3 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Uprooting Sales

September 24th, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

In 2015, Forrester caused a storm to brew when it announced that artificial intelligence (AI) would replace one million B2B sales jobs by 2020. This bold headline, however, failed to capture the entire picture. Sure, if sales reps continue to rely on age-old practices like cold calling and distributing spray-and-pray marketing collateral, their days are surely numbered. Yet, on the other hand, artificial intelligence has failed to live up to business expectations. Case in point: according to a recent white paper by Pactera Technologies and Nimdzi Insights, 85% of artificial intelligence projects fail to deliver on their intended promises to business. Artificial intelligence and human sales reps are not mutually exclusive entities. If sales reps adapt and exploit the ever-increasing capabilities of AI, they seek to gain from the emergence of AI.

Automating repetitive tasks

The majority of a sales rep’s time (63%) is consumed by non-revenue-generating activities. AI has enormous potential to free up sales reps’ time so that they can focus more effectively on selling, building relationships, and closing deals.

According to McKinsey, about half of a sales rep’s workload consists of activities that can be automated by AI. Consider, for example, time management and scheduling. Less than one third (28%) of sales reps adhere to a structured time management methodology. AI-powered scheduling and calendaring solutions go a long way in terms of transforming time management into time intelligence. Woven, for example, is an AI-powered calendar app created by Tim Campos, the former CIO of Facebook. Woven uses natural language processing to scan users’ email inboxes for signs of meeting requests. Its virtual assistant then generates suggested times to meet and sends emails to attendees to select a time option. The app even uses location data to account for travel time between meeting destinations.

Taking it one step further, it’s not all that hard to conceive of an app that gives sales reps recommendations as to how they should prioritize their days, depending on their chronotype.

In addition to scheduling, sales reps squander hours each day on email. The majority of sales reps’ time is spent on sales technology (62.8%), with sales-related email ravaging most of their time (33.2%). AI-powered apps can liberate sales reps from living in their inboxes. Crystal Knows, for example, uses AI and natural language processing to predict customers’ personalities and, in turn, create personalized email templates that will garner the best responses. It offers sales reps recommendations for specific language and phrasing, thereby saving them a lot of time scribing emails from scratch.

Identifying the best leads

Lead scoring is at the heart of any successful demand generation strategy. Enhancing lead scoring capabilities is top-of-mind for sales and marketing professionals alike. While lead scoring methods have become more refined, we’ve only scratched the surface. Only 17% of organizations rate their lead scoring initiatives as highly effective. Today, most leads that are passed from marketing to sales are of decent quality, but are not sales-ready. According to research by Demand Gen, an eye-popping 70% of marketing executives believe that the leads passed to sales are of decent quality, but many are not sales-ready. The result is that sales outreach is subpar. This speaks to why 50% of sales time today is spent on unproductive prospecting.

Enter AI. AI can monitor an arsenal of different signals to predict a specific lead’s readiness to purchase. Research by Gleanster Research reveals that half of leads are qualified, but not yet ready to buy. AI can unearth the lucrative sales-ready leads. B2B consumers are using more channels to engage with vendors than ever before—from review sites to social media platforms to online communities. AI can mine these platforms for buying signals, couple them with demographic, firmographic, and technographic information, and pinpoint which leads are sales-ready. It can account for nuances such as sentiment to predict buying propensity. In an ideal world, AI allows sales reps to transition from predictive to prescriptive selling by isolating why a lead is a particularly good fit.

Less than half of sales reps have data insights on customers’ propensities to buy. Yet, according to Harvard Business Review, companies that use AI for sales are able to increase their leads by 50%. AI helps eliminate the guesswork and empowers sales reps to focus their time most productively.

Enhancing customer relationships

A close read of Forrester’s report reveals that AI will affect different types of sales professionals differently. For “order takers”, who process customer orders that could be filled via self-serve channels, for “explainers”, who provide buyers with information about complex products, and for “navigators”, who help buyers understand what their companies need to purchase, job loss will be 33%, 25%, and 15%, respectively. But, for “consultants”, who help buyers understand what they need to purchase and who have vast knowledge about the buyer’s company, there won’t be any job loss. In fact, this subset will witness a 10% gain in available jobs.

The sales reps of the future will be a different breed compared to their ancestors. They will assume the essential role of consultants and advisors, leveraging AI to gain the trust and favor of customers. 79% of business buyers say it’s very important or absolutely critical to engage with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor and who adds value to their business. With a deeper understanding of customers’ needs, sales reps will be able to have more relevant and engaging conversations with customers. With knowledge of customers’ pain points, their reasons for buying, what obstacles need to be overcome, and which decision-makers are at the table, sales reps can creatively solve complex business problems that customers face.

We’ve come a long way since the term “artificial intelligence” was coined in 1955. Only in our current era has the sales profession started to realize the potential of AI. Contrary to some media headlines, AI will never uproot sales professionals entirely. The sales professionals of the future will work in tandem with AI, exploiting—and embracing—its capabilities to acquire new superpowers. Businesses that combine AI with human insights witness a 66% boost in productivity and a 61% increase in customer satisfaction, according to research by Forrester. The key is the marriage between AI’s IQ and humans’ EQ.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/falonfatemi/2019/09/19/3-ways-artificial-intelligence-is-uprooting-sales/#38ce05704df1

On-Premise and Cloud United with SAP Data Warehouse Cloud

September 17th, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

In implementing a cloud-based data warehousing solution, how can on-premise and cloud work together seamlessly? What do you do if you have an on-premise database already? Do you have to move all your data to the cloud? You have questions, and we have answers.

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud addresses some of the core challenges that businesses face when it comes to managing reporting and analysis in modern data environments. It provides pre-built templates, integration to SAP and other data sources, and the power and flexibility of SAP HANA in-memory processing to ensure agility, speed, and simplicity.

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is enterprise functionality made simple. Data marts and other data warehousing solutions are easy to build, allowing for faster implementation. Plus, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud removes barriers for departments, regions, divisions, or individual business users‒allowing them to set up data marts for projects and proactive research as needed.

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud’s simplified user interface makes it accessible to business users in a way that data warehousing solutions typically are not, giving a new level of access and control to the people who are closest to the data. It makes it easy to deliver a completed analytics solution that is flexible both in scope and access. And, critically, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud addresses the challenges associated with implementing a full cloud-based analytics solution whether data is located exclusively (or predominantly) on-premise, in the cloud, or in multiple clouds.

Getting to the Cloud

Introducing a cloud-based data warehousing solution in an environment where some or all of your data is currently on-premise raises questions about how the two environments can be made to work together successfully. What happens to the on-premise databases? Do you have to move them to the cloud or maintain copies of the data in two places?

The short answer is no—you don’t have to move it. That data can stay where it is, on-premise. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud can not only be used as a standalone cloud tool; it can integrate seamlessly with all your on-premise systems (whether they be SAP or non-SAP systems). You can either move the data to the cloud or access it remotely.

But “remotely” means something different where SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is concerned. The system provides simplified administration with centralized visibility and governance. This means that although the data may be located in two (or two dozen) different locations, it is being governed from one central point. The data warehouse cloud workflow concept treats the entire distributed data architecture as a single entity. It is your data repository. From an analytics perspective it is the single source of truth.

Finding the Balance

This allows organizations to find their individual balance between on-premise and in the cloud. Organizations with large on-premise databases don’t have to move to the cloud in a “big bang,” but can (for example) use SAP Data Warehouse Cloud to allow business users to extend the data provided by IT on-premise with their own data to conduct specialized reporting or analysis. This gives business users a cheap and flexible environment to conduct their individual analyses based on high quality, governed data from IT without interfering with the more stable IT backend systems. (Alternatively, an IT department can use SAP Data Warehouse Cloud to build new scenarios in the cloud—based on or combined with data they keep on-premise, allowing for an evolution into a full-fledged cloud data warehouse over time.)

Enabling business users to set up their own environments may be reminiscent of the classic “shadow IT” dilemma. But this is far from shadow IT. As Stefan Hoffmann outlines here, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud eliminates the painful security, trust, data quality, and other issues that come with shadow IT. It provides a new model of collaboration between IT and the business, in which the business has the flexibility and independence it needs while IT maintains the centralized governance that prevents chaos.

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud makes that evolution a smooth transition or a smooth series of transitions. For organizations looking to ultimately migrate to the cloud, SAP gives the option of defining as many steps along the way as makes sense for that enterprise. There are many possible hybrid configurations between a pure on-premise environment and a pure cloud environment, and SAP Data Warehouse Cloud supports all of them. You can take it fast or take it slow. The move to the cloud can be as agile, as gradual, and as incremental—or as accelerated—as makes sense for your business.

https://blogs.saphana.com/2019/07/08/on-premise-and-cloud-united-with-sap-data-warehouse-cloud/

Inclusive Leadership: How Joerg Wagner Uses a Future-Oriented Approach to Drive Inclusion

September 10th, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

Joerg Wagner is SAP’s Global Head of Consumer Industries and is involved in retail, consumer products, wholesale and life science for Digital Business Services and manages in this role 310 direct and approximately 200 indirect reports across the globe. He is also in charge for SAP’s location in St. Ingbert with 750 employees and has been with SAP for 29 years. He has found that a massive global team requires an equally massive commitment to diversity and inclusion in everything they do.

Inclusion is at the heart of Joerg’s initiatives with his team, and he credits the sense of trust he has built with his team for his ability to foster inclusion. Respect, trust, and honesty are all key tenants of Joerg’s leadership style, all of which led to his high leadership trust index far above SAP’s average. “How we deal with people and how we respect them should be two of our utmost priorities,” he went on to say.

• Has very high leadership trust index and has been with SAP for 29 years
• Values a trusting environment that gives employees the “freedom to fail”
• Has a diverse team with colleagues in Latin America, Spain, Canada, and Europe among others while women comprise 40% of his leadership team

When asked about how he achieved his high trust index, Joerg discussed his inclusive behaviors and said, “You need to be approachable, and you need to have an open-door policy and talk to everyone to make everyone feel welcome.” Joerg also credited giving his team freedom to make decisions and avoiding micromanaging, which are two integral aspects of his methodology. He aims to give employees the freedom to fail in order to drive innovation and find unique solutions.

Joerg values the freedom to fail because he believes it coincides with a freedom to grow. He believes a trusting environment is one that naturally lends itself to freedom and innovation, and he views micromanagement as a hindrance to freedom. Avoiding micromanaging empowers his team and Joerg believes, “If you micromanage, that means you lack trust.”

The sense of trust on his team is also a result of Joerg’s efforts to appear more as another team member than a manager. He also works to keep his communication style consistent regardless of his audience. Moreover, Joerg consistently steps outside of his comfort zone and meets new people to further his inclusion and collaboration capabilities. For example, he always sits at a different table with different people when he eats lunch. He says this is especially useful given his office location in Germany which sees newcomers daily. It gives him the opportunity to meet new people and learn what’s going on in other areas of the business.

Joerg’s team is a diverse one geographically, generationally, and in terms of gender. He has managers in Latin America, US, Canada, Asia, Switzerland, and Germany. Additionally, women make up 40% of his leadership team. Joerg says the diversity on his team has been extremely beneficial to the environment he attempts to cultivate since as he mentioned, “It creates an environment with a combination of rationale and empathy which is immensely helpful.”

Part of Joerg’s team diversity includes his focus on generational diversity – an approach that he thoughtfully refers to as, “future-oriented”. This future-oriented approach involves being flexible and focusing on a variety of communication methods such as What’s App, Instagram, Slack, or MS Teams as opposed to using email as a primary communication method.

Joerg tries to avoid hierarchies and ensures that students, interns, and new hires get visibility. When Joerg’s team hires students, the team hosts meetings where students can introduce themselves and share what they do. Joerg is also well-aware that while younger generations have less experience they have also grown up with technology and might be considered more digitally native than some of more senior developers. To take advantage of the skills of experienced developers and the digital insights of his younger talent, Joerg’s team pairs students and new hires with developers and consultants who coach them as both parties give and receive feedback.

In the future, Joerg aims to increase collaboration and drive inclusion across board areas as he views such collaboration as instrumental for achieving SAP’s future goals. Joerg envisions a future where different board areas are connected, and silos are non-existent. He remarked, “If you want to deliver the Intelligent Enterprise to customers, there is no one organization that can do this alone because you need the combination of every asset and brain, and you need to bring all of that together to deliver the best innovation to customers.”

https://blogs.sap.com/2019/09/09/inclusive-leadership-how-joerg-wagner-uses-a-future-oriented-approach-to-drive-inclusion/

SAP HANA – Hybrid Deployment Freedom of Choice for All

September 3rd, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

With data sources branching out — thanks to the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence use cases, and more — one thing has become clear: enterprises need the freedom to choose multiple deployment options. On-premise. In multiple clouds. Between clouds.

But using existing application integration tools like integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) or an API management system can be complex, especially if you need to extend thousands of workflows to the cloud or massively scale to support an IoT solution. Additionally, hyperscale cloud providers have a vested interest in making their services sticky and proprietary.

The solution: a hybrid integration platform that is open, flexible, and agile. The 2019 spring innovations of SAP HANA provides just that — a universal hub for running SAP HANA applications across multi-cloud, hybrid, and on-premise environments.

Integration Complexity and Lock-in

The hyperscale cloud providers deliver a great service. You don’t have to worry about buying, upgrading, and otherwise supporting hardware; handling software refresh cycles; reducing downtime; and providing myriad tools, security, or support. But if you want to move an application or service to another cloud or managed services provider, it’s a hassle. You have to do a lot of rework at the infrastructure layer to re-provision those apps or services on virtual or physical infrastructure.

According to research by Gartner, through 2020, that type of integration work will account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform. So, by 2022, at least 65% of large organizations will have implemented a hybrid integration platform. Such platforms will simplify, accelerate, and lower the costs of integration and introduce self-service capabilities for lines of business, subsidiaries, application development teams, and business users.

To-date, early attempts at hybrid integration platforms have had functional gaps that don’t solve all of the integration challenges. They don’t span all of the required user personas, integration domains, endpoints, and deployment models. For some SAP HANA customers, that has meant installing separate hardware for development, testing, and production for multiple cloud and on-premise deployments.

Achieving Hybrid Deployment Freedom and Agility

Most enterprises want to be able to extend their SAP HANA presence from their data centers to the clouds of their choice quickly and easily. They want to use the power of virtualized assets to query data sets wherever they are.

The most recent release of SAP HANA delivers a hybrid integration platform that lets you integrate premise-to-premise, cloud-to-cloud, and premise-to-cloud using process orchestration and cloud integration capabilities. With hyper-converged infrastructure solutions from SAP HANA-certified hardware partners like Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, and Lenovo, it’s easy to connect to all of your data and manage allocations of virtual compute, storage, and network resources.

Future-proof Your Data and Analytics Infrastructure

Look at what integration capabilities already exist within your organization. Are these solutions able to support your hybrid on-premise/cloud deployment needs going forward? Can they support integration for advanced analytics and IoT solutions that need to tap into multiple data stores, scale geographically, and handle huge data volumes and complex queries?

It’s important to keep in mind that today various departments within organizations are recognizing the power of data and analytics to lower costs, add revenue, seed new business models, and compete more effectively. IT should aspire to provide an environment that fosters experimentation by diverse stakeholders who have ideas for new services and applications. Most such initiatives will require integration with core IT systems, cloud services, and perhaps data silos.

Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud integration capabilities preserve your freedom to choose the best cloud service provider today and in the future. A hybrid integration platform gives your organization the flexibility to quickly expand to new geographies, to embrace new application development paradigms, and to take advantage of cutting-edge products and services from cloud innovators.

SAP HANA helps you keep all of your options open with powerful integration capabilities. Hyperconverged infrastructure means you don’t have to lift and shift your development environment into proprietary cloud or on-premise frameworks. You can choose the infrastructure, software, and cloud partners you want when you want them. You can switch to others, as needed. This is the essence of agility and freedom of choice in a dynamic world that is continually in flux.

https://blogs.saphana.com/2019/04/30/sap-hana-hybrid-deployment-freedom-of-choice-for-all/

SAP Cloud Platform’s Role within SAP’s Digital Platform

August 27th, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

The law of today’s business jungle is innovation – and SAP Cloud Platform and a multi-cloud strategy give you the agility to continuously adapt.

Keeping up with the relentless pace of business innovation and the technology that fuels it can be a daunting task. With constantly shifting customer expectations and an abundance of new applications that are easier than ever to adopt, enterprise technical landscapes are transforming on an almost daily basis.

So how do SAP customers keep pace? I think my colleague Irfan Khan said it best—the key to surviving and thriving in the twenty-first century business landscape is “a compelling digital foundation that not only unifies data systems and processes, but readies customers to continuously adapt to evolving business and technology conditions.”

The SAP digital platform draws on decades of SAP business process excellence and includes the integral and unifying SAP Cloud Platform—an innovation powerhouse for the integration, extension, and creation of corporate applications. The SAP Cloud Platform is a game changer for over 13,700 customers, representing companies of all sizes and industries all over the world. Distinguished by a modular, incremental approach, SAP Cloud Platform enables small, quick integration and extension projects that deliver value in only a few short weeks, or even in just a few days. After achieving near immediate measurable benefit on smaller projects, customers are increasing the scope and coverage of SAP Cloud Platform adoption to tackle bigger and more mission-critical application services projects.

An Integration and Extension Platform Supported by Business Services

The SAP Cloud Platform covers all aspects of integration, from SAP cloud applications to on-premises landscapes (and vice versa), to most major third-party solutions. Today’s enterprise landscape reality is a hybrid one—with on-premises solutions still heavily relied upon even as both SAP and non-SAP cloud application consumption rapidly rises. Our suite of integration options, along with prepackaged integration flows and business connectivity with third-party applications and APIs, allows customers to securely connect people, processes, data, and devices both inside and outside your organization.

All organizations need to distinguish themselves from the competition, and the SAP Cloud Platform plays an outsized role in helping businesses differentiate from the pack. Whether it’s adding custom settings to a new third-party cloud application or configuring an existing on-premises solution to meet new business challenges, SAP Cloud Platform provides productive and integrated approaches to extend existing cloud or on-premises solutions and applications.

Underpinning the platform’s key integration and extension functionalities are an enriching set of business services—including Analytics, Blockchain, Internet of Things, Master Data, Orchestration, and so much more—which help create a harmonizing layer of agility that spurs intelligent business solutions based on functional logic, which then stimulate growth and innovation.

Promoting Collaboration

SAP Cloud Platform also delivers an unparalleled, much needed collaboration between IT and decision-makers within the lines of business—a long-standing dilemma in our industry that, thanks to SAP Cloud Platform, might soon be a thing of the past.

Multi-Cloud Strategy

SAP Cloud Platform is based on open standards and supports multi-cloud environments, offering complete deployment flexibility and control for any cloud infrastructure, whether from SAP or from the major hyperscalers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba Cloud. Customers expect compatibility with their choice of cloud deployments, and SAP Cloud Platform delivers by focusing on integrating and extending applications, data, and processes, regardless of the backend infrastructure.

The Road Ahead

As an indispensable element of the SAP’s business technology platform, SAP Cloud Platform fuels corporate agility for quick and intelligent reactions to market conditions. Flexible integration and extension capabilities allow SAP Cloud Platform customers to integrate, extend, connect and differentiate in order to not only keep pace with the head-spinning speed of change in the digital age but also to adapt and evolve, keeping one step ahead of whatever tomorrow may bring.

https://blogs.saphana.com/2019/07/09/sap-cloud-platforms-role-within-saps-digital-platform/

How AI can transform Enterprises?

August 20th, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

Artificial Intelligence, more popularly known as AI, might no longer be the new technology on the block, but it is ‘the’ technology that everyone is talking about. Facial recognition, digital assistants, autopilots etc. are examples of the existing AI around us. AI is emerging as that disruptive technology that will change the way we live and work. While AI has been seen often in a consumer-centric world, the enterprise too is warming up to this technology.
2018 witnessed widespread adoption of AI in different industries as organizations realized the value AI brought to the table – be it in improving operations, assisting the data analytics drive, boosting innovation, and improving customer experience amongst other things. Owing to the immense value AI brings to the table, the global AI market size is expected to reach $169,411.8 million in 2025, from $4,065 million in 2016 growing at a CAGR of 55.6% from 2018 to 2025 according to MarketWatch.
So, what transformative value does AI bring for the enterprise? Here’s a look at how AI will transform enterprises and change the future of work.

1. The New age of Automation: AI is going to give automation the boost that it needs. As enterprises look towards technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), with AI we shall be moving into the world of Intelligent Process Automation. IPA combines process automation with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Machine learning (ML) and creates choreographic connections between people, processes, and systems. IPA will not only automate structured tasks but also generate intelligence from process execution.
IPA is all set to increase the level of transparency in business processes, optimizing back-office operations, increasing process efficiency and customer experience, and improving workforce productivity considerably. Along with this, IPA also holds the promise of reducing costs and risks and promises more effective fraud detection. Owing to these benefits, the IPA market is expected to be worth $13.75 billion by 2023.

2. The Rise and Rise of Chatbots: The friendly chatbot has already made some inroads into the enterprise. With AI, the chatbot invasion is going to become more pervasive in the enterprise of the future. Customer-facing industries such as retail, healthcare, banking, and financial services shall witness the rise of AI-powered voice assistants such as Alexa or Siri to create interactive experiences for the customer without pushing the load of delivering exceptional customer experiences on the staff alone.

Chatbots will also become the norm to service the internal customers of the organizations, the employees. Enterprise chatbots will be powered by AI technologies such as NLP (Natural Language Processing), semantic search, and voice recognition. They will enhance search capabilities and deliver a new way for employees to interact with corporate data to improve their productivity.

3. AI and the UX Impact: The focus on User Experience or UX is only going to keep increasing. With AI, the user experience will not be driven by guesswork but by faster analysis of the right data, by the enterprises in the future. User experiences with software products, even within the enterprise, have to mimic consumer-grade experiences.
Fluid, intuitive, efficient, and highly-personalized user experiences are going to be the norm. UX is also going to be the defining factor in product success and acceptance. Enterprises will look at the insights provided by AI by intelligent information gathering and identifying patterns to deliver greater value to the end-user. This will make the user experience of products highly intuitive and intelligent as well.

4. Greater Intelligent Customization Capabilities: As we move deeper into the age of personalization, enterprises will have to look towards technologies such as AI to develop intelligent customization capabilities. Data is already improving the customization capabilities of enterprises.
With cognitive technologies such as AI, they will be able to further improve their customization capabilities and create products that individual users will love. Leveraging user data and faster data-processing capabilities, AI can speed up interactions and provide intelligent insights to develop products and solutions that can be highly customized to meet user demands.
5. Cutting Edge Analysis To Bolster Data-Driven Decisions: AI will be leveraged in the enterprise to perform advanced data investigation in less time to improve business process, product, and service efficiencies. AI technologies have the capability to analyze usage patterns and then deliver deep insights that will take data-driven decision making to the next level.
Whether it is for predictive maintenance or predictive analytics for product development, or risk management or planning, the AI impact will make the enterprise smarter and more proactive in its decision-making.

6. AI In Software Development and Testing: Software Development and Testing will also feel the AI impact as this technology gets more pervasive. To respond to the market need for robust, reliable, and high-quality software that is delivered faster, AI technologies will get ingrained into the development and testing lifecycle.
With self-learning algorithms that are designed to self-improve, enterprises will be looking at improving the efficiency of the process of software development. They will leverage automated code-generation, among other things, and achieve a shorter time to market with greater confidence.

While AI has met with a certain resistance in the past, the coming years will see this technology achieve greater maturity. Given the immense value that AI can deliver, it is only a matter of time before AI will become a necessity for the enterprises that wish to remain relevant in this ever-evolving and competitive marketplace.

https://www.thinksys.com/ai/ai-transform-enterprises/

Are we set for the Blockchain Age in Data Storage?

August 13th, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

Although Blockchain came into the limelight with the cryptocurrency bitcoin, in the last year or so, companies have become increasingly aware of how Blockchain can bring about transformation across industries. With the cloud storage market expected to grow to $88.91 billion by 2022, the decentralized storage industry is rapidly gaining popularity, and Blockchain will be critical to its success. Since data storage – especially critical financial data – is always vulnerable to security breaches, migrating data from private data centres onto public Blockchains can help enterprises decentralize storage, thereby enhancing availability, scalability, and security of data.

Current Challenges:

It is not hard to imagine the ever-increasing volume of financial data that is being generated. Data, which will also then have to be managed, stored and analyzed for effective business decision-making. Connected devices, mobile apps, and the increasing need to share data across businesses are all contributing to the increasing demand for storage that is highly available, scalable, and secure.

Businesses that are looking to launch new, data-driven applications face a sea of challenges with respect to time, effort, and management to provision new datasets and databases.

Traditional cloud storage networks are also known to come with latency challenges. Since most of the time, the data that gets stored in a data center will not be in the same location as the business, delays in delivery are the norm – and that doesn’t work well in the financial context where delays of milliseconds can cause huge losses.

What’s more, the need for large databases also necessitates the need for managing large data centers, that require frequent temperature control, periodic updating, and rigorous upkeep -all expensive.

In addition, the road towards a richer, more data-centric way of working is further challenged by a global phenomenon of data breaches from centralized data centers. The outcome is worrisome – the growing storage needs of businesses are driving extraordinarily large volumes of data to be stored in centralized databases.

This creates risk at a scale never seen before. This necessitates the need for de-centralizing data storage, that can not only minimize the risk of a complete shutdown but also ensure efficiency and transparency of data storage.

The Benefits of Decentralized Storage:

As most current cloud-based databases are highly centralized, they are tempting targets for data breaches. Cloud Storage Companies do have several mechanisms in place to avoid the loss of data, such as dispersing duplicate files across various data centers to avoid a breach. That said, decentralizing storage would more or less eliminate the risk and repercussions of disruptions.

Although current networks need to evolve in order to accommodate such decentralized storage infrastructure, the day is not far when data will be supported by a network of decentralized nodes in a more user-friendly and cost-effective manner than the current, central database solutions.

Decentralized storage works by distributing the data across a network of nodes, thereby reducing the strain on a single node or database. Since it utilizes geographically distributed nodes, decentralized storage can avert such catastrophes and ensure the company’s data is always protected. As data is stored across hundreds of individual nodes, intelligently distributed across the globe, no single entity can control access – thus improving security and decreasing costs.

Any attack or outage at a single point will not result in a domino effect, as other nodes in other locations will continue to function without interruption. The distributed nature of these nodes also makes decentralized storage highly scalable, as companies can leverage the power of the network and achieve better up-time.

The Role of Blockchain:

Although one of the biggest achievements of the Internet era has undoubtedly been cloud data storage, it is already under threat of being replaced by Blockchain storage technology. As the need for decentralized storage becomes more and more relevant, the storage industry is looking to make the most of Blockchain’s distributed ledger technology.

Blockchain paves the way for user-centric storage networks, where companies can move data from the current centralized databases to Blockchain data storage, and benefit from a more agile, customizable system. Because storage gets distributed across nodes, companies can enjoy a better speed of retrieval and redundancy by accessing data from the node that is closest to them.

With such attributes that meet the practical demands of storing high volumes of data, Blockchain will partition databases along logical lines that can only be accessed by a decentralized application using a unique key. Such a decentralized network of storage nodes not only reduces latency but also increases the speed by retrieving data in parallel from the nearest and fastest node.

And because there are so many geographically dispersed nodes in a network, the reliability and scalability of decentralized storage are greater. What’s more, since the devices in the nodes aren’t owned or controlled by a single vendor but by several individuals, the availability and reliability of data are improved even further.

The Way Forward:

As industries battle issues of the security and confidentiality of data, the evolution of Blockchain has come like a boon. Touted as a technology with the potential to transform every industry, Blockchain could be particularly beneficial in the data storage game.

By improving business efficiency and bringing transparency in how enterprises store business data, Blockchain is poised to offer myriad benefits such as shared control of data, easy auditing, and secure data exchange. While it may take time for Blockchain to become the default choice for businesses looking to meet their ever-increasing storage needs, it won’t be long before the world opts for this secure, efficient, and scalable solution in an increasingly data-starved world.

https://www.thinksys.com/blockchain/are-we-set-for-blockchain-in-data-storage-age/

4 Project Management Trends On The Horizon…Are You Ready?

July 26th, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

Project management has been a critical business discipline for decades and with the fast paced societal, environmental, economic and technological changes on the horizon, it’s important to consider how these changes will impact how organizations manage and execute projects. More importantly, enterprising professionals should consider what they can do proactively to be prepared to ride the wave! Let’s explore four project management trends on the horizon and specific steps you can take to be prepared.

Trend #1 – Increasingly, Projects Will Be Impacted By Artificial and Data Intelligence Technology

The U.K. based Association for Project Management (APM) references this Fourth Industrial Revolution in their Projecting the Future report. While no one knows precisely how Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will impact project management, virtually everyone is certain that it will. Jon Broome, Chair of APM’s Contracts & Procurement Special Interest Group suggests that AI technology will likely automate many administrative project management functions. For example, he expects “First draft programme schedules and risk registers will be created by AI using hard data.” Furthermore, Michael DePrisco, Vice President Global Solutions, Project Management Institute (PMI) points out that, “While traditional project management roots focused on tasks like scheduling and tactical planning, AI will likely automate much of that functionality thereby shifting the Project Manager’s core focus to understanding how to leverage this technology to deliver more value for customers.”

How You Can Prepare: Don’t try to become an AI expert, but talk to thought leaders in your industry to identify the most likely areas of automation and AI impact. Then incorporate professional development opportunities around those specific areas into your training plan.

Trend #2 – Project Managers Will Need Broader Skills…Ranging from AI to EI

Seemingly, both technical and soft skills may be in higher demand for project managers (and those in project management related positions) in years to come. On the technical side, project managers will more likely become engaged on projects that incorporate or in some way touch AI related technologies (e.g. robotics, blockchain, data science, machine learning, etc.); therefore, this will require them to acquire some basic rudimentary knowledge base in these areas.
On the other end of the spectrum, as projects become more complex and interconnected, project managers will need to collaborate with (and ultimately seek to satisfy) broader groups of stakeholders. As a result, soft skills will become more important ingredients for project success. Broome insists, “Project managers will have to be masters of influence and soft skills because projects will have more stakeholders outside the core team who are affected by and receive the completed project.” Director, Strategy and Project Management with Medtronic Corporate Science & Technology, Dr. Michael O’Connor adds, “Mastering the triple constraint will no longer be enough. Project Managers of the future will need to be multi-faceted and multi-skilled.”
“The new professional reality demands a combination of technical and project management skills, leadership skills and strategic and business management skills – along with the ability to learn and keep pace with technology,” says DePrisco. “Digital skills such as data science, security, privacy knowledge and the ability to make data-driven decisions are needed for the PM of the future.”
Furthermore, PMI predicts a significant skills gap in their recent report “Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017– 2027”.
“Across the globe, there’s a widening gap between employers’ need for skilled project management workers and the availability of professionals to fill those roles. The shortage of qualified talent poses a notable risk for organizations that rely on that talent to implement strategic initiatives, drive change and deliver innovation. The talent gap could result in a potential loss of some $207.9 billion in GDP through 2027 for the 11 countries analyzed.”

How You Can Prepare: Be sure you’re focusing on both technical and relationship skills in your individual training plan. As most professionals have natural strength in one area and weakness in the other, consider soliciting 360 degree feedback to get a sense of others’ perceptions of your primary developmental areas.

Trend #3 – Project Managers Will Increasingly Embrace Customized or Hybrid Project Management Approaches and Methodologies

Increasingly, project managers and organizations seem to be looking for methodology flexibility in an attempt to accommodate rapidly changing project environments. In 2017, PMI bundled the Agile Practice Guide with the PMBOK Guide – Sixth Edition. PMI’s DePrisco shares that “the Guide was developed in response to stakeholder requests asking us for more content on agile and to provide tools, situational guidelines and an understanding of the various agile approaches available to enable better results.”
This release may be just another sign of the increasingly popular agile project delivery approach that prioritizes speed to market and change readiness over processes, plans and documentation. These increasingly commonplace agile practices should create exciting options for project focused organizations whether they adopt the approach fully or develop their own hybrid agile methodology.
While there are long standing debates about different project management approaches (e.g. Waterfall vs Agile), there are clear advantages to each. While some will argue that these approaches are diametrically opposed and therefore mutually exclusive, my own personal experience begs to differ. Over the course of my project management career, my organizations typically leaned towards hybrid, blended project management approaches in fact. Decades ago (prior to knowledge of the waterfall/agile lexicon), our teams incorporated many “agile” style practices into our traditionally managed projects. For example, we took time to flesh out a project charter early on, but we also emphasized that it would be a dynamic document that would need to be updated as the project progressed. We maintained a “waterfall style” project schedule, but we embraced the concept of rapid prototyping and built shorter phases into our overall schedule. While we never used the term “agile” to describe our project, we conducted daily standing hallway huddles in lieu of more formal status meetings. We incorporated these agile style practices not to comply with a particular methodology (indeed, the term “agile” hadn’t become prominent in the project management zeitgeist at that point), but because we felt they best complemented our traditional project management approach. As Agile and other project management approaches gain additional traction and become more commonplace, project managers (and those working in project management environments) should certainly become familiar with the full spectrum of project management philosophies and methods.

How You Can Prepare: Pick one day a week to watch 30 minutes of online videos on different project management methodologies during your lunch hour.

Trend #4 – Project Management Teams Will Become Increasingly Diverse

SHRM’s 2016 Future Insights report confirms the generally accepted belief that workplaces will continue to become more and more diverse in the coming years. Arguably, factors like changing parental roles, shifting policies and attitudes regarding sexual orientation/gender identity, increasing globalization, and an aging workforce will result in increasingly diverse project teams. While these types of diversity are more readily expected, there are other more subtle types of diversity to consider as well. Teams of tomorrow will have increasingly varied types of workers (including full time, part time, contractor/freelance, remote, etc.) potentially complicating administrative operations, day to day communications and team dynamics. Finally, as younger employees in particular tend to have increased social corporate responsibility expectations, this diversity of thought/values can present yet another opportunity to consider differences. Overall, the trend towards increasingly diverse teams will create a broad range of issues for project teams to contend with as they strive to collaborate effectively and efficiently. While some issues might be minor, practical considerations and others broader overarching ones – both can significantly impact team culture and cohesiveness.

How You Can Prepare: Develop a list of discussion questions to solicit feedback on key issues about how the team will work together. This discussion is a healthy way to move past polite agreement and identify areas of potential conflict. This conflict management can be a healthy tool in the development of a high performing team.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danabrownlee/2019/07/21/4-project-management-trends-on-the-horizonare-you-ready/#597bc1236769

11 Ways to Start Making a Horizontal Career Move

May 9th, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

We often think of growth as linear and vertical, but that isn’t always the case. While many employees work upward toward a leadership role, climbing the ladder isn’t the only way to progress in your career. For instance, a professional might develop a passion for a role in an entirely different department and make a lateral move to a job at the same level.

Just because a new position isn’t necessarily at a “higher” level than a current one doesn’t mean someone’s not advancing their professional skills. Here’s how 11 members of Forbes Coaches Council recommend beginning your path to horizontal career growth.

  1. Ask For Professional Recommendations

Know the perceived skill gaps in your experience that are needed for the new role. Fill the gaps through great recommendations. For example, if you want to manage people but haven’t formally done it, have someone give you a reference (preferably on LinkedIn) highlighting your leadership skills and how much they enjoyed working on a project that you led. – Jennifer Thompson, Deviant Thinking

  1. Seek Experiences That Will Prepare You For The C-Suite

We have advised clients to take a horizontal move in the spirit of gaining international experience and/or experience in another division in preparation for a C-level role in the future. The more cross-pollinated one’s background is in terms of geographic, economic, profession and business function exposure, the more likely a candidate is to be included in succession planning. – Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes LLC

  1. Know Your Personal and Professional Motivations

Lateral moves can provide new opportunities for development and future vertical movement by exposing you to new skills and interests, as well as allowing you to show your strengths in a different arena. Take time to make sure your new lateral role aligns to your personal motivations and professional goals and provides you the challenge to keep you energized for the learning curve. – Tonya Echols, Vigere

  1. Understand And Identify Your Transferable Skills

First, identify your top strengths. We’ve used Clifton Strengths often to help clients identify where they shine and what gives them energy. Then, map your strengths and experience to the horizontal role you are seeking. You may be surprised to see how your strengths and current role can support your success in many other roles. Share this mapping with the hiring manager. – Sandy Schwan, Evolving Strategies LLC

  1. Seek a Job-Shadowing Opportunity

Climbing the career ladder sometimes means taking a sidestep. Start having conversations with someone who is doing the job for which you aspire. Ask if they would be willing to have you “shadow” them, either on a formal or an informal basis. This type of cross-training presents opportunities to acquire new skills. If they agree, be prepared to reciprocate, because giving is a two-way street. – Daisy Wright, The Wright Career Solution

  1. Volunteer for a Newly Launched Project

One of the best ways to make a horizontal move is to zigzag into a newly formed group responsible for launching something new or innovative. Not only will life become very exciting, but you’ll also develop a broader range of knowledge and skills. This kind of offshoot team usually has high visibility, so it will keep you in a strong position for a vertical move in the future if you wish. – Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Leadership Academy

  1. Network with Other Departmental Leaders

Network with leaders in different functional areas. Ask what a move like this could mean to your career. How could they utilize you? How do you start the process? What other skills or experiences must you have to be considered? Go prepared with the strengths and skills you bring to the table. Have examples to show your initiative, ability to learn and create success, and positive teamwork. – Bobbie Goheen, Synthesis Management Group

  1. Design Your Growth with Self-Awareness

Horizontal moves are great when upward mobility in a company is limited. Start with self-awareness: who you are (passions, talents, values) and who you want to be (vision). Seek trusted advisors to uncover your options. Be bold in building relationships and learning from others. Know that most paths to “success” are self-defined, and growth requires both intention and commitment. – Erin Rocchio, Erin Rocchio Consulting, Inc.

  1. Seek Out Learning Opportunities

Be open about your desire to change. Be curious. Be ready to learn. Smart companies would much rather see you in the right position than at a competitor. Let your managers know you’re looking for a change and why. Then, be curious. Look for responsibilities outside your day-to-day role. This will give you exposure to the new skills, knowledge and processes that a horizontal move may require. – Mark Savinson, Strategy to Revenue

  1. Engage In Projects You’re Passionate About

The practical reality is that the fastest way to success is doing something you are passionate about. If you engage in projects and organizations you are interested in, you will naturally be curious and work on developing your knowledge and skills. This, in turn, will increase your reputation and credibility. As a result, you will become someone in high demand and will be offered opportunities. – Jean Ali Muhlbauer, People at Work

  1. Create Your Own Career Lattice

Lateral career moves make you more versatile, broaden your exposure to stakeholders and increase your strategic flexibility. The first step is to create a future roadmap. Figure out the role you’ll want to hold in two to five years and what skills and experience will help get you there. Then, ask your manager, mentors and peers what lateral roles will give you the experience you need. – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/05/02/11-ways-to-start-making-a-horizontal-career-move/#39c549e510b4

 

Nine Out-Of-The-Box Project Management Tips for Tech Teams

May 2nd, 2019 by blogadmin No comments »

Project management is an essential part of getting things done and achieving business goals. Through careful planning and executing, team members can collaborate to complete specific tasks or projects. However, with tech development, there are many unique challenges that “standard” task management strategies may not be able to help with.

If you want to find solutions better-suited for your tech staff, you might have to dig a little deeper. The experts of Forbes Technology Council share their go-to project management tips for tech teams.

  1. Align Expectations Early

Active dialogue inside the team—with developer teams as well as with business stakeholders—helps to establish a common vocabulary as well as shared expectations for the resulting collaboration. For example, a client thinks a task is simple to implement when in reality it is far more involved. Aligning those expectations early sets your project up for maximum client satisfaction. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

  1. Measure All Tasks against the Big Picture

Too often, tech teams are only knowledgeable about their specific tasks instead of the bigger picture. Knowing the business drivers, timelines, other deliverables, dependencies and the like contributes not only to a better understanding of the project holistically, but can also adjust and improve how individuals work towards the ultimate goal. – Brian Contos, Verodin Inc.

  1. Keep an Eye on Scope Creep

Scope creep is without question the most common reason tech development projects fail. Interestingly, even if a change in scope is properly documented, vetted, approved and even announced, the stakeholders will often only remember that the project was not delivered on time and/or on budget. Deviations from scope must be resisted at all costs and saved for later iterations of the product(s). – Todd Rebner, Cyleron

  1. Keep Your Teams Working Closely Together

Almost everyone’s begun the transition to agile or scrum approaches for project management. But if you are incorporating machine learning or data-driven analytics into your product, project management is very different. Some organizations have data-science teams that are completely walled off from software development, but things are much more effective if the teams work closely together. – Alex Bates, The Sandbox San Diego

  1. Align Tasks with A Specific Business Objective

Rather than just “completing” the task, the team should also check if that task fulfills the business objective. Usually, teams focus only on completing the task but never analyze if the task achieves the desired business requirement for which it has been defined. Strict time management is another crucial aspect that each team member needs to adhere to, as that sets the discipline of the project. – Sachin Deshpande, Qualitas IT Private Limited

  1. Consider the Complete Product Experience

Tech teams should take a holistic view of the value they are creating for customers. It is not just about completing the work right in front of you, which a project-oriented mindset typically demands. After all, your product or service is not just a collection of to-dos and bits of technology. It is the complete experience (marketing, sales, support) and relationship that you and customers share. – Brian de Haaff, Aha!

  1. Run Project Postmortem Sessions

Run project post-mortem sessions, as this helps you close the feedback loop and improve. If it’s possible, run such sessions after each major stage of a project. It will help you change the focus or tweak the acceptance criteria if it is needed. Requirements of big projects can change fast, and tech people don’t like it when at the end of a project the thing they’re working on is already outdated. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround

  1. Kill Distractions

It’s becoming increasingly clear that our modern workflows are constantly interrupted by email, Slack, texts and other messaging systems that kill productivity. Often, what author Cal Newport would call “deep work”—long, undistracted stretches where one’s expertise and mental capacity are stretched to their limits—is necessary to break through on a highly complex and difficult task. – Timothy Chaves, ZipBooks Accounting Software

  1. Be Flexible, But Keep The End Goal In Mind

Responding to changing conditions and necessities is as important as adhering to a project roadmap. Being flexible while keeping your eye on the prize is key in order to succeed where standard guidelines break apart. Being empirical as opposed to theoretical in challenging moments takes one far and unleashes creativity, which is key for creative problem-solving during complex projects. – Gabriel Fairman, Bureau Works

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Expert Panel, Forbes Technology Council

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/05/01/nine-out-of-the-box-project-management-tips-for-tech-teams/#41b316728eda