Archive for September, 2019

3 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Uprooting Sales

September 24th, 2019

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.

On-Premise and Cloud United with SAP Data Warehouse Cloud

September 17th, 2019

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.

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

September 10th, 2019

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.”

SAP HANA – Hybrid Deployment Freedom of Choice for All

September 3rd, 2019

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.