Run live or come in second

Robert Enslin Profile picture for user robert.enslin March 15, 2016
We hear plenty of talk about "real-time business." But SAP's Robert Enslin doesn't think real-time is the right approach for today's business. It's about running live - and there's a big difference.

For those in business, the start of the year provides an opportunity to define the goals that will represent success. Those could be personal or professional, but at the corporate level, it’s the goals the market expects your business should achieve.

Today, digital business is creating a winner-takes-all market. Digital leaders own 69.8% of the market share and 77.1% of the profits, compared to the rest of the players. So in this environment, there is a new challenge for businesses. One that allows them to no longer just conduct business in real-time. One that allows them to win because they are running live!

So just what does ‘live’ mean? It stems from data and how you use it to propel your business forward. Experts predict that 40 zettabytes of data will be in existence by 2020. Just three years ago, that figure was only 500 exabytes. For context, that is a 40 followed by 21 zeros! With this growth also comes more use. It is predicted that the amount of useful data produced will increase from 22% in 2013 to more than 35% in 2020.

From customer experiences to workforces and supply chains, a live business uses data to predict the future instead of reporting the past. It means totally agile business processes and the ability to mass customize everything, for every single consumer. It means connecting every colleague and asset to a single, intelligent and totally digital core system – one that can anticipate, simulate and innovate new opportunities. It means action on the fly, action within seconds of new data.

One of the parts of my job that I love is seeing how technology is changing lives and changing our world.

Our customers recognize that to compete in a digital world; they have to become a digital business. It is forcing businesses to completely reimagine what their business models could look like. How they respond to events with clarity, agility and control. And when they do, they aren’t just real-time… they are live.

To be real-time is still a desired state; running a business in real-time is terrific. But soon, real-time won’t be enough. It’s the difference between having real-time data at your fingertips, and your ability to instantly react to what the data is telling and to what is happening around you. It’s the ability to adapt to the unexpected. GE Power knows when a transmission line will go down 8 to 10 days before it does. This allows them to create an entirely new business model using sensor data. Survival today begins with real-time, but the unbeatable competitive edge thrives when your business runs live. That’s a revolutionary difference.

On a recent customer visit, my flight was diverted to another airport. Not incredibly far away, but a change in plans nonetheless. My ride however, was all set to arrive at the original airport. They were able to accommodate our unscheduled change of plans – if I waited four hours. Yet, while mid-air with wifi, Uber accommodated our change without delay. We landed, a car was there and we were on our way to our customer meeting. That is real-time vs. live business. A live business can rest assured that any event, any “What if,” will be handled with clarity, agility and control.

Another example is a company called IndiGo, India’s no-frills airline. IndiGo recognizes that most consumers are not willing to give up low cost airfare for a lesser experience. They simply demand both. Yet doing this profitably has been a challenge for airlines worldwide. Not for IndiGo, which accounts for nearly a third of the market share in India.

How? They are reinventing the flying experience. They have a check in process with 48 hour advance check in at no extra charge, and boarding processes with specialized services for special-needs passengers. They have reinvented how quickly a flight is turned around by initiating a pit-stop-like approach to aircraft cleaning, based on a unique communication and reporting system that allows the plane to constantly keep the ground stations informed through a digital data link. When it comes to air travel, these challenges aren’t new. But in a digital world, there are no limits to how you can reinvent the processes that address those challenges and help you run live.

Think about it – over 40% of the companies that were at the top of the Fortune 500 in 2000 were no longer there in 2010. A great customer experience isn’t a luxury, it’s an expectation and those who can’t keep up with these expectations simply won’t survive.

Opportunities are everywhere in a digital world. Are you in a position to seize those opportunities when they present themselves?

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