One thing that stood out to me when reviewing partner content from this year was the common topics of data and processes. It’s a natural thread that runs through the enterprise, regardless of specialism. New use cases continue to emerge with learnings about challenges being faced by companies right now, from start-ups to long-term established vendors.
We’re all looking for something we can relate to. Whether it’s a problem we’re currently experiencing, pitfalls to avoid ahead of starting a new project, or ideas to inspire change. This is where project authority can take the shape of customer examples - how they met a particular challenge and the practical steps they took to overcome it, including the lessons and changes they learned along the way.
Here are some examples from diginomica’s partner family.
Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) practices have increasingly come under scrutiny - essential to attracting customers, reducing costs and improving the supply chain. Todd Wells reflected on some steps IT leaders can take to bring ESG into their day-to-day mix of priorities:
Digital tools that employ the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to improve ESG practices like product transparency. For example, sensors can identify a product’s origin, letting companies know where the item was sourced or created. Some AI-enabled tools can alert you when a product needs to be refurbished—preventing the item from breaking down beyond repair. Such actions are more difficult to accomplish without advanced technology, which hints at the benefits that digital tools can unlock.
Finger on the pulse - Geoff Scott shared the five themes that stood out from the latest SAP Customer research, including S/4HANA implementations and challenges, staffing, and cloud adoption:
We asked respondents to tell us how they did, or how they’ll find skilled talent to work on their SAP S/4HANA projects. The top answer? Permanent staff who learned SAP S/4HANA on the job (54%). Additionally, compared to previous years, more organizations are relying on implementation partners to provide the staff they need for SAP S/4HANA projects (+14%). This isn’t surprising since SAP S/4HANA is the top skillset missing or lacking at organizations, thus the need to fill the gap.
John Appleby threw down the buzzword gauntlet and drew from a real-life use case to get to the heart of what hyperautomation really means - and why it’s not all about technical wizardry:
Tasks where items ‘in’ and items ‘out’ must match are also ideal for hyperautomation. Think of the reconciliation that must happen on a trading floor. Do the ‘buys’ match up with the ‘sells’? It’s an extremely important question as it could be worth millions. In the same way, stock of widgets coming into a warehouse and going out for distribution must be closely monitored to ensure profitability and stock and order management. You can’t deliver a good customer experience if you don’t know what you have available to sell.
Sustainability in managing everyday enterprise operations was picked up by Vaishnavi Sashikanth after noting that the average individual business process runs across more than 10 different systems. Why does this matter? Here's why.
Process inefficiencies are the silent killers in businesses, and they can't be seen without process mining. When process inefficiencies are seen and fixed, business performance increases, as well as the flexibility to react to business disruptions, inflation, pandemics and sustainability requirements.
Data complexity isn’t a new problem. But it does need to be tackled rather than being left to individual parts of the business. Travis Hoffman makes the case for introducing a role to the C-Suite dedicated to meet that need:
Trying to establish complexity transformation in a piecemeal, siloed fashion will likely only lead to more of it. This won't serve the business well as it's also trying to establish a centralized data mesh. The work of a Chief Complexity Officer should align to the goals of data product ownership, self-serve data, and well-supported but independent teams.
Vincent Toesca shone a light on Coupa’s business spend management community and highlighted some of the areas where professionals are standing out with their decision making and processes:
We found that, in addition to funneling more of their spend through contracts with trusted suppliers, high-performing companies are able to speed the pace of approval, going from requesting a contract to the contract being signed within an average of 8 business days. No longer do businesses have to choose between delaying the business benefits of new agreements or moving forward without the protections of a contract.
Change is the only constant, as Scott Brown emphasized - particularly for service organizations. As CIOs look to counter disruption, what should they be looking for?
By bringing all their business systems together in a unified cloud-based environment, they can reduce the distance and disconnects between tools and deliver fully-synchronized solutions. A complete, unified platform — one that delivers a seamless experience and enables information and processes to flow freely among everyone in the organization — is the fundamental building block required to support continuous transformation.
Data-hungry HiPPos? The data theme continued as Mona Popli explained why there’s no room for error in meeting the needs of customers and reducing friction.
A recent IDC survey, sponsored by Heap, confirmed that data-mature companies — meaning businesses that leverage quantitative and qualitative data in decision making — realize a 3.2x increase in revenue and a 2.4x increase in profits over the lagging firms. Despite these gaps, the same survey found 69% of companies forgo data-based evidence and make decisions based on the Highest Paid Person’s opinion (HiPPo) or gut instinct.
When it comes to the power of connected manufacturing and the application of engineering and design data, three industries came into focus for Michael Ouissi:
In my experience with IFS, down at the asset level is where our customers are really exploring the value of digital twins right now. In particular, there are three industries where digital twin technology is really taking hold — energy, utilities & resources, manufacturing, and aerospace & defense.
Neptune Software - Developers, you got it all wrong – 5 common misconceptions about low-code
More myth-busting! Matthias Steiner brought home the importance of changing IT’s role from gatekeeper to enabler with five frank facts on no-code/low-code, including:
The third misconception is that no-code/low-code toolsets produce solutions of lesser quality or introduce more technical debt. The reality is the exact opposite! The latest generation of these platforms primarily boost developer productivity by offering re-usable, modular components or application building blocks, avoiding the need to reinvent the wheel while providing guardrails. That leads to more consistency - both within the technology stack (opinionated platform) and visually in terms of digital experience and branding.
Leo Leung addressed the risk of banks putting all of their eggs into one basket - and the benefits of multi-cloud:
Banks need to look for a broad set of deployment options that meet their business objectives. For example, certain workloads need to consider data residency and the ability to leverage cloud services within physical boundaries. Also, critical applications might need low latency due to their transactional nature and interdependency with other applications or users.
Finance and accounting teams have certainly had their work cut out to manage challenges in the last year. Grant Halloran addressed the new expectations on CFOs, and ways they can continue to demonstrate their value:
Enterprises are calling upon the Office of the CFO to increase participation in decisions outside of its own departments, including HR, operations, marketing, R&D, and beyond by creating data-driven, finance-forward cultures. To achieve these ends and facilitate business clarity in this new era, CFOs must expand their scope. Those who do will thrive in this Golden Age for CFO technology, but only if they have the information necessary to act strategically and with confidence.
Rimini Street - Why your tech support services need to ‘Shift Left’
Automation alone isn’t enough to deliver knowledge and assistance to customers. Pat Phelan and Renee Wells of Rimini Street explain how to walk the line in tech support:
Some organizations see a Shift Left strategy as mainly enabled through automation. Others focus on redeploying human resources. In our view IT service providers are best served by a combination of the two, walking the fine line between leveraging digital investments - such as AI-powered self-service - that put information right at the customer's fingertips on the one hand, and delivering personalized assistance from enabled and empowered experts on the other.
Sage Intacct - Planning at the speed of business
Brian Martell referenced the “million spreadsheet march” with a customer example of the before and after experience of business planning:
Before switching to Sage Intacct, they used to be managed in 17-tab Excel spreadsheets, each with up to 500 rows and 30 columns. Those spreadsheets were massive and formula-driven, so if one formula got messed up, you’d break your whole spreadsheet. We had multiple people entering data, so it was easy for human errors to happen. If we found a mistake in a formula, we’d have to fix it 16 times.
As digital developments continue to grow across the global workforce, the staff using them are scrambling to keep up. Death by PowerPoint seminar isn’t the way to address the skills gap. Peter Schwarz unpacks three focus areas to close the digital chasm:
One strategy for reaching younger generations is to gamify learning. Workers who grew up playing video games are already familiar with acquiring digital skills on the fly, and educating others. Gaming platforms can partner with businesses and schools to deliver innovative learning tools that help the gaming generation master digital skills. Platforms like Open Social have done this already.
On the road again - Philip van der Wilt delivered a customer example of practical application of data in the logistics industry with Fraiken:
As the data started to roll in, it started to pose all manner of questions. For instance, why the vehicles operating from one Glasgow depot are doing 30% less MPG compared to those in other logistics hubs. Figuring that out — along with all the other data that is being amassed — is changing the nature of every conversation that Fraikin is having with its customers.
Sumair Dutta demonstrated the importance of listening to the voice of experience within service organizations. Feedback from technicians is vital when planning improvements and changes. Here’s one reason why:
From a technician’s perspective, better connectivity across the organization is needed with sales and the supply chain, but they also see the value of being involved in product design and customer success initiatives. Their referrals and networks can also be a major plus for recruitment, training, and other talent initiatives.
Life sciences company Bayer used low-code to standardize systems and processes for its large legal and compliance team covering 100+ countries. Hamiedha Sahebzada delved into how they got there, and the result:
Close to 30,000 requests were handled via the LPC platform since it was rolled out in the last year, with an automation rate as high as 80% for some processes. By freeing legal and compliance professionals from mundane, repetitive manual processes, there’s more space to focus on other value-add tasks – which has seen cost savings rise to as high as 30%.
Andrew Busby got into ergonomics using the concept of a digital backbone to strike the right balance between change and technology to reduce supply chain friction. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be painful:
We have seen initiatives from companies to move centers of production to either reduce labor cost or shorten distance for transport into the US, minimizing potential physical disruptions. However, simply uprooting these functions is risky. The biggest risk of change is whether these new partners share the same commitment to a digitized supply chain.
Tercera - Who will win the digital commerce race?
2026 may seem like a long way away - but the race is already on for providers to capture the projected e-commerce prize. Coming up to the bend, we have single-vendors, fully-composable, and hybrid ‘headless’. Michelle Swan sizes up the competition:
Different types of customers have different needs and preferences. Someone with a family of six isn’t going to buy a convertible. They’re probably going to choose something a bit more utilitarian (albeit less cool) like a minivan. A single person on a budget isn’t going to go with a fully-loaded luxury car, but might choose a basic compact. And someone who is looking for speed and handling is going to opt for a sports car.
From tracking value to finding value in data, Terrance Wampler showed how customers have worked to meet the Big Data challenge:
Scripps has been able to remove 32 different system interfaces, making it much easier to access and analyze information. The finance teams are able to spend more time developing analytics, reporting and forecasting dashboards, rather than being tied up on basic finance tasks.
Fidelma Butler drives home why it’s essential for employers to take care of their staff - and shares some practical ideas to build a culture of support in the workplace, in-person and digitally:
This could take the form of group events - Zendesk has done everything from virtual drag shows, to book talks and truffle making - or regular meet-ups for employee resource groups (ERGs) that can provide additional avenues for support. It’s important to keep an open dialogue with your team and solicit ideas that are as high-tech or no tech as they like.
There’s an imbalance of staff with the resources to develop low-code solutions. Raju Vegesna looks at the reasons, risks and requirements that enterprises need to consider if they want to prioritize growth:
The risk is that, if the percentage of non-IT low-code users shrinks, custom software development could become a walled discipline, wherein IT builds solutions addressing technical or structural problems rather than creating tools that support the employee or business user's daily workflow. This scenario would not allow enterprise or middle market companies to access critical benefits from low code development.