (DSO) by 10-20%. Finally, they can reduce IT costs by 50%, a material saving to the bottom line.

For private equity investors looking to create value and for start-ups and scale-ups looking to demonstrate future growth, it appears that technology is a good place to start.

Learn more about how NetSuite is helping private equity firms with its Private Equity Services Practice.

Posted on Fri, December 15, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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Managed HA/DR Services Add a Wealth of Value

Vision Solutions, which recently merged with Syncsort, has been in the business of high availability and disaster recovery for more than two decades. The article below about the value of HA/DR managed services originally appeared on their blog.

Attempting to manage all of your HA/DR needs in-house is admirable, but so is understanding the need for specialized help. According to the 2017 State of Resilience Report, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS/RaaS) revenue is projected to grow dramatically over the next three years as more and more businesses are seeing its value.

blog banner 2017 State of Resilience Report Managed HA/DR Services Add a Wealth of Value

How Managed HA/DR Services Add Value

Delegating the routine upkeep of your HA/DR infrastructure to a managed service provider not only frees IT staff for more sophisticated challenges, it actually saves money down the line in maintenance costs and lost productivity due to downtime. But beside the obvious time and money advantages managed services boast, here are four specific benefits your organization will enjoy:

1. The Latest and Greatest

Managed services providers are responsible for updating your environment whenever application or system changes happen. That means you will always be running the best versions of your IT tools. Even a simple software update can be all it takes to get a leg up on the competition.

2. You Will Get the Memo

When a company does nothing but monitor your HA/DR environment, they can provide status and error reports featuring details you never realized were important. You can extract a great deal of value just through a fresh perspective from an objective source.

3. An Apple a Day

Daily, preventative maintenance of your IT environment is a cornerstone of managed services. Even when the inevitable unplanned outage happens, having a managed services infrastructure in place allows you to reduce downtime and continue meeting your high service standards.

4. Freedom to be Selfish

The right partner will put in the effort to understand your specific environment and configure their service in a way that works best for you and your team. You can even choose from a number of packages to ensure you’re not wasting money on services you don’t need.

Of course, this only scratches the surface of what managed services can do for your organization. Vision Solutions offers Managed Services to handle all of the monitoring, optimization, software updates and testing of your Vision HA/DR solutions so that staff can focus on other IT priorities.  Download our free 2017 State of Resilience report to review the latest trends in HA/DR planning.

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