Category Archives: Technology

Digital Leadership: Automakers Move To Procurement 4.0

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Automotive procurement leaders are facing challenges from both inside the procurement organization and outside, as impacted by other elements of the industry business.

Inside procurement issues, such as poor spend visibility, compliance, and value delivery are amplified by the overall strategic shift to digital processes and the scarcity of talent to drive procurement initiatives successfully.

Beyond the four walls of procurement, other teams, such as engineering, supply chain, and finance, are demanding more influence over the goals and objectives of procurement as product designs become more complex and connected, the flow of “material to money” receives greater margin scrutiny, and the industry shifts to Mode 2 manufacturing models. Combine this with expected tapering of automotive vehicle unit production in North America and globally, procurement leaders are in a nexus of forces few other executives in automotive companies are experiencing.

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A new role for procurement leaders

As a result, procurement leaders must augment their sphere of influence to source components and material when needed, where needed, and how needed to support Mode 2 manufacturing and virtual inventory goals. These are strategic. With the shift to strategic tasks, more operational tasks in purchasing and accounts payables will go away. Those tasks will need to be replaced with artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to deliver on tomorrow’s operating model.

The question we continually ask automotive procurement leaders: are you really leveraging procurement as a strategic weapon? Often the answer is no. We see several factors determining whether automotive companies are seriously leveraging procurement capabilities strategically:

  • Risk: Risk management currently implies compliance. In the future, it will include making risk-mitigating investments and risk-transfer pricing.
  • Talent development: Talent with specific non-core skills must be found and developed. New strategies must be driven outside the current business scope, and the skills to develop these new strategies are in high demand.
  • Innovation: Procurement teams need to expand their expertise in engineering and design, as next-generation procurement strategies are being developed based on outcome-based business models, 3D printing, and connected technologies.
  • Transparency: Social media is making procurement one of the most visible functions, not a back-office activity, as in past generations. As such, automotive procurement leaders need to talk to customers, regulators, and the press with one voice on behalf of the company’s strategic, 24/7, “always on” communications strategy.
  • A new relationship with financeThe global supply base is bringing new financial challenges to procurement. Procurement leaders need to develop financial acumen that rivals that of finance leaders and tighten their relationships with finance teams.

Only by reviewing these areas can procurement leaders honestly assess whether their organizations are prepared for the shift to digital business and operating models in their everyday work lives.

An opportunity to lead

With 62% of chief procurement officers unable to locate and/or develop the talent needed to address future procurement needs and challenges (Deloitte, 2016), automotive procurement leaders are at the tip of the spear to risk losing organizational influence and become a sub-function of finance or supply chain. Given the proper best practices, methods, and new digital capabilities, however, automotive procurement leaders can have a full seat at the executive table with strategic insights, foresight, and direction to maintain healthy working capital and cost of goods sold during the upcoming years of slow but tapered automotive vehicle volumes.

Learn more about automotive procurement and other industry digital advances at the Best Practices for Automotive event September 18-20, 2017, in Detroit. For more information visit the program website.

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Filed under automotive, Big Data, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Innovation, Operations, Procurement, Strategy, Technology

Enter the Digital Consumer, Driver, Services Buyer

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LinkedIn Pulse The driver consumer holds the keys to $1.5T in future vehicle enabled digital services.

 

Working with a number of our large automotive customers, it becomes clear that what it means to become digital – and to run a digital business – can take on many forms and meanings to different companies based on their organization and their position in the automotive value chain. I have written about the advent of connected platforms, whereby suppliers are moving to land grab specific elements of the ecosystem and lay claim to their use. This includes a number of scenarios about the enhancement and transmission of information from the individual consumer as a driver whether it be to the car, the home, the household appliance and mobile device. McKinsey estimates the market for vehicle enabled digital services to grow to $1.5T by the year 2030.

Understanding how the consumer will function as a services buyer, however, is an entirely different matter whether that individual is a personal vehicle owner, rideshare passenger, renter or simply a passenger in a friend’s car out to the movies and dinner. And while automakers are determining how to enable that customer experience one thing is clear: the driver consumer wants the same, easy to use experience to carry with them from one vehicle to the next, regardless of role or method of use of a vehicle.

What do I mean by this? Digitally connected customers move seamlessly across vehicles with their secured personal identity and profile available for the use and purchase of services. Vehicles maintain the most driver desired customer experience based on real time feedback to engineering designers, significantly reducing warranty claims and updating software during non-use windows. It shouldn’t matter if I’m a passenger in a rideshare or renting a luxury vehicle for the weekend in the big city, my wallet and profile move with me based on personal credentials, personal preferences (pre-sent entertainment, services palate, etc.) and secure on-board data connectivity.

Vehicles are maintained based in similar consistency. Soft service events – uploading software versions or even tuning firmware – occur in off peak times or as needed based on severity. Hard service events occur at low-use hours to reduce labor and operating expense while maximizing availability of vehicles during peak times. Parts are available as needed, at the quickest route to service locations.

Automakers are learning more about the advanced options to support consumer connectivity as drivers, buyers and passengers and the ability that secure data environments supported by SAP HANA can deliver.

This article previously appeared in LinkedIn Pulse and D!gitalist Magazine. Learn more about trends in autonomous and connected vehicles at SAPPHIRENOW in Orlando, Florida (May 15-19) and secure your spot today!

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Why Apple’s Announcement this week is More than Just About a New Phone

Apple (NASDAQ: $APPL) will make a splash this week with a number of new product and innovation releases.  In fact if you want to track the announcement you can subscribe to a meeting request and a countdown clock on the Apple website.  For those of us scanning the analyst reviews for trends and earnings directions, the event should reveal the largest one-day announcement of new Apple product in the company’s history.  The new phone, a new watch (these days the proper term is “wearable” since a wristwatch is so passe), and a new “phablet” – a large screen phone not quite the same size and use portfolio as the iPad – will all emerge.

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According to Forbes writer Ewan Spence there is a lot of spectacle over this product release:

For fans and followers, journalists and analysts, to pop culture experts, celebrities, and late night chat show hosts, this Tuesday is going to be just like Christmas Day.

For me I am more interested in the location-based service and commercial wallet components that will begin to make their way into the full Apple line of products.  Most users have been accustomed to using apps to provide 2-D and 3-D barcodes to check in to airline flights, buy coffee, or secure reward points in loyalty programs.  This next step is akin to making your phone an actual commercial wallet where the funds are loaded into the wallet via smart chip and app to enable users to make purchases with appropriately enabled point of sale (POS) systems.

I have written about this topic as part of my coverage on #ConvergenceForces last year.  In my opinion, this is the most significant step of a tech vendor to date to really push that vision into a device-ready reality.

Comment or post below your thoughts on the Apple announcement.

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Why Customer Engagement Matters – Customer Dynamics and Business Judo

My briefing on The Customer Edge with host Butch Stearns and colleague Matt Healey from Technology Business Research provided the post-game interview with SAP Insider CRM 2014 conference.  Some highlights may also be found in my LinkedIn post this week, including some thoughts around generational shifts around social marketing expectations and the business judo that needs to happen to give the power of the brand back to the customer.

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Click on the photo to go to the briefing or select this link

 

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Filed under Big Data, Business Analytics, Change Management and Leadership, Cloud Computing, Digital Content Strategy, Innovation, Marketing and Social Business, Millennial Worker Shift, Mobile Society, Operations, Strategy, Technology

Coffee Break with Game Changers 2014 Predictions Pt 3 – More on Convergence Forces

The popular internet radio talk show program hosted by Bonnie D. Graham returns for its third full season of predictions and trends which will impact business and technology. What will be the disruptive factors in the market in 20-14? I joined Bonnie and the panel during the fourth segment around 56:00 with my take on “convergence forces” to beg the question “can you fish in a tsunami?”

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My opening statement – besides my annual holiday Irish Cream recipe which you can find elsewhere on my blog – is summarized below. You can also find more on this blog and on my SCN page.

One of the big news stories in strategy, innovation and tech circles is the growth and convergence of four key trends from the past two years. These trends – social networking, mobile computing, cloud applications and big data – are not new.  In fact our firm covered these extensively in 2012 and continue to advise clients on how to leverage these trends strategically, both individually and collectively. What is occurring now as we move into 2014 is the cumulative effect of these trends into force directions of their own.  These so-called convergence forces – or what Gartner Group calls nexus of forces (NOF) – have a tendency to amplify and extend innovation in new and more powerful directions, much like strong winds, lunar position, and seismic disturbances can affect the behavior of ocean tides.  To put it another way, you might be able to plan to fish based on high tide but planning to fish during a tsunami is, well, a bit more complicated.

You can plan to fish in a high tide but fishing in a tsunami is a bit more complicated.

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Filed under Big Data, Business Analytics, Change Management and Leadership, Cloud Computing, Cloud Readiness, Digital Content Strategy, Information Technology, Innovation, Marketing and Social Business, Millennial Worker Shift, Mobile Society, Operations, Strategy, Technology

Convergence Forces – The Coming Ethics Debate on Predictive Analytics and Location Based Services

One of the big news stories in strategy, innovation and tech circles is the growth and convergence of four key trends from the past two years. These trends – social networking, mobile computing, cloud applications and big data – are not new.  In fact our firm covered these extensively in 2012 and continue to advise clients on how to leverage these trends strategically, both  individually and collectively. What is occurring now as we move into 2014 is the cumulative effect of these trends into force directions of their own.  These so-called convergence forces – or what Gartner Group calls nexus of forces (NOF) – have a tendency to amplify and extend innovation in new and more powerful directions, much like strong winds, lunar position, and seismic disturbances can affect the behavior of ocean tides.

Photo credit, Cisco Systems.

One of the areas where we are seeing this play out is in the business to consumer pricing strategies of in-store retail.  Location based services – either by way of opt-in applications or mobile browsing cookies – allow known customers to log-in to store applications and view special VIP promotions, to quickly locate where items may be found in the store, and to recommend products which based on sentiment analysis and buying pattern might be of interest to the customer.  Location based predictive analytics can also help retailers determine the best location in a particular store to position items based on customer traffic (using big data to monitor your path via GPS as you actually browse the store or predict where you will go based on history and profile) as well as to dynamically create promotions based on your position and buying status.

Creating special offers and promotions based on an existing relationship is not new in the business to business world.  Suppliers and customers alike receive special treatment and extended services and bundle pricing based on volume of sales, excellent quality, and other relationship management KPIs.  In fact in the world of wealth management and retail banking, customers may find that with particularly large financial institutions the first question they are asked after pleasantries may be “what is your current relationship with us?” While this is hardly endearing to the uninformed, it does grant status to those who may, have for example, several accounts, a loan, a trust and other financial products all aggregated under the same customer portfolio with a particular financial institution.

Where things may run amok in the future is when customers (a) receive deferential pricing based on relationship without permission and (b) when a relationship is implied based on socio-demographic profiling or  when facial recognition technologies are employed.  Let me give two very possible scenarios.  I have an account at a sports and recreation retailer and I walk into the store. As a member I have given them permission to my specific profile information (where I live, what I purchase via history, my demographics) in exchange for an annual dividend at no fee.  The retailer has the ability while I am in-store to make me aware of specific items I might want and key promotions going on at that store on that day.  What the retailer can do is also annotate the base price while I walk through the store.  Meaning that what price I may see before logging in and what price I see after I log-in may be different.  Imagine digital price tags changing and updating dynamically as I walk through the store.  Now in this scenario I am going to assume that the incentive I have to purchase items is a benefit versus a cost so I assume that the store is truly giving me a deal even if they don’t.

Another scenario gets more futuristic but again the convergence forces suggest all plausibility.  I walk into a store that I don’t actively have a relationship with nor have I given permission to share my profile and demographic information.  However due to advances in facial recognition technology (such as what is available in Facebook and other applications commercially), the store can tap into vast image databases and make a best estimate at who I am based on my movements in the store and camera images obtained while I move throughout the store.  This correlation of implied relationship and implied demographics can, under the proper scenario, suggest promotions and product recommendations not aligned to my actual relationship nor my actual demographic and in extreme cases improperly tweak dynamic pricing levels.

While this extreme case is just that, convergence forces already have the attention of retail strategists, ethics experts, media tech publications and even sparked political debate. Earlier this year, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) suggested that analytics companies engaging in such practices without customer knowledge would be “intrusive and unsettling.” prompting the Senator to issue a statement with eight of the key location analytics companies in this space to a new code of conduct which would discourage such practices. Other industry segments have also begun to weigh in on the legitimate and ethical use of predictive analytics including higher education, which can use the technology as a early warning system for right-tracking student performance through degree programs.

Convergence forces in this area have already begun and the debate is reaching the mainstream.  What are your thoughts? And – outside of leaving your phone in the car or forgoing permission to give your profile information to any customer loyalty system or social media site – how do we as consumers protect ourselves from retail profiling when we don’t want it?

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Filed under Big Data, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Cloud Readiness, Financial Management, Information Technology, Innovation, Marketing and Social Business, Mobile Society, Operations, Strategy, Technology

SAP NetWeaver Gateway PAM – A New Productive Approach for Microsoft Users

I was happy to participate at the recent SAP TechEd US in the product roll-out of the new  SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft, or SAP Gateway PAM.  What is SAP Gateway PAM and why is it important?  From a forthcoming white paper, some specific background:

Today’s labor force is different. Knowledge workers demand easy and transparent access to critical business information in order  to complete their jobs. As such, line of business owners must take responsibility for their own employee retention. Business users, particularly the Millennial workers (generally considered those born between 1979 through 1999) who are making up more and more of the workforce, grew up learning how to play and fun was part of their learning pedagogy and educational upbringing.  So line of business owners need to make work fun and easy and for this IT must be in partnership with the business.  Whether it is via on-premise , on the cloud or mobile applications, business information must be quick and easy to access in order  to complete day to day operational tasks, and done so in a secure, easy to maintain manner across the entire enterprise software landscape.

Knowledge workers also have a tendency to prefer to work in teams rather than alone. As such, performance management systems which place much of the emphasis on independent contributions will give way to more team-based and group performance approaches.  Despite these trends, research has shown that line of business owners have a “hazy understanding” of what is needed to address this shift in worker business practices. This “lack of clarity” on the part of line of business owners is partly because knowledge work involves more diverse tasks than does production or clerical work which can be procedural and repetitive.

Since knowledge workers spend half their time on interactions, research suggests that companies should first explore the productivity barriers that impede these interactions. Common barriers may include lack of clearly defined expectations and outcomes, competing information sources for executing work tasks, and basic information accessibility issues.  The work environment itself may pose a barrier, whereby overly structured processes and systems deter knowledge workers executing tasks in team-based environments.

With this shift in worker behavior, performance metrics are hard to come by in knowledge work, making it challenging to assess how effective particular individual knowledge workers may or may not be against poorly defined goals and objectives.  Against this backdrop, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many companies settle for “scattershot investments” in staff development and corresponding IT systems and processes rather than to consider a cohesive environment that clearly supports knowledge worker behavior.

In recent years, many companies and research firms have taken a hard look at the need to increase accessibility of critical business information that exists in SAP Business Suite solutions and SAP data structures like HANA and BI across lines of business and functions in its many customer organizations.  By studying the demand for information  and the use modes of that information, SAP has determined that there is a “gap” between the accessibility and the use of business critical information.  In an ideal situation, all workers should be directly connected to the SAP back system to access information directly and quickly in order to execute processes efficiently. However for the majority of SAP customers only 25% percent of the business users are directly working on the SAP systems.  Given that over 400 million users access Microsoft Outlook.com email services and 1 billion Microsoft Office licenses currently exist worldwide, it is easy to see how a typical SAP customer would have business access to Microsoft based productivity like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Excel.  In addition, these business users are increasing their day to day consumption of business critical information via mobile channels, with more and more information consumed via smart phones and other mobile devices.SAP believes that by 2018 over 50% of business users will access SAP business critical information via non-native user interface (UI) modes, further increasing the need for broad integration between SAP Business Suite and Microsoft environments.

In response to this need, SAP has developed a solution that provides an extended set of tools and connectors to easily create bi-directional communication between the SAP Business Suite stack and Microsoft platforms in a secure, development friendly approach.  Called SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft (NetWeaver Gateway PAM), this new platform builds on the recent design improvements of the overall NetWeaver release with additional pre-configured extensions specifically for use in Microsoft application environments.  Using .Net programming options via its Design Studio and open data (OData) protocols, developers already familiar with the Microsoft stack will be able to quickly develop new and enhance existing extensions from SAP Business Suite applications directly into Microsoft user environments via Gateway PAM.  As such SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsot becomes a single, unified and fully secured platform to bring the SAP and Microsoft environments  together in the lowest integration cost model developed to date.

SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft (SAP Gateway PAM) allows for easy integration for Microsoft productivity tools such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio.  Through the use of pre-configured extensions into these applications, workers connect to critical business information stored in SAP Business Suite solutions in a low-cost, highly transparent manner.

Ning-Jing Gao from the SAP Information Worker Unit interviewed me on the SAP Technology channel after I had an opportunity to review the release materials. Watch the full YouTube interview, below.  This is a next big step towards seamless UI and data integration between SAP Business Suite and Microsoft productivity applications.

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