Artificial Intelligence—Existential Threat or Force for Good?

Is Artificial Intelligence all about doom and gloom? No, it’s about concrete benefits.

“Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of World War 3 in my opinion.”—Elon Musk

What are the first things that come to mind when someone says the words Artificial Intelligence? A technology that will cause job losses, large-scale economic upheaval and global conflicts, and which poses a threat to the role of humanity in the world? If your main reading is the mainstream media, you’d be excused for thinking so. The coverage in the media has largely focused on the impact on livelihood (jobs and the future of work) and shows a growing negative sentiment (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: AI media coverage: sentiment analysis

Source: News articles during June/July 2017. Note: Sentiment (volume of positive/negative social media messages) as measured through headlines on Artificial Intelligence and related topics from top media publications in the mentioned time period.

Much of this coverage has been on the back of studies that make predictions about the potentially worrying impact of AI on jobs. A study by two University of Oxford academics found that nearly 47% of all jobs in the US are at risk of being computerized in a decade or two. Against this backdrop, however, it’s important to remember that significant evolutions in automation are a fact of modern economic life. In the US, for example, 80% of the American population were employed in agriculture at the start of the 19th century. But as advances in farming equipment took root from the 1840s, pushing up yields, the amount of people employed on the land dropped steeply over the course of more than a century (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Technology increases yields but agriculture employment drops

Source: Goldman Sachs, “Narrowing the jobs gap: overcoming impediments to investing in people,” July 2016.

What does this example teach us? It shows us that technology has always acted as a catalyst for positive improvements in productivity and quality of output, and that it establishes the need for new skills and creates new roles. At the same time, of course, it also shows us that technology advances can cause significant upheavals in how people are employed. However, the balance between positive and more negative connotations shows us that just focusing on the negative is simplistic and leads to irrational, panicked reactions.

In fact, what we found from our research is that AI will have a positive impact for organizations in the short term, at least for large organizations (those with annual revenues of $500 million or more). We found that 4 out of 5 large organizations that are implementing AI initiatives at this time have already created new job roles (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Four out of five organizations say AI has created new roles in their organizations

And job creation is not the only benefit to be gained.  Our research—Turning AI into concrete value: the successful implementers’ toolkit —uncovered a wide range of other benefits, and identifies concrete use cases that organizations can use today. For years, AI has always been the technology that was “around the corner.” But today, we are standing squarely in front of the technology and all its opportunities and challenges. With leading businesses already rapidly adopting, non-adoption of artificial intelligence will increasingly be seen as a failing of human intelligence.

This Is Where You’ll Find Your Next New Employee

If you’re looking to expand your team, chances are one of your current employees knows just the right person, according to SilkRoad’s Sources of Hire 2017 report. Employee referrals are the top source of hires, delivering more than 30% of hires overall and 45% of hires from internal sources.

“Employee referrals are a great outlet because they’re at the disposal of your recruiting team, readily available,” says Amber Hyatt, vice president of product marketing at SilkRoad, a talent activation solution provider. “These people are already versed in your organizational structure and culture. That’s why employee referrals have a proven track record of success and an excellent conversion rate.”

Implementing an employee referral program can be as easy as tapping into social media contacts. Trustwave, a Chicago-based data security service provider, lets employees refer their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter followers for open jobs. “Trustwave uses a Jobvite platform to send a company-wide message to all employees every Friday,” according to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management. “Included in the message are four featured job openings that employees can forward to people in their social media networks who may be good job candidates.”

External Sources

Right on the heels of employee referrals is the job search engine Indeed, which aggregates postings from all over web. “It’s the closest I’ve ever seen from a hire perspective,” says Hyatt. “It’s typically in the second spot but not this close.”

Indeed produced 65.27% of new hires from external sources, twice as many all other online job boards and job search engines combined, and 28% of overall new hires. CareerBuilder was the second external source with 10.65% of job board new hires, and LinkedIn was third with 8.17%.

“The volume of postings Indeed has is incredible,” says Hyatt. “Over the last couple of years they have tried to focus on becoming a one-stop shop for candidates. They’re not only seeking out active job applicants but passive job applicants, as well. That person may not be looking for a position today but could be open to learning more.”

To get your jobs listed on Indeed, you can either post your jobs directly to Indeed, or allow Indeed to aggregate your posted jobs from your career website or applicant tracking system, according to its website.

Create A Strategy

While the study demonstrates the strengths of hiring sources, managers should track data on the sources that have been most effective for their companies, suggests Hyatt. “Where have you had success not only from the volume of candidates but the sources that produced the best hire?” she asks.

Posting on job boards can be expensive, so track your results. “Many times hiring managers spend a large amount of dollars with third-party agencies or job boards but they don’t realize they’re not seeing quality return on that investment; they’re not seeing a bunch of hires,” says Hyatt. “Know your budget, and how long it takes to fill a seat.”

And understand the weaknesses of each platform. The downside to employee referrals is that it can harm diversity, as employees are more likely to recommend people who are like them in race, gender, and socioeconomic background. Hyatt recommends balancing your sourcing strategy. “You want to bring diversity of thought into an organization,” she says.

External sources are less efficient than internal sources for hiring, requiring approximately four times as many applicants to reach the interview stage and twice as many interviews, according to the study.

“We took external sources versus top internal sources head to head,” says Hyatt. “For external sources, it takes 33 applications to produce an interview, while with internal sources it takes nine applicants to produce one interview. That tells me if I need to fill a seat quickly, it’s a more effective of use of my time to convert an internal applicant.”

Finally, target your sourcing strategy instead of randomly posting and experiencing trial and error, says Hyatt. “Build out personas, which can help provide insight to your hiring and recruiting team,” says Hyatt. “Identify their characteristics, skills, and traits, then find places where they’re hanging out, such as professional associations. Knowing your audience can help you find the most effective outlet.”

This article was written by Stephanie Vozza from Co. Exist and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

AR and VR can breathe life into imagination

“The modern computer technology has successfully created an exciting and pioneering avenue for the future, where anything that man envisages might be possible.” Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are helping mankind travel towards that direction. While VR gives you a (learning) experience in simulated worlds, AR on the other hand can enrich your direct environment, allowing you to get a (learning) experience and interact with the environment at the same time. One marketplace that is really good to envision anything to be possible is the Gaming Industry. Think of games like Pokémon Go (AR) and ADR1FT (VR).
The future of this technology is to to get a wider audience for using this technology.

In order to get to attain this success, we need to further simplify AR and VR technology. Mobile devices are a good example. Earlier they were just calling devices and quite rapidly transformed into pocket-sized computers. This functionality allows them to smoothly work as an AR or VR devices. Additionally allowing them to use their added features in AR and VR, to make the experience even greater than early AR and VR made possible. Prior to this functionality, network connectivity is important so that they can connect anywhere, with enough bandwidth to deliver enough speed, so that your experience becomes endless.

Sicco and the Hololens

AR over VR

Currently, VR is more prevalent as compared to augmented reality. But, I believe this will change rapidly over the coming years. Why? Because industrial verticals are adopting these technologies on a rapid scale as well. It is an undeniable fact that AR is much more prevalent, as one can enrich the direct environment. Envision maintenance of a plane, AR can enrich your view, indicate wear and tear which the naked eye cannot see and help remember everything.

 

This article was written by Sicco Maathuis from Capgemini: Capping IT Off and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How this CEO created a thriving business by being your ‘outsourced CMO’

Companies outsource various aspects of their business, from payroll to marketing. But why aren’t there more outlets to outsource marketing not just as a service from an agency, but at the highest, most strategic level?

Enter Hawke Media. Launched by Erik Huberman three years ago, today Hawke Media is turning heads as Santa Monica’s first fully outsourced CMO. Its aim is to manage marketing for companies in real time without the overhead, contracts, and run around.

From the beginning, Huberman operated Hawke on a month-to-month model with every service offered a la carte. This allowed clients to build a custom menu around which strategies to incorporate, all while at a less expensive rate than hiring in-house and with no long-term commitments or contracts.

Huberman admits that Hawke is “different.” Certainly, their MO might sound odd to agencies who focus on scoring long-term contracts from big clients. But the results speak for themselves. Just three years after starting, Huberman’s company already employs over 80 people and has worked with over 400 clients, from apartment-run startups all the way to Fortune 500 companies with billions of dollars in annual sales.

“We are dedicated to driving results and comfortable living by that, which is why we stick with this monthly model,” says Huberman.

“We take a look at what a business is currently doing, and then build a team of experts to complement their existing capabilities. We offer extensive services like email marketing, Facebook advertising, SEM, media buying, and influencer marketing. It works because our teams are constantly held accountable for gauging metrics and changing the plan as needed. We are able to deliver on what we commit to doing.”

So why not just hire a CMO? “The reality,” says Huberman, “is that a CMO has a wide range of tasks to get through on a daily basis, but when you outsource the teams are very specialized. You have people running your email campaign and all they do is analyze email campaigns. They will have access to the best metrics to track the success of your campaign, and have the background to be able to compare it to what has worked in the past.”

Huberman’s approach is pragmatic and functional over all else. “We never do something just because it looks cool,” says Huberman. “Everything is backed by analytics. We’ll test 50 different types of an ad, see which one resonates the best, and then build it off on more ROI.” Hawke is constantly testing and retesting to see what works, and it is this malleable approach that has differentiated Hawke Media.

Huberman is firm in his assertion that the biggest hurdle in marketing is the “forest through the trees” problem. Most marketing agencies lack the visibility to discern any overall pattern from a mass of detail because they are unable to keep track of their marketing performance and identify errors that they make. Hawke Media uses a software platform that solves this issue by pulling in thousands of companies’ marketing data in real time.

And as an outsourced CMO, there are high-level strategists on every account. “Our strategists ensure that we not only do what our clients ask us to do, but also do what we think is best for them because we are experts in what we do and that is what has driven our results,” notes Huberman.

Constantly learning, evolving, and expanding, Hawke Media continues to embody the lean start-up mentality over three years after its genesis. At the end of the day, what they offer their clients is continuous transformation and growth, all through the power of outsourcing.

 

This article was written by George Beall from The Next Web and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Things You Can Do on Your Commute to Feel Better About Work

If you rely on public transportation to get you to work and then back home again, you may be feeling so very over it. From New York City to Washington, DC, it’s been a trying time for commuters. Which is not to say that driving in gridlock is a pleasant experience.

Whatever your mode of transport, things could surely be worse. But, they could also be better. And that’s what I think we should all focus on.

Take your annoyance to social media if you must the next time your ride into work lets you down, but once you’ve gotten that out of your system, consider how the six ideas below can help make your morning or evening at least a bit better.

1. Listen for Inspiration

Whether you’re a podcast devotee, an audio book aficionado, or an NPR loyalist, listening to something that makes you happy can do wonders for your mood when you arrive at the office.

Depending on your industry and position, you may even find listening a source of inspiration for your creative work. But, if that doesn’t describe you, that’s OK. Chances are that an enjoyable commute will have you putting your best foot forward, and that’s bound to make for a productive day.

If you’re not sure where to get started, check out these 15 highly-recommended podcasts.

2. Draft Emails

I don’t love sending emails from my phone. I’ll write the occasional two-liner or will follow up with someone if I can do so in a couple of sentences, but the ones that merit bigger paragraphs? I used to leave them until I was in front of my desktop.

That is, until my commute started to deteriorate. I needed to fill the time (at least some of it) with something resembling productivity. So I began drafting long messages on my ride and saving them for later. Try this: You may find that you’re at your most articulate when you have time to go back before you press send.

3. Track Accomplishments

You know those small wins that feel good in the moment but are soon forgotten as the daily grind takes over? You will forget them if you let them sit untouched for too long.

Your commute’s a fantastic time to take pen to paper or finger to screen (whatever you prefer) and start making notes of all your many achievements, from the seemingly insignificant ones to the bigger ones. Biking or driving? Get in the habit of making a mental note and as soon as you get where you’re going, write down whatever you comes to mind.

4. Absorb Company News

From new company press to the CEO’s weekly email, we could all use some extra time in the day to read and process everything getting thrown our way. If you’re anything like me, you have good intentions to do it before you head out for the day, but you never quite get around to it.

If you drive in, consider trying out an app, like these five options that reads your emails aloud to you. And if you’re sticking it out on the subway or bus, bookmark these reads for easy access as soon as you board.

5. Refine Your To-Do List

I strongly suggest you use this time to evaluate today’s or tomorrow’s to-dos. What must you prioritize? What needs attention? What can wait? Not having to devote an ounce of energy to this when you start your day can save you time and stress. You know what awaits, and you can focus predictably when it’s time to start working.

If you can (because you’re not driving), jot it down. And if you are behind the wheel, consider putting Siri, or a similar app, to work for you.

6. Worry

That’s not a typo. You read that correctly. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious about the work that lies ahead (and a long, slow commute isn’t helping), use this time, approximately six minutes of it, to fill your brain with worry.

Really allow the anxiety to rear its ugly head and once you’ve taken the allotted time, return to normal. It’s called scheduling time to worry, and it’s not so unlike this trick for solving problems while you sleep.

Unless you’re willing and able to move down the street from your office or you get a job that’s 100% remote, the truth is, commuting to work is a reality for most of us, but it doesn’t have to be so harsh. When you can get in a better mood on your way into office and on your way home, you’re more likely to approach your work with enthusiasm and interest.

Have more tips? Let me know how you make horrible or average commutes bearable on Twitter.

 

This article was written by Stacey Lastoe from The Daily Muse and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Reducing employee turnover by engaging your workforce

When a valued employee leaves an organization, it creates several problems.  The obvious issues are figuring out how the work is going to get completed without the missing resource and how a replacement resource will be sourced.  But, there are less obvious issues such as the drain on existing personnel to train new resources which can impact deliverables.  In addition, if there is high attrition, there can also be a morale impact (e.g., ‘if others are leaving, should I leave too?’)

So, it is important to minimize employee attrition.  To do this, managers often want to give employees money and promotions and lament that there is never enough to truly incent the best performers.  While rewarding employees with money and providing promotions can help retain valuable employees, there is a less costly approach that can yield great results.  Simply put:

Explain to employees why the work they are doing is important and make sure they know you appreciate their efforts.

Helping employees find the value in their work

Employees should be acutely aware of how their work fits into the bigger picture.  When an employee fixes a flaw in the production system, it is far more rewarding if they focus on the value they are providing, such as eliminating a cumbersome operational workaround, vs. simply knocking off one item in the defect queue.

Managers should make sure they know the impact of technology changes and reinforce the importance of the work whenever possible.  It is also important for the senior executive to stress the importance of the work.  A couple suggestions:

  • One technique I liked to use was to send out minutes from my staff meetings.  I found this was a great communication vehicle where I could make sure the entire organization understood where we needed to be focused to achieve our goals.  Sometimes, we might spend a short time talking about a topic in the staff meeting, because everyone there had history with the subject, but I might spend half my recap making sure everyone else understood why the issue was important, what had happened so far, and what we needed to do moving forward.
  • Another technique is to communicate the importance of initiatives at all hands meetings.  Too many managers outsource their all hands meetings to outside speakers.  While outside speakers are important, they should not crowd out time that might be spend engaging the organization on the reasons the work being done is so critical.  A successful all hands meeting has a good balance where the participants leave feeling they heard something interesting (outside speakers) as well as an optimism about the importance of the work (inside speakers).

In one organization I managed, we created a single web page that displayed many of our key metrics.  The page contained several transaction counts, such as logons to our web page, and we updated the screen every second so the numbers showed the heartbeat of the production systems.  We then put monitors at all our locations to display the web page.  While the numbers were not particularly interesting unless we were having a peak day, the rhythmic movement of the numbers reminded employees that a robust production system existed due to their efforts.

Recognition techniques

It is also important to recognize the great work being done in your organization.  While this is easy and does not cost much money, it is not often done well.

One of the techniques I used was to start my staff meetings by asking for examples of the outstanding work being done in our group.  I then followed up with handwritten notes to the individuals discussed and I can’t tell you how many people came straight to my office from the mail room, with the note in their hand, to thank me.

Every three months, I had an extended staff meeting which included not only my direct reports but their direct reports.  I decided to use the same technique with this group and I was reminded that the value of recognizing employees does not come naturally to managers.  The first meeting went well but when I started the next extended staff meeting the same way, one of the managers said, ‘didn’t we do this last time?’.  And he was one of my better managers!

In addition to sending notes, some techniques I have used include:

  • At the beginning of the year, my senior team would develop a list of items we considered important and we called them ‘really cool milestones’.  After an item on the list was completed, I would send out a note to the entire organization congratulating the group that accomplished the work and reminding everyone why the achievement was important (linking this recognition activity with the prior discussion on reinforcing the importance of the work being done)
  • After each project install, we would send a survey to our business partners asking them to rate our performance and provide us with feedback.  The overall rating was on a scale of 1 to 5.  Each quarter, we celebrated the projects receiving ‘5’ scores with an ice cream social.  For each project, we made poster boards describing why the project was important (see a theme?) and, at the beginning of the day, these poster boards were displayed in heavily travelled locations.  Then, the boards were brought to the social so people could see them there.  The boards were often subsequently taken back to the project team areas and displayed for a few weeks
  • Project teams love to be taken out to lunch or dinner and this can be a nice way to recognize a major accomplishment.  One twist I did on this theme was to invite project teams to my house for dinner.  I like to cook so I would make dinner for them and we would have a nice evening together.  This was very well received.

To reinforce the messages in this post, I am reminded of a time early in my career when one of my best employees came to visit me.  The visit was during a time of economic weakness and there were strong layoff rumors circulating around the company.  She told me she provided most of the income in her household, that she was worried about the layoff rumors, and she wanted to know if she should be looking for a new job because she had to stay employed.

What is interesting about this example is the fact that my group had recently force ranked all our individual contributors and this employee was #2 out of over 50 employees in the group.  And it hit me—if she is worried, how much angst must exist in the rest of the organization?

That was the turning point for me and I decided to take steps to make sure the employees in my group felt valued.  The first step I took was to buy 500 blank cards to be used as ‘thank you’ notes and I began to develop the other techniques I have described in this post.

In all organizations, there are many people who are very dedicated to their work and produce outstanding results.  As leaders, it is our job to make sure these individuals know why their hard work is important and to tell them we appreciate their efforts.

 

This article was written by Bob Ronan from CIO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Is A 10-Hour Workday The New Norm?

Being accessible to the office 24/7 can certainly make it feel like we are working longer hours than in years past. But has our in-office time increased as well? Does anyone actually work nine to five anymore?

Career expert Alison Green (aka Ask A Manager) analyzes this reader’s question about the increased in-office hour expectations.

I wanted to get a perspective from you and your readers on whether you think a majority of businesses and industries are now expecting longer workdays from their employees.

Colloquially, “the nine to five” has been a phrase to describe full-time jobs conducted during normal business hours. Obviously all individual offices will vary, but based on my own experience and the experiences of people I know, it seems like “the eight to six” would now be a better descriptor. I have held multiple positions over the past 10 years where I was expected to be in the office at 8 a.m. and not leave until 6 p.m. These hours didn’t account for unpaid lunch time, either. I almost always ate lunch at my desk while working on something or during a “working lunch” meeting.

From talking to friends and family, I am far from alone in this experience. Is the 10-hour workday and 50-hour work week the new normal?

For some people. As you point out, there’s tons of variation.

Some people do indeed still work jobs that are truly nine to five. That’s still very common. The assumption is usually that they’ll have a half hour for lunch, so they’re really working 37.5 hours a week.

But other schedules have become more common too, and you’re right that many of them are longer. Nine to six isn’t unusual, and neither is eight to five, and lots of other variations. The thinking behind those is often that they include an hour for lunch—so you’re still working eight hours, but the finish time is nine hours after your start time because of lunch. I question this reasoning, because tons of people with this schedule don’t actually take a full hour for lunch, but that’s where it came from.

And of course, many people routinely work longer hours than that.

Additionally, even in jobs where the standard hours really are nine to five, some people might come in at 7 a.m. and leave at 3 p.m. or work some other form of a flexible schedule.

Like so many other things, it really depends on the job and the workplace.

I do think, though, that “a nine to five job” has taken on a cultural meaning that doesn’t strictly mean “a job that starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.” Its cultural usage has changed to mean “a professional office job with fairly standard business hours, Monday through Friday.”

As for the broader picture on how many hours people are working: The average workweek for full-time employees in the U.S. is nearly 47 hours, according to a Gallup report released last year. That’s held pretty steady for the last 14 years, but—unsurprisingly—it was lower before that. That said, 42% of people work 40 hours a week, so that’s still pretty common too.

 

This article was written by Alison Green from Fast Company and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Google Says Mobile Search Has Surpassed Desktop Search

The words at the top of the press release seem strange: “Alphabet Announces Third Quarter 2015 Results of Google.”

Indeed, the company formerly known as Google—which reorganized in August under an umbrella organization called Alphabetreported quarterly earnings for the first time Thursday. However, Alphabet will not have results for a full period under the new structure until the fourth quarter.

At its fourth-quarter earnings report, which will take place in January 2016, Alphabet will report both the results of Google’s core businesses and Alphabet results, which it will refer to as “other bets,” said CFO Ruth Porat. Those other bets will include the performances of initiatives like the company’s energy efforts, its Nest division, its X skunkworks, and its investment services.

Porat also said that in future quarters, earnings reports will disclose revenue, profitability, and capital expenditures for both Google and Alphabet.

Google now has six services that each has more than a billion users.

For this last quarter as a unified Google, the company reported revenues of $18.7 billion and revenue growth of 13% year-over-year. It said paid clicks during Q3 were up 23% year-over-year, but that cost-per-click had dropped 11% over the same period.

During the earnings call, new Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who reports to Alphabet CEO Larry Page, said Google now has six services that each has more than a billion users. Joining Google search, Android, Google Maps, Chrome, and YouTube, Google Play now tops 10 figures as well, Pichai said.

For its part, Android has grown from 1 billion users to more than 1.4 billion.

And highlighting Google’s dominance on mobile devices, Pichai said there are now more Google mobile searches than desktop searches worldwide.

Pichai also said that Google Photos, which the company launched during its I/O developers event this spring, now has more than 100 million users who have uploaded more than 50 billion photos.

Google has also sold more than 20 million Chromecast devices, he said.

Porat noted that Google’s board of directors had authorized a stock buy-back worth up to $5 billion.

 

This article was written by Daniel Terdiman from Fast Company and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


The contours of the new IT department are emerging

IT departments put a great deal of effort each day into supporting their organizations optimally with strength and efficiency by providing them with the latest IT resources. The number of challenges facing them is mounting up, however.

Managing the IT function is becoming increasingly more difficult as a result. Breaking out of set patterns and solving complex paradigms are necessary to be able to take a good step forward. This presumes leadership and the ability to make clear choices. For example for the operating model (or working model), in order to improve efficiency, sourcing on the basis of real partnership, a clear strategy with an identifiable point on the horizon and the structuring of a powerful leadership organization within the IT department. Below we briefly outline the seven changes we see coming. These are based on talks that Capgemini has held with CIOs from around the world. The sum total of these changes will define the new form of the IT department.

Change one: IT determines the added value, so the business determines the IT choices

After one hundred years of industrialization, IT technology is the key factor for improving a company’s added value. The new generation of managers, the ‘digiratis’, have a firm grounding in this area, understand the possibilities and see the opportunities. They will be engaging with the content more explicitly and as such become the new decision makers, who will set out the strategic course for IT. CFOs, CMOs and CDOs will be the largest IT budget holders. Already at this point, half or more are on the business side, often because the current IT department does not adequately satisfy the wishes and requirements, and in future because those in charge of operations will want to manage more directly.

Change two: focus on information, interaction and transaction

The business is increasingly procuring IT functions directly to support the processes. The expectation is that this will be organized per end-to-end process column. For example for ‘Order2-Cash’, ‘Procurement2Pay’, or ‘Marketing2Sales’ and in first instance primarily for those processes where growth is a central concern, as is the case for innovation, marketing, sales and service management. These processes mainly involve information, interaction and transaction. And while attention is now principally devoted to improving the process itself, in future the emphasis will be on improving the information provision within the process. Typical ‘food for thought’ for knowledge workers.

Change three: strengthening demand & supply

There is a great deal of attention therefore to how the information management function is implemented. IT departments, driven by leadership, are currently fully engaged in the necessary strengthening of the demand and supply function. A meaningful activity, since if this is not properly implemented, IT change programs cannot be successfully realized. From the perspective of the business, business information managers (BIMs) are already being hired. We still see all sorts of job titles cropping up for this, with very diverse profiles. These BIMs will be more and more frequently representing the business in negotiations with service providers in order to coordinate or even directly procure services from selected service providers and within formulated frameworks.

Change four: agile business operations

The world has been becoming more dynamic for years. Where these dynamics meet complexity, opportunities arise, but also a great degree of uncertainty. Three direct managerial countermeasures are possible for this. The first is to improve the transfer of information between parties.The second is to carve departments and activities up into smaller pieces. The third is to make decision making less formal and more localized. All three are incorporate in the agile way of working or in the DevOps delivery. We also see that the old, slow way of moving is being combined with a new, quicker movement, with the latter gaining more and more ground. The motto here is ‘build quickly and try, and then fail or improve’. The trick is to understand information technology and see how it can be applied smartly. Using an IT strategy as an orientation point on the horizon, management efforts are aimed at quick development and constant change. We also see this way of working gaining more and more ground for how regular business operations are carried out.

Change five: far-reaching outsourcing

Sourcing is being seen in a new light. Some advisors preach further fragmentation, but larger IT organizations are in fact opting for selective partnering so that by means of single sourcing they can, in one fell swoop, resolve all paradigms and enable a digital transformation. That does not mean that the same sourcing solution is relevant for every process or every functional block. Commodities will be procured on the basis of good quality at the lowest costs via BPO, Software-as-a-Service or standard Managed Services, for instance. And the metrics of this operation will be benchmarked by external parties to test whether they are competitive. Where the most important added value is created, service providers are expected above all to have insight into best practices and to focus on the constant improvement of these processes and systems. And where the emphasis is on real innovation, partners who are able to introduce an entirely different approach to innovation are selected.

Change six: increasing responsibility for service providers

The sourcing approach outlined above also steers toward greater responsibility on the part of the service providers. The business – and likewise IT – no longer wants to have a solution made, but to buy a solution. The possibilities of the cloud support this, as new delivery models arise. But more is also being asked of providers for the somewhat more traditional environment. Guaranteed cost reductions for commodity services, the contribution of learned best practices and innovative power to update the business model, the products or services. For the mainstream, services are offered ‘productized’ as a result. At the same time, output-based contracts are being entered into with supplementary requirements for the constant improvement of services, preferably on the basis of ultimate flexibility, to the extent entry and exit costs allow.

Change seven: the IT department takes on a management function

All this outsourcing results in far-reaching erosion of the IT department’s operational activities. As such the IT department ends up in a slimmed down but key management role in which it oversees the added value for the business and also monitors the required cohesion and quality. The focus shifts from ‘building and managing the applications in the right way ‘to ‘buying the right applications, having these built and managing them.’ It is crucial in this process that it safeguards the critical competences such as strategy, sourcing, security, architecture, data management, service integration, governance and program management. All areas which receive quite a bit of attention these days and which offer much room for improvement.

This article was written by Co Van Leeuwen from CapGemini: Capping IT Off and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Software Rules the Road and the Robots

When I am not working on robots or playing with my children, chances are good I am driving – or reading about driving – cars. So it is no surprise that I read with great interest the news from Tesla about Autopilot. On Oct. 14, Elon Musk and the team at Tesla brought semi-autonomous driving to owners of Model S and Model X – through a release of software. With just the push of a button, Tesla changed a car that you drove to one that now – under certain conditions – drives for you.

For a software guy like me, Tesla’s breakthrough illustrates just how far the power of software to change almost everything about how hardware works has come. For more than 130 years, cars have been about motors, transmissions, and suspension systems. Now, software rules. In the case of cars, it will forever change what it means to drive. I see it, too, in the world I live in – where the truly incredible innovations in robots are being driven by a new class of software.

Of course, we can’t have automation without the physical robot – after all, the arms still have to be there to complete the task. But the mass adoption of robots over the next 5 years is not going be driven by the hardware. It will be driven by software that goes well beyond the code that programs the robot to perform a specific task to define everything from how robots interact, perform and deliver value.

Changing What it Means to Be a Robot

Today, software is

  • making it easier to work with robots. From the ability to communicate through human-like gestures to take the spoken word – in context – and translate these words into a serial set of Cartesian actions, robots are now able interact with humans beyond the screen. Software brings to robots the artificial intelligence that reduces the cognitive load required by humans to work with robots – making collaboration with smart, collaborative robots truly possible.
  • enabling robots to work like humans do. Humans bring the nuance of touch to completing nearly any action – whether fastening a seatbelt or tightening a screw. With software, robots are now able to master the give-and-take that gives humans the ability to apply just the right amount of pressure to respond and react as needed
  • giving robots the flexibility to work in variable environments. For traditional robots, manufacturers need to create a tightly controlled, perfect environment where everything was just-so, so that the robot could always find the object or target it needed to complete a task. But like the world, manufacturing environments are not perfect. Driven by software, robots are no longer stymied by a misaligned part on a conveyor belt or a cardboard box with a lid that’s partially closed—they are able to adjust to the conditions, complete the task and move on.
  • creating robots that are both smart and Smart. Robots today are able to apply logic and make simple inferences. Going forward, look for digital and information technologies to come together with advanced manufacturing in ways that allow robots to cognitively understand, reason and learn. Not only will robots learn from the past, but they will be able to predict the future and prescribe actions they can take that drive positive outcomes.

All of these advances are already changing the way manufacturers deploy automation – bringing robots that improve efficiency and productivity to tasks that have been out of the reach of traditional industrial robots. Companies like GE, Jabil and Donnelly Manufacturing are using robots in complex, varied and low-volume, high-mix environments.

An Expansive Opportunity

The amazing thing about software is that – unlike hardware – the possibilities are infinite and the costs are much lower. As we’ve seen with our phones and now cars, improvements come without additional cost. So too, will robots improve how they work and what they are able to do with software upgrades. You won’t have to buy a brand new robot every time you need it to do a new task, as you once did with traditional robots.

As the 4th Industrial Revolution takes hold and factories of the future run more and more on autonomous machines, robots will be an integral part of the fabric. These robots will be able, not only to perform tasks, but also to collect data on the performance of the task and analyze it for interpretation and action by human colleagues. The now nascent field of cloud robotics will allow the knowledge robots gain to be shared with other robots, creating a way for robots to train robots. With the advances made possible by software, robots will make themselves, their processes and the products they produce better.

Manufacturing is changing. Robots are changing. Every day, we see new possibilities for product transformation processes as customers push the boundaries to reach a new level of productivity and efficiency – and ultimately – innovation and growth. Where do you see potential for software-driven robots? Share your thoughts with me @jim_lawton or tweet us @rethinkrobotics.

This article was written by Jim Lawton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


How The Fintech Revolution Can Put Thousands In Your Pocket

Forbes launched Bail On Your Bank! How The Fintech Revolution Can Put Thousands In Your Pocket, our latest eBook. In it, Nick Clements lays out the benefits of ditching your bank and putting your money back into your pocket by taking advantage of the Fintech revolution.


Technology has been disrupting entrenched industries for decades. Amazon has made life incredibly difficult for Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Best Buy and every other bricks and mortar retailer. Uber is threatening the monopolies of local taxi authorities. And the list continues.

One industry, consumer banking, has been largely immune from the disruption. However, that is changing. Billions of dollars have been invested into companies that are re-thinking how banking products and services are delivered. The result for consumers is more choice, lower prices and a better experience. For entrenched banks defending comfortable profit margins, the threat is real and immediate.

The new startups have been most effective in consumer lending. Marketplace lenders, led by Lending Club, Prosper and SoFi, have built highly scalable businesses that provide higher returns to investors, lower borrowing costs to consumers and a fully digital experience for both. These businesses are growing exponentially. The average SoFi borrower saves $14,000 when refinancing a student loan. The average Lending Club customer receives an interest rate that is 32% cheaper than their credit card rate. And investors are able to gain fuller exposure to an asset class that used to be restricted. Diversified Lending Club investors have achieved returns between 5.19% to 8.88%.

The same low cost, digital approach has been used for small business lending. By leveraging new data sources and automating much of the underwriting process, online lenders are able to offer loans to businesses that were previously too small for banks.

Bail On Your Bank! An eBook From Forbes
Your cash belongs to you, not your bank. Fintech startups are challenging the big banks—and already saving people thousands.

Venture-backed startups are attacking the money transfer business, a highly lucrative utility service. Businesses like TransferWise are cutting the costs of money transfer by more than 90%. Investment managers now have competition from robo-advisors like Betterment and WealthFront. And even a boring savings account can be opened with a branch-free bank. Whereas the typical bricks and mortar bank has an entry level savings account paying 0.01% interest, internet banks are paying 1% or higher. In one year, a $50,000 savings account would earn $5 of interest at Bank of America, compared to $502.50 at Ally Bank.

Savvy consumers can leverage the new FinTech startups to put thousands of dollars back into their pockets. And the income streams of traditional banks will come under increasing threat as a result.

This revolution is not without risk. Not all marketplace lenders will survive. The new underwriting models have not been tested in a credit cycle, and some will fail. New businesses are able to avoid the regulatory scrutiny of raising FDIC insured deposits because ample investor money is available. However, liquidity can disappear quickly in a crisis.

Some of the new small business lenders are too aggressive with pricing and do not offer enough pricing transparency, which could result in eventual regulatory action and public distrust. The money transfer business requires high levels of anti-money laundering screening, and early infractions could be fatal to a well-intentioned startup. And low fee robo-advisors require dramatic scale to generate profitability.

However, the FinTech revolution has been initiated, and there is no going back. Forward thinking traditional banks have recognized the seismic changes, and are taking action. Goldman Sachs, for example, will be launching a consumer lending business that will resemble many of the best startups. Discover has quietly built one of the best digital personal loan franchises in the country. But the businesses that win in the future will look very different from the high margin consumer businesses that exist today. Consumer banking franchises of the future will have much lower returns. A recent McKinsey study warns that banks could lose up to 60% of retail banking profits to FinTech startups. And I agree.

I have spent most of my career working for large, universal banks. Most recently, I was the Managing Director of Barclaycard’s UK Consumer Credit Card business. I left to create my own startup, MagnifyMoney.com, which helps people compare and choose financial products. During the last few years, I have seen firsthand the dramatic changes being unleashed by technology. In my Forbes eBook, Bail on Your Bank, I explain the revolution that is taking place. More importantly, I explain how you can profit from it.

I have taken my own advice. I bank with an internet-only bank. I invest with a robo-advisor. And when I send money to friends overseas, I use a startup. Once you experience the savings for yourself, you understand that the cost of borrowing, investing and sending money is about to plummet. Consumers, new entrants and banks willing to adjust to a lower margin future will thrive. For those banks that refuse to adapt to the new digital reality, history offers some unfortunate lessons.

This article was written by Nick Clements from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


A few tips & trick to avoid failing with SAP Program/Projects – Part 2

In continuation with the blog that I posted last week, I will introduce the next SAP project best practices gathered from my own experiences acting as project manager and in other advisory roles in larger SAP programs over the last 20 years.

Best Practice #6 – Try to cover end to end processes and avoid processes that are cut in between

One of the main benefits with an ERP-system is the integrations cross sub processes within a main process and from logistics to HR and Finance and towards basic master data. Another truth is also that system integrations normally are one of the most complex and problematic areas. I fully understand that there are sometimes good reasons to have separate systems tightly integrated, but consider if possible utilizing the strengths in an integrated ERP-system where these integration are ready out of the box. By trying to replace a business process step in an integrated scenario can make violence in the process chain and cause severe design issues and costly reengineering.

Best Practice #7 – Make sure the basic foundation is defined and decided very early and based on a solid analysis

The SAP-system is built up by a number of different IT and business components that need to be defined and decided based on the future business and IT requirements. It is obvious that the hardware platform is one of these components that needs to be defined, but the business processes and the ability to analyze the KPI’s cross countries in a harmonized way is dependent on how the enterprise structure is defined. Before you have defined and agreed upon the fundamentals around instances, clients, operating concerns and controlling areas to mention a few the business processes and the analytics should not even start to be defined. Unfortunately there have been projects where decisions regarding these areas have been taken without proper analysis or the magnitude of getting these things right not has been understood by the decisions makers. As a result, many enterprises have systems unable to support the needs of the future business. The consequence is very often an expensive reengineering and redeployment, where the system more or less needs to be rebuilt from scratch. This has become even more important in today’s hybrid environment with parts of the processes or data on-premise and parts in the cloud.

Best Practice #8 – Use a step-by-step agile approach with firm milestones

The traditional ASAP approach was based on a classical waterfall model representing a very structured implementation method, stepping through requirements capture, analysis, design, coding/configuration, and testing in a strict, pre-planned sequence. The issue with this approach was that it was often based on long Business blueprint and Realization phases where no or very limited interaction with the business stakeholders took place. This caused an obvious risk that the solution was misunderstood, that the stakeholder not were engaged and that the solution at the end not was according to expectations.

The new ASAP and also the new SAP Activate builds on an agile way of working. Use it! Break down the project scope into small increments and deliver them in time boxed iterations. This will not only create a better understanding and a better commitment it will also push the project members to focus on the milestone in 1-2 weeks than on a milestone 2-3 months away. Compare this to the mantra in sports of focusing on the next game.

Best Practice #9 – Select your pilot site carefully and make sure your first site is a success

To my experience the Global template shall be a live pilot and not a theoretical one. By using an approach of a live template for the selected pilot site you avoid tests based on fictitious data, academic discussions what should be included for the specific processes and master data etc. Therefore is one of the most important decisions to be taken very early in a large scale SAP implementation, the one related to the pilot site (plant, legal unit, country, unit etc). 

Of course, this approach still needs global alignment on certain design areas, anchoring with key global stakeholders etc but be aware that too much focus on consensus costs, kills time and have the risk of losing momentum and focus. The go live of the pilot is of course critical and the success will become a sales tool that lay the foundation for other sites and the team that have been part of the success will be the bearer of the new culture to implement systems and the new way of working.

Best Practice #10 – Define what the Global template is and what it’s not

Most global SAP-programs are based on a template and deployment approach. The approach as such is hard to question, but there are a few potential pitfalls.

Define what the global template is and what it’s not. Far too many SAP programs talks about the Global template as the Holy Grail and from a “cloudless” view in the steering committee meeting with the CEO it sounds good. But, far too many programs have not defined what the global template is supposed to contain in detail. Some refer the content of the global template to the business processes, some to the documents to be produced and others refer to it as something else. If such a fundamental component not has been defined, how can you then be sure that you have delivered according to expectations? I will not get into the details of what a SAP Global template shall contain in detail in this article, but stay tuned I’ll come back on this topic!

SAP announced earlier this year at SAPPHIRE that ASAP is to be replaced by the new SAP Activate. It is a combination of SAP Best Practices, guided configuration, and methodology optimized for S/4HANA. There are ready-to-run business processes optimized for S/4HANA, the configuration is guided directly in the system and the methodology builds on an agile way of working. If Activate delivers what it promises then it’s definitely a step in the direction to close the gap between reality and Martin Cobb’s paradox!

This article was written by Anders Nilsson from CapGemini: Capping IT Off and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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