by Paul Gaynor

Let your people guide you when adding capabilities to the cloud

Jun 04, 2018
Cloud ComputingIT Leadership

To build a truly intelligent enterprise with emerging technology, business transformation must be guided by human insights and needs.

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Credit: Getty Images

As companies accelerate their migration to the cloud, they’re gaining more than efficiency and collaboration tools. In this new era of cloud adoption, it’s now possible to add powerful capabilities to the enterprise cloud, such as AI, blockchain, advanced analytics and IoT management.

These new tools can transform businesses, but unlike migrating a database or enterprise resource planning (ERP) function to the cloud, for example, there’s no plug-and-play solution for adding these capabilities. They’re too new. And we’re still exploring how to use them to solve old business problems.

Each year, I look forward to seeing advancements in cloud technology at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW, and this year I’m excited to explore all the new ways emerging technologies are being adapted to cloud capabilities to build the business of tomorrow. But it’s also made me think about how companies are actually adopting and using emerging technologies – or failing to.

As technologists will tell you, it’s possible today to build a truly intelligent enterprise in the cloud, but from a business perspective, I can tell you that adopting technology to create an intelligent enterprise won’t do anything for your bottom line unless the technology makes jobs more streamlined and efficient for your people.

But if deployed strategically, emerging technologies can deliver what we call intelligent digital, business transformation in the cloud that is guided by human needs and human insights.

Investing in the right technology

A competitive advantage doesn’t come from blindly throwing new technologies at your company simply to be cutting edge. It comes from using the right technology to solve the right business problems.

Each emerging technology has a different set of capabilities suited to solve different kinds of business problems. Blockchain authenticates transactions and adds trust to decentralized, arms-length interactions. Machine learning automates redundant processes, reveals new insights and makes predictions. IoT adds data and interactivity to objects and physical spaces that were previously “inert” to other digital tools.

These are powerful tools, that can make powerful solutions possible, but how do you know what problems to solve? Start with problems so old, they’ve almost faded into the background of daily work. Look to your organization’s pain points. Try to answer the following questions before deciding to invest in emerging technology.

  • Where are your employees spending their time (especially on work they don’t enjoy or that does not directly impact the bottom line)? Paperwork? Scheduling? Customer service?
  • Where are your physical spaces, products or resources lagging behind your existing digital capabilities in the cloud?
  • What frustrations do your customers or suppliers have? How can these frustrations be relieved?
  • Where are you held back from partnering, collaborating or sharing information by security risks and other trust issues? Or where are you spending heavily on trust and security?

These questions will help you discover your organization’s needs and strategically decide on which technologies to invest in to assure they will help employees do their jobs better and create a better experience for customers.

For example, if your employees are bogged down in manual tasks, machine learning can automate repetitive tasks to free them up for more rewarding work. Or if employees spend hours each day authenticating paperwork, invest in blockchain to handle paperwork without human oversight. Launch a small-scale experiment with smart contracts or tokens.

Creating a competitive advantage

Once you have a better understanding of the pain points within your organization, it’s easier to determine how the cloud can become more intelligent to enhance the power of your employees.

At SAPPHIRE Now, I’m excited to see how other companies have been using the cloud to gain a competitive advantage. I have personally seen how companies who adopt cloud-based analytics technology have benefitted, including a Fortune 50 consumer business, footwear brand and healthcare manufacturing company.

These companies used cloud capabilities paired with other technologies to analyze their organization’s data and improve efficiencies while also lowering costs and reducing risk. As a result, these companies have seen a reduction in costly and time-consuming human errors, improvement in leadership’s ability to make smart business decisions, and stronger allocation of resources and capital based on insights from data.

Arming business leaders with the insights needed to invest in the right technologies to solve problems will ultimately allow employees to shift their focus from redundant tasks to activities that generate value for the company. The ability to be agile and simplify work through cloud-based analytics is key to enabling success and gaining a competitive advantage.

As the use of enterprise cloud evolves, we will continue to learn how to enhance the way we work through analytics and insights. I expect a common theme at SAPPHIRE NOW this year will be adapting emerging technologies to the cloud. Every company is imagining new solutions using the powerful tools we now have in the cloud. In this new era, we can learn from each other, taking the inspiration to solve old problems in unexpected ways. Humans, not data, know these problems best. We know them intimately, and we’ll create the solutions of the future.