Ecosystm Snapshot Oracle acquires CrowdTwist to strengthen their customer experience portfolio
Ecosystm Snapshot: Oracle acquires CrowdTwist to strengthen their customer experience portfolio

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Oracle signed an agreement to acquire CrowdTwist,  a leading cloud-native customer loyalty solution provider for businesses. offering personalised customer experience. CloudTwist offers over 100 engagement paths and time-to-value to marketers providing a comprehensive view of the customer.

The news comes less than a month after Oracle and Deloitte Digital partnered to deliver Oracle’s Customer Data Platform (CDP) capabilities following which Oracle also announced updates to their CDP platform Oracle CX Unity, which brings together data from marketing and advertising systems to help organisations deliver experiences across the entire customer journey.

Oracle’s increased focus on CX

Oracle continues to build their CX capabilities, and it is looking to integrate CrowdTwist’s customer loyalty solution with their existing platforms. Commenting on Oracle’s acquisition, Ecosystm Principal Advisor Audrey William said, “CrowdTwist is a leader in the customer loyalty segment and knows how to build loyalty through a deeper data analysis and stickiness with various building blocks across the customer loyalty value chain. We could see Oracle’s services becoming more customer oriented through targeted marketing campaigns and customer journey mappings across the Unity, Eloqua and Responsys platforms.”

To drive the CX journey, organisations of all sizes are seeking management and lifetime value programs. CrowdTwist’s cloud loyalty solution fits into Oracle’s strategy and would offer benefits in support orchestration, derive intelligence on customer loyalty data and provide solutions to use the data for customer retention and marketing campaigns.

“Customer loyalty cannot be easily predicted as one has to analyse how customers are reacting at every touchpoint and how emotionally they are connected with the brand,” said William. “A very basic program will not suffice in this era of CX. Applications of machine learning and AI across the portfolio will help to accurately predict and tailor the best loyalty programs. Customers using Oracle’s Cloud CX portfolio of applications will be able to further analyse the data that has been captured to personalise their marketing campaigns.”

Upon the closure of the acquisition, the CrowdTwist team will join the Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud organisation. This arrangement will help marketers personalise customer engagement and obtain a more thorough view of their loyalty programs.

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Blockchain in the Public Sector Enabling Better Citizen Service
Blockchain in the Public Sector Enabling Better Citizen Service

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Governments across the globe are realising the true potential of emerging technologies to provide better citizen services and to ensure transparency and accountability. Blockchain is one of the emerging technologies that is helping and will continue to help governments to achieve transformation. Government departments and agencies are being increasingly pushed to be collaborative and share data across agencies, while at the same time maintain the security of the data in their care. A distributed ledger that can share information based on agreed-upon protocols helps governments immensely in collaborating without losing accountability.

What are the key priorities of public sector organisations? The global Ecosystm CX study finds that citizens and employees are the top priorities for government agencies and departments.

Top Business Priorities of Public Sector Organisations

Blockchain can help the public sector achieve many of its goals –

Improving Citizen Services

As more countries aim to be eGovernments, there is a need for real-time data access, information management, and fraud prevention. Blockchain is enabling governments to provide innovative services to citizens. It is possible now to decentralise the citizen database, reducing the time and cost of fetching records. Moreover, Blockchain enhances transparency and makes the highly regulated public sector audit-ready by creating a single source of truth for all connected devices and stakeholders.

One of the earliest use cases we see is in records management. Population records are useful for several agencies from healthcare to civil services to welfare departments.  In Myanmar, UNICEF has collaborated with the industry to introduce a mobile birth and death registration system based on Blockchain. This digital mobile recording system is maintained on an integrated platform controlled by several parties who maintain birth and death records of Myanmar’s citizens and is a step towards achieving universal registration.

Citizen services such as notarisation, recording and time-stamping events, transactional real-estate contracts, online storing and verification of academic degrees, identity management and so on are benefiting from Blockchain deployment.

In Georgia, the government department of Land, Property and Housing Management is using Blockchain to maintain land and property records. The blockchain-based land registry allows speedier approvals with no involvement of paperwork or multi-party signatures on physical documents. This is enhancing service quality while offering better security measures as the data is digitally stored in the National Agency of Public Registry’s land title database.

 

Improving Employee Experience

Maintaining massive records about individuals, organisations, assets, activities, location and national information by the government department employees is a time-consuming process. In addition to this, managing and updating the ever-growing records is made more difficult by data silos and information management protocols and of course errors creep in.

Blockchain is streamlining the workflow and information management system at an individual as well as at a departmental level. In government departments, Blockchain can redefine processes by including events and agents in a block-based system where each activity can be easily managed and accounted for. This prevents issues such as miscounts, delayed processes and slipped deadlines.

The Chilean National Energy Commission has piloted a Blockchain platform to regulate the energy sector such as installed capacity, average market price, marginal costs, hydrocarbons and more. To implement this, first the energy data was stored on an Open Energy database which was then distributed across hundreds of secure servers countrywide. Later the employees verified anomalies which minimised their workload and made it convenient to edit the central database. The information added to open ledger is readily available to employees and citizens.

 

Compliance with Regulations

One of the primary benefits of Blockchain technology in the public sector is compliance. The transactions recorded on distributed ledgers are documented in a central ledger providing a comprehensive, precise, irreversible, permanent and secure trail. For instance, Blockchain is used to streamline cross-border compliance adherence by matching the data with the actual trade transactions. This creates an efficient and secure system ensuring real-time compliance, significant reduction of transaction costs, elimination of customs evasion and fraud from the outset.

In June, the Chinese Customs deployed its cross-border Blockchain compliance solution. The platform aims to increase efficiency by monitoring the flow of imports and exports and helping with risk assessments and document management. As transaction information can be stored safely and transparently on a Blockchain, the platform enables easy identification of documents to be checked, making compliance easier.

 

Data Management and Privacy

Blockchain acts as a default record keeper for society and governments and prevents the data from being misused by criminals and hackers. Through the responsible deployment of Blockchain data structures, governments can strengthen network security by reducing risks of single points-of-failure and preventing data breaches.

Democracy Earth – a Blockchain-based community has established a decentralised online governance platform, entirely built on open source technologies. The website helps users to cast votes on various policies based on tokens assigned to the users. This also minimises expenses and creates a secure information flow in a Blockchain-based voting system.

Government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are also getting serious about Blockchain applications in data management and privacy. DHS is funding R&D in Blockchain start-ups to explore new approaches to cybersecurity. The U.S. military is also utilising Blockchain (SIMBA Chain) to secure its military communication, messaging and applications. Blockchain is used for communication between ground troops and their headquarters. In addition to securing communications, the US Airforce is using Blockchain to track 3D printed components throughout their life cycle. With SIMBA, the top-secret printing blueprints are shared without much surveillance – this has enabled the Department of Defense to maintain a digital library of parts.

 

Cost Reductions

The government has clear citizen responsibilities and fulfilling them with a limited set of resources is one of the prime challenges for public departments. Reconciling expenditure with the budget is a time-consuming, and expensive procedure. Blockchain-based payment and accounting systems can help governments to reduce process costs by removing redundancies, streamlining processes, decreasing audit burden and ensuring systems integrity. By removing the requirement for third-party agencies to handle operations and maintain records, Blockchain technology is helping governments to reduce costs.

 

Blockchain is still an emerging concept with significant benefits. The Ecosystm IoT study finds that only 20% of public sector IT decision-makers are fully aware of the capabilities and limitations of Blockchain.  Adopters and developers are still resolving the challenges. On the technology side, there are concerns on platform scalability, integration, standardisation and validation methods. On the management side, there are concerns about business models, transaction scale, maturity, and structure. However, government agencies will benefit immensely from the technology in the near future.

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Are we prepared to deal with the threats of ageing and automation
Ecosystm Snapshot: Are we prepared to deal with the threats of ageing and automation?

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According to a recently released report from Mercer measuring resilience against ageing society and job automation among workers aged 50 and above, Asian countries were the least prepared to combat the threats, out of the 20 major economies worldwide.

Newer technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics have given rise to the adoption of Industry 4.0, replacing traditional tools and ways of working. With the rise of automation low skilled workers, technicians, operators and maintenance roles are at high-risk, especially amongst workers aged 50 and over.

The index revealed the rankings where the top 3 spots were given to Denmark, Australia and Sweden and moving towards the second half of the list, Singapore was ranked 13, ahead of  Japan (17), China (18) and South Korea (20).

Commenting on the threat of ageing population and job automation, Audrey William, Principal Advisor at Ecosystm said, “Automation is high in most of the mature markets in the Asia Pacific and older workers face the greatest threat as a result of job automation. Governments are concerned as it will not be easy to sustain living costs and grow the economy if the ageing population is unemployed. Mental health issues including depression can also set in when workers think they are no longer relevant. This further burdens the government with higher healthcare costs.”

 

Possible reasons for Asia falling behind in the index

 

While automation is on the rise, Asia is still lagging when it comes to the mitigating the risk of automation on older workers. One of the reasons for this is that “governments did not predict the full impact of Automation and AI, and hence did not create a plan in the previous 10 years and are unprepared to handle this issue. In addition to this, a lack of coordination between the government and industry to mitigate the threats through upskilling programs and new courses for workers was also missing. For several regional governments, especially Singapore, this is now a top priority for the coming years,” said William.

 

Singapore most resilient in Asia

 

According to UN data from World Population Prospects 2019, for the first time in history, in 2018 persons aged above 65 outnumbered children below 5 years of age globally. The number of people aged 80 or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050. The elderly population is growing while at the same time the working-age population is shrinking.

It is expected that by 2030, 35% of the employees in Singapore will be above the age of 50 and the country will have to tackle the challenges of an ageing population and job automation among older workers.

Just a month ago the Singapore Government announced that it would raise the retirement and re-employment criteria in stages thus filling the gap by adding extra years before retirement and re-employment opportunities for older workers.

“The costs of redundancies and other associated social costs will mean governments will have a lot to budget for in the next 20 years. Job loss because of automation is inevitable in mature Asian countries. There will be room for older workers to be trained to work alongside machines and robots. Whilst the ageing population is a threat, it represents a huge opportunity to expand the labour pool by upskilling the baby boomers,” said William.

 

Preparedness to manage ageing and automation

 

We are seeing a trend that as automation and AI permeate every business there will be more programs developed to manage ageing and automation. “We are living in the era of the gig/freelance economy and the trend is pertinent in mature economies. Even the younger generation will have to work with different employers – which can be positive as it gives the opportunity for workers to acquire new skills,” said William. “As customer experience becomes increasingly significant there will be a need for human touch and empathy, amidst all the process automation –  actually older workers are equipped to do a better job at that. So, there could be programmes in place for older workers to play an important role in customer-facing roles in the future.”

In addition to this, governments can introduce some measures and drive initiatives to manage the problems. William suggests:-

  • Introducing free learning courses for older workers – short courses that come with certification
  • Mentoring the older generation, introducing skills transfer programmes and make it mandatory for all companies to adhere to the programme
  • Working with colleges and universities to foster shorter courses for the ageing population at a subsidised cost, discounted rates or easy instalments to help them acquire certain skills that will be relevant in the next 10 years.

The older population can continue to have a positive socio-economic impact. Government support will be a key factor in ensuring that the ageing population is equipped to handle automation and changes in job scopes.

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VendorSphere: AWS Enabling Public Sector Transformation in Asia Pacific

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5/5 (4)

Authored by attending Ecosystm analysts, Sash Mukherjee (Principal Analyst, Government & Healthcare) and Sid Bhandari (Director, Consulting & Advisory Services)

The recently held AWS Public Sector Summit in Singapore showcased some of the regional AWS implementations, and how organisations are leveraging the Public Cloud differently.

In her keynote address, Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector set the tone for the industry show cases by saying that a successful Digital Transformation (DX) starts from a radical rethinking of how an organisation uses cloud computing technology, people, and processes to fundamentally change business performance.

AWS Empowering the Public Sector

Carlson is clear on what Public Sector organisations must do and where AWS can help them:

  • Define what Cloud refers to in the organisation. The first step in bringing about a Cloud First transformation is to be clear on the true definition of cloud computing.
  • Create a “Cloud First” policy. To adopt a Cloud First policy, it is imperative to have leaders with a clear vision who really drive technology initiatives forward for all the right reasons like security, cost reduction, scalability, privacy and rapid acceleration of citizen services.
  • Focus on Security & Compliance. AWS has global compliance certifications with 200+ services and key features focused on security, compliance and governance. New services such as the use of AI for threat detection have been implemented and  are quickly evolving into a mainstream feature.
  • Modify your Procurement vehicle. A formal cloud procurement model must be adopted instead of creating ad-hoc processes and a rush to adopt cloud to meet the specific needs of individual departments. AWS has the expertise to assist government IT leaders in selecting the right acquisition approach for their agency.
  • Do not ignore Skills Development. Investing in cloud skills development – whether at the central IT level or in the individual business units in the Public Sector – is imperative, as roles evolve and new roles emerge. AWS has over the years offered free courses and industry certifications to Public Sector employees interested in learning the foundations of cloud computing, storage, and networking on AWS to advanced skills courses in emerging technologies such as AI.
Ecosystm Comment:

While cloud may have started off as a means of offsetting CapEx, its role has since evolved into being a major vehicle for DX. Several governments across the world have adopted Cloud First policies to spearhead innovation, increase agility, and improve citizen services. Cloud is increasingly seen as a foundation for many emerging technologies that governments are experimenting with and implementing such as AI, automation, Big Data analytics and Smart Nation initiatives.

The skepticism around Public Cloud security seems to have diminished over the years, with the perception that cloud providers use state-of-the-art technologies to protect their environment and continue to upgrade their security features in the face of new and evolving threats.  However, the Ecosystm Cybersecurity study finds that nearly 53% of Public Sector and allied organisations that use Public Cloud feel that the security measures offered are sufficient. Leading cloud providers such as AWS should make it clear that essentially it is a shared responsibility and impress on organisations that the responsibility to secure their own applications and the interface with the Public Cloud ultimately lies with the deploying organisations.

Industry Use Cases

There were several industry use cases presented over the 2 days and it was heartening to see so many Asia Pacific examples of transformation. Tan Kok Yam, Deputy Secretary, Smart Nation & Digital Government Office shared that the key to a successful Smart Nation initiative is to build user-centric services rather than having an agency-centric approach, in his presentation on Singapore’s “The Moments of Life” app. Edwin H. Chaidir, IT Manager at WWF Indonesia presented on how AWS’s machine learning capabilities has helped the organisation to automate identification of specific orangutans in the wild, freeing up resources (money and time) to reinvest in other wildlife protection initiatives.

One of the implementation stories that impressed the Ecosystm analysts was the one shared by Rookie Nagtalon, Consultant for Digital Transformation at the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center (CGHMC) in the Philippines, where he spoke about how they were able to bring about transformation in their patient life-cycle management. Healthcare in Asia Pacific is a diverse and disparate market with organisations at different levels of IT and business maturity – against a backdrop of different country-level goals and healthcare policies. It was encouraging to hear about a transformation project in a not-for-profit organisation from an emerging economy.

The challenges that healthcare organisations face are unique in many ways:

  • Legacy systems that still work and hence there is no business case for replacing them
  • Approximately 2/3rd of the IT budget going into running the basics, leaving limited resources for emerging technology adoption and transformation projects
  • The shift to value-based healthcare and the need for data-driven insights to support it
  • The unpredictability of the workload and the need for an agile IT infrastructure
  • Security and compliance mandates that protect patient data and require storage of records over extended periods

Working with these challenges, how does a healthcare organisation bring about Digital Transformation?

Nagtalon’s team was assigned the task to bring about this transformation within a 10-month timeframe.

  • The key challenge. An awareness that no one vendor can provide the entire gamut of functionalities required for patient lifecycle management.  In spite of recent trends of multi-capability vendors, hospitals need multiple vendors for the hospital information system (HIS), ERP, HR system, document management systems, auxiliary department systems and so on. Each of these vendors have their own development team and infrastructure requirement, which stresses the internal IT resources. DX involving multiple legacy systems requires a step-by-step approach. The challenge is to identify the right systems to start the journey with.
  • Vendor selection criteria. The need to find one solution that would enable seamless data sharing across the disparate systems. The vendor selection criteria that were used focused on ease of use and speed especially when working with multiple data sources. In keeping with the industry, the ability of the vendor to support mission-critical applications was put through the filter of what was referred to as ‘Code Blue’.
  • The solution choice. A cloud solution that can empower teams and remove worries about the infrastructure. The hospital chose AWS as their transformation partner, who used a system interface blueprint to integrate data from their SAP ERP system, Medcurial’s MeRx HIS, 128 HR system, Canon’s documentation system and multiple diagnostics systems.
  • The future roadmap. Enabling the organisation to be a Digital Hospital. The solution was implemented in 7 months and hit the right ROI requirements, reducing billing time and impacting the bottom line in terms of both recovery and revenue. It has created the base foundation for future plans such as device integration and the provider is well set on its journey of Cloud, IoT and Robotics.
Ecosystm Comment:

Nagtalon raised an important point when he was asked the key reason for the success of the project – executive buy-in. Transformation projects work best when it is enterprise-wide and senior management sponsorship is a must to enable that. However, he also mentioned humorously that he had become extremely unpopular during the implementation. This is where a centre-of-excellence with ‘champions to the cause’ from each key department helps. Organisations should look to engaging with the stakeholders early and to get their buy-in as well as the executive’s.

AWS’s marketing message to healthcare providers includes allowing them to focus on their mission and create their differentiation, and enabling them to incorporate new and emerging technologies. This implementation certainly ticked those boxes. What was particularly positive was the big thumbs up the AWS implementation team received. Organisations will increasingly partner with platform providers in their transformation journeys and implementation capabilities and best practice guidance will be the key differentiators for vendors.

 

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Facilities Management Platform
VendorSphere: The ServiceChannel Facilities Management Platform – A Real IoT Data Analytics Curator?

5/5 (1)

5/5 (1)

One of the most important industry verticals that the Internet Of Things (IoT) is quickly enabling is buildings. To date most of the analyst coverage has been focused on smart building and building management systems collecting sensor data on lighting, temperature monitoring, and occupancy. While IoT device, connectivity, platform, management and integration vendors have marketed their hardware and software differences, the unsung heroes of ‘Smart Buildings’ should be the Facilities Management (FM) assets that have the most influence in the true IoT ecosystem.  FM covers a lot of segments in commercial buildings – retail, restaurants, grocery/supermarkets, spas and gymnasiums, retail healthcare and many more and as such these segments create large quantities of business related data from sensors within them. Today’s FM has successfully moved from simply managing ‘boxes’ to managing smart connected facilities.

This week I attended ServiceChannel’s ServiceX19 customer event in Scottsdale, Arizona where 300 ServiceChannel customers were treated to an update on the current and future state of FM. Annually, ServiceChannel’s customers raise over 100 million work orders, across 330,000 locations, fulfilled by 50,000 contractors in 75 countries. Equally impressive is that these customers are responsible for over $37 Billion spend on keeping building clean, bathrooms working, air conditioners heating and chilling, refrigerators cooling, lights switch on and so on.

Through their Facility Management Platform, which behaves like an online market place for their customers, ServiceChannel is rapidly becoming a valuable analytics and data management software company. Work orders are an incredible source of information for every asset connected into a building that requires any level of service. Just like State Farm Insurance who ‘know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two’, ServiceChannel have seen ‘a thing or two’ such as work orders to deal with alligators and of course cars crashed into shop fronts! However, some examples of more traditional analytics use cases include the following:

  1. Predictive repairs on capital intensive equipment is being decided by the facilities manager before the original equipment manufacturer.
  2. By using ServiceChannel’s comprehensive data visualisation capability, facilities managers have the ability to identify measure the difference between spending on preventative maintenance versus post failure repair.
  3. Individual service fulfillment analysis can often show that engaging with the least expensive hourly rated contractor may not always provide the best outcomes.

Over time ServiceChannel’s data collection and analytics is enabling their customers to have visibility into their businesses that go beyond FM. ServiceChannel is enabling their customers to become more digital and creating higher value business outcomes. While IT and equipment manufacturers have tried to create digital ecosystems and attract participants into their network, they are still one step removed from the customer. This gap means that they are not truly able to help manage the customer experience within smart buildings. Rather, companies like Service Channel have access to the heterogeneous asset environments by working directly with facility managers. During the conference, I saw service records comparing the major HVAC vendors within a large retailer and immediately thought that individual HVAC vendors would be very interested to see how they stacked up against each other. The ServiceChannel connected asset analysis gives their customers the information that enables discussions based on transparency, trust and truth – which is a powerful negotiating tool.

Conclusion

The event showed a reality state of the IoT associated with analytics in an industry that is reinventing itself through enabled assets connected to their work flow systems. It clearly showed that the Smart Buildings industry is probably about 2 years behind the roadmap set out by the major IT research firms. Businesses are now beginning to understand what IoT is even if they do not call it by that name. Connected assets are becoming more familiar and the value from analytics is being realised to run businesses. Customer experience is now a tangible metric!

Separately, as ServiceChannel’s analytics engine matures and external data sources such a weather and environmental conditions are curated with asset management, then facility managers become more valuable to the CFO, the CIO and the customers they serve. To date equipment vendors’ attempts to build ecosystems of IoT-based partners has been met with limited success because they are still not close enough to the end customer. Original equipment vendors should make their products connected to an IoT infrastructure network as easily and as quickly as possible and then partner with companies like ServiceChannel who can curate and promote their asset data.

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Industry of Things World, Berlin 2019

5/5 (5)

5/5 (5)

I had the pleasure of attending the Industry of Things World 2019 in Berlin. Berlin has always fascinated me by its contradictory image – of modernity and traditionality. Their admired industrial companies can be conservative in terms of innovation and move slowly when adopting new technologies. However, once they decide to move, they move all at once and cause a significant change in the industry. And that is what I perceived at the event.

In Berlin, companies know what Industrial IoT (IIoT) is and IIoT solution providers’ efforts focus on how to implement IIoT.  The level of adoption in the DACH and Nordic regions is higher than in other European regions but still remains low, especially in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The first thing that was highlighted at the event is that AI has not devoured IoT. Organisers do not try to fill auditoriums and beat attendee figure records with other parallel events of AI, Blockchain, AR/VR, 5G, DevOps and so on.

It was interesting to listen to both tech buyers and vendors sharing their news and vision – clients such as Rolls Royce and thyssenkrupp sharing their implementation experiences and giving recommendations on how to succeed in IIoT projects and; IIoT vendors such as Cumulocity IoT, HPE, AWS, Siemens or Huawei presenting their capabilities. All of them are clear that IIoT must be part of a new paradigm of business systems integration.

Key Takeaways:

  • In the several round tables that I attended, the ideas and conclusions presented were very educative. It was good to listen to the main actors (the actual companies implementing IIoT) talking about their challenges, requirements, solutions and desires. Most of the CEOs are in consensus on their priorities in IIoT investments: ROI, Performance and Quality.
  • I validated with organisations the results of the Ecosystm IoT study regarding their vendor selection criteria for IoT projects. This ties back to their IIoT investment priorities. They are likelier to choose vendors that can deliver on all 3 of their priorities.

  • The most realistic statement about IIoT came from the HPE speaker, “Don’t look for disruptive companies like Uber in the Industrial Internet of Things market.” Here the new business models will take time to emerge. Other exhibitors and visitors, that I had conversations with, agreed with this idea.
  • Fortunately for the IIoT market in Germany and Europe at large, China continues to adopt these technologies at a similarly slow pace. Although China may be more advanced in digitalisation (in ePayments for example), when it comes to IIoT, they are as conservative as Europe. This gives us a window of opportunity to continue to evolve our offerings, in the region.
  • Another recurrent theme through the event was the inability and hesitance of the CEOs/ CFOs/ Boards to understand the potential of data-based collaboration between companies and industries and how they continue to kill any data sharing/open data initiatives. Walled gardens should not be a medium-term objective.
  • The presence of start-ups and enthusiastic entrepreneurs was very heartening – and while I could not speak with all of them, CloudRail, Juconn, TechMass , Ekkono and WolkAbout stood out in my opinion. And of course there were some IIoT Platform vendors such as AWS, Cumulocity IoT, Device Insight, Relayr and Waylay. As I have said many times it is not necessary to analyse 400 platforms – for each local, regional or global enterprise there is a maximum 3-4 platform superheroes vendors to select.
  • I had some conversation on IoT connectivity with LumenRadio, SigFox and Multefire However the session discussing the impact and need for 5G in IoT was shallow because the speakers only covered high level use cases and benefits of 5G and how the German government is working on security requirements for end-to-end 5G services.
  • Finally, it was great to hear people talking about IoT lifecycle management. It has become clear that IoT is real and is here to stay. Some companies have already passed the Proof of Concept stage. This reassures us that IoT is not just ideas, development and pilots. IoT projects are going beyond and thinking about operations and maintenance.

Congratulations to all nominees in the first Industry of Things World Award ceremony. The winners were Fette Compacting in the category, Best Implementation of IIoT Technology on the shop floor and BAM GmbH up2parts in the category, Best IIoT Product or Service.

One final observation on the event is the disparity in the number of men and women attending. I got the impression that not many women are involved in IIoT or at least they do not attend events such as this. I hope that skills training and the market potential will attract more women to this industry in the future.

So dear friends, contacts, followers and readers: in short, the event was a positive experience and I hope to see some medium-term outcomes in

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Enabling-Digital-Transformation-IoT
Enabling Digital Transformation: IoT

5/5 (1)

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The internet was created by the US military to create a seamless self-repairing almost indestructible connection of computers and to maintain critical communications capability in the event of nuclear attacks on cities and government infrastructure.  It wasn’t until the invention of the world wide web (www) that the internet became widespread. Since then, the evolution of digital and network technologies has made it possible to connect almost any device to the Internet. The Internet of Things (IoT)  can include a wide range of machines, sensors, smart objects, unique identifiers (UIDs) – provided they are connected to the Internet and have the ability to send and receive data without human intervention.

There are a plethora of ‘things’ today that can be connected to the internet and are not restricted to devices and sensors alone. Anything with an IP (Internet Protocol) address can now be connected. Wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 4G/5G have created more possibilities for devices to be individually connected. With the advent of IoT, remote connectivity has become the norm bringing several advantages across all industries. The global Ecosystm IoT study reveals that organisations are looking to leverage IoT not only for asset management but also to fuel innovation.

Drivers Benefits of IoT Adoption

 

The key to IoT is connecting any physical ‘thing’ to the Internet, allowing remote control and monitoring functionalities over the network. The power of the technology comes from the fact that these devices can then be used to monitor and get data from virtually any other device or application. This opens immense avenues for the connectivity of various applications and expands the overall potential of the Internet dramatically.

 

The simplest way to appreciate how IoT can benefit organisations is to see its operations in some industries. The list below is not exhaustive and includes:

 

  • Medical and Health: The key technology enabling eHealth is IoT. IoT has enabled remote diagnostics and patient monitoring even beyond the walls of the hospital. Remote monitoring has a deep impact on improving health outcomes and enables community-based healthcare and aging in place practices.
  • Construction: IoT enables almost all home and office devices to be virtually connected allowing remote activation and control based on specific data gathered from the environment. This application is being utilised in ‘smart homes’ and commercial buildings, allowing the automation of security, lighting, HVAC and other systems. IoT applications have made their way into Building Information Management (BIM) systems even at the design and construction phases.
  • Energy and Environment: In one of the early use case in energy efficiency and distribution, IoT is used to monitor the energy requirements of homes and industries with the help of ‘smart grids’. The technology is also helping meteorologists to predict storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters with the help of smart sensors to monitor environmental changes.
  • Transportation: Autonomous Vehicles or driverless cars have become the popular face of IoT application. More significant than the vehicles or the technology itself, are the parameters that are involved in providing the right infrastructure for these vehicles. IoT is already bringing substantial improvement in the industry with connected transportation systems and controls in the applications for trains, smart cars, and airplanes
  • Manufacturing: The Manufacturing industry is where the concept of process automation originated. Needless to say, the industry is seeing an uptake in IoT as automation reaches a whole new level. The adoption of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) is allowing manufacturers better visibility of the supply chain, more efficient inventory management, and proactive asset management through predictive maintenance. This impacts both the productivity of the plants and the quality of the products.
  • Agriculture: IoT has numerous use cases in making Agriculture more productive and efficient, such as automated irrigation systems, crop monitoring, pest control, driverless tractors, and other smart farming solutions. Smart Farming practices will ensure a better outcome for environment management and promote trust in agricultural products as the entire ‘food to fork’ supply chain becomes traceable.
  • Smart cities: ‘Smart city’ is an often-used term that can have different meaning depending on the maturity of the country. What is common however is the widespread deployment of IoT applications, devices, and sensors to handle various activities providing citizen services and infrastructure monitoring such as traffic management, street lighting, citizen security and monitoring, and more.

 

The early use cases of IoT have been in automation and asset management. As technology and connectivity evolve, the applications will be more widespread and impact every aspect of our lives.

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VendorSphere: NICE Interactions – Key Takeaways

5/5 (3)

5/5 (3)

I was a guest last week at the NICE Interactions Summit in Sydney and it was great to hear from executives from NICE talk about the journey the company is taking their customers on. Australia and New Zealand are witnessing good adoption of cloud contact centres and many organisations (as covered in some of previous blogs) are at the inflection point of investing in a cloud contact centre, machine learning, customer journey mapping and predictive analytics technologies to drive greater customer experience (CX).  Across Asia Pacific and in the ASEAN region, more organisations are at the verge of embarking on transformational CX projects to help them raise the bar on CX in a highly competitive environment. We can expect the adoption of cloud contact centres to grow rapidly in the next few years across the Asia Pacific region as companies move from expensive and traditional legacy environments to agile platforms.

Investing in Analytics and Cloud

Darren Rushworth, NICE’s Managing Director APAC, talked about how NICE has moved from being an infrastructure player to become an analytics company and talked about the acquisitions that are helping them alleviate their game in CX. Key acquisitions since 2016 have been instrumental to shaping their offerings and these include Nexidia, an Interaction Analytics software company and InContact, a cloud contact centre vendor. In 2019 NICE acquired Brand Embassy, whose technology brings to CXone a full range of integrated channels, enabling any digital channel to be integrated into customer service operations. In a Mobile First economy where customers want the applications of their choice, allowing customers to use the social media or messaging application of their choice in their contact centre interactions, will be critical. The Brand Embassy platform supports more than 30 channels and these include Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, SMS, email, and live chat.  This is an important acquisition and not many contact centres have addressed the issue of allowing multiple forms of messaging to be used when customers want to communicate an issue or get answer to a query. Customers are gravitating towards social media platforms and messaging apps for daily communication and being able to integrate those channels to the contact centre is important.

The Move to the Cloud with NICEinContact

It was interesting to hear  Tracy Duthie, Head of Service Development at 2degrees Mobile talk about why they deployed a NICEinContact solution. She talked about 2degrees having too many legacy systems that were not all integrated. The problems with not having the systems integrated drove the team to think hard about embarking on a journey with NICE. The objective was to grow their market share and to drive greater contact centre efficiency. She mentioned that 2degrees were keen on a SaaS option and it was not just about replacing the legacy solution. The move to the cloud as many organisations are starting to tell me, is to drive transformation and further innovation including deploying agile methodologies to deliver great CX. Also because this was a cloud deployment, they invested heavily in the network. This is an important aspect for an organisation when embarking on a cloud journey especially for mission critical applications such as voice, video and collaboration applications where latency and jitter can spoil the experience. Many times, I have heard customers blame the vendor for the technology. For cloud voice, video and other contact centre applications to work well in real time, the investment in the network must not be compromised especially when working on a tight budget. When this aspect is ignored, the problems  discussed early are bound to arise.  She also highlighted how important it was to eventually get the agents on board the new deployment and they adopted an open culture of allowing the agents to provide feedback and an open dialogue was initiated. As this was a big change from when they were running the contact centre in a  traditional environment, the change management aspect was critical for the agents.

Compliance is something that has to be adhered to seriously

Efrat Kanner-Nissimov from NICE presented on driving a proactive compliance culture. This is a highly talked about area in the contact centre, given the  increase in legislation around privacy and all countries having strict legislation around customer data and data privacy. Contact centres store sensitive customer information and knowing when to dispose off that data or for how long the data can be kept is an aspect that cannot be ignored. With what the banks have been through in Australia in recent times with the Royal Commission, serious questions around compliance and how compliant the agents are cannot be ignored. Ecosystm research finds that several organisations fail to identify what could be sensitive information. The journey towards a compliant environment starts with data classification, long before security roadmaps and solution implementations.

There is a greater emphasis on compliance and whilst many contact centres will claim that they have the processes in place, some of these have not been looked at for years. Compliance impacts the IT Manager, the agents, the Supervisor and ultimately the business. An automated compliance solution will help detect violations, prevent errors and allow for better visibility across different systems.  She presented how Macy’s claims to have reduced their infrastructure and storage costs by 40%, through automating and deleting interactions that were no longer required. This helped lower IT costs and reduced time on audits.  With the emphasis today on data privacy, data storage, data deletion and being compliant when you talk to your customers,  the CX agents have a critical role to play in ensuring compliance.

Ecosystm comment:

Organisations across the Asia Pacific region are re-inventing how they look at CX as mentioned in my previous blogs. Banks, airlines, retailers, telcos and organisations from other verticals are investing in projects to drive transformation in CX. Applying deep analytics along every step of a customer’s journey will help the contact centre and the wider organisation better serve customers. The traditional methods of just looking at inbound and outbound interactions and setting KPIs for that, are no longer enough to drive this new vision. Machine learning, customer journey mapping and analytics, as well as shifting to the cloud is needed to drive transformation and agile ways of running  CX.  The Brand Embassy acquisition is an important one for NICE given one of the challenges not addressed by contact centres is integrating the various social and messaging applications and making them available to customers as a way to interact with the brand. This is an area contact centres have been looking to resolve.

In a highly competitive CX market where CRM, analytics, cloud and machine learning technologies are important aspects of a CX journey, NICE is investing in these areas to further strengthen their cloud contact centre value proposition. Compliance as highlighted earlier cannot be ignored and it is an area contact centres will be looking to invest in due to the multiple strict regulations underway across the Asia Pacific region surrounding how customers data is treated.

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VendorSphere: HCL’s Digital Transformation Capabilities Come Of Age

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As a technology analyst I have followed HCL for many years – and their capabilities have changed over that time – particularly in Australia and New Zealand. When they entered the ANZ market they were somewhat unique – an Indian IT Service provider with views and opinions. One who was not just good at meeting RFP requirements and delivering technology projects, but also individuals who were empowered to challenge the status quo in their clients – to challenge clients to be better. But as several large managed services providers lost their way in ANZ, HCL stepped in and – for a number of years – became all about outsourcing and managed services. They grew their business significantly, but what seemed to be lost was that factor that set them apart. In focusing on good delivery they seemed to lose their differentiator.

However, I recently spent a few days with HCL and their clients in Adelaide and I can report that they are back. They are winning digital transformation deals. They are driving a technology industry agenda and are becoming an important force in the education and evolution of the high tech sector in Australia and New Zealand. Adelaide was chosen for the event as HCL wanted to showcase how they are making real investments in the local market, and how they are helping South Australia to transform itself and create new job opportunities both in Adelaide and in the regions. Their managed services contract with Elders is a great starting point for them – and in meeting and interviewing the Elders stakeholders, it is clear that it is a partnership – HCL has collocated to ensure that the HCL staff are side-by-side with the Elders teams – and they are doing a good job in driving innovation into the Elders business.

The Cricket Australia digital transformation contract is a big deal, and is really a great indicator of their capabilities. HCL won the contract from Accenture – showing that they can compete against and beat the best (Accenture is the biggest IT services provider in Australia today – and for good reason). Building off their success with Manchester United, HCL has won another important digital transformation deal with a global sporting brand. Personally, as a fan of the Australian women’s and men’s cricket team, I look forward to engaging with the fruits of their endeavours soon!

The main take away from the time spent with HCL is that they are growing their business here in Australia and across the entire Asia Pacific region – and that the growth is coming from many areas – not just traditional outsourcing contracts but also across the spectrum of digital transformation. Importantly they are also taking responsibility for that growth – bringing the market along with them as they look to help educate and employ the next generation of technology professionals.

HCL also seem to have mastered the ability to both respond to the standardised processes of the sourcing deal advisors as well as stand out as an individual company. While deal advisors play an important role, I often hear clients say that they can sometimes take the personality out of a deal. They bring comparisons between vendors to standard and measurable metrics – but you sign a deal with a person, you negotiate with a person, and it is people who deliver the solution. Winning deals is not just about proving the ability to deliver, but also convincing the client that they want or need to partner with the IT services business. Based on client feedback, HCL is mastering both sides of this process, and are earning the right to be considered in a broader range of deals.

If you are dealing with HCL, it may also warrant looking beyond the traditional measurable metrics. Speak to their leadership team both locally and globally, especially given their emphasis to bring in local leadership in their key markets . Get a feel for the culture of the company and whether or not it matches your culture or even sometimes challenges your business to be better. Services deals are ultimately about people, so spend time with the people – challenge them to come to the party. Put them under stress and see how they respond, as it is typically the hard times that define the longer term success of a partnership.

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