Three steps to prepare for technological advancement in the coming year: SAP Labs

 By Dilipkumar Khandelwal, senior vice president – Application Innovation, SAP

There are forces that bring about a titanic shift in economies and organizations. In the post-industrial era, technology undoubtedly leads this train of forces. New technologies challenge the way companies run and business processes are conceived. Traditional models often fail to line up to this transformation and organizations are forced to rethink the way they run their businesses.The rate at which technology drives consumer preferences is growing exponentially and it not only challenges the core processes, but establishes a completely new world order.

Bitcoins and Linden for instance, have introduced us to a new way to trade and challenged the existing landscape of financial instruments; even leaving some of them irrelevant. This has triggered banks to provide anew form of financial inclusion in our societies which was not possible in the past.

In short, technology disruptions redefine the business around us much more rapidly than earlier. There is an increased momentum in the market to leverage big data, enable a consumer grade user experience, and adopt on-demand solutions. To weather uncertainties, organizations need to understand futuristic trends and embrace them early to stay relevant in the industry, today.

Our consolidated data foot print in the digital universe is nearing to the level of 4 Zettabytes. Companies are increasingly interested in analyzing every bit of information they possess to create new business opportunities. Efficient algorithms coupled with in-memory platforms could converge information sets to transform transactions, analytics, text analysis, predictive and spatial processing, so businesses can operate in real-time.

Real-time decision making could enable companies to take corrections on the fly and change business outcomes, thereby managing uncertainties. A recent studyby Gartner has pointed out that at least one third of the organizations will adopt in-memory computing to grow revenue and improve margins.

Dilipkumar Khandelwal, senior vice president - Application Innovation, SAP

Big data is accelerated by the network of devices, termed the Internet of Things (IoT) that capture data and make it available for platforms to analyse it. A recent Mckinsey study states that in the past five years, the number of connected devices has increased by 300 percent.

This promises in connecting a trillion devices and generating information which could be put to use to simplify our daily challenges is tantalizing. For example, how nice would it to have coffee personalized in vending machines to suit individual tastes. Or, how would it feel to understand crop cultivation estimates through micro-devices planted in farms and wine yards? This would not only enable farmers to forecast yield but also help them carry out pre-emptive corrections.

This will certainly happen and we are going to see many companies building innovations with the use of connected devices and putting them to work for us to make our life simpler and better.

One of the biggest challenges that companies face today is the unpredictability of the market. This leads businesses to be more focused on hedging uncertainties and enabling organizations to have short term investments rather than making long-term bets.

Companies are trying to optimize their value chain in every possible way and this has given rise to the new paradigm of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Cloud Computing which enables companies to re-allocate technology costs to immediate priorities. One of the accelerators for companies to embrace this comes from the fact that customers are able to see an instant value proposition from the investment and are able to scale their operational IT requirements as and when it is needed with minimal disruption.

Cloud will continue to be a differentiator in small and medium companies whereas large companies will opt for a hybrid model, where existing core solutions live in harmony with on-demand solutions.

Mobile and wearable computing devices are creating a new wave of revolution in the market. In the last couple of years there has been an exponential increase in the number of mobile computing devices and we have close to 1.1 billion people using a smartphone or a tablet. This has fueled the emergence of new business processes enabling more efficient delivery of many services and increasing productivity.These devices are evolving every day and their computing capacity will soon be on par with desktops.

With consumers preferring consistent end user experience for different mobile computing devices, Operating System vendors are focusing on having a unified operating platform for the desktop as well as mobile devices that extend a consistent user experience which is simple, consumer friendly and contextual.

Currently, we have different operating systems for different mobile devices and application developers are focusing on creating a consistent experience for multiple devices using HTML5 technology.In the long run, with the convergence of mobile and desktop operating systems like what Windows 8 and Ubuntu promise, we will see more vendors extending a consistent experience for the users, regardless of the devices.

Companies have traditionally looked at creating a sustainable society around them to have a leveraged value. Going forward, we are going to see an accelerated engagement in this space, with many companies refreshing their product lines to create products and services that contribute to society directly.

Companies will also explore ways of creating a shared value that delivers both business profit and social benefit. Global companies are partnering with local agencies to create a product that not only strikes a chord with the people, but creates societal value. For example, SAP has created a channel for charity transformation through an online platform called Charitra that bridges the gap between people who are in need of help with people who can offer help. Organizations are evolving much more than traditional corporate social responsibility campaigns to directly create value to society through their products.

Rapidly changing technology advancements pose serious questions to executives on managing transformation in their organizations. It is really difficult to draw a conclusion on the next big thing as everyone is in a race to create it rather than just adopt. But the one thing which remains unchanged in this high-flux environment is the thirst for new ways of creating value and simplifying existing process.

In an organization, we need to focus heavily on creating new ways of generating value to end users with the right technology.For a technology to be economically disruptive it should have the power to engage a large number of stakeholders who should be able to understand the value proposition that it offers while consuming it in a simple manner. There are three focus topics that we need to keep in mind to leverage technological advancement: consumerization of products, co-creation of opportunity with customers, and organizational agility.

Consumerization of products

With the advent of social media and importance of creating a consumer grade user experience, we need to reach out to end consumers who use our solutions and provide them with a simpler user experience. In the future, systems should enable the end user to take decisions with minimal effort. We need to break down complex processes to simple and consumable ones. Earlier, we focused on providing a vast bouquet of options to the end user. This increased choice sometimes drives users to spend time in gathering relevant information through other channels before making an informed decision.Going forward, it is very important to have context relevant information made available to the user so that they can make smarter decisions faster with lesser investment on training users on new technology.

Co-creation of opportunity

New innovations can happen when you are closer to the opportunity that you are trying to address and this means that you need to be closer to the customer. We need to empathize with customers to address their problems. This would enable customers to see an immediate value in the new products. Co-innovation is extremely important in the current context where organizations have very limited visibility into future demands. Emerging technologies always attract visibility due to the market’s curiosity to find new ways of value creation. But involving the customer in the process of developing new products will increase customer confidence and enable customers to adopt the solution faster.

Organizational agility

For organizations to manage and excel in the technology race, it is very important to have an agile environment which is open to new ways of developing products and solutions.Organizations should challenge the status quo and explore new innovations which could create value for both the customers and the company. We have seen several companies embracing an agile organization and excel in sailing over various uncertainties. The agility achieved through thought leadership and employee engagement could create wonders for an organization in current market conditions.

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